Fearful residents flee New Orleans

August 31, 2008 New Orleans, and many communities along the Gulf Coast, were under mandatory evacuation orders.

As resident Perry Kacprzak blockaded his back door and left New Orleans Sunday, he couldn't help but think about growing up on Chicago's South Side far from any hurricane zone.

"My wife and I stayed through the last one, which might have been a mistake. We were in a different part of town, in a better area," the former Chicagoan said.

When asked what made him decide to leave this time, Kacprzak said, " Because of how enormous the storm is…we've heard reports that Gustav will be 900 miles wide,"

Kacprzak and his wife left behind their beloved cats, after cutting a hole in the front door for them to come and go during the coming storm.

Sunday night, authorities said 95 percent of Louisiana Gulf Coast residents had evacuated. That's nearly 2 million people, the largest exodus in state history.

"I was scared of the last one. I'm scared of anything that could kill me," one New Orleans man said.

It didn't take much deep thinking for new o to decide whether to leave. They waited on street corners in New Orleans for emergency busses to take them to Union Station, where they would board other busses and trains out of town.

"It's just the wind. The rain doesn't bother me. Katrina left houses that were on pillars in the middle of the streets. It's the wind," hurricane evacuee Royce Jackson said.

Louisiana residents trickled out of New Orleans and from hamlets along hundreds of miles of the Gulf Coast as mandatory evacuation periods expired and no-nonsense curfews began in most places.

Thad Wainwright said his 3-month-old son is the reason he and his wife were leaving New Orleans. When asked where he was going, Wainwright said:

"We're not sure, wherever the bus takes up. I'd like to end up in Chicago or Ohio ," said the evacuee.

Wainwright said he hoped to make it to his brother's apartment in Lakeview on Chicago's North Side.

As residents departed the city, ABC7 Chicago visited some of New Orlean's infamous levies, many of which failed during Hurricane Katrina. Sunday afternoon, at the top of a levy ladder, the water and the storm seemed still far off. The question is, will they hold when the storm hits?

But even that didn't seem to matter Sunday night on Bourbon Street in the one bar that somehow remained open-despite a city curfew, a ban on liquor sales and the approaching hurricane.

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