By Lester Holt, NBC News anchor
It is easy to recall where I was and what I was doing 3 years ago today. Sadly, I may be doing it again in just a few days.
My first stop after riding out Hurricane Katrina at the state command post in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was Gulfport, Mississippi, where it seemed nothing could top the devastation I witnessed. We soon learned the levees had broken in New Orleans, and our attention quickly shifted there, to a horror beyond imagination.
After tonight's broadcast I plan to make my way to New Orleans which is bracing for its first hurricane since Katrina. At this writing, Gustav is on a direct course to southern Louisiana and its powerful northeast quadrant is expected to hit New Orleans late Monday. As you will see on our broadcast tonight, local and federal officials are working from a much different disaster play book than the one they used three years ago. The buses are moving evacuees out now, and there is no talk of "shelters of last resort." The Superdome is not an option this time, and everyone is being ordered to leave. Whether the levees survive another major storm remains to be seen, but we all hope and pray tonight that this time, no one will be left behind. Authorities know they will be under intense scrutiny, and we already have several correspondents in place to cover the evacuation and the aftermath.
The presidential candidates are both feeling the effects of a rapidly changing news cycle. Barack Obama's Thursday night acceptance speech was quickly overshadowed the next day by John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Now, that bit of major news has quickly been eclipsed by the approach of Hurricane Gustav. That said, we will have reports on both presidential tickets as they hit the trail just ahead of the Republican National Convention.
Thanks for checking in. We'll look for you later on NBC Nightly News.