Though it didn't turn out to the "mother of all storms" that Mayor Ray Nagin had predicted, Gustav still packed a wallop. Bayou communities on the west shore of Lake Pontchartrain were submerged nearly to rooftops, as the canal between Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas to the west spread into a vast expanse of angry and storm-chopped sea.
In the bayou burg of Morgan City, La., which took the brunt of Gustav's landfall, the Atchafalaya storm gates on Front Street creaked but held back the water. "Everyone's fine," reported dispatcher Allison Ganawey. "But it's been a little busy around here."
In Lafitte, La., Mayor Tim Kerner joined volunteer crews to lay water-filled rubber levees to hold back the waters. In Slidell, La., the Palm Lake neighborhood flooded under Gustav's five-foot storm surge, and some residents were evacuated by boat. Local authorities and volunteers worked throughout the night to shore up a levee near Belle Chasse, in St. Bernard Parish.
In New Orleans, tense moments gave way to relief, as storm waters that overtopped the Industrial Canal walls – which during Katrina had betrayed the Ninth Ward neighborhood – quickly subsided.