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Last Hold-Outs Agree to Leave Homes in New Orleans


New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says large sections of the city will reopen next week, and the historic French Quarter the week after that. Although hundreds of thousands of people left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, others chose to stay, despite being without clean water or electricity. Now, people who thought they could handle the situation are finally leaving their homes.

Members of this National Guard unit from California are banging on doors, hoping to find people alive. Staff Sergeant Garth Romero goes from door to door in a neighborhood checking for signs of life. "We've actually recovered a few individuals," he said. "We've recovered some animals, mainly dogs. There's still a lot of stray animals out there."

Earlier in the day Sergeant Jeremy Ridgeway discovered an elderly man on the floor. "He didn't seem like he was doing very well. I'll say a prayer for him," he said.

Helicopters are constantly circling the city, looking for people on rooftops who are signaling they want to leave.

About 40 people each day are trickling into an evacuation center, many of them elderly who found it physically difficult to go to a safe place.

Renaldo Curry thought he could ride out the storm and its aftermath until his generator broke down, leaving him with no electricity. But he hopes he'll be able to go home soon. "I got two houses. I've got to come back," he said. "I was born and raised there and I'm coming back. Nothing like New Orleans and I'm coming back. It's not going to stop me."

Army official Tracy Sidebottom says some of the stories have been heartbreaking. "There's been some really sick and wounded personnel that have come through, and then there are some true survivors," she said. "They've hung on and tried to stay in their homes for whatever reason, and didn't want to leave, a lot of them, because of their pets."

She says these evacuees have been promised their pets will go with them. Most are being taken to shelters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, about two hours away.