Residents return to hurricane-hit city

Engineers pumped much of the remaining floodwater out of New Orleans as tens of thousands of residents continued returning to dry neighbourhoods to check on houses and reopen businesses.

Engineers pumped much of the remaining floodwater out of New Orleans as tens of thousands of residents continued returning to dry neighbourhoods to check on houses and reopen businesses.

Water still being pumped out of the heavily flooded lower Ninth Ward was expected to be completed by midweek, said Mitch Frazier, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers.

“There will still be some isolated pools here and there that aren’t drained that will have to be pumped out individually,” said George Stringham, another corps spokesman.

Police reported few problems as tens of thousands of residents poured into the city last night, a day after Mayor Ray Nagin reopened some areas.

“Residents are very patient,” police Capt Marlon Defillo said. They “understand the conditions of the city and they are co-operating”.

He said there have been no problems with a curfew, and there have been only about a dozen arrests in the past few days, mostly for misdemeanour offences such as trespassing.

Nearly 1,500 New Orleans police officers are patrolling city streets in 12-hour shifts. Officials are still getting help from other law enforcement agencies and the military.

“They are welcome as long as they want to stay to assist this department,” Defillo said.

There were still 3,400 members of the National Guard in the New Orleans area, said Captain Jim Roth, a spokesman from the Air National Guard in South Carolina. The troops were participating in security patrols, water testing, water distribution and other duties.

Electricity had been restored to about 28% of New Orleans and about 98% of Jefferson Parish, said Amy Stallings, a spokeswoman for Entergy Corp.

In another sign that life was returning to the city, the historic St Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter planned to celebrate Mass today – its first since Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans more than a month ago. Louisiana Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes planned to preside.

Also last night, three bodies were found in St Bernard Parish. One was floating outside a nursing home.

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