Until Hurricane Katrina struck, the city was protected from flooding by a series of levees. But the levees started giving way Tuesday, prompting the evacuation order.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on its Web site that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is trying to seal several breaks in canal levees in the city.
Rule said the FEMA medical teams were being assisted by hundreds of volunteer doctors, nurses, and other medical workers who have come to the stricken area to help.
Survivors will be treated for injuries they sustained during the storm, but medical personnel will probably also be treating people for high blood pressure, asthma, and other ailments caused by days of stress and dehydration, she said.
In addition, FEMA has sent teams of veterinarians and mental health specialists to the Gulf Coast, Rule said. The veterinarians will treat storm victims pets and livestock, as well as search-and-rescue dogs being used to find survivors, she said.
Willie Drye is the author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, published by National Geographic.
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