Gerald Weaver/AP
The downtown streets of New Orleans
were deserted as Hurricane Gustav
approached on Monday, Sept. 1, 2008.

Hurricane Gustav Has Far-Reaching Effects

September 02, 2008 08:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The storm caused loss of power and flooding in the Gulf Coast area, and put a damper on the Republican National Convention.

Gustav Lands in Coastal Town

The storm landed Monday morning near the coastal town of Cocodrie, La. but by Monday afternoon, CNN reported that the National Hurricane Center had downgraded Gustav to a Category 1 storm. Still, the heavy rains and wind were cause for concern.

“On the beach, it was blowing hard enough that you had to squat down to take a picture, it could pretty much throw you around,” iReporter Kevin Wise of Biloxi, Miss., told CNN. Wise also reported that the storm had caused waters to spread to a highway about 100 yards from the regular shoreline in the Gulf.

The BBC reported that the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans, which was hard hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, was affected by Gustav’s rains.

Flooding and loss of power weren’t the only effects of Gustav. According to The Times-Picayune, “Even before landfall, Hurricane Gustav has changed the course of American political history,” putting a damper on the opening ceremonies for the Republican National Convention on Monday.

“We’re here and we’re torn. Our hearts are back home, and we are here. We are here because we have been called here,” said alternate delegate Lloyd Harsch at the delegation hotel during a morning prayer session.

Gustav also affected oil and gas markets, with the storm’s downgrade bringing good news:  crude oil fell to its lowest price in more than four months on Monday. The storm had previously raised concerns over damage to drilling rigs and refineries.

Reactions: Gustav and the Convention

President Bush canceled his plans to address the convention on Monday and flew to Texas on Monday instead. According to Reuters, his change of plans was a bid to show that his administration would not repeat its widely criticized mistakes of the Katrina era. Bush warned on Monday that the Gulf Coast was not yet out of danger. “The storm has yet to pass. It’s a serious event,” he said at a briefing in Austin.

Slate’s John Dickerson predicts that Gustav may benefit the GOP, despite the disruption of its event. “For the moment, the disaster benefits McCain, because like all great political moments, it allows him to act authentically and yet benefit politically. One of the worst political clichés actually is true at this moment: Good policy is good politics.”

Background: ‘Forecasters Cautious as Hurricane Season Nears’

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted earlier in the summer that this year’s hurricane season, which officially began on June 1, would be slightly worse than usual. The agency was cautious in its forecast, however, in reaction to recent criticism for overestimation. The NOAA predicted that there would be 12-16 named storms this year. Of them, forecasters expect six to nine hurricanes, including two to five major hurricanes.”

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