BETTY ANN BOWSER: It still takes a humvee to navigate some of the water-logged streets of New Orleans, and will for some time to come, but parts of the city are dried out and will reopen for business owners and residents over the next ten days. The curtain goes up in the famed French Quarter on September 26, four weeks after Katrina struck. Mayor Ray Nagin said today New Orleans will thrive again.
MAYOR RAY NAGIN: My gut feeling right now is that we'll settle in at 250,000 people over the next three to six months and then we'll start to ramp up over time to get back up to the half a million that we had before and maybe exceed that, because I envision us building an incredible city that is so livable, so unique with all the New Orleans wonderful things that everybody appreciates, that everybody is going to want to come.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: But coming back to the Big Easy may mean roughing it for a while. The power should be back on, at least in some neighborhoods. But the water won't be safe for drinking or bathing, and hospital facilities remain limited.
MAYOR RAY NAGIN: As far as health care is concerned, we are letting people know that for the most part you are coming back to a city that is not fully operational. And we are providing services, the minimum services that you will need to operate and live comfortably.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: In Baton Rouge last night, Gov. Kathleen Blanco told a joint session of the state legislature that she too wants Louisianans to come home.
GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO: We will rebuild New Orleans and the surrounding parishes because that is what Americans do. We will drain the water from our neighborhoods, we will clean up the debris and contamination, we will rebuild our levees, roads and bridges, and we will recreate our communities.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: That is a tall and expensive order for a poor state like Louisiana. Blanco has asked the federal government to cover 100 percent of her state's disaster-related expenses.