Eighty percent of Morgan City, population 10,000, was evacuated Monday. The city is on lockdown with a dawn to dusk curfew. Most of the power is out in an area that was under the eye of the hurricane Monday morning.
In Morgan City, the difference between a miss and a direct hit is the 72 miles between the city and New Orleans. Monday, it happened twice as the eye of Hurricane Gustav passed directly overhead.
Gustav's leading edge brought sustained winds of at least 110 miles an hour, along with a cutting, horizontal rain. What it didn't blow through, it blew over.
And then, the calm inbetween.
Residents know from experience in this city seven feet above sea level, where Hurricane Andrew laid waste in 1992. In Morgan City, they consider Katrina to be an asterisk.
The back side of the eye hit about 2:00 p.m. Again, Morgan City hunkered down, but this time Gustav seemed more restrained -- or maybe it just seemed that way.
"You're going to have to sit and wait. All you can do now is sit and hold on. That's all you can do," said resident Sydney Chustz.
Old wisdom in an old town that has been through this before, and probably will, again.
"I'm still dry and I'm alive. That's what counts," said resident Steve Cortez.