Patrols are combing the streets of New Orleans, tracking down those who have weathered the storm and floods, and are still in their homes. An estimated 10,000 people are holding out, but if mayor Ray Nagin gets his way, that will not be for long. He has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city. The majority are all too happy to comply, leaving town amid reports the floodwaters have become a toxic soup filled with potentially deadly bacteria and poisonous chemicals.
But police chief Eddie Compass says he cannot waste time on those who dig in their heels. “We still have thousands of people who want to voluntarily evacuate. We are still doing search and rescue missions. If I pull my manpower from search and rescue to forcibly remove people at this point in time, many people who want to leave will die,” he said. Some residents in dryer parts of the city have been allowed back, temporarily, to collect belongings, before heading away from home once more. Meanwhile, the international aid effort is in full swing, with 95 countries offering help. A Spanish transport plane loaded up with mattresses, tents, blankets and 6,000rations of food has been sent to Arkansas. Germany is sending 15 high powered water pumps capable of moving 15,000 litres of water a minute. But amid the goodwill there is frustration – a European Commission spokeswoman has claimed red tape and a lack of organisation means some aid is not getting through.