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Louisiana Clean-up Continues as Evacuees from Hurricane Gustav Return Home

Some 700,000 people in Louisiana are still without power as the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas work to restore electricity that was disrupted from the winds associated with Hurricane Gustav that roared into the state on Monday. VOA's Barry Wood reports from New Orleans.

Tens of thousands who departed the city in advance of the storm could not yet return home. Under pressure from surrounding municipalities as well as evacuees living in distress conditions far from home, Nagin said residents of the city can come back at once.

"Anyone who has an I.D., and I.D; you must have some kind of identification that says you're going to either one of the parishes (districts) in the metropolitan area or going into New Orleans, you'll be cleared to return to your homes," he said.

Nagin had wanted most residents to remain outside the city until electricity and other essential services had been restored. Power has still not been restored to areas in the city where 80,000 people live. Many street lights and signs are down and fallen trees have not all been cleared away.

President Bush visited (Wednesday) the Louisiana state capitol at Baton Rouge, which was hard hit by Hurricane Gustav. Commending national, state and local authorities for their quick response to the storm, Bush said restoring electricity is the top priority. "One of the key things that needs to happen is they've got to get electricity up here in Louisiana. You're moving as fast as possible. The Governor understands it's a problem, his team understands it's a problem, and I understand it's a problem," he said.

There were dire predictions that Gustav would be as bad or worse as Katrina, which left over 1400 people dead and 80 percent of New Orleans flooded. In the end, the evacuation of nearly two million people and a weakening storm that reached landfall to the west spared the city from much destruction.