LI prepares to help Gustav evacuees

When Hurricane Gustav descends on the Gulf Coast, some Long Islanders will be ready to help.
With New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin urging residents to participate in a mandatory evacuation or be left on their own, millions of Louisianans have hit the highways.
"Get out. We're strongly encouraging tourists definitely to get out, and the next time you hear us, it's going to be, Get the heck out," says Nagin, who also was mayor in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.
Gustav is poised to become a Category 5 hurricane before it hits land Monday. And some Long Islanders are ready to help those in its path.
Four volunteers from Nassau's Red Cross are heading to Hattiesburg, Miss., one of the staging areas north of the hurricane strike zone.
If evacuees need shelter, Long Island is ready to take them in, according to the Nassau County Red Cross. Evacuees could begin arriving on Long Island as early as Tuesday.
"The national headquarters has asked all of the chapters in the country to be in a state of readiness to accept evacuees from the Gulf region," says Frank Cassano, the organization's CEO. The Red Cross would house evacuees at Building P of Nassau Community College. It can hold 4,600 people. Volunteers will prepare the shelter with plenty of cots, blankets, non-perishable supplies and paper goods. The preparation by organizations and the government will save many lives, Cassano says.
"There's probably going to be a lot of damage. But we probably won't sustain the amount of human loss of life that we did three years ago," he says.