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Lousiana On Gustav: We’re Not Going To F**K It Up This Time

by @ 8:36 am on August 31, 2008. Filed under 2008 Election, In The News, John McCain, Politics, Weather

Whatever landfall Hurricane Gustav might make is still days away, but already Louisiana is acting as if Katrina-on-steroids is headed their way:

091750W_smNEW ORLEANS, Aug. 30 — Mayor C. Ray Nagin on Saturday night ordered a mandatory evacuation of this city ahead of Hurricane Gustav, which swelled from an already deadly tropical storm into a monster depression with winds of more than 150 mph.

“This is the real deal, not a test,” Nagin said as he issued the order, effective 9 a.m. Eastern time Sunday for low-lying areas and 1 p.m. citywide. He warned residents that staying would be “one of the biggest mistakes of your life.”

Forecasters warned that it was still too soon to say whether New Orleans would take a direct hit from Gustav late Monday, but the storm’s threat, coming three years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated a broad swath of the Gulf Coast, drew a hefty amount of wary respect from city, state and federal officials.

Gustav has already killed more than 80 people in the Caribbean. On Saturday, it slammed into western Cuba, knocking out power in Havana. The Cuban government said that it had moved at least 300,000 people.

In New Orleans, local officials said they would turn all lanes of traffic on major highways into one-way routes headed away from the city, starting early Sunday morning.

But many residents were not waiting to leave. At a news conference at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time Saturday, Nagin said 50 percent of the city had already evacuated.

By dinnertime, St. Charles Avenue, the main drag through the residential Garden District, was all but deserted. National Guard troops patrolled the street, walking by a few celebrants of Southern Decadence, an annual Labor Day weekend event that draws thousands of gays and lesbians.

Jackson Square, a part of the French Quarter that is regularly lined with horse-drawn carriages and street artists, was abandoned as well, save for a few palm readers and homeless people. Private security guards wearing bulletproof vests and carrying semiautomatic weapons were out in force in front of the InterContinental Hotel, which was preparing to evacuate all guests and close its doors Sunday morning.

Under a worst-case scenario, Gustav could “put the whole city under” water, Nagin said, even areas that have never flooded before. “This is the mother of all storms,” he said.

And it’s looking more and more like Gustav will have some kind of impact on the Republican Convention:

ST. PAUL, Minn. — President Bush is unlikely to make it to the Republican National Convention, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) may deliver his acceptance speech via satellite because of the historically huge hurricane threatening New Orleans, top officials said.

Late Saturday night, the RNC was planning to issue a release announcing the formation of a “working group of representatives from each of the states in Hurricane Gustav’s path. The group will ensure that all affected delegates have information and assistance in real time.

“The Affected States Working Group is led by all five state party chairs from the affected area, along with other delegation officials. The purpose of the group will be to regularly brief their delegates and convention planners, provide access to timely information and assistance, and give input on appropriate steps that can be taken from Minnesota.”

Officials insisted that the convention, scheduled to open here on Monday, will go on — albeit in a more limited and sedate form — even if Hurricane Gustav stays on its projected path. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday after federal officials said Gustav could grow to a catastrophic Category 5 and hit Monday afternoon somewhere between eastern Texas and western Mississippi.

McCain made plans to travel to a threatened area of the Gulf Coast on Sunday, accompanied by his wife, Cindy, and running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. They planned to meet Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) in Jackson, Miss., aides said.

McCain was scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech Thursday but now may do so from the devastation zone if the storm hits the U.S. coast with the ferocity feared by forecasters.ST. PAUL, Minn. — President Bush is unlikely to make it to the Republican National Convention, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) may deliver his acceptance speech via satellite because of the historically huge hurricane threatening New Orleans, top officials said.

Late Saturday night, the RNC was planning to issue a release announcing the formation of a “working group of representatives from each of the states in Hurricane Gustav’s path. The group will ensure that all affected delegates have information and assistance in real time.

“The Affected States Working Group is led by all five state party chairs from the affected area, along with other delegation officials. The purpose of the group will be to regularly brief their delegates and convention planners, provide access to timely information and assistance, and give input on appropriate steps that can be taken from Minnesota.”

Officials insisted that the convention, scheduled to open here on Monday, will go on — albeit in a more limited and sedate form — even if Hurricane Gustav stays on its projected path. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday after federal officials said Gustav could grow to a catastrophic Category 5 and hit Monday afternoon somewhere between eastern Texas and western Mississippi.

McCain made plans to travel to a threatened area of the Gulf Coast on Sunday, accompanied by his wife, Cindy, and running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. They planned to meet Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) in Jackson, Miss., aides said.

McCain was scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech Thursday but now may do so from the devastation zone if the storm hits the U.S. coast with the ferocity feared by forecasters.

On the upside for McCain, President Bush’s absence could be the best thing that could possibly happen.

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