Blanco: Everyone in New Orleans Needs to Get Out

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - With conditions in the hurricane-ravaged city of New Orleans rapidly deteriorating, Governor Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday afternoon that people now huddled in the Superdome and other rescue centers need to be evacuated. She called the situation heartbreaking.

Because of two levees that broke Tuesday, the governor says the city is rapidly filling with water and the prospect of having power is a long time off. She also said the storm severed a major water main, leaving the city without drinkable water.

Blanco says that at midnight, all the boat operators trying to rescue people from rooftops were told to take a break, but they refused.

Officials Search for the Living, Bypass the Dead

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin outlined to FEMA director Mike Brown this afternoon that hundreds, if not thousands, of people may still be stuck in rooftops and attics and need rescuing. He says rescue boats are bypassing the dead.

Major General Bennett C. Landreneau, adjutant general for the Louisiana National Guard says national Guardsmen search and rescue teams are still picking up people throughout the city. They are being dropped on island-like highway overpasses and on the Mississippi River levee to wait until they can be moved again. They will eventually end up in the Superdome.

Nagin says 75 to 80 percent of the New Orleans area is flooded. He says there are two major breaks in levees -- one at Florida Avenue in eastern New Orleans and another on the 17th Street Canal, where two or three blocks of concrete levee blew out.

Because of the 17th Street Canal break, Lake Pontchartrain water is pouring down into the city. The canal runs along the Orleans and Jefferson parish line.

Nagin says the pumps which normally protect the city are working, but since they send water into the lake it does no good. The Corps of Engineers is trying to sandbag the break, but he had no timeline for their efforts. He says the levees seem to be holding every where else.

Water on the Rise in Downtown New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Rescuers in boats and helicopters are furiously searched Tuesday for survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

In New Orleans, residents who had ridden out the brunt of Katrina faces another, delayed threat: rising water. Failed pumps and levees are sending water from Lake Pontchartrain coursing through the streets today in the Big Easy, which sits mostly below sea level.

Rising water forced one New Orleans hospital to move patients to the Louisiana Superdome, where some 10,000 people had taken shelter.

In downtown New Orleans, streets that were relatively clear in the hours after the storm now are filled with one to one-and-a-half feet of water. Canal Street is literally a canal and officials say water is lapping at the edge of the French Quarter.

Crews hope to plug a broken levee in New Orleans with 3,000-pound sand bags dropped from helicopters. The city is below sea level, and the network of pumps, canals and levees isn't keeping up with the rising water. Many pumps weren't working Tuesday morning.

Rising water has sent patients from one hospital to the Louisiana Superdome. A knee-deep moat surrounds the stadium and downtown streets are swamped. The water is fouled with gasoline, debris and floating islands of red ants.

The top homeland security official in New Orleans says bodies have been spotted drifting in the floodwaters. Governor Kathleen Blanco says the devastation being seen this morning "is greater than our worst fears." She describes it as "totally overwhelming."

Blanco says there are no casualty figures yet, but that "many lives have been lost." She says 700 people were rescued overnight from flooded areas.

N.O. Man Tells of Death at Flooded Boarding House

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Frank Mills was in a boarding house with three elderly residents when water started swirling up to the ceiling. The 56-year-old Mills ran to the front door -- but an elderly man went to a bedroom to retrieve something, and a woman went to help him. Mills tells the Associated Press he next saw the woman in a hallway floating face up. He never saw he elderly man again. Mills said he made it to a roof covering the front porch of the one-story house in the lower Ninth Ward section where he desperately tried to pull another elderly man to safety. But he slipped away. Mills sat on the roof for about two hours before catching a floating compressor in the 20-foot-deep water and making his way to a two-story building nearby, where he was eventually picked up by a boat. Miles was taken to the Superdome where he stood in line with nothing but a ruined Walkman, a soaked cell phone and a bottle of water in a garbage back. -The American Red Cross says it has thousands of volunteers mobilized for the hurricane. Spokesman Bradley Hague said it's the "largest single mobilization that we've done for any single natural disaster." The organization has set up operational headquarters in Baton Rouge. -The Environmental Protection Agency dispatched emergency crews to Louisiana and Texas because of concern about oil and chemical spills. -The Coast Guard closed ports and waterways along the Gulf Coast and positioned craft around the area to conduct post-hurricane search and rescue operations. -The Agriculture Department said its Food and Nutrition Service would provide meals and other commodities, such as infant formula, distilled water for babies and emergency food stamps. -The Defense Department dispatched emergency coordinators to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi to provide communications equipment, search and rescue operations, medical teams and other emergency assistance. -The Health and Human Services Department sent 38 doctors and nurses to Jackson, Mississippi, to be used where needed, and 30 pallets of medical supplies to the region, including first aid materials, sterile gloves and oxygen tanks. Some six-thousand National Guard personnel from Louisiana and Mississippi who would otherwise be available to help deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are in Iraq. Even so, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs. He said about six-thousand-500 National Guard troops were available in Louisiana, about seven-thousand in Mississippi, nearly ten-thousand in Alabama and about eight-thousand-200 in Florida.