Jump to content
The Talon House

New Orleans orders mandatory evacuation


Recommended Posts

New Orleans orders mandatory evacuation

Hurricane Katrina winds nearly 175 mph

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a state of emergency on Sunday and ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city as potentially catastrophic Hurricane Katrina churned toward the city with maximum sustained winds near 175 mph.

All of Orleans Parish falls under the order except for necessary personnel in government, emergency and some other public service categories.

People who are unable to evacuate were told to immediately report to a designated shelter.

"I wish I had better news for you, but we are facing a storm that most of us have feared," Nagin said. "I do not want to create panic, but I do want the citizens to understand that this is very serious and it's of the highest nature."

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said that President Bush had called and urged the state to order the evacuation.

About 485,000 people live in the city, and many began evacuating before sunrise.

Blanco said that westbound traffic was heavy and that the state police was urging people to travel to the north or east.

Shelters have been set up at 10 sites, including the Superdome, for people who cannot leave the city for medical or other reasons, but Nagin said they should be used only as a "last resort." (See video from New Orleans, where not all are ready to leave)

He said people who must stay in the shelter should bring enough food, water and supplies to last several days.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast could expect storm surges of up to 25 feet as the Category 5 storm makes landfall early Monday.

Officials fear New Orleans is vulnerable because it sits an average of 6 feet below sea level. (Watch video of how New Orleans reacted to warning)

Nagin said the storm surge would likely topple the levy system that protects the city.

"It has the potential for a large loss of life," said Max Mayfield, director of the NHC. (Watch CNN meteorologist explain storm outlook)

Katrina is blamed for at least seven deaths in Florida, where it made landfall Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane. As much as 18 inches of rain fell in some areas, flooding streets and homes. (See video of the damage floodwaters left in one family's new house)

At 11 a.m. ET, Katrina was centered about 225 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was moving to the west-northwest at about 12 mph.

NHC forecaster Ed Rappaport said Katrina's strength could fluctuate before it reaches shore but noted the difference between a high Category 4 and a low Category 5 was practically inconsequential.

"There will be extensive to potentially catastrophic damage to many structures ... and inland," he said. "We'll have a lot of trees that are going to come down, perhaps millions of trees. But the first threat is going to be the storm surge. You must get away from the coast now."

By 8:30 a.m. ET, the first bands of rain were falling over southeastern Louisiana.

CNN meteorologist Brad Huffines said the Katrina would come ashore "sometime between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m." Monday.

"The news doesn't get good, unfortunately," he said. "These rain showers will slow down the evacuation process, and that means you need to hit the road quickly, very quickly."

Worst-case scenario

In worst-case scenarios, most of New Orleans would end up under 15 feet of water, without electricity, clean water and sewage for months. Even pumping the water out could take as long as four months to get started because the massive pumps that would do the job would be underwater.

"People in New Orleans tend to think that the storm we've always planned on would never come," Louisiana National Guard Lt. Col. Pete Schneider said. "But people need to heed that warning."

Rappaport cautioned that New Orleans was not the only area threatened -- the storm's hurricane winds spread out as far as 100 miles. As far east as Mobile, Alabama, forecasters warned of storm surges reaching 8 to 10 feet.

Hurricane warnings were posted from Morgan City, Louisiana, eastward to the Alabama-Florida state line, including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions, including winds of at least 74 mph, are expected in the warning area within the next 24 hours.

A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch were issued from the Alabama-Florida state line eastward to Destin, Florida, and from west of Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. Another tropical storm warning was issued Sunday from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, west to Cameron, Louisiana, and from Destin, Florida, eastward to Indian Pass, Florida.

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions, including winds of at least 39 mph, are expected within 24 hours. A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are possible, usually within 36 hours.

Governors of both Louisiana and Mississippi declared emergencies Friday in anticipation of the strengthening storm.

Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said the state was recommending evacuations along the coast "and even several counties inland." Mandatory evacuations could follow later, he said.

Category 5 is the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Only three Category 5 hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since records were kept. Those were the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, 1969's Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Andrew, which devastated the Miami area in 1992. Andrew remains the costliest U.S. hurricane on record, with $26.5 billion in losses.

Camille came ashore in Mississippi and killed 256 people.

Oil production cut

U.S. energy companies said U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude oil output was cut by more than one-third on Saturday due to the threatening storm, Reuters reported.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to roughly a quarter of U.S. domestic oil and gas output, with a capacity to produce about 1.5 million barrels per day of crude and 12.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas. (Full story)

Many oil platforms and rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated. ((Watch the video of drilling crews securing rigs and seeking safety.)

CNN's David Mattingly, Susan Candiotti, Jacqui Jeras and Rob Marciano contributed to this report.

Copyright 2005 CNN. All rights reserved.

Find this article at:


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...