New Orleans Silent as Curfew Falls
Update: as traffic queues make their way out of New Orleans, the streets are dark and silent; see the webcam link added in the comments below. Meanwhile, buses and planes carrying evacuees from threatened coastal cities are alighting in cities out of the storm path, their passengers now strangers in strange towns.
Earlier today:As Hurricane Gustav closes in on the Gulf States, evacuations are well underway. State efforts will cease, however, at 3 PM local time, and a strict curfew will be in effect from dusk until dawn.
Nagin said Sunday that New Orleans will impose a "dusk-to-dawn" curfew and will cease efforts to help people leave the city Sunday afternoon.
The city-wide curfew will continue until the threat of the storm passes, Nagin said, warning that looters would be dealt with harshly.
"Anybody who's caught looting in the city of New Orleans will go directly to Angola [Louisiana State Penitentiary]. You will not have a temporary stay in the city. You go directly to the big house, in general population," he said.
He said that between 14,000 and 15,000 people had left New Orleans on buses and trains the city had provided -- much lower than the initial estimate of 30,000.
"We're just not seeing those kind of numbers in terms of people needing city-assisted services," Nagin said. "The 30,000 number may have been high."
The last of the buses carrying people out of New Orleans would leave around 2 or 3 p.m., he said.
With Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast three years after Katrina swamped New Orleans, the Saints left Saturday for Indianapolis, where they will spend the week preparing for the Sept. 7 opener against Tampa Bay.
The Saints will practice at the Colts' new Lucas Oil Stadium. Their schedule wasn't immediately known, although meetings were set for Sunday at their hotel.
Authorities evacuating residents from New Orleans ahead of Hurricane Gustav are making amends with four-legged friends after thousands of pets perished in Hurricane Katrina three years ago.
Animal welfare groups tried to make sure that evacuees had their pets with them, while shelters away from the Gulf Coast accommodated animals this time around.
The group stacked up boxes for residents who planned to carry their small pets with them as part of an evacuation on buses and trains through the Union Passenger terminal.
Pet owners stood in line to register their furry friends. Then they were given a machine readable band to tag on to their pet, in case they became separated.
Among the horrors of Katrina three years ago were dead dogs bobbing in the drowned streets of the city, 80 percent of which was flooded.
Mandatory evacuations have also started in parts of southeast Texas, and are set to continue through midday across a three-county region stretching to the Louisiana state line, with the last mandatory evacuation starting at noon in Beaumont.
In Mississippi, Jackson County officials said there would be a mandatory evacuation for all residents living in low-lying areas, mobile homes, cottages and FEMA travel trailers beginning 8 a.m. Sunday.
In Baldwin County, the evacuation order includes Fort Morgan Peninsula and Plash Island.
The order did not immediately include Orange Beach where thousands of tourists, including some Louisiana evacuees, have rooms. Tourism officials estimate some 40,000 visitors are on the Alabama coast for Labor Day.
"We basically have the rest of Sunday to complete the evacuation of the coast of Louisiana as well as evacuation activities in Texas and Mississippi," Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said this morning.
NowPublic's Gustav Channel
Also, we're seeing that many evacuees are twittering their experiences:
allaboutenergy ("#Gustav weaken B4 hitting Gulf Cst& NOLA not direct hit", which I can only describe as group prayer via Twitter. The phrase, when not repeated verbatim, is referenced and encouraged, as if by some sort of group meditation. Strange times may be eliciting new outreach toward ritual or connection (prayer, meditation, energy focus, call it what you want) between individuals who feel, on their own, powerless.)
Gustav Wiki (still in progress)
Bumper-to-bumper traffic clogged roads leading out of the city and shops began running low on fuel and emergency supplies as the "monster" Category Four hurricane barreled toward the Gulf of Mexico after leaving more than 80 people dead and thousands displaced in Caribbean nations.
Canada is sending aid to New Orleans to help with the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents as hurricane Gustav charges across the Gulf of Mexico.
Isabelle Hotte of the Department of National Defence says a Canadian Forces C-17 plane carrying a team of medical personnel is leaving today for New Orleans to help with air evacuations.