Katrina victim's body found in attic
Searchers resume operations, expect to find up to 400 missing
From Sean Callebs
The body of a man killed by Hurricane Katrina was found Sunday in this home in New Orleans, an official said.
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NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Three days after officials inspected a storm-damaged home spray-painted with "0" -- indicating no bodies inside -- cadaver dogs led searchers to a victim of Hurricane Katrina in the attic.
Before dying, the man apparently was trying to crawl out of an air-conditioning vent to escape rising floodwaters, said Dr. Louis Cataldie, Louisiana's medical examiner.
Cataldie said searchers expect to find up to 400 more bodies of storm victims still hidden inside New Orleans homes six months after the storm.
Cataldie said Monday that cadaver-searching dogs are critical to the search and recovery missions. (Watch cadaver dogs scour buildings -- :47)
"Obviously my concern is we could clear a house and determine there's no body inside," he said. "So it's important to get these dog teams in before any debris is removed."
As part of the new hunt for victims that began last week, cadaver dogs helped discover the body Sunday in a rental home in the Lakeview area -- a mostly white, middle-class neighborhood near the 17th Street Canal levee that failed the day of the hurricane.
Flooding left more than three-quarters of the city underwater after the breach of protective levees in the August 29 storm.
The home's owner told authorities he had not seen the tenant since the storm hit.
Firefighters said the search dogs indicated the presence of a body almost immediately.
"This is what we were hoping for," Cataldie said. "This is why these dogs were brought in."
Since December, bureaucratic red tape has blocked funding to find more bodies of missing residents hidden in the storm's wreckage. Money was made available last week, prompting renewed search and recovery efforts.
"We used state funds as long as we could until we ran out of money," Cataldie said. "Then [we] made the federal request, and that money just came in so we are doing what we can.
"Finding just one body is important."
State and local officials relaunched the search for more victims Wednesday. Cataldie said he expects the new search to find between 300 and 400 bodies based on the number of calls from families asking about missing loved ones.
More than 1,900 Louisiana residents remain unaccounted for -- largely because of confusion created by the massive evacuation of residents to other areas of the country in the storm's wake.
Louisiana authorities blame more than 1,100 deaths in the state on Katrina, and the storm killed more than 200 others in Mississippi and three other states.
The renewed search for bodies has been spurred by fears that workers inadvertently may remove remains of storm victims when they clear debris from wrecked homes in flood-damaged neighborhoods such as the Lower 9th Ward, Lakeview and New Orleans East.
Searchers expect the hunt for bodies to take at least two more months.
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