Nagin says New Orleans to decide reconstruction

Monday, 11:15 p.m.

By Robert Travis Scott
Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE - Mayor Ray Nagin pledged Monday that he and other citizens of New Orleans rather than state and national officials would be the lead planners in rebuilding the Crescent City, even as the town copes with cash shortages and a dispersed population unsure of when or whether they will return.

In a wide-ranging discussion at the state capitol with city council members and state lawmakers representing New Orleans, Nagin said the city had spent its last available cash last week on city employee payroll and was seeking bank loans, federal assistance and other means of financing to continue paying its bills and staff.

"Technically today we’re out of cash," Nagin said. "The city is bankrupt … We have no money."

He said he intends to find enough money to pay all people on the city’s payroll system through the end of the year, and then reassess what the city can afford.

A burning issue at the meeting was a recent story in The Wall Street Journal in which a Nagin cabinet official who is a wealthy white businessman was quoted as saying that people who want to rebuild the city foresee a town with a new demographic of fewer poor people.

The story touched a hot button issue for the African-American state lawmakers, who expressed concern that Nagin might be coordinating a recovery program assuming that a large portion of poor blacks would be discouraged from returning to the city. The fear was heightened by the fact that Nagin had met with predominantly white business establishment leaders in Dallas Friday when he was there getting his family resettled and children enrolled in school.

But Nagin said the article "pissed me off" because "some people may think this is an opportunity for us to build the New Orleans of 1812. We’re not going to do that."

He said the business leaders called him in Dallas and he agreed to the meeting, where he "made it very clear to everyone in that room that we are going to move forward, with them or without them. And if they don’t like the direction we’re getting ready to head in, they can leave."

"The model that we’re looking for to rebuild this city, is to keep New Orleans unique culturally, unique musically, unique from a people perspective, but economically as strong as an Atlanta, where you have a strong middle and upper class of African Americans, of white folks, of Hispanics, of Vietnamese," Nagin said. "And if we’re not collectively working toward that goal, then there’s a problem. So we got them straight.

So don’t worry about this city being hijacked by a small group of people who are trying to take us backward."

State Rep. Karen Carter, D-New Orleans, and other state lawmakers told Nagin that he needed to communicate more effectively with the legislative delegation and that he had taken too much of the responsibility on himself to solve all the problems as they arose since Hurricane Katrina struck two weeks ago.

"You cannot do it alone," Carter said. "You may have done it that way in the past" before the city was in a state of crisis.

Although federal authorities are letting some residents and business owners visit the city to check on their homes or records, the city will not let people back in until the mayor has more information about the potentially toxic condition of the water and soil, Nagin said. He is expecting reports from the Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency in the next couple of days.

Nagin said some city officials had erroneously reported that the city was arranging for business owners to visit their sites in the city. Possible contaminants or disease in the environment and the uncertain integrity of the levee system create too many hazards.

"I’m going to err on the side of protecting lives first," he said.

Nagin could not offer a timeline for when citizens might one day return, saying electricity and sewer systems must be in good working order.

FEMA already is sending more than $100 million to reimburse the city for recovery expenses, and the city is close to signing a number of contracts for the work, Nagin said. The city’s only final contract as of Monday was for a waste-management company to clear debris.

The bulk of federal moving is moving through the state, he said.

Nagin said a city plan, not contracts, were his ultimate focus.

"What I care about is the plan. I don’t want anybody outside of New Orleans planning nothing as it relates to how we’re going to rebuild this city without us signing off on it," Nagin said.

Nagin met Monday in New Orleans with President Bush and Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

"There’s an incredible intensity of focus from the president and his staff to get stuff done," said Nagin, who has been critical of the federal response to the storm crisis. "They want to have accomplishments."

Of Bush, he said, "Every time he’s told me he’s going to do something, personally, face-to-face, he’s done it."

Officials announce new job training program

By Allen Powell II
River Parishes Bureau

Officials with Louisiana’s community and technical colleges have announced an aggressive program to get job training to individuals displaced and unemployed due to Hurricane Katrina so that they can take advantage of upcoming rebuilding efforts in the New Orleans area.

Within the next week, individuals located in shelters across the state will be able to take advantage of free, on-site job training in fields such as carpentry, plumbing and hazardous waste removal. Those trades, and a host of others, are expected to see employment booms once the rebuilding of the New Orleans area begins, said Jim Henderson, the senior vice-president of workforce development and training for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

Henderson said the officials with the state’s technical and community colleges have already been assessing the job training and educational levels of individuals located in state shelters in preparation for the new educational program. The state is now attempting to either enroll those individuals in existing facilities in their areas, or create new facilities at or near shelters, Henderson said. Training facilities may be established at the Avondale shipyard, mobile computer labs and adult education centers, he said.

Once enrollment is complete, Henderson said technical and community college officials will work to get individuals basic skills training in an expedited manner so that they can immediately employed. Streamlining the process will include a review of the current curriculum and teaching methods.

“We want to make it as quick as possible for them to get basic skills,” Henderson said. “You can get them involved in the workforce while trying to continue their training. We are also cognizant of the fact that we have long-term employment needs for the city of New Orleans.”

Currently, it typically takes about four to six weeks to be trained at the apprentice or laborer level, but with the changes in teaching methods, and the fact that individuals now have more free time to attend class, Henderson expects that time frame to decrease. Once individuals finish their initial training, they will receive on-the-job training and apprenticeships to further their educations.

Funding for the program will come from a variety of new and current federal programs for job development. Federal monies could allow the state to create new classes to address specific fields depending on the number of interested individuals.

Henderson said officials believe that there will be enough funding to pay for the training of individuals not located in shelters, and said that no student should see a lack of funding as an obstacle to their education.

More than 21,000 students in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System were displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina, and only about 635 of those students have re-enrolled in other system schools. Students who were impacted by the storm are allowed to enroll in another two-year college at no additional cost, according to officials.

Allen Powell can be reached at (504) 352-2553.

Holy Cross school to learn fate

By Mike Strom
Staff writer
Holy Cross and Archdiocese of New Orleans officials should know by
Thursday if the lower 9th Ward school will be allowed to relocate to Baton
Rouge for the remainder of the 2005-06 school year, Coach Barry Wilson
said Monday night.
Holy Cross officials are attempting to hold evening classes at Dunham Academy in Baton Rouge pending approval of Dunham officials, Wilson
said. A decision by Dunham officials is expected at a Wednesday night
meeting, Wilson said.
Holy Cross also will attempt to field a football team for the final
five games of the regular season if feasible, Wilson said.
Holy Cross suffered heavy damage, particularly from flooding, due to Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29.
“We’re going to try and play here at Dunham,’’ said Wilson, who
initially evacuated to Memphis, but has returned to Baton Rouge where he
played for LSU. “We’re trying to get the school up and running and see if
we can get five games in, if we can get enough players together. That’s
all we can do.’’
Holy Cross principal Joe Murry could not be reached for comment.
Wilson acknowledged the daunting challenge the Tigers face in trying
regroup the football team over the next few weeks.
“I don’t know if it’s realistic,’’ Wilson said. “But we’re going to try
and do it. It’s going to be difficult. We don’t know how many players
we’ll be able to get (together). We’ll have to find housing for them. So
it’s going to be tough. We felt like this was going to be our best

College fund launched

Tom Joyner, a nationally syndicated radio personality, has established a relief fund to assist students at three historically black universities whose campuses have been shut down due to Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

The fund will aid some 9,000 students that transferred out of schools in New Orleans.
Joyner has set aside up to $1 million to help students who have been displaced by Katrina. The fund will assist Dilliard, Xavier and Southern University of New Orleans students and will be distributed to the schools to which the students have transferred.

New benefit concert planned in Houston

7:45 p.m.

By Christine Lacoste Bordelon
Staff writer

HOUSTON -– Concert venues from across Houston united Monday to announce another benefit show for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Spearheaded by New Orleans native Louis Messina, founder of the
Houston-based concert promotion company The Messina Group, “ONECountry”
will be held Oct. 1 at Reliant Stadium here. It will be broadcast on the Country Music Television). Tickets go on sale Friday at all Ticketmaster locations.

Headlining the concert will be George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Martina
McBride, Willie Nelson and ZZ Top.

Messina, who won the Academy of Country Music’s “Promoter of the Year” award in 2002 and is a board member of the Country Music Association, said he organized the concert after seeing streets from his childhood
Under water. By reaching out to his friends in the country music industry and in Houston, he thought he could make a significant contribution to the lives of those who had lost everything.

Banking on a sellout of more than 50,000 tickets, Messina estimates that $6 million will be raised at the live event, with hopes to double that amount by contributions through a television broadcast that could reach 80 million viewers.

He said he was elated by the response to his request for donated
services from artists and everyone he contacted. Those who could work
out their schedules did.

“Without hesitation, George Strait and Kenny Chesney agreed to donate
their time,” Messina said. “Their initial reaction was, ‘I’m in.’” Then
came Willie Nelson, Martina McBride, Alan Jackson and ZZ Top.

“They’re friends, but more than that they are good people,” Messina
said. “They are great humanitarians and always give back. That’s why I
enjoy promoting their shows.”

Houston philanthropist and author Carolyn Farb, chairman of the
board of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, is co-chairing the event
with Messina.

“Katrina waved her wand of devastation,” Farb said. “I wanted to be
part of the team that gives hope and helps to rebuild lives in our beloved Gulf Coast.”

The nonprofit Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo donated its services –
use of its production facilities, underwriting crew costs, its staff and volunteers. The rodeo also plans to buy $200,000 in benefit tickets, Chairman Paul Somerville said. Ticket stubs from the ONECountry concert may also be used for a daytime admittance into the 2006 Houston Rodeo Feb. 28-March 19 at the Reliant Center.

SMG, managers of the Reliant Complex, is donating use of its facility, parking, concessions (with Aramark, a food supplier) and all other revenue to ONECountry.

Shea Guin, president and general manager of Reliant Park, said he was
asked why, after the exhaustive days of taking care of Katrina victims at the Reliant Center, would he want to handle another event so quickly?

“The answer to that is all you have to do is walk down … to the
(Astro)Dome and think about what you are doing for the people,” Guinn said.

Guinn considers this effort different from all other benefit concerts
because Houston has been on the front line of the relief effort from the beginning.

“This place has been a beacon for all Louisiana,” Guinn said. “This will be an event that will help those … put their lives back together.”

Ticketmaster also donating 100 percent of its services and ticket
convenience charges to the concert.

While the money raised has not been earmarked, Messina said portions will go to relocated evacuees who remain in Houston, to help rebuild the lives of those returning to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region and to New Orleans musicians.

“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends, neighbors and
businesses in this community and across the country,” Messina said.
“ONECountry symbolizes the way everyone has come together to feed and shelter our neighbors from the Gulf Coast.”

Tickets cost $39.50, $65, $85, $100 and $125 with a limited number of $1,000 VIP packages available. For details, visit or

(Christine Lacoste Bordelon can be reached at

Power restoration takes a life

7:30 p.m.

Kenner bureau
A Kansas electricity worker trying to return power to a Kenner neighborhood was electrocuted Monday afternoon, police said.

The unidentified man worked for Par Electrical, a company contracted by Entergy to help restore electric service that Hurricane Katrina interrupted in southeast Louisiana, said Capt. Steve Caraway, a Kenner police spokesman.

The incident occurred about 5 p.m. behind a residence in the 4000 block of West Loyola Drive. The man had scaled a utility pole using a safety harness and shoe spikes. It’s not known what exactly happened, but a coworker at the scene told authorities he had his back turned to the man when he heard him gasp.

Police arrived to find the man hanging from the pole by his harness. Once they got him down, he was taken to East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, where he was pronounced dead at 5:40 p.m.

UNO hopes to reopen in December

By Ed Anderson
Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE – The University of New Orleans will try to reopen for a short semester starting in December since most of the campus was not flooded, UNO Chancellor Tim Ryan said Monday.

Ryan told reporters that he hopes to get UNO campuses in downtown New Orleans, Jeffreson and St. Tammany parishes and on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish running as soon as possible.

He said UNO will have 500 classes offered online for 120 courses by Oct. 10.

“The University of New Orleans is not only coming back, but it is back,’’ Ryan said.

He said only one-third of the campus was flooded and most of the campus’ classroom buildings were on the two-thirds that was not flooded.

Most the classsroom damages, he said, came from wind or looting, and repairs are under way.

“My personal goal is to have classes on campus before the end of the year,’’ Ryan said.

If that happens, he said, UNO will run a compressed semester of possibly three or four weeks, with those classes lasting three or four hours a day.
Earlier, Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Savoie told a news conference that more than 73,000 of the state’s higher education students, about 30 percent enrolled in public and private colleges, have been displaced by Katrina.

About 8,500 have registered at schools that have not been affected by the hurricane after the first week of announcing the open-door policy.

He said the LSU system has absorbed about 3,400 students, Grambling State University has taken in 50, Louisiana Tech has enrolled 350, McNeese State University has registered 200, Nicholls State University has enrolled 700, Northwest Louisiana State University has taken in 150, Southeastern Louisiana University has registered 1,000, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has enrolled 700, the University of Louisiana at Monroe has enrolled 200, the Southern University System has registered about 1,000 students and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System has enrolled 635.

Savoie said he is not discouraged that only 8,500 of the 73,000 students have enrolled. He said it has only been a week since the open-door policy was announced and many students are still in evacuation centers in and out of the state.

“We hope another 10,000 will enroll in distance learning classes and the mini-semesters,’’ Savoie aid.

Savoie said that 1,200 “displaced faculty members’’ have also been located and may be put to work teaching at the open campuses to accommodate increased enrollments.

William Jenkins, president of the LSU System, said “it has been nothing less than miraculous’’ how the deans and chancellors of the colleges have opened their classes to new students even while housing evacuees and the sick.

He aid that some parts of the LSU Health Sciences Center, which operates a medical complex in New Orleans, are still under “five to six feet of water.’’

Savoie said many of the colleges were also used to house electrical company workers, federal relief workers and law enforcement personnel. Some, like LSU and Southern in Baton Rouge, served as medical units and to house evacuees.

Robin Merrick, a spokeswoman for the Southern University System, said that all of the buildings on the Southern-New Orleans campus near the Lakefront are still under water. The campus is the academic home to 3,600 students.

She did not say when the campus may be back in operation.

Evacuated convicts urged to check in with parole/probation officials

Monday, 7:19 p.m.

By Allen Powell II
River Parishes Bureau

Louisiana Department of Corrections officials are trying to locate more than 13,000 convicts on parole or probation who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and they're asking for public assistance in that effort.

Due to the storm, corrections officials have had to temporarily close four parole and probation districts in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes. As of July, those offices were handling about 13,973 convicts who report to their probation and parole officers on a monthly basis, said Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for the corrections department. That figure also includes 269 registered sex offenders, she said.

The New Orleans East district handles 4,225 convicts, the New Orleans West district handles 3,001, the Jefferson Parish district handles 5,863 convicts and the St. Bernard district, which includes Plaquemines Parish, handles 884 convicts. Louisiana has 22 parole and probation districts.

Laborde said the state does not know exactly how many convicts from each district have been displaced, and noted that convicts from other districts may also have left due to evacuation orders. She said officials want convicts to contact the state by phone to update officials on their location so that the state can set up a regular reporting schedule.

That reporting schedule could include regular phone conversations with corrections officials, visits to parole and probation centers in the convicts’ new location or personal visits from Louisiana correction officials. However, Laborde said the state has not established a definite deadline for when all convicts must notify officials of their new locations.

“Basically we just want to hear from them,” said Laborde, who noted that the state is mostly dependent on convicts and the general public for information. “If they should have been reporting before the storm they should be reporting afterward.”

Laborde said she did not know if those convicts that were prohibited from leaving the state as a condition of their parole or probation would be penalized if they evacuated outside of Louisiana. Laborde said that officials are hoping that the Jefferson Parish district could be operational once power is restored to buildings there and employees are able to return to work.

Individuals on parole or probation or anyone with information about those individuals should contact the Louisiana Department of Corrections at (225) 342-0921, (225) 342-0923, (225) 342-0933 and 1-800-869-2909.

Businesses return to Jefferson

By Rob Nelson
Staff writer

Tossing ruined ceiling tiles into the trash amid the pungent smell of mildew and mold, Dave Beard had a simple reason for returning to his debris-ridden work place Monday.

"I've got to make a living," said Beard, who works for Pemco, a Harvey company that builds power plants for the oil and gas industry. "The sooner we get back on our feet, the sooner we can make some money."

Businesses throughout Jefferson Parish made a firm push to resume commerce on Monday, the first day leaders officially allowed company owners and some of their employees back in the parish in an effort dubbed Operation Jumpstart Jefferson.

Beard endured miles of heavy traffic along U.S. 90 to return to Jefferson Monday morning. Annoyed by officials' efforts to keep him out because he lives in Laplace and had no proof of his Jefferson work address, Beard said he drove around the barricade and made his way to work. There, he found a large hole in the second-story roof, spilling water, debris and mold throughout the building.

Meanwhile, the smell of spoiled chicken wafted through the World of Wings restaurant in the 1600 block of Manhattan Boulevard in Harvey. Co-owners and brothers Kerry Nichols and Koy Nichols spent the day chucking the chickens and cleaning the store, eyeing a reopening later this month.

Koy Nichols praised the speed of Jefferson's rebuilding. "The recovery has been faster than we thought," he said, lamenting, though, the financial difficulty for some of his workers.

"The worst part is that the employees take the hardest hit," he said, adding that his staff depends heavily on tips and hourly wages.

Several business managers said they are still searching for their workers, many of whom fled Hurricane Katrina and are now scattered throughout the country.

At the Heritage Plaza office building in Metairie, Roddy Orgeron, owner of a Mandeville computer consulting company, and two of his buddies hauled several computers and boxes of equipment down 16 flights of stairs. Orgeron's client asked him to retrieve the computers from the office, which had sustained roof and water damage, Orgeron said.

With sweat pouring through his shirt in the powerless building, Orgeron said the insurance company badly needed its computer files. "When everything is flooded, you do what you have to do," he said. "They needed these as soon as possible."

Down the road, in the 3500 block of Veterans Boulevard in Metairie, Sherry Perkins and her husband Ed spent the day cleaning out one branch of their hamburger restaurant, Lee’s Original New Orleans Hamburgers.

While their Metairie house remains flooded, the couple, who sent their children out of town for school, has decided to live in an apartment above the restaurant.

Luckily, the business suffered little damage, Sherry Perkins said. "This is home," she said. "This is our life, these two businesses. As soon as (Sheriff) Harry Lee says Jefferson is unlocked for business, we're ready."

In the meantime, the couple continues to commute from Oakdale, a four hour haul from Metairie.

At Dorignac's Food Center in Metairie, Scott Miller, director of operations, said rainwater spilled into the store from a roof tear, but several workers returned to aid with cleanup.

The damage "wasn't as bad as we thought, and it wasn't as good as we thought," he said, saying the 40-year-store should reopen late next week. Using red spray paint, Miller wrote on plywood covering the store's front windows, "Opening Soon!!"

While retail stores planned reopenings, several banks and savings associations swung open their doors Monday. At a Hibernia branch in the Marrero Shopping Center, Mary Meyers, 68, said she was the first in line at the bank at 8:30 a.m., more than two hours before it opened.

With two armed Army soldiers guarding the door and about 40 people in line about 11 a.m., Meyers said she needed some of her Social Security money to pay bills. Surprisingly upbeat, Meyers said she remains confident in the metro area's upturn. "It'll come back," she said. "It'll bounce back. New Orleans will bounce back too."

Corkscrews, maps in short supply

6:58 p.m., Monday

Business writer

Corkscrews, computer cords, diapers and maps are in short supply in Baton Rouge, thanks to the influx of New Orleanians.

Retailers are accustomed to the usual run on storm supplies – including batteries, water and gas cans - before and immediately after a storm. But the extent of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, coupled with the forced relocation of so many New Orleanians to the state’s capital city, is causing a crush at some Baton Rouge area stores.

One Sprint store just off Perkins Road ran completely out of cellular telephones. The telephone company is experiencing a flood of customers in Baton Rouge and Houma, prompting a run on phones, batteries and car chargers, said Kristin Wallace, company spokeswoman.

At Perkins Hardware on Perkins Road, a sales clerk said keyrings are in short supply after a number of Baton Rouge residents came in to have keys made for houseguests who have evacuated from New Orleans. A sign at the Wal-Mart on College Drive warned consumers that the store was out of housekeys.

To keep store shelves stocked, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is pulling merchandise from as far away as Searcy, Ark., 50 miles north of Little Rock, in addition to trucking in goods from three distribution centers that normally serve the area.

“It’s like Christmas everyday from a customer traffic viewpoint” said
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Sharon Weber. “It’s such an intense time and so
many customers are needing things, not just for a few weeks but to set up house and buy things to donate through churches or the Salvation
Stores that normally operate 24 hours are now closing at 10 p.m. to allow workers to concentrate on restocking shelves, Weber said.

At some Walgreens drugstore locations, customers had to drop-off prescriptions by noon and return after 4 pm. And any orders placed after 12 p.m. couldn’t be retrieved until the next day. Similar waits were required at Rite Aid stores.

“Some locations in the Baton Rouge area are dispensing two, three or four times as many prescriptions as they normally do,” said Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin.

“A lot of evacuees left the area with nothing or have run out of
medication,” Polzin said. “That’s taking a lot of time with the pharmacy staff, trying to contact the doctor and looking up patient history” to figure out what medication is needed, and sometimes dispense an emergency supply, he said.

With so many staffers also evacuated to different cities, Walgreens needs extra help at its 17 area stores, especially pharmacists and pharmacy techs. Sometimes the patient doesn’t know which medication they need so the pharmacist has to play super-sleuth, asking what condition the medication was used to treat and what the pill looked like.

“We’re hoping our Baton Rouge area customers are patient and understand
because of the influx of patients from the New Orleans area” we’re very
busy, Polzin said. The company has stepped up the number and content of
shipments, especially for drugs used to treat chronic conditions such
as diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol.

To process prescriptions faster, Walgreens rolled out a system that allows prescriptions to be scanned into a computer and sent electronically to a store in a neighboring state that isn’t as busy so that workers there can check the customer’s insurance and do the other administrative work required to fill a prescription. Then that store can electronically transfer the approval to the pharmacy that will dispense the medication.

Lines at area post offices, meanwhile, are dominated by people filling out change of address forms and renting post office boxes.

Passenger traffic returns to Armstrong

6:25 p.m.

By Mary Swerczek
Kenner bureau

With legions of armed military personnel roaming the grounds and one concourse still serving as a hospital, Louis Armstrong International Airport reopens Tuesday to commercial passenger traffic for the first time in 16 days.

Only four flights are scheduled, a pair of round trips from Memphis, Tenn., by Northwest Airlines, and Aviation Director Roy Williams predicted only 60 per day by the end of the week. Before Hurricane Katrina struck Aug. 29, Armstrong averaged 350 flights daily.

Williams doesn’t expect normal traffic for another 18 months, largely because New Orleans’ vital national convention business has all but shut down.

"You don't have to lose many of those to lose a significant amount of your traffic," he said Monday. "Nobody knows, even if all the hotels are back in place, people's proclivity to come back."

Many airlines have waived fees and penalties for passengers who want to reschedule flights they had planned before Katrina. Some said they have given passengers refunds for cancelled flights.

"We are currently working with those customers," said spokeswoman Ginger Hardage of Southwest Airlines, the busiest carrier at Armstrong.

Armstrong last saw a commercial passenger flight leave on Aug. 28 at 4:30 p.m. After Katrinia passed the next day, it morphed into a transit point for inbound relief supplies and outbound evacuees and a way station for emergency medical care. Regular cargo traffic resumed Sunday.

But the rows of people on stretchers and in wheelchairs no
longer vie for attention in the lobby outside Concourse D. Soldiers
have replaced the lines of cots with rows of airline passenger chairs in Concourse B, where an estimated 2,000 military personnel had been living. They have now moved into tents in an airport employee parking lot.

Williams said no one knows how many people will be on the first two jets that Northwest brings into Armstrong.

Other airlines are still assessing their resources and demand for New Orleans flights, he said. Among the issues: fuel supplies and security. Southwest, which normally commands 30 percent of the market at Armstrong, flew in 21 employees from Dallas to examine its facilities, Southwest project manager Mark Petteway said.

"Everything looks great here," he said, referring to computers at the ticketing terminals.

Williams said flights in the coming days will attract a combination of people who live in areas with less damage, such as the River Parishes, and people involved in helping southeast Louisiana recover from Katrina and rebuild.

Passenger service couldn't start earlier because of the emergency work that was underway. At one point, Williams said, Armstrong became the busiest airport in the United States.

Altogether, Armstrong evacuated 23,000 people, including 13,000 in one day, said Mike McCormick, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"Imagine this filled with stretchers," he said, pointing at a lobby of soldiers and emergency officials outside Concourse D, still somewhat of a medical center.

As Armstrong sputters back into normal operation, all passenger flights will leave out of Concourses A and B. Concourse D is still used as an evacuation and medical facility, although it hosted only one patient Monday. Concourse C suffered roof damage, Williams said.

The shops and stores in the airport will re-open slowly, with at least one food and one or two gift shops opening Thursday, Williams said.

(Mary Swerczek may be reached at

Insurance will likely cover looting

If you forgot to scribble "Looters Will Be Shot" on your windows before you left town, or if the looters took your threat as a dare, your homeowners insurance is likely to come to your defense.

Major insurance companies such as State Farm Insurance, Allstate and Farmers say that looting during a storm would likely be treated just like ordinary vandalism or theft.

"The term ‘looting’ is not stated in the policy," said Michelle Levy, spokeswoman for Farmers. Although each claim is determined on an individual basis, Levy sees no reason why it wouldn’t be treated like regular plundering.

Bill Mellander, spokesman for Allstate, said looting victims should let their insurance companies know that they were affected by Hurricane Katrina’s unexpected tempest of civil unrest.

"You just need to let your adjuster know that," Mellander said. "Tell them, ‘This is the type of damage I think I see,’ so they can take care of you accordingly."

Clearview Mall readying to reopen

Monday, 6:21 p.m.

Clearview Mall has electricity through 75% of the facility and its anchor stores (Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Sears) are readying to reopen when Jefferson Parish allows residents to return, a mall spokeswoman said. Several food court tenants are also preparing to reopen soon.

Clearview Mall sustained minimal damage from the hurricane, said Joy Patin of Joy A. Patin & Associates. There were a few skylights that were damaged, allowing rain water into the mall, but there was no flooding. The exterior facade of Target was damaged, but plans are underway to make repairs and the store will be accessible upon opening.

Opening dates and store hours will be provided as soon as that information is available. The mall's website is

FEMA to set up camper cities for 200,000

Monday, 6:06 p.m.

By Keith Darcé
Business writer

In an unprecedented undertaking, the federal government is preparing to provide temporary housing for as many as 200,000 people displaced by
Hurricane Katrina for the next three to five years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Housing Area Coordinator, Brad Gair, said Monday.

Work on the first of what will be dozens of mobile home communities around Louisiana will begin this week in the Baton Rouge area, he said.

“It may not be quite on the scale of building the pyramids, but it’s close,” Gair said. “This is big. We’ve never done anything like this.”

He would not say where the new communities would be sited, but said most would be in Louisiana.

In a few cases, the effort will create new towns that will be larger than most towns in the state. The largest evacuee communities could house as many as 25,000 mobile homes and come with their own security force, utilities, government services and even schools.

Smaller clusters of trailers will blend in with surrounding communities.

FEMA is first targeting state parks, recreational vehicle facilities and vacant parcels of all sizes, Gair said. “We’re prepared to set up
temporary housing anywhere in the state.”

Gair couldn’t say how much the housing effort will cost taxpayers.
“This is going to be expensive – clearly the most expensive housing situation that we have ever been involved in,” he said.

The agency’s main goal is to move people into better accommodations than they’re in now. “We are not planning any tent cities for victims,” he said.

The government housing couldn’t come any sooner for Christina Sentmore.
The pregnant mother of three has lived in a shelter in West Baton Rouge Parish since evacuating her home on St. Ferdinand Street in New Orleans
two weeks ago. She hasn’t been able to find an apartment or house in the Baton Rouge area.

Sentmore, who is due to give birth any day, doesn’t want to bring a
newborn child into a shelter that could be filled with germs and illness.

“You don’t know what other people might have,” she said Monday afternoon.

FEMA has gathered more than 6,000 trailers and mobile homes in Louisiana and the agency has contracts with manufacturers to produce up to 500 units each day, Gair said. The agency also might purchase trailers and mobile homes from retailers. “We’ve ordered well over 100,000” units thus far, he said.

The units will be offered first to people still in shelters, he said. But they will be available to those who can’t find housing. State officials will play a primary role in distributing the units.

Initially, the temporary communities will be located throughout the state, wherever land and services are available, Gair said. Over time,
evacuees will be moved closer to their original homes. That means some evacuees could move again before landing in a permanent house.

The water and sewer pipes, roads and electrical wires required for the temporary communities should serve as incentives for cities throughout the state to welcome the new neighborhoods, Gair said. “Many parishes already have plans for future development. This could help get infrastructure that they wanted anyway.”

Keith Darcé can be reached at

Holy Family nuns safely evacuated

All 60 of the Sisters of the Holy Family nuns that had been housed at the motherhouse on Chef Menteur in eastern New Orleans have been safely evacuated, including two 83-year-old nuns-- twin sisters -- who were rescued by the Coast Guard and later flown to El Paso after they insisted on remaining in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina to care for their pets, Sister Sylvia Thibodaux, mother superior, said Monday.
While their colleagues evacuated to the Mary Hill Retreat Center in Alexandria, Canice and Canisius Lastrapes stayed behind to look after a dog, a cat and a bird, Sister Thibodaux said.
After the first floor of the motherhouse flooded, the twins took shelter on the second floor, Sister Thibodaux said.
"They had refused to leave and Sen. Mary Landrieu arranged to get them out,'' the nun said.
After about a week or so in Alexandria, Sister Thibodaux relocated to Shreveport. The other nuns are being housed in cities around the state, mainly Opelousas and Lafayette.
"Everybody's OK,'' Sister Thibodaux said.
Some of the nuns are in Baton Rouge where order's old convent on the grounds of St. Francis Xavier Church will be reopened.
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family, an African American religious order, was founded in New Orleans in 1842.
The nuns operate DeLille Inn, Lafon Nursing Home, Lafon day care center, St. John Berchman Manor, House of the Holy Family School for poverty-stricken children and St. Mary's Academy, an all-girls school which in the mid-1960s moved from its original location on Orleans Avenue in the French Quarter to Chef Menteur Highway.
Sister Thibodaux said she doesn't know the extent of the damage at St. Mary's, but that the school will reopen in the future and "will be revitalized.''
Sister Thibodeaux said some of the nuns who are frail and elderly will not be returned to New Orleans.


Hot-line set up for families of those missing, feared dead

State health officials have set up a toll-free hotline for people seeking information about family members who are missing and feared dead in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The number is 1-866-326-9393.

Randy Lemoine, director of operations for the center, said it is being staffed largely by volunteers and that 1,000 calls have already been received.

Dr. Cheryll Bowers-Stephens, undersecretary of health for the Department of Health and Hospitals, said callers will be asked to provide as much information as possible about their missing loved ones, possibly including DNA samples, to help authorities as they try to identify corpses recovered from the storm.

Mental health and spiritual counseling will also be available at the famly assistance center, and Stephens said the health department is "committed to making this painful process as humane as possible."

Levee repair leaks

Reports of a leak in a levee repair in the London Avenue Canal Monday afternoon caused an increase in chatter on emergency radio frequencies throughout New Orleans, but U.S. Corps of Engineers workers said the overtopped levee was minor and should have little impact on the flooded city.

According to an Army Corps of Engineers official who declined to be named because of Corps media regulations, one of the original breaches in the London
Avenue Canal that caused massive flooding across parts of New Orleans in the wake if Hurricane Katrina began leaking again Monday. He said the spilling occurred not because of a failure in the repair but because a pump was activated at the London Avenue Pumping Station No. 3, causing water in the canal to rise and overtop the repaired section. The pump was shut off until the levee could be shored further, he said.

The ripple of alarm prompted rescue workers from San Diego, stationed along the Washington Avenue drainage canal to mark the water line with spray paint, checking for fast-rising water.

"We're marking the water level to see if it's coming up, because if it is we're going to leave," said Perry Peake, spokesman for California Task Force 8.

There was no noticable increase in the water level.

FEMA meets with St. Tammany officials

Monday, 5:39 p.m.

By Paul Bartels
St. Tammany bureau

Local officials throughout St. Tammany Parish met Monday with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials for a briefing on what the agency can do to help them rebuild their damaged government facilities and infrastructure.

FEMA agents promised the 80 people gathered in the auditorium at Fontainebleu High School near Mandeville that help was on the way but were unable to say exactly when, how much and for how long.

“They’re bringing in people every day,” FEMA public assistance officer Marvin Johnston said.

The initial aid to municipal governments and other public agencies will come in the form of 100 percent payment of expenses for emergency-related work that costs more than their insurance will cover, Johnston said.

This reimbursement category covers tree clearance, debris removal, cleaning out flooded public buildings and the like, and emergency protective measures taken before, during and after the disaster to save lives, protect public health, safety and property.

This financial aid category is good for 60 days after the hurricane devastated much of metro New Orleans, Johnston said, although he and Parish President Kevin Davis said the state is expected to seek an extension.

Officials who haven’t already filed a “request for public assistance” form must do so as soon as possible to get them into FEMA’s computer system, Johnston said. “This is only the first step,” he said.

Parish government and the School Board already have. Many officials Monday were busy filling out the forms and received packets of complicated summary sheets, equipment and truck use allowances and other information.

Field project officers will contact the local agencies later to help them finalize and file actual claims, which Johnston and parish Assistant Chief Administraive Officer Kim Salter said must be as well-documented as possible to guarantee maximum reimbursement.

Johnston also cautioned communities filing for storm debris financial aid against overstating or over-estimating these costs. “I saw one the other day for $22 million” for storm debris removal, he said, indicating such a claim was implausible. He didn’t name the locality.

Anything over $1 million for the “debris removal” subcategory must go to Washington, D.C., for final approval, he said, suggesting that agencies break down projects into smaller sums.

Johnston was unable to say when those project officers would contact the dozens of local agencies but said it would be as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Rodney Hart of the parish Office of Emergency Preparedness at 898-2323 will assist local officials in setting up the meetings.

Representatives of parish agencies, parish government, police, fire and recreation districts and others except Slidell were on hand for the almost 90-minute meeting.

Chief Administrative Officer Reinhard Dearing said at late afternoon the city was never informed of the briefing.

However, 30 FEMA volunteers are supposed to be coming in today to begin work with the city, he said, and set up with computers in City Auditorium to help citizens start filing for disaster relief.

St. Martin's to open Oct. 3

Monday, 5:14 p.m.

St. Martin's Episcopal School will
reopen on October 3, the school announced in a news release Monday.

School officials have toured the campus and
determined that it suffered little damage, the release said.

St. Martin's will offer a full fall semester of
academic work to be completed prior to Christmas so that the spring semester
will begin and end as originally scheduled. During the fall semester,
classes will focus exclusively on academic subjects, and students will attend
school Monday through Friday, as well as on Saturday mornings, the release said.

All returning St. Martin's parents will need to complete a
re-enrollment form that asks for new contact information and a formal indication of a return date (October 3 or spring semester).

St. Martin's will preferentially admit any student from an ISAS
(Independent Schools Association of the Southwest) or Episcopal
school in the New Orleans area without the need for further testing, the school said. Parents of ISAS or Episcopal school students should fill out an application form on-line.

Students that attended non-ISAS or Episcopal schools and who wish to
attend St. Martin's should complete the on-line application and will
need to take an admissions test. St. Martin's will arrange in-house
admission testing and will make an admissions decision as quickly as possible
for those students.

Both of these forms will be available on-line for submission to
Charles Maumus, our Director of Admissions. The school's website is

St. Martin's will offer a winter athletic program, and asks that
players contact Jerry Hernandez, Athletic Director (see website for
contact information).

St. Martin's asks that faculty and staff who have not already done to to contact the school via its website to give their current contact information.

N.O. cyclist becomes guide for Guard unit

Monday, 5:07 p.m.

When word of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction arrived, Kenny Bellau, a
professional racing cyclist from New Orleans, was nearing the end of a
French Guianna tour, the Caribbean answer to the Tour de France.

He finished the race, then raced back to New Orleans, furious about the early
reports of chaos in official efforts to help storm victims, and worried
about his home town.

"The main reason I wanted to come back here was because of all the
confusion I saw on the news,” he said. “I honestly didn’t see anybody
doing the right thing.”

Bellau, 37, a Brother Martin High graduate, arrived two days after
Katrina hit the city and plunged headlong into rescue work. Gathering
acquaintances’ requests for help in locating loved ones, Bellau attached
himself to Alpha Company of the California Army National Guard, working
out of Sophie Wright School on Napoleon Avenue. He offered boat-driving
skills and an intimate knowledge of city streets and neighborhoods.

For most of the last two weeks Bellau has served as the Guard unit’s
native guide, visiting house after house in Uptown and Central City
enclaves, helping pull out survivors.

“He had beads on people in their houses, people who were in need, he
saved us a lot of time,” said Capt. Gerald Davis from the California
unit. “Every day he would come out and take care of us.”

Bellau said he has seen too much death and misery. He is not one to
cry, but has cried every day since he returned to New Orleans.

“These are people’s grandmothers, people’s grandfathers. We pulled a
Mardi Gras Indian out the other day,” he said. “It just hurts to see the
fabric of the city torn apart and know it’ll never be the same.”

Bellau, who is staying in his powerless house on Constance Street
Uptown, is glad that his mother evacuated to Tylertown, Miss., before the
storm, but her eastern New Orleans home is now destroyed. He paddled to
the brick house, on Perelli Drive, a few days ago, finding it filled
with five-plus feet of water, amid so many houses suffering the same fate.

“I was just overwhelmed at the destruction, the totalness of the

Most N.O. property records can be salvaged

5 p.m., Monday

By Greg Thomas
Real Estate writer

Most of the property records in the basement of Orleans Parish Civil District Court are salvageable from flood waters and may be ready to use within the next few weeks, Custodian of Notorial Records Stephen Bruno said Monday.

Stored in the courthouse basement, which took on nearly a foot of water during Hurricane Katrina, moisture was the biggest enemy to property records. Abstractors -- those who conduct the title searches that must take place before a real estate transaction closes -- should have access to them within the next few weeks, Bruno said.

The records include titles, mortgages, conveyances, liens, wills and other documents.

Munters, the Swedish records restoration company hired to preserve the nearly 12 million pages of titles, liens, mortgages and other records, is putting the documents in freeze containers to dry out, Bruno said.

“We dodged the bullet,’’ Bruno said by cell phone, driving back into the city from Florida, where he evacuated from Hurricane Katrina. Bruno and other city officials are seeking a permanent – and safe -- location to keep the records.

“I’ll tell you one thing. They’ll never be stored in the basement of the courthouse again,’’ he said.
Documents stored in the New Orleans Research Records Center on the third floor of the former Amoco buildng at 1340 Poydras St. also survived, but broken windows have left the records threatened by exposure to heat and humidity, Bruno said.

Those records, considered more important from a historical perspective, date back several hundred years and include slave records and land grants from Spanish and French colonial periods that are handwritten in French and Spanish, Bruno said.

Munters is pumping air conditioning into the Research Center through a broken window to dry out the records instead of risking further damage by moving them to a more protected area.

According to Bruno, the building engineer at 1340 Poydras said the structure’s heating and air-conditioning system is relatively intact and that once power is restored, humidity and moisture can be removed from the building.

Bruno is working with Register of Conveyances Gasper Schiro and Recorder of Mortgages Desiree Charbonnet. Both were unavailable for comment Monday as was onsite Munters official Bob Harrison, except to say he thought only a few inches of water entered the basement. Bruno had heard that as much as three feet of water had flooded the basement.

Bruno said that he has made arrangements to store the conveyance and mortgage records at the old Jefferson Parish Courthouse in Gretna once clearance is received from the state fire marshal.

He said that Jefferson Parish Clerk of Courts Jon Gegenheimer was assisting in allowing the relocation and that abstractors could possibly return to work in as little as a few weeks.

Until the records are available, it is virtually impossible to sell or buy a piece of property in Orleans Parish.

“I can’t believe the records weren’t (totally) submerged’’ Bruno said, adding that Munters employees pumped the basement clear and had to work around snakes and other debris in order the remove the books, a process that was still ongoing Monday.

“We are so fortunate,’’ Bruno said.

Funeral arrangements set for Gatemouth Brown

A funeral for Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the world-renowned guitarist, vocalist and longtime Slidell resident, will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 612 Third St., Orange, Texas.

Brown, 81, died Saturday after evacuating ahead of Hurricane Katrina to Orange, Texas, his boyhood home. He had been in declining health for several months, battling emphysema, lung cancer and blocked arteries.

Visitation is Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. at the church. Burial will be in Hollywood Cemetery.

Sparrow Funeral Home in Orange is in charge of arrangements.

Supply distribution points opened

Monday, 4:03 p.m.

State and federal officials have opened 18 distribution points for supplies for Hurricane Katrina victims in 10 parishes in south Louisiana, officials said.

The centers will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the supplies are given away free to victims in need.

“They can drive up and anyone who needs it can get it,’’ said state media coordinator Dana Newsome.

The supplies that are given away include ready-to-eat meals, ice, water, and in some cases, baby kits with diapers and “comfort kits’’ that include personal toiletry items, she said. Newsome said all locations will soon have all items.

The distribution points by parish include:

-Jefferson Parish: Zephyr Stadium parking lot, David Drive and Airline Drive in Metairie; the Alario Center, 2000 Segnette Blvd., Westwego; Sam’s Warehouse, 3900 Airline Drive, Metairie; the Jefferson Parish Correctional Facility in Gretna; Lafitte City Hall, 2654 Jean Lafitte Blvd., Lafitte; the Gretna Police Department, 200 5th St., Gretna; and the Westland Shopping Center, 2500 Williams Blvd., Kenner.

-Plaquemines Parish: the Plaquemines Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, 107 Main St., Belle Chasse, near the Chalmette Ferry Landing.

-St. Bernard Parish: the St. Bernard Office of Emergency Preparedness, 8201 W. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette.

-St. Charles Parish: West Bank Bridge Park, at Interstate 310 and River Road in Luling.

-St. John the Baptist Parish: the St. John Parish Courthouse, River Road, Edgard.

-Terrebonne Parish: the Houma Civic Center.

-Tangipahoa Parish: the Tangipahoa Office of Emergency Preparedness, 206 E. Mulberry St., Amite.

-Washington Parish: Louisiana Technical College, La. 21, Bogalusa.

-Livingston Parish, Livingston Parish Fairgrounds, Iowa and Magnolia streets, Livingston.

-St. Tammany Parish: Intersection of Watts Road and Hickory Drive, Pearl River; Target Store near I-12, 69320 La. 21 Covington; and the old Wal-Mart Store on I-10 Service Road east in Slidell.

-Ed Anderson, Capital bureau.

Bush tours waterlogged city streets

By James Varney
Staff writer

President Bush got his boots on the ground of New Orleans Monday, touring some still waterlogged areas in the 7th Ward and Mid-City before conducting an ad-hoc press conference under the elevated Interstate 10.

Flanked by Mayor Ray Nagin and Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Bush said the federal government is prepared to offer whatever assistance Louisiana's leaders require, but that the design and implementation of the Hurricane Katrina recovery plan would be led locally.

"This great city has ample talent and ample genius to set the strategy, to set the vision," Bush said on the corner of Cleveland and North Claiborne, a spot that until late last week was still under water and where the smell of the septic glop now coating much of New Orleans was noticeable.

"My attitude is this," he said. "The people of New Orleans can design the vision, they can lay out what New Orleans ought to look like in the future and the federal government can help."

Bush deflected criticism of both the federal government's response to Katrina, which has been widely excoriated for its dawdling pace, and notions that the strain the ongoing war in Iraq has put on the armed forces somehow made them inadequate to deal with the nation's worst natural disaster.

In addition, he said the view that race somehow played a role in Katrina's destructive path or its aftermath was faulty.

"The storm didn't discriminate and neither will the recovery effort," he said.

Bush flashed some irritation at the questions about Iraq and insinuations that grossly inadequate planning and initial action had characterized the federal response. Although Bush has acknowledged mistakes were made and promised a full investigation of them, he declined to address the issue Monday.

"There will be plenty of time to play the blame game, and that's what you're trying to do," he told one television reporter.
The day began with a briefing on the USS Iwo Jima, the amphibious assault ship docked behind the Riverwalk mall that serves as the floating headquarters for the federal relief mission. After that, the elected officials, accompanied by military generals and Bush appointees, took a circuitous overland route to Royal Street behind the St. Louis Cathedral where they boarded light mobile tactical vehicles to continue their odyssey.

After taking St. Ann Street and wrapping around the Municipal Auditorium, the trucks lumbered through a handful of 7th Ward neighborhoods, cut over across Esplanade, and then turned down Cleveland. Long time members of the White House press corps said they could not remember the last time they saw the president riding in an open car in an American city, calling the exposed journey nearly unprecedented.

"Well, we don't normally cruise through American cities that have been virtually emptied of people," said one secret service agent in the entourage.

Floodwater in the city, greenish brown and leaving behind inches of thick black slime as they recede, still covered some of the area the president's truck toured, and he, Nagin and Blanco often had to duck to avoid overhead wires.

Following that land trip, Bush returned to the Iwo Jima where he and the top Louisiana officials made another tour of the city in Marine One, the presidential helicopter. As the chopper banked over Metairie and flew low over Lakeview and Gentilly, sunlight bounced off whole swaths of the city that remain inundated. City Park, too, is a watery plain dotted with cypresses and other trees.

Before heading off to the Mississippi gulf coast for the final leg of Bush's visit, the choppers landed at a former Exxon-Mobil office building at the Chalmette refinery. There Bush met for more than an hour with the presidents or representatives of seven parishes. The conversation hinged on specific environmental cleanup tasks, such as the oil spill in St. Bernard Parish that now covers 3.3 square miles, mosquito spraying projects and the like, administration officials said.

Nagin, who seemed upbeat and warm greeting Bush Sunday, was considerably glummer Monday. He said his mood was not the product of dismay with the White House, however.

"I think the president is really focused on the job at hand, and they are really starting to move," Nagin said. "On almost anything that I want to do now, I get a nearly instantaneous response."

Nagin said there did not appear to be any fallout from his famous press conference on Sept. 2 four days after Katrina struck, when he lambasted federal officials for dragging their feet.

"Not at all," he said. "In fact, the president told me he appreciated my frankness and bluntness and I told him I was sorry if anything I said had been treated as disrespectful."

The end of West End

3:51 p.m.

By Michelle Hunter
Staff writer

The West End, for decades a New Orleans dining and drinking playground, might now be the worst end.

Bruning’s historic bar, where generations downed raw oysters, and the porch at Jaeger’s, where crawfish and cold beer accompanied sunsets over Lake Pontchartrain, exist now only as rotting wood piled 20 feet high on the opposite side of the 17th Street Canal near the site of Sid-Mar’s of Bucktown, also laid to waste by Hurricane Katrina. Pilings that once supported restaurants and bars serve as nothing more than seagull perches.

“The old Bruning’s house had been there for a hundred years, and now it’s gone,” said Louis Cochran, 72, who bicycled over to Bucktown with friend Mark Adolph, 49, to check on their boats in the nearby marinas.

The only way into West End for civilians these days is by foot or by bike, across the pedestrian bridge over the canal. Even that can be precarious, for Katrina’s wind and storm surge peeled away some of the bridge’s hand railings.

Cochran and Adolph carefully navigated the dinner plates, flatware and broken wine glasses in the West End parking lot, coated by cracking mud. At nearby Coconut Beach, the once-pristine white sand of the 17-net volleyball complex is now a muddy gray minefield of twisted metal siding, glass and roof material.

The Municipal Marina Yacht Harbor and the boathouses that line its waters fared better, but not by much. Boats and cars are lodged against the oak trees along North Roadway. Cinderblocks and red bricks from the public bathroom near the fishing dock are sprinkled across the roadway along with crab traps that washed ashore from the lake, their prisoners still baking in the sun.

Mike and Gloria Branford, both 50, have visited the area several times since the middle of last week, checking on Boathouse No. 84, their home for almost two years.

None of the boathouses escaped damage, but some are worse off than others. Owners who made recent renovations will have less to repair, Mike Branford said.

But the destruction everywhere is awesome. Many of the structures have collapsed, or their walls are blown away. At the living room of a friend’s home, Gloria Branford pointed out where the floor dropped away, creating a pool of insulation and broken boards.

“On the first day, I was emotionally destroyed,” she said. “I couldn’t talk without crying.”

Remarkably the bars inside many of the boathouses seem intact, their liquor bottles unbroken. Passersby know this without trespassing, for there are no exterior walls.

“There’s something about liquor that doesn’t knock over that easy,” Mike Branford said.

At the Branfords’ boathouse on Breakwater Drive, water swept through the downstairs area, taking with it the wallboards and some personal belongings. But the damage seemed minimal compared to the houses on either side, each seemingly smashed by a wrecking ball.

Mike Branford, a former carpenter turned auto-body mechanic, said he designed his house with storms in mind. Still, the devastation around the marina, the West End and elsewhere in New Orleans is not lost on the couple.

They remember the West End when New Orleans residents flocked to restaurants and clubs such as The Bounty, The Port Hole and Augie’s Delago. The area stagnated for a while, but it seemed to begun a mini-renaissance in recent years with the arrival of The Dock, a restaurant and bar that was using live music to attract a hipper crowd.

Just as the Branfords have gradually become more adamant in the past two weeks about rebuilding their home, they also have begun to hope that life will return throughout the West End. They envision an alternative to the French Quarter, with boardwalks, hotels and other attractions that play up the beauty of the lake.

“This could be a blessing. It has potential,” Mike Branford said.

He stood on the front deck of his boathouse, gazing out onto the lake as if willing the destruction around him to fade away.

“You just can’t look sideways or look back,” he said.

Calif. group rescuing animals in Slidell

By Christine Harvey
St. Tammany bureau

An organization that rescues and shelters animals during times of disaster has set up shop in Slidell, catering to more than 400 pets that have become separated from their owners as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Representatives from Noah's Wish of Placerville, Calif., arrived two days after the storm hit and turned a metal building near Heritage Park that the city uses to store equipment into a makeshift shelter for dogs, cats, birds, snakes and even two baby squirrels who are too young to survive on their own, said Terri Crisp, the organization's founder and director.

As law enforcement officials began the process of searching homes ravaged by flood waters, destroyed by fallen trees or both, they found family pets trapped inside or wandering neighborhoods in search of higher ground, said Capt. Rob Callahan of the Slidell Police Department.

In many cases, people were unable to bring their pets to shelters or hotels, leaving them with few options other than leaving the animals with food and water, and hoping they would be OK. However, no one could have guessed the day before the storm that Hurricane Katrina would become the worst disaster in the nation's history, forcing many people out of their homes for weeks, if not months.

Noah's Wish, which is operating next to the Police Department's command center on Bayou Lane, takes the animals in, photographs them and assigns each a number, Crisp said. Once they enter the "triage" area, the animals are vaccinated by volunteer veterinarians from as far away as Washington, D.C., as well as bathed and groomed in an effort to make them more comfortable after days living in filthy water and mud.

Crisp spoke with members of the city's Office of Animal Control before the storm hit, agreeing to come to Slidell should the organization's services be needed. When she could not make telephone contact with the office the day after the storm, Crisp said she and her staff flew to Houston, then drove the rest of the way.

The Animal Control office received 5 feet of water during the storm and has since been condemned, she said.

As of late Friday, Noah's Wish was housing 417 animals.

The animals each have their own cage, along with ample supplies of food and water. They are being tended to by as many as 125 trained volunteers a day and kept cool by large fans located throughout the building.

The organization also has food and other supplies, such as collars and leashes, available at no cost to residents who have remained in or returned to the city, but don't have money or access to a pet store, Crisp said.

Crisp urged residents who may have returned but can't find their pets to come to Noah's Wish and take a look around, as the shelter does not have phone service. If their pets are not there, Noah's Wish is asking residents to fill out a lost animal form, which will enable volunteers to match pets with their owners as they come into the shelter.

The organization already has reunited several pets with their owners, including one man who stood on a chair in his Slidell home for three days in 5 feet of water, his beloved cat in one hand and a two-way radio in another, only to be told once rescued that the cat couldn't come along, Crisp said.

Bill Harris, 59, suffers from chronic kidney failure and had to be rushed to a hospital in Hattiesburg, Miss., after his rescue, she said. However, a television news crew learned of his plight and contacted Noah's Wish for help on the man's behalf.

Volunteers searched the neighborhood for "Miss Kitty,'' which meowed to keep her owner awake during the ordeal, finding her eight days after the man was rescued, Crisp said. The two were reunited Friday after a Canadian volunteer and an animal control worker drove the cat 70 miles to Harris in his hospital room.

Noah's Wish is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information about the organization, visit

Christine Harvey may be reached at

Ready to serve

Broussard’s, one of the French Quarter’s oldest restaurants, is ready and anxious to reopen, owner and chef Gunter Preuss said Monday.
“We’re ready to roll, said Preuss. “We’re waiting on water and electricity.’’
Broussard’s, 819 Conti St., first opened in New Orleans in 1920.

LSU medical schools relocate to Baton Rouge

By Ed Anderson
Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE – An estimated 1,600 students at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Centers will be going to class at a variety of buildings in Baton Rouge starting Sept. 26, school officials announced Monday.

Medical Center Chancellor Dr. John Rock said the entire medical education complex had been hit hard by flood waters and now lacks power.

The complex has been moved to a variety of sites in Baton Rouge, including the LSU campus, the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, the LSU Agriculture Center, Baton Rouge area hospitals, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Rock said at least seven of the LSU buildings in New Orleans were damaged by winds and waters.

Rock also described the research losses as “gigantic’’ but said federal agencies and other universities have offered help to preserve some medical research projects.

Dr. Larry Hollier, who was chairman of the Department of Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City when terrorist crashed two jets into the World Trade Center four years ago, said the medical school has lost 8,000 research animals -- rats, mice and rabbits -- in Katrina.

The medical complex consist of medical, dental, nursing, allied health, public health and graduate schools.

Hollier said the shift to Baton Rouge was necessitated by a lack of power and flooding of one to two feet of water in some of the buildings.

“The LSU Health Sciences Center trains most of the health professionals in Louisiana,’’ he said.

He said another 1,000 medical students are in medical rotations in the various state charity hospitals and will continue those rotations at public hospitals that are not affected by Katrina, or at private facilities.

Hollier said he is optimistic that all the medical center operations can shift back to New Orleans for the semester starting in January.

“We will be here (in Baton Rouge) for at least one semester,’’ Hollier said. “We hope to return to New Orleans as the infrastructure returns,’’ Rock said.

Rock said medical students and faculty members have been notified of the change of venue for the classes and all will be located in housing in the Baton Rouge area. He said all housing problems should be resolved by the time classes start in two weeks.

“We feel confident we can work that out in the next couple of weeks,’’ Rock said.

Hollier said that about 125,000 patients who were being treated by the medical center’s doctors are now in Baton Rouge.

“We are now setting up temporary practices in hospitals in Baton Rouge,’’ said Hollier, a native of Crowley.

Hollier said only three medical students have transferred to other medical schools instead of going to classes in Baton Rouge.

Hollier said patients who are treated by LSU doctors can call 1-800-613-7865 to reconnect with their health care providers; patients treated at Charity Hospital and University Hospital in New Orleans can contact their physicians at 1-800-735-1185.

WWL radio talk-show host succumbs to cancer

By Dave Walker
TV columnist

New Orleans radio talk host David Tyree died early
Monday of prostate cancer.

Originally diagnosed with the disease in 1996, Tyree
suffered a relapse last fall and later left his job at
news-talk WWL 870 AM to live and seek treatment near
family in Alva, Okla.

“They were very close, watched him, tended to him
daily,” said Jack Savoie, Tyree’s producer at WWL. “I
talked to David at least twice a week. He always put
on a brave face. He was tough to the very end.”

A Vietnam veteran and former TV anchorman in
Lafayette, Tyree had done an earlier stint as WWL talk
host and was working as a reporter at WVUE-Channel 8
and as a talk host at WGSO radio when he was first
diagnosed with cancer.

He became a crusader for early detection. After
treatment and delivered what he described as a “clean
bill of health” by his doctors, Tyree eventually
returned to the airwaves, first in Baton Rouge in
September 1999 and then, in December 2000, at WWL.

At WWL, Tyree established himself as a
hard-to-categorize talk host. A hawk on the war in
Iraq (or, more precisely, a hawk on the overall war on
terror), Tyree leaned less rightward on many social

He was a tireless proponent of New Orleans and its
frequently-confounding charms.

"Anybody who knows New Orleans has a love-hate
relationship with New Orleans,” Tyree told the
Times-Picayune on the occasion of his 2000 return to
WWL. “It can drive you crazy, it can be infuriating,
but there's no place like it in the country. It's got
that magic, whatever that magic is."

Former WWL-Channel 4 anchorman Garland Robinette, one of several temp hosts to fill in for Tyree during the early stages of his relapse,
became Tyree’s permanent time-slot replacement in May.

At the time, WWL managers said they would hold a job
for Tyree until he recovered, a promise Robinette made
a condition of his own employment at the station.

According to Jay Mitchel, Tyree was glued to
television coverage of Katrina and the storm’s
aftermath, and spoke by phone with several Louisiana

Several family members watched Sunday’s New Orleans
Saints victory with Tyree.

“That was the last thing he got to see before he
passed,” Mitchel said. “He was surprised that they
won, but he was happy.”

Diane Newman, WWL program director, said she last
spoke with Tyree as Hurricane Katrina approached the
Louisiana coast.

“All he cared about was that I was OK and that
everybody else here was OK and how sorry he was that
he couldn’t be here (on the air),” said Newman, whose
station was forced from the city by Katrina and has
relocated its base of operations in Baton Rouge. “And
I know these past two weeks, all David was thinking
about was not his cancer and his dying – he was
thinking about us.

“God didn’t create a better human being.”

Tyree's funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at
the Marshall Funeral Home in Alva.

Instead of flowers, Tyree’s family requests a donation
to the American Red Cross relief fund to aid Hurricane
Katrina victims.

TV columnist Dave Walker can be reached at

45 bodies found at N.O. hospital

Monday, 2:29 p.m

By Steve Ritea
Staff writer

Recovery workers last week extracted the bodies of 45 patients
who died at Memorial Medical Center's Baptist campus during Hurricane
Katrina and its aftermath, officials said.

And a witness of the hospital's first days after the storm described a nightmarish scene of staff struggling to the keep frail and elderly alive as waters rose outside and looters tried to break inside.

"You could smell death," said Command Sgt. Major Earl Hackney of the
Army National Guard. "But it wasn't as bad as the floodwaters."

Despite horrendous, desperate conditions, hospital staff struggled to
afford the dead any shred of dignity available, moving at least a
dozen into a chapel and covering each with a blanket or placing them
in body bags.

"Everything was done to protect the remains," Hackney said, adding
that security workers remained at the hospital until Thursday or
Friday of last week to protect bodies that were scattered all over the
hospital, some who had been brought to the top floors in hopes they
could be rescued by helicopter.

Mary Carstens, a New Orleans resident who evacuated to the hospital
with her husband, a computer systems contractor there, described
"heroic" efforts by staff to keep patients alive.

"Nurses stayed up all night, literally, fanning patients with paper or
pieces of cardboard just to keep them cool. There were older people
lying on the floor on mattresses or right on the floor. Others were
manually giving them oxygen for hours at a time," she said, describing
the resuscitation bags that were used.

Generators stopped working Tuesday, leaving the building
completely without electricity, darkening the already hot and humid
hospital until it was almost unbearable to be inside, she said.

Outside the abandoned hospital Monday, shards of broken glass sat in
receding pools of dark, fetid water. The ramp that sidles up to the
hospital's emergency room was littered with tell-tale signs of the
tragedy: abandoned gurneys, surgical masks, latex gloves, bags of
intravenous fluid and an oxygen tank resting inside an inflatable

Department of Health and Hospitals spokesman Bob Johannessen confirmed
that the bodies of 45 patients at the hospital, excluding any found in
the morgue, were recovered late last week.

Bill Berry, a spokesman for the Houston-based Kenyon Company, which is
assisting with the recovery of bodies, said although the largest
numbers of bodies are being found in hospitals and nursing homes, the
death toll at Baptist is among the highest he has heard.

Saints to play four games in Baton Rouge, three in San Antonio

Monday, 2:15 p.m.

NFL commissioner Paul Taglaibue announced Monday that the hurricane-displaced New Orleans Saints would split their home games between Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and the Alamodome in San Antonio.

The Saints will play four games in Tiger Stadium, starting with the Nick Saban-led Miami Dolphins on Oct. 30, the Chicago Bears on Nov. 6, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Dec. 4 and the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 18.

The Saints will play three games in the Alamodome, starting with the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 2, the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 16 and the Detroit Lions on Dec. 24.

The Saints' first home game, scheduled for Sunday at the Superdome against the New York Giants, already had been moved to Monday night at Giants Stadium. The Saints won their season opener Sunday at Carolina, 23-20.

Saints owner Tom Benson reiterated his commitment to the area.

"I don't want to leave Louisiana," he said after a press conference at Tiger Stadium.

La. death toll now 279

The state Department of Health and Hospitals said today Louisiana's death toll from Hurricane Katrina now stands at 279. That figure, which comes from statistics reported by local coroners to state officials, includes 242 bodies at the metrowide morgue at St. Gabriel, three bodies in St. Charles Parish, 25 bodies in Jefferson Parish, six bodies in St. Tammany Parish and three bodies in New Iberia Parish.

Trauma specialist to work with teachers

Southeastern Louisiana University will host today and Tuesday a trauma expert from Hofstra University in New York who will discuss with local teachers, student teachers and Southeastern faculty ways of helping children deal with disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Denny Taylor is currently working to establish an international organization, “Teachers Helping Teachers,” to raise awareness of the trauma experienced by children who are victims of crises such as this.

Dr. Taylor’s schedule includes:

Monday (Sept. 12) Meeting with Livingston and East Baton Rouge teachers
4 – 6 p.m. Livingston Parish Literacy Center, Walker (Hwy. 190)

Tuesday (Sept. 13) Meeting with area school counselors
9 a.m. Livingston Parish Literacy Center, Walker

noon Meeting with Southeastern faculty
Southeastern Teacher Education Center, KIVA room

Causeway remains closed to public

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway remained closed to the public Monday, a
week after storm-related repairs were made to the 24-mile bridge.

General Manager Robert Lambert said the bridge remains dedicated to
emergency personnel, including military, police, utility trucks and other
crews. This week, Jefferson Parish business owners who secured entry
permits were also given access to the bridge linking Mandeville and Metairie.

Lambert said he’s in daily contact with Jefferson Parish officials to determine when to open the bridge to the public.

“I don’t think that’s too far down the road, but I don’t have any timetable,” he said.

Boh Bros. wrapped up work to both ends of the southbound bridge last week,
restoring small sections of limestone and concrete that were eroded by Hurricane Katrina’s tidal surge. For several days, Causeway police routed
southbound traffic on a crisscross path over sections of both bridges.

“We removed the detours last week,” Lambert said. “Of course we’re
quite proud we got that done in such a short time.”

-- Meghan Gordon,

Organ donor program crippled by storm

LAFAYETTE - Hurricane Katrina has "truly crippled" the Metairie-based Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, according to Executive Director Kelly Ranum, who says that time is running out for the 1,600 Louisianians who are among the 88,000 Americans awaiting life-saving transplants.

With the majority of its staff displaced and phone and Internet communications wiped out at the heavily damaged Causeway Boulevard organ placement center, the federally-designated donor program for Louisiana is seeking funds to get back into business with its recently established LOPA Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, which will help finance temporary operations in LOPA's regional offices in Lafayette and Shreveport.

"The harsh reality is that we lost more than we can replace," said LOPA IT manager Peter Ladd. "I'm sure that in time insurance and FEMA will help us rebuild, but that time will be too late for the person who needs a heart or liver transplant today."

With initial assistance in restoring communications equipment from Cisco Systems - whose vice president, Mike Quinn, is a transplant recipient - the organization still has "a critical need" to rebuild its resources, Ladd said. "Our patients are still dying."

Last week, LOPA was able to process only two donors - who nonetheless saved six lives, Ladd said. "With our placement center communications back up and running, that number will increase dramatically."

"The relief fund is not meant to just serve as as a bridge for us to operate the business," said executive director Ranum. "It also will support the men and women of this agency who make life happen for people everyday. Without our staff, we simply won't exist."

Contributions can be sent to the LOPA Hurricane Relief Fund, 301 Kaliste Saloom Road (Suite 101), Lafayette, La. 70508. For more information contact LOPA at (337) 269-7044 or at

- Suzanne Stouse

Archdiocese to meet with parents of displaced Catholic school students

Monday, 10 a.m.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans will hold a meeting with the parents of displaced Catholic school students Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Catholic Life Center auditorium, 1800 South Acadian Thruway, Baton Rouge.

The archdiocese also announced that a high school will be offered for about 1,000 displaced students on the campus of St. Michael the Archangel High School, 17521 Monitor Ave., Baton Rouge. The students will attend late-afternoon and evening classes, according to the archdiocese Web site at

John Serio, the principal of Archbishop Hannan High School, was named the administrator of the new school program at St. Michael the Archangel. For information, call the (225) 242-0220.

Business owners may be allowed limited access to CBD

New Orleans Police Department said Monday any business owner who wants a temporary permit to do emergency work or recover essential property in the Central Business District only, should call (504) 599-5541 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

St. Bernard Parish meeting to be held at State Capitol

Monday, 7:15 a.m.

Due to overwhelming interest, the St. Bernard Parish government has moved the location of a public meeting planned for today. The meeting will be held at 2 p.m. at the Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge, with the room number posted in the Capitol lobby.

The St. Bernard Parish Council, Parish President Henry “Junior” Rodriguez and Sheriff Jack A. Stephens will discuss the conditions of the parish after Hurricane Katrina, the status of clean-up efforts, plans for the return of residents and information on aid available to hurricane victims, according to the parish government Web site at