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Hope after the storm

Editor's Note: CNN correspondents report back on what they are seeing in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Clean up continues in the French Quarter


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New Orleans (Louisiana)
Disasters and Accidents

CNN's Sean Callebs in New Orleans, Louisiana
Posted: 1:28 p.m. ET

The cleanup continues here in New Orleans, on the fringe of the French Quarter. Workers with the Bureau of Indian Affairs from Arizona are trying to knock down a large section of a magnolia tree in danger of falling.

President Bush had a firsthand look at some of the devastation today, looking around the French Quarter first and driving to areas that suffered much, much more devastation, He also visited the area around the convention center, which was the flash point for everything that went wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of people were stranded there for days with little food or water. Now, bulldozers are clearing much of the debris in that region.

You can hear Black Hawk helicopters overhead. This city is showing some signs of life. Power is back on in areas and some downtown businessmen have been allowed to come in for a short while and check out their businesses, but they must leave shortly after that. (Watch Sean Callebs' report on the cleanup in New Orleans -- 1:39)

Meanwhile, the military has backed off the threat to possibly force the 10,000 remaining citizens out of New Orleans. They are not going to do that for the time being. Floodwaters still cover about 50 percent of this city. Some sewer systems are back up and running, and the search and rescue operations here, indeed, continue.

Casino cleanup vital to Mississippi

CNN's Allan Chernoff in Gulfport, Mississippi
Posted: 1:23 p.m. ET

Around me in Gulfport, there is a tremendous amount of cleanup being done. Debris is littering the curbs.

There are air conditioning ducts going up in the Hancock Bank. Cleanup companies want to dry out the offices so they blow in air-conditioning and also have dehumidifiers in there trying to dry everything out.

After that they'll go in and rip out the carpet and the Sheetrock and have it all carted away. The recovery and the cleanup here is well under way, and the president is supposed to be visiting right near here within the next hour or so. (See Allan Chernoff's report on the reopening of a school in Gulfport -- 1:31)

The casinos are absolutely critical to the state. For a week and a half they've been inside of those casinos cleaning up. Crews go in there every day. All of the casinos around here have promised to rebuild and that is certainly making plenty of people feel somewhat hopeful because they are very important in terms of jobs and revenue for the entire region.

A search for chemo

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Posted: 11:16 a.m. ET

On Friday, I met Robin and Tony Natas. They had set out to find chemotherapy for their 6-year-old son, Tony. He needs it because the chemo's preparing him to get a bone marrow transplant, and without the transplant he only has a 35 percent chance of survival.

They escaped Slidell before the hurricane hit, and then after the hurricane they learned that Children's Hospital in New Orleans, where Tony gets his chemo, had been evacuated.

Robin and Tony, Sr., frantically searched for care, which was hard to do since neither land lines nor cell phones were working well. Eventually, they heard from other parents of kids with cancer that St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was welcoming evacuated children into their satellite clinic in Baton Rouge. (See Elizabeth Cohen's report on Katrina cancer kids -- 3:19)

Finally, Tony got his chemo -- although it was ten days late. His lab reports show he's doing well, considering. They have no idea where he'll get his bone marrow transplant; they may have to temporarily move to another state.

They were hoping to have it done in New Orleans with his much beloved doctor, Maria Velez, but Children's in New Orleans might not be up in time. Dr. Velez is herself an evacuee, living with friends near Baton Rouge while her husband and children are with friends in Houston.

I met several other children with cancer today who had to leave their homes, including Loran Williams. She's only 14 months old, but when you meet her, she immediately points to her upper lip, where she once had a gigantic tumor that covered a huge chunk of her face. Now, it's gone, and she's getting chemo; she too missed a round because of Katrina.

The saddest part: Children's Hospital is missing many of their cancer patients. They can't find them. Dr. Velez says it's a "nightmare." Did they live through the hurricane? How did they refrigerate their medications? Did these kids -- whose immune systems are so shattered -- have to wade through the toxic New Orleans floodwaters?

'You can feel the misery'

CNN's Jim Roope in New Orleans, Louisiana
Posted: 11:07 a.m. ET

While the water has receded or has been pumped out of some places, there are still streets where the black, toxic flood water covers cars and barely reveals street signs. Yet as you make your way through many of these neighborhoods, you see the occasional person, sitting on a porch if it's not flooded or waving from an upper-floor window. How they can stand the smell, the heat and lack of public utility service is beyond me.

The raised section of Interstate 10 that served as home for the displaced for a few days is littered with reminders of those awful days: coolers, baby strollers, clothing, food wrappers, broken bottles and other debris. You can feel the misery experienced on this highway the air is thick with its smell. It's the same feeling you get here, that you get from inside the Superdome and the convention center.

An exit ramp off I-10 is being used to launch boats to search and rescue. On another ramp where flood water is still high, two bodies, bloated and fished out of the water -- one in a body bag, one just in the roadway. Right now it's all about rescue; they'll recover the bodies later. (See video of the rescue and recovery efforts in New Orleans -- 3:10)

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