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macon.com Midday Update: Bush inspecting Louisiana hurricane damage today; Repaving on Atlanta’s Downtown Connector nears end; Swastika painted near Atlanta area high school

President Bush is keeping hands-on in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav, in contrast with his administration’s slower response to the more devastating Hurricane Katrina three years ago.

Bush left the White House today for a briefing at an emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, La., two days checking on command centers in Texas as the storm unfolded.

‘‘We are thankful that the damage in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast was less than many had feared,’’ Bush said on the eve of his return to the area.

‘‘I commend the governors of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas for their sure-handed response and seamless coordination with the federal government,’’ Bush said Tuesday via satellite to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. ‘‘I thank all of the wonderful volunteers who stepped forward to help their brothers and sisters in need.’’

He urged Gulf Coast residents to wait for local officials to give them a green light to return to their homes.

‘‘We know that there is still risk even after the storm has passed,’’ he said. ‘‘So I ask citizens across the region to listen closely to local officials and follow their instructions before returning to their homes.’’

The storm that struck the U.S. on Monday largely spared New Orleans and Louisiana, but neighborhoods remained without power and community water and sewage systems were not all working. Bush, who visited two Texas emergency command centers on Monday as Gustav lashed the coast, has declared a major disaster exists in Louisiana, where Gov. Bobby Jindal claims the state is at ‘‘halftime’’ in the Gustav ordeal.

Associated Press

Repaving on Atlanta’s Downtown Connector nears end

Transportation officials say they may finish repaving on the so-called Downtown Connector earlier than projected.

Closing the lanes of Interstates 75 and 85 has been limited to nights and weekends. At times traffic has backed up for miles, with delays up to two hours or more.

A spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, Crystal Paulk-Buchanan, says all that’s left for the re-paving project are a few nights of rolling lane closures, slowing traffic on one or sometimes two lanes, where traffic crawls behind machines that paint stripes on the road.

The repaving could be done this week, more than two months ahead of schedule.

Work on the project began in April.

The roadway was last repaved in 1995 for the Olympics.

Associated Press

Swastika painted near Atlanta area high school

For the second time in as many months, a painted anti-Semitic symbol has been reported near a Jewish day school in Sandy Springs.

A swastika was found painted on a stop sign at an intersection near The Epstein School. Last month, a swastika was found painted on a speed hump on a road near the school.

The Sandy Springs Police Department said Tuesday it would double the $2,500 reward donated by surrounding neighborhoods for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

A planned expansion to the school has caused a neighborhood debate. But school head Stan Beiner said he didn’t think the incidents were related to the proposed expansion.

Associated Press

WHAT'S COMING UP ON MACON.COM

- An investigative team from State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine's office was in Cochran this morning to check out the race track where a woman was killed over the weekend. We'll let you know what the team found.

- Teachers, students, construction workers and alumni of Central High School are marking their place in time and history this week. We'll let you know what they're doing.

VISIT US AGAIN SOON

We invite you to check out our Web site again tomorrow for the Midday Update. Monday through Friday, Online Editor Beth MacFadyen will bring you timely information about what Telegraph staffers are working on, plus news we think you need to know immediately. Send feedback to bmacfadyen@macon.com

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