Tue, September 02, 2008
World > Americas

Emergency officials: Gustav causes no casualty yet in U.S. gulf coast

2008-09-02 06:09:51 GMT2008-09-02 14:09:51 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- No reported casualty has been caused by Hurricane Gustav, which is sweeping the U.S. Gulf coast region, including New Orleans, Louisiana, where about 1,600 people died after Katrina Hurricane hit in 2005, emergency officials said Monday.

Roaring through New Orleans during the day, a weakened Gustav delivered a milder-than-expected blow to the city that has prepared for its landfall for days.

However, Mayor Ray Nagin warned that it is still too early for evacuated residents to return to their homes or reopen their businesses as the city has not yet resumed electricity supply.

Facing the first serious test of the city's emergency response to disasters since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans mandated an evacuation over the weekend and helped millions of residents find safe shelters.

Despite damaged electricity transmission lines and sewer systems, the city virtually survived the hurricane, with its hospitals still working, drinking water available and pumps running, U.S. media reported.

Authorities will begin to comb the city to evaluate the damage and prepare for the residents' return within this week, Nagin told reporters.

"I'd probably call Gustav, instead of the mother of all storms, maybe the mother-in-law or the ugly sister of all storms," he joked.

However, levees in the southeastern part of the state almost gave way to Gustav, and other levees surrounding New Orleans are also likely to break any time, revealing the city's weakness in emergency response, media reports said.

Recalling the memory of massive looting after Katrina, New Orleans authorities are strictly implementing a dusk-to-dawn curfew Monday, warning residents who insisted on staying despite a mandatory hurricane evacuation that they would be arrested if found outside their homes during curfew.

"The city's mandatory evacuation, which began Sunday, Aug. 31, remains in effect. The City of New Orleans has a curfew from dusk until dawn beginning Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008," the emergency operation center said in a press release.

"Those persons who remain within the City of New Orleans do so at their own risk and are subject to arrest if they are outside the boundaries of their own property."

National Guard soldiers and police are also been deployed to guard the streets of New Orleans to prevent looting and other unlawful activities.

The National Hurricane Center earlier forecast that Hurricane Gustav would hit the United States at Category 3 to 4, but it made landfall as a Category 2, moving at 177 km per hour, and dropped to Category 1 as it moved toward Texas.

Gustav killed more than 80 people in the Caribbean before being downgraded and hitting the U.S. coast.

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