National Guard troops stand ready, batteries and water bottles sold briskly, and one small-town mayor spent a sleepless night worrying. The New Orleans area watched as a storm marched across the Caribbean on the eve of Hurricane Katrina’s third anniversary.
With forecasters warning that Gustav could strengthen and slam into the Gulf Coast as a major hurricane, a New Orleans still recovering from Hurricane Katrina’s devastating hit drew up evacuation plans.
“I’m panicking,” said Evelyn Fuselier of Chalmette, whose home was submerged in 14 feet of floodwater when Katrina hit. Fuselier said she’s been back in her home one year this month, and called watching Gustav swirl toward the Gulf of Mexico indescribable. “I keep thinking, ‘Did the Corps fix the levees?,”Is my house going to flood again?’ … ‘Am I going to have to go through all this again?'”
Taking no chances, city officials began preliminary planning to evacuate and lock down the city in hopes of avoiding the catastrophe that followed the 2005 storm. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin left the Democratic National Convention in Denver to return home for the preparations. Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency to lay the groundwork for federal assistance, and put 3,000 National Guard troops on standby.