Gustav Spurs Katrina Fears, and Action, in New Orleans

August 28, 2008

As tropical storm Gustav churns in the Caribbean, emergency management personnel in and around New Orleans are already gearing up for a possible hit.

The storm is expected to regain hurricane status later today or tomorrow and take aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast next week—possibly as a major Category 3 hurricane.

The storm was a Category 1 hurricane until it crossed Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The island's mountains disrupted and weakened the storm, though at least 23 people have died.

Gustav began its trek across the Caribbean Sea earlier this week. As of Thursday morning, forecasters thought the storm might move ashore late Monday or early Tuesday anywhere from the central Florida Panhandle to the central coast of Texas.

That area includes New Orleans (read more in National Geographic magazine), which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina almost exactly three years ago.

(Special report: National Geographic magazine on New Orleans' hurricane vulnerabilities—full article, interactive map, videos, and more.)

"We Are Prepared"

Although no evacuation orders have been issued, emergency management personnel in and around New Orleans are already gearing up for the storm.

Patricia Borne, public information officer for Jefferson Parish, a New Orleans suburb, said officials are laying out their plans for coping with Gustav in case it comes their way.

"All departments are going through their checklists at this hour," Borne said. "We are prepared."

Still, forecasting Gustav's path and intensity has been a challenge for meteorologists and emergency management personnel.

Borne noted that Gustav made an unexpected jog southward as it neared Jamaica.

Continued on Next Page >>


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