No time to count the dead

Along the Gulf Coast, there was simply no time to even count the dead. Engineers scrambled to plug two broken New Orleans levees and rescuers searched for survivors clinging to both hope and rooftops as the swirling, tea-colored water continued to rise.

As said earlier, the flooding in New Orleans grew worse by the minute Tuesday, prompting Gov. Kathleen Blanco to say that everyone still in the city, now huddled in the Superdome stadium and other rescue centers, needs to leave. She said she wanted the Superdome evacuated within two days, but it was still unclear where the people would go.

To repair damage to one of the levees holding back Lake Pontchartrain, officials late Tuesday dropped 3,000-pound (1,360 kilograms) sandbags from helicopters and hauled dozens of 15-foot (nearly 5-meter) concrete barriers into the breach. Officials also had a more audacious plan: finding a barge to plug the hole, Maj. Gen. Don Riley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

All day long, rescuers in boats and helicopters plucked bedraggled flood refugees from rooftops and attics. Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu said 3,000 people have been rescued by boat and air, some placed shivering and wet into helicopter baskets. They were brought by the truckload into shelters, some in wheelchairs and some carrying babies, with stories of survival and of those who didn't make it.

Looting broke out in some New Orleans neighborhoods, prompting authorities to send more that 70 additional officers and an armed personnel carrier into the city. One police officer was shot in the head by a looter, but was expected to recover, said Sgt. Paul Accardo, a police spokesman.

On New Orleans' Canal Street, dozens of looters ripped open the steel gates on clothing and jewelry stores and grabbed merchandise. In Biloxi, Mississippi, people picked through casino slot machines for coins and ransacked other businesses. In some cases, the looting was in full view of police and National Guardsmen.

Officials said it was simply too early to estimate a death toll. One Mississippi county alone said it had suffered at least 100 deaths, and officials are "very, very worried that this is going to go a lot higher," said Joe Spraggins, civil defense director for Harrison County, home to Biloxi and Gulfport. In neighboring Jackson County, officials said at least 10 deaths were blamed on the storm.

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Author`s name Editorial Team