What I am here to talk about is the fact that another hurricane threatens New Orleans, and that the city is nowhere near rebuilt enough to handle it. This is a tragedy, a failing of this government, and it is nothing shy of that. I joked earlier to a friend that this hurricane can't be as bad as Katrina, because the city hasn't been rebuilt enough for that level of damage to be possible. Read this list. Turns out, I'm not really joking - this is a true statement, and a terrifying one.
Rebuilding this city is a time-sensitive issue. It needs to be done quickly, done effectively, and done in such a way that the city can withstand multiple hurricanes in a given year. It will be tremendously expensive up front, but the alternative is a New Orleans that fades away, ceases to exist, and becomes a symbol of American failure to take care of it's own people. The stakes a high. Should Gustav miss New Orleans, the need will not go away. Should Gustav hit New Orleans, the city will need everything it possibly can to stand a second chance. Katrina hit New Orleans hard because people were ignorant. If Gustav hits hard, it will be because people knew the threat, and just didn't care.
Edit 8/29/2008: An acquaintance of mine summed up the feeling towards Gustav felt by many Katrina survivors:
Imagine being in a horrifying car accident.
Now imagine that you think you're about to be in another one.
Now imagine the moment just before the potential impact.
Now imagine that moment lasting four or five days.
Edit 9/2/2008: Updating from a library in Arkansas. We survived, New Orleans survived, and and school starts again on Monday. I'll have more to say later from a better internet connection, but I'm fine and initial impressions of the aftermath are decent.