Hurricane Gustav charged toward the largely deserted coast of Louisiana early Monday morning and seemed destined to make landfall west of a city still recovering three years after Katrina's devastating blow.
Those who heeded the days of warnings to get out watched from shelters and hotel rooms hundreds of miles away, praying the powerful Category 3 storm and its 115-mph winds would pass without the same deadly toll.
"We're nervous, but we just have to keep trusting in God that we don't get the water again," said Lyndon Guidry, who hit the road for Florida just a few months after he was able to return to his home in New Orleans. "We just have to put our faith in God."
The brutal memories of Katrina, which flooded 80 percent of New Orleans and killed more than 1,600 along the Gulf Coast, led officials to aggressively insist that everyone in Gustav's path flee from shore. As the storm grew near, the streets of the city were empty — save for National Guardsmen and just about every officer on the city's police force standing watch for looters.
While forecasters said it could intensify a bit before moving inland, it will not likely be the Category 4 storm that had been predicted -- a possibility that added urgency to mass evacuation orders in recent days.
Nearly all of the roughly 2 million people in coastal Louisiana and the New Orleans area had cleared out ahead of Hurricane Gustav on Sunday night.
Road, rail and air links out of New Orleans began to close as the first storm bands began to strike the city. But more than 1.9 million people had fled New Orleans and its surrounding parishes by Sunday night, and fewer than 10,000 people were thought to remain in New Orleans, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said, citing the city's police chief.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had demanded an evacuation of the city, which still is recovering from 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Forecasters warned Gustav -- a Category 3 storm similar to Katrina -- could hit Louisiana with devastating effect by early Monday afternoon.
Jindal said New Orleans' levees should "barely hold or barely be overtopped" if the storm, as predicted Sunday evening, hit southwest of the city.
Russia warned the West on Monday against supporting Georgia's leadership and called for an arms embargo against the ex-Soviet republic nation until a different government is in place.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks are likely to anger the United States and Europe and enrage Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. He made it clear Moscow wants Saakashvili out of power in Georgia.
"If instead of choosing their national interests and the interests of the Georgian people, the United States and its allies choose the Saakashvili regime, this will be a mistake of truly historic proportions," he said.
"For a start it would be right to impose an embargo on weapons to this regime, until different authorities turn Georgia a normal state," he said in an address at Russia's top foreign policy graduate school.
Lavrov spoke as the European Union prepared for a summit Monday to discuss the Georgia crisis and further relations with Russia.
"Today's EU summit should clear up a great deal. We hope the choice they make will be based on Europe's fundamental interests," he said. He said Russia's relations with NATO are facing a "moment of truth." "It's up to Russia today to make a fundamental choice" and to engage neighbors and partners in settling disputes peacefully," French President Nicolas Sarkozy wrote in a pre-summit letter to EU leaders. "Russia's commitment to a relationship of understanding and cooperation with the rest of Europe is in doubt."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for the embargo Monday until Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was out of power, and said the West would be making a mistake of "historic scope" if it continued to support Georgia.
Lavrov's comments came on the same day that the EU was set to meet in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss how to respond to Moscow's recent decision to recognize the breakaway Georgia regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
Russia has also not fully withdrawn its troops from Georgia after last month's clashes between the two sides.
"If the United States and its allies ultimately opt for the Saakashvili regime, which has not taken any lessons from the recent events regarding South Ossetia ... they will make a mistake of an historic scope," the news agency Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying.
Lavrov said Russia would continue taking measures against the Saakashvili administration "to ensure that this regime will never commit evil again." He called for an arms embargo against Georgia.
"First of all it would be correct to impose an embargo on arms supplies to this regime, pending the arrival of new authorities who will turn Georgia into a normal state," he said, according to Interfax.
The U.S. military has handed over security control of the western province of Anbar to Iraqi forces.
The province was once a hotbed of the Sunni Arab insurgency, and the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war.
The handover marks a major milestone in America's strategy of turning security over to the Iraqis so U.S. troops can eventually go home.
In the ceremony Monday in the provincial capital of Ramadi, the top American commander in Anbar, Marine Maj. Gen. John Kelly, said Al Qaeda has not been entirely defeated in Anbar. But he said, "their end is near."
"We are in the last ten yards of this terrible fight. The goal is very near," Major-General John Kelly, commander of U.S. forces in Anbar, told U.S., Iraqi and tribal officials gathered near Anbar's government headquarters.
"Your lives and the lives of your children depend on victory."
Kelly and Anbar Governor Mamun Sami Rasheed embraced after signing a document making Anbar the 11th of Iraq's 18 provinces, and the first Sunni Arab province, to be returned to Iraqi control since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
"We faced al Qaeda and we paid dearly for this our lives," Rasheed said. "Blood is spread all over this great land."
Police marched down a main street carrying Iraqi flags, followed by a parade of police vehicles trimmed with flowers.
The handover in Anbar had been slated for June but was delayed due to a row between local political leaders.
More to follow as we continue to monitor Gustav. Photo is from NOAA and the Fox News Article.