The Category 2 storm packed winds in excess of 100 miles per hour when it made landfall Monday 70 miles southwest of the "Crescent City."
Though nowhere near as destructive as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita three years ago, Gustav forced the evacuation of nearly 2 million coastal Louisiana residents.
The storm halted work on off-shore oil drilling rigs along the Gulf Coast, which is responsible for about 25 percent of U.S. oil production and nearly half of the nation's refining capacity. Though some companies have already resumed operations, residential and commercial insurance claims could amount to $10 billion. And more than a million customers, including some refineries, still are without electricity.
At the northern end of the Mississippi River, the storm cast a shroud of uncertainty over the Republican National Convention. President Bush cancelled his scheduled appearance and addressed delegates via satellite from Washington. Vice President Cheney also was a "no-show." But former naval aviator John McCain willingly stepped on deck to assume the helm of the GOP ticket.
Pledging to end the "constant partisan rancor" plaguing the nation, Arizona Senator John McCain -- a P.O.W. turned political rebel -- took the next step in the long road to the White House. Seeking to become the oldest first-term president in history, the 72-year-old promised delegates that "change is coming to Washington."
Sen. John McCain R-Arizona, Republican Nominee: "I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again. I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not."
While the issues garnering the most headlines leading into the final push to the White house include the economy, the Iraq war and U.S. energy policy, McCain is an outspoken critic of key components of current farm policy.
He opposed a $300 billion farm bill approved by Congress and enacted earlier this summer despite President Bush's veto.
McCain would cap subsidies to farmers who have adjusted gross income of $250,000 or more.
And he opposes subsidizing the ethanol industry.
McCain wasn't the only one at the convention to criticize ethanol. Earlier in the week, the Republican Party called for an end to renewable fuel production mandates in its official party platform.
While politicians including McCain, have publicly opposed ethanol subsidies before, the platform approved during this week's convention marks the first time a major U.S. party has taken an official stance against publicly funded ethanol incentives.
Just four years ago, the Republican platform called for "efforts to expand the use of biodiesel and ethanol," which it said "could reduce America's dependence on foreign oil while increasing revenues to farmers."
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia: "That is part of a platform, it's not part of a law or part of a policy. I don't agree with that and I don't know anybody in agriculture country that agrees with that."
Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture: "If the RFS were pulled back we would still finish the plants being built now but it would slow down future production. I think it would have more effect on the future than on today."
Noting that ethanol is the only technology in use today helping to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, the Renewable Fuels Association said "it is inconceivable that the Republican Party would adopt a platform that limits the energy options available to the American people.
While the GOP position is unwelcome to the ethanol industry, it might be without much risk to McCain's campaign since current ethanol usage exceeds the federal mandate and is likely to surpass it in the future.
Sen. John McCain Republican Nominee: "We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we'll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles."