The U.S. city of New Orleans is taking another step toward recovery, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. More sections of the city officially re-opened Thursday.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told a community group that several areas of the city, including the historic French Quarter, the business district, and the Uptown area are ready to welcome back business owners and residents.
Mayor Nagin said that almost every area of the city is ready for people to return, except the Lower Ninth Ward, which remains flooded.
A German-Dutch flood response team is helping pump about 284-thousand liters of water a day out of that area. The group is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild damaged levees in that ward.
U.S. Brigadier General Robert Crear, who commands the Corps' Katrina recovery task force, thanked the German and Dutch engineers. The joint effort will include terracing the levees, so they can withstand a Category Five level hurricane. Katrina was a Category Four when it struck New Orleans August 29th.
Meanwhile, federal and city health officials are warning of various health problems, resulting from several weeks of standing water in homes and businesses. Receding water levels are revealing widespread amounts of mold. One homeowner returned to find mold on furniture, in walls, and even growing on one of his business suits.
Mold is also appearing in essential buildings, such as Tulane University Hospital. U.S. health officials with the Centers for Disease Control say there is no firm evidence linking mold to health problems other than asthma or allergies. However, they say the vast amounts of mold could trigger reactions in those without asthma or other health issues.