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New Orleans evacuates for Gustav

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by The Scotsman, Aug 31, 2008.

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  1. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people in New Orleans and the U.S. Gulf Coast fled their homes on Sunday as Hurricane Gustav moved within 24 hours of striking land, possibly with a weaker punch than 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

    The oil industry from Texas to New Orleans was taking no chances either, shutting down nearly all offshore platforms and many refineries as Gustav threatened the region that pumps a quarter of the U.S. oil supply.

    New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered mandatory evacuation of the city of 239,000 and told residents "This is still a big, ugly storm, still strong and I encourage everyone to leave."

    The storm evoked memories of Katrina which struck almost exactly three years ago, flooding 80 percent of the city, killing 1,500 people in five states and costing $80 billion (44 billion pounds).

    Nagin warned anyone who defied evacuation orders they would face extreme danger. Travel trailers that had housed some of those displaced by Katrina might "become projectiles" in the hurricane-force winds. He laid down a dusk-to-dawn curfew and told looters they would be sent straight to prison.

    Gustav also took centre stage in U.S. politics two months ahead of the hotly contested presidential election.

    President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, accused of a slow and botched response to Katrina's chaos, said they would not attend this week's Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Bush will travel to Texas on Monday to oversee emergency efforts.

    Republican presidential nominee John McCain headed to the Gulf to survey preparations and Republicans considered shortening the event.

    By most accounts, evacuations from New Orleans and other coastal cities were proceeding smoothly although traffic was moving slowly on clogged highways. More than 11.5 million residents in five states could feel the impact of the storm.

    The U.S. Coast Guard reported the first storm-related death in Florida, where a man fell overboard as his ship ran into heavy waves.

    If, as currently predicted, Gustav lands west of New Orleans on Monday as a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds up to 155 mph (249 kph), its 16-foot (5-metre) storm surge could break through the same levees that failed three year ago.

    Federal officials say the levees protecting New Orleans are stronger now but still have gaps.

    New Orleans resident Vanessa Jones, 50, said she had planned to stay but changed her mind after watching the news all night.

    "I can't take a chance because so many people died in Katrina," Jones said as she prepared to board a bus headed to an unknown destination.

    Katrina was a Category 3 when its 28-foot (8.5 metre) storm surge burst levees on August 29, 2005. New Orleans degenerated into chaos as stranded storm victims waited days for government rescue and law and order collapsed.

    HOLD-OUTS HUNKER DOWN

    Thousands of people, still carrying emotional scars from Katrina, jammed highways out of New Orleans. The government lined up trains and hundreds of buses to evacuate 30,000 people who could not leave on their own and Nagin said 15,000 had been removed from the city, including hundreds in wheelchairs.

    Residents boarded up the windows of their shops and homes before leaving town, while others hunkered down as "hold-outs" with stockpiled food, water and shotguns to ward off looters.

    "I saw quite a bit of looting last time with Katrina, even 30 minutes after the winds had stopped," said construction contractor Norwood Thornton, who opted to stay behind to protect his home in New Orleans' historic Garden District.

    Gustav weakened to a still dangerous Category 3 storm after it passed over Cuba. It killed at least 86 people in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica.

    But the latest warnings from the National Hurricane centre brought some relief with signs that the storm was weakening slightly and sucking up less power over the warm Gulf water that made Katrina an explosive Category 5 as it moved north.

    Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which followed it three weeks later, wrecked more than 100 Gulf oil platforms, but Gustav could deal a harsher blow.

    In a special trading session to accommodate the Labor Day holiday Monday and the storm's impact, U.S. crude oil features rose nearly $3 to over $118 per barrel.

    "It remains likely that Gustav will prove to become a worst case scenario for the producing region and places the heart of the oil production region under a high risk of sustaining significant or major damage," said Planalytics analyst Jim Roullier.

    As Gustav swirled through the Gulf, forecasters also kept an eye on Tropical Storm Hanna, in the Atlantic Ocean about 145 miles (230 km) north-northeast of Grand Turk Island.

    It was moving west-northwest with top sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph) and could strengthen during the next couple of days, the hurricane centre said. The storm might eventually threaten Florida but its path was constantly changing.


    (Additional reporting by Tom Brown in Miami and Bruce Nichols, Chris Baltimore and Erwin Seba in Houston; Writing by Mary Milliken; editing by Mohammad Zargham).

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  2. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    FACTBOX - Possible scenarios for Hurricane Gustav

    (Reuters) - As Hurricane Gustav marches across the Gulf of Mexico for its eventual collision with the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday, its strength and where it makes landfall are still moving targets. Here are some possible scenarios on what happens next:

    STRENGTH: Some weather forecasters are still predicting Gustav will hit the Gulf Coast as a damaging Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds of up to 155 mph (249 kph). Others point out the storm lost strength over Cuba and its relatively fast movement across the Gulf of Mexico could deprive it of the ability to gather energy and speed from warm water, making it a Category 3 storm.

    The storm is expected to come ashore west of New Orleans in the early hours of Monday, and the Louisiana coast could begin to see rains and wind from the sweeping storm on Sunday evening, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

    In comparison, Katrina was a catastrophic Category 5 storm -- the highest on the five-step rating scale -- as it moved across the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall as a Category 3 storm.

    LANDFALL: The storm's current track also makes it hard to predict where it will strike the coast. New Orleans' evacuation has been center-stage, but Gustav's "cone of uncertainty" means it could hit anywhere from South Texas to the Alabama-Mississippi border. On Sunday morning, the storm was about 325 miles (520 km) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

    The storm's wide sweep puts the majority of the U.S. oil patch in the cross hairs. The Gulf of Mexico produces about a quarter of U.S. energy supply, and about one-third of U.S. capacity to refine crude oil into gasoline, jet fuel and other essential products is nestled at refineries along the flood-prone coast.

    ENERGY IMPACT: Oil analysts say storm-related supply concerns from Gustav could add $10 to U.S. crude oil prices -- which at recent levels near $115 a barrel are still far short of the record $147.27 set on July 11.

    The U.S. Department of Energy has said it is ready to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the event Gustav causes a severe production disruption. But if refineries are closed due to flooding, they will not be able to convert the emergency crude oil supply to usable products.

    NEXT STORM: Looking forward to the next incoming storm, Tropical Storm Hanna, now looming off Florida, could threaten the state's crops of fruits and vegetables if it dumps massive amounts of rain on farmlands. Tropical Storm Fay in August dropped more rain on Florida than any other previous tropical storm, saturating the ground and raising the possibility of serious flooding.

    (Reporting by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney)
     
  3. Federal Farmer

    Federal Farmer New Member

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    For any of the Believers among us, PLEASE take a moment and send up a prayer for the people of the Gulf Coast, they'll need 'em.
     
  4. pocketfullofshells

    pocketfullofshells Well-Known Member

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    I'm not a beliver but my hopes are still with them
     
  5. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    My best wishes are with them. I hope most took the right advice and left town, now if only the levees will hold is the real question.
     
  6. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    $10-30bn losses from Gustav predicted


    keep your heads down and good luck guys!
     
  7. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    Latest predictions

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  8. Shadow

    Shadow New Member

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    Gustav update:


    Hurricane Gustav Strikes Land West of New Orleans

    Hurricane Gustav made landfall on the Louisiana coast on
    Monday, and it appeared that the brunt of the storm was
    passing to the west of New Orleans, making officials
    optimistic that the city would be spared destruction on the
    scale of Hurricane Katrina three years ago.




    caring thoughts going to everyone affected.
     
  9. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    Hurricane Gustav tests New Orleans levees

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  10. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    Gustav was no Katrina

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    So thankfully no where near as bad as predicted!
     
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