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The latest on Katrina's aftermath


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Check here for the latest information from the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast region and other affected areas. Items are time-stamped when entered.

Tom Davis of Virginia to head up Katrina select committee

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., will be the chairman of a bipartisan select committee to review the emergency preparations for Hurricane Katrina and how the agencies responded, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said late Thursday.

"Tom has done an outstanding job as a chairman of our Government Reform Committee," Hastert said. "He is a deliberate thinker with a knack for details. So I'm anxious to see the good work that he will do."

The committee is to report its findings to Congress by Feb. 15, 2006. It is charged with investigating the development, coordination and execution by local, state and federal authorities of emergency response plans in preparation for Katrina and how authorities responded to the storm. (Posted 10:05 p.m.)

Bush makes proposals for recovery efforts

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- President Bush on Thursday proposed what he called the "Gulf Opportunity Zone" -- a recovery plan that would provide job-creating incentives in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The plan would offer tax relief and loan guarantees for small businesses -- including minority-owned businesses -- as well as other incentives to help revive the region's economy.

He called the efforts to rebuild the region "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen."

Bush also proposed "Worker Recovery Accounts" that would provide up to $5,000 to help evacuees find work.

In addition, he proposed an "Urban Homesteading Act" for lower-income citizens. He said this plan would provide home building sites "to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery." (Posted 9:53 p.m.)

Bush sets goal of October for evacuees to be out of shelters

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- President Bush on Thursday said the nation's goal is to get the thousands of Americans left homeless by Hurricane Katrina "out of the shelters by the middle of October."

To meet that goal, he said the government is providing assistance to evacuees to help them rent apartments or homes. He also said large numbers of trailers and mobile homes are being brought to the hard-hit areas to provide temporary housing. (Posted 9:44 p.m.)

Bush says nation must 'confront' poverty

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- President Bush on Thursday said Hurricane Katrina exposed deep persistent poverty in the region and that the United States must "confront this poverty with bold action."

"When communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm," he said. "Let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality."

"We want evacuees to come home, for the best of reasons -- because they have a real chance at a better life in a place they love." (Posted 9:38 p.m.)

Bush calls for 'comprehensive review'

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- Saying the system "was not well coordinated" at all levels of government, President Bush on Thursday said he has ordered every Cabinet secretary to take part in a "comprehensive review" of the response to Hurricane Katrina.

"This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina," he said in a national address. "We are going to review every action and make necessary changes."

He added, "When the federal government fails to meet such an obligation, I as president am responsible for the problem -- and for the solution." (Posted 9:34 p.m.)

Louisiana death toll rises to 558

BATON ROUGE, La. (CNN) -- State officials said Thursday the death toll from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is now 558, up from 474 Wednesday. (Posted: 6:31 p.m.)

NOAA: Katrina 'most destructive hurricane' to hit U.S.

(CNN) -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday listed Hurricane Katrina as "the most destructive hurricane to ever strike the U.S."

Katrina made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane, less than four days after battering South Florida as a Category 1 storm.

"Although its intensity at landfall was less than that of Hurricane Camille, which devastated coastal Mississippi in August 1969, the size of Katrina, with hurricane force winds extending 120 miles from its center, was much larger and the destruction more widespread than Camille," according to the NOAA statement.

According to NOAA's National Hurricane Center, the 1935 Labor Day hurricane in the Florida Keys is considered the strongest hurricane to strike the United States. It had a barometric pressure of 26.35 inches (892 millibars) measured at Long Key, Fla. No wind speeds were recorded, according to NOAA. (Updated 3:34 p.m.)

FBI launches tip line for complaints about public corruption, govt. fraud in connection to Katrina

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI is launching a tip line to allow the public to report alleged instances of public corruption or government fraud in connection with the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

The tip line number is 1-800-CALL-FBI, or 1-800-225-5324. The bureau said this line should be used only for cases in which a public official or a private individual has allegedly engaged in some type of criminal activity involving official operations.

"Calls to this tip line should be limited to fraud activity and corruption by businesses or persons engaged in purported contract fraud, procurement or purchasing fraud, and/or fraud of federally funded programs," FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, head of the Criminal Investigative Division, said in a written statement.

Officials said this tip line is not meant for reports dealing with online scams, such as fake e-mails purporting to solicit donations or illegitimate charity Web sites. If people want to report that type of fraud, they should still go to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at (Posted 2:44 p.m.)

Mississippi attorney general files lawsuit against insurance companies

BILOXI, Miss. (CNN) -- Amid reports that insurance companies may be taking advantage of Hurricane Katrina victims, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed a lawsuit Thursday against five insurers in his state, his press office said.

Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance, State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., Allstate Property and Casualty Co., United Services Automobile Association and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. were listed as defendants in the suit.

The suit asks that certain provisions in policies offered by these companies be declared "void and unenforceable." Those provisions exclude from coverage much of the property loss and damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The suit also seeks to prohibit the insurers from using these provisions when adjusting property claims. "The companies will try to work with the policyholders to resolve this issue," Bill Davis of the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group, told CNN. "There may have to be engineering studies done to determine what caused the damage." (Posted 2:11 p.m.)

Louisiana seeks parents or guardians of 25 youth detention center evacuees

BATON ROUGE, La. (CNN) -- Twenty-five adolescents evacuated from youth detention centers in southeastern Louisiana because of Hurricane Katrina still have not located their families or guardians -- a hunt made more difficult by privacy considerations that prevent the state from posting their names and pictures on Web sites.

The vast majority of 240 youth evacuees have re-established contacts with their families, said Louisiana Office of Youth Development (OYD) Deputy Secretary Simon Gonsoulin. But 17 days after the storm, 22 male and three female juveniles still have not re-established contact, perhaps because their parents are dead or incapacitated, remain in areas without communications, or chose not to look for their children.

"I would think communication is the biggest issue," Gonsoulin said.

Gonsoulin Thursday publicized a phone number -- 225-287-7900 -- and a Web site -- -- that parents can use to help them reunite with children in the state's juvenile justice system. (Posted 1:49 p.m.)

Nagin announces schedule for some New Orleans residents to return

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- Over the next few weeks, some 182,000 New Orleans residents will be allowed to return to their homes and businesses, Mayor Ray Nagin announced Thursday, as floodwater unleashed by Hurricane Katrina continues to be pumped out of the city.

"We're bringing New Orleans back and this is our first step," Nagin said.

By Sept. 26, the French Quarter will be open for business, he said. "The French Quarter is high and dry and we feel it has good electricity capability," he said.

Authorities are being extremely careful about restoring electricity because of the potential of fire in the tightly packed quarter. "If fire breaks out, we could lose a significant amount of what we cherish in the city," he said.

Over the coming weekend, business owners will be allowed into certain areas in the central business district, Algiers, and uptown. Over the next week, residents in those areas will be allowed to return.

Residents will have to abide by a dusk-to-dawn curfew, and the military will provide a security perimeter around the areas. Nagin also said residents should not bathe or drink water on the city's East Bank because of a leak of contaminated water. (Updated: 12:50 p.m.)

Town mayor calls for attention to New Orleans suburbs

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- A day after his New Orleans suburb reopened for business, Westwego, La., Mayor Robert Billiot urged officials to give attention to the outlying metropolitan area.

"I think what needs to happen is to be focused not only on (New) Orleans," said Billiot, whose town is home to about 11,000 in Jefferson Parish.

The mayor said suburban parishes shouldn't be ignored. "We have Plaquemines, St. Bernard and Jefferson Parish that was really devastated, more than Orleans and where the oil and gas industry really thrives."

Westwego has not received any money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency since Katrina ripped through the region on August 29, according to the mayor's office. "We need FEMA to get us money to meet expenses we incur in a short time," Billiot said. "Direct money, not going through the state or through some other system." (Updated 10:50 a.m.)

Miss. attorney general to sue insurance companies

(CNN) --Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood plans to announce Thursday afternoon that he is bringing a lawsuit against yet to be named insurers in the Mississippi area, his press office said.

In addition, his office is investigating charges that some Hurricane Katrina victims were encouraged to sign waivers in order to receive $3,000 worth of personal expense money in return for the homeowner agreeing that home damage was from a flood and not from wind.

Wind damage is covered under basic homeowner's insurance; flood damage is covered only if the homeowner purchased a separate flood insurance policy from the federal government. (Posted 10:10 a.m.)

Louisiana state lawmaker hopes Bush will step in on insurance issue

BATON ROUGE, La. (CNN) -- New Orleans-area residents are facing a "major problem" when they realize their homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flood damage, Louisiana State Sen. James Cain told CNN. He is calling for federal government assistance.

Flood damage in New Orleans, a result of Hurricane Katrina's damage to the city's levee system, is expected to cost billions of dollars to repair.

Cain, a Republican, said he is optimistic that President Bush will address the problem in his speech from New Orleans Thursday night.

"I hope that we hear that the federal government will step up and help the insurance companies, help these homeowners pay some of this flood insurance. That's where most of the damage is in New Orleans." Cain said on CNN's "American Morning." "You know, when we had 9/11, they helped bail out the airlines." (Posted 10:35 a.m.)

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