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Utilities Struggle to Return Power to New Orleans

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Utilities Struggle to Return Power to New Orleans

Katrina & Beyond

Utilities Struggle to Return Power to New Orleans

Utilities Struggle to Return Power to New Orleans

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New Orleans authorities say they want all remaining residents out of the city. The mayor wants them forcibly removed. But so far, police have taken no such action. With huge areas of the city still under water, utility crews are working to restore service in areas where they can.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

I'm Melissa Block.

And we begin again today in New Orleans, where there are fewer people being rescued and the focus is shifting to recovering the dead. In scattered parts of the city, water service has been restored. And in some buildings downtown, the lights are back on. NPR's John Ydstie is in New Orleans, and today he visited several parts of the city to see how the recovery is going.

JOHN YDSTIE reporting:

We're driving down Convention Center Boulevard, and the trash that accumulated here as the tens of thousands of people waited to be rescued is mostly yet to be picked up. Some of the areas have been pushed into piles of trash. They're trying to get things off the road and piled up so that they can bring trucks in to carry the stuff away.

Mr. JOE McGREGOR(ph): My name's Joe McGregor. I'm from Koroo(ph), Louisiana, and we're trying to clean up the city. Well, I'm here to push everything up so we can get everything piled up so they can get some trucks in here to pick up all the trash for the people.

YDSTIE: How's it going?

Mr. McGREGOR: Slow. There's a lot of trash.

(Soundbite of trucks)

YDSTIE: We're going to go back over the Mississippi River Bridge to Algiers. We've heard that there are people staying there with generators. The mayor--the police chief said yesterday that folks from Algiers did not have to evacuate, and we're going to go and check it out.

(Soundbite of chain saws)

Ms. SARAH MALONEY(ph) (Algiers): My name is Sarah Maloney. I live here in Tall Timbers in Algiers in New Orleans. I am partners with my sister-in-law. We have a sushi bar uptown, which, thankfully, we've heard was not looted and had no water. So as soon as we can get in, we'll be open for business again. It's called Kyoto at 4920 Prytania Street. I've been in here the whole time. I was here during the storm. Had a lot of people in and out that we went and picked up and brought back and then got evacuated out. I have 10 cats in my house right now that have been rescued. It's going to be hard. We have to really pinch pennies and, you know, see what the federal government will do for us. We hear that the power's coming on in this neighborhood already, so that'll make life a lot easier. And...

YDSTIE: You've got water?

Ms. MALONEY: We've had running water that's drinkable the entire time. It never has stopped, never went out.

YDSTIE: Now we're driving up Interstate 10 toward New Orleans East. We're going to meet Brian Yokum, who's going to check his business for the first time to see what kind of damage he has and whether he can get operations up and running soon.

(Soundbite of sloshing)

Mr. BRIAN YOKUM: Whew! Pretty nasty over there.

YDSTIE: So you couldn't get in by car.

Mr. YOKUM: Couldn't get in by car. I waded out to the facility, wasn't really able to get in at the time, but, you know, I looked. We had flooding all around the area, but it looks like the building itself may be OK. The waterline came up a few feet on it, but we're about four or five feet up, so except for maybe the back part of the building, I think the majority of the building may have, you know, not flooded.

YDSTIE: We're headed back into New Orleans on I-10 through the Ninth Ward, which is the hardest-hit part of New Orleans. Floodwaters stretch as far as the eye can see in both directions here. Houses sit half-submerged in the black, putrid water. Search and rescue teams are still working here to get people out of their homes. When we were here yesterday, we talked to a man named Terry Coleman(ph), who was working hard to get people out. He has a home about five miles north that's submerged in the water, but he says he's going to stay in New Orleans.

Mr. TERRY COLEMAN (New Orleans): This is my town. I am going to stay here. Born and raised, I'm not giving up New Orleans. There's no other place in the world like it. And I've left here for a number of years, and I came back, and I'm here to stay. And I'm a--I will be here. I'm going to be part of the solution. I will be here in the renaissance and when we rebuild, and it's going to be one of the finest cities in the South, you know. It's going to be even better than it was before. It's going to be a little new. And it's kind of like getting a new pot. You got to scuff it up a little bit and get it--you know, you got to season it a little bit before you...

Unidentified Woman: Break it in.

Mr. COLEMAN: Yeah, before you get the true flavor back, but we're going to get there.

YDSTIE: Yeah?

Mr. COLEMAN: I can guarantee you that.

YDSTIE: John Ydstie, NPR News, in New Orleans.

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