In the already-devastated Ninth Ward, water streamed through gaps at least 100 feet wide and was soon waist-deep on a nearby street. It began covering buckled homes, piles of rubble and mud-caked cars Hurricane Katrina had swamped with up to 20 feet of water in the impoverished neighborhood nearly a month ago.
Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers said other levees appeared secure, including those breached during Katrina, but there were leaks.
Water six inches deep was rushing into homes in the Gentilly neighborhood from beneath a patched breach in the London Avenue Canal, northeast of the Ninth Ward. Streams of water spouted from beneath a mound of gravel and rock engineers had dumped in a bid to stave off flooding.
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The levee on the other side of the Industrial Canal, which protected other sections of the city proper, were holding. And at the 17th Street Canal, where the Lakeview area was flooded after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the fix was holding. "I'm certain this area is secure," said David Wurtzel, a Corps project engineer. "All of our monitors and gauges are holding steady."
The impoverished Ninth Ward neighborhood was one of the areas of the city hit hardest by Katrina's floodwaters and finally had been pumped dry before Hurricane Rita struck. The good news, Sharyn Alfonsi
A spokeswoman for Mayor Ray Nagin said officials believed the neighborhood had been cleared of residents.
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Instead, he'll fly directly to Colorado Springs, Colo., to monitor the storm's approach from the U.S. Northern Command. The facility was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as the military's homeland security command center.
Air Force planes have been used to evacuate thousands of people in Texas and Louisiana, and satellite phones and long-range radios have been sent to areas in the storm's path.
Meanwhile, about 34,000 soldiers of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division are standing ready for post-Rita relief duty. And Pentagon officials say the military also is preparing to respond to a request to feed as many as 500,000 people at 15 Texas locations.
The governors of Louisiana and Texas have asked for 25,000 active-duty troops, but have provided few details on how they might be used.