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Watching Hurricane Gustav: The Category 3 Hurricane Expected to Make Landfall Within Hours

Aired September 1, 2008 - 03:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and good morning, 3:00 a.m. on the East coast. We are keeping an eye on Gustav, a Category 3 hurricane that is now about 170 miles outside of New Orleans and it's hours maybe now from making landfall somewhere on the Gulf Coast, expected to hit just west of the city of New Orleans.
Right now, winds around 115 miles an hour, however wind gusts are being tracked at around 140 miles an hour. We are getting word that it has slowed down just a bit, inching towards the Gulf Coast now. It's about 16 miles per hour is how it's moving. A few hours ago, it was moving about 18 miles per hour. Forecasters expect it to slow down even more. But as it slows down, that means it has more time to pick up that intensity as it goes through those warm waters of the Gulf Coast.

Good news here. New Orleans looks like a ghost town. That is a good thing. Everybody has heeded the warnings and has gotten out of there. About two million people, we're told, have evacuated from the Gulf Coast.

The estimate is that 10,000 people are believed to still be New Orleans. They're planning on riding this thing out. We have talked to several of them this morning. And they have various reasons for sticking around.

Louisiana National Guard, this video you're seeing here, they've set up command centers in that city. They're still looking for some of those holdouts and trying to get them out, but again, we've talked to plenty of people this morning. So they are not going anywhere. Some even say they're not scared of this storm.

Some even say they have been through this before, Karen Maginnis. It's amazing. It's all to that gentleman to say hey, I have seen these predictions. I have seen these forecasts before. And it never does what they say it's going to do. So I mean, really, the guy sounded like he was more so a meteorologist than the meteorologists on TV, but you know, whatever works for them, wish them all the best, but this is not a storm to be playing around with.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's not at all. And I was talking with one of our assignment desk people. And they were saying, well, we've got people here and there. And I just have to say, just always makes me nervous. This is a Category 3 hurricane. And it has slowed down a little bit. National Hurricane Center says yes, it may slow down just a little bit more. We got our last update, recent update 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time. That's 1:00 a.m. as we look towards Central Time.

Here is New Orleans. There's Lake Pontchartrain. We saw those live pictures from WVUE in New Orleans of all that water schlossing (ph) around. There's a live picture, WVUE, kind of a different perspective. Doesn't look so bad when you take a look at it from that perspective. But we did see a peak wind gust earlier of around 37 miles an hour. And in some of those coastal areas, some of the wind gusts have been higher.

Right around Boothville -- there's water schlossing around that basin known as Lake Pontchartrain. But this is probably going to make landfall somewhere along that south central coast of Louisiana, maybe St. Mary's Parish, which includes Morgan City. And they're saying that worst case scenario with that storm surge, between 10 and 14 feet, that just about the entire parish could be under water. That's worse case scenario.

This is a Category 3. It may still maintain its Category 3 intensity as it makes landfall about midday local time. It's also right about the time we're seeing high tide. The thing is the tides are -- don't fluctuate like they do, say in Maine or Baffin Bay. We're looking at half a foot to a foot and a half.

Right now, from Pensacola over towards Mobile, we've got one little wave moving across this area. We've seen wind gusts right around 30, 35 miles an hour. And T.J., wanted to show you this. This is southeastern Louisiana. Here's Lake Pontchartrain. Down in that town of Boothville, we've seen some wind gusts up around 52 miles an hour. So we're starting to see that wind pick up.

I just really want to show you one other thing, and that is this is the water vapor. Where you see this brown, that means it's pretty dry. Where you see the green, that's where we've got all that moisture. But look at this. Some of these bands coming on shore, the potential for tornadic activity over the next 6 to 12 hours, is increasing hour by hour across this area.

T.J., back to you.

HOLMES: Karen, we appreciate you.

We're going to talk to somebody from the Red Cross, but I'm going to get back to you here in just a bit. And want to ask certainly some who want to address this. Many people hear that it's not going to directly hit New Orleans, but it's going to hit a little to the West. And some people think, well, that sounds great. It's not direct hit, but that's not necessarily a good thing, because feel some of that stronger side of that storm is going to be directly hitting New Orleans. So we'll explain that, talk to Karen about that a little more.

Right now, we want to talk to Kay Wilkins, who is head of the South Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Ma'am, thank you for giving us some time. I know you are a busy person right about now. Tell us where you are, and I guess, where the people are who are needing your assistance right now?

KAY WILKINS, HEAD OF THE SOUTH LOUISIANA CHAPTER, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Thanks. We're -- we have actually moved about 30 miles north of New Orleans out of the area that's at risk for a storm surge and flooding from the waters there, and are in a place called Covington, Louisiana.

Through the day, yesterday, we received a lot of people who heeded the mandatory evacuation order. And we're seeking shelter. We opened 19 shelters and three parishes or counties in our chapter area. And saw the - through the day, saw those -- eight of those 19 shelters fill up. And then we're almost at capacity for the others.

HOLMES: Now many people can you hold in one of those shelters?

WILKINS: Well, we have had capacity for about 6,200 people. About 200 or 300 people per shelter. But we were as -- at 3,000 a couple of hours ago. And we're still seeing people come into the shelters.

HOLMES: Now how has your -- I'm not sure how long you have been with the Red Cross there, I don't know if you've been there since Katrina, but how have you all, your organization, how have you all kind of changed the way you have done business in the past three years to prepare for a storm versus how your response might have been three years ago?

WILKINS: I was here during Katrina. And the thing that is very different is the fact the -- a couple of things. First, there's the pre-positioning of supplies. Katrina taught us that the time to have our resources into the chapters was not after a storm, but actually before the storm. So through the week, we've been seeing volunteers coming our way. Almost 3,000 volunteers have found their way into the Gulf states, and are helping in shelters, and helping provide support to those shelters.

And then the second thing that I think we've learned from Katrina was that we really needed to partner with agencies. So we found - our chapter, for instance, has evacuated not only our volunteers and staff within the Red Cross, but we've - we also are hosting volunteers from Salvation Army and from Catholic charities and Southern Baptists.

HOLMES: Well, how can people, those who may be listening now, who do need some help, where can they get that help? Where can they go to even find one of these shelters?

WILKINS: Well, the shelters are - one of the things that we do is we do send people to shelters through shelter information points that are located off the major highways.


WILKINS: As one shelter fills up, this information point is able to point people into the direction where there is a shelter, where they can find refuge.

HOLMES: OK. And these shelters will be open as -- I guess as long as needed?

WILKINS: Oh, the shelters are there for as long as people need the Red Cross.

HOLMES: OK. Well, again, Kay Wilkins with the Red Cross there. South Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross. Ma'am, thank you so much. I know you all are busy and you're hustling. And it's really early, middle of the night, early in the morning, however you want to look at it there, but we appreciate you taking the time out. We appreciate the work you're doing down there. And hopefully, people are all right. But you're there to help them out.

Ms. Wilkins, thank you so much.

WILKINS: Thank you.

HOLMES: All right, we want to turn back now to our Chris Lawrence, who has been helping us get an idea of what's going on in the city of New Orleans.

And Chris, a good thing is that you are seeing, I guess, more police officers than you are people? That's a good thing.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, way more police officers than people, T.J. You know, we've been talking to these units, roll with them a little while ago as just going around, doing their patrols. And you know, they keep coming back saying the same thing. There's just nobody really around.

They're out there for two reasons. One, to show that show of force to discourage anyone who might think about looting. And two, if anyone decided to stick out the storm and now is having some second thoughts about that, to perhaps give them some help. They also want to be in position, because in the next couple hours when these winds start to pick up and the main storm comes through, they're going to have to go to ground, so to speak, for a few hours as the storm goes through. But as soon as it does, they want to be in immediate position to get back out on the street.

You can see right behind me, this is pretty much what you'll see on the street. If you drive around or if you are around New Orleans, this twin presence. The National Guard Humvee and the New Orleans Police Department cruiser. The police do have a lot of their vehicles, though, parked in a high rise structure just a few blocks away from here. It's just a precaution in case there is some of the flooding like we saw in Katrina that they would be able to, you know, have some cars in reserve. That was a big problem in Katrina, that they lost a lot of vehicles.

One other difference between then and now, some of the districts didn't even have a boat. So they were cut off from a lot of these areas. Now every district in the city has the boat to use just in case there is that kind of flooding. T.J.?

HOLMES: Chris, tell us one more thing here quickly. We heard from one of the parish presidents yesterday, talking about people are being told to evacuate. Mandatory evacuations -- if you don't go, you're pretty much under this house incarceration. And if we see you out, we're going to treat you like a suspicious person. Is that what the police, at least you've been hanging out with, have been traveling around with, are they, I guess, driving around with that mentality that they -- I mean, treating people like hey, you're up to something if you're out because you're not supposed to be here?

LAWRENCE: I wouldn't -- I would say we haven't seen that. One of our producers is out on one of the patrols. And he came across a few people who were packing up late. It was tonight. You know, pitch black. The sun had already set, but they were clearly packing up some of their cars, getting a late start on getting out of the city. And you know, the police did not treat them as criminals. The policed asked them if they needed any help, wanted to make sure that they were OK, you know, but did not arrest them on the spot.

Yes, I think they're using a lot of discretion when it comes to that. You know, and I think it really is a response to what happened last time, when there was a complete vacuum of power. And the city kind of descended in a lawlessness. I think they really wanted to make sure this time that people knew there is an authority out there, that you know, any of this kind of criminal behavior would not be tolerated.

HOLMES: Yes, that was actually Aaron Broussard (ph). He's the president of the Jefferson Parish that we heard from yesterday in a press conference, saying you're pretty much going to be under a home incarceration. If we see you, you're not supposed to be out. So he had that attitude at least in his parish, but maybe certainly not citywide there.

Chris, we appreciate you this morning. We appreciate you hanging tough with us there in the city. We'll be checking in with you again. We will be checking in with other live reporters there in New Orleans when we come back.

Again, still checking in with people who are not evacuating. A live picture at one of the bars there in town, where people are still doing their thing. Looking at that woman there, looks like she's having a good time. And she does not know that outside of that window, a Category 3 storm is heading towards them. This is just kind of an unbelievable picture, if you will, to see people hanging out like this when a deadly storm is barreling towards them.



HOLMES: All right, if you are in or around New Orleans, anywhere in the Gulf Coast, if you are anywhere watching right now, and you see what I see on this screen, which is Hurricane Gustav heading towards the Gulf Coast, you need to turn the TV off, pick up your keys, and get out of there. This is not a storm to be toying with. Many have evacuated, but some still left in some Gulf Coast area. Some still refusing to leave. We are covering this story from a lot of angles. Those two top line pictures on your screen are affiliates helping us out down in the Gulf Coast region with some of their coverage, helping us tell this story, bring it to our viewers nationally.

Also, you see the radar down there on the bottom right of your screen. That is Gustav making its way. Our Karen Maginnis there also in the hurricane center. She's the one that's helping us in these overnight hours, really track this storm. And tracking the storm, what we know right now, is about 170 miles outside of the New Orleans area. It's supposed to make landfall at some point midday Monday is what we're expecting. A Category 3 storm right now. About 115 mile an hour winds, but again, about 170 miles outside of making landfall.

I want to head back to Sheldon Fox, who's a reporter at WGNO. He is in New Orleans. Again, we are certainly hoping -- getting some help from our affiliate reporter.

Sheldon, many of us here in this newsroom are just scratching our heads. A lot of us can't understand it. It's one thing to try to ride it out home. It's another thing to be shooting pool, smoking a cigarette and having a beer when this thing is coming towards you. So you take it away. Help us understand this and understand how some of these people just take it in stride?

SHELDON FOX, WGNO CORRESPONDENT: Well, good advice, T.J., about picking up and getting out. That's what parish presidents are saying. And that's what Bobby Jindal, the governor here is saying. It's what Mayor Ray Nagin has said the last couple of days.

But at the Cajun Pub, there's a little bit of a different philosophy here. And we'll try to help somebody help you understand why in New Orleans it's a different spirit, it's a different culture, it's a different feel all the way around.

We've got the owner of the bar here, Joann (ph).

Joann, tell us what the deal is? Why would you stay here after all you went through during Katrina? Your bar was open during Katrina. You had one foot of water inside the bar. Let's go to the next story quickly, and then tell me why on earth would you stay here and allow your patrons to stay as well?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my home. This is my home. This is my business. And I live here.

FOX: And you're not leaving?


FOX: Let's see those pictures quickly of Hurricane Katrina.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A few pictures here we have.

FOX: That was St. Cloud Avenue, which is the very spot your bar sits on. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) of Hurricane Katrina when the storm came in. Again, real quick, a little bit of water out front, in front of the bar right there.

FOX: That looks like a little more than a little bit, but you kept the doors open and people kept coming in, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were still open and it didn't make any difference. They were here.

FOX: Very good.

I want to go talk to some of your patrons. Joann, she's been kind enough to allow us in here. And sort of sharing the stories of people in New Orleans. This is the epitome of the New Orleans spirit in terms of people staying around, partying, having drinks, and doing their thing even when a huge hurricane, a tropical -- a Category 3 hurricane is heading straight for it.

Now talk to me about what your deal is. Why are you here? Why aren't you at least heeding the warnings, listening to Mayor Nagin, taking off?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, this is where I live. This is what I love. If I got to go somewhere else to be alive, I'd rather not be alive.

FOX: And there you have it with the pitcher of beer and the pool stick and all. Lots of people staying here.

Now T.J., if you just bear with me. We're going to walk outside for just a minute and show you the weather. And it's not looking that nice. It's not terrible outside, but it's not getting any better. It certainly seems to be worsening. The wind is starting to kick up now. Just about a half an hour ago wasn't anywhere near this bad. We saw branches in the street playing. We saw military police driving by. That's the only sign of life outside of the Cajun Pub that you'll see in New Orleans right now.

And right now, the wind is no joke. The rain also, it comes down very whipping as well.

T.J., back to you.

HOLMES: All right, Sheldon, we lost your picture there. We could still hear you, but we lost your picture there for a second. We certainly hope to get it back. Sheldon, we appreciate you. We really do. And we hope to check back in with you again, certainly bringing this part of the story to our viewers.

And our viewers trying to understand why some people wouldn't leave. There's just a different mentality for some folks there in New Orleans. Certainly you talk to that gentleman there in the bar, that said if he had to be anywhere else to be alive, then he wouldn't want to be there. We do not recommend you taking that advice. We do not endorse that at all, but most people have gotten out. Some two million, we're told, have left the Gulf Coast. Still about 10,000 still straggling around and hanging out still in New Orleans is the estimate right now.

We will take a quick break here. We'll check back in with normally a tranquil, a peaceful Lake Pontchartrain. It's not the way right now. Stay here.


HOLMES: Well, of course, many people as we've been talking about, have gotten out of New Orleans and New Orleans area, the Gulf Coast region because this storm is on its way. Other people have made their way to the region. And of course, a lot of those people are media. And a lot of our reporters, a lot of our camera people, a lot of our staffers, a lot of our producers are there. And we've been checking in with them. And they've been sending us some pictures back of things that they are seeing.

Yes, we're going to share some of those with you. This is actually a Ruby Tuesday, a restaurant being boarded up. This picture sent to us by, again, one of our staffers. We have a few more here to show you.

Let's just go ahead and go through these, guys, if we can. Here's a -- due to the hurricane, we'll be closed until further notice. That's a sign. Also, a sheriff department boat as you see here being taken care of. I-10 in New Orleans. This picture here, that's yes, we've been seeing these.

And we know they had that contra flow plan, where just -- you can only go out. And we saw that traffic. We understood we had some people on the road actually in their cars or one of our reporters actually driving and doing live transports over the weekend. And it took him hours and hours just to go a few miles, but still, people were getting out. Things were going fairly well.

Emergency vehicles you see are pretty much all you see right now in many parts of that region, New Orleans, as well. Only thing go there. And then, again, here's another picture from a camera shooting one of the levees there. But we get help from our ireporters, many people, citizens out there, helping us tell these stories. But of course, our people are on the ground there as well. And they're sending some of these reports.

We're going to, again, our Karen Maginnis, she's over in the Hurricane Center keeping an eye on this thing. We're going to take a quick break. She is getting the latest for us. Information keeps updating on this storm. We will get the latest from her in just a second.


HOLMES: Yes, Gustav is on the way, but a lot of people thank goodness have heeded the warning and have gotten out of the Gulf Coast region. There has been a mass exodus of that Gulf Coast. And it's really being called the largest in Louisiana's state history. About two million people, we're told, in and around the New Orleans area have gotten out of there. A lot of people, of course, are going to stay with friends and family in other states. We've certainly seeing that before. Saw that a lot with Katrina. A lot of people just heading north to the capitol of Baton Rouge.

Christine Romans is there with one family from the New Orleans area.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-two mouths to feed under this one roof in Baton Rouge. Friends and family wait out Gustav. It's the second exodus for the Magee family in three years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's terrible. It's rough.

ROMANS: The damage to their home from Katrina is mostly fixed. But that storm left its mark on the children who know all too well the ferocity of wind and water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is going to be all over because it's sitting in the Gulf of Mexico where it'll get very big because it's hot water. And I'll beat it. Real damage to us.

ROMANS: Dangerous and disruptive, it took six weeks to get home from Katrina.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, the changing around, moving all night, you know. It's hard on them.

ROMANS: Ian turns 10 on Tuesday. It'll be his second birthday now during a hurricane. What they face today is worse than uncertainty. They know what could lie ahead, weeks away from home, disrupted schooling, anxiety.

You're doing it all over again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, all over again.

ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN, Baton Rouge.


HOLMES: That's the case for a lot of people having to do this all over again. Just did it three years ago. And another monster is bearing down on them. That monster goes by the name of Gustav. There it is. Still expected some time midday to hit the Gulf Coast. You see where it's headed there. It's about 170 miles outside of the New Orleans area. We are tracking it for you.

We're also keeping an eye on many of the stories we're getting out of the New Orleans area. A lot of people who are leaving. You know, a lot of people can't leave. A lot of people don't have shelter. Some of those, the homeless we're talking about here. We'll see what's happening with them when there is really nowhere for them to evacuate.


HOLMES: Well, it is already a killer storm. And it is now headed towards the U.S. Gulf Coast. We're keeping an eye on Gustav. We are having to cover this story from various angles. You are seeing a couple of our affiliates. They're at the top of your screen. Live pictures from them. And keeping an eye on them. They're helping us tell this story to our viewers and our national audience. Our Karen Maginnis though is our hurricane center. We want to turn to her now to get the very latest.

And also, Karen, we wanted to -- a lot of people just kind of a natural thing. They hear that it's going a little west of New Orleans. They hear it's not going to be a direct hit on New Orleans, the eye. And they think that's a good thing. Well, that's not necessarily the case.

MAGINNIS: It absolutely is not a good situation. That Eastern half of the system is where we're seeing, some of the strongest winds. Boothville, that's out on that southeastern tip, just about right here. And they just recorded a wind gust of 59 miles an hour.

And the eye of now Category 3 -- continuing Category 3 Hurricane Gustav lies probably less than 100 miles from that area. That's very low lying area and is going to be just or graphically very prone to flooding.

Well, we think that perhaps about noontime, it's going to make landfall somewhere around the St. Mary's Parish, the Iberia Parish. And right now, that's about 125 miles to the southeast from the south central coast of Louisiana.

The eye is now clearly visible in our radar loop and has been for the last couple of hours. Now I mentioned the possibility of a storm surge across this area. It could be between 10 and 14 feet. In worst case scenario, right around St. Mary's Parish, J.J., I don't if you've got that available or not. But St. Mary's Parish and into Iberia Parish and Vermillion Bay, it's going to take a look at that area.

This is the track that we think Gustav will take. They're saying remaining at a Category 3 hurricane until it gets to Lafayette. Now Lafayette is a little bit further inland. But we're not finished yet. Category 2 hurricane, even that far inland, well this is kind of the view. We're going to zoom it out here. There is Lafayette. There is the projected path of Gustav.

Now remember, it can go either way. But for the most part, New Orleans is going to be on that Eastern edge. And T.J., to get back to your original question, that's a terrible place to be. And you get that storm surge, that wall of water that just comes in across this area. And we're already picking up tropical storm force conditions at the lakefront at New Orleans. At Lake Pontchartrain, they are reporting a wind gust there around 50 miles an hour.

And we could see before it's all said and done by Wednesday, some areas could see as much as 20 inches of rainfall.

Let's go back to this image. Now we've got these -- this tropical storm - I'm sorry, tornado watch. It's been shaved off just a little bit, but still encompasses right at this edge of Alabama and into Florida. But some of these stronger bands are already making their way in.

I want to show you some of the wind gusts that we've plotted here. Look down here. And we've got a wind gust of 81 miles an hour. It's right under this banner, by the way. It is near the eye. 81 miles an hour being reported with one of the bands, one of these eye wall bands wrapped around the eye of this hurricane.

Now when this makes its way closer to shore, that's when our chances for tornadoes is really going to go up. They continue to be in that tornado watch until 7:00 in the morning. It's probably going to be extended. And we are looking right now, as I mentioned, a Category 3 hurricane, supporting winds of 115 could make it to 120 mile an hour winds associated with this just before landfall with this hurricane force winds extending out 70 miles from the center.

We'll keep you updated. T.J. And I know I get a little bit long winded with the systems.


MAGINNIS: We just can't give you enough information.


MAGINNIS: So much to tell you about.

HOLMES: We need you to be long winded. Be as long winded as you need to be, Karen Maginnis, because we need as much information about this storm as we can get. Thank you so much. And by all means, whenever you feel like coming back and talking some more, let us know when you got an update. And you can talk as much as you like, Karen.

The Louisiana governor has been talking a lot the past couple days as well. He was originally Bobby Jindal supposed to be, of course, in St. Paul, Minnesota with so many other Republicans for the big convention there. But certainly, all the plans have been changed now. So he is certainly back trying to take care of his people in his state. He's asking for an additional 16,000 National Guardsmen to be standing by.

Also, he has given that warning as we've been hearing some of the reports and some of the projections that as much as 12 feet of flooding could be seen in some of the low lying areas, possibly even more.

Another big concern is taking care of special needs residents.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, LOUISIANA: This is a very, very serious storm that will still cause significant damage. The good news is the surge may not be as bad as initially feared if this were a stronger Category 4 storm, but the surge could still be significant. If it deviates in its intensity or its path even slightly, we could still see significant surge flooding. It's too early. It's too early. It's premature to think we're beyond that danger.

In terms of the parish updates, again, all parishes have been declared a state of emergency. I went earlier today with Lieutenant Governor Landrieu and met Secretary Chertoff at the Lakefront Airport. I told you earlier, that's where we're doing the medical evacuation flights. I wanted to thank our National Guard there for their help in evacuating a special need patients out of South Louisiana. We thank men, women from Texas, Florida, New Jersey, from several states who all came to assist Louisiana in evacuating our medical special needs patients.

I also spoke this morning to Florida Governor Charley Crist. I'll continue to try to update you right away on the various folks that called and offer assistance. This afternoon, I assigned an MOU between Louisiana and Missouri and Tennessee for their help and use their National Guard forces helping us here.

Let me give you an update on evacuations and shelters and medical need patients. First of all, in terms of shelters. We've worked with several states to identify shelters for our special need individuals. That includes 53,000 spots in eight states. There's currently no wait for the air transport of non critical medical patients. And we have extra air capacity.

We're using C-130s, Chinooks and others - other aircraft to move these patients to safety.


HOLMES: All right, as we've been talking about, some people getting help leaving New Orleans. Other people certainly leaving on their own. We've been seeing reports and we talked to people this morning who are still in New Orleans, who are sticking around for various reasons.

Dr. Ralph Lupin is still there as well. He's there working.

Dr. Lupin, we appreciate you giving us some time. How did you end up with this shift at your hospital, an OBGYN? You're still there pulling a 72 hour shift?

DR. RALPH LUPIN, OBGYN: Well, it was just by chance. I happened - we have a group of six of us plus two who work together. And we have been in practice for a number of years together. And it just so happened that when the schedule was made almost three months ago, I happened to get Labor Day weekend. And so, I'm laboring.

HOLMES: So this happened to just be luck of the draw. And you are still there. Is anybody else from your group? Who's there with you? LUPIN: Well, the staff and the hospital is here, of course. But many of the physicians in the area who practice OBGYN have evacuated with their families. And so, I was assigned the task of I guess representing my profession and West Jefferson Hospital and working.

HOLMES: Now are -- I guess when does this 72 hour shift end for you?

LUPIN: Probably Tuesday some time.

HOLMES: Probably -- so you will certainly be there when this thing comes on. Where would you be? I guess what are you plans? Will you just be riding it out at the hospital?

LUPIN: Yes. I'm doing OBGYN, you of course, have to be here when somebody comes down.


LUPIN: So to be five miles away when it's possibly going to be flooding in this area and so on, you have to be here.

HOLMES: Now do you expect -- are you expecting any patients, if you will? And do you expect to be delivering any hurricane babies?

LUPIN: Well, we always expect to deliver hurricane babies or babies. But I would say that if our patients have done what the governor has requested them to do...


LUPIN: ...what the mayor has requested, when every parish leader has asked them to do, we won't have any deliveries. So by this merit, we haven't -- actually, we've had no admissions to do what we do as of this time.

HOLMES: Well, now have you gone through this before? I mean, I don't know how long you've been in that area, but have you gone through and had to be working before during a hurricane?

LUPIN: Well, interestingly, what my experience is, I'm a retired General Officer at the Louisiana National Guard.

HOLMES: Oh, wow.

LUPIN: And I was the medical commander in the Superdome. And after that, during Hurricane -- the Katrina hurricane.

HOLMES: You are kidding me?

LUPIN: No, I'm not kidding you. So I have a great deal of experience with it.

HOLMES: You -- I did not know that detail about you. Well, you were there for Katrina in a different capacity. And you're there to possibly deliver a hurricane baby if needs be. Well, if anybody's out there listening, if anybody happens to be stuck in New Orleans, and you need to be having a baby any time soon, you better know...

LUPIN: West Jefferson Hospital, we're here.

HOLMES: Yes, he is there for you. Sir, I appreciate you giving us some time. And good luck with the rest of that shift. Hopefully, everything will be OK. And like you said, hopefully most of your patients do what they're supposed to be doing and got out of there. But thank you for the time, sir. And it's good talking to you.

LUPIN: Bye bye.

HOLMES: All right. Well, that's interesting. He was at the Superdome in a different capacity with the National Guard. And now he's there for this hurricane to possibly deliver a baby, but hopefully everybody got out of there and no kids will be born at that hospital because they're evacuated.

Well, some people, what about the homeless there? That's also an issue there in New Orleans. I mean, what happens to them? They can't exactly just, you know, go home. They can't exactly just hop in a car and take off. So what happens to the homeless?

We have our investigative unit reporter Abbie Boudreau on this story. She went along with one group who's trying to round up the homeless and get them out of New Orleans.


MIKE MILLER, UNITY OF GREATER NEW ORLEANS: Hello, hello, homeless outreach!

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's after midnight and Mike Miller's job just got started.

MILLER: Hello, hello.

BOUDREAU (on camera): I mean, it looks like someone could very well be living here right now.



MILLER: Hello, hello, homeless outreach.

BOUDREAU: Come look at this.

(voice-over): Miller works for Unity of Greater New Orleans...

MILLER: Watch out of nails.

BOUDREAU: ...a non profit group that helps the homeless.

(on camera): Watch out for glass right here.

(voice-over): We go from one abandoned house to the next.

MILLER: Obviously, he's not here now. He's got his dog food.

BOUDREAU: In search of anyone left behind.

(on camera): Do you think homeless people will actually try to ride out the storm in abandoned buildings like this?

MILLER: Oh, yes, absolutely, absolutely.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): Miller fears not enough has been done to help evacuate the estimated 5,000 people who live in abandoned buildings.

MILLER: My homeless people who stay in and out of 71,000 abandoned blighted properties. How do you find those people? How many people are those will be missed? And is that the kind of thing that you can only count after a body toll?

Hey, my friend!

BOUDREAU: Then we meet this man, the only one left under the bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not worried about it.

MILLER: All right.

BOUDREAU: And in this park, just five homeless people where Miller says there were 35 two nights before.

(on camera): Are you scared what might happen if you wait it out when the water comes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ain't scared of nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There ain't no water coming.

BOUDREAU: What did you say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not going to happen.

BOUDREAU: It's not going to happen?


BOUDREAU: It's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to Texas.


BOUDREAU (voice-over): Guitar Mike, as he calls himself, says he spent three days in jail for staying in an abandoned house. Now he's back on the street. And like his friend Mac, he doesn't seem too concerned. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went through Katrina like I said. And I survived that one. And if it does happen, I'll survive this one.

BOUDREAU: Frustrating for Miller, who offered to drive everybody we met to the bus station himself.

MILLER: Get on that bus. How are you doing, doc?


MILLER: Hey...


MILLER: Oh, dude, I've been looking for you, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up my man, how are you doing?

MILLER: Better, than I can say. Where you been at, man?


BOUDREAU: Only this guy takes him up on it.


HOLMES: Well, yes, the work continues to try to get people out who can't get out themselves, but we do know that so many did get out. Many tens of thousands got help, but still, we're told some two million all together have left the Gulf Coast, the New Orleans area. They're heeding those warnings. That is a very good thing.

We are keeping an eye on all the things happening around the Gulf Coast region and keeping an eye on this monster of a storm that goes by the name of Gustav. Stay here.


MAGINNIS: And good morning, everyone. We're updating you with continuing coverage of Hurricane Gustav. Still supporting winds of 115 miles an hour, but could increase slightly right before landfall.

Already, we're beginning to pick up some very strong winds right around the Boothville area. That's along that extreme southeastern corner of Louisiana. Boothville is not only seeing the high winds, but a storm surge. We could expect between 10 and 14 feet there along the south central coast of Louisiana.

Now from New Orleans, it's just under 170 miles south, southeast of New Orleans. But it's a lot closer to the actual coast. The eye is. We anticipate it will make landfall just about midday. That's also right about the time of high tide along a lot of these Gulf coast regions.

We're looking at some winds now. There's one observation you can't see under our banner, but it's 80 miles an hour. It's with one of those outer bands of the eye wall. That's where we're also looking at the potential for tornadoes.

Now here are the statistics. Want to update you. It is moving towards the northwest. It slowed down just a little bit. I checked the water temperatures here and they're running between 84 and 87 degrees. That is just fuel to this fire known as Hurricane Gustav in a Category 3 hurricane. And according to the National Hurricane Center, they're 2:00 advisory that is Eastern time, 1:00 Central, it looks like it's going to maintain that as it makes landfall along the south central coast of Louisiana midday Monday.

We'll have our continuing coverage of Hurricane Gustav right after this.


HOLMES: All right, we are continuing our coverage of Hurricane Gustav, a Category 3 storm that's headed towards the New Orleans area, expected to make landfall at some point during midday on Monday. We are into Monday. You see there in our severe weather center on the bottom left, they are, Reynolds Wolf getting miked up. He's about to take the help from Karen Maginnis, who's been helping us track this storm.

Also, in the top two boxes there, you're seeing our affiliates helping us out. Live pictures from them, some of their coverage they have going on right now and some of the radar there you see on the bottom right. Is that storm - it's still inching towards the Gulf Coast area right now. 115 mile an hour winds. Still about 170 miles or so out from the coast.

We're going to head to the New Orleans area now, the lakefront area. Juan Kincaid is with one of our affiliates, as we said, helping us tell this story -- WWL.

Juan, we see those winds have been picking up. And hope you can hear me. You just take it away. Tell me what you're seeing out there?

JUAN KINCAID, WWL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, T.J., over the last hour, the winds have picked up significantly. About an hour ago, we're talking about 40 to 45 mile per hour wind gusts. Now I'd say it's about 55 miles per hour wind gusts here.

Right now, we're on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain. This is the Lakeview area of New Orleans. If you remember back three years ago when Hurricane Katrina breached the levees, this is the base of water that came into New Orleans and flooded the entire city.

As you see right now, you see the waves crashing against the sea wall here. They have basically some all the way across the water now. It's - this is perhaps the strongest the winds have been over the last three to four hours here in New Orleans. And obviously, it's just a clear sign that Hurricane Gustav is not that far away, T.J.

HOLMES: Yes, not far away. We're getting still about 170 miles out, but certainly inching that way. So weird, Juan, to see that water kicking up like that in that usually peaceful lake. Again, Juan Kincaid, we appreciate you bringing us that picture. We'll be checking in with you again shortly.

As many of you do know, as many of you may be watching this, not too many of you from the New Orleans area now. We understand at least about 10,000 is the estimate are still in the New Orleans area. That is a good thing because some two million, we're told, have evacuated the Gulf Coast region. So pretty much a mass exodus.

And our Ed Lavandera kind of bounced around to some of those smaller towns that are virtually empty right now.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To get a sense of the fear Hurricane Gustav has injected into the small towns across coastal Louisiana west of New Orleans, just look at this empty stretch of highway south of Lafayette. No procrastinators here. Those who wanted out left fast and early more than a day before the storms landfall.

Pretty freaked out, scared a little bit?

WILLARD GUILBEAU, NEW IBERIA RESIDENT: Yes. We all are. Every family comes - they come in, we're scared.

LAVANDERA: We caught Willard Guilbeau just as he was leaving his home in New Iberia to seek shelter in a nearby church.

Firefighters in Vermillion Parish are going door to door, trying to convince the last hold outs to get out of the storm's path. Here in Abbeville, the flood waters from Hurricane Rita washed up to the city's edge three years ago. Few people are sticking around this time.

JASON HARMON, ABBEVILLE RESIDENT: We are trying to encourage them to leave if possible because we won't be able to provide any services to him as far as emergency services once the winds reach a certain speed.

LAVANDERA: But one of those staying behind is 83 year old Barbara Weidert, a Katrina evacuee who ended up living in Abbeville after her New Orleans home was destroyed. For her, this is like reliving a nightmare, but Weidert says she and her daughter have no where else to go.

BARBARA WEIDERT, ABBEVILLE RESIDENT: But I've been through hurricanes before. And like I said, the main thing is as long as you could come through it, material things should really shouldn't matter. It's just keeping your family safe.


HOLMES: And as we've always see in these cases of these big story breaking news stories, certainly the weather stories, our ireporters help us with these. We got Cody to show you now. He filed a story for us from Algiers. This is the neighborhood on New Orleans West Bank. Take a listen to what he did for us.


CODY HEITMEIER, IREPORTER: OK, it is 6:13. I am driving back to work. I'm done securing my house. I have to go there, get everything I need in order to be ready for the storm because I will be out in the storm for the duration of it, carrying all my supplies, quick change of clothes through what not.

Up ahead of me is a police officer with his lights flashing. They are just probably going to the same - this is a school in Algiers. It's called Au Prairie Walker. They are - looks like everyone's out. They have a few buses there, but that's about it. This was one of the pick-up points in Algiers.

You can see cars everywhere down the streets. This was a pick-up point.

This is one of the colleges in Algiers. It's called Delgado Community College just down the street from where I live. As you can see, there is no activity going on in the streets as the entrances are barricaded. There's a large police vehicle traveling down the street right there.

This is the Navy base, a Navy base in Algiers. They look like they're very secure lock down. Nothing going on.

I am, as I said, it seems I'm like one of the only ones out here other than law enforcement. And that's because I am on my way to my job. As I said before, I'm a firefighter for New Orleans. I will try and send - shoot some more video as I cross the Crescent City connection bridge.


HOLMES: Again, one of our ireporters there, Cody. We appreciate him getting that for us, showing us pretty much that it is a ghost town in many parts. And that is a good thing right about now.

Again, hello to you all. Good morning, 4:00 on the East Coast. I'm T.J. Holmes.

We have been here with you live overnight. We will stay here live with you as we keep an eye on this storm that is headed towards the Gulf Coast. There it is. Gustav is the name. Category 3. About 170 miles now from the New Orleans area. The center of this storm expected to pass, however, just west of the city.

Now for some, it might sound like a good thing. It's not going to be a direct hit on the city of New Orleans. That's not necessarily a good thing because one of the most powerful parts of this storm is that eastern side of it. So it is going to hit New Orleans from that angle. Our Reynolds Wolf is going to be explaining that a little more here shortly. We have winds of about 115 miles an hour right now, but the gusts have been up to 140 miles an hour.

Also, it has slowed down a bit. Gotten down to about 16 miles an hour. That, however, has just given it more time to gain steam as it goes through those warm waters of the Gulf Coast.

New Orleans described as a ghost town. And thank goodness, it is. We're told nearly two million people have evacuated from the Gulf Coast region. That is very good news. We saw a lot of those evacuations happening yesterday with that contra flow plan put into place. All roads leading out of the Gulf Coast. Many people had to be patient. Bumper to bumper traffic getting out, but they did get out. We understand that the estimate is about 10,000 people are left in New Orleans.