Nagin Wants 200,000
To Return To
N.O. This Week
New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin reportedly wants 200,000 residents to return this upcoming week. "The city of New Orleans ... will start to breathe again, he announced late last week. "The sun is shining. We're bringing New Orleans back." Nagin intends to repopulate the city's Algiers section, the Garden District and the French Quarter - allowing back more than one-third of the city's half-million inhabitants.
Not all New Orleans officials were so optimistic, however. On Friday, the mayor's own homeland security director, Terry Ebbert, backed away Nagin,s plan, saying only that the city would assess the situation in the French Quarter from "day to day" and that repopulation would be carried out "in a progressive manner." Saturday, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, in charge of federal relief operations in the storm region, reportedly warned that New Orleans was not ready for its people to come back. "As the city of New Orleans begins its re-entry program this morning, there are continued concerns that the damaged electricity, water, sewage and safety systems are not restored to a level that can meet the basic needs of the businesses and residents who return. He called the mayor's strategy "extremely problematic.
About 40 percent of the Big Easy was still under water as of Friday, down from 80 percent after the storm Katrina, with the levels now dropping rapidly. Instead of the up-to-20-foot depths after the flooding, the deepest water in the city Friday was five feet. Louisiana's death toll stood at 558, and 794 along the entire Gulf Coast. - ST



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