Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 16:58 UK

Preparing for Gustav

A house burning in the floodwater of New Orleans
A house burning in the floodwater of New Orleans after Katrina hit
Tropical storm Gustav has hit Jamaica and is moving towards the US mainland. Fears are rising that it could turn into another devastating hurricane like Katrina three years ago.

New Orleans, which was ravaged by Katrina, could once again be hit. One resident, Mark, describes how he is preparing.

We live in uptown New Orleans, about five minutes away from the Superdome. During Katrina we lived about four doors away from where we now live. We upgraded from a condominium to a five bedroom house.

After what happened three years ago, we knew that it was inevitable that the property would flood again. We took this into account and made an evacuation plan and paid hefty insurance bills that everyone in the city is subjected to.

Mark Westguard
Mark has already packed and is ready to evacuate
A few days ago, the National Hurricane Center started tracking what is now Gustav.

During the hurricane season I watch the NHC forecasts carefully and I am alerted by email if a weather formation is likely to turn into a tropical storm, depression or hurricane.

Having escaped a close call with Fay we were immediately confronted by Gustav.

For the past few days the track of Gustav has stayed on track for New Orleans, prompting me today, some 80+ hours before it is due to make landfall, to make preparations for evacuating.

We've learnt a lot from Katrina. When we returned before there was obviously no power or sanitation. This time around I have flash lights and batteries available on our stairwell plus cleaning materials and toiletries easily to hand.

We've moved 1,500 sq ft of downstairs furniture and belongings upstairs, leaving only our curtains. We have power generators and a power switch in case we return to no power.

But we're an exception, we fully expect there to be less prepared people for whatever reason and despite Katrina people still don't seem to be as prepared as they should be.

Sandbags
Mark has already set up sandbags to keep floodwater out

I've emptied the fridge and freezer too, all too well aware of the awful stench that made after Katrina.

My wife (born and raised in New Orleans) is 14 weeks pregnant with our first baby.

She is leaving tomorrow via plane giving me the peace of mind that she is safe and sound. She'll be flying to Missouri, around 700 miles away.

I'm leaving tomorrow by car so that we have a vehicle with us. After Katrina we were often stuck without a car and this time we're taking everything we can. I have our important files with us.

Our friends are also making plans to evacuate, going to cities such as Houston and Las Vegas. Businesses will be locking up tomorrow at 5pm. We now just have to hope for the best.




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