Monday, September 19, 2005

New Orleans mayor suspends reopening of city (AP)

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS: Under pressure from President Bush and other top federal officials, the mayor Monday suspended the reopening of large portions of the city over the next few days because of the risk of a new round of flooding from a tropical storm.
''I am concerned about this hurricane getting in the gulf. If we are off, I'd rather err on the side of conservatism to make sure we have everyone out,'' Mayor Ray Nagin said.
The announcement came after repeated warnings from top federal officials — and the president himself — that the city was unsafe.
The mayor reversed course even as residents began trickling back to the first neighborhood opened as part of Nagin's plan, the scarcely damaged Algiers section.
The mayor said he had wanted to reopen some of the city's signature neighborhoods over the coming week in order to reassure the people of New Orleans that ''there was a city to come back to.'' He said he had strategically selected ZIP codes that had suffered little or no flooding.
But ''now we have conditions that have changed. We have another hurricane that is approaching us,'' he said. He warned that the city's pumping system was not yet running at full capacity and that its levee system was still in a ''very weak position.'' (more...)