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Official testifies that he knew nothing of evacuation plan

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GRETNA, La. (KNOE 8 News/AP) - An official in charge of drainage for Jefferson Parish during Hurricane Katrina says he knew nothing about the parish's "doomsday plan" that would send his pump operators 110 miles away to shelter in Washington Parish until the day before the storm struck land.

Kazem Alikhani, now director of the parish's public works department, was the first witness called to testify by plaintiffs' attorneys Thursday. Plaintiffs contend the unstaffed drainage pumps caused flooding that damaged 40,000 residences and businesses.

Alikhani said he also was unaware that he himself was required to remain in the parish's emergency operations center during the storm - as the doomsday plan required - so he, too, evacuated with his workers before Katrina's landfall on Aug. 29, 2005.

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