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  • surge will likely overtop levees,

    NEW ORLEANS - As Hurricane Gustav steamed toward the Louisiana coast early Monday, a top FEMA official warned that the surge will likely overtop levees and at least partially flood the city that was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

    While offering his ominous warning, Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Harvey E. Johnson said there's enough food, water, ice and other supplies stockpiled for 1 million victims over the next three days.

    Johnson said an estimated 2 million people have been evacuated from Louisiana, but as many as 10,000 remain in the New Orleans area.

    Those who heeded days of warnings to get out watched from shelters and hotel rooms hundreds of miles away, praying the powerful Category 3 storm and its 115-mph winds would pass without the same deadly toll.

    "We're nervous, but we just have to keep trusting in God that we don't get the water again," said Lyndon Guidry, who hit the road for Florida just a few months after he was able to return to his home in New Orleans. "We just have to put our faith in God."

    Early Monday, water gushed off buildings and flags hung in tatters, ripped to shreds in the high winds. But there were no reports of serious flooding, and only scattered clusters of power outages.

    The painful memories of Katrina, which flooded 80 percent of New Orleans and killed more than 1,600 along the Gulf Coast, led officials to aggressively insist that everyone in Gustav's path flee from shore. As the storm grew near, the streets of the city were empty — save for National Guardsmen and just about every officer on the city's police force standing watch for looters.

    In all, nearly 2 million people left south Louisiana, as did tens of thousands from coastal Mississippi, Alabama and southeastern Texas.

    GOP scales back convention
    Even presidential politics bowed to the storm, as the Republican Party scaled back its convention plans in deference to Gustav's threat. Mindful of the government's inept response to Katrina, President Bush scrapped his Monday appearance at the convention and instead headed to Texas, where emergency response personnel were getting ready.

    "It's amazing. It makes me feel really good that so many people are saying, 'We as Americans, we as the world, have to get this right this time,'" New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said. "We cannot afford to screw up again."

    Asked what lessons he learned during Katrina that were being applied now, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told CBS: "Planning, preparation and moving early."

    Gustav killed at least 94 people as it tore through the Caribbean and it will test three years of planning and rebuilding on the Gulf Coast following Katrina's wrath. Billions of dollars were at stake, as Gustav threatened industries ranging from sugar to shipping. If production is significantly interrupted from the region's refineries and offshore oil and gas platforms, price spikes could hit all Americans at the pump.

    Officials promised they were ready to respond this time. Chertoff said search and rescue would be the top priority once the storm passed: high-water vehicles, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, Coast Guard cutters and a Navy vessel that is essentially a floating emergency room were posted around the strike zone.

    "I feel a little nervous about the storm and exactly where it's going to end up, but I also feel real good about the resources," Nagin said. "Man, if we have resources, we can move mountains."

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    pics there too.
    ‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.’
    Oscar Wilde

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