NEW ORLEANS - Clara Donate lost her home and all her possessions to Hurricane Katrina. In the storm's aftermath, she fled to Atlanta and spent months staying with a son before returning to live in a government-issued trailer.

Donate, 58, tried to put those troubles behind her Monday night for at least a few hours, joining thousands of other New Orleans residents for a Mardi Gras-like celebration of the Saints' first home game since Katrina.

Jubilant crowds swamped the area around the Louisiana Superdome in a human sea, creating a huge traffic jam for the team's emotional return and the reopening of the stadium, which underwent $185 million in repairs to erase damage done during and after Katrina.

The Saints and the Atlanta Falcons were both undefeated at 2-0 early in the NFL season, and the game received Super Bowl buildup. The Goo Goo Dolls played to the crowd outside the dome. Green Day and U2 performed for the crowd of more than 68,000 inside.

Harold Johnson couldn't get into the Superdome, but he planned to sit with his neighbors outside his government-issued trailer and watch the game on television.

I don't want to talk about Katrina. I don't want to talk about insurance. I don't want to talk about anything but kicking Falcon butt, Johnson said as he stocked up on beer at a grocery store for the cookout with his neighbors.

The Saints have not played a regular-season home game since 2004. They last played in the Superdome in a 2005 preseason game a few days before Katrina.

Even now, a high-rise hotel, an office tower and an upscale shopping center stand empty just a few hundred feet from the stadium, with white boards covering blown-out windows. A few miles away, entire neighborhoods are wastelands of decaying houses.

Irma Warner, 71, and her husband, Pascal Warner, 80, live in an apartment in suburban Metairie while working six days a week to restore a home flooded by 7 feet of water in New Orleans' Lakeview neighborhood.

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