POSTED: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - 8:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - 9:52am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — People in New Orleans and across the gulf are reviewing their evacuation plans and stocking up on supplies as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches.
The preparations actually began, however, seven years ago in the wake of Katrina.
If the French Quarter is the heart of New Orleans, the canal system that runs through the city and levee that surrounds it are its arteries and veins.
It was the catastrophic failure of that flood protection network that exposed New Orleans to Katrina's fury.
The disaster led to a dramatic overhaul and extension of the network of flood walls, canals pumps and gates that guard against storms like Isaac.
The cornerstone of the $14.5 billion dollar project that stretches 350 miles around the city is the massive two mile barrier wall that extends the first line of storm defense eight miles further from the lower Ninth Ward, 12 miles now from the Superdome and downtown.
Isaac could provide its first real test.
"We have the absolute confidence in the parameter system to defend us against this storm. All of the confidence in the world," says Tim Doody of the New Orleans Protection Authority.
The current forecast track shows Isaac will be a strong Category One or perhaps Category Two hurricane when it strikes, and New Orleans is clearly in the cross-hairs.
"For parishes in the direct path of the storm, the forecast shows hurricane force winds, could last as long as anywhere between eight to ten hours," warns Governor Bobby Jindal.
South Louisiana could see the worst of Isaac on Wednesday, seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina.
Engineers and emergency officials are quick to point out the levees and canals are only designed to save property.
They stress evacuations are what save lives, and time for that is running out.