Tue, September 02, 2008
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Gustav less fierce than feared

2008-09-02 03:46:24 GMT2008-09-02 11:46:24 (Beijing Time) Reuters

Hurricane Gustav struck the U.S. Gulf Coast just west of New Orleans, hammering the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with surging floodwaters that threatened its rebuilt levees.

But the storm was weaker than had been feared.

Gustav, a dangerous Category 4 hurricane a few days ago, hit shore as a Category 2 storm, one step below Katrina's strength when it made landfall.

President George W. Bush, widely criticized for the government response to Katrina said the nation was better prepared this time.

SOUNDBITE: President George W. Bush, saying (English):

"The coordination on this storm is a lot better than during Katrina.

Oil companies had shut down nearly all production in the region, which normally pumps a quarter of U.S. oil output and 15 percent of its natural gas.

Nearly 2 million people fled the Gulf Coast as Gustav approached and only 10,000 were believed to have remained in New Orleans. More than 11 million residents in five U.S. states were threatened by Gustav.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Gustav was still likely to toss a dangerous storm surge of up to 14 feet of water ashore.

Hurricane Katrina brought a 28-foot storm surge that burst New Orleans levees on Aug. 29, 2005.

In its run through the Caribbean, Gustav earlier killed at least 86 people in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica.

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