New Orleans reluctantly opens doors to residents who fled Hurricane Gustav

NEW ORLEANS (AP) âÄî Thousands of people who fled Hurricane Gustav forced the city to reluctantly open its doors Wednesday, while President Bush returned to the site of one of the biggest failures of his presidency to show that the government had turned a corner since its bungled response to Katrina. Faced with traffic backups on paths into the city, Mayor Ray Nagin gave up checking ID badges and automobile placards designed to keep residents out until early Thursday. Those who returned said if the city was safe enough for repair crews and health care workers, it was safe enough for them, too. “People need to get home, need to get their houses straight and get back to work,” said George Johnson, who used back roads to sneak into the city. “They want to keep you out of your own property. That’s just not right.” But once back at home, tens of thousands of people had no power and no idea when it might return. Across the state, nearly 1.2 million homes and businesses were without electricity, and officials said it could take as long as a month to fix all outages. “There is no excuse for the delay. We absolutely need to quicken the pace at which power is restored,” Gov. Bobby Jindal said.