New Orleans revives slowly

Residents of New Orleans have begun to return to parts of the city, a month after Hurricane Katrina struck.

People have been allowed back to the Algiers district, across the Mississippi from low-lying centre.

It was spared the worst of the flooding brought by Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which struck further West on Saturday. However much of New Orleans remains flooded as a result of Katrina. It will be some time before residents can return is large numbers, officials say.

The BBC's James Coomarasamy in New Orleans said those arriving on Monday found complete devastation.

Maria DeMaggio, wearing a mask to protect herself against the smell, searched in overturned, rotting wooden cupboards for her dead mother's wedding ring.

"I knew it was going to be horrible but I still had to see it with my own eyes," she said.

"This was all my mum's stuff - all the stuff she loved. I hate to see any of this just go," reports BBC.

According to Washington Post, a week after Hurricane Rita and federal officials thwarted his plans to begin reopening the city, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin moved forward Monday with a modest effort.

The first few allowed back into the city were downtown businesspeople and residents of Algiers, a neighborhood on the west bank of the Mississippi River that received minimal storm damage and supplies its own power, water and sewer systems. Even with those services, few people returned and many said it would be difficult to stay with little in the way of food, gasoline, banks or medical facilities available.

"This is the grocery store for most people," Barbara Longworth said as she distributed paper towels, baby food and canned goods from a tent in an Algiers parking lot. "I came for aid the first day, then I realized they needed help."

The provisions came from the Church of Christ in Baton Rouge. The Salvation Army passed out sandwiches, and California National Guardsmen distributed bags of ice and cases of water. One grocery store has opened in Algiers, but lines were long and many people said they did not have much money.

Gilmore, 25, lost his job as a computer technicianwhen his employer fled Katrina for Texas. On Monday he was collecting a few free supplies and looking for work to support his son and girlfriend.

"I don't want to leave my family," he said. "I think I'll be able to make money doing hard labor like construction."

Photo: Washington Post

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