Hugely Helpful New Orleans News

Operation Blue Roof: The Army Corps of Engineers is running a program that allows homeowners to have their roof temporarily covered while they’re waiting to have it permanently repaired. If your roof is damaged 50% or less, they will make the temporary repairs at no cost to you. For more information on Operation Blue Roof, call the Corps at (888)766-3258.

Steve Scalise’s Hurricane Katrina Update for Wednesday, September 14, 2005
In my last update I mentioned that I asked Mayor Nagin to establish a timeline to allow people to begin returning to New Orleans, and he committed to do so by the end of this week. Yesterday he did just that. If the health and environmental reports show that it is safe (early reports are very positive), the Mayor will begin allowing people to return to dry areas of the City on Monday, September 19th. The dry areas include Downtown, the French Quarter, Uptown, and Algiers. The Mayor estimates about 150,000 people could return by Monday. He was quoted as saying, “I’m tired of hearing helicopters overhead, I want to hear some jazz.” More details on this will follow once the health and environmental reports come in.

Jefferson Parish announced the opening of three cities. Beginning this morning, residents can now return to Gretna, Westwego, and Lafitte. Power is restored to about 90% of these cities, and the sewer and water systems are working. When you return you should run your water for about 10 minutes to clean out the system, but it is safe to drink. Meetings will be held today between Parish President Broussard and the Mayors of Kenner and Harahan to set timelines for their residents to return home.

Last night I attended a meeting of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Here are the items they discussed about the status of the Catholic school system:

– St. Tammany schools will likely open the week of September 19th.

– St. Charles and St. John are now open

– Jefferson schools are set to open on October 3rd

– Returning dates for Orleans and St. Bernard are still to be determined

– * They are asking parents who live in Parishes that will be opening by October 3rd not to enroll their children in other schools. They are readjusting the school year so that those students returning by October will complete the entire year. The Baton Rouge Archdiocese is still accepting students who cannot return by early October.
Detailed information on the Archdiocese can be found on their web site at or by calling them at (888)366-5024.

I just got out of a meeting with the Department of Environmental Quality. Officials reported that minimal air pollutants have been found and they do not believe they pose any health risks. The floodwaters still pose a health hazard with high levels of bacteria, so they are encouraging people to avoid contact with standing water. These results are based on samples taken in New Orleans on September 4th & 6th. Air and water monitoring will continue. They are also continuing inspections and searches for oil and chemical leaks. The most volatile area is limited to the portion of St. Bernard near the Murphy Refinery oil spill. They have already inspected roughly 75% of the facilities that handle radioactive material and they have all been found to be safe and secure. Debris disposal is going to be a huge task. Early estimates are that there will be 22 million tons of debris to be disposed. In addition 350,000 vehicles and 50,000 boats will likely need to be disposed. They will continue to meet to determine the best ways to safely dispose of this debris. The good news is that air levels in the New Orleans area are safe.

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