Greenville hosts estimated 735 evacuees

Published 2:35 pm Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hurricane Gustav came in with a bang, but went out with a whimper, largely sparing a region still reeling from the ravages of Katrina three years ago.

Forecasters had predicted dire circumstances for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast after Gustav crossed Cuba on Sunday into the Gulf of Mexico and strengthened into a Category 4 storm. Worse, the eye of the hurricane was aimed at New Orleans, a city with a levee system still not prepared for the storm surge Gustav was likely to bring.

In 2005, floodwaters from Katrina breached the levees around New Orleans, flooding 80 percent of the city and killing 700 people.

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But Gustav served New Orleans only a glancing blow when it made landfall on Monday morning as a Category 2 hurricane. While nearly one million customers in southern Louisiana were left without power due to snapped power lines and downed trees, only eight deaths have been reported thus far in the United States due to the storm.

Greenville and its multiple hotels did see evacuees, though, as approximately 735 people found residence in the Camellia City to ride out the storm, according to Lt. Anthony Barganier with the Greenville Police Department.

“At least 95 people were sheltered at Lomax-Hannon College where the Red Cross had set up,” said Barganier. “We also had at least 150 people at Sherling Lake.”

Additionally, 10 people from the Gulf Coast area took shelter at Greenville High School, which the Alabama Emergency Management Association had designated as a medical needs shelter on Friday, said Superintendent Mike Looney.

Hampton Inn hosted an estimated 121 evacuees; Days Inn had 120; Jameson Inn 109, Best Western 83; Comfort Inn 25; and Camellia Court had 15, while seven persons stayed at the Reid Motel.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin advised residents on Tuesday to stay in hotels and shelters until workers had restored power and assessed damage from Gustav.

Nagin told reporters with the Associated Press, residents could begin returning to area either late Wednesday or Thursday.