New hurricane looms as Gustav weakens in New Orleans (Lead)

September 2nd, 2008 - 7:47 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 2 (DPA) As hurricane Gustav faded, a sister storm called Hanna reached hurricane status late Monday and headed for southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, with Florida and eastern Cuba possible long-range targets.Gustav hit the Louisiana coast earlier Monday, where it spent much of its strength and dropped to a category 1 on the 1-to-5 Saffir-Simpson scale, the National Hurricane Centre said.

Gustav’s threat triggered one of the largest evacuations in US history, when 2 million people fled north over the weekend. It was still whipping winds of 100 kmph across New Orleans, and local officials were keeping an uneasy eye on rising water levels behind the city’s system of levees.

Heavy rainfall and high winds have pushed large masses of water against the dam system that keeps lake, sea and river waters from the low-lying city of jazz.

In Plaquemines Parish, southeast of New Orleans, parish president Bill Nungesser broadcast another warning to anyone who may have stayed behind to “immediately leaveā€.

He told CNN that two levees along a Mississippi River canal were “breaking” and “could flood the whole east bank in very little time.”

Hurricane Hanna was gaining steam as a category 1 storm as it “meanders over the southeast Bahamas,” weather officials said. Maximum winds were 130 kmph.

Hurricane conditions were expected within the next 24 hours in the southeastern Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Interests in eastern Cuba, the northwest Bahamas and the Florida peninsula should monitor the progress of this system,” the hurricane centre warned.

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