In New Orleans the focus has switched from rescuing the living to recovering the dead. Officials say they are now in a new phase of their clean-up plan.
It means a street-by-street sweep for corpses, some of which are badly decomposed. Photographs are taken of bodies, then fingerprints, DNA evidence and dental X-rays are matched in order to speed up identification. Authorities now believe the initial predictions of up to 10,000 dead were exaggerated, and that the final toll will be much lower. It is also thought the floodwaters can be pumped out sooner than expected. The US Army Corps of Engineers expects most of New Orleans to be drained by October 2nd. Business leaders are already aiming to reopen the French Quarter within three months. As the clean-up continues on the ground, the political fall-out over the initial response to the disaster is gathering pace. The man who has been running the federal relief operation has been taken off the job and recalled to Washington.