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Hopelessness begins to lift in New Orleans
Updated: 2005-09-12 08:39

"They wouldn't let us in before, but we made it now and we could drive all the way here with no problem," he said.

The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport reopened for cargo traffic Sunday, and limited passenger service was expected to resume Tuesday, airport director Roy Williams said.

Williams said he expects about 30 departures and arrivals of passenger planes a day — far below the usual 174 — at the airport, where a week ago terminals became triage units and more than two dozen people died.

Authorities raised Louisiana's death toll to 197 on Sunday, and recovery of corpses continued. Teams pulled an unspecified number of bodies from Memorial Medical Center, a 317-bed hospital in uptown New Orleans that closed more than a week ago after being surrounded by floodwaters.

President Bush meets members of the New York City fire department at a first-responders base camp in Algiers, La., on the outskirts of New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2005.
US President Bush meets members of the New York City fire department at a first-responders base camp in Algiers, La., on the outskirts of New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2005.[AP]
Trash collection began over the weekend, a service unimaginable in the apocalyptic first days after Katrina's fury battered the Gulf Coast and broke holes in two levees, flooding most of New Orleans.

Mayor C. Ray Nagin was asked NBC's "Meet the Press" whether New Orleans could stage Mardi Gras in February 2006. "I haven't even thought that far out yet," he said.

But he added, "It's not out of the realm of possibilities. ... It would be a huge boost if we could make it happen."

Nagin declined to say when the city might be drained of floodwaters.

"But I always knew that once we got the pumps up, some of our significant pumps going, that we could accelerate the draining process," he said. "The big one is pumping station six, which is our most powerful pump, and I am understanding that's just about ready to go."

The city's main wastewater treatment facility will be running by Monday, said Sgt. John Zeller, an engineer with the California National Guard.

"We're making progress," Zeller said. "This building was underwater yesterday."

David Smith, a volunteer firefighter from Baton Rouge, said it's a sign of progress that people like him are now in New Orleans aiding the city's recovery.

"We are helping people get the medicine they need," Smith said. "People who haven't been able to get prescriptions filled. That's a big step forward."
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