Baton Rouge, La. The White House's top hurricane-relief adviser said Tuesday he has not decided whether the federal government should pay to make New Orleans' levees stronger than they were before Katrina.
Donald Powell declined to say when a decision will be made.
Katrina, a Category 4 storm, surged through the city's levees at numerous points when it struck three months ago, killing more than 1,000 people.
Powell said he is gathering information from local and state officials and will eventually recommend to the Bush administration whether the levees should be strengthened to protect against more powerful Category 4 or Category 5 storms.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco and others have said the levees must be improved if New Orleans hopes to persuade people to return.
Such improvements would require federal funding. Early estimates run as high as $32 billion, and it would take up to 30 years to complete the work.
For now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is rebuilding the levees for Category 3 storm protection - or as strong as they were supposed to be before Katrina.