CNN.com reports that a hurricane watch was issued Saturday afternoon for southeastern Texas to the Alabama-Florida border as Hurricane Gustav's sustained winds reached 150 mph on its expected path to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The watch means hurricane conditions are possible within about 36 hours. It was announced Saturday as thousands were in the process of fleeing parts of Mississippi and Louisiana, three years after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina ravaged the area.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is quoted as saying, ""We could see tidal surges of as much as 15 to 20 feet. We could see flooding even worse than what we saw in Hurricane Katrina."
More than a dozen parishes in Louisiana have declared states of emergency, and St. Bernard Parish began a mandatory evacuation Saturday afternoon, with authorities calling it "a matter of survival." The evacuation began at 4 p.m. in the parish, which sits just east of New Orleans and was hard hit by Hurricane Katrina.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, still recovering from Katrina, anxiety was high Saturday as residents fled, leaving behind a virtual ghost town of boarded-up homes and empty streets. "I am strongly, strongly encouraging everyone in this city to evacuate," Mayor Ray Nagin said Saturday. "Start the process now."
At the Union Passenger Terminal in downtown New Orleans, people began arriving as early as 5:30 a.m., forming a line that snaked behind the main Amtrak terminal. Armed patrols and Humvees circled the crowds of people, many who waited as long as 2 hours, enduring the heat and relentless sun, unsure of their destination.
New Orleans officials had designated 17 sites for people without transportation to board buses to take them to the terminal, where they will be moved to shelters outside New Orleans. However, scores of residents went directly to the terminal, carrying one bag, as the city had instructed. The snafu prompted confusion, as did a glitch in the computer system that was being used to register people.
The Republican National Convention begins this week in St. Paul, Minnesota. Officials with the McCain campaign and the Republican National convention are considering changing the event's agenda as Hurricane Gustav bears down on the Gulf Coast.
Sen. John McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, plans to meet with officials in charge of the party's convention planning in Minneapolis-St. Paul on Sunday to review the latest news on Hurricane Gustav and what their options might be and then consult with the presumptive presidential nominee to determine what changes may need to be made.
McCain had suggested to a Fox News interviewer that the convention could be suspended if it seemed that a festive gathering was inappropriate in light of the destruction the storm may bring.
Republican Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Charlie Crist of Florida, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Rick Perry of Texas -- whose states that lie in the path of Gustav, named a Category 4 hurricane Saturday afternoon -- will skip the GOP convention because of the storm.
The storm has forced last-minute changes in the convention's announced schedule: If the convention -- originally scheduled to start Monday -- commences by Tuesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's speech will probably move to that night from Wednesday.
Read CNN.com articles about Hurricane Gustav here and here and here.
Read New York Times article about Hurricane Gustav here.
plez sez: in light of what happened three years ago in new orleans, a force evacuation of the city is in order. especially, in those areas that were hardest hit by katrina, the governor should mobilize the national guard to clear the city out! it would be a public relations nightmare, with the republican national convention going on up the mississippi river from new orleans, to have a repeat of what occurred when the bush administration dropped the ball after katrina.
if i was governor of louisiana, i'd have the national guard going door-to-door requiring folk to pack a bag, registering them on a database, and requiring them to leave the city. for those who do not have transportation (or were handicapped or elderly), load them on anything with wheels that is leaving the city.
as bad as it seems, hurricane gustav presents a bold opportunity for the party of george w. bush to redeem itself during the week of their convention. they could cancel the party altogether and move en masse to the gulf coast and assist in the cleanup effort, or they could shorten the convention and handle only essential business (in stark contrast to last week's weeklong coronation of Barack Obama in denver).
last, and definitely, not least... if you are a resident of the gulf coast, you shouldn't be sitting at home and reading plezWorld, you should be getting the HELL outta Dodge!
BLOG UPDATE (08/30/2008 10:30 PM EST): The AJC reports that New Orleans has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city... read the article here.