|New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said that large sections of the city will reopen this week, and the historic French Quarter next week. "The city of New Orleans will start to breathe again," he said. Although hundreds of thousands of people left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, others chose to stay, despite being without clean water or electricity. Now, some three weeks later, people who thought they could handle the situation are finally leaving their homes.|
One of the evacuation team calls out: “Army National Guard. Is anyone there?”
They are banging on doors, hoping to find people alive -- members of a National Guard unit from California.
Staff Sergeant Garth Romero goes from door to door in the neighborhood checking for signs of life. "We've actually recovered a few individuals. We've recovered some animals -- mostly dogs. There are still a lot of stray animals out there."
Earlier in the day Sergeant Jeremy Ridgeway discovered an elderly man on the floor.
"He was in bad shape. He was severely dehydrated. He has a rapid pulse. He didn't seem like he was doing very well. I'll say a prayer for him."
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 one evacuation center, many of them elderly who found it physically difficult to go to a safe place.
Army Sergeant Samuel Suslick is helping man the center. "We have doctors, psychologists, basic medics."
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,” said Mr. Curry. “I've got to come back. 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. 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. So fortunately, we're able to get them to places where they'll take pets."
She says evacuees have been promised their pets will go with them. Most are being taken to shelters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, about two hours away.