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Katrina Disaster Blog: Sept. 7

This is a running list compiled by staffers of the latest developments in the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Sept. 7, 2005

10:05 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS — A state health official in New Orleans says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has 25,000 body bags on hand in Louisiana. That's according to Bob Johannessen, a spokesman for the state's Health and Hospitals Department.

Asked if authorities expected that number of bodies, he said: "We don't know what to expect."

9:47 p.m.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's death toll has now topped 200 and officials are expecting it to increase. Search and rescue crews on the Mississippi coast are continuing to look for victims of Hurricane Katrina. But after 10 days, their focus has shifted from saving lives to recovering bodies.

One emergency management official said, "if there's one miracle out there, we're looking for it."

8:34 p.m.
MIAMI (AP) — Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean has told one of the nation's largest black church groups that racism was a factor in the rising death toll from Hurricane Katrina.

Dean told the annual meeting of the National Baptist Convention of America in Miami that the nation must "come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a deadly role in who survived and who did not."

He also said the money that now supports the Iraq war could be used to rebuild New Orleans or to aid the poor and elderly.

6:37 p.m.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican army convoys and a navy ship laden with food, supplies and specialists traveled to the United States on Wednesday to help in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort — a highly symbolic journey marking the first time Mexico's military has aided its powerful northern neighbor.

The convoy was expected to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday evening and cross into U.S. territory early Thursday, President Vicente Fox's office said.

6:18 p.m.
(CBS) — U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao signed a National emergency grant for more than $100 million to create 25,000 temporary jobs in the disaster areas, largely to assist in clean-up and recovery efforts.

5:33 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Barbara Bush was making "a personal observation" when she said poor people at a relocation center in Houston were faring better than before Hurricane Katrina struck, President Bush's spokesman said Wednesday.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, did not answer directly when asked if the president agreed with his mother's remarks.

Mrs. Bush, after touring the Astrodome complex in Houston on Monday, said: "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them." She commented during a radio interview with the American Public Media program "Marketplace."

5:11 p.m.
HOUSTON (AP) — In the dark tunnels underneath the Astrodome, volunteer barbers and stylists have set up a shop where Katrina's refugees can get a shave or have their hair done for free before they set out to rebuild their lives.

"What they are doing is priceless," said storm survivor Keith Anderson, a 41-year-old probation officer who waited in line for a shave and a haircut he hoped would help him find a new home and a job.

"It could be the make-or-break of getting that job," he said. "Obviously, your appearance matters. It helps with your self-esteem. You definitely, definitely want to put your best foot forward."

About 8,000 storm victims from New Orleans are sleeping on cots and standing in line for showers at the Astrodome complex.

4:47 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Even as crews in New Orleans try to find and count the corpses that are decaying in the 90-degree heat, reports of the extent of the tragedy are starting to emerge.

A Louisiana congressman says more than 100 people died at a warehouse along a New Orleans dock. Congressman Charlie Melancon says they died as they waited for rescuers to take them to safety.

And a state lawmaker says 30 people died at a flooded-out nursing home just outside New Orleans. Nita Hutter says the staff had left the residents behind in their beds. A rescue that was supposed to take place never materialized.

4:29 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The post office is still trying to locate 2,000 of its workers.

In the Gulf Coast, 188 post offices have returned to full service, 189 are providing limited service and 120 are still closed.

"In some cases the facility has ceased to exist," Postal Service Senior Vice President Thomas G. Day said.

3:17 p.m.
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Rudolph Giuliani, who guided New York City through the dark days after Sept. 11, said there is no place for second-guessing during an emergency, and he is not interested in criticizing the way government officials handled Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

The former mayor said before a speech Tuesday that it is too soon to draw any conclusions about whether the agencies that responded took too long or who was responsible. When the situation stabilizes, Giuliani said, the nation can examine the rescue efforts.

2:58 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — An anonymous donor turned up at a U.S. diplomatic office and presented an envelope with 1,000 euros for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

It was a way of repaying a debt to the United States for being liberated by American soldiers from a concentration camp and treated more than 60 years ago, Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said Wednesday in relating the incident.

The donor was 90 years old, but that is all McCormack would say by way of identification. "This is a person who is not seeking any publicity for this act — which in the time we live makes it even more extraordinary," he said.

2:41 p.m.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Mobile home manufacturers are preparing to boost production to provide housing for thousands of people in Mississippi and Louisiana whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, but building supplies may be a problem.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked companies to assess their inventory to determine how many homes may be ready for immediate delivery to the hurricane zone, where many people who haven't evacuated are living in damaged houses, motels and tents.

2:17 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Congressional Budget Office is predicting a total of 400,000 jobs losses through the end of this year. Privately insured losses could exceed $30 billion, the agency said.

The impact of the storm on the budget deficit is unclear, CBO said. Before the storm, the White House was projecting a budget deficit this year of $333 billion, which would have been an improvement from last year's $412 billion deficit, a record in dollar terms.

2:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — EPA confirms flood water in New Orleans contains elevated sewage bacteria, plus high lead levels, and advises that people avoid the water as much as possible.

1:14 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The two top Democrats criticized the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina on Wednesday, with Sen. Harry Reid demanding to know whether President Bush's Texas vacation impeded relief efforts and Rep. Nancy Pelosi assailing the chief executive as "oblivious, in denial" about the difficulties.

12:15 p.m.
(CBS) — Many television photojournalists working in the ravaged Gulf Coast region fear losing their jobs, the National Press Photographers Association Web site reports. "Corporate television owners are apparently trying to determine if there's going to be anyone doing business in New Orleans in the near future who will buy television advertising," the Web site reads.

12:07 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government plans to dole out debit cards worth $2,000 each to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The unprecedented cash card program initially will benefit stranded people who have been moved to rescue centers such as the Houston Astrodome.

11:45 a.m.
GENEVA (AP) — The international Red Cross' Web site aimed at reuniting families separated by Hurricane Katrina has registered the names of 118,000 people since it went on line less than a week ago, a spokesman said Wednesday. The Internet site, which was built on experience gained in the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster and wars in Kosovo, Bosnia and elsewhere, has been growing remarkably quickly, said Florian Westphal, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

10:58 a.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Authorities in New Orleans have found a suspected sniper. Federal, state and local authorities had turned out in force, after shots were reported fired at telephone workers trying to restore cellphone service. The shots came from a public housing project.

Officers from agencies ranging from the U.S. Border Patrol to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms went door to door, finding several men who had taken refuge there, and eventually finding a man with two guns.

10:08 a.m.
(CBS) — Louisiana's capital, Baton Rouge, a city of 228,000 about 75 miles northwest of New Orleans, is building a new identity as a boomtown, the Los Angeles Times reports. The effects of the migration are hard to escape in Baton Rouge, which has long existed in a shadow as Louisiana's second city.

"Amid an inflow of hurricane evacuees that has doubled the capital city's population overnight, hotels are full, apartments are hard to come by and houses that had languished on the market for months are getting all-cash offers at the asking price, or higher," the Times reports.

9:40 a.m.
NEW YORK (CBS) — The United Kingdom's Sun tabloid newspaper ran a front-page collage and article on unclaimed "Orphans of the Storm," featuring more than a dozen New Orleans children whose parents have not been located.

8:23 a.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Among the countries offering America help after Hurricane Katrina is Panama, which says it can send 120,000 pounds of bananas. That's one of the more unusual offers from the over 90 nations that have been in touch. Most offers are of predictable items like food, water, medicine, living supplies and money. But not all. Italy, along with tents and cots, is offering baby food. Thailand has offered rice.

7:35 a.m.
NEW YORK (CBS) — Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., told Hannah Storm on The Early Show that she thinks part of the trouble with the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina is that FEMA is now operating under the Department of Homeland Security. She's sponsoring a bill to pull the agency out from under that umbrella.

On The Early Show, Clinton said that while the administration isn't securing victims' lives now, the future poses a bigger challenge.

"The real challenge is: What are we going to do to make sure their lives are not just comfortable and safe for the next week or two or three, but they are treated with the dignity and respect any of us would want to see if we were in a similar position?" Clinton said.

7:10 a.m.
NEW YORK (CBS) — Rev. Al Sharpton said on "Jimmy Kimmel Live:" "No one in America should feel comfortable sleeping, unless we know that plans are in place that will protect the cities of this country because it could have been us."

5:15 a.m.
BEIJING (CBS/AP) — Things are coming full circle for American children, who for years have been exhorted to be grateful for what they have and think of the less fortunate in China. China has shipped $1.8 million worth of tents, bedding, children's clothing and generators to the United States to help hurricane victims.

"We are showing our sympathy in the face of such a disaster," said Wang Hanjiang, director of the foreign aid department of the Commerce Ministry, of the 100-ton donation. "We are showing the Chinese people's goodwill toward the American people."

The relief items are wrapped in thick plastic and marked with the words "China donation" along with a picture of the Chinese flag.

4:48 a.m.
OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Three children who received organ transplants at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha were on the Gulf Coast during Katrina's assault and have returned to Omaha to continue treatment. Survivors include a three-year-old girl and an eleven-year-old boy. They all received at least four liver transplants several years ago.

"We stayed in a shelter for two days," says Denise Breaux, who was worried about her transplant patient daughter, Bailey. "The longer she would have stayed in there, the increased risk of infection. I mean, we had no electricity. We were in a hospital that had no running water and so the toilets don't work and so the increased risk of infection became more and more everyday."

The hospital is trying to track down other transplant patients along the Gulf Coast. Transplant patients are immuno-suppressed and need anti-rejection medication each day.

4:30 a.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The operator of the Louisiana Superdome says talk of tearing down the stadium is "purely conjecture and speculation." Doug Thornton says the building was damaged during Hurricane Katrina but it's structurally intact.

The roof of the 30-year-old building leaks, there are problems with electrical and mechanical systems and it's full of trash and human waste from thousands of people who sought shelter from the hurricane. Thornton says it will take at least 45 days to assess the damage.

3:25 a.m.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Emergency officials in South Carolina are scratching their heads over some post-Katrina confusion.

Dozens of medical workers rushed to a hangar in Charleston Tuesday, to prepare for 180 injured evacuees. But the evacuees' flight was actually headed to Charleston, West Virginia. It was the second time the federal government told South Carolina officials to be ready for a plane full of people, only to have it end up hundreds of miles away. No one's been able to explain the confusion so far.

3:15 a.m.
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts was ready to accept 2,500 hurricane evacuees and had budgeted $25 million to pay for their relocation - but the state is now being told no one will be accepting that offer right now. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said many displaced individuals want remain closer to home. If things change, they'll be housed at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod.

Bay Staters are finding other ways to help. Coast Guard pilot Dave Hall, who's normally based on Cape Cod, was flying rescue missions in the hurricane zone and says the devastation is even worse than the pictures shown on television.

2:40 a.m.
HARTFORD, Conn. (CBS/AP) — Connecticut emergency officials have set aside Wednesday to test their own state's readiness for a hurricane. They'll participate in a drill designed to practice how the state would evacuate 100,000 people from the coastline before a storm similar in strength to Katrina.

12:15 a.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As floodwaters recede inch by inch, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin has authorized law enforcement officers and the U.S. military to force the evacuation of all residents who refuse to heed orders to leave the dark, dangerous city.

Nagin's emergency declaration released late Tuesday targets those still in the city unless they have been designated by government officials as helping with the relief effort. The move comes after some citizens bluntly told authorities who had come to deliver them from the flooded city that they would not leave their homes and property.

Read previous Katrina Disaster Blogs: Sept. 6, Sept. 5, Sept. 4, Sept. 3, Sept. 2, Sept. 1, Aug. 31
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