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New Orleans evacuates as Gustav nears Sunday, 31 August, 2008

Posted by Farbod in News.
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Press TV – New Orleans evacuates as Gustav nears.

Residents wait to board buses to evacuate New Orleans

New Orleans residents have begun to evacuate the city as the ‘storm of the century’ takes aim at the Louisiana coast in southern US.

New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, has ordered the mandatory evacuation of more than 239,000 residents in order to avoid a replay of the 2005 Katrina catastrophe.

On August 29, 2005, the city of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina – a Category 3 storm.

Katrina, the third-strongest hurricane ever to hit the US, caused more than 1,600 deaths, while flooding about 85 percent of the city.

Calling Gustav ‘the mother of all storms’, Nagin urged citizens not commit ‘one of the biggest mistakes’ of their life by seeking to ride out the storm.

“This is not the one to play with,” he said.

Gustav has already killed 81 people by triggering floods and landslides in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Gustav’s projection path toward New Orleans, LA

The US National Hurricane Center says Gustav has slightly weakened after sweeping across Cuba, where at least 300,000 Cubans fled its screaming 140mph (220kph) path.

Gustav is projected to regain strength, as it moves over warm water, to a top-scale Category 5 hurricane later Sunday before its expected landfall near the west of New Orleans on Monday.

Category 5 is the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson scale used to rate tropical cyclones – with winds above 155 mph (249kph).

At 4 a.m. CDT, Gustav was 425 miles southeast of New Orleans and moving northwest at 16 mph.

President Bush has pre-emptively declared states of emergency for Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama in a bid to clear the way for federal aid to supplement state and local efforts and formalize coordination.

The Bush administration did the same before Hurricane Katrina, which was severely criticized for slow, botched response that exacerbated disaster, leaving hundreds of thousands of people displaced in the aftermath of the 2005 storm.

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