Saturday, August 30, 2008

Louisiana Evacuates

Mandatory evacuation has been ordered for St. Bernard, Plaquemines, St. Charles and lower Jefferson parishes. AFP global wire service has the latest details:
Desperate to avoid a repeat of the Katrina catastrophe in 2005, New Orleans began mandatory evacuations Saturday as another deadly hurricane, Gustav, bore down on the city.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic clogged roads leading north and east out of New Orleans and shops began running low on fuel and emergency supplies as the dangerous category three hurricane barrelled toward the Gulf of Mexico after leaving up to 85 people dead in Caribbean nations.
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"Obviously people can stay. We are encouraging them to leave," said Craig Taffaro, president of St. Bernard Parish, one of the areas of greater New Orleans to call for mandatory evacuations three years after Hurricane Katrina breached levees protecting the low-lying city, killing some 1,500 people.

"We know this is a very difficult decision. Emotions are very high, but we have to take a practical approach to this," he said.

Coastal parishes in New Orleans began the first mandatory evacuations at noon (1700 GMT). Police were set to enforce a nightly curfew and cordon off areas under evacuation order, so that no one could enter.

Residents were warned that the city would not have emergency shelters, and that gathering areas such as the Superdome and bus terminal -- scenes of chaos and violence after Katrina -- would be closed.
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The overall population of greater New Orleans is estimated at more than one million people, about 80 percent of the pre-Katrina population. Saturday's mandatory evacuation orders affected more than half of New Orleans' seven parishes.

The New Orleans airport said it would shut down Sunday evening, and area hotels advised customers to leave town.

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