Three New Orleans suburbs to reopen Wednesday

Three suburbs of New Orleans will be reopened soon, as safe water, electricity and sewer service already restored - 15 days after Katrina struck.

The cities of Gretna, Westwego and Lafitte, Louisiana, said residents could come back starting at 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning but cautioned that they would face a strict curfew.

"The city now is open for business," Westwego mayor Robert Billiot told WWL radio. "We are going to rebuild Westwego. We look forward to you coming home."

The three cities are all in Jefferson Parish, a county of suburbs that borders New Orleans on both sides of the Mississippi River. They are on the south side of the river, the so-called West Bank, and did not suffer the widespread, continued flooding that other areas have.

On Tuesday Gretna was still mostly deserted, with a few working traffic lights, some gas stations in operation and streets full of empty damaged homes and businesses.

A steady stream of electricity repair trucks from other states, National Guard and Army vehicles paraded up and down the main highways, but there was little other traffic.

"The stores are not open yet but we are distributing food from the town hall," Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner told the radio station in a live announcement moderated by another local politician, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard.

Gretna Mayor Ronnie Harris said residents could look forward to near-full city services.

In neighboring Plaquemines Parish, officials said residents of flooded areas could return on Wednesday to inspect their homes, or what was left of them, and retrieve items, Reuters reports.

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