Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath damaged beyond repair tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the region and left more than 78,000 people in emergency shelters. Some evacuees from New Orleans' Superdome arrived overnight in Houston to shelter at the Astrodome.
Survivors from Hurricane Katrina will welcome air-conditioning, cots to sleep on, showers, meals and access to telephones. Looting and violence in New Orleans has caused a halt in evacuations by hospitals and ambulance services, who are concerned for their staff.
Louisiana's Governor, Kathleen Blanco, has said the government will do "what it takes to bring law and order to our region." National Guard Troops have been brought into the decimated coastal communities to aid in the clean-up ; a recovery effort that President Bush concedes will take "years."
Mississippi's Governor Barbour said Katrina's deadly impact is worse than Hurricane Camille.
Meanwhile, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin reportedly said Wednesday that the storm probably killed thousands of people in his battered and flood-stricken city.
"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and others dead in attics, The Associated Press quoted Nagin as saying. When asked how many, he reportedly said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."
Nagin and other Louisiana officials had refused to give a casualty count in the past, saying emergency workers were focusing on the rescue effort. Rescue workers are using boats and helicopters to search for survivors. Their efforts have been hampered by lawlessness and damaged infrastructure.