Mayor halts New Orleans returnees

Sept. 19, 2005 at 6:52 PM

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- With Tropical Storm Rita heading for the Florida Keys, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Monday told returning residents to stay out of the Crescent City.

The mayor said those who have returned, either officially or unofficially, should leave by Wednesday, CNN reported. Nagin had issued an order allowing residents of the Algiers neighborhood to come back Monday, followed by those from other areas that escaped the worst of the flooding in levee breaks following Hurricane Katrina.

Rita was on a path similar to Katrina's in late August. The storm was close to the Bahamas growing stronger as it headed for southern Florida. After it passes over Florida, it could plow into the Gulf of Mexico and gain strength as it moves towards Louisiana and Texas on the Gulf Coast.

Nagin's move to reopen parts of the city began Saturday when business owners were allowed to come in to the French Quarter and other relatively high-ground neighborhoods.

U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen, in charge of federal Katrina relief efforts, argued that the mayor was jumping the gun. President Bush publicly sided with Allen.

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