By Mike Brunker, msnbc.com writer
Corey Qualls hands Chris Algero the nozzle after filling up his tank in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. At left is Algero's son, Chris. Jr.
While nearly all Gulf Coast residents in the path of Hurricane Gustav heeded warnings to leave, many were not waiting Tuesday for authorities to give them permission to return. But for many, that meant persistence in the face of repeated rejection.
Chris Algero of New Orleans was gassing up his car in Bay St. Louis and preparing to make his third attempt to return to his home. He said he'd already been turned back at Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 90, in the first instance forced by barricades to turn around and in the second refused entry by sympathetic but unbending Louisiana state troopers.
"It's frustrating," said the 42-year-old veterinarian. "I did a lot of rescue work after Katrina, both of people and pets. They need to let in the people who can help."
Algero, who rode the storm out at his mother's house in Bay St. Louis with his son, Chris Jr., and a friend, Corey Qualls, said it was particularly aggravating to be on the outside looking in because he had spoken to some of his neighbors in uptown New Orleans and heard that "if you're in the city, you're able to move around fine."
With a full tank of gas, Algero was preparing to make his third bid to return, this time by heading west to Interstate 12 and then either heading south on Interstate 55 or continuing on almost to Baton Rouge and then approaching the city on Interstate 10 from the west.
"After Katrina, we were able to move back and forth at will," he said. "This time they're trying to keep a lid on everything."
He also said he thought some authorities might be using scare tactics to keep people from trying to return. For example, he said that while he had heard officials of St. Tammany Parish warn that 90 percent of the parish was without electricity. But when he drove into the parish earlier on the freeway, all the businesses he could see had their signs lit even though they were closed.
"I guess that the 10 percent with power was all along the freeway," he said sarcastically.