FEMA Says Levees Should Hold, But Flooding Likely

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal emergency officials say they expect New Orleans’ levees to hold up to Hurricane Gustav — but that doesn’t mean there won’t be flooding.

Already, the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers’ hurricane protection system says there are some “overtopping waves” splashing over the levees. But he says he’s “cautiously optimistic and confident” that there won’t be a “catastrophic wall failure.”

FEMA’s deputy director, Harvey Johnson, says the storm’s surge could at least partially flood the city. He says the agency expects “a lot of homes to be damaged.”

Johnson says because so many people evacuated this time, Gustav shouldn’t bring as many deaths as Hurricane Katrina. Still, he told The Associated Press that Gustav “will be a catastrophe by the time you add it all up.”

Katrina was a Category 3 storm when it hit the Gulf Coast three years ago. Gustav was downgraded to a Category 2 storm this morning as it neared the coast, with top winds of 110 miles per hour.

FEMA says it’s ready to distribute cartons of food, water, blankets and other supplies to sustain 1 million people for three days.