Add to that the sight of floodwater finally pumping out of downtown and it was enough for the mayor to declare that a corner has been turned, reports CBS News correspondent John Roberts.
"I'm starting to think about the possibilities now, versus being immersed in death and misery and emergencies and crisis," said Mayor Ray Nagin. "So it's looking better."
But there's still plenty of problems. Before the water came back on, more fires broke out. Helicopters attacked them like forest fires, filling up in the Mississippi and dropping load after load on the flames.
And the floodwaters here are no help. They're polluted with so much oil and gas that officials fear an explosion. So rescuers issued an urgent call to the hundreds of people still out there to come to higher ground.
But coaxing them in is a challenge. The USS Iwo Jima, now docked in New Orleans, is flying dozens of search-and-rescue missions daily. Many come back empty.
"I think a lot of these people, as you know, are convinced that the water's gonna subside and get back to normalcy," said Navy Admiral Joseph Kilkenny. "And having flown around here, it's not going to happen."
Three days ago, Roberts met Dierdre Humphrey, chest deep in the stinking brew. She was determined to tough it out.
"Monday will be 7 days," she told him. "I'll wait until Monday to see if I have any sanity left, looking at this all day."
Today, her sanity snapped. Roberts found her at an evacuation point near the Convention Center.
"It wasn't going anywhere soon," she told him. "We couldn't, we just couldn't live like that anymore. Eight days. We tried to tough it out. That's it."
A relative who had seen her on CBS News urged Dierdre and her family to join them in Michigan.
"We were really prepared," Dierdre said. "We were waiting for the boat to come this morning. On the porch, packed, geared up, ready to touch dry land."
After eight days, it was a short few hours — and a check through security — before she was on her way to Detroit.
The country has opened its arms to evacuees. Texas was the first to take them; now, it's nationwide: Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Washington, D.C.
But city officials are warning of another shockwave. When the water goes down, the dead will be found. And they may number in the thousands.
"I think were gonna see a second wave of despair," Nagin said. "I think this nation is gonna be shocked one more time when we start pulling all these bodies out of these homes - the elderly, the children. You know, it's gonna be awful."