Gustav Up Close

New Orleans avoids major destruction, and a Kid Reporter gives her account of the hurricane as she evacuates New Orleans

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Nearly three years to the day that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, residents were faced with the possibility of another storm damaging their city.

Hurricane Gustav slammed into Cuba and was making its way to the American Gulf Coast. As Gustav churned over the Gulf waters, officials watched it closely as it grew to a strong Category 3 hurricane. If it made landfall, it could be more dangerous and damaging than Katrina.

Gustav's power was known, but its path wasn't. It could have hit New Orleans directly or move toward the western parts of the Gulf Coast.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin wasn't taking any chances. He called Gustav "the storm of the century" and last Sunday ordered a mandatory evacuation. Residents of New Orleans boarded buses or loaded up their cars and headed out of town with memories of Katrina still fresh in their minds.

Fortunately for New Orleans and its people, this was a case of better safe than sorry.

When Gustav made landfall on Monday, it did so 70 miles southwest of New Orleans in Louisiana's bayou country. When it lashed Louisiana's shores, the storm had already been downgraded from a Category 3 to a Category 2 hurricane.

New Orleans did face a heavy storm surge, however. It tested the city's levee system, which is still not fully repaired from the damage it suffered during Katrina. But the levees held.

"We've gotten no word of real flooding in the city," Col. Jerry Sneed, New Orleans' emergency preparedness director, said. "We're not getting any major destruction. Right now, it's looking pretty good for us."

Kid Reporter Among Evacuees

Residents who feared more destruction after three hard years of rebuilding since Katrina luckily didn't face that. But they still suffered through another major storm evacuation.

Kid Reporter Abigayle Lista and her family live in New Orleans. Tthey were among the evacuees. Abigayle found a moment to check in on what was happening in New Orleans:

As Hurricane Gustav plowed through Cuba on Saturday, August 30, Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast residents watched anxiously. It's the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and Gustav brought back memories of Katrina and its destructive power.

For about a week, residents watched Gustav knowing that their communities could be in the path of the massive storm. Thousands of area residents boarded up their homes, gathered supplies, and evacuated their homes. Thousands of residents heeded local officials' warnings and evacuated. Many residents who had been left behind during Katrina were given bus rides to shelters in many towns in several states.

I am writing this story while my family evacuates from the New Orleans area.

It is stressful and expensive to evacuate every time a powerful hurricane heads toward my community. The traffic is horrible, and everyone is on edge because they have lived through the aftermath of a hurricane. Recovery from a storm like Katrina takes a lot longer than you might think. My hometown of Metairie, is just now coming back from the damage done three years ago.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predicted Gustav would gain strength as a Category 3 storm (winds up to 130 miles per hour) when the storm passed Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico. On Sunday, the storm was becoming a powerhouse and became a Category 3, with winds reaching 115 miles per hour. Over night, though, the storm's winds died down some. This weakened the storm to a strong Category 2, with maximum winds of 112 miles per hour.

Terrebone Parish was in the direct path of the storm. New Orleans and surrounding towns on the Mississippi Gulf Coast were on the eastern side of the storm, which is always the worst side to be on when a hurricane hits. The storm drenched Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast all day Monday. The amount of destruction to all of the affected areas has yet to be determined.

This hurricane has been very hard for me. I have already dealt with Hurricane Katrina. My family just moved home to Metairie in July. The new school year just began in early August. But because of Gustav, schools will be closed until some time next week.

Right now, my family is waiting to hear when we will be allowed to go back to our home. I hope that there is not much damage.


Read today’s story and answer the following question.

blog itKid Reporter Abigayle Lista evacuated her New Orleans home as Hurricane Gustav approached. She also evacuated when Hurricane Katrina hit. She said it was a stressful experience having to evacuate. Have you ever had to evacuate your home as a natural disaster approached? What did you do? Do you have any advice for other kids who might have to go through an evacuation?

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  • Subjects:
    Cooperation and Teamwork, Weather

Scholastic Kids Press Corps

The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of 32 student reporters who report "news for kids, by kids." Sports, politics, and entertainment are among the topics they cover.