Bush declares emergency in Louisiana, Texas

WASHINGTON (AFP) US President George W. Bush on Friday declared a state of emergency in Louisiana and Texas in the face of killer Hurricane Gustav, freeing up aid from Washington three years after Hurricane Katrina.

The move empowers federal authorities to lead all disaster relief efforts "to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe" in the states, the White House said.

Bush's decision came three years after Katrina devastated New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf coast, killing 1,800 people.

The botched Washington response swamped the president's approval ratings amid widespread criticism that he paid too little attention to the storm.

Gustav is forecast to slam the Gulf coast early Tuesday as a powerful Category Three hurricane with wind speeds of up to 130 miles (209 kilometers) per hour -- the same force as Katrina when it slammed New Orleans in 2005.


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