New Orleans Mayor Suspends Re-Entry; Orders Evacuation as Rita Approaches Gulf

September 20, 2005

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin suspended re-entry and ordered an evacuation of New Orleans as Tropical Storm Rita moved toward the Gulf of Mexico. The storm was elevated to a Category 1 hurricane on Sept. 20.

“Re-entry was going very smoothly this weekend. We made a decision, working with federal authorities, based on our ability to bring people safely back and our ability to care for them,” Mayor Nagin said. “However, with Rita, we have to adjust our plans and err on the side of caution.”

Mayor Nagin called for a mandatory evacuation of the East Bank of the city and a voluntary evacuation of the West Bank. Officials will continue to monitor the storm and issue updates as they become necessary.

The City of New Orleans requested 200 buses and has 150 available. Beginning forty-eight hours prior to the storm’s landfall, citizens will be loaded onto buses at the Convention Center downtown and Behrman Stadium in Algiers.

Though much progress has been made in draining the city of floodwaters, more than 9 inches of rain or a three-foot storm surge could overwhelm levees.

Rita could make landfall by Thurs., Sept. 22, the mayor’s office said.

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