Happy Labor day to most. Stay safe for those on the Gulf Coast. Unlike most people, I have some inside track on how this Hurricane stuff goes down. Not to question coverage on television, but it really does not convey the destruction of these storms. Nothing can, outside of actually being there and seeing the destruction.
Fortunately, it looks like New Orleans escaped any real hardcore damage this time around. A lot of that, I think, has to do with the track of Gustav. It came in to the west of the city. This means that the vicious winds and tornados certainly did impact the Big Easy, but the flooding was not a recap of Katrina.
To understand this, you have to understand the circulation is counter clockwise. That means, on the east side of the storm is where the initial storm surge occurs as the winds push the water up onto the coast. New Orleans is not right on the coast. During Katrina, they received the back-push on the west side of the storm as winds whipped around from the north and pushed the waters of Lake Pontchartrain back into the city (Lake P is north of New Orleans). This was the real devastation of Katrina as the actual storm had little major impact (it was on the west side of the path, generally known as the calmer side).
This meant that, during Katrina, which came ashore around Biloxi, MS the bulk of the storm related damage was in eastern Mississippi and Alabama and the New Orleans damage was a result of after-effects and broken levees.
I spent some time in Mississippi on a cleanup mission and dug up photos from last night. You can see the entire photoset on Flickr.