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Hurricane Gustav Lashes Louisiana

U.S. weather forecasters say Hurricane Gustav's outer edge is battering the U.S. Gulf coastas it nears New Orleans, Louisiana.

The deadly storm has winds of nearly of 185 kilometers per hour and is expected to make landfall by midday Monday.

Forecasters do not expect Gustav to grow stronger before hitting the Louisiana coast, and expect it to weaken once the center moves inland.

The National Hurricane Center says Gustav may dump up to half a meter of rain in some areas. The center also warns tides may be about four meters higher than normal.

Authorities say 95 percent of the residents in the threatened area - or about two million people - have fled.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal strongly urged all remaining 100-thousand residents along the coast to evacuate.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused levees around New Orleans to fail and flood most of the city.

Katrina claimed more than 1,400 lives and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Federal disaster management officials say they are moving emergency supplies and personnel into positions at locations around the expected landfall area.

National Guardsmen are in New Orleans, ready to respond.

President Bush plans to travel to the neighboring state of Texas Monday to meet with emergency workers. He said he hopes to visit Louisiana as soon as conditions permit.

Last week, Gustav crossed over Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, taking at least 86 lives. The storm also caused property damage in Cuba, but no deaths were reported.