Mandatory Evacuation Orders in Place in New Orleans

by Jay Gray

NBC News

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - The core of the city has been locked down.

FEMA Director David Paulson said "it's simply too dangerous a storm."

As Gustav intensifies, so does the effort to move hundreds of thousands of people to higher ground.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said "today is about, get out, we strongly, strongly encourage it.  Tourists definitely get out.  The next time you hear us, it's going to be get the heck out."

For many, a second warning won't be neccessary. Thousands have grabbed whatever they can, loaded a suitcase, and walked to the bus or train station where FEMA and the city provided a ride for those who could not leave on their own.

New Orleans resident Audrey Martin said, "I think FEMA stepped up to the plate this time."

The lines are long, emotions running high, but there is food and water.

New Orleans resident William Harper said, "it's been relatively smooth, given the situation."

Early on, it seems the lessons learned from Katrina are paying off three years later.

New Orleans resident Sherlyn Morgan said, "we just have to deal with it, it's better this way then trying to rush out the city, they're slowly giving us a head start."

It is a slow go.  The roads leading out of New Orleans have been packed all day and for some this will be a one way trip.

New Orleans resident Diane Harts said, "this time, I'm not coming back, it's too stressful."

A stress, that just like Gustov, continues to build and take aim at south Louisiana.