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Third District 

Alvin Parker (pictured in shorts) has seen the National Guard near his Gentilly home for weeks. Now that he's almost finished rebuilding his house, he flags the soldiers down to talk. He believes drug houses are popping up in his neighborhood, and he's afraid his house will be burglarized. "I wanted to let them know I'm getting furniture in," he says.

Many of Parker's neighbors have given up repairing their homes because of widespread looting; even the cast-iron catch basins in his neighborhood have been stolen, he says, but the presence of soldiers on patrol make him and his wife feel safer.

"I'm glad they're here," says Parker, who invited Staff Sgt. Randy Phillips (right) and SFC Kermit Manuel in to see the new custom-made cabinets in his kitchen. "They don't have a lot of people around here, but for those who are here, as soon as they put something in their house, [looters] take it out."

Sometimes the faces of post-Katrina are haunting, like that of 2-year-old Leah Charles, who surveys her Gentilly neighborhood street from the safety of her home.

National Guard SFC Kermit Manuel and other soldiers interact with neighborhood residents to reassure them as well as to keep tabs on what is happening around the neighborhood. Here Manuel awards stripes to a shy child, 3-year-old Jasmine Chin, as her father, Frank Chin, stands nearby. The interaction serves a double purpose: "It makes the general public feel better," Sgt. Jared Hamblin says. "And if criminals see us moving around and talking to people rather than staying in one location, they don't know where we'll be next."

Remaining vigilant for suspicious activity is a big part of the Guard's role. If they see someone acting suspiciously or who doesn't appear to belong in the neighborhood, they check their ID. Here, Sgt. Donavan Dodson and Phillips find a man who doesn't live or work in the neighborhood and doesn't have a driver's license. If they catch someone in a criminal act or if there is a warrant for the person, the soldiers detain the suspect until the police arrive.

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