Services for Leo Kerner postponed

West Bank bureau

The funeral for former Jean Lafitte Mayor Leo Kerner Jr. has been postponed until further notice after Hurricane Rita flooded the fishing village over the weekend.

Mr. Kerner, 81, a member of the Town Council, died Sept.18 of heart disease in Baton Rouge. The services were scheduled for Monday at St. Anthony's Church in Jean Lafitte.

Some St. Bernard residents can return Monday

St. Bernard Parish residents who live in areas that were not flooded by Hurricane Rita will be allowed back into the parish Monday, officials said.

Residents will be allowed to enter beginning at dawn Monday, but they must possess identification to prove they live in St. Bernard. A strict dawn to dusk curfew will be in place, parish spokesman Steve Cannizaro said.

The parish will be open to all residents, except those living in areas that took on water as a result of Rita. Those areas include the section north of Judge Perez Drive between the Orleans Parish line and Packenham Drive and areas east of the Verret Canal, officials said.

Water in those areas is receding and officials expect the entire parish will be relatively dry by mid-week.

Hundreds of St. Bernard residents began streaming into the parish on Sept. 17, part of a two-week plan to let people access the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the parish. But the plan was halted last week when Rita turned into the Gulf of Mexico and an evacuation order was issued for the entire parish.

With area levees damaged by the first storm, Rita sent water rushing through a wide breach along the Industrial Canal and into the 9th Ward, Arabi and sections of Chalmette.

Now, instead of the phased-in plan that was aborted last week, parish officials decided to allow residents in all areas not flooded during Rita to return to their homes.

Cannizaro said residents planning to enter their homes should bring boots, gloves and masks and should be mindful of dangers such as nails, slippery walkways and debris. He said at least 10 people who entered the parish during the first phase suffered lacerations and other injuries.

Helicopters back in air; rescues, damage assessments under way

Nearly 4,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen followed Hurricane Rita into southwest Louisiana early Saturday equipped with helicopters, boats, high water vehicles and chainsaws for search, rescue, damage assessment, debris removal and road-cleaning duties, a spokesman for the Office of Emergency Preparedness said Sunday.

By Saturday night, the contingent of Guard members from Louisiana and other state, including four engineering battalions, had completed 93 missions, said Louisiana Guard Maj. Ed Bush.

Thirty Guard helicopters, grounded by high winds Saturday, were back in the air starting early Sunday, he said.

Bush said another National Guard team, about 4,500 strong, remains in the New Orleans area to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile, Louisiana National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Duran, operations chief at the emergency headquarters here, said Guard members as of Sunday morning had evacuated 35 southwest Louisiana nursing homes and ten hospitals.

He said the Guard was also busy setting up several sites in the latest hurricane-slammed part of the state to distribute water, ice and food -- military-issue meals ready to eat.

Nearly 690,000 Louisianians remained without power Sunday morning, including more than 412,000 affected by Hurricane Rita. Duran said that between 6 and 8 a.m. Sunday, power was restored to 26,000 southwest Louisiana electricity customers.

The agency in charge of helping storm-tossed Louisiana residents get their lives back in order had processed 910,383 applications for financial help as of Sunday morning, FEMA spokeswoman Rosemarie Hunter said.

Most of $1.504 billion paid out to individuals and households has gone to victims of Hurricane Katrina, Hunter said. Of the total, $9.6 million went to pay for things such as medical and funeral expenses, she said.

Payments are going out to hurricane victims four times a day in the form of checks or electronic funds transfers into their bank accounts. Post office boxes are being set up to receive checks for individuals living in shelters, and banks will establish accounts for individual storm victims to get their FEMA money electronically, she said.

Disaster recovery centers resume operations

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness announce that 15 Disaster Recovery Centers in Louisiana resumed operations on Sunday to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina. These centers suspended services while Hurricane Rita made landfall.
Fifteen centers are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. The Plaquemines Parish center is the only DRC still closed today. It will reopen Monday morning at a new location – Belle Chasse Auditorium, 8398 Highway 23, Belle Chasse, La. 70037. The hours of operation will be 7 a. m. to 5 p. m. due to local curfew. An applicant may visit any one of the DRCs.
Victims of the hurricanes are urged to register for assistance first by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The TTY number is 1-800-462-7585 for those who are speech-or hearing-impaired. After applying, those who have questions may visit a center to meet face-to-face with recovery specialists.
Representatives of state, federal, and voluntary agencies, as well as loan officers from the U.S. Small Business Administration, will be on hand to answer questions and provide recovery information. Written materials about various assistance programs are also available to individuals and business owners.
The center locations and operating hours:
Avoyelles Parish

635 East Tunica Drive

Marksville, La. 71351

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Iberville Parish

Iberville Parish Library

24605 J. Gerald Barrett Blvd.

Plaquemine, La. 70764

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Orleans Parish

Landry High School

Whitney Ave. & LaMarque Street

Algiers, La

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Rapides Parish

Old Office Max Bldg.

2255 Macarthur

Alexandria, La. 71301

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

St. Tammany Parish

John Slidell Municipal Park Recreation Center

105 Robert Road

Slidell, La. 70458

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Webster Parish

Old Wal-Mart Store

1100 Homer Rd.

Minden, La. 71055

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.
Bossier and Caddo Parishes
Old Summergrove Baptist Church

2820 Summer Grove Drive

Shreveport, La. 71118

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Lafayette Parish

Harvest Church International

111 Liberty Ave.

Lafayette, La. 70508

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Plaquemines Parish - Reopening Monday (9/26)

Belle Chasse Auditorium

8398 Highway 23

Belle Chasse, La. 70037

Due to Curfew:

7 a. m. to 5 p. m.

St. Charles Parish

Bingo Hall

13415 Hwy 90

Boutte, La. 70039

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Washington Parish

Old Barnes Furniture Building

539 Avenue V

Bogalusa, La. 70427

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

East Baton Rouge Parish
1 & 2 Maritime Place

101 France Street

Baton Rouge, La. 70802

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Lafourche Parish

Jake’s Department Store

513 St. Mary Street

Thibodaux, La. 70301

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Quachita Parish

Civic Center Convention Hall

401 Lea Joyner Memorial Expwy

Monroe, La. 71210

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

St. James Parish

Lions Club Bldg.

29126 Health Unit St.

Vacherie, La. 70090

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Washington Parish

Hillcrest Baptist Church

2201 East Washington Street

Franklinton, La. 70438

9 a. m. to 7 p. m.