"The city of New Orleans is not totally out of the woods, but we're getting close," Nagin said. The mandatory evacuation order, however, remained in place, he said, as was the dusk-to-dawn curfew.
The mayor said he hoped to begin welcoming citizens back to New Orleans late Wednesday or Thursday but would not finalize those plans until a fuller assessment of how much damage the city had endured could be carried out.
To keep people away, Interstate 10 and 55 remain closed this morning, and roadblocks remain in place.
For the estimated 2 million people who evacuated coastal Louisiana, a return home cannot come soon enough.
Gustav had pretty much blown itself out by this morning. The National Hurricane Center said the once fearsome Category 4 hurricane, which moved ashore as a Category 2, was now little more than a tropical depression, but it warned that Gustav still carried a flooding threat. It's now traveling about 135 miles northwest of Lafayette and has winds of 35 mph.
Speaking to city residents waiting impatiently for the go-ahead to return home, Nagin warned against rushing back to New Orleans today.
"[Tuesday] is not a day for you to come back to the city of New Orleans," he said.
Today will be a "day of assessment and repair," said the mayor, and Wednesday -- provided all goes well -- companies and retailers will be allowed back into the city to assess their stores and stock up for the residents' arrival.
For the most part, New Orleans' shaky levees appear to have held. Water ominously churned and splashed over the top of the Industrial Canal for hours Monday, but unlike what happened during Hurricane Katrina three years ago, the levee did not fail.
"I was hoping this would happen," said Nagin of the apparent success of the levees. "I feel really good about it, and it proves the city can handle a Category 3 storm."
Trees and power lines are strewn on city streets and the sewer system, according to Nagin, is not "fully functional." He said it would take at least 24 hours to get an assessment of the damage to the sewer system and to get it working again.
There are also several buildings around the city that the mayor said appear to have structural damage.
"We're not quite ready for citizens to come back," warned Nagin, visibly calmer than he'd appeared in the days leading up to the storm.
The storm knocked out power to 107,000 customers in the city, but across the region more then 1 million homes remain powerless.
There have been two arrests associated with the storm, New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Warren Riley said. That number is in stark contrast to what happened after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, when crime -- especially looting -- was a big problem. Since Gustav hit, one person was arrested for allegedly breaking into a gas station and another for allegedly trying to steal gas, Riley said.
When asked whether he believed the low number of arrests during the storm was a "victory," Nagin said that while he wouldn't use those words exactly, he is certain number said a lot about the citizens of New Orleans.
The New Orleans Fire Department reported having responded to 75 calls since midnight Sunday, including one large fire they said was caused by a stubborn resident who tried to hook up a generator to his apartment building rather than evacuate.