City avoids possible devastation as Hurricane Gustav weakens before making landfall
New Orleans seems to have avoided threats of devastation Monday, Sept. 1 when Hurricane Gustav came ashore 70 miles southwest of the city. Gustav was downgraded from a Category 3 hurricane to Category 2 before making landfall, the New York Times reported.
Although Gustav weakened to a tropical depression early Tuesday, Sept. 2 as it moved over central Louisiana, officials said it still remained a flood threat. It was forecast to move into northeast Texas late Sept. 2.
The levees in New Orleans held, despite the repair work from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 being far from finished. There was only ankle-to-knee-deep water on the streets on the edge of the Ninth Ward, although water splashed over the wall of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal for hours, the newspaper reported.
Maj. Gen. Don T. Riley, deputy commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers, said he did not expect any breaks in the levees this time.
“We’ve gotten no word of real flooding in the city,” Col. Jerry Sneed, the city’s emergency preparedness director, said. “We’re not getting any major destruction.”
At a news conference Sept. 1, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin refused to say when people would be allowed back in, but he said the public schools would reopen next week.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said a return would have to wait until debris was cleared and roads and bridges were inspected.
According to officials, at least seven people were killed—four in traffic accidents and three from falling trees in Baton Rouge and Lafayette—along with three patients who died as they were being evacuated to hospitals or nursing homes beyond the hurricane’s reach, the newspaper reported.
Gustav caused the closing of offshore oil platforms that handle a quarter of the nation’s petroleum production and left more than a million households without power, the newspaper reported.