Gustav came ashore Monday about 110 kilometers southwest of New Orleans. It made landfall as a Category Two storm with winds of 175 kilometers per hour, but has since weakened to a Category One storm. VOA's Barry Wood is in New Orleans. He describes the situation in the City's famous French Quarter.
The hurricane has come ashore and we are seeing the first waves of really intense wind and rain here in New Orleans.
Things have blown over in the hotel in which I am staying. Chairs have blown about, palm trees have had to be carried inside, no one is on the street.
The power is out. The power has been out for about 60 minutes.
The city is calm, as far as I can tell. And , there is a sense that maybe the hurricane is not going to be as bad as predicted 12 to 24 hours ago.
But if you step out on the street, I am in an opening that is covered without windows, if I step two feet in front of me into the sidewalk I would be blown down. I do not know if the wind is coming through, you can see the gusts of rain hitting the buildings, hitting cars.
Some windows are broken, but not many. And there is a sense, that these rains, we are just seeing the first stages.
It is true that what has happened in the past 28 to 48 hours in New Orleans, and particularly in south Louisiana, is a remarkable evacuation. It may be that as much as 90 percent of the population of this area is gone. 1.9 million people have left the city. And thus far the city has coped very well. But now we are being tested.
Cell phone service is obviously still working. We have been without power for just about one hour 20 minutes.