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Katrina victims take on hurricane tour operators

By Stacey Plaisance

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Oct. 4 2012 3:30 a.m. MDT

A tour bus turns a corner in the Lower 9th Ward section of New Orleans, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. Residents and the City of New Orleans may be pushing back against tour companies ushering out-of-towners into to the Lower 9th Ward, the neighborhood made famous when floodwalls and levees failed in 2005, pushing homes off their foundations and stranding residents on rooftops.

Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Some New Orleans residents and elected officials are pushing back against tour operators who send out-of-towners into the city's Lower 9th Ward, where Hurricane Katrina unleashed a wall of water that pushed homes off foundations and stranded residents on rooftops when the levees failed.

The devastation became the centerpiece of a cottage tourism industry after the August 2005 hurricane, sending visitors streaming in for a close-up look.

Worried that the tour vehicle traffic would interfere with clean-up efforts, the City Council approved an ordinance in 2006 banning the coaches from the area. Now, tour operators are crying foul, claiming the ordinance was thinly enforced until recently, and that their business is being hurt.

But residents say they're weary of being gawked at. They also say the buses damage their streets.

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