Evacuees return to New Orleans

Published: September 03 2008 23:47

New Orleans: Workers mopped up New Orleans after Hurricane Gustav and officials told residents they could come home today to a darkened city still struggling to restore power and basic services.
Almost all US energy production in the Gulf of Mexico remained shut on Tuesday but producers said they found little damage to refineries or offshore platforms. Oil prices slid $6 (Dh22) to a five-month low under $110 (Dh404) per barrel.
Officials said aaaa output from the Gulf region home to 25 per cent of US crude oil production could take two weeks.

US President George W. Bush roundly criticised in 2005 for a slow response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina declared a major disaster in Louisiana ahead of his visit to the state yesterday.

That declaration cleared the way for federal aid to cover temporary housing for evacuees and low-cost loans for uninsured property losses.
Half of New Orleans still lacked power the sewage system was damaged and hospitals had only skeleton crews. But Gustav's floodwaters ebbed easing pressure on the storm barriers that failed during Katrina three years ago when 80 per cent of the city was flooded and thousands of people were stranded.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said a mandatory evacuation order would be lifted at midnight last night telling the 95 per cent of the city's residents who fled that they could start to come home early today.
"The message We want you to come into the city check on your property make sure that you are comfortable and make an intelligent decision on whether you want to stay in this environment or not" Nagin told reporters.
'Stealth storm' damage
But New Orleans remained in a "vulnerable state" he said after a "stealth storm" that damaged the region in ways that were not as visible as the destruction caused by Katrina.
Authorities credited the massive evacuation in Louisiana - some 1.9 million fled the coast - with saving lives. The state has reported six storm-related deaths.
The powerful hurricane earlier killed nearly 100 people in the Dominican Republic Haiti and Jamaica.