Sunday, September 11, 2005
Workers are scouring New Orleans for any remaining survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and are vigorously searching for dead bodies. 25,000 body bags have been prepared in advance, in the event that the death toll from Katrina is that high. Temporary warehouses are being set up around the city to deal with corpse storage.
In the last twenty-four to thirty-six hours, however, officials have revised downward, at least three times, the estimated death toll; 35,000, 10,000, and now less than 10,000. After the first sweep of the city devoted to recovery of bodies, officials retrieved approximately 800 bodies.
Floodwaters are receding, but leaving a great deal of mud and contaminated water in their wake, filled with high levels of bacteria and viruses.
All survivors are urged to leave the city. Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said “If you haven’t left the city yet, you must do so,” and stated that anyone who comes in contact with the toxic water must immediately wash themselves with clean water. If necessary, force will be used to remove all remaining citizens from New Orleans.
While Dr. Gerberding’s statement about mandatory evacuation seems clear, other officials have not been as emphatic. When asked about mandatory evacuations, New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass, while reaffirming the official word, qualified his statement stating that every reasonable means would be used to logically convince a person that it is in his best interest to evacuate. The superintendent would not comment on whether force would be used if reason failed. Furthermore, utility workers are in the process of re-establishing power to the Central Business District of the city prompting residents in those areas to reconsider the evacuation option.
Animal rights campaigners are protesting against evidence that law enforcement officers are killing animals as a form of control. According to HelpingAnimals.com, pets left behind by evacuees are being shot.
Residents of Jefferson Parish, and the upper portions of Saint Bernard Parish will be allowed to return permanently to their homes starting on Monday. Conditions in those areas — re-establishment of power, clearing of roads, and abatement of water — have improved to the point of making permanent return possible. Parish President Arron Broussard and Councilor Jennifer Sneed stated that residents should be allowed to return as soon as possible so repairs and rebuilding may begin.
Companies are working with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide money and support to the victims of Katrina, in order to ease them into a new life. In addition, a contract for approximately thirty-three million dollars to repair the I-10 span crossing the eastern portion of Lake Pontchartrain has been awarded. Many of the bridge sections, especially on the eastern-facing span, were knocked off their pilings as hurricane Katrina passed close to the city. The contractor expects one span to be repaired and opened for traffic within forty-five days.