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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Special Edition: Waveland, Mississippi

Aired September 2, 2005 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: More bodies found here in Waveland, Mississippi. The search and rescue efforts continue, so does the response. A lot of outrage, though, here on the ground in Waveland. We'll have all that and in the next hour in this special edition of 360. It is 7:00 p.m. on the east coast, 6:00 p.m. here in Mississippi, and 4:00 p.m. in the west. 360 starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The mayor of New Orleans explodes in a radio interview.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: Now, get off your asses and let's do something. And let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

ANNOUNCER: And President Bush, before heading to New Orleans, admits efforts to help have fallen short.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The results are not acceptable.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, thousands still trapped, desperate. No food, no water, no way out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Help us please. If we could have got out, we would have. We need help.

ANNOUNCER: Again, tonight, Anderson asks the hard questions. Why so late? Is this enough? The role of race?

Amid the flood of criticism, a growing trickle of hope. Military supply trucks now rolling through flooded streets, but what about crime and chaos?

Emergency care. The nightmare when doctors and hospitals' needs are critical.

Amid the devastation, the stunning power of the human spirit.

TAD BREUX, FATHER OF ZACHARY BREUX: It's just fantastic. We can go get our little boy.

ANNOUNCER: Parents reunited with their missing newborn.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360. Hurricane Katrina, state of emergency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Welcome back. We are live in Waveland, Mississippi, the same town we were in last night. A small town, but a town we think worth staying in because, well, the people here are suffering and they need the world's attention as much as possible, as much as possible. All along this coast, people need the attention.

I want to just show you a few shots around me. This street that we are on, just the complete devastation. Frankly, we could have picked any street in this entire swamp from the beach to the railroad tracks here in Waveland. Whatever camera angle you're looking at it from, this is what Katrina has left behind. And days after the storm has left, all of this remains.

There have been some bulldozers here, some roads have been cleared, and that is certainly good news, but there is much that still needs to be done. The question tonight, is enough being done? Was enough done ahead of this storm to prepare? Some tough questions that need answers tonight, and the people here want answers.

First, what happened over the last 24 hours? It's hard to know if things are getting better on the large scale when you're here in a town like Waveland, where you can't get much information. It doesn't feel often like things are getting better because the adrenaline is gone from the storm, from surviving the storm, and now the realization is setting in. What lays ahead? The difficult, dangerous, dark days ahead. CNN's Rick Sanchez takes a look if things are really getting better.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If New Orleans looks like a war zone, it is because it is a war zone.

VIRGINIA KEYES, EVACUEE: If we wade in that water, dirty, filthy water, and we're dirty. This is not the way we live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was horrible. Human waste, animal waste, rodents, anything you could possibly imagine. That's what we had to deal with.

SANCHEZ: For five days, tens of thousands of people have waited to be saved. For some, it was too late.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A woman had a baby last night with no medical assistance, but the baby didn't make it. We're suffering.

SANCHEZ: This afternoon, help finally arrived. A row of amphibious vehicles loaded with relief supplies rolled through the flooded waters of downtown. Their destination, the convention center.

There, armed National Guardsmen filed past men, women and children in dire need of food, water and medicine. Last night, before help arrived, the mayor vented his frustration. NAGIN: I don't want to see anybody do any more goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city, and then come down to the city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can't even count.

Don't tell me 40,000 people have come in here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and let's do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

SANCHEZ: And to make matters worse, the mayor says that the city's last functioning clean water facility is breaking down. Another ominous sign, fires, including a huge chemical explosion, difficult, if not impossible, to fight effectively with many streets flooded and water pressure nonexistent.

Congress has approved $10.5 billion in emergency funds for the stricken area. Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus hailed the move while harshly criticizing the pace of the administration's response and expressing concern that the money would be put to the best use.

REP. CAROLYN KILPATRICK (D), MICHIGAN: I'm ashamed of America. I'm ashamed of our government. And as a member of the appropriation's committee, I want to make sure, yes, we should approve the $10.5 billion. But it's got to go right to the people.

SANCHEZ: The stress is now spreading to Houston, where many of the New Orleans evacuees have been relocated. Promised a wed at the Astrodome, thousands who traveled hours there have nowhere to call home.

BUSH: You're doing a heck of a job.

SANCHEZ: Today, President Bush went to the Gulf Coast. He was briefed live on camera about the growing human catastrophe.

BUSH: The federal government's job is big and it's massive and we're going to do it. Where it's not working right, we'll make it right.

SANCHEZ: Also, the first lady thanked Americans for opening their hearts and homes and urged people to volunteer.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to urge people who have the ability to be able to come to Louisiana, or any of the Gulf Coast states that were affected and volunteer to try to do that. If you can't do it this week, there will be next week and the next week, and it's going to go on for a long time.

SANCHEZ: Later, the president toured New Orleans, where evacuees were being removed. He called the $10.5 billion relief package, passed by the House and Senate, just a down payment, and assured everyone that more is on the way. Meanwhile, the airlift and the busing continues, by the thousands. This is threat latest group. They're from Tulane University Hospital. They've been stuck there for several days. They all come with their individual stories, but none perhaps like this. Hospital officials are telling us that many of the nurses resorted to giving themselves IVs just to remain hydrated.

Rick Sanchez, CNN, Louis Armstrong International Airport, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You heard the mayor of New Orleans on that radio interview a little bit ago, just outraged, blasting the idea of having press conferences. We've got some new pictures in right now of the Astrodome. I want to show you these images, we are just getting them into CNN. These are the first time we are seeing these images. The scene there obviously chaotic. It is, well -- just several days after this storm, it is extraordinary that all of this is still going on.

A night to remember for Chris Lawrence, last night. Last we talked to him, he was on the roof of a police station in New Orleans, barricading himself onto that roof with the police officers there in New Orleans who are working around the clock trying to do as best they can. Chris, what was the night like?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just an incredible night, Anderson. I've got you right now, first thing's first, all those police officers are OK. But it was a scene you would never expect to find in any major American city. Police officers having to defend their own police station, taking fire at night, having to return fire. Just an incredible scene.

As we stood up there on the rooftop, you could hear gunshots. You looked down on the ground, entire neighborhood were flooded around them. And undermanned and overwhelmed, these men and women decided to stay the course and continue to defend that station.

Police officers under siege in New Orleans prepare to defend their station.

COOPER: We obviously lost contact with Chris Lawrence. As you know, it is very hard to maintain contact inside the city of New Orleans. We'll try to get him back later on in the program.

Coming up later on 360, why did the response take so long? That is the question so many people here have been asking. Yes, Mississippi National Guard, some elements are on the ground here in Waveland and other parts. There's so much more that needs to be done, and people here, the anger is white hot on the streets here in Waveland tonight. Some answers to some questions, let's hope, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You see so many things in the debris here in Waveland, Mississippi. It is hard to get used to seeing a tattered American flag lying on the ground in a tree like that. So much work needs to be done here.

There is a lot of anger, as I've said, and a lot of questions remain. And people want answers here. They don't want responses to questions, they want answers to questions. And they're not feeling like they're getting them, frankly, in many spots here.

Kelly, you know, it's easy to cast blame, though. There are a lot of hard-working people, a lot of people from FEMA here who've been here for days, doing search and rescue around the clock, and a lot of good people from the federal government working very hard.

But certainly, not enough has been done, not enough is being done, and more could be done. CNN's Kelly Wallace takes a look now at systematically, day by day, of the five days since this storm. We're now in day five. What exactly has been done? What has the response really been? Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Frustration in New Orleans. Why did it take so long for federal aid to arrive? The government's response did begin before we even knew the scope of Katrina's wrath. President Bush declaring a state of emergency in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

BUSH: These declarations will allow federal agencies to coordinate all disaster relief efforts with state and local officials.

WALLACE: New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin ordering residents to leave.

NAGIN: I am, this morning, declaring that we will be doing a mandatory evacuation.

WALLACE: On Monday, after the eye of had hurricane hit well east of New Orleans, city and state officials thought they might have escaped the worst, until Tuesday, when a second levee broke, leaving 80 percent of the city under water. Then came the looting and reports of gunfire. The mayor expressing frustration about the coordinated response to the disaster.

We just need to all make sure that we're on the same page, and we're moving with a tremendous sense of urgency to get things done.

WALLACE: On Wednesday, the situation becomes dire. The governor draws up plans to evacuate everyone, including tens of thousands at the Superdome. More help is needed.

GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO (D), LOUISIANA: We're in crisis mode, and we simply have to move people and get them to safe ground.

WALLACE: CNN has learned that the governor called President Bush Wednesday to express her frustration with the speed of the federal response. It was after Governor Blanco visited the Superdome Tuesday night and didn't see any FEMA workers that she decided to call the president, her aide said. On Wednesday, Mr. Bush flew over the flooded city on Air Force One, cutting short his vacation, promising federal help.

BUSH: We're dealing with one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history.

WALLACE: More than 10,000 National Guard troops were called up, Coast Guard helicopters began rescuing the stranded, and the president on Thursday enlisted the aid of former presidents Bush and Clinton for an unprecedented fund-raising effort.

But, at the same time, New Orleans' mayor issued a, quote, "desperate SOS" for his city, and slammed the speed and size of the federal response in an interview with WWL-Radio's Garland Robinette.

NAGIN: Don't tell me 40,000 people have come in here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and let's do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

WALLACE: And then this, the first convoy of military vehicles, with desperately needed troops and supplies, rolls into New Orleans Friday afternoon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came to the house, the house of my son.

WALLACE: While President Bush, on the ground in hurricane- stricken areas, tries to play the role of comforter-in-chief.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, New York.

COOPER: Well, this storm has hit home for Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. His home in Pascagoula has been destroyed. He joins us tonight.

Senator, thank you for being with us, and I'm sorry for your personal loss in all this, as well as the loss of so many in your state.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: You know, I will say this, Anderson. When the people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast suffer, I suffer. And when they lose their homes, I lose mine, too. And I want to thank you for being there and giving, from what I understand, some really good reports about how just how devastating the situation is. Waveland, Mississippi, a neat little town, doesn't exist.

COOPER: It's a beautiful town. My cousins actually came up to me, they're from Meridian, and I got family in Alabama. It turns out they had a house here, too. I didn't know about, it's been destroyed.

You know, there's so much anger here, Senator, as I'm sure you know. I'm sure you've heard this from your constituents. People want answers and they feel like the federal government failed on this. Did the federal government fail? LOTT: Absolutely not. Now, when you've lost everything you have, and when you've lost a loved one, and you're exhausted, and you haven't had a bath in four days, and you're hungry, and you don't have water and ice, and you don't have generator to run, a fan, you know, it's tough.

And I know from having been through a lot of hurricanes and tornadoes and ice storms, always a couple days after a hurricane or whatever you feel like you've hit the wall. You're just completely exhausted and the aid that you need desperately is not quite there.

But it's on the way, and that's what I want to say to the people in Mississippi and Louisiana and even Alabama. A massive aid is coming. In my own home town of Pascagoula, which suffered a devastating blow too, we are now getting generators, ice, food, water in there. And a lot of volunteers...

COOPER: Why is it taking so long? Do you understand why it's taking so long?

(CROSSTALK)

LOTT: ... Monday. And, you know, you don't just -- National Guard units are citizen soldiers. They're not at the armory waiting to go. They've got to get there, they've got to get their equipment packed. They've got to come in. People don't realize...

COOPER: Let me ask you.

LOTT: Yes.

COOPER: I asked someone here that I told them I was going to be talking to you tonight. And they wanted to ask, was part of the problem that a lot of these National Guard troops are in Iraq or overseas? I mean, are the forces so depleted, is that an issue?

LOTT: Anderson, only the news media is asking that question.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Sir, I can guarantee you that is not true.

LOTT: I've been digging through rubble in my own yard...

COOPER: Sir, a man who lives right here on this corner was asking me that question.

LOTT: No, that is not accurate. We've got the National Guard troops that we need. They're coming in there. They're coming in 1,200 a day into Mississippi. We're going to have 6,000 to 7,000 in Mississippi alone, not just Mississippi National Guardsmen, but Alabama, all the way to Michigan are going to be there. We're all pulling together.

Look, I don't want to minimize the difficulty or the magnitude of this problem. It's a big one, we've to get everything in there that we can. But we've had problems like communications. When you get stuff there, distribution center, the people can't get there. You've got to get it out into the community. We have a problem with fuel. I've got people that want to go -- my own son hadn't been there because I told him if you in there, you can't get back because you won't have gas.

COOPER: Right, well I can tell you now -- there's a gas station down here that's charging about $5 for a gallon of fuel, and the line is two miles long. But it is not just the news media that is asking these questions. There's a man named Charles Kerney (ph) who lost his home. He came up to me today, heard an interview last night, and he said, "I want to know, I mean, why aren't there more National Guard? And it's not enough," he said.

And I'm telling you what he said, and wanted me to ask you. He said, "It's not enough to hear that they are coming in the future." He wants to know why they aren't here now. I mean, should troops have been pre-positioned?

LOTT: Anderson, when you're hurt, even when people are pre- positioned -- some folks don't seem to realize, you have to clear roads, first. You have to get in there. And that's what you do the first day. For the first day, you're trying to clear the roads, get everything assembled, you know, find people that are...

COOPER: So you're happy with the federal government response?

LOTT: Look, I'm one of them. And I...

COOPER: Well, I know. I understand that. But you're pleased with the federal government response?

LOTT: I am pleased with the federal government response. And by the way, while they're hurting, and I understand it, this is not a time for complaining. This is a time for specifying what help we need, and let's make sure we get it in there. I'm really shocked at some of the comments that are coming, you know, a day or two or three, a week from now.

Look, if they're not doing their job, I'll be the first guy to complain. I'm not a shrinking violet. But I've dealt with the magnitude of this problem. I understand the transportation, the communication, all that has to go on. And remember, the disaster that went over New Orleans and hit us is still going on. They're under water. They're three fires in New Orleans. I looked at it today.

At least our disaster was three days ago and I could go stand in my community and say, "Well, here's where we were." But they're still dealing with it right now. And they're scared, they're panicked. It is a devastating thing, don't let me minimize that.

COOPER: In retrospect, was it a mistake for the federal government in the last couple years to cut the budget for the army corps of engineers in southeastern Louisiana for hurricane protection? Was it a mistake to cut some of the federal funding for flood control in that region? LOTT: Yes, I do think that's been a mistake. People that don't live in flood areas of the country -- and lots of the country don't really fully understand good work the corps does and how badly we need it. Yes, I don't think it was a wise decision. I think we should put more into flood control problems.

But, you know, you've got papers like the "Washington Post" editorializing against what the corps does when they build levees and they build pumps. But yes, we ought to be putting more into it, and I vote that way every year.

COOPER: What do you have to say to the mayor of New Orleans, who said he wants a moratorium on press conferences. Do you think there should be a moratorium on press conferences? Again, I'm just passing along things from people, here. There's a lot of people who are sick of hearing politicians, you know, kind of talk, and as they have been some this week.

LOTT: Anderson, this is a difficult thing, and it's hard to put a, you know, a positive spin on it. But I don't feel, you know, all this complaining myself. And I'm part of if. Look, when a governor of a state has a press conference, he's speaking to the American people or she's speaking to the American people. Look, this is what's happening. This is where we are. We need help, you know, send things.

He also, or she is also, speaking to the people of that state. That's a very important part of the job. Now quite frankly, Anderson, I just as soon not have done any press the last couple days, and hadn't done much because I'm too busy to assess the problems and move things and build my own personal problems.

But when a guy like you comes down there and comes in among us, that helps us explain to the people in the country and the world the magnitude of the problem and the help we need. And I just want to say, thank you to you and other media people. They're doing a great job. They're down there sweating and crying with us. I want to thank the volunteers and everybody that's trying to help us. And all I got to everybody else, we need you. Send more help. Send bodies, send people.

You know, in my neighborhood we had some fellows from Florida and they came over with a bulldozer and a Bobcat and they said, "Where do we go to work?" And I said, "We need to get that road open." They went around there and pushed the debris out. We had a lady that couldn't get in or out of her house. They went and opened up a path. Nobody was paying them.

COOPER: We're seeing that -- we're seeing that on every block here in Waveland, as well. I'd love you to come down. The people down here would love you to come down here, Senator. I know you have suffered personally, I know you've got a lot going on. They would just love some of the answers, to hear them from you directly. I'm just passing that along. Senator Trent Lott, appreciate you joining us very much, taking time out. Thanks very much.

A lot more ahead. We brought you a reunion last night. A little child left in a hospital in New Orleans, his parents had been desperately searching for him. He has been found. Their reunion, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, the days here are pretty emotional. Last night, our program, if you were watching, was a pretty emotional one for all of us. We met parents who had to leave their baby in a hospital in New Orleans right before the storm. The baby was just born, 8 days old. The little boy needed medical attention.

They had to evacuate, they left the baby behind. Could not find that baby for days and days, just about half an hour before they got on our air, they found out the baby was alive. Keith Oppenheim's followed their story from that moment on.

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Six days before Hurricane Katrina struck, Zachary Breux was born in New Orleans. At Methodist Hospital, Zachary Breux tested positive for being susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome.

LANIE BREUX, MOTHER OF ZACHARY BREUX: I called him, called Tad and I said, you know, "What do you think we should do?"

OPPENHEIM: Suddenly, his parents, Tad and Lanie Breux, had to make tough decisions. With Hurricane Katrina approaching, they were getting ready to evacuate, but their doctors advised, without a special monitor, it would be safer to leave Zachary at the hospital.

L. BREUX: We've evacuated New Orleans as a couple, at least five times, and were gone for three days, and we knew this was a big storm so, OK, maybe it's going to be a week. OK, so for a week, we'll know he's safe and, you know, we'll just come back.

OPPENHEIM: But, of course, there was no going back. By Tuesday, Lanie and Tad now at a hotel in Houston, started getting calls Methodist Hospital was to be evacuated. Their son was just a week old and they had no idea where he was or where he was being taken.

T. BREUX: You're helpless. There's nothing that you can do. You just want to cry.

OPPENHEIM: But the Breuxs did do something. They got on the phone and on the Internet, asking friends, family, anyone they could think of, to call hospitals in five states. Eventually, the network they created worked. Tad Breux received the call he was desperate to get.

T. BREUX: We called hospitals in Texas, in Alabama, in Mississippi, in Louisiana, in Arkansas. And it's just fantastic now that we just finally found him.

OPPENHEIM: Tad and Lanie hugged, overjoyed Zachary had been located. L. BREUX: They found our baby.

OPPENHEIM: Late Thursday night, the Breux's got on a private plane. A friend of a distant relative had called a Ft. Worth, Texas, hospital and learned Zachary was there.

L. BREUX: We always knew that he was fine, we just didn't know where he was, which is a horrible feeling.

OPPENHEIM: Their feelings would change. Tad and Lanie and their very tired 5-year-old son Benjamin entered Cooke Children's Medical Center (ph) to set their eyes on their 9-day-old baby boy.

T. BREUX: Mom, don't touch him. You're going to mess him up.

OPPENHEIM: We would learn later, Zachary was one of many babies transported to the airport in New Orleans. After a 12-hour wait, young Zack, accompanied by nurses, was transported on a military cargo plane to Ft. Worth.

(on-camera): As a hospital you weren't able to contact them because their cell phones weren't working.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Correct. We tried everything. And we, you know, we didn't know what to do to get a hold of them. So we just did everything we possibly could and listened to what the nurses were telling us and then we got the phone call saying, "Do you have baby Zachary?"

OPPENHEIM: What's it like now that you have him in your arms?

T. BREUX: It's the best feeling in the world. We can all sleep well. We've got our family together. Our whole family.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): The Breux's don't know yet where they will go. Like so many from New Orleans, they're homeless. But the experience of losing and rediscovering their baby has affected them deeply.

L. BREUX: Thank god we found him. And he's perfect and he's healthy and he's robust and the pediatricians say he's doing great.

OPPENHEIM: And reminded them of just how fortunate they really are.

Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Ft. Worth, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: When we come back, the angle on this story that many people have just started to talk about, the racial angle. Does race play a factor, has it played a factor, in the rescue efforts and the recovery efforts and the federal government's response. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Some unbelievable numbers here, we are live in Waveland, Mississippi, a town very hard hit by the storm, a city which is -- a town which is on its knees tonight and a lot of good people here are in need.

There is a growing sense and a growing debate and discussion about whether or not race has played a role in the response to this disaster, to the recovery efforts, the federal government's response.

CNN's Adaora Udoji takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the president of the United States I simply say that God cannot be pleased with our response.

ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America's African American leaders are outraged at what they call the government's slow response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina suffering on the streets of New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of these Americans who now are struggling to survive are Americans of color. Their cries for assistance confront America with the test of our moral compass as a nation.

UDOJI: He and others have been watching for days the sea of faces left stranded by the wrath of the hurricane.

CROWD: We want help. We want help.

UDOJI: Sixty-seven percent of New Orleans residents are black. Nearly 30 percent of the city's population lives below the poverty line without the money or the means to leave town despite dire warnings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we could have got out, we would have. We need help.

UDOJI: But it has been the proverbial elephant in the room and until today only a few members of the media have described what every viewer can see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost every person we've seen from the families stranded on their rooftops waiting to be rescued to the looters to the people holed up in the Superdome are black and poor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The great majority of the people we're seeing suffering right now are black and they are poor.

UDOJI: The city's mayor hasn't mentioned race but he knows the federal government can be quick to respond to disasters.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS (voice-over): After 9/11 we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places. UDOJI: Today, five days after the storm, troops at last are on the ground and food is being distributed but it will take a long time to get to everyone and answering the question of why it took so long to help Americans caught in the aftermath of a catastrophe may not be simple.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm calling for them to take care of Americans regardless of their color. Significant numbers of people in the gulf are African Americans and we stand here because we are concerned about them.

UDOJI: Adaora Udoji, CNN, New Orleans International Airport.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We are joined by the Reverend Jesse Jackson from New Orleans, Reverend Jackson thanks very much for being with us tonight. Do you really believe race has been a determining factor in the rescue and recovery efforts going on and the response by the federal government?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, PRES., RAINBOW-PUSH COALITION: It is at least a factor. Today I saw 5,000 African Americans on the I-10 causeway desperate, perishing, dehydrated, babies dying. It looked like Africans in the hull of a slave ship. It was so ugly and so obvious. Have we missed this catastrophe because of indifference and ineptitude or is it a combination of the both? And, certainly I think the issue of race as a factor will not go away from this equation.

COOPER: So, you're saying if the majority of these people in the Astrodome or in the shelters were white you say the evacuation, what, would be done faster, would be done better?

JACKSON: We have an amazing tolerance for black pain and for too long after our slave ships landed in New Orleans, you know, we tolerated in the name of God slavery for 246 years (INAUDIBLE) for another 100 years. We have great tolerance for black suffering and black marginalization.

And today those who are suffering the most, in fact, in New Orleans certainly are black people and I think what I think pains me today we got seven more busloads of people out of New Orleans. There were about 5,000 people. All of them were African American and no busses had been there until we got -- they were sent to (INAUDIBLE).

So, I said where are the busses? They said they're on the way. Across the street were 150 busses empty because they have no place to take them, so we have no place, no plan of rescue or relocation or relief for these people. Most are black and so the (INAUDIBLE) is self evident.

COOPER: Reverend Jackson, though -- Reverend Jackson, you call that indifference. Others might just call that incompetence and we've seen incompetence in plenty of places. I've seen bulldozers sitting around for hours at a time because no one told them what to do. I'm not sure that race played a role in those. Is that really fair to say? Isn't the leadership of New Orleans predominantly African American? Isn't the mayor of New Orleans African American? Isn't he primarily responsible for the safety and well-being of his people?

JACKSON: No, the mayor of New York did not cut the budget on building a stronger levee to protect the city from facing a flood in light of a storm. That infrastructure is not what mayors do.

Even the focus on looting and looting of course is unacceptable but a few blacks stealing some televisions is not why people are dehydrating and perishing and parching and can't get rescue, relief or relocation. And so why is it that we as Americans are getting less U.S. relief than there was U.N. relief for the tsunami? So, you explain it.

COOPER: Well, I don't have the answer to that and I think you raised some interesting questions though. But I mean the mayor of New Orleans is responsible for most immediately for the well-being of his people. Does it make sense that they were encouraging people to go into a stadium to evacuate, I mean is that responsible a stadium that turned out to be a hell hole?

JACKSON: Several hundred thousand people and the stadium could only hold 20,000 and could not hold them very well. Clearly, the rescue operation and the relief operation is not something a mayor can do. As a matter of fact, it's not something that the governor can do. As a matter of fact this is a (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: So, you don't believe -- you don't believe the mayor holds any responsibility for the chaos that is happening you think it's all the federal government?

JACKSON: Oh, the mayor holds some responsibility. But, look here, the state has responsibility for National Guard, security and protection. The Corps of Engineers has responsibility for building up a stronger levee but then the budget was cut for that.

Where was the National Guard and where were the helicopters, in Iraq, fortifying Iraq but leaving New Orleans exposed and so race is not the only factor because race did not create -- did not create the Katrina hurricane. We did not know to what extent carcinogens was a factor in the ozone layer.

So, from Mississippi around to Alabama there was a certain evenness in the impact of Katrina but then you look at who's left behind. Most are poor and black and this time with no place to go.

The president came through today, five days later a ceremonial visit. Why can't we use the unused air bases, for example, to put these people? There's England Air Base right here in Alexandria (INAUDIBLE) basically empty. Why are these people five days later -- more will die from starving and dehydration than from drowning. What is the real reason? COOPER: I hear your questions and those are questions that I've been trying to get answers to and have not frankly gotten the answers I'm looking for or anyone is looking for around here or any answers frankly. We're going to continue to ask those questions. Reverend Jesse Jackson, appreciate you joining us very much tonight. A lot ahead...

JACKSON: Indifference, incompetence or both and both are unacceptable.

COOPER: Indifference and incompetence both are unacceptable that is certainly true. Reverend Jesse Jackson, thank you very much.

President Bush patrolled the area today. He was on helicopter. He was on the ground in New Orleans. We saw his helicopter pass overhead here. A lot of people here had mixed feelings about the president doing that, even holding a press conference with all those troopers behind him. We'll hear some of that a little bit later on. Laura Bush was also there touring the areas showing their concern for the people here, a lot of people watching those images.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick was covering the president's trip as well. She joins us now. Deborah, what's the latest?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we can tell you we were inside the Superdome -- I'm sorry the Cajun Dome today in Lafayette. There were 6,000 people there. We can tell you what we saw.

We saw hope mixed with despair. We saw children who are missing their parents. We saw parents who were missing their babies. We saw those who have been saved and yet they can't shake the feeling that they've been abandoned for days, their broken dreams now being made worse by what they perceive as broken promises.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are children that's here without their parents. I got eleven kids I'm taking care of. Their parents, nobody knows where they're at. I have a little niece that's nine years old, her mom is still on top of a rooftop somewhere and believe me we appreciate ya'll but we need ya'll to tell the story the way it is, the exact truth. Don't take nothing from it because we are in distress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see one FEMA person come in here and ask me what they can do to help me and help these other people in here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I'd rather you not say I'm coming, I'm coming, I'm coming, just don't say that at all. You'll feel better. You make more of a problem when you say you're coming and don't show. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to let my loved ones know we made it through the hell hole. We made it through that holocaust. That's what it was. It was a holocaust.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: There were sleeping bags all over the place, air mattresses, some people even sleeping on rafts that you usually use in pools, people roaming on the outside and just trying to find a little peace, trying to find a little comfort.

And, as if it couldn't get worse, we were told just a short while ago that a bus full of people who had just been evacuated from New Orleans and who were en route to Dallas we are told that that bus flipped over. One person is dead. There are other casualties. So, again, it is just hope mixed with despair -- Anderson.

COOPER: Deborah Feyerick, thanks very much for that.

An amazing story to tell you about, Gary Tuchman found eight babies struggling for life in the wake of this storm. It has a happy ending. Here's Gary's report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN (voice-over): These are the littlest survivors of Hurricane Katrina, days old premature babies in a neonatal unit at Gulfport Memorial Hospital located near the beach in the middle of the worst the hurricane had to offer. Terrified parents had to leave their babies here to tend to other family members as the winds came howling through.

CHERYL LOWMAN, NEONATAL NURSE: We lost power during the night and our ventilators all shut down. There was no lights and we couldn't get the flashlights. They got to the babies' beds. They were able to hook them up to manual life support bags.

TUCHMAN: The hospital was seriously damaged but the babies and everyone else in it survived.

Stephen and Elaine Copeland tearfully left their four and a half pound son Stephen, Jr. behind to take care of the rest of their family. How worried were you?

ELAINE COPELAND, HURRICANE MOTHER: Very, mostly praying and reading my Bible and trusting the Lord and having confidence that he was going to take care of him.

TUCHMAN: Then there's Lisa Marble's story, in labor she didn't know where she was going to have her baby. One hospital couldn't take her. Gulfport Memorial did with this warning.

LISA MARBLE, HURRICANE MOTHER: The lights may go out. There may be no air. You won't get your pain medicine. You will not get an epidural. Your doctor's aren't here to deliver you. A midwife will be delivering. You know it was just like they kept saying this is third world country delivery here, you know. I was like oh my God. I knew she was coming so I didn't -- I was just glad to be on a bed where there was somebody there that had delivered babies, you know.

TUCHMAN: As it turned out anesthesia was not available. The doctors were too busy dealing with the hundreds of trauma cases but Lisa delivered healthy eight pound nine ounce Sophia (ph).

(on camera): When you decided to have a baby did you think, hum, nine months from now will be the middle of hurricane season?

MARBLE: No.

TUCHMAN: Maybe you'll think about that next time.

MARBLE: Yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Sophia is going home today. Stephen, Jr. still has several weeks here but his parents are very grateful.

COPELAND: And he is just beautiful and he's doing good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: The people who work at this hospital are very proud that all their patients are safe but there's some emotional turmoil at the hospital. That's because they have a list of more than 200 employees of the hospital who are unaccounted for. They hope it's a communications issue but they're not sure -- Anderson.

COOPER: An amazing story, thanks very much for that.

When we come back one family's homecoming and their attempts to laugh even through the tears.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Scott Gillan (ph). I was rescued by boat along with my mother, Betty Gillan and my wife Cynthia Gilmore from Illinois. We're all right. We were rescued and brought to this hotel when the water was up to the second floor. I haven't been able to be in touch with my family (INAUDIBLE) in Bay St. Louis or in Diamond Head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So many people just come up to us all day long and say they want to get a message to a loved one. They want their moms, their dads, their brothers and sister, their children to know they're still alive, so we've been trying to tape as many of them as we can and just put them on the air because it is just so sad. There are no phones. People cannot communicate here. It is still a very desperate situation on the ground here in Waveland, Texas. And, every hour of every day we are finding families coming home and finding that their homes are gone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Charles and Germaine Kearney (ph) are finally returning home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God look at Reggie's house.

COOPER: They know the house is gone but they hope to find some mementos Katrina might have left behind.

It must be overwhelming to see all this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. It is. You know, it's just blowing me away. It really is you know but I mean this happens to other people and they come back from it so we're going to come back from it too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it was just something like this, my house is gone. I can't play no more. Guitar is full of water but I got my family.

COOPER: The Kearney's try to remain optimistic but today they are also angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes and where the hell are the people? Why are people dying you know because don't tell me -- I'll tell you why because there's not enough National Guard troops to come here. They're all already dispersed. I mean I hate to go there but I mean why else can it be? I mean...

COOPER: You mean they're dispersed in Iraq?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Iraq and everywhere else. I mean what is, you know, when the reports are that we're getting 265 from here, 400 from here from New Mexico, I mean come on. Why aren't they bringing the people to the military bases, you know? I mean there's no place to put them. That's bull there's no place to put them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People in foreign countries are getting better care than we get.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unfathomable. I'm speechless. What the hell is going on and why can't you get food to the damn interstate, to the Superdome?

COOPER: Nearby their parents, Bill and Ann Myrtle Kearney (ph) have found their home is also destroyed.

So what will you do with this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably drain it.

COOPER: At least, God bless you, at least you got a sense of humor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, for God sake, you know, I'm an artist. I'll probably paint it.

COOPER: The Kearney's evacuated to Mobile before the storm. Myrtle vacuumed before she left. You vacuumed your house?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I vacuumed my house to the moon so that when we came back we would have a pleasant environment to come back in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We stood right here in this driveway and laughed at her as we left.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And wait you want to hear the best, ya'll are going to die laughing, I collect rocks. I came out and picked out all my rocks and brought them inside and hid them.

COOPER: Wait a minute, Myrtle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Myrtle, get a grip.

COOPER: So you vacuumed the house and you hid your rocks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I picked up my rocks.

COOPER: Behind the laughter, of course, there is unspeakable sadness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have not cried yet and I'm probably going to go away and lose it completely, you know, with all my joking and all my Myrtle-isms. I'm probably going to lose it really bad.

COOPER: I can't get over this image of this woman laying out in the street for 48, you know, 72 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, and like I said, what do you think this mother feels when she came in with a healthy baby and now her baby's in like a comatose state?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dehydrated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And may die because he didn't get water, water, not something remarkable, water.

COOPER: Even on this hot, humid day, even in these dark, desperate times the Kearney's are determined to rebuild, determined to once again return to Waveland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: People dying because they drowned in water. People dying because they have not gotten enough water soon enough.

We have a lot more when we come back on this special edition of 360 from Waveland, Mississippi. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. We are in Waveland, Mississippi.

Last time we talked to Dr. Sanjay Gupta he was in New Orleans in a hospital under intense conditions. There were gunshots, very difficult conditions indeed. He has left. We'll talk to him now.

Sanjay, did you ever think you'd see anything like that in the United States of America?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, absolutely not, Anderson. I've been to Iraq. I've been to Sri Lanka. We were there together covering the tsunami. This was unlike anything I had ever seen and it was hard to believe that this was the United States of America -- Anderson.

COOPER: What's the worst thing that you saw? I mean what were conditions like?

GUPTA: I think it was a combination of just having the cesspool of infectious water completely surrounding the hospital, concerns not only about people trying to get out of the hospital, which was impossible because they had to go by boat or by amphibious vehicle, but also this growing concern about public health issues, all this bacteria, viruses, just mucky, disgusting water flowing into the hospital, no electricity, no water. It was impossible to take care of patients.

COOPER: My heart goes out to those who are still there. I'm glad you got out, Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much.

When we come back my Reporter's Notebook, a very personal account of what it's like here in Waveland, Mississippi.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Here in Waveland, Mississippi, you can see the destruction behind me. The reason it is so bad in this area is just in front of me, the water, the coast just there about 100 or so yards in front of me. The water is calm, beautiful tonight deadly just a few days ago.

For the last couple of days we've been shooting some images on a little home video camera of mine and put it together in my Reporter's Notebook.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): The days here seem to blend together. At times it's easy to forget what country you're in, what year it is, which way is up, which way is down. You drive past highways that look like parking lots. There's no gas to be had. When there is, the lines stretch for miles.

(on camera): Just about all the gas stations in this area are closed. There's a line here on the side of the highway that's about two miles long, people just waiting for gas at the gas station. It's not even clear if there is gas at the end of the line but there will be a rumor that there's gas at a place and everyone will just go and line up and just wait. It's all you can do.

(voice-over): On the radio, there's no music, just people desperate to trade information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bunch of us here from the Car Clinic are going to take a big load of food and supplies over to (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: In Waveland, you can pick any street near the water and this is what you'll see.

(on camera): It's hard not to be overwhelmed by the scope of it all. I mean everywhere you turn in this town of Waveland there's just destruction. There's -- look at the clothing and bedding hanging in trees.

(voice-over): Turn left, turn right, it doesn't really matter. It all ends up the same.

(on camera): Oh, look here's a Marine jacket. The rest of the world just seems so far away. I mean, you know, throughout the week we've heard politicians say, well, you know, they understand the frustration of people down here. The truth is people aren't frustrated here. People are dying here. They've died here in Waveland. They're dying still in New Orleans so it's not just frustration. It goes much deeper than that.

(voice-over): Walking through the rubble it feels like Sri Lanka, Sarajevo, somewhere else, not here, not home, not America. I've covered a lot of disasters, natural and manmade and each one is different, each one the same.

At a certain point it feels like all the words have already been spoken, devastation, destruction, disaster, sadness and pain. Again and again it's always the same, the heat, the humidity, the sweat, the tears. This time does feel different. This time it's our home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And it's been a privilege to be in Waveland the last two nights here, the people just remarkable, some looting here, yes, but people have just been helping one another, neighbor helping neighbor. The federal government is here. FEMA, these Virginia urban search and rescue personnel have just been doing extraordinary work and continue to. As the sun goes down, they'll continue to work. As the sun comes up, they'll be working again.

Our coverage continues all weekend long. Stay with CNN. "PAULA ZAHN NOW" is next -- Paula.

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