Gustav Huffs and Puffs and Hits Bayou

Gustav's earliest victim was the Republican presidential nominating convention in St. Paul, Minn. The GOP canceled its opening speeches, and Jindal's appearance at the convention was in doubt. Bush had already announced that he wasn't going and, instead, monitored Gustav from Austin, Texas. Jindal stayed at home to direct hurricane relief.

Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, who was in New Orleans Sunday, went to a disaster relief center in Toledo, Ohio, today and helped pack boxes of cleaning supplies to be sent to areas hit by the hurricane.

"This is what it's all about..." McCain said after shaking hands with volunteers preparing the relief packages. "This epitomizes the millions of Americans who are serving on behalf of causes greater than their own self interest and putting their country first."

Bush said in the early hours of the storm that preparations and coordination between state and federal agencies had improved a great deal since Katrina three years ago.

"To that end, I feel good," Bush said. "The coordination on this storm is a lot better than during Katrina."

He warned, however, "This storm has yet to pass. It's a serious event,"

Gustav spared the Gulf's oil rigs, and the price of oil fell $4 in trading today as investors believed that the oil industry would suffer minimal losses. Gas prices could go up if the rigs, which were shut down for Gustav, can't resume pumping soon.

To the east of New Orleans, Mississippi's coastal towns, including Gulfport and Biloxi, were hit with power outages and flooded roadways.

New Orleans Levees Hold as Gustav Hits

To the west of New Orleans, Lafayette temporarily lost power and people were urged to fill their bathtubs with water as Gustav approached.

In New Orleans, about half the city lost power and winds and rain pummeled the nearly empty streets. In the Upper Ninth Ward, which was devastated by Katrina, only about six inches of flooding could be seen.

The big news in New Orleans was that its partially built levees, which were described as "fragile" in the days before Gustav struck, apparently stood up to the test.

Water splashed over the top of the Industrial Canal levee located in the city's Upper Ninth Ward. The flood wall there is 12.2 feet, and water levels peaked at around 11 feet.

Officials initially feared that two unmoored vessels in the canal could crash through the levee, but Maj. Gen. Don T. Riley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they were stable and posed no threat to the embankments.

"City pumps," he said, "will keep up with flooding in the interior."

He also said that Harvey Canal gate, one of the areas Nagin was particularly worried about failing, had stood up to the water and had not flooded.

Warned by Nagin that stragglers would be "on their own" if they stayed behind, nearly the entire population of New Orleans, including patients, the elderly and even pets, were hauled by bus, train and chartered planes to shelters farther north and out of reach of Gustav.

As the winds picked up, National Guard and police vehicles were pulled off the streets.

Nagin and other regional officials had warned residents to get out of town or it would be the "worst mistake of their lives," and this time, people heeded the warning. New Orleans' streets were empty with only a handful of hardy gamblers staying behind.

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