Officials May Evacuate New Orleans As Gustav Nears

NEW ORLEANS — Cities all along the Gulf Coast are hoping that what’ll again be Hurricane Gustav won’t bear a resemblance to Hurricane Katrina. But with the third anniversary of Katrina looming, they’re also not taking any chances.

In Louisiana, National Guard troops are standing by while batteries and water bottles are selling briskly in stores from south Texas to Florida’s panhandle. Forecasters say Gustav could make landfall anywhere along that span as a major hurricane near the end of Labor Day weekend.

In New Orleans, officials have begun preliminary planning to evacuate and lock down the city in hopes of avoiding the catastrophe that followed Hurricane Katrina. They’re also warning there won’t be a massive shelter at the Superdome this time.

Instead, the state has arranged for buses and trains to take about 30,000 people to safety. Nearly 8,000 people are already signed up for transportation help.