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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.

Louisiana governor thanks U.S. for Katrina efforts

BATON ROUGE (CNN) -- Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco on Saturday saluted Americans for opening their "wallets" and their "hearts" to the Katrina-devastated Gulf Coast and praised her fellow Louisianians for brave, selfless response work.

In the Democratic radio response, she also thanked President Bush for his efforts, saying "we are prepared to work as partners" and stressing that "partisan politics" has no place in the rebuilding effort.

Bush, in his weekly radio address, repeated the themes of his Thursday night address to the nation.

"The recovery of the Gulf Coast region will be one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen. And I have made a pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will help our citizens rebuild their communities and their lives," he said. (posted 3:08p.m.)

Allen urges against returning to New Orleans

BATON ROUGE, La. (CNN) -- The official in charge of the federal government's Hurricane Katrina efforts on Saturday urged New Orleans residents to consider delaying their return to the city, saying water, sewage, electric and safety systems are not available to meet basic human needs.

"I urge all residents returning to use extreme caution if they return and to consider delaying their return until safer and more livable conditions are established," Vice Adm. Thad Allen wrote in a statement.

"There are health issues that people should be aware of, and the absence of drinkable tap water will contribute to unsanitary conditions," he wrote. As flood water is pumped out and more areas are exposed, "toxins and other environmental hazards may pose additional health risks."

Allen's statement strikes a starkly different tone from the optimistic announcement Thursday by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. At a news conference, Nagin announced that residents would be allowed to re-enter the city -- and "repopulate" -- the city in stages. He called it "a good day in New Orleans." (posted 2:39p.m.)

Fire destroys small apartment complex in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- Fire on Saturday engulfed and destroyed a small apartment complex in the uptown area of New Orleans, a fire official told CNN.

Fire Capt. Wesley Thibodeaux said officials suspect the cause may have been arson.

Forty firefighters from three cities responded to the midday blaze. (posted 2:38p.m.)

Clinton: FEMA chief needs emergency management experience

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former President Bill Clinton on Friday said it should be required that any future head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency have "prior experience in emergency management."

"When a disaster strikes, that person becomes the most important person in the federal government," Clinton told CNN's Larry King.

Clinton did not mention ex-FEMA director Michael Brown by name, but it was clear who he was talking about. Brown resigned earlier this week amid intense criticism of his handling of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, Brown had spent the last decade as the commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. (Posted 8:28 p.m.)

Pentagon to review bigger disaster response role

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal response to the Katrina disaster has prompted the Pentagon and other government agencies to examine their roles in federal disaster response, at the behest of President Bush.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has directed Pentagon officials to look at the issue of a wider military role in either natural or man-made disasters, and give recommendations to the president, according to senior Pentagon officials. (Posted 6:43 p.m.)

Business owners can return to 3 areas of New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- Business owners in three areas of New Orleans will be allowed to return Saturday to check out their businesses under a strict curfew, the city's homeland security chief said Friday.

Col. Terry Ebbert said the business owners will be allowed into the French Quarter, the central district and uptown district during a curfew that will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

They will be allowed to visit only those areas and each person entering the city will be advised against drinking tap water and bathing, warned of the possibility of violence, and told that sewage and electricity is not fully functional in those areas. They will also be told that if it rains, everyone will have to leave immediately, he said.

He added that on Monday, residents of the Algiers neighborhood, which sits on the west bank of the Mississippi River across from the French Quarter, will be allowed to return home. That is the only area in the city to which all basic services have been returned. (Posted: 5:23 p.m.)

Bush plans to cut 'unnecessary' spending to pay for Katrina recovery

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The president said Friday that the federal government will spend what is needed to restore the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, and help pay for it by cutting other programs but not by raising taxes.

"It's gonna cost whatever it costs, and we're gonna be wise about the money we spend," Bush told reporters at the White House, adding, "that is going to mean cutting other programs."

"I'm confident we can handle it and I'm confident we can handle our other priorities," he said. He would not provide a ballpark figure or suggest where the money may come from.

The post-Katrina recovery, he said, is "going to mean that we're going to have to make sure we cut unnecessary spending. It's going to mean we've got to maintain economic growth, and therefore we should not raise taxes."

He added, "Look, there's not going to be any revenues coming out of that area for a while anyway, so we might as well give them good tax relief in order to get jobs there and investment there. It makes sense."

Bush said the Office of Management and Budget "will work with Congress to figure out where we need to offset when we need to offset, so that we can manage not only to maintain economic growth and vitality, but to be able to spend that which is necessary to help this region get back on its feet."

But he did not say which funds could be "offset" or what current spending is "unnecessary." (Posted: 4:18 p.m.)

Red Cross has helped 110,000 evacuees in metro Atlanta

ATLANTA (CNN) -- The American Red Cross said Friday that it has assisted about 38,500 families -- or an estimated 110,000 people -- who have fled to the metro Atlanta area as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

The aid agency said it has provided about $38 million in financial assistance to the families, which breaks down to roughly $1,000 per family.

Statewide, it said, help had been given to 42,100 families, or an estimated 120,000 people, as of late Thursday. Those numbers include the metro Atlanta figures.

The Red Cross said it is housing and feeding about 700 people in four shelters in the state, including about 130 people in metro Atlanta. The other evacuees are staying in relatives' homes, hotels and churches across the state. (Posted: 3:13 p.m.)

Humane Society: Lack of government coordination impeding pet rescues

BATON ROUGE, La. (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of pets left behind by Louisiana residents as they fled Hurricane Katrina are imperiled despite the presence of relief workers because governments have not established policies on what to do when pets are encountered, the head of the Humane Society of the United States said Friday.

National Guardsmen, firefighters and others want to rescue animals, and have rescued animals in some instances, Wayne Pacelle said. But most pets are being left to die because government leaders have not articulated policies allowing them to help animal rescue groups, he said.

"They just need the cue to go ahead and do it and help before it's too late. We have literally now just a few days left," Pacelle said.

The Humane Society estimates that 50,000 pets were left behind in the New Orleans area. Many people left a few days worth of food and water, expecting to return after the storm, Pacelle said. (Posted: 2:46 p.m.)

Bush's Katrina relief package: How much will it cost?

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- While lawmakers Friday weighed the potential effectiveness of plans President Bush laid out to help rebuild the ravaged Gulf Coast, another question echoed from the halls of Washington to all corners of the country: just how much will the ambitious agenda cost?

There were no clear answers.

Congress has already approved $62 billion in aid. Analysts estimate reconstruction costs will be at least $200 billion. Two top White House officials, during a briefing with reporters Friday, refused to estimate the total cost of Bush's proposals, and gave no indication as to where the money would come from in the federal budget, which is already operating on a hefty deficit.

Treasury Secretary John Snow said last week that the hurricane would not lead to an increase in the budget deficit in fiscal 2006. But many analysts disagree.

Ethan Harris, chief U.S. economist with Lehman Brothers, had been estimating a deficit of $350 billion before Katrina. Now he expects the budget deficit to reach a record $450 billion in the coming fiscal year. Barry Ritholtz, chief market strategist for Maxim Group, a New York-based investment firm, said it wouldn't be a surprise if the deficit wound up as high as $500 billion in fiscal 2006. (Posted 2:12 p.m.)

Over 2,000 children reported missing after Katrina

BATON ROUGE, La. (CNN) -- More than 2,000 children have been reported missing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, most of them in Louisiana, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

As of noon Friday, NCMEC had received a total of 2,812 reports of children missing as a result of the hurricane, according to spokeswoman Tina Schwartz. Of those, 760 cases had been resolved, leaving 2,052 still unresolved.

Marketa Garner Gautreau, an official with Louisiana's Department of Social Services, said Friday that many of those children have been reported missing by parents without custody, meaning some of them could be with the parent who has custody.

Ben Ermini, executive director of NCMEC's case management operations, said custody is verified before any child is reunited with his or her family. (Posted: 1:52 p.m.)

Coast Guard says it is working on 44 oil spills, 4 major

BATON ROUGE, La. (CNN) -- The U.S. Coast Guard says it is currently working to help contain 44 oil spills in southeast Louisiana as a result of Hurricane Katrina, including four major spills. It said the major spills are:

-- Murphy Oil Corporation, Meraux, La., near Mississippi River mile marker 87, where about 819,000 gallons of oil were discharged and more than 700,000 have been recovered, were contained or have evaporated;

--Bass Enterprises Production Company, Cox Bay, La., near river mile marker 35, where 3.78 million gallons of oil were discharged, and nearly all of it has been recovered, contained or evaporated;

--Shell, Pilot Town, La., near river mile marker 3, where about 1.05 million gallons of oil were discharged and about 87,000 gallons remain;

-- Chevron, Empire, La., near river mile marker 30, where about 991,000 gallons of oil was released and about 983,000 gallons naturally dispersed or evaporated and only about 7,600 gallons was recovered or contained. (Posted: 1:15 p.m.)

Government leaders react to Bush speech

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The following are some reactions to President Bush's speech on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts Thursday night:

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.: "He passed the buck to no one. He accepted it in the mold of President Truman. He admitted a lot. He admitted that no one was prepared. And that means the federal government, the state and the local governments. He was very, very honest, upfront. I think this is a new beginning."

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, praised Bush for making clear local officials will lead the rebuilding and "that the federal government understands that it has a major commitment here. It's going to be required to support financially what we do, particularly in areas of public infrastructure."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, in a joint statement, said, "The president offered comforting words tonight, but the victims of Hurricane Katrina don't need just words, they need a plan that will lead the way in recovery, rebuilding, and renewal... It takes more than just taking responsibility to right the many wrongs that occurred over the past two weeks. The American people need answers from independent experts outside of the political arena to learn from the past and prepare and protect our nation and our communities for the future. We can and must do better."

House Speaker Dennis Hastert: "Hurricane Katrina is a wake-up call for our nation. It reminded us of the power of Mother Nature and the need for federal, state and local governments to always be prepared... As we go about rebuilding the Gulf Coast, we welcome the president's proposals as well as the thoughts of state and local leaders."

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay: "We will recover. And we will rebuild. And the Congress will work in a bipartisan fashion to see to it that the work ahead of us is done right."

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who ran against Bush in last year's presidential election: "Leadership isn't a speech or a toll-free number. Leadership is getting the job done. No American doubts that New Orleans will rise again, they doubt the competence and commitment of this Administration. Weeks after Katrina, Americans want an end to politics-as-usual that leaves them dangerously and unforgivably unprepared. Americans want to know that their government will be there when it counts with leadership that keeps them safe, not speeches in the aftermath to explain away the inexcusable." (posted 10:32a.m.)

Details on Bush's Hurricane Katrina aid initiative

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A government source provided the following details on aid that Bush administration wants to provide to Hurricane Katrina victims and the states and institutions affected by the disaster:

Impact Aid for schools

-- 90 percent of the state cost for displaced students, with a $7,500 cap.

-- For religious schools, money to states who reimburse parents (dollars follow the child). Total cost $1.9 billion.

Student Loans

-- Six month forgiveness for student loan interest for higher education loans for affected students. Total cost $100 million.

Job Training

-- Worker recovery accounts of up to $5,000. Can be used for job training. If victims don't use up all the funds and get a job within 13 weeks, they can keep balance. Similar to prior proposals.

Urban Homesteading

-- Work with local housing authorities to allow use of sweat equity.

Charitable giving

-- USA Freedom Corps to create a clearinghouse to mirror charitable activities (e.g., St. Louis Boy Scouts could adopt New Orleans troop).

Tax Policy

--Create Gulf Opportunity (GO) Zones in the worst disaster areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The plan will cover 50 percent expensing for both equipment and structures, with structures being a new benefit. Increase small business expensing by $100,000. Total cost $1.7 billion over five years and $1 billion over 10 years. Provisions last 2 years and 4 months.

Small Business Loans

-- Increase subsidy rate on SBA loans and loan guarantees. Total cost $130 million.


--100 percent reimbursement and uncompensated care for evacuees to receiving states. Covers Aug. 29 to Jan. 31, 2006.

-- No announced policy for non-medicaid and poor. The White House plan to keep working with committees on innovative ideas. (Posted 8:08 a.m.)

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.)

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