" According to an American Red Cross estimate, Hurricane Katrina has killed at least 55 people. So far, the confirmed dead include 11 in Florida from the first landfall Aug. 25; two storm-related traffic fatalities in Alabama; and three in Mississippi. As for Louisiana, Governor Kathleen Blanco said, We have no counts whatsoever, but we know many lives have been lost.
There are unconfirmed reports of up to 80 deaths in Harrison County -- which includes the devastated cities of Biloxi and Gulfport -- in Mississippi alone. According to a spokesman for the county, he expects the death toll there to be higher than anything weve ever seen before.
" Approximately 2.2 million people in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee remain without power and most likely will be without power for quite some time in most cases.
" U.S. Coast Guardcrews assisted in the rescue of about 1,200 people stranded in New Orleans Aug. 29 and thousands more were rescued Aug. 30, said a spokesperson from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Helicopters from air stations along the Gulf of Mexico; Cape Cod, Mass.; and Elizabeth City, N.C., also flew missions into areas in southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Meanwhile, fixed-wing aircraft crews from stations in the Gulf of Mexico and Elizabeth City flew damage-assessment missions throughout the hurricane-ravaged area.
" This hurricane has caused catastrophic devastation across areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, said Michael Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Meanwhile, Bill Lokey, an official with FEMA, called Katrina the most significant natural disaster to hit the U.S.
" Insurers are estimating Katrina could become the most expensive storm in U.S. history, costing insurers up to $25 billion, surpassing Hurricane Andrew, which cost insurers $15.5 billion.
" The Federal Aviation Administration (www.faa.gov) said the airports in Gulfport-Biloxi and Bay St. Louis, Miss. and New Orleans (Louis Armstrong and Lakefront) are closed.
" Meanwhile, Katrina, now downgraded to a tropical depression, slogged on up through the Ohio Valley, where flood warnings, flash flood watches and tornado watches were in effect for portions of many states in her wake. The flood watches extended as far north as New England where heavy rainfall was predicted through Sept. 1.