Picture Brightens Across Stricken Gulf Region, General Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 11, 2005 Things are looking up across the Gulf Coast region hit by Hurricane Katrina almost two weeks ago, the top military official overseeing rescue and recovery operations said today.
For example, ongoing pumping operations to drain New Orleans of floodwaters are going better than expected, Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, said on "Face the Nation" television news show.
The city is likely to be drained of water sometime in October, Honore reported from Camp Shelby, Miss., rather than in three months' time, as was originally estimated.
"The water has dropped significantly," Honore pointed out, noting that provides "total land access to more of the area that needs to be searched" for survivors, the general said.
And rescue and recovery efforts continue in hurricane damaged areas in Mississippi and Alabama, Honore said, noting that 80 percent of electric power has been restored in Mississippi.
State, local and federal agencies continue to work together across the stricken region to continue the search for survivors and to provide food, water, health care and shelter, the general noted.
Search parties continue the search and rescue of surviving residents of flood-ravaged New Orleans neighborhoods, Honore said, as well as the removal of remains.
"There is progress" in New Orleans, he said, noting that contractors are now working to restore infrastructure in many of the dry areas of the city.
However, the general acknowledged that the New Orleans recovery is just "in the first phase" and that "it will take until mid-October to drain all the water" out of the city.
Honore also said early estimates of 10,000 casualties in New Orleans appear to be too high. "I think we can expect that number to be a lot lower," he said.
Earlier today, New Orleans-based Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, who's heading hurricane recovery efforts on the Gulf coast for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told "Fox News Sunday" that he is working with local officials to solve problems and cut through red tape.
Allen related an incident where officials in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, had been waiting for some time for the delivery of 25 electric generators.
"When we went in and found out what the situation was, the generators were ordered in three hours," the admiral said.