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Signs of Progress in New Orleans


There are signs of progress along the U.S. Gulf Coast as the monumental relief and recovery efforts continue in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Army Corps of Engineers has managed to seal off a major break in a levee, which had caused much of the flooding in New Orleans. Meanwhile, the federal government's preparation -- or lack thereof -- will take center stage on Capitol Hill this week.

The Army Corps of Engineers says it has completed repairs to New Orleans' main levee, after sealing the gap with piles of sandbags. Crews have finally begun pumping water out of the city.

Officials say water levels in the swamped Ninth Ward have dropped about a foot.

As National Guard and Coast Guard units continue to rescue people from that neighborhood and others, Louisiana announced they have set up a huge morgue north of New Orleans, to gather the bodies being found across the city. Mayor Ray Nagin has said the city's death toll could reach 10,000 people.

President Bush made his second trip to the region Monday. He again promised to help the millions devastated by the hurricane. His administration is being criticized for its initial response to Katrina. Some blame Michael Brown, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and are calling for his resignation.

But during his first visit to the region Friday, Mr. Bush defended his top emergency official.

"And Brownie - you're doing a heck of a job. The FEMA director is working 24 hours."

FEMA's preparedness will be examined by Congress this week. It returns Tuesday, after holding emergency sessions last week to approve $10.5 billion for emergency relief spending.

But New Orleans journalist Dave Grunfeld says finger pointing will not do any good. "When there is utter collapse of the infrastructure, it doesn't matter how good the authorities planned -- the system collapsed."

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