1 million evacuated as Katrina approaches


NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- An estimated 1 million people evacuated New Orleans and surrounding areas as Hurricane Katrina approached the Gulf Coast Sunday.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said 75 percent to 80 percent of residents had been evacuated by Sunday evening. Some 30,000 people were taken to the Louisiana Superdome, reported CNN.


"We are in lockdown mode now," Nagin said on WWL-AM.

Walter S. Maestri, director of the Jefferson Parish Department of Emergency Management, estimated 1 million people had been evacuated. Approximately 1.3 million people live in the New Orleans metro area.

On Sunday evening, the hurricane was about 130 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and expected to hit land early Monday. Conditions were already beginning to deteriorate along portions of the central and northeastern Gulf Coast.

Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, told CNN Katrina is the strongest hurricane he has ever seen.

"Not just because of the intensity but the size of this and the area that it's hitting," he said.

Mayfield said there is a lot of attention on the threat Katrina poses to New Orleans, but western Mississippi is also going to get hit hard.


New Orleans lies below sea level, separated from the Mississippi by huge levees.

Nagin said the hurricane could affect oil prices nationwide.

"We probably handle about 25 of the nation's domestic oil production," he told CNN.

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