Bigger and stronger, New Orleans confident for Isaac

(CBS News) NEW ORLEANS - If Isaac makes landfall on Wednesday, it will hit on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, people on the street, the Army Corps of Engineers, and even the mayor all say the same thing: We're ready.

From the city's war room to the long lines in and around New Orleans, "ready" means different things in different places. Southeast of the city in St. Charles Parish, there is a mandatory evacuation with some 54,000 residents told to hit the road.

But authorities say too many will do what David Hogg is doing.

"Yeah it worries me; it worries the heck out of me, but I think I'm going to stay," Hogg said.

Eight parishes along Louisiana's coast are now under some form of evacuation. Many of them places still scarred, still recovering from Hurricane Katrina and the $81 billion in property damage.

More than 1,800 people were killed along the Gulf Coast. In New Orleans the levee system failed. The local, state and federal response wasted precious time and lives.

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"First of all, we're mindful of the fact that Wednesday is the anniversary of Katrina," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

A confident Landrieu said New Orleans is ready this time with a better disaster plan. He points to the Army Corp of Engineers' $14.6 billion, 133-mile system of levees and flood walls, surrounded by 24 storm-proofed pumping stations -- all of it is designed to withstand the level of a 100-year storm similar to Katrina, a storm much larger than Isaac

One of those pumping stations is the largest in the world. The West Closure Complex is designed to protect about a quarter-million people along the west bank of New Orleans. Eleven massive, 5,700-horsepower engines can pump about nine million gallons of water per hour. Put another way, the engines could fill up an Olympic-sized swimming pool in less than five seconds.

Still, local officials try to not get overconfident.

"What concerns me most is that this storm may change dramatically in a way we didn't anticipate that will cause us to scramble. All the plans are in place but, you know, lots of plans where it's the execution that matters have gone awry," Landrieu said.

The Army Corps of Engineers still have about $4 billion worth of work to complete this levy system, but they assure this system is strong enough to deal with this storm.