Leak at Murphy Oil

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2005. 11:05 p.m.
Aerial photographs taken by the state Department of Environmental Quality on Sunday indicate that oil has begun to leak from a tank at the flooded-out Murphy Oil Refinery in Meraux and that the leak is spreading into a neighborhood directly west of the refinery.

Darin Mann, a DEQ spokesman, said the leak was spotted during a flyover by the department but that state officials do not know how much oil has leaked out or when cleanup efforts can begin. The tank that's leaking can hold 85,000 barrels of crude oil, the Associated Press reported.

A contractor that's been tapped for the clean-up effort has been unable to move its equipment into place because of flooding from Hurricane Katrina, Mann said.

Although floodwaters have receded throughout St. Bernard Parish, the refinery was still surrounded by water as of Sunday.

Murphy Oil Co. is aware of the leak, and will be responsible for clean-up, Mann said.

Some Fish Die At Aquarium

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2005 10:50 p.m.

By Jim Varney
Staff writer

While there were plenty of fires still smoldering in New Orleans on Sunday, the black smoke belching from the roof of one of the city’s crown jewels has regrettably stopped. The generator at the Aquarium of the Americas is shot.
Its demise signaled the death of scores of gorgeous animals according to stricken workers who moved through the building with miner’s lights strapped to their heads.
“These were our buddies. We did the best job we could to keep them alive,’’ said John Hewitt IV, director of husbandry and a senior vice president at the Audubon Nature Institute.
Near tears Hewitt declined to describe the watery tombs inside the aquarium. Most of the fish in the giant shark tank and the Caribbean reef exhibit are feared dead, as well as the tropical sting rays and other Amazonian fish in the aquarium’s rainforest section.
A similar tragedy reportedly has not befallen the New Orleans Zoo, another prime tourist attraction and a source of tremendous civic pride.
And all is not lost at the zoo’s watery partner at the foot of Canal Street. Hewitt identified the aquarium’s thick green anaconda and white alligators as among the survivors.
“They’re fine and frankly we’re in no hurry to move those guys,’’ Hewitt said.
Also making it through Hurricane Katrina were the aquarium’s sea otters, its bald eagle and most of its penguins. Hewitt said in the coming days the aquarium’s staff will try to find alternative homes for the fish and birds.
No decision has been made on a timetable for that move or on whether to drain the tanks before the dead fish are removed.
“We’ve had offers of help from all over the world,’’ he said. “What we’ll do now is access the health of the living animals and get them relocated wherever we can.”

Scenes from New Orleans

Sunday Sept. 5, 2005 10:45 p.m.
By Jim Varney
Staff writer

Surreal scenes unfolded Sunday evening in New Orleans, signs difficult to interpret in a city famous for oddballs, but turned anarchic by Hurricane Katrina.
In the central business district, a technician dangled on a helicopter skid high above the street, trying to repair the power lines that run downtown near the Mississippi River.
A few blocks away on the corner of Chartres and Dumaine streets in the French Quarter, two cross-dressing bicyclists carrying a music box swerved down the street until one of them crashed, opening a nasty gash in his right elbow.
And as the sun set and turned the sky a hazy pink, four horses led by a white stallion burst from the flood waters on Claiborne Avenue and started grazing on the neutral ground on Elysian Fields Avenue. Their startling appearance would have been peaceful had it not been against a back drop of heavily armed drug enforcement agency teams roving through the neighborhood in pickup trucks and an SUV.
In the midst of this, Joann Guidos, 55, perched on a bar stool in the front door of Kajun’s Pub on the 2200 block of St. Claude Avenue. She brandished her pump action shotgun at any unknown vehicle or pedestrian, but said she did so with good reason.
“If you noticed, every place around here has been looted, except this one,’’ she said, noting proudly that she never closed during or since Katrina.
But her gruff manner quickly melted once she realized these visitors came in peace.
“Come on in and have a cold beer,’’ she said.
Such typical New Orleans generosity has not been the norm since the hurricane blasted the city on Aug. 29 and created pockets of lawlessness. New Orleans Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Nicholas said his own apartment in the Warehouse District had been smashed and looted.
“I can stand losing my place to flood waters or nature, but to lose it to thugs, well….” He said as he allowed his voice to trail off.
Nicholas said soldiers now filling the city has helped crime fighting efforts and that the overall situation has improved dramatically since the dark moments late last week. What’s more some of the officers who abandoned their posts have returned.
“Remember that we’re victims here too. That’s another unique aspect of this situation,’’ he said. “We’ve lost homes, some have lost family members.”
Although the manpower crisis may have eased, officials acknowledged Sunday that the mental toll of the last week is having lethal repercussions.
Sgt. Paul Accardo, a 36-year-old spokesman for the NOPD has committed suicide as has another officer, identified as Lawrence Celestin.
Nearby Jefferson Parish also remains bedeviled by problems. More than 100 bodies have filled the morgue and more are certain to come, authorities said. The coroner’s office has moved in three refrigerated trailers to handle the overflow of corpses, but re scrambling to find generators to keep them cool and avoid decomposition.
In addition. Jefferson Parish will allow residents to return Monday morning to check on their homes, but that decision is not receiving unilateral praise.
“They can come back, although much against the wishes of the sheriff, and you can imagine the traffic headaches it will create”, said Maj. John Fortunato, a spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Since traffic remains close to the public on Interstate 10 and a 6 p.m. curfew is in effect, Fortunato predicted a line stretching on Highway 90 from Jefferson Parish to the Texas border.
But all of those details seem far away at the Kajun’s Pub.
“We’ve got a big old freezer in back and we’re putting out food twice a day,’’ said Chris Jungels, a 43-year-old friend of Guidos who was tending bar.
“You come back whenever you want and we’ll be opened.”

Superdome's Condition Leaves Mark on Doctor

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2005 9:44 p.m.

By Richard Meek
Staff writer
Perhaps it's the stench that Dr. Kevin Stephens will remember the most.
It was a stench that was a gumbo of human waste, sweat, and despair.
For four days, Stephens, the Health Department director in New Orleans, administered to the sick in the Superdome, his primary patients being those in wheelchairs and nonambulatory. He watched conditions deteriorate from one of calmness on the eve of Hurricane Katrina crippling the city, to one of frustration by the time he was evacuated to the adjacent New Orleans Arena on Wednesday. He was taken to Baton Rouge on Thursday.
"I would not have even asked my dog to live in there," Stephens said Sunday in the shadows of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at LSU, where the conditions inside were infinitely more stable than those he left behind in New Orleans.
"On Sunday, everything was fine, we had electricity, water and air conditioning," Stephens said. "On Monday, we lost electricity. By Tuesday the water was coming in through the holes in the roof, the electricity and air conditioning were off and toilets were beginning to back up. People were getting frustrated."
Stephens said he was aware of the water continuing to rise outside the Dome, but he was uncertain as to whether most of the evacuees knew. By then, however, the sliver of light filtering in through the two holes left in the Dome's mammoth roof courtesy of Katrina was that of despair, not of hope.
"I never felt threatened and I walked around the entire place," Stephens said. "I was talking to people, administering first aid. But people were ready to get out of there. The conditions were horrid and horrible. The stench was unbearable. If we had electricity, it would have been so much better."
But Stephens stopped short of placing blame on authorities for not responding to the needs of the city sooner. He said it would have been impossible to have the required number of buses arranged that were required to evacuate such a large number of evacuees.
"Buses were running (regular routes) to other places," he said. "If you own a bus company and had that many buses available, you would be out of business."
Stephens said he called for additional help and people responded, including Dr. Fred Cerise from the Department of Health in Baton Rouge.
"He came in and stayed with us, and slept with us," Stephens said. "I didn't expect that."
Stephens said he survived off of MREs and water, and that he lost weight.
"It was something I never expected to do," he said, before quickly adding, "I don't ever want to go through something like that again."

Jefferson Parish Residents Line Up

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2005 8:59 p.m.

By Mark Waller
East Jefferson bureau

As eastbound traffic accumulated along Airline Drive in St. John the
Baptist Parish at the St. Charles Parish line after 6 p.m. on Sunday, Wendy and Chris Clouatre of Marrero waited in their pickup by the side of road,planning to spend the night there.

Other cars slowly joined them in the westbound shoulder, after St.
Charles sheriff's deputies turned them back. The deputies were allowing only St. Charles and Kenner residents or emergency and medical workers to pass.

But residents of other parts of Jefferson Parish said they wanted to be
there, where the line begins, for what they said could be a mad dash
into the parish to check on their homes. So families with young children and pets in tow began an all-night roadside campout. Jefferson officials are allowing them into the parish only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.

"We just know there's about four or five inches of water that came in
the
house," said Wendy Clouatre. "We want to get in there. We want to get
our clothes. Then we want to go back to Arkansas."

The Clouatre's are staying with her mother in Leslie, Ark., and said
they might move there, where they left their three daughters before
returning to spend the night at the side of Airline Drive.

"I can't do this every season," she said. "It's too much stress on
yourself and your kids."

Anthony Billiot of Marrero also said he wants to relocate. He said he
wanted to retrieve nonperishable food and insurance papers from his
house.
He said he was bracing for a chaotic return to Jefferson Parish.

"I've got my gun with me, just in case," he said.

Health Officials To Assess Shelters

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2005 8:53 p.m.
By Richard Meek
Staff writer

With the evacuation of a tattered city nearing its completion, public health officials are turning their attention to the aftercare of New Orleanians who have been forced to flee the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Levitt spearheaded a group of health officials who toured evacuation centers in New Orleans and Baton Rouge on Sunday before heading off to similar centers in Houston and San Antonio.
Levitt said the purpose of the trip was to asses the state of health care at the centers to see if they are meeting the needs of the evacuees and what other supplies and equipment may be required, assessing the public health needs in the affected areas, including the potential for disease and to start a "benefit delivery" system for evacuees concerned about unemployment benefits, Medicare, job placement, or future housing.
It was announced that 1,200 public health workers will soon descend upon the various facilities to begin assessing those needs.
"This trip is not about seeing it, it's about action," Levitt said. "Our objective is to get people where they are safe and stable."
Leavitt said it's important to provide the consistency of care for those who are on prescription medication, therapy and other medical issues. He said a pharmacy has been set up at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on LSU’s campus that is distributing about "500 different types of medication."
Leavitt said he was surprised to see how smoothly the medical facility at the PMAC was being operated.
"I thought I would see people suffering from stress, but there's a sense of calmness (among the workers)" Levitt said. "It's heartening. It's testament to the level of caring and compassion among the health professionals."
It also was announced that the hospital ship Comfort will soon dock in New Orleans.
Julie Gerberding, director of the Center for Disease Control, said she was impressed by the quality of care at the PMAC and how quickly it became operational. She said it's an example of how "people can come together across the country."
U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carbono called the scene at the PMAC "truly extraordinary and humbling to me. The volunteers are extraordinary."

Evacuees should get jobs,housing first

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2005 9:919 p.m.

People displaced from their homes because of Hurricane Katrina should be housed close to New Orleans and receive first dibs on the jobs that will be created when the rebuilding process begins, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Sunday.

"Those who live here should have the first option of rebuilding where they live," Jackson said.

Jackson, who has been helping to shuttle evacuees to shelters with state Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, said too many families have been separated in the rush to evacuate. In the get-them-out-of-here syndrome there is the separation of families. Some evacuees have been taken as far away as Utah and Minnesota, he said.

The relocation has been a nightmare, Jackson said, who again called for military bases such as England Air Force Base in Alexandria and the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse to be transformed into long-term shelters.
"These bases are cities within cities," with infrastructure such as schools and housing that could support a large influx of evacuees, he said.

Meanwhile, Jackson attempted to lift the spirits of evacuees at Baton Rouge's convention center.

He spoke to a vast meeting room filled with cots, tents and thousands
of people, with a small crowd gathering around him.

"Don't give up, and don't give out," he told the amassed victims of
Hurricane Katrina. "Help is on the way, and hope is at hand."

Then he offered a prayer: "If we have faith, God has the power to see
us
through. Somehow, someway, we're going to make it. If we hold out and
hold on, God will come in the morning."

Civillian helicopter crashes in New Orleans

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2005 8:15 p.m.

The pilot of a civilian helicopter and a passenger participating in the Hurricane Katrina rescue effort escaped serious injury Sunday night after the aircraft crash landed near the Danziger Bridge over the Industrial Canal in the Lower Ninth Ward, state officials said.
Few details were available about the accident which occurred around 7 p.m.
Officials said the helicopter came down hard, rolled over and lost its blades. The Coast Guard removed the two men from the scene, but it was not known whether they received medical attention.

Hospital opens

Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005 8:10 p.m.

The Louisiana Heart Hospital, 64030 LA HWY 434, Lacombe LA is open and accepting patients.

The hospital has cardiologists on duty, and also orthopedic and spinal surgeons. Their emergency room is also open.

The hospital number is 985-690-7500.

Red Cross food distribution

Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005 8:09 p.m.

The Red Cross will distribute food and sack lunches at several locations in Jefferson Parish on Monday.

Red Cross repressentative Donald Vanderwerken said 30,000 Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), or two truckloads, were distributed on Saturday and Sunday. The group plans to distribute an additional 50,000 sack lunches and 10,000 "heater meals" which are heated by a chemical process.

The pickup locations are on the West Bank at:
-A&P Shopping Center
Carol Sue and Terry Parkway.

- Harvey Fire Station No. 61
639 Maple Street

-L.W. Higgins High School
7201 Lapalco Blvd., Marrero

On the East Bank:
-East Jefferson High School
400 Phlox Ave., Metairie

-Grace King High School
4301 Grace King Place, Metairie

-Winn-Dixie
211 Veterans Memorial Blvd, Metairie

-Home Depot
2625 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Kenner

Vanderwerken said it took the Red Cross several days to move into the parish because of logistical problems caused by the loss of communication.
Without phone service in the days after the storm, it was difficult to reach volunteers to place them, and who were dealing with their own property losses, he said.
"We had a plan, but we had to change it 25 times to get going here," he said.

Report: rescue helicopter crashes

CNN is reporting a Eurocopter AS 332 Super Puma crashed approximately four miles out of downtown New Orleans Sunday evening. No fatalities were reported.

The pilot and crew were picked up by a Coast Guard helicopter and taken from the scene.

Developing...

Penn Joins Rescue Effort

Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005 8:01 p.m.
Among those who joined in to try to rescue those still
trapped in their homes by floodwaters was actor Sean
Penn, who is known for his activism.
Penn is also a fan of New Orleans, having recently
spent months here filming a remake of “All the King's
Men.”
Penn, who was accompanied by journalists, spent all
day riding around in a boat that launched from the
staging area near the intersection of St. Charles and
Napoleon avenues.

Houses Burn Uptown

Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005 8:00 p.m.
Five doubles burned to the ground Sunday along Camp
and Upperline streets, along with three cars parked
along Upperline Street.
A small fire was still burning at around 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, but it appeared unlikely to spread. The homes
were completely destroyed; only a few brick pillars
were left standing.
A woman who lives nearby said the homes were burned
after an occupant of one home got into an argument
with a man who returned and set his home ablaze. The
account could not be confirmed by an official source.

Nagin said slow response cost lives

Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005 7:57 p.m.
Frustrated and grieving, Mayor Ray Nagin on Sunday again ripped
the painfully slow response of state and federal
authorities to the plight of tens of thousands of
stranded New Orleanians in the days following
Hurricane Katrina, saying their inaction cost lives
and caused needless misery.
Nagin singled out Gov. Kathleen Blanco for criticism,
saying that the governor had asked for 24 hours to
think over a decision when time was a luxury that no
one, especially refugees, had.
“When the president and the governor got here, I said,
'Mr. President, Madame Governor, you two have to get
in synch. If you don't, more people are going to die.”
Blanco and Bush met privately at his insistence, Nagin
said, after which Bush came out and told Nagin that he
had given Blanco two options, and she requested a full
day to decide.
“It would have been great if we could have walked off
Air Force One and told the world we had it all worked
out,” Nagin said. “It didn't happen, and more people
died.”
Police spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said Sunday that
“about a dozen” corpses were being taken out of the
Superdome. The convention center “has not been swept
yet,” he said.
Apart from the deaths, Nagin said people needlessly
suffered, particularly at the Dome.
“There was suffering at an unprecedented level in this
city, at this place and at the convention center,” he
said. “This is one of the richest countries in the
world. I'm looking at my city and I see death and
destruction, and I see a lot of it. And I'm pissed.”
Nagin said while much of the suffering was borne by
poor people, it would be a mistake to think it was
limited to the poor.
“When the final script is written, they're going to
see that everyone suffered,” he said. “Not just black
people - white people, Hispanics, people from Italy.
At the convention center, you had tourists, you had
people from hospitals, you had a mixture of people.”
Asked whether he himself bore responsibility for the
debacle, Nagin responded: “I'll take what
responsibility I have to take. But let me ask you
this: When you have a city of 500,000 people, and you
have a Category 5 bearing down on you, and the best
you've ever done is evacuate 60 percent of the people…
and there's never been a mandatory evacuation in this
city's history.
“I did that, and I elevated the level of stress to the
citizens. I said to make sure you have a fricking axe
in your house. And as a last resort, there are no
buildings in the city to withstand a Category 3 storm
other than the Superdome, and when that filled up, we
started sending them to the convention center. You
tell me what else I was supposed to do.”
Nagin said the government needs to learn quickly from
its nightmarishly slow reaction to Katrina.
“Our response to a significant disaster is appalling,”
he said. “What went down is a national and state
disgrace.”
The mayor said his next fear is that the decomposing
bodies of those who died in the storm and its wake
will spread disease, via mosquitoes, across the region
if the corpses aren't picked up soon. Again, he feels
the response has lagged.
“I requested a crop duster as soon as possible,” the
mayor said. “I still don't see a plane flying.

Breach closed in 17th Street Canal levee

Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005 7:32 p.m.
By Joe Darby
Staff Writer
The breach in the 17th Street Canal levee that had put the city of New Orleans underwater was essentially closed early Sunday evening after days of work and the use of “ingenuity to the max,” a top U.S. Corps of Engineers general said.
After the Corps dropped about 700 3,000-pound sandbags into the gap on the Orleans Parish side of the canal, the tops of the sandbags became visible and the breach was all but closed, said Maj. Gen. Don Riley, deputy commanding general and director of civil works of the Corps.
Corps spokesman Mike Rogers said a 20-foot space remained to be sealed by 6 p.m. and “could be closed as we speak.”
The gap, about 200 yards in from the lakeshore, and other levee breaks in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish, allowed 800,000 acre feet of water into the city and its suburbs, Riley said. That’s equivalent to a foot of water covering 800,000 acres, or with 640 acres to the square mile, 1,250 square miles.
With the closure of the 17th Street Canal breach, the process of pumping out the water can begin. There is always the danger that the drawing down of the water could weaken intact levees, “but I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” Riley said, because the operation is expected to be slow and take days.
Even as people were saying Monday afternoon that New Orleans had “dodged the bullet from Hurricane Katrina, the bullet was still coming,” Riley said. Massive amounts of water were still entering Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain, pushed by the counterclockwise winds of the Category 4 storm, water that would overwhelm the levees designed to protect the city.
Those waters destroyed 90 percent of the Interstate 10 bridge between New Orleans and Slidell, shoved water over the eight-foot seawall at Lakefront Airport, piling up vehicles and helicopters and knocked the railroad bridge that skirts southeastern Lake Pontchartrain off of its foundations, Riley said.
In eastern New Orleans, 24 pumps were draining 700 cubic feet of water per second. In St. Bernard Parish, water was being drained through breaches in the levee. In Plaquemines Parish, the Corps was “notching” levees with gaps up to 100-feet wide so that water could flow back into the gulf. The notches will be plugged with rocks after the area is drained.
In addition to dropping huge sandbags by helicopters, the Corps conquered the 17th Street Canal breach by building a rock road to the gap, where rock aggregate was piled into the breach. Workers got a backhoe to the site by hauling it on a floating bridge by pulling on cables, he said.
Removable pilings have been driven at the mouth of the canal with Lake Pontchartrain, which will allow the Corps to control the flow of water.
The job was a challenge, said Brig. Gen. Robert Crear, commander of the Corp’s Mississippi Valley District out of Vicksburg, because heavy equipment could not be brought into the flooded site.
The best option to have quickly closed the canal off to waters pouring in from the lake would have been to block the mouth of the canal with a sunken barge, Riley said. But needed barges were isolated in the Industrial Canal because the railroad bridge over the canal was in a down position, with no power to raise it.
Levees on the west side of the 17th Street Canal, protecting East Jefferson, seem to be holding out well, he said.
Private contractors, Boh Brothers and Bertucci Contracting Corp. played yeoman roles in closing the gap, Riley said.
The 1,200 employees of the New Orleans District of the Corps had evacuated, 500 of them losing their homes, but many left their families in distant to hotels to come back to work, he said.
Riley said that while loss of wetlands that could serve as buffers to protect built-up areas from hurricanes has long been a concern, shrinking wetlands played no role in the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina. The storm’s track, to the east of the city, caused waters to pour into Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne directly from the Gulf of Mexico.
There was an 11-foot surge in the Mississippi River, with 10-foot waves, but there was no threat to the river levees.
“Fortunately, the river is almost at record low level, the lowest level since 1988,” Crear said.
Ships were blown ashore in Uptown New Orleans and with the low river, they will be there for a while, Crear said.

St. Charles Parish public school system looking to reopen soon

Sunday, Sept. 4 5:53 p.m.
St. Charles Parish public school system officials say the district has set a tentative opening date for the week of Sept. 12.
To that end, they are asking that all central office, maintenance and custodial employees report to work at their regular time on Wednesday.
The district will have a meeting with all school principals on Thursday at 1 p.m. at the district’s central office in Luling.
All teachers, staff, cafeteria workers and bus drivers are asked to report to work at their regular time on Monday, Sept. 12. In addition, transportation employees will have a meeting at 8 a.m. on Sept. 12 at the district’s central office.
“We want our parents to know that we are continuing to work hard to recover,’’ school district spokeswoman Rochelle Cancienne said Sunday. “We’re looking to start school some time during the week of Sept. 12. We don’t have a firm date yet.”
Meanwhile, Cancienne said that school district employees will receive their Sept. 20th pay check as scheduled in addition to the one-time supplemental payment on Sept. 30.

Electricty restored to some parts of Covington

Sunday, 5:52 p.m.

By PAUL BARTELS
St. Tammany bureau

Most of St. Tammany Parish remained in the dark Sunday, literally and figuratively, as thousands of utility workers, tree cutters and law enforcement officers struggled to restore power and a semblance of normalcy on the north shore.

Sheriff’s spokesman James Hartman said some bodies have been recovered in the parish, but he didn’t know where or how many.

Although there have been scattered instances of plundering, including the liquor supply at one closed store in Slidell and a break-in at an occupied home in which the man was arrested, confirmed incidents have been few and far between.

By Sunday, about 15 looters parishwide had been arrested, local and parish authorities said, and were jailed under mandatory $100,000 bond. Only one was in Covington, three or four in Slidell and the others elsewhere in the parish.

Authorities also tried to quell rumors that numerous law enforcement officers had been shot, saying that no officers had been shot.
Meanwhile, public officials and private citizens alike throughout the parish continued to rail at the slowness of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get disaster relief teams into the area.

Parish President Kevin Davis, who sent 500 gallons of gasoline to keep the Slidell emergency operations center generator operating, was clearly frustrated. “They keep saying they’re coming, but they’re not here,” he said on a radio show.

Slidell Mayor Ben Morris was the most blunt. “FEMA has been seizing private fuel trucks and a Cleco helicopter, but you know, I haven’t seen a single person I can talk to,” he almost spat in a profanity-laced tirade.
“If they don’t open the fuel supply chain soon, we’re going to lose everything we’ve gained” since the storm.

Morris called FEMA managers “the most incredibly stupid bunch of people. Where are they? Where is the gas? Cleco’s been doing a great job. We may have electricity back from private utilities before (FEMA) gets here.”

Instead, American Red Cross volunteers were shouldering the brunt of the relief effort at the information center in front of the old parish courthouse in Covington and elsewhere, providing food, cleaning supplies and other assistance, and helping out at 5 crowded shelters set up in gymnasiums of schools and John Slidell Park.

Cleco and private contractors were working, for the most part, north to south across the stricken parish to restore power.

Water service was improving steadily in much of the Covington area and especially in Slidell as crews repaired broken mains and distribution lines. No significant contamination has been found thus far, but officials still urged residents to boil water before consuming or cooking with it. It’s OK to bathe it, they said.

Residents living nearest hospitals, special-needs and other healthcare facilities were the luckiest because those facilities were first in line, followed by police and fire stations, and other government offices. Remaining homeowners and businesses will follow.

Power was restored to St. Tammany Parish Hospital in Covington Sunday morning and was expected to be by nightfall at Slidell Memorial Hospital, with NorthShore Regional and Lakeview Regional, in Slidell and Mandeville area, respectively, to follow within days.

With large backup generators now in place, a handful of groceries, drugstores and home improvement supply stores – including a few Winn-Dixies, Wal-Marts, a Home Depot and a Lowe’s - opened in the Covington and Mandeville areas.
But supplies were limited, as were hours of operation. That was the case in Slidell, where only Sam’s Club, Lowe’s, Home Improvement Warehouse and Home Depot were open at least part of the day.

Power returned late Friday to the U.S. 190 commercial corridor between the Covington and Interstate 12 and reportedly in the Madisonville-Mandeville area.
At least four gasoline stations were pumping along the U.S. 190 strip for those motorists willing to wait in lines that stretched almost half a mile along the highway. Prices were high but no gouging appeared to be going on.

Hit-or-miss landline and cellular telephone service were available in some areas of the parish, but it was mostly incoming calls. Outgoing calls were far more problematic, officials said.

Schools Superintendnt Gayle Sloan put out the word that classes would be unable to resume until Oct. 1 “at the earliest.” School officials urged parents to consider enrolling their children in school in unaffected areas elsewhere in Louisiana and neighboring states until then, if possible.

Meanwhile, the word from parish and law enforcement officials everywhere was identical: If you can, either don’t return home, or come back to inspect and do some quick cleanup and accounting of damages, then leave again.

Despite nearly unenforceable curfews throughout the parish – and Davis’ insistence that “the parish is closed” – residents came and went with little trouble. All of the main streets and most of the interior streets in the more heavily populated areas were clear.

Davis also ordered a parishwide ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages “until further notice.”

Garbage and trash pickup, including storm debris, was scheduled to resume today.

Melancon invites President Bush to tour devastation

(Washington, DC) - Today, 3rd District Congressman Charlie Melancon invited President Bush to personally tour the devastated areas outside New Orleans in Southeast Louisiana. President Bush has announced plans to be in Louisiana on Monday.

Congressman Melancon's comments on the invitation follow:

"People in Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish and other affected area in the Southeast Louisiana's 3rd District need to see that the federal government has not forgotten them."

"Today, I invited President Bush to join me on the ground in these parishes as soon as possible - ideally tomorrow - as we work to rescue survivors and get supplies where they are desperately needed."

"The fact is that 124 hours after Katrina hit, Plaquemines Parish still had received little or no contact from FEMA. Other parishes in southeast Louisiana went days without hearing from federal officials - that's unacceptable."

"Thankfully, Louisiana State Senator Walter Boasso and local officials, along with the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries and other entities were able to reach folks on the ground. Together, we worked to put support efforts in motion and coordinate efforts to convey specific needs in the area to those who could take action."

"While slowly improving, conditions in parishes throughout Southeast Louisiana are beyond dire. Hundreds died among the thousands of residents who were stranded at Camp Katrina on Chalmette Landing. Areas nearby are equally grim. We need all the federal support we can get, and the only way to understand that is to witness it first hand."

"I sincerely hope the President will accept my invitation. I look forward to hearing from him soon."

FEMA knew storm's potential, Mayfield says

Sunday, 4:44 p.m.

By Mark Schleifstein
Staff writer

Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, said
Sunday that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, including FEMA Director Mike Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, listened in on electronic briefings given by his staff in advance of Hurricane Katrina slamming Louisiana and Mississippi and were advised of the storm’s potential deadly effects.

Mayfield said the strength of the storm and the potential disaster it could bring were made clear during both the briefings and in formal advisories, which warned of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans and winds strong enough to blow out windows of high-rise buildings. He said the briefings included information on expected wind speed, storm surge, rainfall and the potential for tornados to accompany the storm as it came ashore.

“We were briefing them way before landfall,” Mayfield said. “It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.

“I keep looking back to see if there was anything else we could have done, and I just don’t know what it would be,” he said.

Chertoff told reporters Saturday that government officials had not expected the damaging combination of a powerful hurricane levee breaches that flooded New Orleans.

Brown, Mayfield said, is a dedicated public servant.

“The question is why he couldn’t shake loose the resources that were needed,’’ he said.

Brown and Chertoff could not be reached for comment on Sunday
afternoon.

In the days before Katrina hit, Mayfield said, his staff also briefed FEMA, which under the Department of Homeland Security, at FEMA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., its Region 6 office in Dallas and the Region 4 office in Atlanta about the potential effects of the storm.

He said all of those briefings were logged in the hurricane center’s records.

And Mayfield said his staff also participated in the five-day
“Hurricane Pam” exercise sponsored by FEMA and the Louisiana Office of
Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in July 2004 that assumed a similar storm would hit the city.

FEMA’s own July 23, 2004, news release announcing the end of that exercise summed up the assumptions they used, which were eerily close to what Katrina delivered:
“Hurricane Pam brought sustained winds of 120 mph, up to 20 inches of rain in parts of southeast Louisiana and storm surge that topped levees in the New Orleans area. More than one million residents evacuated and Hurricane Pam destroyed 500,000-600,000 buildings. Emergency officials from 50 parish, state, federal and volunteer organizations faced this scenario during a five-day exercise held this week at the State Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge.

“The exercise used realistic weather and damage information developed
by the National Weather Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the
LSU Hurricane Center and other state and federal agencies to help
officials develop joint response plans for a catastrophic hurricane in
Louisiana.”

That plan assumed such a hurricane would result in the opening of 1,000 evacuee shelters that would have to be staffed for 100 days, and a search and rescue operation using 800 people. The storm would create 30 million tons of debris, including 237,000 cubic yards of household hazardous waste.

Mayfield said his concern now is that another named storm could hit
either New Orleans or the Mississippi Gulf coast, as September is the
most active month of the annual hurricane season.

“This is like the fourth inning in a nine-inning ballgame,” he said. “We know that another one would cause extreme stress on the people who have been hurt by Katrina.”

Mark Schleifstein can be reached at mersmia@cox.net.

Clarkson reports on Algiers

By Richard Meek
Staff Writer

Algiers was largely spared from Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flood waters, but
New Orleans City Councilman Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said other parts of her district did not fare so well, noting that water was still standing in parts of Fauborg Marigny, St John, Treme and the Bywater.

Clarkson, in Baton Rouge on Sunday, said that many city workers died after the storm, unwilling to leave their jobs. “We lost a lot of city workers. The workers would not leave and we had to save some from a 25-foot wall of water,” she said.

She also lauded Mayor Ray Nagin’s efforts over the last week.

He "the greatest hero in all of this,” she said. “He and his team of city workers, police, fire fighters, sewerage and water board, are all heroes."
"He organized his team and kept them focused on target," she said. "They saved most of our city's people.”

For five days, Clarkson rotated between City Hall and a makeshift command center she and Mayor Ray Nagin manned at the Hyatt Regency. Her adventures included at one point, sprinting up 23 flights of stairs to escape a band of gun-toting individuals who were trying to enter the Hyatt.

"It was most heartbreaking to see this beautiful city, a major port of the American economy with strategic oil reserves for the entire Northeast and wonder where the hell was the world," Jackson said, as she fought back tears. "They showed up for 9/11 but where were they (for New Orleans)?"

Clarkson said she spent much of the first few days following the storm trying to save lives.

"I didn't leave because I was trying to put people who were desperate with people who had resources to help," said Clarkson.

In Algiers, she said the sewerage system is operational and that police and National Guard patrols have secured the city. Clarkson said Algiers did not take on water, and that she did not see any homes that were completely destroyed, although many suffered wind damage. She added that the community has running water and safe drinking water.

But she fell short of encouraging people to return.


"We cannot afford to divert resources from people who are still being saved from rooftops," Clarkson said. "But I want the people to know that the people of Algiers are fortunate."

Clarkson said the scariest moment came when individuals began storming the doors of the Hyatt, believing there was food and water inside, of which Clarkson said there was little of both.

"The mayor grabbed my arm and had me run up 23 flights of steps (from the fourth floor)," she said. "Of course, he got there 10 minutes before me."

Clarkson said she will continue rescue operations from her Algiers headquarters and begin to plan what promises to be a long recovery. She said anyone needing emergency and rescue help only should call her at 392-2092.

"I never imagined this would happen," said Clarkson.

Police Shoot 8 on New Orleans Bridge

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Police shot eight people carrying guns on a New Orleans bridge Sunday, killing five or six of them, a deputy chief said. Deputy Police Chief W.J. Riley said the shootings took place on the Danziger Bridge, which connects Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.

Humane groups reach out to animals

Sunday, 4:12 p.m.

By Sandra Barbier
Staff writer

Humane groups and parish animal control agencies are hoping to stem the tide of what could become another heart-breaking after-effect of Hurricane Katrina, the deaths of hundreds or thousands of pets left behind in houses and yards by owners expecting to be able to return to their homes in just a few days.

"We've received thousands of requests from all over the area, asking us to go in and look for their pets," said Paul Berry, an official with the Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society.

Berry, a former New Orleanian, and the society have been in the area assisting the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter in housing some of the parish's stray dogs and cats.

The society has built an emergency shelter at the St. Francis Animal Sanctuary in Tylertown, Miss.

"We're at about 600 (animals) right now," Berry said. The society has taken in strays and rescued animals, but rescuing animals from homes will require a more coordinated effort, Berry said.

Public agencies' first priority is rescuing survivors, and "they need to search houses. Why not pull the pets out at the same time? If they make us wait until the water goes down, they're (pets are) all going to die and we have one more tragedy," he said.

In some cases that has been done, officials said.

Louisiana SPCA director Laura Maloney said New Orleans shelter workers follow other agencies and crews through neighborhoods and rescue pets, some that are locked in houses. At the owners' request, "we break in," she said.

The Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter has not received many calls about rescuing pets from homes, shelter director Bert Smith said. Whether they do "will depend on the kind of calls we get. We'll try to deal with any situation as best we can."

The shelter has been operating with a short staff and poor communications for several days, he said.

It evacuated 215 animals last Sunday to the Washington Parish Fairgrounds. The hurricane knocked out the area's water and electricity Monday. "We were sleeping in our cars," Smith said.

Shelter workers emptied the fairgrounds with the help of Best Friends, which took 130 of the animals, and individuals who volunteered to temporarily keep the rest, he said.

"We got back here Friday and were called to pick up pets at the I-10 and Causeway," where evacuees were waiting for buses to take them out of New Orleans, he said. "There were thousands and thousands of people and hundreds and hundreds of pets...They weren't letting them (evacuees) take their animals with them."

Smith said the human and animal misery and suffering overwhelmed shelter workers, who picked up 55 cats and dogs and a ferret. "It was back-breaking," he said. The animals were taken to Jefferson Parish’s west bank animal shelter, which had water and electricity.

On Saturday, evacuees were moved to Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner, and could bring their pets."They were allowing people to take pets. Thank God for that, or else who knows how many animals we would have running around and loose," Smith said.

However, officials would not let evacuees take aggressive dogs or dogs big enough to displace a human on the evacuation buses. "Those were apparently abandoned," Smith said. By Saturday afternoon, very few were still on the interstate, he said.

Smith said members of the American Veterinary Medical Association's disaster team helped treat evacuees' pets at the airport.

Also Saturday, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office deputies reported animals stranded at the Petco store on Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie.

Workers rescued birds, "pocket pets" such as hamsters and gerbils, as well as snakes and tarantulas. The store doesn't sell dogs or cats, he said.

With Jefferson residents being allowed to return to their homes today, Smith said he expects many calls about strays and dog bites as homeowners are out trying to clean up. Best Friends will assist by taking about 100 more pets to the Mississippi facility.

Each will be photographed and their pictures posted at the group's Web site, www.bestfriends.org, along with an electronic form owners can fill out if they see their pet, Berry said. The organization will hold animals for up to three months, using a network among its 250,000 members nationwide to provide foster homes.

"Fifteen thousand of those have stepped up," to offer temporary homes, he said. The three months could be extended for up to another three more months. If an animal is not claimed, it will be offered for adoption. The photo gallery should be available about Wednesday, Berry said.

Extraordinary, but not 'martial law'

Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

By Susan Finch
Staff writer

“Martial law” isn’t a law at all.

But the term has been invoked over and over in the week since Hurricane Katrina struck to describe the enhanced authority assumed by public officials, restrictions on access to some public streets and the presence of armed federal soldiers roaming parts of the New Orleans area.

Some public officials do invoke extraordinary authority during emergencies, under a 12-year-old Louisiana law. But the presence of active duty military personnel does not mean martial law has been declared. The role of the active military thus far has been to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency with humanitarian work, search and rescue efforts, medical assistance and supply distribution – not to enforce civil law, a military spokesman said.

The National Guard is helping enforce civil law in the hurricane zone. They were pressed into service by Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

A true state of martial law would also put the active military in a law enforcement role. That rarely happens. Martial law was indeed declared during labor strikes in the early 20th century and during the Watts riots of 1965 in Los Angeles, said John Baker, constitutional law professor at Louisiana State University.

All other times, the U.S. system of government is set up to give the states and their own police the primary responsibility to protect citizens against domestic violence, with the federal government being called on only as a backup when the state is overwhelmed.

“If a governor will call and say, ‘I no longer have the ability to secure my state, I need help,’ the president could invoke the Insurrection Act and the military could assist in law enforcement activities,” said a U.S. Northern Command lawyer who spoke on the condition that he not be identified by name. “That is not what we are doing.”

Baker said martial law is not a written law but has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as a legal concept.

“It’s a suspension of law, and the term goes way back and it’s linked to what is called the law of necessity,” doing what is necessary in extreme situations, Baker said. “The question is whether, quite apart from law, there is inherent power to those charged with order in the community to keep it from descending into chaos and insurrection.”

What is written is the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993. Under this law, the governor and some top parish officials, such as Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, have the right to commandeer private property if necessary to cope with an emergency. Specific officials may also suspend any law related to the conduct of official business or any rule previously issued by a state agency if complying would “prevent, hinder or delay necessary action” to mitigate the emergency, the state attorney general’s office said last week.

The law also gives specific officials the right to compel evacuations, suspend alcohol and weapon sales and make provisions for emergency housing, the office said.

Mayors assume similar authority, although not the right to commandeer private property or arrange emergency housing, the office said.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco invoked this 1993 law when she declared a state of emergency last week. Broussard himself has described Jefferson as being “under martial law, and there’s only one marshal: Me.”

Broussard has announced that Jefferson Parish is closed to all residents and visitors, and indeed police are staffing roadblocks on highways entering Jefferson. Despite widespread criticism from other public officials and utility companies, Broussard is letting residents return Monday for a brief time but ordering them out again until streets are clear, power restored and the water supply made safe for drinking.

Baker said Louisiana must take care not to “fall into the notion that you look first and primarily to the military to run things.

“The military are not police officers generally; their job is to fight a war. That’s totally different from a police function unless people want to turn this country into other countries where you have the military running the police force, which you did in Central America.”

Jeff gears up for Monday return

Sunday, 4:02 p.m.

By Matt Scallan
East Jefferson bureau

Jefferson Parish officials geared up Sunday for a massive influx of returning residents who can expect to sit in long lines of cars at police checkpoints to ensure that non-residents don't enter the parish.

Parish President Aaron Broussard announced his plan on Tuesday, the day after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to the New Orleans area, to let residents back in briefly and only to inspect their property beginning Monday at 6 a.m. And he has insisted on carrying out the plan, despite mounting oppostion from law enforcement and utility companies.

Broussard said that residents must be allowed to see the devastation up close so they can move on with their lives somwehre else.

"I am the only elected official who is in favor of doing this, but people need to understand that they're not coming back to Wally Cleaver's neighborhood," he said Sunday.

"I am doing this to jump start the economy. Not the economy of Jefferson Parish; that is destroyed. I want to jump-start the economies of the residents of Jefferson Parish, who need to find new jobs, new places to live” outside Jefferson.

Many residents who tried to get in Jefferson early were turned away at checkpoints on Airline Drive and on U.S. 90.

Meanwhile, utility companies are concerned that the flood of people returning today will block access routes for their fuel and supplies.

"Someone needs to re-think this," one utility company manager was heard to tell a parish official.

Sheriff Harry Lee was resigned to cooperating with the effort, but he told WDSU television that he doesn't think it's a good idea.

"There's no good law enforcement reason for doing this," he said.

Parish Councilman John Young said he has put aside his concerns about the matter.

"The decision has been made, and we're going to do everything in our power to make it work," he said.

Parish officials are urging residents who don't have to come back to stay where they are.

The rules of entry are such that those who try to return might face a hellish experience. Parish spokeswoman Angela Williams said residents must have enough fuel not only to drive in but to sit in line for hours and to drive out of the area to where fuel is available in outlying parishes.

All businesses are closed. Electric, gas, water and sewer service is unavailable in many areas of the parish.

"It's not going to be a pleasant place to stay," Williams said.

Under the Broussard plan, residents will be allowed to enter only on Airline Drive in Kenner and U.S. 90 in West Jefferson on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday beginning at 6 a.m. Parish officials said they were eliminating Jefferson Highway as an entry point.

At the parish line, they must show identification bearing a Jefferson Parish address. Anyone not in line by 6 p.m. will be denied entry on that day. A dawn-to-dusk curfew will be in effect.

Business owners will be allowed in on Thursday.

In an emotional news conference Sunday, Broussard reflected on the efforts to stabilize Jefferson Parish after Katrina passed the area on Monday.

"The bureaucracy committed murder" by failing to mobilize quickly enough to the crisis, he said, adding that the mother of one of his department heads died in a St. Bernard Parish nursing home after residents there were promised aid for days.

"There was a plan in place for this disaster, but when it happened all we got was promises," he said.







Air traffic not halted

Staff report
The delay of three tons of food to residents stranded in St. Bernard Parish and Algiers Point on Friday was not because of air traffic restrictions because of President George W. Bush’s visit, but because of miscommunication between federal officials.

Casey O’Shea, the chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, told the Times Picayune on Friday that the delivery of the food by helicopter to residents was halted because of limits placed on aircraft travel in the vicinity of President Bush. The food, which was secured by Melancon and state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom, was eventually delivered to residents, but only after sitting on the Crescent City Connection for hours.

In a written statement on Sunday, O’Shea said that he had been notified by the White House that there should not have been any restrictions on air travel. Kim Tate, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s New Orleans field office, said that not only was air travel not halted, but the Secret Service did not use any local first responders to provide security as it typically does.

"All I know is that at the time, I was told by folks at the EOC that air traffic was grounded. I have since been told by The White House this was not the case. Due to an apparent miscommunication, food and supplies unfortunately had to wait to reach people in desperate need," O’Shea said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Roland Herwig said that air travel is typically restricted within 18,000 feet and 30 nautical miles of the president at all times, although military and some service crafts can receive special waivers to travel.

Corps attacking London Avenue canal breach

Sunday, 3:05 p.m.

The Army Corps of Engineers has shifted its efforts to damming the London
Avenue canal’s entrance to Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans , following
the completion of a dam across the 17th Street canal.

In a news release issued Sunday morning, the corps said it
discovered several intact “but potentially weakened sections” in the 17th Street
canal levee, and that it as delayed completing the filling of the
levee breach into Lakeview to move on to other work. The corps didn’t
complete placement of the last piece of sheet piling until officials were
sure that water on the Lakeview side of the breach had dropped to the
same level as the lake.

With the dam closure, the corps said, the canal will be drained and
the levee will be permanently repaired.

Five pumps ordered Saturday are to be delivered in pieces to a staging
area in St. Rose, where they will be partially assembled and moved to
the 17th Street and London Avenue canals for final assembly and startup.

Four more pumps loaned to the corps by St. Charles Parish were
deployed to the 17th Street canal, where they’re now being assembled.

The corps is acquiring two large mobile generators to power pumps at
pump station 6 on the 17th Street canal and at pump station 7 on the
Orleans Avenue canal.

The corps also is arranging the salvage of “two objects” found in the
bar channel at the mouth of Southwest Pass on the Mississippi River,
the main shipping entrance to the river.

The news release said the objects haven’t been identified, but are
more than 40 feet beneath the surface. River traffic is being restricted
to vessels with drafts of 35 feet or less.

The obstructions were found by a survey vessel of the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration, just over a half-mile from the end of
the Southwest Pass jetty.

Federal officials assess health risks

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and Centers for Disease Control Director Julie L. Gerberding arrived at Louis Armstrong airport Sunday to determine the massive public health risks that lay ahead during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

“When you put standing water with insects and unsanitary conditions, it’s a breeding ground for disease, and you have to stay ahead of that,” said Leavitt as he and Gerberding visited the makeshift emergency room set up in the airport terminal.

Twenty-four CDC teams are in the region surveying health conditions at every shelter. Little if any disease prevention exists in the area because “the entire public health staff in New Orleans is gone,” Gerberding said. Once search and rescue operations are complete, the mental health of residents in the region must be addressed, especially among children, she said.

Gerberding acknowledged that there has been difficulty getting supplies to outlying areas, but said they are working to fix the problem. Two planes loaded with antibiotics and 37 pallets of other medical supplies are on there way to the region, she said.

NAACP lining up churches to provide shelter throughout the Southeast

By Kadee Krieger
Staff writer

Churches surrounding the New Orleans area for 250 miles are standing by to provide beds and warm meals to the thousands displaced by Hurricane Katrina, said NAACP President Bruce Gordon.

The NAACP is working with FEMA to transport evacuees from shelters to church facilities from Shreveport to North Carolina, said Gordon, speaking Sunday at the state Office of Emergency Preparedness Sunday.

He said the churches are prepared to provide shelter for up to 60 days. “We asked the churches how many they could take, how many beds do they have? We will work with FEMA to move that number,” Gordon said. “We are prepared to move.”

The NAACP, working initially through the National Baptist Convention, has lined up churches in Shreveport and Houston and smaller cities throughout the Southeast region to North Carolina, he said.

The churches are not offering permanent placement, but a respite from the cramped and crowded quarters in massive shelters, including the Astrodome in Houston. The housing that the churches will provide will at least offer more comfortable conditions, he said.

“It seems now that while the transportation puzzle is not completely solved, the housing resources situation is more challenging,” Gordon said.

He said although the NAACP began its efforts by working with the Baptist delegation, it is hoping all denominations will help provide housing for evacuees.

Any church that has available shelter or facilities should contact the NAACP’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-997-2227 or visit www.naacp.org, he said.

Gordon also called for a separate victims’ relief fund to be set up by the federal government, similar to what was created after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“The benchmark for recovery should be 911. This disaster is no less significant, no less dramatic than that event,” he said. “This may not have been an act of terrorism, but it was a natural disaster’s form of terrorist. We must put all our resources into rebuilding these communities.”

“The citizens of New York did not have to carry the burden” of rebuilding, and nor should New Orleans and Gulf Coast communities, Gordon said.

“This is our worst nightmare for a community,” he said. “But the people from New Orleans love where they live and they will rebuild. From New Orleans to Biloxi, the people born and raised in this region will have the opportunity to contribute to that effort.”

"Refugee" a demeaning term, Jackson says

By Laura Maggi
Staff writer

People evacuated out of New Orleans to escape Katrina's devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina should not be labeled “refugees,” two black leaders said Sunday.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Bruce Gordon, head of the NAACP, said the term is demeaning to people who were forced to remain in a flooded city in inhumane
conditions.

At a press briefing at the state Office of Emergency Preparedness, Gordon reminded reporters those evacuated are American citizens. “They are offended when you use that term to describe them,” he said.

“It is just wrong,” agreed Jackson. “They are citizens displaced by a disaster.”

Busload from New Orleans landed in Alexandria

By Laura Maggi
Staff writer

A busload of people that the state Legislative Black Caucus wanted to deliver to the former England Air Force Base in Alexandria ended up at a shelter in that central Louisiana city, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Sunday.

Angry that thousands of people are being taken out of state because of an apparent lack of shelter space in Louisiana, the black caucus members on Saturday said the federal government should make available military installations that come equipped with amenities not available at places like Houston’s Astrodome.

But Jackson said that when a busload of 160 people arrived in Alexandria it was already late at night and they decided to take them to a shelter instead. Caucus leaders later went to the air force base to talk with officials there about eventually moving people to the facility.

“The governor needs to make that broad-based appeal,” to get people moved, Jackson said.

A U.S. Army representative said Saturday that military bases are being considered for use as shelters, including England.

Children to be reunited with families

Seven children who were separated from their families when they were evacuated out of New Orleans are going to be reunited with their parents, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services said.

The children, who were taken to Baton Rouge, will be flown to San Antonio, where their parents were sent, said Nanette White, with the state agency. She did not have any details about how the children were separated from their families.

White said other children have been separated from their parents, but she could not say how many. They are being cared for at an unidentified location in Baton Rouge.

Letter from McGehee

(Headmistress Eileen Powers posted this letter to faculty, staff, families and friends of the Louise S. McGehee School, 2343 Prytania St., New Orleans.)

Dear McGehee Community,
This is an extraordinary and unbelievably trying time we are in and my heart goes out to all of our McGehee community. I pray that everyone is safe and has found adequate refuge. I am currently in a hotel in Lafayette having evacuated with “Scout” my dog, on Sunday. Many of our faculty and administration have been in touch with me and am relieved to report that they are safe as well. I have encouraged those faculty who have not “checked in” with me to do so soon.

At this point, our campus seems to be in good shape. I have received reports from our families who either stayed in the Garden District or evacuated later on that the only damage so far is some tree damage in the front of the Bradish Johnson house.

Of course, it is clear that McGehee will not be opening up soon as is the case with all New Orleans’ ISAS schools. I will soon have a conference call with other heads of local schools to discuss what to do in the interim about educating our students. Our girls should be attending school and should make plans to temporarily attend school in the area where their families are staying. I will be updating this website soon and you can also visit isasw.org where there is more information about an application process for temporary attendance at non-new Orleans ISAS schools. We are planning for additional ways to modify our recently remodeled website to help with communication and the dissemination of information.

We are all praying for a return to normalcy but understand that this might take quite some time. I hope that we will be together soon to hear our girls singing on the staircase at holiday time. This, of course, is out of all of our control but it is what we hope for. We New Orleanians are fighters with generations of history behind us.

I will be in NYC until it is safe to enter my New Orleans home and begin the preparations to welcome you back to McGehee.

Please keep yourself and your families safe.

Yours truly,
Eileen Powers
Headmistress

San Antonio opens arms to evacuees

Sunday, 12:28 p.m.

By Mike Triplett
Staff writer

SAN ANTONIO – The scene is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

Nearly 10,000 refugees have come through here at KellyUSA, a former Air Force base in San Antonio, and the city expected 13,000 visitors at various shelters throughout the area by dawn Sunday.

They have traveled some 500 miles by bus or by plane, and endured God knows what over the past seven days.

But a city has reached out to them, striving to “make them feel like they’re at home,” according to the man running the show here at Building 1171, Peter Vrolyk, the local Mass Care coordinator for the Red Cross.

“They’re doing a tremendous job out here. Tell everybody,” said Velma Broomfield, who escaped the Calliope apartments on Wednesday, spent one night on an overpass, made it to the Superdome and eventually was flown here. “The people are so nice and they treat you so well.”

Broomfield is with her sister, her sister’s son and her granddaughter. She was separated from her daughter and her daughter’s mother-in-law but hopes they wound up in Houston.

There are several areas set up here for information on missing persons. There are also several sets of phone banks that provide free local and long distance calls. There are a number of televisions, so people can keep contact with the outside world. And they can come and go as they please once they have been checked in and given a designated area and a wristband.

There are thousands of cots and sleeping areas in the air-conditioned facilities. There is a remarkable amount of medical treatment areas and workers on hand. There is a wealth of food and fresh clothing that has been donated. The refugees get three meals a day – sandwiches and spaghetti and chips and granola bars and were on hand Saturday afternoon, along with plenty of water and sports drinks.

“This is like a high class hotel to me. You get this kind of treatment at a Hampton Inn. I don’t have this at home. Poor people don’t get this treatment,” said Karen Winkler, who lived at the Noble Arms Independent Living Program for the mentally ill in Terrytown , before being helped to the Superdome last Sunday.

The conditions in the Superdome, she said, were frightening and disorganized, though she appreciated having a shelter for the storm.

Thomas Poche was surprised to run into his brother in the cafeteria on Saturday afternoon, and the first thing they said to each other was how nice the conditions were.

“I ain’t never seen nothing like this,” Poche said. “They checked me out, they fed me, I got to take a shower, and they gave me clean clothes. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Poche spent four days with another brother in his house on North Broad and Columbus before the gas went out and they finally decided to walk neck-deep through the water to try and reach the Superdome. On the way, he found a collection of people waiting to be picked up on a bridge, and he was lifted to the airport by helicopter from there.

The city will likely be maxed out soon, though there seems no shortage of volunteers and people willing to help. Vrolyk estimated there were 750 volunteers working and another 4,000 citizens that have come to help out.

In a brief phone call with him, Vrolyk received a half-dozen phone calls, all of them offering to help. Papajohn’s wanted to know where to deliver 100 pizzas. Lunchmeat was being delivered from Sam’s Club.

“The whole city of San Antonio is right now pulling together and making these people feel like they’re in good hands,” said Vrolyk, who said he was working on 50 hours without sleep. “If they have a concern like clothing, shoes, these large companies are organizing that.”

Vrolyk said he was planning to set up a DJ service with 24 hours of music for people.

“Everything they’re requesting one way or the other, we’re going to get it in here for them,” he said. “When we opened up this thing, we asked them what they wanted. They said they wanted to be treated fair, they wanted a clean place to live, they wanted to be treated like we want to be treated.”

FEMA also came into town this weekend to help Red Cross and the local government set up its efforts.

In a press conference Saturday, San Antonio mayor Phil Hardberger said he has asked for additional federal help from the Army and Air Force, but was told it's going to take some time.

Nonetheless, Vrolyk promised, "We’re going to be here as long as the people need us. That could be three weeks, six months, whatever, we’re going to be here for them."

Coast Guard: Hang brightly-colored sheets for rescue

ADVISORY: Coast Guard air crews performing search and rescue operations are requesting persons in the New Orleans area to hang brightly colored or white sheets, towels or anything else that might help draw attention to those still in need of assistance.

Air and boat crews from numerous agencies are continuing to locate and rescue people from flooded homes and neighborhoods in and around New Orleans.

Bush to Red Cross: "Tidal wave of compassion''

Sunday, 11:18 a.m.

Meeting with Red Cross officials in Washington Sunday, President Bush on Sunday thanked the agency's nearly 5,000 volunteers working at shelters in 19 states helping displaced Louisiana residents, and promised victims a "tidal wave of compassion.''

"I can't think of anything more encouraging for someone who has
endured the tragedy of a storm than to have a loving soul say, I'm here to help
you,'' Bush said.

"If you want to help -- help this country heal after the result of
this disaster, please give cash money to the Red Cross. I just passed the
place where volunteers and staffers are taking calls from around the country,
and the response has been good, but there's more that needs to be done,'' he said.

He also said the Red Cross can use more volunteers. "This is a storm of
enormous magnitude. A lot of people's lives have been affected. I
know
much of the country is focused on New Orleans, but parishes
outside of New Orleans have been ruined. Up and down the coast of
Mississippi, communities have been destroyed. And so we need more
manpower.''

Finally, he said, the Red Cross is in need of blood. Bush people to participate in blood drives, and said the White House planned a blood drive on Friday.

"This country is coming together to help people who hurt. And one
of the leaders of the army of compassion is the Red Cross.''

St. John school, parish and law enforcement employees needed back to work Tuesday

Sunday, 10:56 a.m.

St. John the Baptist Parish President Nickie Monica and Sheriff Wayne Jones are asking all of their employees to return to work by Tuesday so that the parish administration and law enforcment can begin a return to normal operation.

Parish employees are being asked to report for work at their normal times, and wait for their supervisors to assign them tasks. Deputies and support staff are asked to do the same.

St. John Schools Superintendent Mike Coburn is requesting that all principals, administrators, maintenance personnel, janitorial staff, and central office personnel report to work on Tuesday at their regular work times as well. Coburn has said that school is scheduled to begin in the parish by Sept. 12.


In Chalmette, painted numbers tell tale of death

Sunday, 10:47 a.m.

By Jan Moller
Capital Bureau

CHALMETTE - Terry Hendrix's family evacuated before Hurricane Katrina struck this close-knit community with a devastating blow, but Hendrix himself decided to try weathering the storm at his three-story house on Riverland Drive.

On Saturday afternoon, five days after the winds died down, Hendrix found himself at parking lot of what used to be a BellSouth building, but which now has been taken over by firefighters giving "decontamination'' showers to people rescued from their homes.

Although floodwaters have receded more than 15 feet and the pace of the evacuation slowed considerably Saturday in St. Bernard Parish as most of those who stayed have either perished or been brought to safety, search teams were still finding people who had remained in their homes.

"I've got 122,000 people in my district, and everybody's been affected (by Hurricane Katrina),'' said state Sen. Walter Boasso, R-Chalmette, who has been helping with rescue efforts since the winds first began waning Monday afternoon.

Although there is no official death toll, parish officials believe it is in the hundreds. St. Bernard Sheriff Jack Stephens said 31 senior citizens died at St. Rita's Nursing Home due to flooding, while another 22 people were discovered dead in a neighborhood subdivision, their bodies bound together.

But it is too soon to start an official count, Stephens said, while rescue efforts continue. "We are not in a body recovery mode yet,'' he said.

Search teams from as far away as Canada ride airboats through receding waters in a parish that's become a virtual ghost town except for the rescue workers. They conduct house-to-house searches for anyone who might still be alive. When they finish searching a building, they leave a spray-painted marker to indicate whether anyone was found.

An "X" means the house was empty. A number indicates how many bodies were discovered. On one house, just a block away from the Bell South building where evacuees are being taken for decontamination before being transported to the slip, a blue-pained "6'' tells the gruesome tale of what became of those inside.

While several days passed with little or no federal assistance, state and local officials set up their own improvised search-and-rescue operations, with the Mississippi River serving as a lifeline to safety for residents in the close-knit parish who rode out Katrina.

When the wind died down but the floodwaters remained, local government was forced to improvise. While firefighters work from the BellSouth building, the Parish Council set up temporary quarters at the Exxon-Mobil Chalmette Refining and the sheriff's office is operating from the Cajun Queen riverboat that's moored next to the Domino's sugar refinery in Arabi.

And the local prison was turned into a hospital until the wounded and sick could be flown to safety, according to Boasso.

While Navy helicopters were shuttling people to hospitals who needed medical care, local officials are angry at the slow pace of the federal government's relief efforts. "We never had any communication from anybody,'' said Parish President Henry "Junior'' Rodriguez. "Anything that has been done in St. Bernard has been done by local people. We never had any goddamned help.''

Boasso, whose homes and businesses were badly damaged by the wind and floods as was just about everybody's home in the parish, said he's frustrated by the pace of the federal government's efforts - which he said he's made clear to Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in Baton Rouge.

"I don't care about finger pointing,'' Boasso said. "I'm hollering and screaming and you know what? If they can't help us we're going to help ourselves.''

By Saturday afternoon the activity at the Chalmette slip, which was a gathering point for several thousand people at the peak of the evacuation, had slowed significantly. Only a few local police and volunteers were there, surrounded by pallets stacked with water and other basic necessities.

After getting a shower from firefighters at the BellSouth parking lot, evacuees are transported to "Camp Katrina,'' as the Chalmette slip has been dubbed by rescue workers. From there they are taken by ferry about five miles upriver to Algiers Point, where school buses were lined up to take them to shelters.

At some points last week the slip was home to thousands of evacuees, but by Saturday afternoon the traffic had slowed to a trickle.

At Algiers Point, the ferry landing was home to about a hundred people Saturday morning, including some who said they had waded through water from the Superdome and hitched rides across the Crescent City Connection.

Others came lower St. Bernard, where the floods engulfed just about every home and those who stayed behind relied on neighbors for support - which sometimes brought surprising levels of comfort. JoAnn Robin said she spent four days after Katrina camped out with 25 of her family members in the Mandeville Canal at Elevating Boats Inc., the company founded by former state Sen. Lynn Dean, R-Caernarvon, who is now a St. Bernard Parish Council member.

Robin said she stayed at home in Caernarvon as Katrina blew through but later decided to evacuate a few miles west to Poydras

While her home and those of her neighbors sat in water up to their rooftops, the Elevated Boats had air-conditioning, a working television and radio and plenty to eat and drink courtesy of Dean and his family. "They treated us like royalty,'' Robin said.

Homeland Security director views Katrina recovery efforts

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Sunday morning stressed the challenges ahead for the New Orleans area as it struggles to recover from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. “We’re not going to be able to have people in houses in New Orleans for weeks or months,” he said during a news briefing near Zephyr Field in Metairie, where he met with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

“We’re going to have to go house to house in this city, every place, to find people who could be alive, and this is not going to happen overnight,” said Chertoff, who planned to view the devastated area.

St. Martin's Episcopal hopes to reopen in a few months

Sunday, 10:15 a.m.

Officials of St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, buoyed by
reports that the school escaped flooding and serious damage in Hurricane
Katrina, hope to reopen at a scaled-down level in a few
months, Headmaster Chris Proctor said Saturday. A detailed inspection of the
school is expected Monday.

In the meantime, the school, which serves students at all grade
levels, is working with Episcopal schools in Baton Rouge and elsewhere to
find temporary placements for displaced New Orleans-area students.

Students from New Orleans will attend class in the evenings at Episcopal High
School in Baton Rouge, an arrangement that Proctor said will be greeted
with enthusiasm by many. “Every teenager’s dream is to be able to sleep
until 11 o’clock in the morning,” he said.

There is an immediate need for Episcopal teachers from the New Orleans
area to fill slots in the expanded Baton Rouge schools, and they are
encouraged to contact Episcopal High as well as schools serving lower
grade levels, including St. James, St. Luke’s and Trinity schools,
Proctor said. More information about possible school placements for
displaced students is available on the web site www.episcopalschools.org.

Katrina leaves up to 750,000 at least temporarily jobless

Sunday, 10:07 a.m.

By Bruce Alpert
Washington bureau
WASHINGTON -- For the economic victims of Hurricane Katrina -
hundreds
of thousands of people uprooted from their jobs -- the only immediate
salvation may be a willingness and ability to switch careers.

While it may take months for some businesses to reopen, assuming that
they ever do, there will soon be a major source of new employment --
thousands of jobs to clean-up devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina. That should be followed by construction jobs to rebuild the thousands of damaged or
destroyed homes and businesses.

The joblessness generated by the hurricane is
unprecedented. Louisiana Labor Secretary John Warner Smith estimated that about 750,000 workers in metro New Orleans won't be able to return to their homes and jobs for at least two months.

"It's heartbreaking and unimaginable," Labor Secretary Elaine
Chao said in an interview.

Chao said that this weekend she approved $20.7 million to hire 10,000
dislocated workers to aid recovery and clean-up efforts in Louisiana in
the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The secretary said she's prepared to
authorize another $41.4 million, when the rescue situation stabilizes
enough to get more people to work.

Her agency has also assigned 100 workers to canvass shelters and
other locations with laptop computers that can instantly sign up residents
who lost jobs to quickly qualify for unemployment insurance -- that can
provide as much as half their regular salary.

"We have a lot of people who don't have a job and don't have any
money," Chao said. "We want to help by first making sure they know and qualify for unemployment insurance and also by making sure that they get many of the cleanup and constructions jobs so they not only get back to work but participate in the clean-up and recovery of their own communities."

Bernard Weinstein, director of the Texas-based Center for Economic
Development and Research, said the housing boom in many states has
created an abundance of constructions jobs, and that demand will grow
significantly because of all the reconstruction required by Hurricane Katrina. But he said it isn't "always easy" to get workers in the service industry, who make
up a good portion of metro New Orleans workforce, to adapt to even
entry-level construction jobs.

Many displaced hurricane victims are now living in communities far
from their homes. A good many metro New Orleans residents are now living in
Baton Rouge and thousands more are now in Texas, many now living in the
Houston Astrodome or Reunion Arena in Dallas, according to Weinstein.

"Our hospitality industry in Texas is doing okay; it's not doing
great," Weinstein said. "But we already have a large supply of low-skilled
workers, many Mexican Americans who fill most of those jobs now. So refuges from New Orleans will be competing with them for the low-skill jobs."'

Bruce Katz, an economist with the Brookings Institution, said that
the Labor Department is right to focus "initially" on helping workers to
prepare for the jobs in construction that are likely to make up a large portion
of the Metro New Orleans economy for the next year.

But he said "long term" the federal government ought to help poor
New Orleans residents get closer to where job opportunities are by giving
them housing vouchers that they can use to relocate to "other sections of
the city with more opportunities, the suburbs or even other states."

"After the Los Angeles earthquakes the Clinton administration gave
out housing vouchers to displaced residents and it gave people a chance to
move closer to where there were more employment opportunities, and closer to
where their kids could get a good education," Katz said.

Catherine Shamsie, manager of the Baton Rouge office for employment
agency Kelly Services Inc. said that there are so many hurricane
escapes from Metro New Orleans in her city that her officer is seeing triple or
quadruple the usual number of job seekers.

``Most of our people here are homeless, jobless and with
very minimal clothing on their back,'' Shamsie said. ``We try to do what we
can and work with them to accommodate lack of identification.''

Some employers are continuing to pay their New Orleans workers,
helping arrange housing and food, and coordinating charitable funds for other
staff to donate cash.

Boyd Gaming Corp. will continue to pay employees of its
Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, La., for at least eight weeks, chairman William S. Boyd said in a statement.

``We are deeply concerned for the health and safety of our
employees, and they remain our highest priority at this point,'' Boyd
said.

Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson said he's very concerned about
so many New Orleans residents being out of work, and will strive to find a
way to employ local residents in the work required to rebuild and restore
public housing units damaged or destroyed by the Hurricane.

(Newhouse News Service reporter Katherine Reynolds Lewis contributed to
this story)

Eastern New Orleans shootout

New Orleans Police officers sent up a cheer Sunday with a report that their colleagues had engaged in a shootout with an armed group on Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans, with none of the cops hit and five of the suspected marauders wounded. No word was available on the condition of the wounded.

Penn on the scene

Actor Sean Penn arrived Sunday at the New Orleans Police Department staging area at Harrah's casino, announcing that he was ready to help in any way he could. Penn, who recently spent time in the New Orleans area while filming "All the King's Men," was being escorted by historian and author Douglas Brinkley.

St. Bernard death toll possibly hundreds

By Jan Moller
Capital Bureau

CHALMETTE - Terry Hendrix's family evacuated before Hurricane Katrina struck this close-knit community with a devastating blow, but Hendrix decided to try weathering the storm at his three-story house on Riverland Drive. On Saturday afternoon, five days after the winds died down, Hendrix found himself at parking lot of what used to be a BellSouth building but which now has been taken over by firefighters who are giving “decontamination” showers to people rescued from their homes.

Although floodwaters have receded more than 15 feet and the pace of the evacuation slowed considerably Saturday in St. Bernard Parish as most of those who stayed have either perished or been brought to safety, search teams were still finding people who had remained in their homes.

“I've got 122,000 people in my district, and everybody's been affected (by Hurricane Katrina),” said state Sen. Walter Boasso, R-Chalmette, who has been helping with rescue efforts since the winds first began waning Monday afternoon.

Although there is no official death toll, parish officials believe it is in the hundreds. St. Bernard Sheriff Jack Stephens said 31 senior citizens died at St. Rita's Nursing Home due to flooding, while another 22 people were discovered dead in a neighborhood subdivision, their bodies bound together.

But it is too soon to start an official count, Stephens said, while rescue efforts continue. “We are not in a body recovery mode yet,” he said.

Search teams from as far away as Canada ride air boats through receding waters in a parish that's become a virtual ghost town except for the rescue workers. They conduct house-to-house searches for anyone who might still be alive. When they have finished searching a building, they leave a spray-painted marker to indicate whether anyone was found.

An “X” means the house was empty. A number indicates how many bodies were discovered. On one house, just a block away from the Bell South building where evacuees are being taken for decontamination before being transported to the slip, a blue-pained “6” tells the gruesome tale of what became of those inside.

While several days passed with little or no federal assistance, state and local officials set up their own improvised search-and-rescue operations, with the Mississippi River serving as a lifeline to safety for residents in the close-knit parish who rode out Katrina.

When the wind died down but the floodwaters remained, local government was forced to improvise. While firefighters work from the BellSouth building, the parish council set up temporary quarters at the Exxon-Mobil Chalmette Refining and the sheriff's office is operating from the Cajun Queen riverboat that's moored next to the Domino's sugar refinery in Arabi.

And the local prison was turned into a hospital until the wounded and sick could be flown to safety, according to Boasso.

While Navy helicopters were shuttling people to hospitals who needed medical care, local officials are angry at the slow pace of the federal government's relief efforts. “We never had any communication from anybody,” said Parish President Henry P. Rodriguez. “Anything that has been done in St. Bernard has been done by local people.We never had any goddamned help.”

Boasso, whose homes and businesses were badly damaged by the wind and floods as was just about everybody's home in the parish, said he's frustrated by the pace of the federal government's efforts - which he said he's made clear to Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in Baton Rouge.

“I don't care about finger pointing,” Boasso said. “I'm hollering and screaming and you know what? If they can't help us we're going to help ourselves.”

By Saturday afternoon the activity at the Chalmette slip, which was a gathering point for several thousand people at the peak of the evacuation, had slowed significantly. Only a few local police and volunteers were there, surrounded by pallets of water and other basic necessities.

After getting a shower from firefighters at the BellSouth parking lot, evacuees are transported to “Camp Katrina,” as the Chalmette slip has been dubbed by rescue workers. From there they are taken by ferry about five miles upriver to Algiers Point, where school buses were lined up to take them to shelters.

At some points last week the slip was home to thousands of evacuees, but by Saturday afternoon the traffic had slowed to a trickle.

At Algiers Point, the ferry landing was home to about a hundred people Saturday morning, including some who said they had waded through water from the Superdome and hitched rides across the Crescent City Connection.

Others came lower St. Bernard, where the floods engulfed just about every home and those who stayed behind relied on neighbors for support - which sometimes brought surprising levels of comfort. JoAnn Robin said she spent four days after Katrina camped out with 25 of her family members in the Mandeville Canal at Elevating Boats Inc., the company founded by former state Sen. Lynn Dean, R-Caernavron.

Robin said she stayed at home in Caernavron, where her block as Katrina blew through, but decided to evacuate a few miles west to Poydras

While her home and those of her neighbors sat in water up to their rooftops nearby, the elevated boats had air-conditioning, a working television and radio and plenty to eat and drink courtesy of Dean and his family. “They treated us like royalty,” Robin said.

Supreme Court chief justice dies

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist died Saturday at his home in Arlington, Va., The Associated Press reports. He was 80 and suffered from thyroid cancer. Rehnquist was appointed by President Nixon to the high court as an associate justice in 1971 and took his seat on Jan. 7, 1972.