NEW ORLEANS — The Army Corps of Engineers pumped much of the remaining floodwater out of the city Saturday as tens of thousands of residents continued returning to dry neighborhoods to check on houses and reopen businesses.
Water was still being pumped out of the heavily flooded lower Ninth Ward. Officials expected the pumping to be completed by midweek, said Mitch Frazier, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers.
“There will still be some isolated pools here and there that aren’t drained that will have to be pumped out individually,” said George Stringham, another corps spokesman.
Police reported few problems as tens of thousands of residents poured into the city Saturday, a day after Mayor Ray Nagin reopened some neighborhoods.
“Residents are very patient,” police Capt. Marlon Defillo said. They “understand the conditions of the city and they are cooperating.”
He said there have been no problems with a curfew, and there have been only about a dozen arrests in the past few days, mostly for misdemeanor offenses such as trespassing.
Heavy police presence
Nearly 1,500 New Orleans police officers are patrolling city streets in 12-hour shifts. Officials still are getting help from other law enforcement agencies and the military.
“They are welcome as long as they want to stay to assist this department,” Defillo said.
There were still 3,400 members of the National Guard in the New Orleans area, said Capt. Jim Roth, a spokesman from the Air National Guard in South Carolina. The troops were participating in security patrols, water testing, water distribution and other duties.
Electricity had been restored to about 28 percent of New Orleans and about 98 percent of Jefferson Parish, said Amy Stallings, a spokeswoman for Entergy Corp. Electricity is still out in all of nearby St. Bernard Parish, but a destroyed transmission line was being repaired, Stallings said.
In another sign that life was returning to the city, the historic St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter planned to celebrate Sunday Mass — its first since Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans more than a month ago. Louisiana Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes planned to preside.
Also Saturday, three bodies were found in St. Bernard Parish, one of which was floating outside a nursing home where the owners have been charged in the deaths of 34 residents during the hurricane. But it was not immediately clear whether the corpse was that of another resident of St. Rita’s nursing home, parish spokesman Steve Cannizaro said.
As of Friday, the state health department reported 932 deaths in Louisiana from Hurricane Katrina. Mississippi’s death toll was 221.
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