Katrina cleanup continues, New Orleans broke
As the Hurricane Katrina cleanup continued in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana and Mississippi; the Louisiana death toll jumped to 423, the owners of a nursing home were charged in the deaths of dozens of patients killed by Katrina's floodwaters, and the New Orleans mayor warned that the city was broke, and unable to make its next payroll.
But there was good news as well.
Mayor C. Ray Nagin said the city was working with banking and federal officials to secure lines of credit through the end of the year.
The Louis Armstrong International airport reopened to commercial passenger flights, the port of New Orleans resumed operations, and the mayor said dry sections of the city -- including the French Quarter and the central business district -- could be open during the daytime as early as Monday, provided the Environmental Protection Agency finds the air and water are safe.
Mayor Nagin said: "We're out of nuclear-crisis mode and into normal, day-to-day crisis mode."
Charges LaidLouisiana Attorney General Charles Foti charged the husband-and-wife owners of St. Rita's nursing home in the town of Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish with 34 counts of negligent homicide for not doing more to save their elderly patients.
The case represents the first major prosecution to come out of the hurricane. "The pathetic thing in this case was that they were asked if they wanted to move them and they did not," Foti said.
"They were warned repeatedly that this storm was coming. In effect, their inaction resulted in the deaths of these people."
St Rita's owners, Salvador A. Mangano and his wife, Mable, surrendered and were jailed.
The attorney general said he is also investigating the discovery of more than 40 corpses at flooded-out Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans. A hospital official said the 106-degree heat inside the hospital as the patients waited for days to be evacuated probably contributed to the deaths.
During a tour of damaged areas in Mississippi, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said Katrina was the worst disaster for transportation in U.S. history and estimated the damage to bridges and highways -- including broken and disjointed stretches of Interstate 10 -- at $3 billion.
Good progress was reported by Army Corps of Engineers officials running the operation to pump out flooded areas of New Orleans and neighboring parishes. Col. Duane Gapinski estimated that half of the flooded area or less was still under water, and at the rate of 8 billion to 9 billion gallons a day, the city was on target to be almost completely drained by Oct. 8.
The White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency promised to learn from their mistakes and intensify efforts to help the victims.
In Washington, President Bush said that he took responsibility for the government's failures in dealing with the hurricane, and he said the disaster raised questions about the nation's ability to respond to natural disasters as well as terrorist attacks. "Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond."
The new acting director of FEMA, R. David Paulison, promised to get thousands of evacuees out of shelters and into temporary housing. "We're going to move on and get them the help they need."