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Watch and plan

We have learned the hard lessons taught us by Hurricane Katrina more than three years ago.

Many of those in the storm’s path that August 2005 reacted without planning. It appears too many people waited to see what the storm would do before moving out of harm’s way.

The result: Lives lost unnecessarily to one of the worst hurricanes to come ashore as long as the National Weather Service has kept an archive.

As Hurricane Gustav churns off the coast of the U.S. mainland many mayors, governors and emergency workers are gearing up with plans to save lives and property no matter where he should rumble ashore.

We have seen evidence of residents all along the U.S. gulf coast making preparations as well. Some have already begun to board up their houses, so they will have plenty of time to evacuate should the word come.

It is hard to wait and not panic.

It is hard to watch and not take a cynical view of “it won’t happen again.”

Gov. Riley already has taken action by calling together the proper agencies to ensure Alabamians on the gulf coast may make a safe exit. He has placed those agencies that provide support for evacuees on standby.

It’s uncertain whether Gustav will come inland in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana or Texas. For now, the best forecast has the storm moving toward Louisiana and Texas.

But these storms sometimes prove fickle. He’s a long way from landfall on the mainland right now.

It is time not to panic, but to watch and plan.