གཟའ་ཟླ་བ། ༢༠༢༤/༠༥/༢༧

Cleanup, Rescues Continue in New Orleans

Rescue workers who are making house-to-house searches in New Orleans continue to find survivors of Hurricane Katrina, which swept the American Gulf Coast more than two weeks ago. Thousands of residents still remain in the city, but evacuations continue for those who are ready to leave.

The death count in Louisiana alone has risen past 400 people. Authorities have filed charges against a couple who ran a nursing home where 32 victims died and are investigating the deaths of another 40 people at a medical center. However, Tuesday there was some good news. California National Guard Sergeant Jeremy Ridgeway was searching homes in New Orleans when he found a survivor.

"I happened to be looking around through the screen door and I saw a leg," he said. "And at that time I made a decision to break the door down. And, fortunately the gentleman was still breathing and we were able to perform first aid on him and get the emergency personnel out there to rescue him out of the building."

The man was given first aid and evacuated to a medical center.

A mandatory evacuation order remains in place for the city, although police are not enforcing it. Residents who stayed are being asked to leave. However, they can remain, if they want to. Each day, some 40 people decide they have had enough of life without electric power or clean running water. At a downtown evacuation center, they receive a medical check and are given transportation out of the city. Today's evacuees are headed for shelter an hour away, in Baton Rouge, where damage from the storm was far less serious.

Army Sergeant Samuel Suslik says en elderly woman was also rescued Monday, after waving a flag to attract the rescuers. "She was on the porch laying there. She said she'd been waving a flag for a day or two," he added. "Finally, someone noticed her and brought her in here, gave her an exam. She was fine, and we evacuated her out."

National Guard member Tracy Sidebottom says many people refused to leave without their pet animals. They are being evacuated to shelters that allow their pets to stay with them. "Yesterday, we sent out a woman with her five birds, four cats, and three dogs," she said. "It was really pretty interesting."

Renaldo Curry is now waiting at the evacuation center for transportation out of the city. He stayed in New Orleans because he saw no reason to leave - even after flooding inundated much of the city. He says he and a friend had food and water and suffered no hardships.

"Oh, no. It wasn't uncomfortable. We had everything," said. Mr. Curry. "But the generator went off, the air conditioning and electricity. That was it."

A six pm curfew is in effect for residents who refuse to leave the city. During daylight hours, National Guard Captain Bruce Gaffney says troops will continue to search for people trapped in houses.

"We know that there are people out there. There are a lot of people that are unaccounted for, and we know they're someplace," said Mr. Gaffney. "Most people that have been rescued have been identified and they're out there telling us that they have loved ones that are still out there."

He says, as soldiers make their daily rounds, they approach each home as if there are survivors.