Tropical Storm Gustav has strengthened off the coast of Jamaica with sustained winds now reaching 70 miles per hour, and forecasters predict that the storm will continue to intensify into a category 3 hurricane before it enters the Gulf of Mexico. There is speculation that development will continue until it hits the Gulf Coast as a category 4 or even 5. In response to the storm Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state or emergency throughout Louisiana, which the National Hurricane Center expects to be struck early next week.
Residents throughout the state have begun to take action. Flornece Mizell, owner of Bogue Chito Tubing & Canoeing, is monitoring the storm’s every movement through the Weather Channel. “We’re hoping it won’t turn out like they say, but Katrina learned everybody to look out.” Anticipating damage she’s cutting down tree limbs that could be torn off by the storm. “In Katrina we had all the trees blowed down over the office and garage. It blowed all the trees down into the campground,” she explained. “We’re getting everything ready that we can but we’ll just have to ride it out and see what happens. We’ll know probably by Sunday if we have to shut down.”
Captain Danny Wray founded Calmwater Charters in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and is taking steps to secure the future of his business. He’s based out of Grand Isle, just a dozen miles short of the southernmost point of the state, and two storm path projections put Gustav on either side of his office. “The most essential thing we try to get out first are the revenue producing items.” For Wray that means the Carolina Skiff he charters many of his programs off of. “My boat is my living — I’m getting it north of I-10, going almost to Baton Rouge. ” He’ll return with 11 sheets of ¾ inch plywood, spending tomorrow lag bolting them to the outsides of the window frames of the guesthouse he operates. He doesn’t plan on evacuating unless it is ordered.
“Louisiana is so far ahead of the game plan this time: Governor Jindal has done a great job preparing and the National Guard is already alerted. I’d say we’re about 48 hours ahead of where we were at this point before Katrina.”
Not only is Captain Wray confident in his preparations he’s allowed himself some leisure time on the water. “I caught 15 speckled trout this morning before I evacuated! Are you sure you don’t want to come down here?”
Click on the PDF at the top of the page to view the National Hurricane Center’s current projection for Gustav’s path through Tuesday.
— Sam Weiss