Engineers in New Orleans have begun to pump the city dry after fixing the biggest breaches in the city’s flood defences. However, it is now clear that this will take a long time, and that New Orleans will be uninhabitable for months. Pumping is having to be done with great care, to make sure the water does not put a new strain on the levees and create a fresh breach. Persuading those last survivors who stayed on in their homes that it is time to leave is now a priority. They may have lived through the disaster, but they will find it difficult to make a living in the aftermath; New Orleans is a shell of what it once was, with homes, businesses and infrastructures wrecked. Their jobs have gone, and the deputy police chief says there is “nothing left – the city has been completely destroyed.
“The Mayor insists that the final death toll, once it is known, will “shock the nation”, and he believes it could be as high as 10,000. Help from abroad is starting to arrive, but the Americans are grappling with transport problems in getting the aid to those who need it. Airlifted material is being coordinated from Little Rock in Arkansas, the nearest runway that can take big planes, but that is a seven-hour drive from the Gulf Coast. The Senate is to hold an inquiry into why the response to the hurricane went wrong, and why red tape is still hampering the relief effort. There is also pressure on the lower House of Representatives to do the same.