Residents of the Lower 9th Ward are now allowed to return.
People will probably be able to return home to live in part of the Lower 9th Ward next week for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, but there's no telling when the worst-damaged part of the neighborhood can reopen, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said Friday.
If water test results expected Monday are clean, he said, people can return -- and get to work on repairing their homes and having trailers delivered -- immediately afterward in the section of the neighborhood between Claiborne Avenue and the Mississippi River.
His "look and stay" policy, replacing the "look and leave" policy in the Lower 9th, "allows you to rebuild," Nagin said.
Nagin said he got word Friday from the Sewerage & Water Board and Entergy New Orleans that the sewer, power and natural gas systems are in shape to provide service to at least 85 percent of the homes in the Lower 9th, where a breach of the Industrial Canal during Katrina allowed floodwaters to rush in, pushing hundreds of homes off their foundations.
Nagin said he did not know how many houses are expected to be reopened in the area, which is nearer the river and therefore higher than the section on the lake side of Claiborne.
"The area on the other side of Claiborne was the most heavily damaged," he said.
The next hurricane season is less than a month away.
"I think that, based upon what has happened to this city, we're moving as fast and as quickly as we can, considering that Entergy's also in bankruptcy," Nagin said.