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Tuesday, September 6, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Governor not told of Bush's latest visit

President Bush conducted another partial tour of the region, though he again bypassed New Orleans.

"We're here for the long term," Bush said during a stop in Poplarville, Miss., 45 miles inland but savaged by Katrina. He's been harshly criticized over the federal response.

During his visit, Bush stopped in Baton Rouge, La., a city largely untouched by Katrina but now nearly overwhelmed with evacuees. Its population mushroomed from 225,000 to 325,000 within a week, city officials said, and soon could reach 450,000.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has refused to sign over National Guard control to the federal government and has turned to a Clinton administration official, former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief James Lee Witt, to help run relief efforts.

Blanco, a Democrat, was not informed of the timing of Bush's visit, nor was she immediately invited to meet him or travel with him. In fact, Blanco's office didn't know when Bush was coming until told by reporters.

Late yesterday, Blanco denied there was tension with Bush.

"We'd like to stop the voices out there trying to create a divide. There is no divide," she said.

New Orleans police

urging people away

New Orleans Deputy Police Chief Warren Riley, in the department's first news conference since the storm, said one of the greatest current challenges is persuading thousands of remaining people to leave their homes in a city without any municipal services and no prospect of any for months.

"What our officers are telling people is that there is absolutely no reason to stay here," he said. "There are no jobs. There are no homes to go to, no hotels to go to. There is absolutely nothing here. We advise that the city has been destroyed."

As many as 10,000 people were thought to have been left behind — or chosen to stay.

Law-enforcement

caravan arrives

With almost a third of New Orleans' police force missing in action, a caravan of law-enforcement vehicles, emblazoned with emblems from across the nation and blue lights flashing, poured into the city to help establish order on the anarchic streets.

Between 400 to 500 officers on New Orleans' 1,600-member force were unaccounted for. Some lost their homes. Some were looking for families. "Some simply left because they said they could not deal with the catastrophe," Deputy Police Chief Warren Riley said. Officers were being cycled off duty and given five-day vacations in Las Vegas and Atlanta, where they also would receive counseling.

Two police officers killed themselves. Another was shot in the head.

Fake garments

come in real handy

The Yves St. Laurent and Tommy Hilfiger labels may be phony, but the thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims getting knockoff items seized by federal customs officials probably don't mind.

Displaced survivors in the Houston Astrodome can choose from counterfeit and abandoned clothing, toys and even dog food.

More than 100,000 items were quickly taken from warehouses and more will follow, said Kristi Clemens, spokeswoman for Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection division.

Europe, Mexico

sending relief aid

BRUSSELS, Belgium — European nations yesterday prepared aid teams, food rations, water pumps and even cruise ships to help U.S. regions hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Countries large and small have offered aid — from tiny Luxembourg's beds and blankets to 500,000 food rations from Germany and Britain.

Greece put on standby two cruise ships to house refugees, and Sweden has offered aircraft to help distribute aid shipments.

Norway was offering navy divers as well as 10,000 blankets. Latvia and France were preparing to send disaster-relief teams.

A Mexican ship loaded with supplies set sail yesterday from the Gulf Coast port of Tampico, and the country has set up consular offices in trailers around the disaster zone to help some of the estimated 140,000 Mexicans who live in the region.

22 bodies found

lashed together

Sheriff Jack Stephens of St. Bernard Parish said rescuers found 22 bodies lashed together around a pole — a desperate, futile attempt to survive the storm in the tiny village of Violet along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. He said he believed they had tied themselves together, one by one, so they could escape the rising water.

Compiled from The Associated

Press and Reuters

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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