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Bush to Survey Storm Damage in Louisiana


The White House says President George Bush will travel to Louisiana Wednesday to look at the damage caused by Hurricane Gustav, which lashed the Gulf coast state Monday with heavy winds and torrential rains.

President Bush met with several members of his Cabinet Tuesday in Washington to discuss the storm as well as its impact on energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm shut down oil production offshore and flooded parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.

The president said there are "encouraging signs" that Gustav caused less damage to America's oil infrastructure than Hurricane Katrina three years ago.

But he said Gustav should not cause the U.S. Congress to back away from greater energy independence. The president said the storm's effect on oil production shows that America needs to produce more of its own energy, and that Congress should approve more offshore drilling.

Gustav, which killed at least seven people in the U.S., has now been downgraded to a tropical depression. The storm is expected to continue losing strength as it moves across western Louisiana and into Texas.

Curfews, however, remain in effect for many storm-damaged areas. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says his state will defer to local governments as to when people who fled the region will be advised to return home.

He also said 18-wheel trucks loaded with water, food and tarps will be stationed in storm-damaged areas for people who need supplies. Gustav came ashore near the city of New Orleans with winds of 175 kilometers per hour.

Before Gustav hit, authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation, fearing the city's system of flood barriers could fail. But officials say the levees, which are still being rebuilt, appear to have survived the storm's onslaught.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.