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Gustav coverage from Louisiana TV stations

Paul Barwick passed along a link to a page where you can watch five different local stations covering Hurricane Gustav – New Orleans: WGNO, WWL, WDSU, WVUE; and in Baton Rouge: WBRZ.

Gustav looks like it will be a Category 3 storm when it makes landfall, the same as Katrina. There are a few significant differences between 2005 and today that will (hopefully) mean less carnage and human misery than what we saw post-Katrina.

* Fewer residents without means of transport. The population of the area is significantly lower than it was during Katrina, and many in the lowest socioeconomic demo simply never returned. There are no “refuges of last resort” such as the Superdome and the Convention Center that became the hellholes we saw on television.

* Better, if not optimal, state and local prep. At least an attempt has been made to move people out early, with specific shelters in other cooperating states set to take storm refugees in. I've seen locals on blogs commenting that Gov. Bobby Jindal's prep and organization hasn't been executed as well as described in his press conferences (promised numbers of buses not showing up, pet transport not available, etc.), but there was nothing of the sort last time around.

* Hospitals more storm ready: reports I've seen this AM indicate more generators (and better protected ones) are up and running to handle care for patients who cannot be transported. The last time around hospitals were the scene of unimaginable horrors.

All that said, the unknown factor — and what the Bush Administration is fully responsible for — is the result of the purported improvement of the levee system. As I posted yesterday, it's confirmed that at least some of the work is beyond shoddy — shredded newpapers are being used to shore up some levees. A Salon piece out today underscores the problem. 

Gustav is expected to be comparable in strength to Katrina, which was also a Category 3 hurricane. However, Katrina, which breached levees and flooded low-lying areas like Lakeview, Gentilly and the Lower 9th Ward, made landfall east of New Orleans. Gustav is on track to hit west of the city, and those eastside levees that are still not fully repaired may not have to bear the brunt of the storm surge. In 2008, the levees on the west bank of the Mississippi River are more threatened.

…The Army Corps of Engineers has been rebuilding the city's levees for three years but cannot guarantee their effectiveness beyond a Category 3 hurricane, and even then a large storm surge could easily overwhelm them.

Blenders in the affected areas — the first order of business is to stay safe. Report in when you can about what conditions are like where you are.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding