- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The floodwaters are long gone from Dorothy Williams’ house, but there is one reminder of Hurricane Katrina that she cannot seem to get rid of — the water-damaged car in front of her house.

“We got a bunch of people together Saturday night and were going to push it into the middle of the street and set it on fire,” the retiree said last week. “We figured the city would have to do something about it then.

“But it has four flats and the gears are stripped, so we couldn’t move it.”

Nearly seven months after Katrina, the streets of New Orleans still are strewn with thousands of abandoned cars — many of them flooded out, some stolen, some left by residents who have not returned since the Aug. 29 storm. There are seven such cars on Miss Williams’ block alone.

“It starts off as an annoyance that you have these blighted vehicles sitting in front of your property taking up parking places,” said Nathan Shroyer, whose block also is littered with boats that were used for rescues. “But it’s more than an eyesore. People throw trash in them, pile trash on them. They’re just like blighted houses; they have the same kinds of problems.”

Many of the vehicles have been plundered of everything of value, including the tires. Many are encrusted with the dried gray muck left over after the floodwaters receded. Some have become havens for insects and rats.

Across the state, authorities are laboring to identify and find the owners — who may be in other states — and come up with places to store the towed vehicles.

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