NEW ORLEANS -- A hurricane has driven the Saints out of New Orleans again. They don't plan on being gone nearly as long this time.
With Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast three years after Katrina swamped New Orleans, the Saints left Saturday for Indianapolis, where they will spend the week preparing for the Sept. 7 opener against Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay game is scheduled for the Louisiana Superdome, and the Saints plan to be there for it unless damage from Gustav dictates otherwise. The storm could hit the mainland as early as Monday, and Saturday it was on the verge of the strongest classification of Category 5, with winds above 155 mph.
New Orleans officials aren't using the Superdome as an evacuation shelter with Gustav. Three years ago, it became a symbol of pain and suffering when thousands of residents were stranded by Katrina floodwaters that poured through broken levees.
The Superdome, trashed inside and out, needed a $185 million makeover that was barely finished in time for the 2006 season. Every Saints home game the past two seasons has been a sellout, making the team a key part of the city's ongoing recovery.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press