NEW ORLEANS - Officials ended their door-to-door sweep for corpses and some schoolchildren returned to classes as New Orleans revved up efforts to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Meanwhile, former President Clinton met with evacuees in Baton Rouge.
The search for Katrina victims ended in Louisiana with a death toll substantially less than the 10,000 victims some officials feared. A private company hired by the state to remove bodies was on call if any others were found. The toll Tuesday stood at 972, eight more than Monday, the state health department said. Mississippi's death toll remained at 221.
The death toll probably will continue to rise, but authorities have said sweeps yielded fewer bodies than feared, and that the toll was likely to be well below the dire projections. Mayor Ray Nagin said soon after Katrina struck that New Orleans alone could have 10,000 dead.
On Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton met with several dozen New Orleans-area residents who are staying in a shelter in Baton Rouge's convention center. The evacuees, many of whom have been sleeping on cots in the Rivercenter's vast concrete hall for more than a month, complained of lack of showers, clean clothes, privacy and medical care.
Clinton, working with former President Bush to raise money for victims, toured the sleeping area, shaking hands, hugging and chatting.
"My concern is to listen to you ... and learn the best way to spend this money we've got," said Clinton, who was to visit the city itself later in the day.
Robert Warner, 51, of New Orleans said he and others have struggled to get private housing set up through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We've been mired in the bureaucratic red tape since Day One," he said.
There were signs of normality in New Orleans on Monday - five weeks to the day since Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. St. Andrew the Apostle elementary school in the reopened Algiers neighborhood was the first Roman Catholic school to resume in New Orleans.
"My heart is just bursting," said teacher Jewell McCartney, fighting back tears as she welcomed her class of sixth-graders. "I just want to give them all a hug."
Archdiocese officials said their schools also were reopening in areas outside the city. Some public schools in nearby parishes also opened Monday, but public schools in New Orleans remain closed. Some may resume by November.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues pumping water out of the lower Ninth Ward and efforts to rebuild the levees that breached, causing water to cascade into the city, remained under way.
However, two canals near the area were closed Monday as a precaution, because of stronger-than-normal winds and higher tides, spokesman Alan Dooley said. As of late Monday afternoon, a steady stream of water leaked through the repaired levees.