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Extent of Destruction from Katrina Becoming Apparent


In the southern United States, the extent of damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina is now becoming apparent. Whole neighborhoods are underwater, and rescuers are searching for survivors.

Floodwaters swallowed homes along the U.S. Gulf Coast, leaving dozens of people stranded on rooftops. A day after Hurricane Katrina roared through the southern United States, rescuers began searching for survivors amid the damage and destruction. Coast Guard and Army helicopters swooped in from above, plucking the lucky ones to safety. But across the region, dozens are believed dead.

In New Orleans, boats navigated city streets after levees failed and water gushed into town. With conditions deteriorating, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco ordered the evacuation of the city's rescue shelters, and said it could be weeks before residents can even get a look at their houses.

"If we can dry the area out, if we can create passable streets, they'll be able to survey their homes, but it will probably be weeks before they can do that," said the governor.

The federal government is trying to find enough shelter for everyone who needs help. Bill Lokey, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said, "We're right now surveying available properties to build temporary shelters. We're looking at available properties to build more permanent shelters. We're looking to purchase quite a number of travel trailers and mobile homes."

U.S. President George W. Bush is asking those forced out of their homes to be patient. "This is a trying time for the people of these communities. We know that many are anxious to return to their homes. It's not possible at this moment. Right now, our priority is on saving lives, and we are still in the midst of search and rescue operations."

President Bush has declared several states federal disaster areas, and he's cutting short his summer vacation, returning to Washington to oversee relief efforts. More than one million people in the Gulf States lost electricity. Crews are just beginning to clear debris and downed power lines. And everywhere... there is water.

One woman was horrified at the power of the water. "It’s just amazing how it covered things, houses, cars -- cars floating down the street, just terrible."

Even after the floodwaters recede new dangers could appear -- unstable buildings and water borne disease.