New Orleans a 'ghost town' for 9 months:
New Orleans will have to be abandoned for at least nine months, and many of its people will remain homeless for up to two years, the US government believes.
The bleak assessment will deepen the biggest crisis faced by President George Bush, who last week called the devastation of Hurricane Katrina a " temporary disruption".
The President is now facing a political hurricane of his own, with gathering criticism, even from inside his own party, for failing to heed warnings of the city's vulnerability, cutting spending on its defences to pay for the wars on terror and in Iraq, and responding sluggishly to the worst natural catastrophe ever to hit his country.
The criticism is all the sharper because the President did nothing to alter his holiday schedule for 48 hours. Vice-President Dick Cheney remains on holiday in Wyoming. Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, returned to Washington after being seen shopping for $7,000 shoes in Manhattan as New Orleans went under.