Feds question Nagin's plan to repopulate New Orleans

Saturday, 6:23 p.m.

Maj. John Thomas, a spokesman for the federal government’s Hurricane Katrina recovery effort, said federal officials are concerned with the timeline proposed by Mayor Ray Nagin to repopulate the city, which would begin Monday with a return to Algiers and then continue Wednesday with a return to parts of Uptown. Nagin's administration has already backed off on the timetable, saying it would take a wait-and-see approach for the schedule after Monday.

“What’s important to understand is that conditions are, in many cases, inhospitable,” he said. “It’s not like it used to be. People need to be aware of the safety and health hazards.”

Thomas could not specify a date when residents could safely return to the city, except to say that it would be best for them to come back “later rather than sooner.” However, he also stressed that federal officials were not trying to discredit Nagin’s plan but merely to promote public awareness.

“This is not working against our local and state officials and what they’re trying to do,” he said. “It’s working to support them.”

Blanco speaks to nation in radio address

Saturday, 6:09 p.m.

By Laura Maggi
Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE – Gov. Kathleen Blanco was tapped to deliver the Democratic Party’s weekly radio address Saturday, using the national forum to thank people around the country for their generosity to Louisiana citizens in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Blanco said the state is expecting to bring back residents who have been scattered across the nation – an exodus that some have called the greatest U.S. population shift since the end of the Civil War.

“Accept our thanks and hear our resolve: We will bring our people home as soon as we can,” she said. “We need and want our people back.”

While the Democratic address is often a counterpoint to President Bush’s weekly radio address, Blanco used her time to thank the president for his pledge to commit the federal government to rebuilding New Orleans.

“We are prepared to work as partners. Some issues reach beyond party,” said Blanco, who has been critical of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the weeks since the storm struck. “In the face of the human tragedy, which lies behind us, and the task that lies ahead of us, there is no room for partisan politics.”

Blanco and Bush both touched on many of the same issues in their radio addresses as in speeches given early this week, with the president explaining the programs he has proposed to help bring residents and businesses back to the devastated Gulf Coast.

“Our reconstruction efforts will be guided by certain principles: When cities are rebuilt, those cities should have many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses,” Bush said. “When houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses.”

Bush also sounded a theme of faith-based optimism that has replaced the earlier finger-pointing and pessimism that colored the earliest days of the strategy.

“In the life of our nation, we have seen that wondrous things are possible when we act with God’s grace,” Bush said. “From the rubble of destroyed homes we can see the beginnings of vibrant new neighborhoods. From the despair of lives torn asunder, we can see the hope of rebirth. And from the depth of darkness we can see a bright dawn emerging over the Gulf Coast and the great city of New Orleans.”

Universities and colleges suffer damage

Saturday, 5:16 p.m.

By Coleman Warner
Staff writer

A tattered American flag was tacked to a thin plank of wood just inside the door of Delgado Community College’s main administration building, a hurricane relic that soldiers from the Oregon National Guard plucked from a tangle of storm debris.

The shredded flag could serve to symbolize the blow suffered by several campuses that are beginning to restore crippled physical plants. Preliminary assessments of damage to campus buildings, equipment and lab materials has set the stage for a historic request of as much as $5 billion in federal aid.

Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie said Saturday that congressional staffers are working out the details but that the request should be introduced in Congress as soon as Monday. Savoie said the total is “subject to all sorts of strategic decisions they’re going to have to make.” In addition to rebuilding damaged buildings, the money would be used for scholarships, faculty stabilization, economic development and to restore damaged research, Savoie said.

To fine-tune the damage assessment, “we’re hoping to have people on site this week looking at all those campuses,” Savoie said.

But in interesting ways, despair over the havoc wrought among institutions so important to New Orleans’ economy and culture is giving way to optimism that the storm may have provided an opportunity. College and university leaders meeting regularly in Baton Rouge as part of the higher education response team have begun talking about how wise use of federal aid could ultimately strengthen the institutions, Savoie said.

“There’s a growing sense of opportunity; people are thinking of ways they can improve their circumstances,” he said.

Last week, conditions at several campuses appeared grim. A sheen of white and brown muck marked building windows and was cracking in the
sun.

Floodwaters covered two-thirds of the Tulane University’s Uptown campus between Freret Street and South Claiborne Avenue, to depths of three or four feet in many places. The brackish water tossed debris about a baseball stadium that was under renovation, ruined virtually all of the university’s vehicle fleet and spilled into the basement of Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, where a world-famous jazz music archive is stored, officials said. The university hired a document salvage firm, but it was unclear Saturday how much of the archive will be saved. Much of the campus was strewn with large tree limbs.

“We’re going to be buying a lot of stuff,” said Senior Vice President Yvette Jones. “We’re moving quickly.”

Floodwaters still covered most of the Southern University at New
Orleans campus Wednesday, the first day anyone representing SUNO could access the property near the Lakefront to check on its condition,
interim Chancellor Robert Gex said. There were reports of water as deep as 14 feet around the campus after the storm, and by Wednesday the receding water was still an inch deep in the administration building. A state damage assessment team hadn’t yet begun its work, he said.

“In every building, some damage has taken place. We need people to look at foundations and things,” he said Thursday. “It’s been hard on everybody. We’re trying to make the best of the situation.”

At the University of New Orleans, floodwaters at some point covered about a third of the Lakefront campus, mostly on its south and west sides, invading the first floor of a dorm and the city’s premier high school, Ben Franklin, at the edge of the college campus. But “most of the academic buildings didn’t have water,” Chancellor Timothy Ryan said. Still, he estimated that building repair and equipment replacement needs will top $100 million.

Storm refugees brought from rooftops by helicopter to open ground at UNO broke into many buildings and spent days on campus, with the bulk of them, 1,500 or more, apparently sleeping at Kirschman Hall, a new multi-story business complex, Ryan said.

“Apparently there was some miscommunication, because they were left there for several days,” Ryan said, adding there was “some substantial damage done, but reparable damage.” Some of the displaced residents apparently broke into soft drink machines, he said.

Cleanup workers on Wednesday said they found human feces and mounds of trash inside the business hall, and more than 100 chairs from the building had been dragged out and left in a grassy field.

“For somebody to have that much trash in there, it had to be a whole, whole bunch of them,” said Ricky Burch, director of a private cleanup crew hired by UNO. “It looked like Mardi Gras inside.”

Xavier and Dillard universities, both hit hard by what appeared to be at least a few feet of flooding on ground floors, were strewn with tree limbs and other debris last week. Damage at Xavier, near South Carrollton Avenue and the Pontchartrain Expressway, had yet to be formally assessed, Savoie said.

In addition to flood damage, Dillard lost three buildings to fire, said Savoie, who did not know which buildings burned. A drive past the campus suggested that the stately buildings along Gentilly Boulevard had been spared. But dried muck and downed tree limbs across much of the campus gave it a look of devastation.

Dillard and Xavier officials weren’t immediately available for comment.
“Dillard requires significant cash investments from alumni, government,
foundations, corporations and friends to restore the physical facilities and infrastructure, equipment and academic instructional materials,” Dillard’s Web site says. “We are dedicated to the success of our students and the entire Dillard community, and all of us eagerly await our return to fair Dillard.”

Floodwaters invaded ground-floor medical facilities of Tulane
University and Louisiana State University in the Central Business District, damaging records, killing laboratory animals and disrupting hundreds of research projects, Savoie said. Money for shoring up such research projects will be sought from Congress, he said.

Nunez Community College in Chalmette, part of a swath of destruction caused by storm surge in St. Bernard Parish, saw six to seven feet of water on the bottom floors of its four buildings, spokeswoman Teresa Smith said. Some of the buildings also sustained roof damage, and mud from the storm waters filled parking lots, one of which was littered with marooned boats. A damage assessment for Nunez was incomplete last week.

Delgado received some flooding on the back sections of the City Park campus, and soldiers from the Oregon National Guard found in the main administration building trash that appeared to have been left behind by a small colony of storm refugees. But the unit, which had more than 240 soldiers camped out at the campus, found no major damage or evidence of looting, said its spokesman, Sgt. 1st Class Cameron Hanson.

“I’ve only seen one broken window, and that was from a bullet hole,” he said.

Using Delgado equipment, the Oregon soldiers mowed the lawn.
Other than minor wind damage, Our Lady of Holy Cross, located in
Algiers, and Loyola University, off St. Charles Avenue Uptown, were left relatively unscathed by Katrina, officials said. Serving as the headquarters for Texas National Guard units, Loyola benefited from its location on the river side of Freret Street, avoiding the water damage that will require months of repair at neighboring Tulane.

10 makeshift hospitals operating in Jefferson

Saturday, 5:12 p.m.

By Rob Nelson
Staff writer

Doctors and nurses moved swiftly around the room, some taking temperatures or monitoring blood pressure, others providing canned water for a steady stream of patients.

There were boxes of equipment, prescription drugs, a gurney and even a seating section for those awaiting a word with doctors.

It had all the feel of a typical hospital, with one glaring exception: the action was taking place in the cafeteria of Westwego Elementary School.

As part of a FEMA-run initiative dubbed "Operation
Lifeline Depot," 10 sites throughout Jefferson Parish are being used as makeshift hospitals where residents can receive free, walk-in medical service, including vaccinations, drug refills and care for minor injuries.

The depots have been running for about two weeks and might end sometime next week as local hospitals come back on line, officials said.

Kelly Hudson, a FEMA spokeswoman, said Jefferson Parish President
Aaron Broussard initiated the idea so residents who did not evacuate could still receive care.

"This is the largest-scale event I've ever been a part of," said Mike Millin, a doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore who is running the depot.

He and several workers on his 20-member staff, including many from Johns Hopkins, volunteered to work in Louisiana and expected to find heavy trauma cases when they arrived.

Instead, the more than 700 residents who have come through the depot have seen more basic needs such as treatment for hypertension and diabetes and prescription drug refills, Millin said.

In addition to medical attention, some residents, still traumatized or stressed by the storm, are looking for something beyond medicines and X-rays, he said. "They need the human touch," Millin said.

The centers are generally open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and transportation is available to area hospitals for more serious cases, Millin said. Overall, the centers have served about 3,500 residents since Sept. 7.

Westwego resident Robert Kennedy, who rode out the storm in the city because his mother refused to evacuate, called the center a blessing. He said he has not been feeling well the past several days and came to the depot Saturday to have his blood pressure and blood sugar checked.

"It's great," he said. "It's good for the community. It gives people somewhere to go. Some people say (FEMA) didn't come in fast enough, but better later than never."

Sitting at a table waiting to be seen by a nurse, Edward Matherne said his evacuation to New Iberia forced him to go without his blood pressure medication for three weeks. A friend told him about the depot when he returned to town Friday.

"It's great," he said, moments before his name was called. "People need their medication."

Meanwhile, inside the recreation center near Belle
Terre Playground in Marrero, further recovery efforts bustled. The center has been turned into a headquarters for FEMA officials, U.S. marshals and firefighters from around the country.

More than 500 firefighters voluntarily came to Louisiana to help, including roughly 40 in Jefferson Parish.

Many spent the first few days after the storm helping with search and rescue efforts throughout the region.

Once those frantic days ended, the firefighters turned their attention to community outreach, traveling door-to-door with fliers containing FEMA information as well as supplies of food and water. They answered residents' questions and, in some cases, also provided minor medical care that officials believe saved nearly 20 lives in the first days after Katrina.

With a smaller number of firefighters, those efforts will continue as most Jefferson residents return home, but will eventually be disbanded as FEMA establishes disaster recovery centers throughout the area.

"Whatever the immediate need was, that's what we did," said Idaho firefighter Shane Arak, referring to his first few days in Louisiana. "This is history. This is what we do for a living."

The enormity of the disaster struck Marc Maiello, a colleague of Arak's from Idaho. "You can't grasp it until you are in it and it hits all of your senses," he said. "You have to walk through it. You have to smell it. It just leaves you with a numb, sober feeling."

The other nine depot locations are as follows:
Ames Elementary School, 500 Pine St., Marrero
Lincoln Elementary School, 1429 Ames Blvd., Marrero
Herbert Wallace Fire Station, Highway 90, Avondale
St. Ville Elementary School, 1121 Pailet St., Harvey
Woodmere Fire Station, Destrehan Ave., Marrero
AP Clay Resource Center, 200 Decatur St., Kenner
Shrewsbury Community Center, 1121 Causeway Blvd., Metairie
Dorothy Watson Community Center, Myrtle Drive, Metairie
Lincoln Manor Gym, 31st St., Kenner

St. Bernard residents get first look

Saturday, 5:08 p.m.

By Paul Rioux
St. Bernard/Plaquemines bureau

The once-tidy cottage on Lebeau Avenue in Arabi had been
home to five generations of Susan Probst’s family, from
her grandparents to her 9-year-old grandson.
So Probst made sure she was among the first in line
Saturday at dawn when St. Bernard Parish officials
allowed residents in her neighborhood to return and
salvage the few possessions that Hurricane Katrina had spared.

Despite dire warnings about the devastation
throughout the parish, Probst and her husband, Tony,
held out hope and had even rented a small moving van
to haul away their possessions.
But that all changed with one glimpse through the
home’s windows.

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” she screamed as she fell to
her knees and her words dissolved into a piercing
wail.

The refrigerator lay in the middle of the
kitchen floor, surrounded by slimy muck. The living
room was a jumbled mess of mildewed furniture tossed
about by floodwaters that had nearly reached the tops
of doorways. Mold was spreading on the walls and
ceilings.

Once she gathered herself enough to go inside, Probst
discovered more heartbreak. Her
collection of Mickey Mouse memorabilia was destroyed,
and the water had smeared the ink on scores of
pictures of her five grandchildren, blurring their
faces so she couldn’t recognize them.

“I tried to prepare myself for what I might see, but I
never imagined this,” she said. “Maybe I was just
trying to fool myself.”

“Looks like we won’t be needing the truck after all,”
Tony Probst said.

Similar scenes played out throughout Old Arabi as
about 300 carloads of residents returned to the
parish Saturday to see what they could salvage. Most
left virtually empty handed.

“People are shocked by what they’re seeing and this is
the least impacted area,” Sheriff Jack Stephens said.
“It’s only going to get worse.”

In the coming days, residents will be allowed to
return in stages to other areas of the devastated
parish, where virtually all 27,600 homes flooded,
including hundreds that were simply washed away in
eastern St. Bernard.

On Saturday, warped doors and jammed locks forced many
residents to break into their own homes.
Residents wore masks, rubber gloves and knee-high boots as they
dragged moldy furniture to the curb. Soggy photo albums and other
valuables were delicately placed into plastic bags.

Mary Ann Hoover, 79, insisted on personally inspecting
the damage to the Friscoville Avenue home, where she
has lived for more than 50 years.
“She’s got things stashed away in there that only she
knows how to find,” said her son, Jesse Hoover.

Wearing a flowered shirt and matching slacks, Mary Ann
Hoover donned a white mask and green rubber gloves.
She then shuffled toward her side door past a
refrigerator filled with rotten food.
“Good thing I lost my sense of smell,” she said.

“What in the world is that?” she said, looking at a
large mold-covered object in her
darkened living room.
“That used to be your coffee table,” Jesse Hoover
said.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said.

Authorities have estimated that 75 percent or more of
St. Bernard’s homes will have to be razed.
Parish Councilman Craig Taffaro said an informal poll
of residents returning to the 800-home Old Arabi
neighborhood suggested that six out of 10 don’t plan
to rebuild.

Even so, Councilman Mark Madary, whose district
includes Arabi, said he saw some encouraging signs.
“It was uplifting to see people cleaning out their
homes,” he said. “The rebirth of St. Bernard depends
on people coming back. And like childbirth, it ain’t
always going to be a pretty sight.”

Carol Becnel said she can’t imagine rebuilding her
shotgun in the 300 block of Angela Drive, which took
on precisely 36 2/3 inches of water, according to her
husband’s tape measure.

“I spent the first half of my life renovating this
house. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life
doing it all over again,” she said, holding back tears.
“I try not to cry because if I start, I might never
stop.”

Displaced from the close-knit parish where people
pride themselves on looking out for each other, Becnel
said she has had to rely on the kindness of strangers:
The waitress in Houma who tore up their dinner bill
when she heard their house had flooded. The woman who
offered to replace the shoes Becnel bought for her
son’s wedding next month. Even the postal clerk who
handed her a phone book brought tears to her eyes.

“I wish I was the one being kind,” she said. “I don’t
like being on the receiving end, but God is working
through these people.”
Children were conspicuously absent from Saturday’s
recovery efforts, which took on the feel of a reunion
as neighbors spoke to one another for the first time
since before the Aug. 29 storm.

For safety reasons, parish officials had urged
residents to not bring their children.
Brenda Schaubhut, whose recently restored shotgun
double was ruined by the storm, left her two children
with friends at a Shreveport hotel.
She said they are doing well and have treated the
family’s evacuation, including a week at a makeshift
shelter in Chalmette, as an adventure.
Mallory, 7, told her grandmother how they “got” to
sleep on cardboard at the shelter. And Dylan, 5, was
thrilled by the sight of helicopters buzzing over New
Orleans as the family was evacuated on a crew boat up
the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge.

But Schaubhut said the children’s resilience is being
stretched thin as the days have turned into weeks.
“Dylan just about broke my heart the other day when he
asked me, ‘Does Santa Claus come to hotels?’ ’’ she
said.

Causeway set to open Monday

Saturday, 4:41 p.m.

The Causeway will be open for public access Monday at 5 a.m., said Robert Lambert, general manager with the Causeway Commission.

Previously, the commission had restricted access to the bridge to emergency personnel and those with special business permits in an effort to help adhere to the curfews enforced in various parishes, Lambert said. But as of Monday, each parish will have to decide how it wants to handle the curfews in light of the Causeway’s opening, he said.

“The parish will have to enforce (curfews), not the Causeway Commission,” he said.

Business owners get first look at damage

3:30 p.m., Saturday

By KEITH DARCÉ
Business writer

Roland Adams walked into his Faubourg Marigny
restaurant early Saturday morning for the first time
since Hurricane Katrina struck and found a surprise –
everything was just as he had left it three weeks ago.

Tables inside Marigny Brasserie at the corner of
Royal and Frenchman streets were perfectly set with
clean white linen cloths, china and glasses. The bar
was stocked with a full supply of liquor, wine and
beer. Even the $400 in cash left behind by the owner
was still in its place.

“We’re so lucky,” Adams said. “No water damage. No
looting.”

Business owners like Adams began assessing Hurricane Katrina’s damage Saturday, the first official day they were able to enter the city. Their work marked the start of the long process of resurrecting the city’s battered economy.

From Uptown to the Marigny, workers swept shattered
storefront glass from sidewalks, emptied rotten food
from kitchen freezers and carried out important files
and computers to moving trucks.
Just off Poydras Street, along the city’s main
high-rise office strip, Sal Cannatella stuffed
supplies and equipment from his copier, printer and
litigation consulting business into a trailer. For the
time being, Cannatella has relocated Southern Imaging
Solutions from the sixth floor of the Freeport McMoRan
Building at 1615 Poydras to two locations in Kenner
and Baton Rouge.

“The building will be closed for two and a half to
three weeks,” Cannatella said. “In my heart I feel
there will be greater opportunity for those who stick
it out and stay here. I’ll be back.”

Saint Jones had the same view standing in front of
Big Daddy’s, the Bourbon Street strip club famous for
the pair of mannequin legs that swing out from its
front window.

Workers have cleaned up the club. All they need now
to reopen for business is electricity and girls.

Eight dancers are waiting in other cities to return
to the club’s stage and table tops as soon as soon as
possible, Jones said. But that won’t be nearly enough
to handle the flood of business he expects from the
security officers, firemen, recovery workers and
reporters who now make up the bulk of the city’s
population.

“They’ve all been banging on my door everyday asking
when I’m going to open,” he said. “They’re going to
have a lot of money to spend.”

Jones expects to hire another 32 dancers to meet
customer demands. The only trick is finding women
willing to work in the city during the early phase of
reconstruction.

But Jones thinks the dancers will be drawn by the
opportunity to make money. “This is bigger than any
convention that we’ve ever had,” he said.

Back in the CBD, workers hauled cartloads of
computers out of Hibernia National Bank’s operations
center at the corner of Common and South Rampart
streets and loaded them into a pair of trucks bound
for Shreveport. The equipment is going to a temporary
customer call center for the bank, said Kent Wedel, a
network facilities manager for the bank.

Not everyone was pleased with the progress.

Kay Vereen complained about the pace of restarting
commerce in the city while walking her dog Sabrina a
few blocks from The John, a bar that she owns at the
corner of Burgundy and Frenchman streets in the
Marigny.

Vereen, who never evacuated, said she’s been ready to
reopen for days but won’t do it, because of health
concerns, until utility services are restored.

“I’m tired of the press conferences. Get me up and
running,” she said.


Keith Darcé can be reached at kdarce@yahoo.com.

North shore cable service still off air

Charter hopes to be back up in weeks

By Leslie Williams
Staff writer


Richard Gremillion, 67, of Mandeville wanted to watch the LSU Tigers football team battle the Arizona State Sun Devils on Sept. 10. Like other north shore residents in areas less damaged by Hurricane Katrina, he had the basics: electricity and water. But when the television came on, Gremillion got digital snow.

So last week he drove to Baton Rouge. By kickoff, he was among a small group gathered around a large television at Casino Rouge watching the Tigers’ nail-biting 35-31 victory.

He drove home smiling.

The next day, he repeated the 50-minute drive from St. Tammany to East Baton Rouge Parish to witness the New Orleans Saints, a 6-point underdog, upset the Carolina Panthers.

Gremillion would rather watch the games from the comfort of his living room in Mandeville’s Greenleaves subdivision. However, he and other north shore residents will have to continue to find creative options for viewing football games, perhaps the upcoming baseball playoffs, the season premieres of hit television series and televised news coverage normally provided via Charter Communications Inc.’s cable service.

''We are working to bring up our plant just behind the power utility,'' David Andersen, the company’s senior vice president for communications, said Friday. ''As such, we hope to be working in terms of weeks — not months.''

Charter has restored service to 10 percent to 20 percent of its 54,000 cable television customers in Mandeville, Slidell and Covington, Andersen said.

The company is trying to determine how many of its 23,500 high-speed Internet customers in Mandeville, Slidell and Covington have had their service restored, he said.

Papers chased: Case far from closed for law school grads

Storm might have soaked bar exams

By Leslie Williams
Staff writer


The list of people injured by Hurricane Katrina might include some of the more than 700 men and women who took all or parts of the nine-part Louisiana bar exam this past summer.

A week after Katrina thrashed and soaked the New Orleans area, the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Committee on Bar Admissions started a process – that may end in 10 days – to determine whether any of the exam results were destroyed, said Scott Whittaker, the committee’s chairman.

The hurricane might have washed away or rendered illegible parts of the exam administered in July to law school graduates, mostly from Tulane, Southern, Louisiana State and Loyola universities.

''Some examination papers were likely lost to Hurricane Katrina,'' according to the committee’s Web site, www.lascba.org. ''Our efforts reveal that the overwhelming majority is secure and grading is going on.''

The 14-member committee’s audit has not confirmed that any exams ''have been irretrievably lost,'' Whittaker said. But the fact-finding mission has revealed ''there were instances where exams were left in places where they might not be retrievable,'' he said.

Whittaker estimated at least 60 to 75 sections of the exam might have been soaked in floodwaters or blown away by Katrina’s powerful winds. Some of the 450 Louisiana attorneys grading the exams took sections of the test to their homes in St. Bernard Parish and the Lakeview area of New Orleans, both of which were heavily flooded, he said.

Those parts of the exam – even wet – still may be legible, Whittaker said. ''We just don’t know yet,'' he said Applicants must pass seven of the nine parts of the bar exam to practice law in Louisiana, so even if a part or two were destroyed, the applicant could still pass. And at least 130 applicants took the exam on a computer, which means there’s an electronic backup, he said.

Getting in contact with those grading the exams has been a challenge, he said. Many of those grading the tests were displaced by Katrina. As of Friday, about 60 percent of those grading the exams had been contacted.

No one has determined what will happen if the pass or fail status of an applicant cannot be determined because of Katrinarelated damage.

''We need a better understanding of the scope of the problem before confecting a solution,'' Whittaker said Whittaker urges applicants not to call and ask about the status of the search. Updates will be posted on the committee's web site, he said.

The final grades were to be announced Sept. 30, with a swearing-in ceremony Oct. 14, Whittaker said. Those dates might change. The Supreme Court will determine whether the dates for the announcement and swearing-in ceremony, normally at the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans, will be pushed back, he said.

Ochsner update

Saturday, 11 a.m.

In another sign of normalization, Ochsner doctors will perform the first transplant operation since the hurricane on Monday, a live donor kidney transplant.

Hospital officials also plan to begin accepting organ offers for liver, heart, and lungs
on Monday.

In other news, Ochsner's Baton Rouge
Transplant outpatient clinic will open for established and new patients.

All patients of the vonAlmen Practice, a member of Ochsner Clinic Foundation, are encouraged to visit any Ochsner
location for obstetrical, pediatric or adult medical care.

Ochsner Rehab is available on the Jefferson
Highway Campus on the 5th floor. Services include: Physical Therapy,
Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Social Services. Referrals from other facilities are being accepted and assistance is available with
insurance authorizations. For information contact the Rehab Unit at (504)
736-4900 or Windie Muller at (504) 715-2880 or wmuller@ochsner.org.

Ochsner is trying to locate its Home Health
patients. They are asked to call 1-800-388-5585 or locally 504-842-5585 so
they can be assessed.

The following Ochsner New Orleans Clinics are open:
-- Ochsner Hospital
-- Ochsner Jefferson Hwy: Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics,
Cardiology.
-- Ochsner Clinic Destrehan: Family Practice, Pediatrics
-- Ochsner Clinic Kenner: Internal Medicine, Pediatrics
-- Ochsner Clinic Lapalco: Family Practice, Internal Medicine
-- Ochsner Clinic Metairie: Internal Medicine
-- St. Anne's Hospital in Raceland: Cardiology

On the North Shore, Ochsner Clinic Covington, Slidell, Abita Springs and Tangipahoa are
open and operating on a normal schedule, while all Ochsner Clinic Baton Rouge locations are open. The Bluebonnet
location is offering extended hours.

Plaquemines wants to gear up schools

Saturday, 10: 15 a.m.

The school situation in Plaquemines Parish is probably the one issue residents are watching to determine when to return.

"As far as people coming back, that's the obstacle now, the schools," Plaquemines Parish President Benny Rousselle said Saturday.

Rousselle said schools in the southern part of the parish - including Port Sulphur, Buras, Boothville-Venice and Phoenix - were severely damaged in the storm.

The picture is brighter elsewhere in Plaquemines.

"We'll try to get the northern part going because those schools are in good shape," he said.

Still, there are a couple of significant hurdles to overcome, he said. One is that emergency workers are now occupying schools and other accomodations and would have to be located.

Also, school officials will have to come up with a plan to consolidate the parish's students in just a few schools for now.

"The School Board has some serious challenges on how to fit all these children in," he said.

CLECO power update

Saturday, 8:40 a.m.

As of Saturday morning, CLECO officials reported 80 percent power restored in St. Tammany Parish and 71 percent restored in Washington Parish.

In a breakdown of towns in those parishes, restored power ranged between 71 percent at Franklinton and Mt. Herman to 99 percent at Madisonville. That doesn't include Lacbome, where 38 percent of power had been reported restored by Saturday morning.