With Gustav expected to hit the US’s Luisiana coast on Monday, traffic out of New Orleans, where Katrina claimed 1,500 lives just three years ago, is bumper-to-bumper. Mayor, Ray Nagin, has ordered an evacuation as of this morning and issued a stark warning to residents.
“This is the mother of all storms,” he said. “This storm is so powerful and grows even more powerful every day that I don’t think we have any idea with what we are dealing now … You have to be scared. You have to be concerned. You have to get your butts moving out of New Orleans right now.”
Those without private transport have been arriving at the main bus terminal, where hundreds of coaches have been laid on to take them to safety. Others are leaving by train.
For many, the scenes are bringing back terrible memories. “Katrina destroyed my house,” said one woman. “I came back and moved in to the east (of New Orleans). Now I got to leave again. This time I’m not coming back. I can’t come back. It’s too stressful.”
The evacuation order will not be physically enforced. But with much of the hurricane defence programme set up after Katrina in 2005 still incomplete, few are likely to risk staying.