New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says large portions of the city will be re-opened to residents starting Monday.
Mr. Nagin said Thursday that eight neighborhoods in the city, representing about one-third of New Orleans' population, will be re-opened next week, adding "the city will start to breathe again."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Thursday federal officials expect to finish pumping hurricane flood waters out of the New Orleans area weeks earlier than expected -- as long as rainfall does not trigger more flooding.
But experts say a return to normal is much farther away for other residents along the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana remain without electric power. Economic damage along the coast is estimated at more than 125-billion dollars.