Tropical Storm Gustav pounded Jamaica with rain, flooding streets with water and mud, as Louisiana prepared for the system to strengthen into a hurricane bound for areas devastated by Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Three years to the day after Katrina left more than 80 percent of New Orleans under water, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency was on alert for Gustav and said it had food, water and supplies ready to move into the area.

"A land strike to the west of New Orleans will place this great city within the most dangerous part of the storm,'' said Jim Rouiller, a senior energy meteorologist with Planalytics Inc., a forecaster based in Wayne, Pennsylvania. "Gustav has the potential to generate much more damage than Katrina did.''

Gustav had sustained winds of 65 miles (105 kilometers) per hour as of 11 a.m. Miami time today and was centered 165 miles south-southeast of Grand Cayman, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on its Web site. It is heading west-northwest at 8 mph and may return to hurricane strength later today.

Gustave is predicted to bring as much as 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rain to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands on a track toward the western tip of Cuba, reaching the Gulf of Mexico by Aug. 31, the center said.

"The whole island is affected by the system; it's still moving very slowly and dumping a lot of rain,'' Kerry-Ann Morris, a spokeswoman for Jamaica's Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, said today in a telephone interview from Kingston. The office reported "extensive flooding'' and "several'' landslides, and said 1,520 people were in shelters.

Rig Evacuations

Gustav will "likely explode into a major hurricane over the next two days as it tracks on a west to northwesterly course across the northwestern Caribbean toward western Cuba and the Cayman Islands,'' said Rouiller.

"The upper Texas coastline to Louisiana will remain most at risk to receive the brunt,'' he said. "Landfall projections into this high-risk target zone are expected to occur very late Monday night and Tuesday.''

The storm's approach prompted the evacuation of Gulf of Mexico oil workers. The governors of Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi declared emergencies, and some Louisiana parishes prepared to evacuate residents. Tulane University, New Orleans's largest employer, will close today at noon local time.

There were no confirmed reports of casualties in Jamaica. In Haiti, 51 people were killed, Agence France-Presse reported. In the neighboring Dominican Republic, eight people died and two were hurt in a landslide, the country's Center of Emergency Operations said on its Web site.

Warning for Caymans

The Cayman Islands were warned to expect tropical storm- force winds of at least 39 mph today as Gustav approaches, the country's National Hurricane Committee said on its Web site.

"Soon the center will be back over water, and in that area of the Caribbean, the waters are very warm and the system could become a very powerful hurricane in the next two days,'' Lixion Avila, a forecaster at the center, said today in a telephone interview from Miami.

The current forecast shows Gustav making landfall in central Louisiana as a hurricane on Sept. 2, then moving northwest into areas of Louisiana and Texas ravaged by Hurricane Rita three weeks after Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. Both hit as Category 3 storms, with winds of more than 111 mph.

'Paying Attention'

Avila said there are uncertainties in a forecast several days ahead, adding "if I lived on the Gulf coast, all the way from Texas to Florida, I'd be paying attention to this system.''

Texas Governor Rick Perry and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour added state emergency and disaster declarations to one issued in neighboring Louisiana by Governor Bobby Jindal. Perry put 5,000 National Guard members on standby to help with relief efforts, adding to 3,000 Guard members activated by Jindal. Alabama Governor Bob Riley also put a 3,000-strong National Guard force on alert to help if needed.

Southern Louisiana parishes, where several oil refineries are located, plan to evacuate civilians today and tomorrow, the local governments said on their Web sites. St. Charles Parish, west of New Orleans, accelerated its emergency plan to begin assisted evacuations today and mandatory evacuations will likely take place at noon local time tomorrow. St. Bernard Parish officials anticipate mandatory evacuations tomorrow.

Energy companies, including ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, accelerated evacuations from the Gulf.

Gas and Oil

U.S. oil and gas platforms and pipelines are most concentrated in the waters south of Louisiana and east of Texas. Offshore fields in the Gulf accounted for 26 percent of total U.S. crude production and 12 percent of natural gas output in April, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Crude oil for October delivery rose as much as $2.56, or 2.2 percent, to $118.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 10:43 a.m.

The hurricane center also is monitoring Tropical Storm Hanna, which was about 215 miles north-northeast of the Caribbean's northern Leeward Islands and heading northwest at 12 mph as of 11 a.m. Miami time. The system had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, and may become a hurricane over the weekend, the center said.

Hanna is predicted to turn west and then southwest toward the central Bahamas next week. Landfall isn't forecast over the next five days, according to the center's Web site.