Friday, September 30, 2005

Back to Normal for Some in N.O.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The sounds of power saws and wood chippers filled parts of New Orleans on Friday as the French Quarter and other neighborhoods that were spared the worst of Hurricane Katrina were officially reopened to residents, a month after the storm hit.
Along St. Charles Avenue, its famous streetcars still idled, Maury Strong and her husband were elated to return home and find they had electricity.
"I came back to air conditioning and CNN, so I'm happy. The fridge is on, the beer is cold," she said. "I've been sobbing back in California for two or three weeks. I thought it was going to be much worse."
Great news! But there's also some bad news.
THIBODAUX -- It’s likely that about 1.3 million Louisiana residents were displaced because of the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina, and it’s reasonable to assume that some are not returning.
Based on rough estimates and some "heroic assumptions," LSU economist Loren Scott said he believes about 125,000 people will not return.
And maybe even worse news.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana is expected to lose $1 billion in tax dollars this year because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but that only is part of the budget deficit state government agencies are facing, financial analysts told lawmakers Friday.

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