It may take years for hurricane victims in Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans, to return to their homes, the local authorities said Thursday.
There were 28,000 people in the parish, and nearly all of them were evacuated before Hurricane Katrina made a landfall in late August, ravaging the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, they said.
Cleanup in the area had already started, but it may take "years" for the victims to return, they added.
The eye of Katrina moved across the south of Plaquemines on Aug. 29, destroying houses and forcing several giant refineries to halt production.
Some houses were destroyed as if they were bombed, said a local reporter who had visited the site.
Inside the city of New Orleans, the water level was down by eight inches (about 0.2 meter), and only 60 percent of the city was still under water.
Around the Superdome Stadium, which once sheltered about 20,000 hurricane victims, the water level was down, and some rescue and relief vehicles were moving in the water.
However, the most common vehicle used by the search-and-rescue teams on the street was still the "fan boat," which is propelled by a huge fan.
Since New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issued a mandatory order to evacuate the remaining holdouts, which were estimated at some 10,000, rescuers had stepped up the evacuation operation.
Edward T. Thorpe, a black hurricane victim who previously refused to leave, said on Thursday he agreed to evacuate after his wife conceded to rescuers.
Thorpe, who had with him several pieces of baggage, said their eldest daughter and her children had evacuated to Jackson, Mississippi, but he did not know where he and wife would be going.