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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Following Hurricane Gustav

Aired September 1, 2008 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And we welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Here is what we are doing right now. We're bringing you the very latest information, as we get it, all things related to Hurricane Gustav. We're going to be sharing the information with you that we get from you, because we are going to be on Facebook, MySpace and of course, twitter.com/ricksanchezcnn.

In fact, we got one right here. This is interesting. Because people have really been reacting to us. As we set the scene here, look at the comments that we're getting, 4,000, almost 5,000 of them already. Way to blend, this is from geek mommy, " way to blend the new media with traditional in the Gustav coverage. Batten down the hatches." A lot of wonderful comments that we've been getting from people. We appreciate it. It certainly helps us in terms of the information that we get from you that we are then able to pass on.

From people in Mississippi, for example, who have been wondering what's going on there, around Hattiesburg, for example, especially in the area around I-59, as people are starting to get out. It's interesting watching this counter flow that we've talking to you about before. By the way, the counter flow, if you don't know, is where they try and get people out of an area by literally stopping the traffic coming back in and turning everything into an exit. They only leave one lane open and that is for emergency vehicles. And for the most part, it seems to have been incredibly successful, with a couple of little snafus here and there that we've been hearing in some areas where just by timing, a lot of people left at the same time and some have been stuck in some of these traffic nightmares.

But, for the most part, they don't last long. But we're still getting lot of e-mails. Apparently the one place where they have been getting them is around Mississippi where people have been trying to get on I-59. Just for those of you who are out there on the road. All right. Let's bring you up to date on what the storm is doing right now. And to do that, let's go ahead and try and see if we can go ahead and get a sense of this on the telestrator.

This is the area that we have been describing that's going to be affected by the storm. Why is this important? Every one of these that you're looking at right here are oil rigs. And they certainly will be affected by this. Experts say that area where the storm is coming, is probably an area where there is the biggest concentration of them. And that means the flow of oil from that area will be interrupted. The question is, of course, for how long. Big question mark. All right. Let's go to the cities now. Let's show that picture of the area along the coast of New Orleans or Louisiana, I should say. There it is. All right. The storm seems to be tracking in this direction right there. OK. As you can see, to the east of it, right there, is New Orleans.

Is New Orleans within what is called hurricane force winds of the area where the storm is going to be coming in? Yes, for the most part, it is.

That means people in that area, around New Orleans will be feeling cat -- ready, Cat 1 effects. Category 1 type hurricane force winds. Two tropical storm force winds. Remember that does not include some of the tornadic effect or some of the huge wind gusts that will coming out of that area as well.

Now, one other thing to keep in mind as you look at this, the latest information that we receive is -- put it back up if we got it. The storm is now -- where is it? It's in this area right here. As you see on the loop there, to the side we put it up, it is 226 miles due south of New Orleans. That's how far it is from New Orleans, I should say, not necessarily due south.

So, again, 226 miles south of New Orleans at this time. It has slowed down, somewhat. It's important to say, and it still is, right now, a Category 3 storm, expected to hit the coast as a Category 3 storm. So, OK, that's how it stands right now. That's how things are now as we see them. Do we want to go to Karen or what do we got right now, Chris. Tell me.

Abbie Boudreau has prepared a report.

Thanks, Chris.

Abbie Boudreau prepared a report for us that shows on the ground there in New Orleans, exactly what's going on with some of the folks who are homeless, who may not heed the warnings or really even be able to know how to heed these warnings. We went around and talked to them. It's an interesting report to watch. We want you to see it now. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

MIKE MILLER, UNITY OF GREATER NEW ORLEANS: Hello. Hello.

BOUDREAU: I mean it looks like someone could very well be living here right now.

MILLER: Hello. Hello. Homeless outreach.

BOUDREAU: Look at this. Miller works for Unity of greater New Orleans. MILLER: Watch out for nails.

BOUDREAU: A nonprofit group that helps the homeless. Watch out for glass right here. We go from one abandoned house to the next.

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

BOUDREAU: In search of anyone left behind. Do you think homeless people will actually try to ride out the storm and abandoned buildings like this?

MILLER: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

BOUDREAU: Miller fears not enough has been done help evacuate the estimated 5,000 people who lived in abandoned buildings.

MILLER: Homeless people who are staying out, 71,000 abandoned properties, how do you find those people? How many people of those will be missed? Is that the kind of thing that you can only count after a body toll?

BOUDREAU: Then we meet this man. The only one left under the bridge. And in this park, just five homeless people, where Miller says there were 35 two nights before. Are you scared what might happen if you wait it out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not scared of nothing. There isn't no water coming.

BOUDREAU: What did you say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: it's not going to happen.

BOUDREAU: It's not going to happen? It's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to Texas. My mother she was --

BOUDREAU: 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.

GUITAR MIKE, JAILED FOR STAYING IN ABANDONED HOUSE: I went through Katrina like is said and I survived that one. 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Oh, I've been looking for you, man.

MILLER: What's up my man, how you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where you been at, man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In jail.

BOUDREAU: Only this guy takes him up on it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Isn't that amazing? You know, the thought process that goes through people's minds as they decide that they have to make a decision to leave or not leave. And it's not just the homeless, it's a lot of folks who have been there in New Orleans. I talked to my colleague, Anderson Cooper not a while ago, he said, for the most part, I mean, there's one place, he said there's one place open, Rick, in the French Quarter and it's filled with reporters and rescue workers.

For the most part, even in the French Quarter which as you know has the highest ground there in New Orleans. Even there, people have evacuated. For the most part, most people in that city, not a surprise considering what they went through with Katrina, have actually picked up and gone, heeding the advice of both their Mayor Nagin and Bobby Jindal, their governor throughout the day today.

Let me see. I got something coming in right now here. Oh, this is the e-mail that was sent to me just moments ago.

This is Courtney Reed. This is from Facebook. It's a question. "Rick, we have heard everything there is to hear about New Orleans throughout the day. What about the rest of Louisiana? My parents are in Lafayette. I would like to hear what will happen there?"

Great question. Because again, this is not a New Orleans storm. This is a storm that's going to affect the area west of New Orleans, along the central part of Louisiana as well as the part all the way over to Lake Charles. So we'll break it down for you. Karen Maginnis is gearing up and getting ready to go. She's going to join us in a little bit.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Courtney Reed just sent me this on Facebook. And she said she wants to know about the rest of Louisiana, specifically her parents live in Lafayette. I'd like to hear what's happening there. Well, Lafayette, boy I spent a lot of time in Lafayette. Let's go to Karen Maginnis to fill us in on a lot of things. Not just this but a lot of things. Lafayette is in the west of New Orleans.

Is it not, Karen?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. And right now, the weather actually looks pretty good. However, if you look at the statement that they have issued, they are anticipating hurricane force winds, hurricane conditions into the overnight hours and into tomorrow, possibly lasting into tomorrow evening. But remember, the system is going to start slowing down. There's nothing really going to move it once it makes land fall. It's just going to kind of linger right around that Ark-Lou-Tex region. I mentioned that, that's Texas, Louisiana, that Arkansas area is going to get squeezed out.

Here's the latest information that we have for you. Still supporting winds of 115-miles an hour. I just checked one of the conditions in Bootville. They reported a wind gust of 49-miles-an- hour. There you can see some of the outer rain bands already moving on shore. Mobile, Biloxi, all the way down towards New Orleans. Lafayette, is over here. Do we have Lafayette up by any chance? Not just yet but we'll show you that.

Currently, a portion of the Louisiana coast extending over to Mississippi and Alabama under a tornado watch into the morning. To specifically answer the question that Rick just asked from the viewer, Lafayette is going to feel the affects of what's happening with Hurricane Gustav, a Category 3. The categories go up to 5. And we're looking at this, still over the warm waters. But it looks like this time, rather than Katrina that move to the east of New Orleans, it looks like we're going to be -- New Orleans is going to be in the eastern portion of this hurricane. That is a very bad place to be.

On top of that, Rick, we are expecting land fall right around midday, give or take a couple of hours. If it slows down, it's going to be a little bit further in the afternoon. I checked the tides along this area, in St. Mary's Parish, Terrebonne Parish, also in Iberia Parish and they're looking at high tide right about the time we're anticipating land fall across this area. Now, it doesn't have to be land fall for you to experience these hurricane force winds. That's going to happen a long time before the eye makes its way across the coast.

I wanted to show you one thing. We do have Lafayette right here. Guess what, our computer models are saying Gustav is going to move right across Lafayette. So Rick, that's one of the models. That's not all of them. That's what the models are indicating right now. Lafayette for the viewer, looks like this is going to be making land fall, sometime within the next 12 hours.

SANCHEZ: You know, for the last couple days, I mean, I'm kind of a hurricane nerd. For the last couple of days, the first thing I do when I wake up is I go to the national hurricane site, I read the discussion, I look at every single models. I sit there and draw them out and try to calculate them. And try to figure out what's going on. And this particular storm, with the exception I think of maybe two models, almost all of them have been pretty consistent, haven't they? I mean, the line that you're drawing for us there maybe one model but I doubt that the rest of the lines are not more than a couple miles away from.

MAGINNIS: And you've got some outliers, those are the extremes on either edge of what would be, of what would fall in the center. This kind of falls in the center of what we see, some of those what we call the spaghetti models, the computer-generated models. Yes, you're right Rick. This is, looks like along the south central coast of Louisiana, that looks like it's going to be land fall. However, this thing has -- Hurricane Gustav has intensified a little bit, it slowed down a little bit. We don't want it to slow down. Because the slower it moves, that means more rain. And already they're saying some of these coastal areas could see as much as 20 inches.

Generally speaking in its path, 10 to 15 inches but high tide and land fall at the same time in this low lying area, Rick, it's just a disaster just waiting to happen. I'm so glad that the folks in Louisiana and the local governments there really, this time around, have really taken care of the folks there.

SANCHEZ: There is one bit of good news in this. The difference in the tides on the Gulf Coast as opposed to the Atlantic and especially the Pacific is much less dramatic.

MAGINNIS: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: So, we're not talking about, you know, a difference of four or five feet or even 10 feet as you see in some parts of the world, right?

MAGINNIS: Exactly. We're looking at the storm surge, if my memory holds correct, the storm surge between about 10 and 14 feet. That's humongous. That engulfs this area, tremendously. But you're right, the tidal heights are about half a foot to a foot and a half. That's kind of the general tides that we see across this area. But they're all coming together rather precipitously. It looks like right around the noon hour maybe 1:00, we'll be getting another update here from the National Hurricane Center, not too long. And of course, we'll bring you the latest information there.

SANCHEZ: And you know, and in layman's terms, just so folks know what we are talking about, we're essentially saying the water is already going to be high and then storm on that right quadrant is going to literally push the water, creating a wall of water, not in terms of a tidal wave, that's not what that means. It means that the water is going to be literally pushed into the shore, forced by the winds there by creating the storm's surge itself which means flooding in those low-lying areas.

MAGINNIS: Exactly. And the hurricane force winds have grown from the center. They now extend out, I believe, it is 75 miles from the center. So that is huge. So way before this makes land fall, that is the eye crosses the coast, you're going to experience hurricane force winds. And it's not just going to let up. We saw those pictures out in New Orleans. You already started to see some of those bands move on shore. Those are tropical storm force winds. Those aren't even the hurricane force winds.,

Look at these live pictures from our affiliate WVUE in New Orleans. The camera shaking around. The rain is coming down. We had a wind gust at the airport reported around 47-miles-an-hour. I drove from Mobile all the way over to New Orleans and some of those smaller counties, Violet, Shamit (ph). It was devastating to take a look at that. I have not scoured this area, but this is so fragile. This is the wind field and a rain field that we're looking at.

Take a look at this. It is to the southwest of New Orleans. So Katrina was on this side. This one looks to be on the west side. This is really the worst side to be on right now. This is the most intense winds. This is where that surge comes at, piling up with the water here. It's going to be blowing out this way. Some of those levees will be problematic there as well. They have allotted I think 14 billion, I think they've spent $4 billion already to kind of shore up these levees.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and of course, the difference is, it's not just to the west of New Orleans, but the real question is how far west of New Orleans it is. Because that's what determines whether New Orleans is going to get tropical storm force winds or Category 2 winds or Category 1. Right now, it's looking like Category 1 to tropical storm. If it goes a little further east, then that's going to change the scenario. Karen, let's do this. Let's get back to you in just a couple minutes. I'm being told now that we got somebody standing by.

Cora Jones evacuated -- and I'm sorry, I misspoke, it's Cora Charles, evacuated and is now in Houston, Texas. I believe, Cora has arrived already and we have here on the phone.

Cora, are you there?

CORA CHARLES, NEW ORLEANS EVACUEE IN HOUSTON: Yes, I am.

SANCHEZ: Tell me about the story, when did you leave? How did you come to the decision that you wanted to leave and what was the trip like?

CHARLES: Well, after they talked about the surge and the kind of tornadic winds that would take place on the right side of the storm, I decided it was best that I move out, considering what I went through in Katrina.

SANCHEZ: What did you go through? Because I imagine that plays heavy on your decision, what you experienced in Katrina. What did you experience in Katrina?

CHARLES: In Katrina, I lost everything. There was 17 feet of water in my house. My house was three feet off the ground. There was 17 feet of water in my house. I lost everything. And the water stayed in that community for three weeks. It had to be pumped out. And of course, we are still in the process of recovering.

SANCHEZ: So, when you first saw these pictures that we're looking at now, the big monstrous storm heading by all indications, for New Orleans, you thought what?

CHARLES: I thought, I'm getting out. I cannot survive something looking like that. That's why I decided to come to Texas, and come to Houston. I was going to go to Dallas, but when I looked at the way the storm was coming in, it was going to come in between Lafayette and Lake Charles and then the way it was coming into the state as it entered, it was going all the way up to Dallas, I decided, well I'm not going to Dallas, I better come to Houston because it's farther west. That's why I decided to come to Houston.

SANCHEZ: So, did you do, did you drive all across on i-10? CHARLES: I drove all the way on -- no, I took I-90 because I-10 was rather busy. By the time we got to Houston, I-10 was not as busy, so we took I-10 the rest of the way but --

SANCHEZ: That's interesting you took because 90 has fewer lanes and most of the times, it's not backed up. But this time it wasn't.

CHARLES: That's right, the traffic was very light on I-90, but very heavy on I-10.

SANCHEZ: What was it?

CHARLES: The back road.

SANCHEZ: Are you driving -- were you driving by yourself? Did you have your family with you? Who's with you in the car?

CHARLES: I was driving with my granddaughter, kind of a granddaughter who is 12-years-old. And her mother was in the other car and her sisters were in the other car.

SANCHEZ: What's it like for children. If she's 12-years-old, that means she's old enough to have remembered Katrina and it was probably at an age where it still would -- you know, there's still some trauma there, wouldn't there be?

CHARLES: Yes, but they were not in the storm as I was. They were in (INAUDIBLE). So the last time they were in (INAUDIBLE), they did not get the kind of severity of the storm as we did in New Orleans. It's north of New Orleans. It's north of the lake. I live on the south side of the lake.

SANCHEZ: Cora, was there a general consensus this time between you, your friends, your family, your neighbors, we are getting out of here and we're getting out of here now?

CHARLES: Yes. We did not hesitate. We did not hesitate. Of course, there was better planning this time. Better planning because the mayor, governor and all the officials, FEMA and recovery, everyone involved with the planning was all working in unison. I thought that was great. And they provided busses for those who could not get out. They had various locations where people could eat. I think there were about eight places where people could go to get on the busses to get taken away. And that was good.

SANCHEZ: What a difference a hurricane makes.

CHARLES: Oh, yes. They have learned their lesson.

SANCHEZ: Cora and so have you.

CHARLES: Oh yes. I got out the first time though. Otherwise I would have drown. Because there were 17 feet of water in my neighborhood. And like I said the water stayed in there three weeks after the water gone down. The rest of the city would not let us come back into our part of the city. Of course, we were the worst hit and the last ones to be recovered.

SANCHEZ: Cora Charles, joining us from Houston. She's there safely. We're happy to report, evacuated the city along with here neighbors and her family.

And we will be checking with other folks, like Cora who will be sharing with us, their stories. When we come back, what about those levees? Levees affected this time won't be the same levees that were affected by Katrina. The storm's coming in at a different angle. So how will they hold up on the Mississippi side and the western side?

We'll look at that. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Bringing you up to date now and having conversations with you as well and answering some questions that you've been raising.

As we look at the situation right now, you see the loop right there, right? As you see the hurricane let's go ahead and take a pull if we could, Roger. There, you see the hurricane as it's coming closer, Gustav is to that area there around Grand Isle, Louisiana, which is about 90 to 100 miles, as the crow flies from New Orleans. That's important. Why is that important? Well, hurricane force winds extend about let's say 70 mile in this storm. So that puts New Orleans right about the area where they're going to feel, at most, Category 1 force winds. Category 4, Category 1 force winds and two, tropical storm force winds. That's what's going on there now.

Obviously, for the west you go, closer to the eye, but on the right quadrant of the eye, then what you're going to be feeling there, obviously enough, is a much stronger effect. You'll be feeling Category 3, Category 2. More tornadoes closer to the eye itself. Because it's spinning like a top because of those millibars that are making this thing so pressurized.

Let's go to this question now. It comes from Facebook. We have been checking Facebook and MySpace throughout the night, getting information from many of you and trying to answer some of your questions.

Katie writes, "Are the reporters staying in New Orleans all night until after the hurricane has passed?"

Yes, they will. They will be there all night long as well as Ali Velshi, for example, who is not in New Orleans but actually right in the eye of the storm where this thing is going to in Grand Isle.

She goes on to say, "Are they being pressured to leave the city as well?"

No. We have had an understanding, I've covered so many of these hurricanes, I can tell you because I grew up in an area affected by hurricanes and I have been in the media much of my life. We have an understanding with most of the officers, the rescue workers and the police officers, they know that we are there. We work together, usually side by side. At times, they will come up to us and say, if you guys need anything, let us know. But we may not be able to get you, they know it's our job to be there, to try and bring you the news and also our job to be responsible and make intelligent decisions about our own safety.

And that's what we try to do. And yes, we stay behind after most of the citizens leave. Final question, how do they ensure their own safety? Well, we usually work with organizations that are prudent enough to tell us what's going on. If we see that there's going to be a wall of water in the area, we usually will get away before it happens. But for the most part as reporters, we have already done our homework and studied the area well enough. You heard my conversation with Anderson a little while ago, where he was saying that the first thing we're going to do is to scout the area out and find out where we can go if this thing starts to get a little hairy.

That usually means a building with more than one or two stories in it. And it also means an area where you're sheltered. You get to know where the winds are coming from as the storm surround and you find an area where you're not being whipped around so much by the winds. Speaking of wind.

Let's talk now about some of the areas affected by the storm. From the vantage point of the actual levees themselves -- how will they hold? Will they hold? And are these the same levees that were affected by Katrina? That have to be rebuilt.

What we learned from one engineer, one expert, his name is H.J. Bosworth is that they're not.

These are different levees entirely. So, are these levees ready for this particular storm? Here's our conversation. Will these levees hold, sir?

H.J. BOSWORTH, ENGINEER, LEVEES ORG.: The levees that he is talking about and the levees to the south and along the Louisiana coast, on the other side of the river from New Orleans, Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish, in and around Grand Isle, the levees there are much lower than the levees that protect New Orleans and the water has to go up to the marsh through the pipeline canals and the oil canals and all the canals that have been curved all through the marsh, and they can readily get to populated areas. Now, certainly, none of these areas are as big as New Orleans. But these are vulnerable areas and the levees weren't necessarily at the top of the core of engineers' focus list after Katrina.

SANCHEZ: Well, you know, as I was just going to ask you, obviously, if this storm continues in a little bit of a westerly track and doesn't do a beeline for New Orleans, but instead -- let's see, hurricane force winds are about 69 miles. So let's suppose it's 69 miles west of New Orleans. So it's just barely getting the outer bands and the hurricane for us west. At that point, we're probably talking about maybe the levees being over flown, but what would you say, not by much? BOSWORTH: These aren't very tall levees. There are some areas south of us that do, in fact, have levees that made, you know, 16 or 17 feet above sea level.

SANCHEZ: But you know, I got to stop you there. If we know what happened with Katrina and we knew that we could get another storm, like this Gustav coming along, I'm asking this because I can feel people at home asking the same questions to themselves, why in the hell haven't these levees been built up higher, so you and I don't have to be having these conversations?

BOSWORTH: Congress has to tell the Corps of Engineers to build levees that are as safe as they can be. And at this point, Congress just doesn't give the corps the direction and the funding to necessarily build the levees that we got along coastal Louisiana that we've got, you know, on our eastern edge near the Mississippi sound, high enough to keep us dry and keep us safe in the type of storms that we're seeing.

SANCHEZ: All right. Well, you study this. You tell me, how did they change them between Katrina and today?

BOSWORTH: Katrina came into our east. It filled up the Mississippi sound with water, took that water from the Mississippi sound and shoved it against the east edge of the city. At that point, the east side of the city's flood protection was tested. It failed miserably in over 50 places. It was a very big embarrassment to the Corps of Engineers and a lot of effort was spent to make sure that area was fixed as well as it could with the funding that they had and the time that they had.

SANCHEZ: So now you're saying, we're talking about a different set of levees because this storm is coming from a different angle...

BOSWORTH: Correct.

SANCHEZ: ... where these particular levees that you're talking about now, were they brought up? Where they strengthened? Did they do anything with these?

BOSWORTH: The corps has a program to constantly update and constantly analyze levees and bring the level up, you know, a few feet higher here and a few feet higher there. And they do this constantly, but they can only do what Congress tells them to do and what Congress gives them the appropriations to do.

SANCHEZ: But back to my question, just very directly, do you know if these particular levees that we're talking about now, as you and the general, were alluding to more in the Mississippi side, have they been brought up? Have they been strengthened?

BOSWORTH: On the Mississippi, yes, through the east of New Orleans, the city of New Orleans, they have been indeed been brought up to higher elevations.

SANCHEZ: OK. BOSWORTH: The repairs have been made and they're much, much safer.

SANCHEZ: And if this storm, final question, if this storm instead of going on that westerly track that we've been talking about that I've been showing on my telestrator, if it somehow decides to deviate and get a little closer to New Orleans, in other words go a little further east, then, and I guess it's anybody's guess, I'm not asking you to play God here, but do you think that these levees could then be suspect?

BOSWORTH: What Katrina did is it prompted the weak levees to fail. There are other levees that did not fail, that may have failed, if the water hadn't been allowed to go through the failed portions.

SANCHEZ: Present day. Present day, right now?

BOSWORTH: Right now. We can see, I hope this storm doesn't hook to the right.

SANCHEZ: All right. There you go. We got a question coming in, by the way. This is from Facebook as we continue following the storm. So many people are joining us all over the country. Still, thousands and thousands on all these social networks.

This is from Bret. I love your show. I live in Dallas, Texas, and I was wanting to know what time you are expecting Hurricane Gustav to hit land. Thanks, Bret.

Well, Bret, here's the window that's been given to us. Sometime between 8:30 and noon, but we are all betting then.

I would tell you that it's probably going to be closer to the noonish hour. Sometime tomorrow, around noon, we are expecting that this hurricane -- and when we say the hurricane, by the way, it's important to point out, we're talking about the actual eye of the storm, not the first parts of the storm or even the hurricane force winds. We're talking about the eye of the storm will hit land, probably sometime around noon tomorrow, maybe even a little after that. But that's the window that we've been given.

More on the hurricane itself. But first, I want to tell you what the Corps of Engineers is saying tonight about some of the interviews that we've been doing regarding these levees. They put out a statement that I want you to hear. Here is the statement now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GEN. ROBERT VAN ANTWERP, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: The levee, let's say is a 12 foot levee and designed at that level, you could have a surge that is greater than that, and that would cause overtopping of that levee. And people behind that levee are going to get water. Now what we don't expect that levee to do is what we call fail. That means that it does not do what it was designed to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: All right. Let's go ahead and take a break now. We want to get you back to Karen Maginnis when we come back because there's still some questions, I know, that many people have out there about what's going on. You see Karen there. Karen's got her ears up, as we use to say in baseball and football, when I played.

She's listening too. We'll be right back with her and the very latest position on this storm, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Najeeb Ahmed writes to us with a concern that a lot of people have. Let's look at this one. It's up on the big plasma.

He says, "God forbid, if Hurricane Gustav damages an oil pipeline causing a spill, I'll show you how bad drilling can be. Remember Exxon versus Exxon v. Spill."

Well, yes, we do. The one in Alaska. But, we've been doing a lot of research on this and I've been asking these questions. And for the most part, we have been told, obviously, nothing is certain, but we have been told that most of these pipes that are in the ground and all these oil rigs are capped.

And remember, the oil doesn't come out of these by itself. It literally is fed and pumped out. So because they are capped, as Ali Velshi told us, it's highly, highly improbable that you'll have any kind of oil spill at least as far as the oil pipelines connected to some of these rigs are concerned. However, as you get closer to the shoreline, there is a possibility that you might have some kind of disruption.

Don't know exactly how big that kind of spill would be. Certainly, it would be. You're right. You're right, Najeeb Ahmed.

It would be certainly something to consider. But we're being told tonight by most of the officials who study this, and most of the officials with the oil companies, that they have carefully capped and anchored most of these lines, pipes and rigs as well, just for your information.

By the way, let's do this one. I want to show you some video that we've got coming in. This is video that's coming in from New Orleans. This is the National Guard. As people were evacuating, they started confiscating some of their weapons. I'm going to shut up and let you listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They told me they didn't have weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are they?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are they? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they don't have a weapon and they had to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: All right. You understand that most of these weapons they were obviously checking people who were going to be in big crowds. They didn't want them to be carrying weapons. And certainly if the weapons weren't registered, they would be taking them away from him, which is exactly what they seem to be doing. This video that's some are coming in to us right now.

Let's go to Ken Jones. He's a reporter. He's with WDSU. He's been doing a ride along tonight with New Orleans police officers. I know they've had a lot of squads down there who've been working some of these different areas, worked with them in the past myself.

Ken, what are they doing? How are things going out there tonight?

VOICE OF KEN JONES, WDSU REPORTER IN NEW ORLEANS: Not different than three years ago. Of course, you remember Katrina when there was a lot of looting throughout New Orleans. Not the case this time. Of course, the mandatory evacuation got a lot of folks out of town pretty quickly.

We've been rolling around the uptown areas of New Orleans. A lot of big homes and businesses in this area, and it's virtually a ghost town out here. No one to be seen. Every now and then you'll find business owners are coming by to check to make sure businesses are secure. But there is a dusk to dawn curfew in effect, so you know, you're pretty much not supposed to be out here. And the cops are telling you, hey, look, you know, you need to leave. Check your business, but get out of here.

If you are a looter, they are threatening not just put you in jail, but to put you in the prison in Angola, Louisiana. They are serious about that.

SANCHEZ: Know that prison well.

JONES: Yes, indeed.

SANCHEZ: Ken, give us a weather report, if you would. What are you feeling? What are you seeing? What's going on here right now?

JONES: We're still uptown in New Orleans. Right now, I have to tell you, we haven't -- I mean, and the rains have been on and off all evening long. However, at this very moment, the wind is pretty calm. There's a light breeze, a little mist in the air.

We all know this is the calm before the storm and I was fooled by this. But right now, it's pretty docile, if you will, conditions uptown New Orleans for the moment.

SANCHEZ: Are there -- the people who have stayed behind, I mean those who decided that they weren't going to evacuate, who are they? How would you describe them?

JONES: Well, I mean, the people this time who have decided to stay are those who really believe in the structural integrity of their homes. They actually believe, you know, our homes will survive and so will we. So those are the kind of folks. Those are the diehard, you know, I know Katrina hit, but I really have a strong home.

But for the most part, a lot of people who traditionally would stay during the hurricane have left. I got to say a lot of people left heeding the warning and remembering the lessons of three years ago. But the folks who are here, the diehards, they say, look, I live in a brick houses and so forth, a brick home and it's not going anywhere. So we'll see.

SANCHEZ: I can't imagine any of those people live in the Ninth Ward, though, right?

JONES: Oh, no. Absolutely not. That is right now a lot of people living in the Ninth Ward, especially the Lower Ninth Ward. There are few, believe it or not, FEMA trailers still out and about, and of course, people have been warned if not (INAUDIBLE) because if they fly around like paper. Most of the folks who live in Moore (ph) would have left substantial structure. That's a pretty much left town.

SANCHEZ: As a matter of fact, I just got an e-mail from an old colleague of mine, Kim McCabe (ph). And she was wondering because she has done stories on this before, is it a good idea to even have FEMA trailers there? Those trailers are going to turn into missiles, aren't they?

JONES: Oh, yes, it's like folding paper airplanes now. They'll fly away. I mean, they are meant for temporary housing. This housing in little trailers are 8 by 35 made of aluminum and whatever else that's, you know, lightweight. In a storm where we could have, I guess, a Category 1 the hurricane force winds, when the storm actually hits us 74 miles an hour, well, that trailer pretty much becomes, yes, a missile. So not a good idea to even be near one.

SANCHEZ: How are the cops behaving tonight? What are they saying and do they have any work to do at this point?

JONES: Well, we have been riding around and, you know, just the usual stuff. The cops are actually pretty nice. They're very courteous, very cordial to people. You know, not aggressive, not stressed by Hurricane Katrina when they seemed to be undermanned and overwhelmed all at the same time.

They're having a little issue, however, in the convention center. You know a lot of our first responders are staying there, hunkering down in the convention center. Police and EMS. With all the planning after Katrina, there have been some complaints from some local radio stations that they don't like even have cots to sleep on other than sleeping on the floor.

So, I mean, and that kind of ticks you off. I would imagine if you're a police officer and you went through what you went through last time and, you know, you would have thought that maybe that was part of the planning. But I mean, as far as the overall morale, the police seem to be very well equipped, very ready to do the job and handling it with a lot of courtesy.

SANCHEZ: WDSU's Ken Jones, someone who's going to be spending a long night tonight and probably won't get much sleep at all, if any.

Thank you, Ken, we appreciate that report. Very comprehensive.

Let's go over to Karen Maginnis now to try to get a sense of what we're learning about this storm at this point. Still what -- 226 miles away or so? I imagine less now since we first got that report about 20 minutes ago.

MAGINNIS: Exactly. Yes, it slowed down just a little bit like one mile an hour. And I want to show you some of the current wind that we have seen.

Boothville is sitting like right out on the tip here, of Louisiana right there. And they actually had a wind gust reported around 49 miles an hour. Now some of the stations on these coastal regions, Houma, has not had an observation in about four or five hours. But they are starting to see some of those outer bands move on shore.

Take a look at some of the other winds that we are looking at. Right around New Orleans, wind gusts there around 34 miles an hour. You go a little bit further towards the north near Baton Rouge, we're not seeing quite the intensity just yet. But just give it a couple of hours, we'll be getting another update from the National Hurricane Center at 2:00 Eastern, 1:00 Central time.

There are local advisories and local statements that are issued all the way from Alabama and Mississippi, even portions of Florida extending on over towards Texas. But this does seem to be, kind of the landfall zone that we're looking at. Not necessarily right around New Orleans, but we're expecting it to shift a little bit more towards that central coast of Louisiana. We're already picking up tropical storm force winds here.

Here's the latest information. 115-mile-an-hour wind gusts with some higher winds right around 140 miles an hour. And there is anticipation that it will be a Category 2 when it makes landfall. But don't let that fool you.

It's a Category 3 now, so maybe some slowing down. Maybe some losing of intensity because of its interaction with land. That's very typical with these systems.

However, I will mention, that with Hugo, back September 1989, it got along that warm gulf stream, and I don't know if you remember this, Rick, but it mushroomed when it hit that warm water. So it can do anything. It really can.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Yes. Charleston, South Carolina? MAGINNIS: Charleston, South Carolina.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

MAGINNIS: I had a home there at the time that's why I remember it very vividly.

SANCHEZ: Completely devastated.

MAGINNIS: It was terrible.

SANCHEZ: Just unbelievable what that storm did.

MAGINNIS: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Maria Creel writes to us. She's an avid Mississippi follower. She's on all the time. One of 5,000 or so -- is that how many people we have now? Let me check.

Now, 5,081. Look at that number. You see that number right there? Can you pop that up? You got the camera on that?

Five thousand eighty-one people, and Maria Creel is the last one to just send us. She says avid Mississippi -- yes, it is. There you go. I'm going to show you the number again -- 5,081.

Why do we keep -- oh, the camera is not adjusting. Sorry about that. There's the number. Now let's go down to Maria Creel. Avid Mississippi follower feeling terribly under represented.

She doesn't think we're talking enough about the effect of the storm in Mississippi. So we'll take a break. When we come back, we're coming back to Karen Maginnis and we're going to ask her what the good people of Mississippi will be feeling.

Thank you for that twitter response, Maria Creel, as well as to those of you who are checking in with us both on Facebook and MySpace. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Coming up on 1:00 in the morning now. And we're just talking to Karen Maginnis. We've got that one -- let's see. Go back to that one e-mail. Maria Creel's an avid Mississippi follower feeling terribly underrepresented.

She says -- well, you know, actually, I'm going to go to Karen Maginnis, and she's the expert on this. Mississippi will not likely get sustained hurricane force winds, right? If this thing stays on its projected track, right?

MAGINNIS: I actually think peripherally they could see maybe a couple of hours of hurricane force winds, but you're right. They're right on the edge of seeing the hurricane intensity or perhaps the tropical storm intensity. So a little bit of a shift and as we know there are what we call (INAUDIBLE), these little jogs here and there. So it could jog in a little bit further.

Take a look at that -- at this image that's right beside me. WVUE, affiliate in New Orleans, very heavy surf or wave action there, as you can see. We're anticipating a storm surge between 10 and 14 feet.

Now, right now, it's a Category 3. We had one computer model suggesting it's going to stay at a Category 3 when it makes landfall about midday tomorrow, maybe around noon or 1:00, which is also around the time of high tide.

That surf is just absolutely incredible. And this is when we've got tropical storm conditions across coastal sections of Louisiana. Not even hurricane conditions yet from Boothville to Medery (ph) to Violet to Shamit to New Orleans. We're looking at tropical storm force conditions right now.

And this is not going to stop any time soon. And it looks like this particular hurricane is just going to ring itself out right across this Lower Mississippi Valley region into the Arp (ph) of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas. And we're looking at days and days of rain, because there's nothing really that's going to be pushing this system along.

I want to mention once again, WVUE, those live pictures coming out of New Orleans and the very heavy wave action that we're seeing there. And some areas could be picking up between 10 and 15 inches of rain. We had one computer model that was suggesting maybe along the eastern half of Hurricane Gustav could actually see up to 20 inches of rainfall.

Now, currently, there's a tornado watch. These are all the ingredients you have to worry about with the hurricane. You've got the storm surge, 10 to 14 feet. You've got the rain and this is going to be a terrible rain producer. And on top of that, these outer bands, Rick, as you well know, because I found out that you are the expert, the co-expert of these hurricanes. The tornadoes -- that's really going to be a problem.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

MAGINNIS: Now there's a watch until 7:00 a.m. local time.

SANCHEZ: It's amazing. Some of the storms that I remember seeing both as a kid and as a reporter in Florida, they would actually go into trees and find projectiles that had gone through palm trees, for example, in Florida. And then they were able to obviously go into a lab and shoot a projectile at a certain speed to find out how fast it was going.

MAGINNIS: Right.

SANCHEZ: And they found that the winds inside some of the tornadoes, in storms, we know we get impressed by winds of 140, 150 miles an hour. Sometimes when we're told those are the winds held by a Category 4, Category 5 hurricane. In those tornadoes, you get winds of almost 260, 270 miles an hour. Of course, they're isolated. We're not talking about sustained winds but it's remarkable when you read about this tornadic -- this tornadic activity that is contained within some of the outer flow, some of these bands in these hurricanes, as you well know.

Karen, stay there. I want to come right back to you in a little bit. But we've got one of these Q-tones that we've got to get. That means that's it a commercial that's going to happen whether we like it or not. And we don't want to get interrupted.

So let's take it now. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: All right. Let's start with some of the pictures that we've got coming in. And you can see -- you know, we talk a lot when we speak of hurricanes about that tidal surge. You know, the storm surge, it's also called. It's the water. Some call it a wall of water that is being pushed onto the shore.

It doesn't happen as a wall. It's not a tidal wave, folks. It really is just water that continues to little by little accumulate, get higher and higher as the wind gets closer and closer to the shore. The hurricane, itself, and it starts really pushing the water. That's what it does. It pushes the water.

These are shots now. These are live pictures that we're looking at, just outside New Orleans. It's WVUE that's sending us these. And you can see that wave motion that we're starting to see that's typical when a hurricane starts getting close to shore.

I mean, look, this is the gulf. The gulf is not -- it's usually not very turbulent. It's a pretty tranquil area all things considered. Certainly compared to the pacific and even the other side of Florida around the Atlantic.

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