I know this is easy for me to say, but it could have been so much worse.
After spending the past three years rebuilding the levees that stand between it and inundation, this fragile city apparently passed its first significant test Monday when Gustav, which downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical depression in less than 24 hours, passed through with no major breach or significant damage.
Although Gustav did what hurricanes do -- uproot trees, knock down power lines and flatten some of the homes directly in its path -- it spared the Crescent City a repeat of Hurricane Katrina. Most of those who fled the storm were concerned not with the damage that would confront them when they got home, but with how quickly they could return.
Gov. Bobby Jindal was not ready to declare victory over nature, as 500,000 residents were without power and much of the state was still bracing for rough weather, but he was sympathetic to the desire of residents to return home as quickly as possible. He said he was eager to get on a military aircraft and assess the damage this morning.
"As soon as things are safe, I'll be on that first flight myself," Jindal said. "It is way too early to determine the extent of damage to our state."
"It looks like we are not totally out of the woods, but getting close," said New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
Re-entry is just days away, but residents shouldn't return Tuesday, he said. A dusk-to-dawn curfew remains in effect as officials evaluate all city services.
"We want the streets clear," Nagin said. "Trees are down all over the city, power lines are down all over the city, and there is a significant number of homes and businesses without energy."
There are still more storms out there - hello, Hurricane Ike - but with any luck the Gulf of Mexico has seen the last of them for the year. Hopefully, Hurricane Hanna will not do too much damage wherever it hits. Keep your fingers crossed.Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 02, 2008 to Hurricane Katrina