With America’s Gulf coast bracing itself for Gustav’s arrival, most of New Orleans chose discretion over valour. Refugees may have been worried about leaving their homes to possible looters, but the power of the storm ended all doubts. Two million people moved out as Gustav approached, some of them perhaps never to return. It is only three years since Hurricane Katrina devastated their city, and many, like Aaron Kobernick, have had enough:
“We love living here, I love living here, but at some point you have got to ask yourself if starting over every two years is good for you, and good for your baby, your family and everything else.”
Federal rescue centres provided a haven of calm, but news that Gustav had weakened as it made landfall was a rare silver lining on a day of building clouds. Even so, more than eleven million Americans in five states are threatened by Gustav’s wind and rain, with New Orleans itself watching and waiting and praying.