Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bush heading to Texas in leu of Gustav.

President Bush warned residents of the Gulf Coast on Sunday that a "serious" storm was headed their way, echoing the sentiments of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who reiterated his demands that city residents evacuate.

Bush said he planned to head to Texas to meet with emergency workers and evacuees.

"This storm is dangerous," he warned, urging residents to heed calls to evacuate.

After a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, Bush said he would forgo an appearance at the GOP National Convention on Monday and will be in Texas instead.

He said he would not go to Louisiana because he did not want to impede the work of emergency officials.

Nagin said Sunday that New Orleans will impose a "dusk-to-dawn" curfew and will cease efforts to help people leave the city Sunday afternoon.

The city-wide curfew will continue until the threat of the storm passes, Nagin said, warning that looters would be dealt with harshly.

"Anybody who's caught looting in the city of New Orleans will go directly to Angola [Louisiana State Penitentiary]. You will not have a temporary stay in the city. You go directly to the big house, in general population," he said.

He said that between 14,000 and 15,000 people had left New Orleans on buses and trains the city had provided -- much lower than the initial estimate of 30,000.

"We're just not seeing those kind of numbers in terms of people needing city-assisted services," Nagin said. "The 30,000 number may have been high."

The last of the buses carrying people out of New Orleans would leave around 2 or 3 p.m., he said.

In addition to forcing many Hurricane Katrina survivors to again flee their homes, Hurricane Gustav also dashed plans of Republicans working to organize the GOP Convention in Minnesota.

As of 11 a.m. ET, the eye of the Category 3 storm was about 325 miles (520 kilometers) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

The storm was moving at 17 mph (27 kph) across the central Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, and it is expected to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday, forecasters said.

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