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Potbellied pig resists evacuation; in Gulfport, a bar rations its cold beers

NEW ORLEANS—The Crescent City and environs got a little of their sass back Wednesday and felt better. Among the developments:

James Parsons and Connie Schrader vowed Wednesday to stick it out at their place just off New Orleans' tony St. Charles Avenue. If they lost heart, they had a little skiff tied up alongside the house.

But what about Rooty, their potbellied pig, aka "our only baby"?

Rambunctious Rooty weighs in at 125-plus pounds. He threatened to rock their boat or worse. The couple decided it was Humane Society time.

"The funny thing is most animals don't want to go," said the Humane Society's Rene Bafalis.

Rooty was no exception. Though penned in a carrier, he nearly sank the rescuers' boat. It took a small front-end loader to get him out.

Rooty's owners can pick him up at the vast post-disaster animal shelter in Gonzales, La., once they or the waters relent.

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Michael O'Donoghue, a denizen of New Orleans' Lower Garden District, claimed the harrowing distinction of being evacuated, escaping, returning home and facing evacuation again.

O'Donoghue, 64, likened his four-day Superdome stay to imprisonment.

"Tuesday, I made a couple of breaks but they brought me back," he said. "I finally escaped Thursday."

His house is livable, O'Donoghue insisted, and "once you put yourself in the hands of the government, you could end up in Utah."

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Even in the midst of disaster, Southerners have their standards.

Along the Mississippi coast, shirts, shorts, jeans, towels and socks are being handwashed in whatever water is available and hung or spread out to dry.

But there is no underwear of any sort in public view. That's apparently dried modestly, indoors.

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Biloxi's Beau Rivage casino reopened its bar and the longnecks even had cold sweat on them. They're rationed: three per customer.

Mike Van Grinsven wasn't completely happy. He said he'd lost a new $3,500 Gibson Les Paul Black Beauty and all his other guitars to a storm so fearsome "there were goats hanging in the trees near my house."

Glenn Fairley was nearly blissed out.

"It's nice to hear some music instead of news," he said.

Kandis Glasier of Saucier, Miss., enjoying a Coors Light, was near to swooning, too.

"You can kind of forget what it's like and remember what it used to be like," she said.

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Cowtrina survived the hurricane but remains hospitalized. The giant, stuffed cow with a zebra-striped hide and fetching sunglasses is now the nurses' mascot at Hancock Medical Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss. She was to have been auctioned off at a posh charity event that didn't happen Friday.

The nurses protected her from 4-foot flood in the hospital by sitting her atop a toilet. Only her tail got wet. Someone put a life preserver labeled "USS Katrina" around her neck.

To the nurses in the still-muddy hospital, many of whom worked around the clock through the storm without knowing their families' fate, Cowtrina's "our symbol of hope," said Sydney Saucier, the nurse manager. "And our sense of humor."

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A problem-solver from Baton Rouge, La., came up with a nifty solution Wednesday to the classic animal problem: people who won't evacuate New Orleans without their pets vs. rescuers who won't take pets.

Carlos Padial rented a bus after he learned that a friend's daughter, Robin Schaffer, 43, was car-less in New Orleans with her two cats. Padial won the governor's permission to enter the city and take out a busload of pets and their owners. Schaffer promoted the opportunity far and wide. A local radio station got wind of it.

When Padial arrived, he hung banners on the bus: "Pet Loving People." The bus filled and Padial was off like Noah.

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Inmate visits resumed Wednesday at Gulfport's Harrison County Adult Detention Center.

Prisoners weathered the storm well, reported Maj. Dianne Riley, the jail's warden. Food and water were ample and the power was back by Sunday night, she said. There's even some new company: 110 looting suspects arrested since the hurricane.

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(Knight Ridder correspondents Robin Fitzgerald, Jim Butler, S. Heather Duncan and Michael Newsom contributed to this report; Frank Greve compiled their dispatches.)

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTO (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): Rooty

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