The threat of Gustav had already caused oil companies to evacuate more than 1,300 workers from offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, driving the price of crude past $120 a barrel by Thursday afternoon. Another threat, Tropical Storm Hanna, also emerged Thursday, posing a potential threat to the Southeastern U.S.
In Chalmette, a city outside New Orleans in St. Bernard Parish that was also overwhelmed by floodwaters three years ago, neighbors watched Gustav's motions with squeamish stomachs.
A year ago, much of the area was still empty, and many vowed they would not return. There were still a fair number of damaged homes, including one still shrouded with a big blue roof tarp, but many residents had decided to rebuild after all, discovering that they missed the close-knit world of "Da Parish."
Lonney Sciortino leaned over his pickup truck, talking to neighbor Frank Lewis about how he was planning to take a gun with him during the evacuation, in case chaos ensued on the highway.
Both thought about boarding up their homes before deciding there was no use. Chalmette's potential problem, they agreed, would be flooding from failing levees, which is what inundated homes with more than 7 feet of water here after Katrina and after Hurricane Betsy four decades before.
"A lot of people were proud they rebuilt here a few days ago, but right now, it's a different mood," said Sciortino, 57, who lamented that his children, who used to live down the street, were now living in Gulfport, Miss., and Abita Springs, La. "If we get hit here one more time, we're done. Chalmette will be abandoned."