Evacuees may not be returning home soon
For some of the 2million people seeking safety from the storm, they could run but they couldn't hide.
The same storm they fled threatens to dump up to 2 feet of rain on parts of Texas and Louisiana, possibly keeping many Gustav evacuees from going home as quickly as they would like, and extending their stays in hotels and overcrowded shelters.
Nerves were already fraying at a shelter in Shreveport, La., where evacuees packed together for three days were starting to fight and question their decision to leave home.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
The rusted, vacant Sam's Warehouse converted into an evacuation center had a capacity of 2,600 people, but the crowd inside swelled to nearly 3,000 as stragglers arrived overnight. A single television allowed evacuees to see what was happening at home. Four or five minor fights broke out, shelter officials said.
“People are desperate. They don't know if they are going to have a place to go home to,” said Emma McClure, 37.
It's too early to tell exactly how much rain will fall, but “all look to be under the gun,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Roeseler.
Hurricane Gustav's size and strength is causing major damage along the Mississippi coast, primarily from flooding. Gustav is undoing repairs under way in harbors and waterfront areas.
Long Beach Alderman Allen Holder Jr. said the harbor there is under water.
U.S. 90 is under water in many locations from Pascagoula to Waveland.
Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said there was extensive flooding in Gulfport, mainly in areas prone to flooding in heavy rains. He said there was home flooding reported.
No injuries have been reported in the state because of Gustav, but officials at the state's Emergency Operations Center said U.S. 90 at Pearlington and in Harrison County is closed because of storm surge.
An abandoned building in downtown Gulfport collapsed.
President Bush declared Monday that the government had responded “a lot better” to Hurricane Gustav than it did to deadly Hurricane Katrina, which obliterated the Gulf Coast three years ago and damaged his administration's credibility for handling major crises.
Eager to show that officials had learned the tragic lessons of Katrina, Bush scrapped an opening-night speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., and flew instead to emergency command centers in Texas. Once feared as a monster storm more frightening than Katrina, Gustav struck only a glancing blow on New Orleans.
“The coordination on this storm is a lot better than on – than during Katrina,” said Bush, who left a hurricane briefing in Austin smiling, shaking hands with workers and posing for pictures.
At each briefing Bush struck a cheerful tone, saying residents were successfully evacuated from the Gulf Coast, rescue supplies were in place and abundant, but that blame was not.
Barack Obama urged hundreds of thousands of supporters Monday to donate to the Red Cross to help victims of Hurricane Gustav. The Democratic presidential nominee scaled back Labor Day speeches to unions in an effort to keep the focus on the Gulf Coast.
Obama planned to finish his campaign schedule Monday with stops in Michigan and Wisconsin before heading home to Chicago to monitor the hurricane situation and decide his schedule for the rest of the week.