The Washington Post reports that while Hurricane Gustav appears to have passed by New Orleans, there are still concerns about whether the levees will hold up against flooding:

“Early indications were that the weakened storm caused less damage than originally feared, and New Orleans appeared to have avoided a disaster on the scale that Hurricane Katrina delivered three years ago.”

Read the full story here.

The hurricane has been downgraded to a category 1 storm, and according to one New Orleans blogger, author Poppy Z. Brite, cell phone networks are already being restored, although power and landline phones are still out:

“This is the back end of the storm going over now and it’s just a bunch of rain no street flooding in our area. Very quiet haven’t seen a soul except a few cop cars going by. We’re gonna be ok.”

A lot of political mileage has already been made of Gustav – including the circulation of the photo snapped of John McCain eating his birthday cake with George W. Bush while Katrina was devastating New Orleans. Time has an interesting article looking at whether John McCain can seize the initiative and handle this unexpected domestic issue more adroitly than Bush handled Katrina:

“John McCain can’t stop the storm, but his campaign is determined to make the most of it by using it to rebrand a new generation of Republicans as leaders who govern effectively and rise above partisanship. “There’s very little doubt that we have to go from a party event to a call to the nation for action, action to help our fellow citizens in this time of tragedy and disaster, action in the form of volunteering, donations, reaching out our hands and our hearts and our wallets to the people who are under such great threat from this great natural disaster,” McCain said midday Sunday, after receiving a briefing on preparedness with four Republican Gulf coast governors.”

Read the full story here.