- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The search for bodies of people killed by Hurricane Katrina has ended in Louisiana, a state official said yesterday.

All agencies conducting the searches have finished their sweeps for remains. But Kenyon International Emergency Services, the private company hired by the state to remove the bodies, is on call if another body is found, said Bob Johannessen, a spokesman with the state Department of Health and Hospitals.

“There might still be bodies found — for instance, if a house was locked and nobody able to go into it,” Mr. Johannessen said.

Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it had completed its role in the search, because its specialties were no longer needed. Those services included getting to bodies in attics or other hard-to-reach places or in buildings that may be structurally unsound.

FEMA conducted nearly 23,000 secondary searches in New Orleans with about a dozen teams.

The state’s death toll stood at 964 from Hurricane Katrina. Mississippi’s death toll is 221.

Earlier yesterday, a Catholic school in the city’s Algiers neighborhood became the first school in Orleans Parish to reopen since Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, and its principal told pupils their school is “a place you can call home now.”

As St. Andrew the Apostle Elementary School sprang back to life, Sybil Skansi reminded the teachers about handing in attendance sheets, while the students — some who attended before the storm and some who were displaced from other schools — were reminded that they were welcome to try out for the drama team.

But five weeks to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated this city on the Mississippi River, she had some mixed news: The cafeteria was open, but the freezer wasn’t working.

Still, she told students that if they hadn’t been able to bring a bag lunch, the school would find a way to get them something to eat.

“This is a family. This is a place you can call home now,” Ms. Skansi said.

The city’s public schools remain closed, but officials are developing a plan to reopen some by November, subject to environmental, health and safety concerns. Public and private schools in some of New Orleans’ suburbs already have resumed classes.

A week earlier, Mayor C. Ray Nagin had welcomed residents back to the Algiers neighborhood but imposed a curfew and warned of limited services. Algiers, a neighborhood of 57,000 people, lies across the Mississippi River from the main part of New Orleans and largely escaped flooding from Hurricane Katrina and Rita.

Electricity had been restored to about 29 percent of New Orleans customers and about 98 percent of Jefferson Parish customers, said Chanel Lagarde, a spokesman for Entergy Corp.

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