Hundreds feared dead in the wake of Katrina
"The devastation is greater than our worst fears," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told a news conference. "It's totally overwhelming."
She spoke after an overnight breach in New Orleans' protective levee system allowed water from Lake Pontchartrain to flood most of the city.
In the Mississippi coastal city of Biloxi, hundreds may have been killed after being trapped in their homes when a 30-foot (9 meter) storm surge came ashore, a city spokesman said.
"It's going to be in the hundreds," spokesman Vincent Creel told Reuters. "Camille was 200, and we're looking at a lot more than that," he said, referring to Hurricane Camille, which hit the area in 1969 and destroyed swaths of Mississippi and Louisiana, killing a total of 256 people.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin reported bodies floating in the city's floodwaters.
The AP is reporting that damage at this point is estimated to be as high as $26 billion. This would easilly make Katrina the most expensive natural disaster to ever strike the United States, surpassing Hurricane Andrew's $21 billion.
WWL-TV is reporting:
Jeff Parish President. Residents will probably be allowed back in town in a week, with identification only, but only to get essentials and clothing. You will then be asked to leave and not come back for one month.
Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard says there is no plumbing and the sanitary situation is getting nasty. He told WAFB-TV that he is carrying around a bag for his own human waste.
Jefferson Parish officials say schools could reopen by Dec. 1.
Video on WAFB-TV shows the Twin Spans between I-10 and Slidell broken in dozens of spots.
As of 2:40pm CDT: Jefferson Parish councilman Tom Capella says pumps working near Veterans and West Esplanade and water is receeding there. He says break in levee at 17th Street canal continues to pour water into Lakeview.