Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mother of all storms bearing down on New Orleans

Remember Hurricane Katrina, hitting New Orleans this time to the day three years ago?

Mayor Ray Nagin hopes so, invoking her name by omission.

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has ordered the city emptied tomorrow in the face of "the storm of the century", warning anyone that stays behind that they are on their own.

"I am announcing today mandatory evacuation of New Orleans starting 8am Sunday (2300 Sunday AEST) on the West bank," Nagin said at a press conference. "We want everybody... we want 100 per cent evacuation. If you decide to stay, you are on your own."

"This is the mother of all storms," Nagin said. "This storm is so powerful and growing more powerful every day that I'm not sure we've seen anything like it."

Nagin estimated that less than half of the city's population has left despite days of dire warnings.

"This is the real deal," Nagin said. "Riding this storm out would be one of the biggest mistakes you could make in your life."

Nagin said police, fire and other emergency personnel are being pulled from the city to safer areas. A "skeleton crew" of fewer than 50 city workers will be left behind, according to officials.

Hurricane Gustav is on course to crash ashore near New Orleans. Nagin told anyone planning to stay behind to "make sure you have an axe because you will be busting your way out to get on your roof with waters surrounding you."

Gustav has left around 85 people dead in Caribbean nations.

In 2005, New Orleans was hammered by Hurricane Katrina which caused widespread flooding and left tens of thousands of people homeless.

While there is temporal symmetry with Hurricane Katrina there have been fewer hurricanes this year, or hurricane season is late.

How about those freaks who are staying?

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