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Gustav evacuees allowed to go home

Traffic backed up as residents head home to places including New Orleans

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: New Orleans still isn't back to normal after Hurricane Gustav. But residents are returning. As Marketplace's Dan Grech reports, many simply couldn't afford to stay away.


Dan Grech: The mandatory evacuation of New Orleans officially ended this morning. But as Chris Kromm drove into the city yesterday, he got stuck in a huge traffic jam.

Chris Kromm: Lots of people were calling in to talk radio and saying, "This is outrageous, we can't afford to stay another night in the Hampton Inn, and I gotta get back to New Orleans."

Kromm heads the Institute for Southern Studies. He says after an evacuation, the poor are often stuck in shelters. The well-to-do stay away until power is restored. He says the working class is usually first to return home.

Kromm: They were already hanging by a thread. And they've been having to pay for hotel rooms. It just puts them deeper in debt or in a very precarious financial situation.

Since Katrina, New Orleans has struggled to rebuild its middle class. The city lacks affordable housing and well-paying jobs. Kromm says expensive evacuations just make the problem worse.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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