Little-reported Hurricane Gustav News

This is from Jenka, an Indymedia activist who sort of splits her time between Portland, DC, and New Orleans...

hurricane gustav is expected to make landfall in a little over eight hours, just
west of new orleans, through the native nation of houma. the
government has ordered an evacuation, with the national guard stepping
in to enforce it. 1.9 million people have apparently gotten out, while
tens of thousands continue to be stuck on the highways out of town.
14,000 people without cars were taken out on buses and trains.

FEMA says they have it all figured out, and are doing much better now:

If you listen to their accounts, all is running like a well-oiled
machine, and things are as they should be. They omit the computerized
'ID bracelets' that failed dues to computer glitches on saturday, the
hundreds of people left waiting for buses in jefferson parish, the
hospitals that had to get help from the canadian airforce
because they had been forgotten by FEMA's evacuation plan....3
hospitalized patients died during evacuation. 80 people have been
killed by Gustav in several Caribbean countries. But no one was killed
in Cuba, even though the hurricane went straight across the western
part of the island - that country has evacuation down to an art (the US
won't ask them for advice though, even after Katrina's precedent)

And other big questions remain.
Will the levees hold?
"As the US Army Corps of Engineers and local authorities rushed to
shore up levees on the vulnerable West Bank of New Orleans, which
largely escaped Katrina???s punch, officials made no promises that
up-armored levees would hold. Of particular concern is the Harvey Canal
in Jefferson Parish, widely seen as a weak point in the system. In
fact, only about one-third of the city???s $12 billion new levee system
has been completed. With storm-surge projections of up to 20 feet and
many levees at eight feet, overtopping seems likely if the storm holds
its course."

"Leading experts from the U.S. and the Netherlands say the [levee]
system is riddled with flaws. They say that even a weaker storm than
Katrina could breach the levees if it hit this season." - from an
article in early august...

Where are they taking people, and what is the plan to get them back
home? After forcing people to leave after Katrina, many were prevented
from returning for 18 months, two years....far from the 'few days' they
were promised

What about the prisoners?
The prison officials at Orleans Parish Prison, if you remember, simply
left the prison during Katrina. Prisoners drowned in their cells, and
were abandoned for days in cells filled with water. Now, a
desperate call has been made by prisoner support groups in the region
to contact the sheriff and make sure that prisoners are evacuated too:

And what about those who can't, or won't (hey - you might be reluctant,
too, if it took you 18 months to get back home last time) evacuate?
"Those who stay will encounter a skeleton crew of law-enforcement
officers who will treat anybody on the street as a suspicious person,
says Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish. The idea is to
guarantee that property will be protected against looters ??? a main
reason so many residents decided to ride out Katrina. 'If you stay,'
Mr. Broussard warns, 'this will be no Mayberry.' 'We've learned from
our mistakes,' says New Orleans Police Officer B. Francois. 'And this
time, if we arrest someone, theyre not going to the local jail.
Theyre getting on a bus to Angola,' the infamous rural prison farm."

"Residents wonder whether by being vigilant -- or hysterical, depending
on one's perspective -- officials are putting themselves in a position
to be able to say 'I told you so' if anyone stays behind. This time
around, Mayor Nagin and all disaster-response spokespeople are making
it clear that if you stay behind and are stranded on your roof waving a
flag made from a bedsheet, it is you who will be held accountable, not
them. Many who are riding out the storm feel that's the motive behind
Nagin's emphatic plea during a press conference Saturday for citizens
to flee 'the mother of all storms,' and 'get their butts out of New

The law-and-order model that caused so much pain after Katrina is going
to be in force, and even more so, this time around.

Again, as during Katrina, many of those unable to evacuate are elderly
(according to a friend of mine in New Orleans now)

I am in touch with Common Ground Relief, the group I worked with in
2005, formed after Katrina and still going strong. Some have evacuated
to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and some are hunkered down in New Orleans.
If you want to help, or check for updates, check

You can follow the progress of the storm here: