Situation bad and getting worse in New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS -- Conditions in New Orleans continued to worsen on Aug. 31 as water poured from the breach in the levee at the 17th Street Canal forcing authorities to call for an evacuation of everyone who remained in the city.  (See related story,FEMA taps Greyhound to help evacuate Superdome.)

All normal activities in the city have been put on hold, giving way to basic survival efforts. Mayor Ray Nagin estimated the city will not be functional for eight to 12 weeks.

Mayor Ray Nagin announced Aug. 30 that the breach in the levee at the 17th Street Canal widened and efforts to repair it had failed. In addition, he said the available pumps were not sufficient to push back the floodwaters.

An additional nine to 15 feet of water was expected to flow into the city on Aug. 31, on top of several feet of water already present in what officials are saying is an 80%-submerged city.

The U.S. Coast Guard continued search-and-rescue operations, flying helicopter patrols over New Orleans looking for survivors. Many were saved against great odds, but Mayor Nagin said the number of people killed by the disaster was probably in the thousands.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urged residents of affected areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who evacuated not to return to their homes citing catastrophic devastation.

Residents attempting to return might face blocked and washed out roads, downed power lines and unsafe road crossings, FEMA said. Hundreds of thousands remain without power in the affected areas.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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