Tonight, tropical storm isaac is spinning straight towards the gulf coast rolling in each hour and expected to grow into a full-on hurricane as it churns towards new orleans. Where, as fate would have... See More
Tonight, tropical storm isaac is spinning straight towards the gulf coast rolling in each hour and expected to grow into a full-on hurricane as it churns towards new orleans. Where, as fate would have it, the storm is predicted to hit seven years to the day that hurricane katrina brought the city to its knees. Abc's ginger zee with the extreme weather team brings us the latest from the ground, tracking isaac. Reporter: Tonight, a storm that could be the first hurricane to hit the gulf coast in four years is aimed clearly at new orleans. Are you ready? Yeah, you know, we feel pretty confident about the system. It's almost not comparable to what was in place when hurricane katrina came. Reporter: Today, we got up close to the colossal machinery, part of the 133 miles of levees that is now new orleans' first line of defense. See all the yellow boxes here. There's 11 new ones that shut down and separate the streets from lake pontchartrain. This time, when the water tries to get into the canal, they can shut it down and keep it away from new orleans. We feel very confident with the system as designed tz. Reporter: As I can as takes a slow approach, it's hard not to compare it to katrina. Not because of the size but there are similarities. Look at katrina's path when it slammed into the gulf. If the current you path holds, isaac will take the same one. We're worried about flooding, we're worried about tornadoes. Reporter: From florida, alabama, mississippi to louisiana, televisions are plasters with seemingly constant storm updates. Officials are ready to show they've learned from mistakes of the past. Louisiana governor bobby jindal will be holding a briefing. Reporter: Traffic has been backed up for miles where 50,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. Hundreds of thousands from mississippi and alabama are being charged to leave, too. We encourage those people to get out of harm's way. Reporter: But buddy and larry davis have hold it all before. They came back to rebuild only to get the oil spill in 2010, back then, he voiced his frustration to george stephanopoulos. Shut it down, shut it down. Reporter: Most of their neighbors have headed to higher ground but the vegases are determined to stay. If it was katrina, I'd be the first one out, but this one here, I'll be back to work. Reporter: Isaac has already cut a path of destruction through the caribbean. This time-lapsed animation shows the storm spinning and churning over the past week in its path to the u.S. In haiti, at least 19 deaths have been attributed to the storm, flooding and mud slides there now the main concern. There seems to be little worry when isaac rolled ashore on sunday in the florida keys. Why are you guys out here? Reporter: Like most around here, they made it a reason to celebrate. But if the starbucks in new orleans today, where they have a permanent reminder of the flooding seven years ago, they don't laugh at these things anymore. The whole feel in the city is a little different when you have something like katrina happen. Yeah, we used to have hurricane parties, and now we take it a lot more seriously, if you need to leave, you leave. I think we do it even when we're told not to. Reporter: Here, they remember all too well what happened after katrina brushed the florida coast. Then, it was only ka category 1 storm, in fact, it doesn't look that much more imposing than isaac now. But the warm waters of the gulf made it a category 5. I don't want to diminish the risk from isaac. It's still going to be a storm surge that will be did deep enough to cause loss of life and rainfall that will cause flooding. Reporter: Linda anderson lost her home in katrina. We had nine feet of water in our home here in lakeview. Reporter: She moved back to it's old neighborhood just a few months ago. We really hope that the corps of engineers did their job at the time. Reporter: The corps says they have. But for those who still don't trust the levees, there's always this option, heading for higher ground cajun style. For "nightline," I'm ginger zee in new orleans.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.