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New Orleans airport closed to tourists

Official: Normal operations may not resume for months

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New Orleans (Louisiana)
Disaster Relief
Disasters (General)

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- It may be a couple of months before tourists can return to New Orleans via the city's Louis Armstrong International Airport, but aviation director Roy Williams said the airport is "open and operational" despite some hurricane damage.

"We're open to serve the humanitarian needs for the community," Williams said.

Airport officials, including Williams, are coordinating with emergency relief agencies to evacuate New Orleans residents via Armstrong Airport and bring relief and medical supplies into the city.

"It's going to be very, very restricted air service for the weeks to come," Williams said.

He said that he hoped that by November, some traditional service -- such as for tourism and business activities -- could resume.

The airport, which is about 10 miles west of downtown New Orleans in Kenner, did not sustain major damage when Hurricane Katrina pounded the area Monday, causing nearby Lake Pontchartrain to overflow its levees and flood much of New Orleans.

Williams rode out the storm at the airport and said the most severe damage was outside his office window.

"One of our newer parts of the building, (the storm) completely shattered the roof and that part of the building is now open air," he said.

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