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Water receding noticeably in New Orleans
Updated: 2005-09-07 07:09

NEW ORLEANS - In a herculean task that could take months, engineers struggled to pump out the flooded city Tuesday, and the filthy waters were dropping noticeably. "I'm starting to see rays of light," the mayor said. AP reported

A military helicopter drops sandbags to repair a broken levee, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2005, in New Orleans.
A military helicopter drops sandbags to repair a broken levee, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2005, in New Orleans. [AP] 
The pumping began after the Army Corps of Engineers used rocks and sandbags over the Labor Day weekend to finally plug the 200-foot gap that let water spill into New Orleans and swamp 80 percent of the bowl-shaped, below-sea-level city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

On Tuesday, the Corps said the area under water had fallen to about 60 percent.

"I'm starting to see water levels much lower than I've seen," Mayor Ray Nagin said after surveying his city from the air. "Even in areas where the water was as high as the rooftops, I started to see parts of the buildings."

Still, he warned of the horrors that are likely to be revealed when the waters recede. "It's going to be awful and it's going to wake the nation up again," the mayor predicted, a day after saying the death toll in the city could reach 10,000.

Walter Baumy, a Corps manager in charge of the engineering job, said it will take 24 to 80 days to drain the city.

Exactly how long the job will take depends on a number of factors. Among other things, the condition of the pumps — especially whether they were submerged and damaged — is not yet fully known, the Corps said. Also, the water is full of debris, and while there are screens on the pumps, it may be necessary to stop and clean them from time to time.
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