Hurricane Gustav swept across the Louisiana coast on Monday, bringing
torrential rains but doing far less damage than had been feared. VOA's
Barry Wood rode out the Category 2 hurricane in New Orleans where he
reports the concern now is flooding from over-topped levees.
The storm struck the U.S. Gulf Coast southwest of New Orleans, knocking
down power lines and creating waves several meters high. Torrential
rain buffeted the coast as the storm brushed past New Orleans, losing
strength as it headed inland past city of Baton Rouge and into the
state of Texas.
Emergency officials are relieved that losses
are low. But Louisiana's Lieutenant Governor, Mitchell Landrieu, says
he worries most about the levees and walls that protect populated areas
from the swollen Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain.
watching the television pictures of the splash over on the industrial
canal [in New Orleans] and monitoring things as carefully as we can. I
want to remind everybody about [Hurricane] Katrina [three years ago].
That storm passed and everybody thought it was OK. And then, other
things happened," he said.
Three years ago, levees were breached
by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina, inundating 80 percent of New
Orleans, destroying homes and leaving thousands of people stranded.
More than 1,400 died in that storm and in the chaotic and late
rescue effort that followed.
This time, people heeded warnings to
evacuate and nearly two million departed from coastal areas in advance
of the storm. Rescue efforts have been prompt and well coordinated.
Champagne, the Sheriff of St. Charles Parish, a district west of New
Orleans, says it is too early for evacuees to return. "Sit tight just a
little bit longer. We've got plenty of deputies to control the streets
and protect your property tonight [Monday night]. We're going to
be out there in full, full force, very aggressively. We don't want
anyone on the streets tonight. Our curfew, consider it in effect now.
Don't go on the streets, residents. Stay home! There is nothing you
can do on the streets except hurt yourselves," he said.
New Orleans was largely deserted when the storm hit, C.W. Stanbaugh was
among those who stayed behind. From the front door of his home, he
surveyed the fallen trees. "The only damage I've seen is on the street
here. From what I've seen on our battery-operated television, it seems
to be pretty much like this all over the city."
Meanwhile, New Orleans has yet to fully recover from the devastation of Katrina in 2005.