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New Orleans residents can begin returning to their homes on Thursday, Mayor Ray Nagin said Tuesday night, but he urged them to be aware of the hardships they will face.

"The picture's not as good as we thought it would be," Nagin said almost 36 hours after Hurricane Gustav roared into the state with 110 mph winds.

The loss of electrical power was New Orleans and Louisiana's biggest problem. More than half the state's residents -- 1.4 million households -- were lacking electricity Tuesday, Gov. Bobby Jindal said. Some may not get it back for weeks.

LaFourche parish residents, some of the 2 million who evacuated statewide, were allowed to return home on Tuesday, but their homes may be without power for three to four weeks, according to the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans.

Officials in New Orleans said 13 of the 14 transmission lines that supply the area were not working Tuesday. Read full article »

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