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Hurricane Katrina

Aired August 30, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Suggested likely to top 100 miles of devastation, expected to cost billions. Mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi calls it our tsunami. New Orleans is 80 percent under water. Floods still rising. Widespread looting. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco will join us. She's called for mass evacuation from New Orleans. We'll get the latest damage and recovery assessments from federal authorities and we'll talk with a man whose entire apartment building was swept away and other survivors, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening, couple of items as we go on the air, as we have just reported, the National Guard is in New Orleans with looters and the like. In fact, a reporter from our affiliate station, WDSU, Ed Reams, says the unrest is so bad his boss ordered him to leave the city. He said the looting started to get so out of control our general manager is fearing for our lives.

A Baton Rouge television station is reporting rioting by New Orleans prisoners, that they are attempting to escape and they are holding hostages. Let's check right in in Baton Rouge with Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. What can you tell us?

GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO, LOUISIANA: Well, Larry, everything is untenable right now. I just left New Orleans, I walked into the station just five minutes ago. I went to the Superdome where we have so many evacuees. Where we have a numbers of people being saved from roof tops. But the situation is terrible. There's no electricity anywhere in the city. It's very hard to make people comfortable anywhere. They're in desperate need of water, of supplies. We're ferrying in as much as we can. It's not enough because the situation is so vast, and it's unfathomable.

KING: What do you know about this prison story that a Baton Rouge television station is reporting about rioting and holding hostages?

BLANCO: We have not been able to verify that. The communications network is down and it's been very hard for us to communicate directly in there. And while I was there, I did not hear anything about it, but I do know that this morning we were trying to transfer prisoners from both Jefferson Parish and Orleans into other state prisons because there's no electricity, no food. All the regular problems with the prisoners are the same problems, you know, getting essentials to them. So, you know, I'm not sure exactly what's going on right now.

KING: As we learn more throughout this hour, we'll report it. Let's check in from Jackson, Mississippi with an old friend. We go back about 25 years. Governor Haley Barbour, he governor of Mississippi who did an aerial survey of the survey today. Haley, how bad?

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR, MISSISSIPPI: Larry, it's indescribable. The devastation in so many places, just totaled, I mean, from the railroad which is a half a mile off the beach from the railroad to the beach for 25 or 30 miles, 90 percent of the structures are totally destroyed. I mean, like there's been a nuclear weapon set of. They're not -- Just like they swept some of these slabs and just swept them off. There's nothing. And then there's piles of debris all around. I've never seen that devastation. I saw Camille. I saw the aftermath of Camille. This is worse than Camille and it's more widespread.

KING: Have you spoken to your friend, the president?

BARBOUR: I have. The president has called me three times, actually. In fact, the president kept chomping at the bit to come down here. I asked him to please wait. I heard Governor Blanco. We have some of the same problems. The telecommunications infrastructure is totally destroyed. We have no electricity. So therefore, we don't have any hot water. Just the basics are not there.

And we're still in the middle of search and rescue. If you could see the scene, Larry, you fly over with a helicopter and you can't see any asphalt because the streets are completely covered in lumber, shingles, debris. Sometimes it's as tall as a man, sometimes it's waist high. We just worry about people who are under there, whether there are survivors or fatalities. I mean, it really is an emotional, heart-rending thing.

KING: Any estimates on loss of life?

BARBOUR: Well, the best estimates so far are in the 50 to 80, but, look, it's going to be more than that. And I wish I could say something different, but it's going to be more than that because you just when you see the devastation, it can't be anything but more than that.

KING: I don't want to keep you long. You have a very busy night. How long is it going to take to recover from this barring that we don't get another one?

BARBOUR: I'm going to be governor two and a half more years, Larry, and, you know, this term, and for the rest of my term we'll be rebuilding this city. And we're going to have search and rescue and recovery and rebuilding. And when it's over we're going to be rebuilding and it's going to be bigger and better than ever, but it's going to take a long time, and it's not going to be easy. We're going to have to be patient, but we're going to get it done.

KING: Haley, can we talk to you tomorrow night?

BARBOUR: Larry, I'd love to.

KING: Good talking to you.

BARBOUR: Thank you.

KING: I hope next time better circumstances, but he'll be back with us tomorrow night. The governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour.

Marty Evans, what's the Red Cross story in all of this.

MARTY EVANS, RED CROSS PRESIDENT: Well, Larry, as you can see the conditions are extremely challenging. We have over 200 shelters open and those shelters are filling up. We have around 70,000 people now. We expect the number to grow. In fact, we hope it will grow because we want people to be evacuated from the New Orleans area, from other areas into safe shelters. We are moving additional food and water in, trying to make people as comfortable as possible. But our focus is on the basics, keeping people safe, feeding them, getting them water and encouraging them to stay put.

KING: Marty Evans is the president and CEO of the American Red Cross. She will be with us through the hour. So will the governor of Louisiana, Governor Blanco, so will Michael Brown, the undersecretary of homeland security, the head of FEMA. So will Sam Champion, our WABC-TV meteorologist who helps us out a lot here. But I want to check in in Mississippi in Gulfport with Anderson Cooper. We just got that horrendous report from the governor. What's it from on the ground, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, it is, you know, I was going to say I've never seen anything like it. And I guess the closest I've ever seen is Sri Lanka after the tsunami. It's hard to describe. Behind me, there are tractor trailer trucks that have been picked up and just swept hundreds of yards and it's like a child threw his Tonka toys onto the ground. There are just dozens of them piled up. Slammed into buildings. There's an entire casino on a barge that was picked up and moved hundreds of yards. There's a seal -- There have been three seals lying in a parking lot for 24 hours. People have been trying to pour water on them. They finally came by and shot one of them to death just to put it out of its misery.

There's no electricity, there's no water. People are kind of wandering around stunned. They don't know what to do. They got nowhere to go, Larry.

KING: Gary Tuchman, the governor said he's got two and a half years left and it's going to take longer than that. Do you agree?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I agree 100 percent Larry. I've been covering hurricanes for more than two decades now. We've never seen anything like this over such a widespread area. Last night on your program you had a caller wondering what was going on in the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland which are just to the west of Gulfport but were inaccessible. We went there today. That's one of the reasons we went there, to get a look at 80 percent of Bay St. Louis is destroyed. About 90 to 95 percent of Waveland is destroyed.

Most of the people, the great majority, 99.9 percent of the people are fine, but they're like refugees. They have shopping carts in the streets with all of their belongings. Many people have lost their homes and there have been fatalities in those small towns also.

KING: Rob Marciano, our CNN meteorologist, in Biloxi, what's the story there?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, quite a bit of devastation here, Larry. Up the road from Gulfport to the east, even farther away from the storm, but from what I've seen, just as much, if not more destruction. A number of casinos here that sit on the water. Obviously we talked about that the night before the storm that there might be problems and sure enough, two are just gone. Another two broken away from their moorings, floated up and over Highway 90, like a six-lane highway including parking and then parked on the other side of the highway.

So just an unbelievable show of the force of Mother Nature and certainly here in Biloxi, there are signs of wind damage. These 100- year-old plus live oak trees, magnificent oak trees, still have their trunks and big limbs standing, but the smaller limbs and leaves, all the foliage, completely ripped off. Looks like there's been a forest fire here. So there is signs of wind damage. But the storm damage from the storm surge is indisputable. I kind of looked around and talked to people and tried to figure out how high the storm surge got.

And it looks like it likely got higher than Camille, likely in the 25-foot or better range. That's what caused the damage here in Biloxi. Not only on the Gulf of Mexico side of the shore, but Biloxi is pretty much surrounded on three sides by water, there's Biloxi Bay that goes around the back side, and that did damage as well to the Keesler Air Force Base area and the back side of Biloxi. So this town is really, really hurting right now.

KING: We'll check in with the rest of our panel and be doing on- the-scene reports and we'll be hearing from viewers as well. You're watching a special edition of LARRY KING. We'll be right back.


KING: Before we talk with the manager of an apartment complex, which is now gone in New Orleans, let's check in with the other member of our panel, Sam Champion WABC-TV, meteorologist in New York. Did you expect this?

SAM CHAMPION, METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, quite honestly, we expected it to be bad, but as far as the pictures you're showing, no, I didn't expect anything like that. I didn't expect entire towns and communities to be wiped away. One of the things we do know about these storms is just nothing really survives the storm surge, so in an area that gets the storm surge, buildings are going to be gone. Everything that is there is going to be gone. We know that. It was just amazing to me to see the spread and scope of this.

But there's good news for the rest of the country tonight. I know that we're going to spend a lot of time talking about the damage down there and we should, but the rain, the leftovers of Katrina moving very quickly, and we've seen a lot of heavy rain and warnings through a lot of places, including Georgia last night. Today the heaviest rain is in Ohio, it's in eastern Pennsylvania. There's a lot of flash flood warnings, tornado watches, thunderstorm watches, but that moisture is going to get up and out of the country, it's going to move into Canada and well over the U.S. in the 24 next 24 to 36 hours.

KING: On the phone is Robert Thornton a victim in the New Orleans hurricane. His apartment complex is gone. Robert. Did you manage the Devonwood Apartments?

ROBERT THORNTON, APARTMENT MANAGER: Yes, sir, Mr. Larry, yes I have. Me and a few other tenants are grateful to be here, especially me, to be able to talk about this matter, and I feel good about the whole matter that no one got hurt or nothing like that. It is just within my duties to, you know, to oversee the complex and just to help out with anything that goes wrong with the property in general, sir.

KING: Why didn't you leave?

THORNTON: Well, it was just my natural instinct to help others. Once I see where I can help an individual, sir, that's what I will do. I will stay behind and just make sure that the other individual is fine. This is what my mom taught me.

KING: Where were you when the complex went down?

THORNTON: Actually, sir, I was in my apartment when it actually happened and then I moved to another location, and then I just made sure that everything was all right with the tenants, you know, after the storm pretty much blew over, I just consoled them and stuff like that and just made sure everything was all right.

KING: Where are you now?

THORNTON: Right now I am actually in New Orleans, sir. I'm just out and about because we still don't have no power and no food. We're going door to door and stuff, making sure, you know, like trying to find people with canned goods and stuff like that. Just really coming together as a family and to, you know, just do what's right.

KING: Is it raining now?

THORNTON: No, sir, no, sir.

KING: How are you eating?

THORNTON: Just canned foods, you know, whatever, whatever, whatever that we have to eat and we just eat it.

KING: What are you going to do with your life now?

THORNTON: Actually, I will just stick with the property that I'm with, the O'Briens (ph) and just continue on doing what I do best and just continue on. This just makes me a lot stronger individual. I love what I do. I do what I love. And I can see myself with many, many more years of actually helping people. KING: Thank you, Robert. I guess, governor, that's typical of a lot of people in your state, they hang tough.

BLANCO: Robert exemplifies the finest spirit of Louisiana citizens. He's been through a really rough time, and so many people have. It's a desperate situation. I was there talking to some of the refugees at the Superdome this afternoon, and they are desperate. They're so worried. So many of them were plucked from their roof tops. Because of the boat capacity, they had to leave relatives behind and they were worrying sick because they had not seen those people yet.

This morning Director Brown, Mike Brown, and our two United States senators went on a tour. The vastness of this situation is unspeakable. We, you know, Haley Barbour and I are just about in the same boat. We lost so many homes. Our problem is the water has covered just literally covered home after home, miles and miles of homes. So we've got thousands of people out of house and home right now, and they won't be able to go back into those homes for quite some time.

New Orleans has a problem. We've lost two -- we have canals that are usually pull water out of the city and we've got levees on those canals and two of those canals have breaches, so water is pouring into the downtown right now. And corps of engineers is working to try to figure out a solution, but it's an untenable situation.

KING: Governor Barbour said that the president wanted to visit Mississippi, he told him not to come. Does he want to come to Louisiana?

BLANCO: Well, I've been in touch with the president. He's called often before the storm and after the storm. I know he's helping Haley. He's helping Louisiana. He's helping Mississippi. We're in desperate need. I've never seen anything like this. We've seen lots of hurricanes on this coastline here in Louisiana and Mississippi. We've got a lot of friends al along the coast, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

We know what it's like, but this is not a normal hurricane experience. I've never witnessed anything like this.

KING: This would not be a good time for the president to come?

BLANCO: You know, he may come for a helicopter tour. You have a hard time landing in any, you know, maybe one or two places you can actually land, but, you know, I think it would be important for him to see firsthand, although I think the video is powerful, you know, what we're seeing on television is powerful. It's just the magnitude.

KING: We'll be right back with more of our panel, more on the scene reports and your phone calls, too, don't go away.


KING: You're watching LARRY KING LIVE on CNN. This is video just in from Long Beach, Mississippi. You see the American flag in a destroyed area. Joining us on the phone from New Orleans is Awn Kabariti. He and a friend are stranded in New Orleans. They're from Jordan. They live and work in New York City. They're in New Orleans on vacation. Their friend graduated from Tulane in December. He was there looking for a job. And now they're in the Hotel Monaco. What, Awn, is the situation where you are?

AWN KABARITI, IN HOTEL MONACO: Hi, Larry. It is pretty bad. Our backup generators just went out right now. Even our phone lines went out. I'm calling you from a pay phone. We have the ceilings are gone. I have water dripping on top of me. It's pretty bad, very dark around here. No food, no water, nothing.

KING: Have you seen looting in the area?

KABARITI: Yes, I have, right across the street. All around people are looting. I'm thinking that some places it's been necessary for people because no one is getting any food supplies, and it's, you know, it's a desperate situation. The hotel we're in do not really even -- they don't have enough food to provide for everybody.

KING: Why didn't you leave?

KABARITI: Well, the problem was my plane was canceled from Saturday late at night I tried to leave. Planes were delayed. Couldn't get a car rental. Tried to talk to people in the hotel around us, but we could not find anybody, so we had to stay here.

KING: Governor Blanco, what can you say to Mr. Kabariti about when he might be able to go home?

BLANCO: I can't even guess right now. I think the thing that disappointed us a great deal were the canceled flights. I know they didn't want to bring people in here, but on Sunday morning they could have been flying people out of here. And that was, I think, something that is a necessary discussion with FEMA and with the highest levels because this is a big problem. A lot of people did get stranded like that and now we have no flights, there are no planes at the airport right now. There's little fuel. That becomes the next problem. But we know that more people could have gotten out, especially those visitors who were in New Orleans for business or for conferences or for vacations.

KING: So you're saying the airlines could have left as late as Sunday morning?

BLANCO: Yes, they could have. There was very little activity on Sunday morning. It was safe flying out of here. We were very disappointed to hear about all the flight cancellations.

KING: Awn, what are you going to do?

KABARITI: I mean, we've been trying to call, even the 911 lines are busy. Every possible emergency line we can call is busy. I got really sick last night, had to go to the hospital. I had to go through the water to be able to get to the hospital because I didn't eat for two days and I had a temperature of 102, and we had to go around about three blocks and the water was up to our waist. And when we came out of the hospital, the water was even higher up. And it looks like it's still been rising around the hotel.

KING: So what are you going to do?

KABARITI: There's really nothing to do. I just heard about the evacuations. We just have to sit around and wait to see what happens because it's getting pretty bad in the hotel. It's really hot. There's no food. It's a difficult situation, and I mean, we're trying to contact as many people as we can.

KING: That's the Hotel Monaco on St. Charles Avenue. Awn, we wish you the best. We'll check back with you tomorrow and we'll be back with more on Katrina and its aftermath. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our teams and equipment are in place and we're beginning to move in the help that people need.



KING: Before we make a swing through our panel again and get up to the minute reports, we're going to go back to Baton Rouge and Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, the governor of Louisiana, who did an aerial survey today. Some of our new management team in Atlanta wanted me to ask a couple questions of you. The reports that says anybody remaining in Jefferson Parish needs to evacuate and be prepared to be gone for a month. Is that true?

BLANCO: Well, you know, it's hard to estimate how long it's going to take these recovery efforts just to get power back up. And because the devastation is so widespread, I would not be surprised if it were a month. I think we need to talk to these evacuees, the people who left. I know how desperate they are. I know they're just yearning to get home to see what happened to their properties. It is impossible even to get in. The interstate is flooded. In many sections it's out completely and many of the arterials are in the same condition.

KING: Do you want people in Jefferson Parish to leave then if they can?

BLANCO: If they can, they need to go ahead and leave. We're going to be trying to manage a very large evacuation in New Orleans also and St. Bernard Parish. We have parishes that are just totally water bound. And only the tallest buildings are still habitable to some extent, so we have refugees in those buildings in St. Bernard Parish, in Slidell, in Plaquemines Parish. I could go on, in Grand Isle --

KING: All right. Second question. This is about the attempt to plug the breach. The water rising at 17th Street Canal, Mayor Ray Nagin has announced that the attempt to plug the breach in the 17th Street Canal at the Hammond Highway Bridge has failed, and the rising water is about to overwhelm the pumps on that canal. The result is the water will begin rising rapidly again and could reach as high as three feet above sea level in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. That means flood waters could rise as high as 15 feet in the next couple of hours. The mayor urged residents to try to find higher ground as soon as possible. Anything you can add to that?

BLANCO: That is the only advice I can give them. It's a difficult, difficult situation. The Corps of Engineers has attempted to fix the situation under emergency conditions. They're not the best conditions, and probably too little, to late.

KING: And if possible, Governor, are people who are having to evacuate the Superdome, are there preparations in order for evacuations from that edifice?

BLANCO: We are working on that. Again, getting in and out of the city is very, very difficult. And once people are in facilities, it's even harder to move them about, because of this rising water in the downtown area. And we're working on it. We're trying to line up buses. We're trying to line up facilities to evacuate them to. That work's been going on all day long.

KING: Marty Evans, president of the American Red Cross, what's the toughest problem you face right now?

EVANS: Well, the toughest problem is, well, it's keeping people safe. It's making sure that when they can be evacuated by the city, by the parishes, by the state, that we're ready for them. It's bringing additional supplies in. You've seen the roads are difficult. Our shelters that are closest to the area, they are having to go through the same challenges. We also have the same communication problems that you've heard from the governors of both the states. We need to be in communication with our Red Crossers. We're having great challenges there. So it's dealing with the same elements that the governor so eloquently talked about.

KING: Anderson Cooper, is there anything, anything in Gulfport, Mississippi, resembling normalcy?

COOPER: No. There's not. I mean, especially in this stretch between the ocean, the water, and the downtown, the railroad tracks, as Governor Halley Barbour said earlier to you, Larry. It is just completely destroyed, this entire downtown area. A huge casino barge has been deposited in a parking lot about a half mile away from where it's supposed to be. There is no electricity; there is no water. People are just kind of wandering around. They don't really know what to do. Darkness has fallen. There are police who are wandering around just making sure that there's no looting. People are kind of scavenging. I mean, literally, it's gotten down to that. People are scavenging around looking for bottles of water, or anything in the debris that they can maybe eat or drink or use because people don't know what else to do right now.

KING: Gary Tuchman, would you agree with that assessment from where you are?

TUCHMAN: No question. And I think what's unusual about this hurricane is this sense of unease. I've never seen that quite before, after a hurricane. As Anderson was saying, there's no electricity here. Most of Mississippi has no electricity. There is no water, there is no way to get food. And usually during hurricanes we're talking about, OK when is the electricity going to be turned back on. Nobody is talking about that.

Today we were driving down the street and we saw a guy on the side of the street selling hot dogs that he was grilling. He had bought the hotdogs himself and he was selling it for $1.50, which is a reasonable price. There was a whole line of people, and people started screaming and yelling at him, that he wasn't giving away the hotdogs for free.

We on the top of our van had four big tanks of gasoline, one gallon cans we needed for our cars. We usually ring those to hurricanes. We saw a woman climb up, cut the rope and start taking away our gasoline. And we told her, what are you doing, she goes I need the gasoline. I mean people are getting desperate. There's no question about it. We don't want people in a state of panic, but there is a large sense of unease. To cap it the fact that while we're talking, while we're standing here, we keep seeing these military police officers coming by with there search lights looking for looters.

KING: Rob, anything normal at all in Biloxi? Rob Marciano.

MARCIANO: No. I've only been to Biloxi once before in my life about 10 years ago when I took a trip with the Hurricane Hunters out of Keesler Air Force Base, and, you know, then it was a beautiful stretch of land along the Gulf of Mexico with casinos bustling with business.

You know, the casinos are it. They're the cash cow of this town. As a matter of fact they're the cash cow of the state. They bring in about a half a million dollars in tax dollars every day or they lose that much every day they're shut down. So that part of it is definitely not normal. As far as what people are feeling, I mean sure, there's people who are upbeat and they're saying we're going to get things back together. You know, this isn't going to beat us.

But more than any other weather catastrophe that I've been to, there's been a few people that have come up to me and said, you know, I just don't think we can rebuild. This is just horrifying. And that was a little bit unnerving to me.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more. We'll include some of your phone calls, too, don't go away.


KING: Aaron Brown hosts a two-hour "NEWSNIGHT" at the top of the hour. Joining us by phone from Baton Rouge is Ivor Van Heerden. He is deputy director of Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center and director of the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes.

Last year, you did some exercise called Hurricane Pam, to see how those lessons might help. Did they help?

IVOR VAN HERDEEN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, LSU'S HURRICANE CENTER: I believe so. I think at the time maybe folks didn't fully appreciate why such an exercise was necessary, but certainly now they've taken those lessons and are really utilizing them in all the search and rescue and other, you know, emergency response activities.

KING: Ivor, what's the threat from insect-borne illness? Like the West Nile? Because it's the heart of -- this is the mosquito season, isn't it?

VAN HERDEEN: Yes. We're actually at the peak of our West Nile season. And with all this flooding, we will see an increase in mosquitoes. You know, probably three weeks from now, we'll start seeing a very large increase.

I'm quite sure we're going to have a whole lot more folk going down with West Nile, especially those right now who are sitting on their roofs in New Orleans, waiting to be rescued. The mosquitoes are very bad tonight.

KING: What about toxic mold?

VAN HERDEEN: Toxic mold is going to be a real problem in any of those houses that are still standing that are flooded, and they want to try and repair. It was a real big problem in Houston after Tropical Storm Allison. This may be actually what condemns many of the buildings.

KING: What's your read on the future?

VAN HERDEEN: It's very bleak. You know, this is -- the floodwaters are still rising in New Orleans. It got hit with a double whammy: The initial surge, and now the next surge. There's almost six feet of water in Lake Pontchartrain, so if you do the numbers, we could have easy 20 feet of water in parts of New Orleans. It's very bleak. One hopes that they do rebuild New Orleans. And at the same time, we rebuild our coastal wetlands, because that's what would protect us from these sorts of disasters.

KING: God forbid, what if there's another hurricane?

VAN HERDEEN: That -- we don't even want to think about that. You know, I see there's another tropical depression out there, and we really worry. You know, Florida got five in a row last year. We couldn't take another one. Not at all. That would be the end.

KING: How long is this going to take to rebuild? VAN HERDEEN: Years. Years and years and years. I mean, if you think about it, right now there are about a million people who are homeless. And they, you know, they're trying to get to shelters. The shelters in Baton Rouge right now are super crowded. The interstates are pretty busy with people trying to get in. They can't go back. I fully foresee that we will be building, in essence, a refugee camp here somewhere north of -- north of Lake Pontchartrain, and trying to house, feed and -- remember, a lot of these people will no longer have employment. So we're going to have to find something for them to do.

KING: Thank you. That was Ivor Van Heerden, the deputy director, Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center.

Do you want to comment on that, Governor Blanco?

BLANCO: They're all our worries. It's the very list of things that I've been worrying about all day long, trying to figure out how to make sense of all of this.

A million people homeless is not something that happens just every day.

KING: Unfathomable.

BLANCO: It certainly is.

KING: We'll be right back with more. We'll include some viewer phone calls as well. Don't go away.


KING: Let's include some phone calls. Telford, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Hello, this is Sue Crossman (ph).

KING: Yeah.

CALLER: I was calling -- I have a couple of questions. I'll start with the first one. Have you considered or have they considered bringing in ships or cruise lines to get these people out of the area?

KING: Governor?

BLANCO: Yes, that's something that we're looking at. I guess those are floating hotels, and cruise lines are certainly a big consideration. You know, we'll -- I think FEMA will have to help buy some of those -- those -- and that would help some.

KING: Second question, ma'am?

CALLER: Second question is, have any other countries offered help to us? I know we're always number one in, you know, sending our people everywhere. But I'm wondering, what kind of help are we getting? Because I think we surely need it.

KING: Governor?

BLANCO: I think my people are getting calls from other countries. I've gotten calls from many, many governors all across the country. Yes, a lot of help is being extended. People are speaking of helping us.

KING: Marty, what's the number to call on the Red Cross line?

EVANS: 1-800-HELP-NOW. And it would be better, actually, to go online at to make a contribution.

And, Larry, I would just like to say that some of our Red Cross and Red Crescent colleagues around the world have been in touch with me and they are offering help as well.

KING: People are people. They help anywhere, right?

EVANS: That's exactly right.

KING: Houston, hello.

CALLER: Hi. My brother is trapped in an attic at his home in New Orleans. And I'm trying to get someone out there to rescue him. He don't know how to swim. He was calling us last -- yesterday morning, when the storm first hit. He got trapped in the home, and the water was coming up, and he was calling us on his cell phone, and he was saying that he's trying to get into the attic. And the attic, he has no ventilism (ph) in the attic, as far as something, you know, to break through the attic. He was just so worried about getting up there, because he has -- he can't swim. And I think he dropped his cell phone and we lost contact. And we've been worried ever since and we're scared.

KING: Let me go to Anderson Cooper, who goes into wherever there's trouble. Anderson, any advice -- any thought you can give what he might do?

COOPER: You know, it's an impossible situation. It -- there's no way to know. I mean -- you know, one of the hardest things, especially for relatives, is -- just because someone is not calling, it doesn't mean the worst has happened.

You know, our phones aren't working -- our cell phones. There's no e-mail. There's really no way to communicate. Some people are doing it by ham radio. You know, you've just kind of got to wait it out and see what happens.

And that's really not what anyone wants to hear right now, I know, but I talked to a guy from the Coast Guard. Literally people are just kind of standing on the roofs wait waving white handkerchiefs and Coast Guard helicopters, which are, you know, searching over -- will, you know, see the white handkerchief and go in. That's how they're contacting the Coast Guard.

KING: It's a pretty good idea.

COOPER: They can't dial 9-1-1.

KING: Sam Champion, what do you make of the cruise ship idea?

CHAMPION: Larry, it's a great idea. I mean, this is going to go down as one of the biggest natural disasters, if not the biggest one, we've seen and certainly of our times. We need to be creative with how we are going to fix the situation.

Right after the tsunami incident, you know, the big deal was getting help in there to get to these people to clear out everything. And we need to mobilize everything we have and creative thinking is definitely in order here.

It's a problem that's going to take every one of us for us to solve and we need to get off our couches and off chairs and make a phone call and make a contribution to these organizations that are reputable, that are in there helping right now. And if you haven't done that yet, do it right now. They need everything we can do, Larry.


Nashville. Hello.

CALLER: I was wanting to know why with all of the forecast indicated that this could possibly be the big one, why is it taking so long for our military to come to the aid of these people? I heard today on CNN that they're just now assembling and trying to figure out what to do. With all of these forecasts...

KING: Governor Blanco, is the National Guard late on this?

BLANCO: No, the National Guard is in. It's the physical situation that's making everything so difficult, but we have guard members, 4,000 deployed right now. You'd have to be there to see the challenges.

If the Corps of Engineers just would hurry up and get more sand into the channel, you know, we could stop the water pouring into the downtown of New Orleans and then we could really start helping a lot more significantly. I'd like the lady from Houston to tell your producer the address of her brother. We can send rescuers over there to check on him in his attic. He'll know...

KING: If that lady will call back, give our producer the address, we'll give it to the governor. I'm going to take a break. Governor, will you join us again tomorrow? You've been so helpful.

BLANCO: I'll try to do that, Larry.


BLANCO: I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but we'll talk to you about it.

KING: I know. OK. We'll be right back with some more moments. Aaron Brown, a two-hour edition of "NEWSNIGHT" at the top of the hour. We'll be back right after this.


KING: Marty Evans, I was just checking in with Aaron Brown who is going to follow us in a couple of minutes and he said last night that he thought today would be worse than yesterday. Tomorrow might be worse than today -- possible?

EVANS: Well, it certainly is possible and you know, Larry, I think the first couple of days of any disaster, the adrenaline is flowing, people, you know, have that kind of energy and then after a week or two or three under these extraordinary conditions, you know, it just sets in and it becomes very, very hard. But people rise to the occasion.

KING: Gary Tuchman, do you stay in Gulfport?

TUCHMAN: What we're going to do tomorrow, Larry, is probably head west again to Hancock County where those small towns of Bay St. Louis and Waveland are and we're probably going to go on a search mission with some of the emergency officials.

KING: Rob Marciano in Biloxi, what do you do?

MARCIANO: At least another day here, if not more. We'll be doing live reports close to this location and sending reporters out and going out to look ourselves to tell the stories of the survivors and show many stories of, unfortunately, destruction. So, we'll be here at least another day, if not two.

KING: Anderson, what do you do?

COOPER: I think we'll head a little west as well, possibly try to go to New Orleans, but I think we'll probably with Gary Tuchman. He said a little bit earlier that in some places, they are marking homes with red paint, meaning there's a body inside that they're not able to collect. So, we'll probably go to some of these smaller towns and try to see what is happening there.

KING: Sam Champion, aren't you chomping at the bit to be around it?

CHAMPION: No, Larry. Quite honestly, I don't like to go into those situations until everything is at least settled down. I'm very happy to be well away from it. But what I am chomping at the bit to do is understand a lot more about these storms and figure out how we can save lives and even how we can save lives by not building back in coastal areas that have had these issues.

We've really just got to look at this whole problem and find solutions that help save lives and people need to pay attention to the real dangers that exist along America's coastline.

KING: And governor, what do you do all night?

BLANCO: Well, Larry, I'm going to call on the fortitude and strength of our people. We're going to rebuild. New Orleans is one of the oldest cities. The region has so much value and it's a great place with so many traditions.

We're going to rebuild. We're going to call for a day of prayer tomorrow. We're going to get our fortitude and strength back. It's going to take a lot of courage, a lot of strength from all of our people, but we'll be back.

KING: And you're confident the government will be helping?

BLANCO: That's what the president has told me. That's what Marty tells me. That's what Mike Brown tells me. The government will help us. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for the people of the United States. I know what good people they are and people from around the world, I think, are reaching out to us and we appreciate that so much.

KING: Thank you all very much. Thanks to our panelists. Thanks to our reporters. The Red Cross is 1-800-HELP-NOW or as Marty said, CNN has been on top of this story from the get go and all of our compatriots have done a spectacular job, I think, 24 hours a day and nobody less so than Aaron Brown, who's been hosting the two- hour segment of "NEWSNIGHT" since Sunday night. And he stands by in New York with this unfathomable story -- Aaron.


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