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Six in 10 may lack flood insurance

Washington Six in 10 homeowners and businesses in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina may lack flood insurance, meaning that tens of thousands of displaced property owners may get little money to cover losses or repairs.

In many areas now underwater in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast region, older family homes that no longer carry mortgages don’t have the flood insurance that’s now required when homes are bought or built in flood-prone areas.

“We’re estimating now for the affected areas, maybe 40 percent of the people have flood insurance,” said Edward Pasterick, a senior adviser at Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the flood policies that are backed by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Relocation offers are turned down

Des Moines States and cities far removed from the devastated Gulf Coast got a “thanks but no thanks” Saturday on their offers to house thousands of residents evacuated from hurricane-damaged Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Amid images of desperate Gulf Coast residents languishing without food or water days after Hurricane Katrina struck, offers of temporary housing poured out from leaders in Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and elsewhere.

But Federal Emergency Management Agency officials say the government will focus on relocating hurricane evacuees to Southern states contiguous to Louisiana.

Last barrier islands also victims of storm

Lafayette, La. As scientists review aerial photographs of devastation, the evidence of the next huge challenge facing the Gulf Coast jumps out: Katrina ripped through the coastline’s few remaining barrier islands, and with the hurricane season only half over, New Orleans is naked to the ravages of future storms.

“The entire delta is gone, destroyed,” said James Johnston, a biologist who coordinates the study of Louisiana’s coastline at the National Wetlands Research Center.

Now, officials from Louisiana are begging Washington to help shore up these natural buffers so that the inundated city of New Orleans will have a chance once it is rebuilt.

“These barrier islands and wetlands are our first line of defense from hurricanes,” said Sidney Coffee, who heads Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco’s coastal policy office. “This needs to be treated as an emergency. We need everyone to recognize that restoration efforts must begin immediately.”

Humane groups scramble to save pets

Baton Rouge, La Humane organizations that established pet refugee centers throughout Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina now are working to rescue dogs, cats and other animals left behind in New Orleans.

Members of the Louisiana Society to Protect Animals began going into refugee homes in Jefferson Parish late Friday to save pets left behind in the rush to evacuate. On Saturday, they expanded that effort to Orleans Parish.

The group’s efforts started Thursday, when Kathryn Destreza, the Louisiana SPCA’s director of animal services in New Orleans, took her workers and volunteers to a refugee bus-boarding site at I-10 and Causeway Boulevard in the city and brought more than 50 dogs and cats to a rescue center set up at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. Many owners were letting their pets go at the boarding site because they weren’t allowed to take them aboard the buses.

Storm closes half of Mississippi’s casinos

Jackson, Miss In just a matter of hours, Hurricane Katrina shut down half of an industry that contributes almost 5 percent of Mississippi’s total budget.

Katrina severely damaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s 12 casinos – plus the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino that was almost ready to open. That’s half of the 26 state-regulated casinos.

Gaming contributes $189 million – or 4.7 percent – to the state’s $13.2 billion budget, said state House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Percy W. Watson, D-Hattiesburg.


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