Katrina Neglect Probe To Widen

Cobb said the Manganos were forced to make a difficult decision as Katrina approached: risk the health of the patients — many of them frail and on feeding tubes — in an evacuation, or keep them comfortable at the home through the storm.

Tom Rodrigue, whose mother died in the home, was not satisfied. "She deserved the chance, you know, to be rescued instead of having to drown like a rat," he said.

The attorney general is also investigating the discovery of more than 40 corpses at flooded-out Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans. A hospital official said the 106-degree heat inside the hospital as the patients waited for days to be evacuated likely contributed to their deaths.

On Tuesday, President Bush said he took responsibility for the fitful federal response to the devastation. New Orleans' mayor was asked on ABC's "Good Morning America" if he took responsibility for the city's response.

"I'm going to be a man about this. Whatever I did, whatever I could have done better, I'm going to stand up and history will judge me accordingly," Nagin said in an interview broadcast Wednesday.

"But let's make sure that as we analyze what Ray Nagin as mayor did, let's look at what everybody in authority (did) so that this never happens again in this country."

The updated Louisiana death toll was released as Gov. Kathleen Blanco lashed out at the federal government, accusing it of moving too slowly in recovering the bodies. The dead "deserve more respect than they have received," she said.

However, Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman David Passey said the state asked to take over body recovery last week. "The collection of bodies is not normally a FEMA responsibility," he said.

Not all the news was grim. The New Orleans airport reopened to commercial flights Tuesday, the port resumed operations far earlier than expected, and Nagin said dry sections of the city — including the French Quarter and central business district — could be reopened as early as Monday, provided the Environmental Protection Agency determines the air is safe to breathe.

"We're bringing New Orleans back," Nagin said. "We're bringing this culture back. We're bringing this music back. I'm tired of hearing these helicopters. I want to hear some jazz."

In other developments:

  • Even though it's been two weeks since Katrina struck, and the flood of evacuees has made Baton Rouge the state's largest city, CBS News Correspondent Peter King (audio) reports there is still no FEMA disaster center. Thousands of people are living in shelters and hotels. The agency says a center will open in Baton Rouge within the next few days.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers reported significant progress pumping out flooded areas of New Orleans and neighboring parishes. The pumps are removing more than 9 billion gallons a day, the Corps said. The city was on target to be almost completely drained by Oct. 8.
  • At least 53 Hurricane Katrina evacuees from the New Orleans area have died since arriving in Texas. Most of the three dozen deaths in the Houston area were from natural causes, but two of the deaths were suicides.
  • The floodwaters in New Orleans still pose a health risk because of dangerous levels of sewage-related bacteria and toxic chemicals, according to government test results released Wednesday. The air quality appears to be all right. However, federal agencies aren't predicting when the city will be habitable again.
  • Continental Airlines plans to resume flights to New Orleans on Monday, and Southwest Airlines says it will announce a startup date in the next few days. American Airlines, the nation's largest carrier, still plans to resume service Nov. 1 but could move that date up.