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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Hurricane Gustav Coverage; Gov. Jindal Press Conference
Aired August 31, 2008 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm Reynolds Wolf at the CNN Weather Center with the very latest on your forecast. With Hurricane Gustav, currently, the winds are 120 miles per hour. Some gusts, however, have been stronger, up to 150. The storm center is roughly 414 miles to the south-southwest of New Orleans. The storm, though, is beginning to pick up a little bit of forward speed. Currently, out of the northwest moving at 17 miles per hour. The latest forecast path we have from the National Hurricane Center, forecast path brings it on that northwesterly trajectory. Winds increasing a bit as we get into Monday with winds of 135 miles per hour. That's going to kick it up to a Category 4 storm as we get into Monday. Then making its way on to the southern shore of Louisiana at some point on Monday. Then into Monday morning -- or rather, Tuesday morning, it will be decreasing in power, winds only 60 miles an hour as a tropical storm and then just an area of low pressure into Wednesday and Thursday, a big rainmaker. Where the threat is not going to be in terms of say, wind, wind dying considerably, but a big rainmaker, certainly a big threat of flooding in parts of Louisiana and into portions of Texas. Now, in New Orleans, I want you to notice that the storm will be passing, at least according to this path, a little bit more to the west of the city, but still New Orleans, although even if it's not a direct hit, could still get the brunt of the storm. The highest storm surge, the strongest winds, the heaviest rainfall, certainly a very dangerous time for the Louisiana coast and the Crescent City.
That's a look at your forecast. For the latest on your weather information, keep it here at CNN.
LUI: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal now about to speak to tell us about the very latest in terms of preparations coming out of that state. He spoke last evening around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., telling the residents of his state that this could be the worst monster ever. He's going to start talking right now. Let's listen in.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (D) LA: We do anticipate doing a second briefing later today. So y'all know that. First, a storm update. Talked to the, again, National Hurricane Center. Talked to Bill Reid, the national director of the Hurricane Center. As many of you know, Hurricane Gustav is currently a Category 3 storm but it's very close, on the borderline of being a Category 4 storm. We still expect to experience tropical storm force winds overnight tonight. We could see some along our coast as early as late this evening. Currently, the good news is they predict there's only a small window for intensification. The bad news, however, is it's a very strong category 3 storm. What moved it from a category 5 to a category 3 with 120 miles per hour was the southern sheer winds. They still don't have great certainty. This storm could still become stronger. They do predict, however, that it is heading to Louisiana's coast. There's now an active hurricane warning for almost our entire coast.
There is certainly greater than 50, maybe even greater than 75 percent chance you will see tropical storm winds along, especially southeast Louisiana. We expect by early, early Monday morning to have tropical storm-force winds in the New Orleans area, landfall on this track would bring the storm during the morning hours. I want to emphasize again, as we talked about yesterday, if it moves slightly in one direction or the other, it can certainly - going to the west, will delay landfall, go to the east will move it more quickly than that. I want to emphasize to our residents in Louisiana, don't just look at landfall. Look at those tropical storm winds. That's when it will not be safe to be driving. That's when it will not be safe to be on the road. The cone continues to narrow as it comes closer, giving the National Hurricane Center greater confidence that this storm will have an impact on coastal Louisiana. They currently have an 18 hour track confidence. In other words, 18 hours before landfall, they'll have greater confidence where it will take place, 18 hours before the onset of those tropical storm force winds, they can give us a better prediction on storm surge and some of the other things we're expecting to see. Let me share the following information with you. Let me emphasize, if their predictions were 100 percent accurate, and nobody's suggesting that that's necessarily going to happen, and the reason I want to share this information with you is I want to stress to our people, this is -- you still have daylight, you still have hours to evacuate.
I don't want people in our coastal communities thinking they're going to ride out this storm or that they should ride out this storm. If their predictions were 100 percent accurate and nobody should suggest or think that they're predictions are necessarily going to be 100 percent accurate, the storm surge that they're predicting could be up to around 12 feet in some low-lying areas. They would see overtopping in the Lafourche Parish area around Golden Meadow, La Rose (ph). You would see flooding on the West Bank, Lafitte, the Barataria (ph) area. You would see Lafitte take the brunt of the storm surge, the flooding. You could see the east bank of Plaquemines Parish get as much as eight to 10 feet of water. There would be flooding even to the outskirts of Houma.
Now, if this storm would move a little bit to the west, you would see much more serious flood problems and water surge problems for the City of Houma. My point is this. Even if their predictions were 100 percent accurate, we would see very significant storm surge and flooding along our coastal zones, but if their track proves to be just a little bit off, if this storm goes a little to the left you could see other populated areas like Houma get hit. If it goes a little bit to the east, you could see areas like New Orleans get even stronger impacts from the tidal surge.
If their tracks were 100 percent accurate, you would see flooding in east New Orleans, you would see flooding, in other words, in many densely populated areas. It is important for our people to take these warnings seriously, to evacuate, the to get into safety, to get themselves to safety to get out of harm's way.
Let me share with you a few general updates in terms of evacuations and health care information. In terms of the -- one last thing, in terms of the storm track, this storm, obviously, we've talked a lot about its impact on coastal Louisiana. We also know, however, that this storm is projected to make its way across central Louisiana as well.
The Hurricane Center predicts that when it gets, for example, to east Texas, once it goes through central Louisiana, it will be moving at about five to eight miles per hour. It will still be bringing 10 to 12 inches of rain. The point is, this storm could spend a lot of time over Louisiana, even areas far away from the coastal areas could see heavy rain and heavy winds.
You could, for example, see this storm lose half of its power in the first 12 hours. That would mean up to 10 inches of rain in central Louisiana. That would mean downed trees, downed power lines. By the time it reaches central and north Louisiana, certainly the storm would be below tropical storm strength, but you would still see strong storm conditions, including strong winds and tornadoes. We'd strongly encourage residents in mobile homes to listen to local parish officials. Many of them are encouraging people to seek shelter and certainly, again, even up in central Louisiana, be aware of the possibility of strong winds and rain. In terms of an update on our parishes, all but three of Louisiana's 64 parishes have currently declared a state of emergency. All but Bienville, Denville and Richmond and now in an emergency declaration.
We're working closely with our coastal parishes, all of our coastal parishes are evacuating. Mandatory evacuates are taking place in nearly every parish along the coast. Some began yesterday. Many of these parishes will have curfews in place tonight for the security of their property and their residences. I strongly encourage people to heed those evacuation orders and warnings. In addition to the mandatory announcements made yesterday, Lafayette issued a voluntary evacuation today. Acadia reports a third of their population is evacuated. Jefferson Parish reports that they are 80 to 90 percent evacuated.
The National Guard has assisted - and I'll talk about this - the National Guard has assisted in the evacuation of 4,500 residents out of Jefferson Parish. We've assisted nearly 15,000 residents out of New Orleans. There's not currently a line at the Union passenger terminal. There are 436 buses available. So if people are waiting for city-assisted, state-assisted evacuation, they can show up and get on a bus as we speak. Region three, the Houma area reports they've evacuated all of their nursing homes and home-bound residents.
This time, through FEMA's assistance we've moved two trains, over 2,000 people out of New Orleans. They've run over 2,045 people out of the state. Taken several phone calls, I want to thank several governors for their help. I spoke to the president earlier today. I asked the president to activate Title 32. You may remember we talked about this yesterday. We made this request yesterday to request -- to speed up federal reimbursement for National Guard troops that are coming from other states. The president granted that request. What that means is that when other states send their National Guard units here, they don't have to worry about seeking federal reimbursement. That was an issue in some of the states where we've requested assistance.
Overall, what this means is that over 50,000 National Guards troops will be activated and will be available for the entire coast. And I'll talk to you a little bit more about what that means in Louisiana. I also asked from the federal government, from the president, we asked them to activate six to seven additional DMAT teams. We already have two federal DMAT teams. These are federal medical assistance teams.
I talked -- I also talked to General Renault, the head of the Northern Command, I talked to Secretary Chertoff, I talked to Chief Paulson. Since we've talked last night, I talked to Senators Obama, McCain, Senator Biden as well. I also spoke to Governor Perry earlier this morning. I want to thank explicitly for his support. They are sending six C-130s that we absolutely need to evacuate special needs medical patients from Lakefront Airport in New Orleans and we'll talk a little bit more about those activities.
I also talked with the governors of Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. They've all agreed to divert resources to Louisiana if the storm looks like it will impact our state and not have an impact on their states. Obviously, if the storm deviates or they have need, they'll be addressing those. Additionally, the governor of Alabama made available an additional 1,000 shots in the shelters in the State of Alabama for our people. In terms of special needs shelters, we're working closely with the parishes to make sure that we continue to evacuate those with special needs. We've worked with several states to identify shelters for our special needs individuals, including we've identified 53,000 spots in eight states, 7,000 of these have been occupied already. We continue to fill them as we talk. That includes Alabama, 10,000. Arkansas, 4,000. Missouri, 5,000. Texas, 10,000. Tennessee, 6,000. Georgia, 10,000. Oklahoma, 4,000. Kentucky, 4,000.
A plane left for Little Rock last night with our health care, our medical special needs, another plane is en route as we speak now with another 40 patients being moved out of New Orleans. The 15,000 -- going back to the transportation needs, 15,000 transportation needs shelter spots in Louisiana were boarded and filled. We have also assembling teams from Louisiana to go to these shelters out of state to make sure that we work with our residents that have been evacuated out of the state.
That was something that wasn't done before. We want to make sure that they're getting the help that they need and when it's time to return, that they're able to do that as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Because we're evacuating -- basically evacuating all of our coastal parishes, working especially aggressively to use our resources to get our most vulnerable population out of harm's way.
For example, 84 out of 115 nursing homes in the potentially impacted area have already evacuated. Twenty-seven of those with the state's assistance. Either because their plans didn't come through or something happened. Now, when I say 115 nursing homes, obviously, nursing homes and parish, mandatory evacuation orders have to evacuate. So some of these homes are not necessarily in coastal parishes.
We've had 27 hospitals that have evacuated, either had full or partial evacuations. We are still moving -- we are still moving medical needs patients out of the Lafouche Airport (ph), the Thibodaux Regional airport and Patterson. In talking to the president this morning, the resources between Texas and the federal government, we have been assured that there will be federal air medical flights. They're already in progress now. They will continue every 30 minutes. The federal air flights will take patients to out of state locations, including Little Rock, Arkansas, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Albuquerque. Again, I want to thank Texas in particular, they're setting up their own medical needs shelter in Austin. So their six C- 1 30s will be heading to Austin with our patients. Mississippi is also providing a C-17.
The Louisiana National Guard, Mississippi, Texas Air Guard have all sent aircraft to New Orleans as well to help with critical medical patient evacuations. They've also sent an aeromedical team of doctors and nurses. Louisiana National Guard has pre-staged Black Hawks at Houma - at New Iberia in Thibodaux in order to bring patients to the lakefront in order to help them to evacuate. I want to thank the Guard. They helped us speed up this process. Last night into the early morning they deployed two Chinook helicopters, two C-23s to assist in transporting these medical special needs patients. They also sent one C-130 to Lake Charles to take patients to Shreveport.
The point is this we're working very hard to help our hospitals and our nursing homes evacuate. West Jefferson Hospital, for example, has made the decision to evacuate. You may remember this was a hospital that is sheltered in place in '05 during Katrina. We're making through ambulances and air support, we're making sure that we get our homebound, our nursing home, our hospital patients out of harm's way. I strongly, strongly encourage those nursing homes that are in non- mandatory evacuation parishes to also evacuate. I strongly encourage nursing homes to re-examine their plans to shelter in place, considering the intensity of this storm and considering the potential for tidal surge, depending on where it makes landfall.
A little bit more and then I'll be done in terms of general evacuation. Buses from New Orleans are either going first to Camp Beauregard and then on to other shelters, depends on which makes sense for them in terms of direction. We also, after we're done with the general evacuation, those buses will be staged in Lafayette or maybe moved north of that depending on the storm's direction.
But they'll be staged to help us with the search and rescue immediately after the evacuation. An update from the Corps, they expect that at some point in time they'll have to close the Harvey and London canals. They've got five teams, five people each ready to out and inspect the canals, ready to inspect the levees, the flood walls as soon as it's safe for them to do so.
Regarding the National Guard, I told you yesterday, they're fully mobilized, over 7,000 national guardsmen. We've deployed National Guard security forces across coastal Louisiana, 1,750 in New Orleans, 230 in Jefferson Parish, 42 in St. Bernard, 122 in Plaquemines, 339 in St. Tammany. There have been another 2,000 deployed to south central, southwest Louisiana. In addition, hundreds of guardsmen have helped New Orleans through the city evacuations process. Over 400 bus drivers, 100 guardsmen are helping to move those buses in and out and move citizens out of harm's way.
There are 1,800 additional troops from other states en route to Louisiana. We've requested another 16,000 additional guards troops. We expect them to arrive in the next 24 to 48 hours to help us with response, with rescue and with recovery. In particular, the Guard has requested support for security operations for the EMAC (ph). Over 1,500 guardsmen, 500 for our multipurpose battalion from Kentucky, another 500 multipurpose battalion from Tennessee, another 500 multipurpose battalion from Missouri. In addition to that we've requested-we will receive aviation assets from 12 states prior to landfall, 26 aircraft will be through other National Guard. Arkansas sending an aviation battalion headquarters, 40 guardsmen, Iowa sending a helicopter, Pennsylvania sending two helos, Maryland one, Illinois, three, Ohio, one, Kentucky is sending eight. Georgia sending a plane. Mississippi sending five helos, Indiana is sending a plane, Florida sending a plane, Texas is sending a plane. We also will have aircraft, 12 aircraft from three states after landfall, three from New York, five from Nebraska, four helos from Colorado. We've asked for 88 additional guardsmen
LUI: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal making a very clear message to his residents that they are taking steps to make sure that help, medical, as well as evacuation services and those follow-on services are being taken care of in his state. Where he watching Hurricane Gustav, category 3, moving at 120 miles an hour. We'll be watching and listening to this. We're going to take a break and be right back.
RICHARD LUI, CNN HOST: Louisiana prepares for Hurricane Gustav and landfall. We were listening to the Governor there, Bobby Jindal, he was just talking about contraflow plans. He is talking as well as his staff. Let's go back to them.
JINDAL: They've got the facility in Shreveport, they've opened a second pet shelter in Alexandria. In addition to that I know the Department of Corrections worked with they will. For example, they worked on 72 trucks, equipping each with an average of 92 to give them that capacity. The department has dispensed more than 469,000 gallons of fuel to government agencies. They've got an additional 575,000 gallons on hand. Last night they ordered 800,000 gallons.
Last two points I'll make, one is I continue to encourage people to go to mystateusa.com to sign up for emergency updates and announcements on evacuations. I also encourage our residents to go to www.emergency.louisiana.gov for the most up to date information on the storm. www.emergency.louisiana.gov for the most up to date information on the storm. I'll close with one last, last point and then we'll take we questions. Again, we will be here again this afternoon for an additional briefing, but most important thing we want to share today, there is still time for our people to evacuate. We need to take this storm very seriously. Whether it's a strong Category 3 or border line category 4, you're going to see strong tidal surge, strong wind speeds. There is still, the National Hurricane Center still does not know precisely where the storm will strike Louisiana's coast. The important thing, though, is for our people to take these warning, take this opportunity very seriously. Now is the time to get out of harm's way. It is so important. We're doing everything we can through air, rail and bus transportation to give our people every opportunity to get out of harm's way.
Now's the time to get your documents, get your critical supplies, gather up your loved one, make sure your neighbors and family members have plans. Now's the time to evacuate and head out of harm's way away from these coastal parishes. I'll be happy to take questions. Sue and then ...
JINDAL: My message to every parent, grandparent, child, and every resident is it is time to take this storm seriously. It's not time to panic. It is not time to be fearful. The state with its local and federal partners have a plan. Now it's time for each family out there to execute their own plan. Now's the time without delay to get in their vehicle, get out of harm's way, head north. Now is the time to call their local EOC if they need help to evacuate, they'll be taken care of. They'll be taken to a shelter, there will be food, there will be water. They should not take a chance on riding out the storm. I don't want anybody thinking, well, I rode out the storms in 2005 or '65 and everything was fine. The reality is every storm is different. The areas that didn't flood last time might flood this time. I'm asking each and every person along the coast, take this storm seriously. Evacuate.
If this turns out to be a false alarm, items and if this turns out to be a great exercise, great. But the reality is given what we know from the national hurricane center, it's extremely likely this storm is going to hit the coast of Louisiana, items going an strong storm and there's the potential if a very strong tidal surge. I don't want our people taking a chance with their lives.
One update, and I'll take this question. I had announced that 61 of 64 parishes have declared a state of emergency. As of right now, all 64 parishes have declared a state of emergency. So it's now 64 out of 64 parishes.
JINDAL: Sure. You may actually remember we addressed this issue two days ago and talked about it again yesterday. We had activated a contract several days ago, prearranged contract that should have delivered over 700 commercial buses to help with the city assisted evacuation in New Orleans and across coastal Louisiana. Contractor did not live up to their obligations. We ended up getting nearly 200 out of those 700 buses. A couple days ago, we implemented a plan to activate and we actually have hundreds of school buses that have supplemented those commercial coaches.
And you may remember a couple days ago I thanked Rapiche (ph) Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish, thanked Orleans Parish in particular for making several of those buses available.
We literally have many, many more buses. We have more capacity than there's demand for buses. But let's be clear. The contractor that we had in place that was supposed to pre-arrange these buses didn't do what they were supposed to do. The good news is the National Guard working with Superintendent Paul Pasterak (ph) and local school systems was able to mobilize literally hundreds of school buses. We had at one point as many as a thousand school buses available.
So we had more than enough transportation capacity. But it is absolutely true this contractor, and you may also remember we briefed a couple days ago that the contractor that was supposed to be assisting with pet evacuations, also, didn't do what he was supposed to do. The good news is the Department of Corrections was able to work with the Department of Agriculture and they were able to outfit well more than 100 trucks and they had the capacity they need. Bottom line, I want everybody out there to know this, if you're looking for city assisted evacuations, if you've got a pet and you want to evacuate, contractors didn't come through with what they were supposed to, but the good news is the state adjusted and had more than enough capacity. There's never back a lack of capacity when it comes to evacuating by bus or evacuating pets. We were able to work through the school systems and the Department of Corrections to address both those issues.
Ed and then right here. Julie.
I'm sorry, Ed, and then right here (inaudible).
JINDAL: Absolutely. One of the things we're very -- we'll continue to monitor the storm. One of the things we're very concerned about is the safety of our first responders where we stage them as well as our equipment, our communications equipment and our transportation vehicles.
One of the things state police and the National Guard has worked very carefully with is as they monitor for this storm, monitor where me want to put their mobile communications equipment, you may remember in 2005 one of the challenges was not being able to talk to each other. The state and the federal government invested lots of money, tens of millions of dollars in this equipment so this they can very quickly set up cell towers and be talking to local first responders almost immediately. As to the current plans are to stage the buses after evacuation in Lafayette and their current plans is to stage the search and rescue teams in Baton Rouge and Alexandra, but our team continues to work with the National Hurricane Center and we will adjust those plans based on the track the storm takes. There's a balance here. We want to make sure our people are safe, we want to make our equipment is safe, but we also want to make sure it's as close as safely can be positioned so it can be readily available as soon as we can go in after landfall to go and try to start helping and rescuing people that may be caught in the storm's impact. So there is a balance. We want our equipment to be safe, we want our first responders to be safe, but we don't want to be so far away from the coastal parishes that we're not able to respond as quickly as possible.
JINDAL: Let me ask the colonel to address that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the big success story in this is the men and women across Louisiana here and Baton Rouge is stepping forward to help us. We know the number is over 200,000 that have left the New Orleans area. We continue to monitor not only the New Orleans area, but remember this crosses the whole southern part of the state because we were very much interested in the Vermillion Bay, Teribone (ph) Parish, those people moving up 90 and I 49. That's trickled down to less than a thousand cars at I 49. We generally see 4,000 on a normal day. That tells us people are moving out of that area.
Lake Charles is a critical point. We know if you saw pictures, we actually allowed some additional traffic to come from the Texas area just so we could help them a little bit because the contraflow was working so well in that area. It only worked well because the local people, not just the state police, but all the first responders across the state, 900 of us to actually make that happen and also Mississippi. We could not do this without them.
We had some problems on 55 and 59 because of the fact as traffic was moving out, 59 would get clogged and 55 would. We had the construction in the tunnel in Mobile. We had problems in the Mississippi area. Those were quickly addressed, quickly assessed, resources brought in, we moved those through. I just saw we monitor all the cameras across New Orleans, Lafayette, Lake Charles area, and we see minimal traffic flow in those areas. I want to make sure as the governor said because the first responders are critical. Once we start getting close to the tropical force winds on the coast, we need to be able to move those people out and that's why we're monitoring so closely.
But the numbers that we've got now, certainly not the numbers that we saw after Katrina because there wasn't those number there is now. But the cameras we're looking at, very little movement in the New Orleans area and see a lot of police moving in that area, but for the most part, those people that want to leave have had the ability to do so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. The fact that people heeded the recommendations from the governor to please take this seriously and get out, they certainly did so. And i think that's been a big plus. Plus the fact with the governor's recommendation and state police, we moved contraflow back two hours. For whatever reason that two or three hours that we had to work with was a tremendous asset to help us move people out. They literally were waiting to get out and they moved out in that time. I think that helped us tremendously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate to speculation but I don't know. As you know, we probably moved 95 percent of the people out of the New Orleans area for Katrina. How many were still there? Literally tens of thousands were still there. One of the things we got with local police actually going in and assessing areas, looking to see what people are there, making sure there's not a reason they can't get out. That's what's going to help us in this particular, communicating, we've been doing so for the last week, preparing and discussing that. That's the big plus on this side doing that, but certainly give you a number, we feel it was probably over 90 percent, but to speculate and give an exact number, we just don't know.
We feel comfortable people who want to get out have had the opportunity to do so. And we're going to keep it open until the latest possible time to get those people out.
Out of the New Orleans area, out of the whole coastal area. And it's the big thing here. We're not just addressing our site just on the New Orleans area. Across the whole southern part. I'm talking to the sheriff in Cameron Parish. I talked to the police chief just before he left Grand Isle.
He said it was nine people left when he left and they were leaving with him. So we're directly communicating that information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually in the back of his car.
I would think when you look at the map the a area involved, we probably moved more people out during Katrina that portion of it, but I think the fact that starting much, much sooner and just the partnerships. I cannot stress y'all the things that we're doing in a matter of minutes and hours took days after Katrina. I mean, to address the problems we get, to be able to say, hey, we've got a problem and everybody comes together and works. That is something that you can not imagine how successful that's made this.
JINDAL: Now is the time for people to leave. The onset of tropical storm winds is when it is not safe for people to be driving. The National Hurricane Center is saying by late this evening, we could see the onset of tropical storm winds along our coastline. A few hours after that -- along the coastline means the very mouth of the Mississippi River. Maybe a few hours after that, you'd expect to see it in New Orleans. No later than late night very early pre-dawn tomorrow morning, they could see tropical storm winds in New Orleans and certainly you would not want people driving. We wouldn't want our people driving in those conditions. I want to emphasize, now is the time.
We've talked a lot about southeast Louisiana and certainly the eastern part of the storm is the strongest part of the storm. But let's be very clear. Remember what I said, if they're exactly right on their tidal surge prediction, and they may not be, but if they're exactly right they're expecting eight to ten feet of water on the east bank of Plaquemines. They're expecting up to 12 feet of water in some low lying areas. They're expecting overtopping of levees in the Lafouche Parish (ph) area. They are expecting to see, in other words, significant flooding in many coastal parishes. So whether you're in Houma or Morgan City, whether you're west of there, this storm could easily move slightly to the west. It's been moving in slight degrees as it comes closer to Louisiana. We spent a lot of time on southeastern Louisiana and appropriately we spend a lot of resource, but we have also deployed National Guard, buses, truck, the entire coastal area. To the question about the evacuation, this is the first time Louisiana has ever simultaneously evacuated both southwest and southeast Louisiana.
I don't want people at home thinking, well, this storm is just going to New Orleans or it's just going to southeast Louisiana. There are literally the entire coast could still be in harm's way based on the latest tracks of this storm.
So I want to strongly, strongly encourage people that are watching, that are listening, that are hearing this, whether you're in Morgan City or Houma or any one of these coastal parishes, now is the time on get out of harm's way.
JINDAL: A couple things. I do think that the vast majority of our people have heeded the warning, have evacuated. I think it's unprecedented. When you see the medical evacuations that the nursing homes and hospitals, when you see the city assisted, the parish assisted evacuations, literally the hundreds of buses and now the planes and trains, I think it's unprecedented the amount of people that are heeding the advice to evacuate.
I do think, however, that there will continue to be a small number of people in probably every location along the coast that we're going to still have to continue to urge to evacuate. Whether it's based on previous experience or some other reason that gives them a false sense of complacency, I would strongly encourage them to take this storm seriously.
Now, this is inevitable. After this storm hits our coast, there will be areas of Louisiana that will be severely impacted and there are going to be other areas that will not be as severely impacted. If you live this one of those areas, it's human nature to say maybe I evacuated for nothing. And that's a mistake because reality is nobody, not even the national head of the National Hurricane Center, can tell you right now which areas will be impacted and which areas will not be. So to be on the safe side, we strongly encourage-had I'd much rather people evacuate and then it turn out to be a false alarm for them in particular. We know it's not going to be an false alarm. We're pretty confident it's not going to be a false alarm entirely for Louisiana's coast.
We know there will be communities, there will be homes, there will be businesses that will be severely impacted by that storm. What we do no the know, what science cannot tell us is it whose home, whose business, which communities why we strongly encourage our people, heed the warnings, take this chance to evacuate. Again there are buses, there is no waiting.
At UPT there are buses deployed to all the parishes. And I know the question was asked earlier, I'll emphasize again, even though there's a problem with a contractor well above the evacuation orders were given, buses were mobilized. So the reason I think it's so important to stress that, I don't want anybody sitting home thinking the capacity is not there.
The capacity has been there for days even before the voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders were given. The state made sure there was more than enough capacity using school buses for the individual evacuations and using trucks that were custom outfitted by the Department of Corrections for pet evacuations. There's never been a shortage of capacity. And so there's no excuse. I want everybody to know the resources are there that they should take these warnings very seriously to evacuate.
Here and then ...
JINDAL: A couple of things. We know they're not completely done with the work, they're not nearly done with the levee work that was supposed to have been done. You look at all the various gaps we already know about. Even if all the work they've done was done exactly right, which we won't know without independent verification, even if you assume that, you still have the opening in Mistergo (ph), you still have the tremendous areas that are not protected because of the work that's not been done yet. Some of which has been contracted out but which has not completed yet.
So nobody -- we are still years away, it's not until 2011 that they predicted they'll have the 100 year flood protection done in the greater New Orleans area. So nobody should assume that the levees have been fully restored, built back. They're not up to their authorized heights, not -- certainly the breaches have been fixed and they've got the gates to the canals, but nobody should assume that these levees are back to where they need to be.
I heard this from somebody and I'll repeat it, it's not my thought originally, we should view the levees as a way to protect our property, we should not count on them at this point in time to protect our lives. So if you're living behind one of those levees and you well, I've got a levee, should you evacuate. You should not count on that levee to protect your life.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) JINDAL: Sure.
In terms of medical evacuations, literally the planes are now flying every 30 minutes. We're using Lakefront Airport as a hub facility, meaning that we're transporting patients there where they'll then be loaded on medically equipped planes. The federal government mass stood up four medical needs shelters outside the state. Texas has set up their own in Austin.
They sent six C-130s and again, I want to thank Governor Perry for his help in doing that. We've evacuated certainly the vast majority of nursing homes. Over a couple of dozen hospitals. Some hospitals have a handful of critical patients that they're choosing not to evacuate because it would be more dangerous move them than not to move them, but hospitals like West Jefferson that sheltered in place during 2005 in Katrina are actually evacuating this time.
So there are literally dozens of ambulances on the ground picking up homebound patients, nursing home patients, other medically ill patients, getting them to air transport so they can take it on these planes out of state. We also have the PMAC (ph) facility here in Baton Rouge, we've got 2000 medical beds here in the State of Louisiana, 1,000 from the state, 1,000 from the federal government. So the resources are there. If somebody's homebound and needs help to call the local UFC (ph), they'll be picked up. If a nursing home needs help to evacuate, if their plans didn't work we'll come and help them do that.
For the hospitals, I know DHH is aggressively encouraging nursing homes thinking about sheltering in place to reconsider that, to think about evacuating especially if they're in these impacted areas. Would he working with the local EOCs, the local parishes to term the evacuation of each parish. You hear in some areas like in the City of New Orleans they're literally sending folks in various blocks and I know FEMA is going door to door in these trailers and mobile homes to tell people not to shelter in place, that they need to evacuate. We're working.
We absolutely anticipate the vast, vast majority of people will heed the warnings, will be evacuated before this storm comes and makes ...
ROBERT LUI, CNN ANCHOR: Fifteen thousand evacuated, 430 buses ready to pull out more people. This is an open roadway, one way for people to get out of the endangered areas there in Louisiana. Bobby Jindal saying go now. Look out for the tropical storm winds when they hit, that is when it starts. It's not going to be when the eye of the storm hits. So go now. Very clear message being made by the governor there in Louisiana.
We're going to continue to listen to what he has to say, we'll go for a break, we'll be right back with more on this.
ANNOUNCER: CNN, your hurricane headquarters. LUI: The exodus from New Orleans and low lying towns in the crosshairs of Hurricane Gustav, where is it right now? Well, it is the most dangerous storm since 2005. It will hit tomorrow. Maybe as early as noon. Jacqui Jeras has the very latest from the CNN Hurricane Center and, Jacqui, just from yesterday, speeding up, Gustav is, right?
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is, yeah. And be careful with that noonish time frame because this thing could hit earlier. It's also possible it could hit later and a lot of it of course due to that forward speed. Right now it's moving at 17 miles per hour up to the north and west. And that is pretty fast. Much faster than what it was moving yesterday, but some of the models it could slow down just a little bit before it reaches land. So if that happens, of course, that window will start pushing a little bit later. So think midday- ish maybe for tomorrow.
The storm did weaken just a little bit with our latest advisory. Our maximum sustained winds 115 miles per hour. But still a Category 3 storm, still a major hurricane. And that is still what we are anticipating when this reaches the coast likely sometime tomorrow. Now, let's talk a little bit about the path. It's still continuing on that pretty steady northwesterly track. It's starting to head toward some slightly cooler water, but we don't think it's going to be enough to really impact the intensity. Official forecasts still keep it as a 3 or 4 making landfall tomorrow and then down the line we'll be dealing with big stall out issues. So not only are we really worried about the storm's surge, but we're also worried about the fresh water flooding, the rain flooding that's going to be taking place down the line across parts of Texas and Louisiana. We could be talking as much as maybe 15 plus inches of rainfall.
Now, the wind starting to pick up a little bit. The cloud already here across the Gulf Coast and some of these thundershowers getting close to the coastline. We think they're probably just another hour or two away at best, but the real sustained tropical storm force winds we don't think will be arriving until later on this evening. So once those sustained T.S. winds arrive that's it, nobody's heading out anymore because it becomes too dangerous and those winds become too strong. What does a Category 3 storm mean? Winds between 111 to 130 miles per hour. Storm surge between nine and 12 feet. But the surge could be changeable depending on the coastline, depending on all the tributaries and lakes and that types of things and this storm is a monster now. It is 400 miles wide.
When you have 400 miles across, it's a very powerful storm. With that magnitude, we can see the surge stronger. So be aware of that. You'll see structural damage to small residencies, large trees uprooted, mobile homes, just leveled potentially and low lying escape roots begin to cut off between three and five hours before the arrival of the center of the hurricane. So time is running out. And you really need to rush to get out if that's what you're planning on doing.
Now let's talk a little bit more about the structure of this storm. And the eye is a little bit more difficult to see on the satellite picture anymore. We've been seeing changes with that and the hurricane hunters are out flying in the storm, and Reynolds Wolf, our meteorologist, is joining us here now. And Reynolds, tell us a little bit about what's happening here.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We can take a look and you can notice the center of the storm, not really as symmetric as some of these storms tend to be. We're going to kind of zoom in and give and you better view at home as to how these storms are. This is a great looking shot that we have, high resolution. As you see this image, we're seeing things look pretty good to the north and east and west of the storm. The hard thing is to remember the storm is way out in the middle of the Gulf Mexico. We don't have radar that can really get there and get that information so important to us that to get an idea of how strong the storm might become and where it may be headed, you see this line that's right around the center, that is your hurricane core.
The eye trying to form right here and right now it's really obscured by a lot of clouds. So to get a better idea of what the storm may possibly do, you have to go to aircraft. C 130 aircraft and dropping drops-ons into the center of the storm are and it's crucial to us. And these drops-ons will give us really pertinent information so what the storm is doing in terms of its intensity, its wind speed. How much moisture is feeding into it.
Really, really crucial stuff that we have to have to give us an idea of where the storm is going, how strong it might become and how it might affect millions of people on the coast.
JERAS: All right. Good information. Thanks for that explainer. Reynolds Wolf. We'll send it back to you, Richard.
LUI: All right, Jacqui Jeras, Reynolds Wolf, thank you so much for that. And I know we'll be talk with you throughout this afternoon to get the very latest there on Hurricane Gustav based on what those electronic gizmos are doing for us as they send the planes in to the storm. We'll now go to Sean Callebs who was part of what is called contra flow where they turned the roads one way to allow the people to get out of the endangered area. He was in a car earlier today. He now joins us from New Orleans. You made it back there, Sean, but how was the ride out earlier?
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were fry to go see just what it's like for the people who are now or have fled the City of New Orleans. If you look behind me, it's almost a ghost town. There are police officers on various corners and a lot of the people lead to the Superdome and they don't want people to end up back there for any reason.
We got in earlier this morning about 6:00 local time. Began driving up toward Baton Rouge. We made it about as far as Hammond. Usually it's about an hour, hour and 15 minute drive. It took us more than four hours to get up just to Hammond. It's interesting because both sides of Interstate 10, the east and westbound, were flowing out of the city in that contraflow. One side was completely packed, the other side was very, very sparsely filled. But so much of that had to do with the fact you can't just get on off- ramps in many areas of Louisiana because these are areas that go over bayous. But a lot of people were frustrated, but they knew this was going to be the case.
Mayor Nagin and everybody else has made it very clear it is time to get out of the city and really so many people seem to have heeded that advice. There are some people I know in the neighborhood I live in, there are still people in there. I don't know if they're going to try to ride out the storm or if they are going to try to go somewhere else, but without question, the police are going to make it much more difficult for feel wander around on the streets like they did in the chaotic days right after Hurricane Katrina.
Mayor Nagin, the police, have said anybody caught looting will be taken harshly. They will be taken straight to Angola. That is the maximum security prison in this state. It is reserve pod people who will serve 50 years or more. So if you're caught looting you're going to end up there so that's a pretty tough punishment by any stretch of the imagination. Also about 1500 National Guard troops have been added to the 400 that have been here basically since Hurricane Katrina trying to stop looting in areas that have been flooding. But without question, very eerie, very eerie, Richard. Warm conditions, we know that hideous weather is coming, the question is just how bad is it going to be. But living here the last three year, we slowly saw this city kind of rebuild itself and then overnight, back to a ghost town again. It reminds me of what life was like here in the winter of 2005, the winter right after Hurricane Katrina.
LUI: And you've been living there as you said. I want to go back to the video that you took this morning when you were in a car driving out of the city. How fast were you moving, Sean, and generally speaking what was the mood of the drivers, the other cars that you saw on the road? Was it positive, were they looking fairly forward to the moves that were made not only by the government but as well as the opportunity to get out of the city?
CALLEBS: I think there was a certain degree of resignation. People knew it was going to be a very difficult drive, they knew it was going take a long time to get to Baton Rouge and points beyond that, so they knew they had to accept it. A lot of cars had family, loaded up in the back, games for the kids, we saw videos. At times we were simply stopped. For decent amounts of time, it became a parking lot. A couple occasions we saw people reading a newspaper, on one occasion we saw a lady actual will painting her toenails. So people did whatever they could to pass the time. We had a lot of soft drinks, a lot of chips and stuff. We knew it would be a while. But it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be bumper to bumper. There were times when the interstate opened up to a dramatic degree, we were able to go 50 miles an hour for about 10 miles and that actually seemed like suddenly we were doing NASCAR after going about 14 miles an hour for hours.
It is what it is. People know they have to leave and when you suddenly tell hundreds ever thousand of people to leave and they're limited thoroughfares, highways out of the city, do you what you can.
LUI: More dash cam video. Now the governor said they're going to stop this one way flow at midnight, but they could extend it. Any sense from the residents or your experience about whether up to midnight will be enough?
CALLEBS: No, I don't think they're even going need it now. When we were coming back in on I-10 East, I-10 West was wide open. People got out of town as early as possible. Look, the last thing you want to do is get stuck on one of those interstates over the bayou in tropical storm like conditions long before the eye or the heart of this hurricane punishes this area. But if you're whipped around even by those winds, it can be bad. Look, people learned their lesson after Katrina, not just the government. The citizens here are also heeding the advice that comes down, to take this very seriously, to get out of town. You heard Mayor Nagin told us programs the mother of all storms. Whether it's hyperbole or not, it gets your attention and you get out of town.
LUI: No, I understand that you decided after you got back last night from working a very long day for us, and great stuff, that you took a bike ride around your community and you saw a lot of your fellow neighbors say going by and hugging and different things like that.
CALLEBS: Yeah, I thought this would be the last time to get on a bike for a while. Actually I live in the Riverbend area, so I got on the levee actually by the Mississippi river and it goes forever. And I went up probably about 12 miles or so up past the town and could you look down and see houses, a lot of people were packing up, neighbors were hugging, neighbors talking on the phone. Clearly people are going to try to stay in touch because a lot of people are going to be watching from a distance what happens to their town.
There's no way around it, this is a very vulnerable area. We saw what happened three years ago despite all the work, despite all the commitment to changing all the wrongs three years ago. Doesn't take a lot. One levee break along a significant stretch could flood this bowl of a city once again and just unleash the horrors that this community had to deal with back in 2005.
LUI: Sean, if you could, describe that street behind you. What would it look like normally? What part of town are you in?
CALLEBS: Well, this is called the CBD, the Central Business District. This is Poidris (ph). If you shoot straight down, you go by some of the banking communities, some nice restaurants, you go a little bit further, a number of hotels. And then just in the distance that's the Mississippi River and they park a steam boat there and they go up and down the steam boat for tours. This would normally be a really crowded thoroughfare. In fact, Harrah's is right down there. That's like a magnet for anybody who comes to this town, they have to go in and make their deposits in that place. So usually this would an extremely crowded area. The heart of the business district. City hall is right across from where we are now, which is probably the only reason you see any cars out here right now. Fire truck coming by. The vehicles we see are emergency vehicles. You don't see any civilians for lack after better term, citizens, walking around here cruising around.
What's the best way to get out of town? Well, the best thing would have been leave hours ago. That's probably what they would have heard. So that's what we're seeing.
LUI: All right. Sean Callebs.
As you continue to report for us, stay safe and thank you so much for all that information. Very much appreciate it.
All right. We'll get back to Sean later if we can to get an update in terms of what he's seeing, but of course we're watching Gustav and many packing up and moving out as Sean was telling us, but not everyone is leaving. Our special coverage continues.
LUI: As we watch Hurricane Gustav, despite the orders coming from both the federal and state officials that people must get out, some people are saying we're staying put. CNN's Ali Velshi joins us live from Louisiana's Grand Isle due south of New Orleans probably about 80 miles and what are you seeing?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard, I'll tell you what, I'm wearing a fire department hat because that's pretty much all that's left. This island has been largely evacuated. It's a barrier island right off the Gulf of Mexico. So the Gulf of Mexico just over my shoulder. And we are expecting the way the storm is tracking right now that this island will get a lot of rain and some heavy winds. So most people have evacuated. I went along on a ride with the fire chief here to clear the island off and here's what we learned.
FIRE CHIEF AUBREY CHAISSON, GRAND ISLE, LA: Attention all citizens on Grand Isle. We have a mandatory evacuation as of 1:00.
VELSHI (voice-over): Fire Chief Aubrey Chaisson on evacuation detail says it hasn't been hard to clear Grand Isle, Louisiana of its residents. Most are gone. But Dean Blanchard is staying.
DEAN BLANCHARD, BLANCHARD SEAFOOD COMPANY: All the rest of the people are staying want to know if they can come stay with me.
VELSHI: Blanchard runs a shrimp processing plant here. He shut it down for the storm and sent his staff away, but he's staying in his house next door.
BLANCHARD: This is all beam, this is posts in there, arm posts this big around, 50 foot in the ground. Under the ground here, they got I beams welded to each post and 36 inches of concrete on top of it holding it where it can't move.
VELSHI: Only a handful of people are staying on Grand Isle. The others are emergency workers staying back to get the town up and running again after the storm. It's mostly shrimp fishermen and oil workers here. Some of them earn well, others scrape by.
Fire Chief Chaisson says people delay evacuating as long as they can because leaving with the cost of gas, food and accommodations is expensive.
CHAISSON: Average man here makes $1500, $2,000 a month. That's not a lot of money. That man better have $2,000 to stay for a week.
VELSHI: The chief says he's going to ride the storm out on Grand Isle unless it looks like it's going get really bad.
CHAISSON: If it gets that catastrophic, what good is it to stay if you can't help nobody?
VELSHI: Blanchard lived through Katrina and he figures he can live through Gustav.
BLANCHARD: We don't have to worry. I'm telling you, we safe in here.
VELSHI: But behind his bravado, he share as simple humility for Mother Nature with the fire chief.
BLANCHARD: She determines when you go and she's going to let you know what's going to happen.
VELSHI (on camera): Pretty much everybody has left at this point, Richard, except those who are staying behind. Dean Blanchard who we showed you in the story, we're here actually on his deck in his home and he's pretty sure that this will withstand the storm that's coming. But people have evacuated here. I want to tell you something else, we are right next to Port Fouchon which is where most of the offshore oil in the United States comes in. This storm is tracking toward this area and there's a lot of concern about what's going happen to oil facilities after Hurricane Katrina.
There were a lot of facilities damaged as you recall, so there's been an unprecedented move this afternoon, oil trading has already begun. Usually electronic trading begins at 6:00 p.m. Eastern to coincide with he opening of markets in Asia. It has started three and a half hours early just moments ago so that people who are a little concerned about what's going it happen to oil can start trading already. So we will know within the next hour or two what effect this tracking of the storm is having on the price of oil and of course we'll have a very full picture of it by about tomorrow at this time, Richard.
LUI: And Ali is our senior business correspondent. He wears lots of hats. It's a Fire Department hat. We've been saying the last couple of days. You were out actually there in the Gulf looking at many of the rigs and I guess all of them have been evacuated right now that need to be?
VELSHI: You can see about two dozen from where I am right now, they're not too far offshore. Everything that is in the path of this storm has been evacuated. There are no workers in the path of the storm in the Gulf of Mexico right now. And, yeah, the Fire Department has been showing us around they took us out on a boat, we were up next to one, they've all been evacuated. We saw helicopters going by, that is how they get the folks off the rigs. They're not taking any chances with people there. And before they evacuate those rigs, they have to seal them down completely so if the rigs are damaged or blown off their moorings, no oil will flow into the Gulf of Mexico. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than 40 of these platforms, but still no oil shed into the Gulf of Mexico because of that.
The Department of the Interior, which supervises that, is pretty strict about that, Richard.
LUI: Ali Velshi there in Grand Isle, Louisiana, thank you. And he's at the location three years ago where Hurricane Katrina hit. One of the very first locations to take on the brunt of Hurricane Katrina. Thanks, Ali, again.
Get out. The two operative words right now for many people living along the northern Gulf Coast. CNN's Susan Roesgen shows us how one New Orleans family is bracing for Gustav.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're taking the silver upstairs, just some things we can't replace.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every time a hurricane comes close, the Stifel (ph) family move as lot of things upstairs. And then they get out. But this time, 12-year-old Dalton is writing a prayer on his bedroom wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It says, "Blessed Lord, please tell Gustav to go away."
ROESGEN: That's the prayer after lot of people here, thousands who have no way to get out on their own. Instead of leaving them to fend for themselves as the city did during Hurricane Katrina, for Gustav, the city brought the poor and the desperate to the bus and train station to register for a free ride out of town.
The trouble was a computer glitch showed the registration to a crawl while hundreds of people waited in line outside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's horrible. Very horrible. I got a pregnant sister with two kids with a grandma out here who don't need to be behind this bus.
ROESGEN: Eventually the city stopped the registration and the first train with 1,500 people was on the way to safety in Memphis. During Katrina, nine feet of water flooded this house. The Stifel family rebuilt it with an optimism that is uniquely New Orleans.
(on camera): If a hurricane this year wiped you out again, will you come back again and do this all over? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We would like to think we would. (Inaudible) Actually, yes, I think we will.
ROESGEN (voice-over): It may sound unthinkable if you live anywhere else, but New Orleaneans love it city with such passion, they won't let go of it without a fight and a prayer. Susan Roesgen, CNN, New Orleans.
LUI: The White House watching Hurricane Gustav with the rest of the world right now, so how are they preparing for the deadly storm?
LUI: All right. Here's what's happening now for you. Getting out of Gustav's way. There's a mass exodus underway along the Gulf Coast as mayors, governors and President Bush tells residents to run for higher ground. You can see they're doing that now. Well, right now, Gustav, a Category 3 hurricane. But forecasters warn it's about to head into the Gulf's warmer waters and could get stronger before hitting land there. Let's pinpoint the exact location of Hurricane Gustav, as well.
Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is tracking the storm at CNN's hurricane headquarters and Jacqui we take a look at this, the waters, the warm waters as Gustav kind of moves closer into the gulf, tell us about that.
JERAS: Well, actually, Gustav has been moving over some extremely warm waters over the last 12 plus hours or so. And the warm loop current in this area here. So kind of getting in now on the northern fringes and it's heading towards some slightly cooler waters. So we'll have to wait and see how that evolves. But you can tell just by looking here at the satellite picture, the center of circulation is up here, it's not quite as organized as it was yesterday when we were looking at a really strong Category 4. But it looks like it's getting its act back together and all of this purple here could be a sign that we're getting a little bit more intensification. And we do expect that this storm will get stronger and it is possible that we could go back up to Category 4 status.
Now, something else I want to talk about, Richard. Check out the cloud shield on this thing. And by that I mean look how far out the clouds extend from this storm. This thing basically takes up about 2/3 of the Gulf of Mexico and the size of this now, the tropical storm force winds extend out 400 miles across. That is equivalent to how large Hurricane Katrina was in size. And if you remember, Charlie was a teeny tiny storm compared to at least speaking.
We're already feeling the impacts here, some showers and thundershowers have been making their way up toward the coastline. Now, as for the timing, it's still a little iffy. We don't want to pinpoint an exact time. And the reason why, the forward speed has been changing a little bit. It's been moving a little faster. So now those winds, the direction, the speed of it is now about 17 miles per hour. And some slowing is going to be possible down the line. If it stays on this track, we could certainly be talking late morning, early afternoon. If this slows down we'll be talking about later in the day. So we really need to rush those preparations to completing. Evacuation really need to -- you got get out now if that's what you're going to be doing because we think the tropical storm force winds will be arriving already by this evening.
And there you can see the official forecast from the National Hurricane Center, which by the way, that cone which is what we want you to focus on, look how far west that extends yet. So Texas not completely out of the mix, but most likely scenario, we think this thing is heading towards Louisiana at this point. Now, I want to talk a little bit more about some really great data that we have exclusive to CNN that we want to bring along to you. And our CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf over here to tell us a little pit more about our hurricane impact zone.
And this is kind of a computer model basically that takes all the information from the storm and says this is how bad the impact economically could be. Is that right?
WOLF: Absolutely. If you noticed this, if we can zoom in with this camera, camera 108, you can actually see the white stripe. That indicates the forecast past we have of this particular hurricane. I'm going to step out a little bit so you can see. And if it holds true to the forecast path, we estimate that in some places, the places that you see shaded in red, would be areas where you'd have damage in excess of $1 million. You see the places that are shaded in orange, just to the north, northeast and due east of New Orleans, you'll see that would be anywhere from $100,000 to a million dollars. Other areas shaded in yellow, also some damage there, less than $100,000. A total of $29.4 billion.
No one thing that we have to say and we have to tell our viewers at home, these storms can be really fickle things. If the path goes a little bit more to the east or maybe deviates to the west, this layout could change considerably. There could an lot of changes in this. Especially we play in with the direction, the speed, power when it goes onshore. So this is a snapshot in time.
JERAS: So if we had a Category 4 making land fall right in here, this is what the result could be. So we've got to take it a little bit with a grain of salt basically.
JERAS: Is what you're saying with this. But great information and just devastating when you take a look at something like that.
WOLF: No question.
JERAS: All right. Thanks, Reynolds. Richard?
LUI: And really the key point, that is not a small area. Very large section there of Louisiana.
JERAS: That's a lot of red.
WOLF: It's going to be really hard, Richard, to see the State of Louisiana get unscathed in this. If that path holds true, it's going to be a very rough time for people in that state, no question.
LUI: All right. Reynolds, Jacqui. Thank you very much. Really good stuff.
Watching Hurricane Gustav, our special coverage continues.
LUI: As we told you, President Bush said he'll skip his party's convention given the threat from Hurricane Gustav. Now he's planning to fly to Texas tomorrow to check out emergency operations. CNN's Brianna Keilar has more for us live from Washington. Brianna, what else did he say?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard, President Bush was actually supposed to speak on Monday night at the Republican National Convention. Now he's not going. He says nor is Vice President Cheney. Instead, President Bush heading to Texas. He'll be stopping at emergency preparation centers in Austin as well as San Antonio. He'll be visiting with evacuees in Texas. And he says he is not going Louisiana saying he doesn't want to get in the way of storm prep, but is he hoping to go there as soon as possible. Today President Bush was at FEMA where he was briefed by local, state and federal officials and he also made remarks warning Gulf Coast residents to follow calls by state officials to evacuate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Secretary Chertoff and FEMA administrator Paulison report that the federal government has pre- positioned teams of emergency manager, doctors, ambulances, search and rescue teams, aircraft and commodities throughout the region. There are millions of meals and millions of liters of water pre-staged as well as a lot of blankets and cots.
In other words, there's a lot of preparation going in in anticipation of this storm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Really trying to show they learned lessons from Hurricane Katrina and that we won't see a repeat of the bungled response in 2005. And from all White House accounts, we are hearing there's a steady flow of communication between local, state and federal officials, but as this storm comes on shore, Richard, if it is as damaging as we're hearing that it might be, that's when we'll really see what has changed since Hurricane Katrina if anything.
LUI: Brianna, did he say anything about his conversations with either the governor, Bobby Jindal, or the mayor there in New Orleans, Ray Nagin? KEILAR: He has been talking a lot lately about how he's been in touch with governors. In fact, he's been in touch consistently with all of the governors, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. So what the White House trying to do, really showing President Bush has a hold of what's going on at a state and local level, Richard.
LUI: All right. Brianna Keilar there in Washington, DC. Thank you so much with the latest from President Bush. We're going to stay on top of the story for you all day today here on a special edition of NEWSROOM. Hurricane Gustav, Category 3, moving at 17 miles an hour towards the northwest. And, of course, we're watching out for all the area in the gulf coast and the cities and areas and the recent contents that will be affected.
LUI: We'll get to a FEMA news briefing in just a bit. We expect it to start within the next hour or so. About like five minutes in the next hour. We expect to here from not only David Paulison, we also expect to hear from Ed Hecker, the Chief of the Homeland Security Office, Kevin Colevar (ph), the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. Yesterday they were being very clear, they brought in several agencies during the fee in a briefing just about the same time yesterday. The Red Cross was there, the Small Business Administration as well as Health and Human Services coming together to say they have got 3,000 volunteers down there, all their equipment in place ready to give out meals in several locations. They'll have meal trucks that go out and deliver meals, that there is money from the Small Business Administration available not only to businesses, but also to renters, to homeowners, and many others. So the FEMA briefing about to start. We expect in the next five to ten minutes in this next coming hour. We'll be listening for that.
John McCain said today he will soon announce changes to the GOP convention scheduled to start tomorrow. McCain flew into Pearl, Mississippi with his running water, mate rather, Sarah Palin, to the emergency management center. The presumptive nominee said the convention will go to a party event to a call for a national response to a great natural disaster.
We'll have much more on the changes for the convention in our next hour for you. All right. Our special coverage continues in just a moment. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.