Katrina Crews Pause, Observe 9/11 Anniv.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Firefighters paused Sunday in their recovery work for Hurricane Katrina to observe the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack that killed their brethren in New York.
On the lawn of Our Lady of Holy Cross College in the city’s Algiers section, firefighters from New Orleans, New York and other cities gathered around a makeshift memorial that said: ``Never Forget. 343. FD 9-11 NY.″ On Sept. 11, 343 New York firefighters were killed in the attacks that destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Dolly and David Gautreaux live down the street from the college. ``We came to pay our respects because they have done so much for us,″ she said of the firefighters.
``A hurricane is an act of God,″ she said. ``What happened in New York was an act of violence.″
A bell from a neighboring church, its steeple wiped out by Katrina, was given to the New York firefighters.
In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened a ceremony at the site of the attack with a reference to the victims of Katrina.
``And to Americans suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, our deepest sympathies go out to you this day,″ he said.
Sunday’s ceremonies came amid the search for the bodies of Katrina victims. Officials working to identify remains processed bodies around the clock at a field morgue set up in St. Gabriel, a small community between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
The confirmed death toll in Louisiana stood at 154 people, but the toll is expected to climb as crews collect bodies trapped in houses and floating in the receding water.
At the city’s convention center, the chaotic site where thousands initially took refuge before being evacuated a week ago, bulldozers pushed heaps of chairs, sleeping bags and trash into giant piles to be hauled away.
Tow truck drivers started picking up scores of abandoned cars littering the streets while other workers unloaded food and supplies for employees working in Bell South’s downtown office.
At the Parc St. Charles hotel, workers went floor to floor cleaning up. ``There’s a lot of spoiled meat, a lot of bacteria that needs to be cleaned up,″ said Bob Allen, who was supervising the job.
At the Superdome, where thousands first sought shelter only to be trapped inside by the floodwaters, water levels had dropped markedly. Water that once submerged cars parked around the dome had dropped to about a foot deep.
Police, doctors and National Guardsmen inspected Charity Hospital, where doctors and patients had been stranded by the rising water.
Doctors hoped to be able to reopen it to help treat skin infections, dehydration and other illnesses, said Dr. Jeffrey Kochan, who is overseeing medical services in New Orleans. But they found the basement full of water, meaning electricity couldn’t be restored. Kochan said they would inspect the city’s other hospitals.
Thousands of residents continue to defy orders to leave the city, but security forces were not forcing anyone to go. Mayor Ray Nagin warned earlier that residents could be forcibly removed, but authorities have not taken that step.
Police Chief Eddie Compass said that 200 arrests had been made since the hurricane despite the 300 officers missing from his 1,750-strong force. ``We’ve been almost crime-free for the last four days,″ he said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said most of the city could be drained within a month. Power and other utilities remain out in most of the affected region.
Associated Press writers Don Babwin, Erin McClam, Kevin McGill, Jessica Bujol and Mary Foster contributed to this report.