As Gustav makes its way inland, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that water is sloshing over the floodwall on the city side of the Industrial Canal that runs alongside New Orlean's Ninth Ward, but fortunately the structure is holding so far. The floodwall failed catastrophically during Katrina three years ago, causing vast ruin in the nearby working-class neighborhoods. For photos of what's happening at the floodwall now, click here and here.

An alert we just received from Gulf Restoration Network Campaign Director Aaron Viles emphasizes just how critical that particular floodwall is for New Orleans -- as well as just how much work needs to be done to help the city and the entire region better withstand future storms:

If the floodwall breaches, the long term future of NOLA could very well be in question. As I watch anxiously, I'm hit by how unneccesary this all is. If we had our coastal wetlands, if the oil companies and the Army Corps of Engineers hadn't set the stage for our massive land loss, we would be far more secure. Levees alone are not enough, we need to restore our coastal lines of defense, our wetlands and cypress swamps.

To that end, Viles is asking concerned citizens to help the people of the Gulf with three simple actions:

1. Watch and share the short film "Blood and Oil" by Walter Williams, about the roots of current coastal erosion crisis;

2. Send a message calling on oil giant Shell to pay for the coastal wetlands it's damaged or destroyed; and

3. Ask leading presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain to take part in the proposed Google/YouTube debate from New Orleans, where they would answer questions from ordinary people. So far, neither campaign has pledged to participate.