'Ghost Town' New Orleans Steels for Gustav

3 die in biggest evacuation in Louisiana history
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2008 2:29 AM CDT
Harry Janoswky prays before Mass at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans' French Quarter.    (AP Photo/Ron Heflin)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The last bus out of New Orleans drove off at 3pm yesterday, leaving behind a virtual ghost town, reports the Houston Chronicle. An estimated 10,000 residents are left in the hurricane-threatened city, now subject to a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew. Some 1.9 million Louisianans have fled Hurricane Gustav—the biggest evacuation in state history. Three hospital patients died during the operation.

Rain began pelting the region over the weekend as Gustav churned toward the Gulf Coast, and the massive hurricane is expected to hit landfall today. Police and National Guard were patrolling the empty streets. Authorities are determined to avoid the kind of lawlessness that followed Katrina, said New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. "Looters will not get a pass this time," he said. "You will go directly to the Big House." (Read more New Orleans stories.)