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PAULA ZAHN NOW

President Bush Tours Hurricane Devastation; National Guard Troops Arrive in New Orleans

Aired September 2, 2005 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Glad to have you with us.
Help is finally getting through. But, even as we speak, the state of emergency is still overwhelming the efforts to help survivors. At this hour, National Guard trucks are churning through New Orleans' flooded streets. They are carrying troops to provide security, as well as food and water. About 1,000 National Guard troops are in New Orleans now. The total is expected to go up to about 7,000 by tomorrow.

A short time ago, President Bush finished his daylong tour of the Gulf Coast, after flying over New Orleans and inspecting the levee repair efforts close up. He promised to keep working for the hurricane victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to forget what I have seen. I understand that the devastation requires more than one day's attention. It's going to require the attention of this country for a long period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And it will take a very long time, indeed. The Army Corps of Engineers says it needs between 36 and 80 days to actually remove the water from the city. Louisiana's governor has called the levee repair effort Project Hope, saying it's the first sign of hope that New Orleans will return some day to a normal existence.

There are some other signs of improvement around New Orleans. Not long ago, fire boats put out a large fire that had been burning for most of the day in an industrial warehouse district. But other fires in the city are being allowed to burn themselves out, once again, not too many working fire hydrants.

Cheers, clapping and tears of joy, as well as a few boos and catcalls, greeted troops that finally delivered water and food to people stranded at the city's Convention Center. President Bush himself announced just a short time ago that the Convention Center is now secure. The evacuation effort is under way as we speak.

But Houston's Astrodome is now full. It can't take any more evacuees. And another 100,000 people are expected to arrive in Houston. Its mayor is appealing for citizens to open their homes. And we begin our coverage with some breaking news at this hour.

Our Barbara Starr is on the phone from New Orleans at the Convention Center with troops that have just been sent in there.

Barbara, describe what you can see.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, they're on the ground here as night falls outside the Convention Center in New Orleans. There is just no concept that this place is secure tonight.

In fact, it is really just the opposite at this hour. Within the last few minutes, senior New Orleans police officials have privately expressed their great concern about possible unrest in the next several hours, because the thousands of people that have been living here in the streets outside the Convention Center, with mountains of trash, with the street basically becoming an open sewer, these people are becoming just absolutely desperate.

What they are trying to do here tonight is give these people some hope. They have established food distribution outside the Convention Center. They have also established a medical evacuation point for those who are the most seriously ill. They are also going to try very desperately in the next hours to get some buses in here and at least try to move some of these people.

There is absolutely no indication at this hour, Paula, frankly, that this Convention Center is secure inside or outside. There are now tonight hundreds of people milling about in the street, the people that have been here for days. They're refugees. And there is just a great deal of unease and unrest here tonight, Paula.

ZAHN: Barbara, I wanted to share something that we learned while you were traveling with these troops. And that is that the chief of the National Guard is now saying that some of these National Guard soldiers that are coming to New Orleans are -- quote -- "highly proficient in the use of lethal force." He pledged to put down the violence in a quick and efficient manner.

So, you're just saying things are not under control, that there's fear of unrest. So, there clearly is this expectation there will be more violence?

STARR: Well, not an expectation, a great concern about it, I think. They certainly have put the personnel in here that are the most capable of dealing with it.

But what we have seen during the day is General Honore, who we are traveling with, the senior military commander, insisting time again and that the National Guard troops keep their weapons slinged over their backs, their guns pointed down. He's trying very hard to set the tone that this is a humanitarian relief operation. It is not a military combat operation.

They want to get the relief moving before something does happen. Certainly, the New Orleans Police, the other law enforcement officials on the scene tonight are prepared. No one wants it to happen, Paula.

ZAHN: Barbara Starr, thanks so much for that update.

Get this. Less than an hour ago, we got word that Fidel Castro is offering to send 1,100 Cuban doctors and 26 tons of medicine to help out the U.S. There's no word on how the administration is reacting to that offer. But, at last right now, we can finally report that New Orleans is getting substantial amounts of help.

Let's turn to Nic Robertson, who joins us by videophone, with more on that -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, what we have been able to see in this downtown area of New Orleans today is a lot of security on the street, a lot of military, a lot of police.

We have even see DEA agents in flak jackets, helmets, hanging on the back of armored vehicles driving around the streets. What we have seen are the other soldiers, other policemen carrying these weapons, shotguns. We have seen private security contractors with automatic weapons driving around the streets very cautiously, their weapons sometimes pointed up in the air, sometimes pointed down at the ground.

But what is happening on the streets is, anyone it appears with an intent of doing some serious looting is being put off from that. We have seen people just across the road from even, even as some of the security forces have gone past them, going into some of the stores here, walking out with armfuls of drink.

We have talked to people here are desperate. They say they have tried to go to congress center to get food. They have found it too difficult, too dangerous. They have left with their young families. They say they really don't know what to do. And that is why they say they have been going into these stores to get some of the food.

We have also seen a lot of helicopters up in the air today, particularly when President Bush came into the city. There was an awful lot of helicopter activity over, flying reconnaissance, bringing in relief to some areas, but a very, very, very strong security presence in the center and no wholesale looting, from what we have seen.

And one silver lining to somebody's cloud today. I talked to a family from New York. They have stranded here for five days. They came down to show their son the university. They came out of their hotel. They were desperate to find a way out of town. They had been told to go to various places. While we were talking to them, a private security contractor offered a ride out of Baton Rouge and on their way, that is, putting them on their way back to New York tonight, Paula.

ZAHN: Nic Robertson, thank you so much for telling us what's going on in New Orleans at this hour.

Just a reminder that we are told, by this time tomorrow night, there will be some 7,000 National Guard troops on duty in New Orleans. This week, it is no exaggeration to call New Orleans hell on Earth.

People are outraged and they're asking, how could this happen in America? I want to warn you, the images you are about to see, you are going to find disturbing. And the anger is raw and sometimes profane.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): Huge crowds amid piles of garbage and filth. After Katrina, New Orleans is an American city reduced to a primeval state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have no running water. We can't bathe ourselves. We're hungry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss, Miss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't either.

ZAHN: There's no clean water, no food, sewage everywhere. And for four days after Katrina struck, there were few signs of any federal help.

CROWD: We want help! We want help! We want help! We want help! we want help!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these people you see here dying, it's your fault.

ZAHN: Explosions rocked the city, fires burning out of control, bodies covered with blankets all but pushed aside, no one able to give them the respect they deserved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These people couldn't leave because they couldn't afford to leave. Superdome people went in that shelter because they couldn't afford to leave. And now we're dying?

ZAHN: Anger is at the boiling point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is terrorism America-style.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: All week, our reporters on the ground have described increasing lawlessness, bands of men in the street looting and shooting. The phone calls that eventually get through are frightening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... they have access to that are guarding the hotel with shotguns. They themselves are afraid to go outside because policemen are being shot at. And it is a very, very difficult situation here.

ZAHN: Officials in Washington worked up a massive relief plan. But what we have heard at news conferences and on the street are two different stories.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Actually, I think there was an extraordinary effort to put resources on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're not angry, so much as frustrated and hurt that we felt deserted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people just don't have a concept and it's being glossed over. It's being handled so poorly. It just amazes us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the things, considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, that things are going relatively well.

ZAHN: On his way to the disaster area, President Bush didn't see it quite the same way.

BUSH: The results are not acceptable.

ZAHN: New Orleans' mayor, Ray Nagin, has been issuing daily calls for help. In a radio interview, he finally exploded.

RAY NAGIN, MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: 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 are coming 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.

ZAHN: Troops are clearly visible in the city today, but why has it taken so long? Why wasn't there a better plan?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And the anger isn't just in the streets or at City Hall. Who is to blame for all the misery we have seen this week? And how can our country do better? We know this is a debate that has many of you out there deeply divided. And we are going to take it on tonight.

Joining me now, Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, CNN security analyst Richard Falkenrath, and "Los Angeles Times" editorial writer Jon Healy, who wrote the lead editorial in today's paper, slamming the federal response.

Glad to have all three of you with us tonight.

Jon, I want to start with you. We mentioned this editorial. You wrote where you said -- quote -- "The disaster was all but scripted. Why wasn't the response?"

How big a failure do you think the federal response was?

JON HEALY, EDITORIAL WRITER, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, it seems pretty indefensible that it would take four days to see the kind of display of force and personnel that we have come to expect from the United States in much shorter order.

And the most disturbing thing about this to us, I think, is the fact that this was a very well-modeled situation. They knew -- planners, disaster planners, FEMA, state officials, have known for years that, if you get a storm the size of Katrina hitting the city or near the city, the levees wouldn't hold.

ZAHN: Sure.

HEALY: You would have flooding. You would have massive flooding and you would have a whole bunch of people, tens of thousands of people, stuck.

ZAHN: All right.

And, in fact, Richard, this is something that the government rehearsed for. There was actually an exercise with a fake hurricane, Pam, I believe it was, where they went through the possibility of a Category 4 hurricane, and this was all but predicted. So, how did the government blow it?

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Paula, it is right that certain parts of this were predicted.

The exercise that you referred to didn't model anything nearly as bad as what actually happened here. And we don't know exactly why it took so long to get federal forces on the ground in New Orleans yet.

ZAHN: But why do you think it is?

FALKENRATH: Well...

ZAHN: You have been involved with emergency work at the federal level.

FALKENRATH: I think it's two things. First, I think there was a cascading failure, of public infrastructure there that we really didn't expect.

We didn't plan for or expect the simultaneous failure of all the transportation systems, all the energy systems, all the communication systems and all the sanitation systems. And that was just sort of beyond the planning parameters that the federal government had.

Second, it was the combination of the flood, plus the breadth of the hurricane, which is not just New Orleans. I mean, we are focused on New Orleans in this conversation. But that is not the extent of this disaster. This disaster extends down the Gulf Coast. And so, again, the flood was predicted. People knew that this was a serious risk. But having it occur simultaneously with a horrific hurricane down the coast, all the way to Alabama almost, was I think beyond the planning parameters for the federal government.

ZAHN: Congressman Thompson, have you found any part of this effort on the federal government's part adequate?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), MISSISSIPPI: No. To be quite honest with you, Paula, the response is real late.

We should have been on the ground a day, no more than two days, with the resources that you see being marshaled now.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But you just heard Richard explaining that it's a cascading, sort of domino effect, when you have so many different bureaucracies involved.

THOMPSON: Well, but that -- but that's why you have planning. The Department of Homeland Security has the ultimate responsibility for making this happen. What they have done is waited and hesitated while people suffer.

The pictures we see are real. They're not a plaything. And what we have to do now is make the government accountable. The president was absolutely right. The response was not adequate and he had to assume leadership. We should have had the leadership early.

ZAHN: Gentlemen, we have got to leave it there.

Congressman Thompson, Jon Healy, Richard Falkenrath, thank you for all of your perspectives.

It's clear that this disaster is so big, we all need to pitch in. Please join CNN tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for a three-hour special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" to find out what you can do to help.

Coming up next, the most helpless victims of the storm, what's done to help the babies and all those people stranded in hospitals?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of us have lost everything. We have nothing to go back to. We have lost four vehicles, our house. We have not seen our families. We couldn't get out on our cell phones. We would get out every once in while. We slept on the roofs, because the heat was so bad and we had no place to go. Yes. This is -- and this is my little survivor here. I got to sneak her out. There's animals there that couldn't get out. And we were able to got her in a bag and (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: All the losses so difficult to comprehend.

And one of the more alarming things to come out of this disaster is the fact that so many families are now separated, particularly brand new babies from their parents. Now the story of a special airlift for people who weren't able to take care of themselves, newborn babies. They also arrived in Baton Rouge today.

Here's Elizabeth Cohen with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This helicopter arrived with precious cargo, 29 newborn babies rescued from a downtown New Orleans hospital, most of them without their mothers.

Jordan Abrams (ph) was one of the lucky ones. His mother, Torie (ph), made it on to the same helicopter to Women's Hospital in Baton Rouge. She gave birth a week ago at Louisiana State University Hospital in New Orleans. She tried to explain her ordeal to us on camera, but it was too difficult.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we are just trying to recuperate now.

COHEN: She later told us that conditions inside the hospital were miserable, no electricity, no air conditioning, no working toilets. The nurses warned that, soon, they would run out of formula for the babies. She was worried for her son.

In New Orleans, conditions were so bad, the hospital staff was unable to check out the strange lump behind his ear. Doctors here in Baton Rouge did an ultrasound and then admitted him for more tests. This nurse reassured her, while others did what they could to search for the parents of the babies who had arrived alone. Doctors say all the 29 babies survived the ordeal, the harsh conditions in New Orleans, the transport to Baton Rouge, surprisingly well, even the preemies.

DR. STEVEN SPEDALE, NEONATOLOGIST: The babies are all in good conditions. They're all very stable.

COHEN: Doctor Steven Spedale and his neonatology team examined the babies when they arrived.

SPEDALE: Babies are very elastic. You have to bend them a lot to break them. And they've had very good care. People have not slept in days down there. And they have done everything they can for the babies. And that is why those babies are here. So, the credit goes to them.

COHEN: A tribute to the heroism of the doctors and nurses who cared for these babies under the worst of conditions, a tribute the spirit of 29 of the tiniest survivors.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN: Now, here's another piece of good news. Two nights ago, we told you about a woman named Rosina Jefferson (ph). While she was in labor, she jumped out of her window from her home in New Orleans. She swam 30 minutes while having contractions, all to get help for her 5-year-old son, who was having asthma attacks. She then got separated from her son.

It turns out that a family friend took the son to safety in the Astrodome in Houston. She saw our story and she then got in touch with Rosina Jefferson, who soon will be reunited with her son -- Paula.

ZAHN: What a lucky woman, Elizabeth Cohen.

Just a reminder to all of you out there what these heroic doctors and nurses are up against at a hospital in New Orleans. We have learned that nurses are actually giving each other I.V.s to be able to survive.

We cut to a quick picture now showing President Bush now arriving back at Andrews Air Force Base, after a swing through the Gulf states today. At several points in Mississippi and in New Orleans, the president talked about the team that he has in place, talked with folks whose lives have been so dramatically changed by this disaster. He assured them that he heard and understood their outrage and that he would do everything in the federal government's power to marshal the forces that they need to get their lives back together again.

Coming up next, there's no more room at the Astrodome. What are the conditions like there now? And where else can the evacuees go that are getting turned away? We are going the take you live to the Houston Astrodome.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just had to fight your life, people looting, stealing things, shooting in the air, everything. You had to fight for your life. You couldn't do nothing. And I thank Texas, because they show much love. They better than -- they showing better than what the government do. They're doing a lot more than what the government do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Just a little more than two hours ago, tragedy during an escape from a state of emergency. A bus carrying evacuees from New Orleans swerved across a highway median in southwestern Louisiana today and overturned. One passenger died. A number of people were injured. The bus was on its way to Houston, a city absolutely bursting at the seams with hurricane victims from New Orleans.

Nearly 100,000 are in the city. The Astrodome the first place of refuge for many arriving New Orleans residents, has already closed its doors. The arena is full.

Sean Callebs is there now with the very latest.

How crowded does it feel there, Sean, and how disappointed are those who can't get in?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is extremely crowded.

And we have some pictures that show you the floor of the Astrodome. And this is a cavernous facility. They actually brought us in before any of the cots went down and it just seemed enormous. You go in now and you feel almost claustrophobic.

They have about 15,000 people on the floor of the Astrodome. FEMA told us they could put as many as 24,000 in the Astrodome. That's what people planned on. When buses arrived here last night, however, they were told, the fire marshal says it is simply overcrowded and there's danger. There's a concern of danger, so they did not allow any more people into the Astrodome.

However, in the ensuring hours leading up to dawn, they were able to out some kind of agreement. To my right is the Reliant Arena. To my left is the Reliant Center. Throughout the day, they have been able to put up 11,000 more cots in those two facilities. so, they have continued to process people.

Paula, it is important to point out they have not turned away anyone. Now, both the center and the arena, with the 11,000 cots, that is going to be very short-term. We're talking perhaps 24 to 36 hours before they try to move those evacuees out to other cities here in Texas, including San Antonio, Dallas, as well as Huntsville -- Paula.

ZAHN: But, Sean, we have just been alerted that Houston could expect perhaps as many as 100,000 more evacuees from Louisiana. So, what's going to happen to those people?

CALLEBS: And that could be a conservative number. In fact, the mayor thinks it could be significantly more than 100,000 evacuees here right now. Hotels are completely overburdened.

Now, today, the mayor came out and he basically pleaded with the citizens of Houston to open their doors, to help people right now. If you have an extra room, if you have an apartment over a garage, help these people. And we have seen stories like that.

But one thing that really comes back, Paula, over and over, the trauma that people suffered during Katrina. And coming here, we have seen -- we have -- we have talked to psychologists. People are suffering from depression, anxiety. They're separated from families. Dozens of people come up to us throughout the day with pictures, with names, with phone numbers, eager to try and reach their loved ones or tell their loved ones that they're alive and well.

It is a tragic scene that's playing over and over. This is kind of a clearinghouse. We have heard everybody else talk about it, the death and destruction everywhere. People here just emotionally and mentally drained.

ZAHN: We hope they get the help they need.

You know, Sean, I was captivated by that picture of all the shoes on the floor, because, at one point this afternoon, I heard a report that suggested that one in five of the evacuees didn't have shoes on at all. Pretty stunning.

CALLEBS: And...

ZAHN: Go ahead.

CALLEBS: Indeed.

Well, what we heard from people, they tried to bring as much as they could to the Superdome. But when they crowded on the buses, they even pared down what little they did have into basically a small backpack. So, many people arrived here with virtually nothing.

We have seen people with briefcases, saying, this is all I have in the world. And that is it. They are finding new clothes here. They are finding shoes, but it is tough.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Sean Callebs, thanks so much.

Inside the Astrodome, harrowing stories of escape from a hurricane and a city under siege.

Carol Scott is an evacuee who was rescued from her home in New Orleans.

Thank you so much for joining us.

You were rescued from the window of your apartment building. You had to leave your five-month pregnant daughter behind. Do you know anything about her welfare?

CAROL SCOTT, EVACUEE: No. At this point, I haven't heard anything about her. And she's pregnant with twins.

ZAHN: You must be a nervous wreck.

SCOTT: Yes, I am. I'm looking for her and my sisters, because all of us was together.

ZAHN: Your family couldn't have it any worst. You traveled with your mother to Houston. Your mother has been fighting diabetes for a long time. Describe for the audience what happened to her.

SCOTT: Well, we thought she was doing OK after we got her out the window, just the fact that she was air lifted. We thought it would be a serious problem, but made it here safely.

But last night, after we got here, she just started sweating and not feeling good. And she fold me to call my brother. And we went and got one of the policeman and put her on a cart. And she was holding her chest. And when she took her little belongings out of her pocket, because she was still in her pajamas. She said, here, take this. And I just felt like she knew she wasn't coming back.

ZAHN: Are her grandchildren asking about her? SCOTT: Well, that's -- that's my mama. That's not my grandmother. That's my mama. But my daughter, I have her three children with me. And that's who we're looking for.

ZAHN: So sorry about your loss. Where are you staying now?

SCOTT: Right now, we're at the Regency Suites and Inn because my sister and them drove here Sunday night. And they already had a place to evacuate from the storm. But we wasn't willing to leave, because we felt like we were safe because we were there on the second floor apartment and they did have a third floor bedroom that we could go up to if we had to.

But by Wednesday, we ran out of food and water. So, we didn't know what else to do. So my son-in-law and my brother were doing SOS signs to the helicopter, because they were picking up so many people. And eventually they came to the window. And they frightened us that they actually realized what we were doing and there to get us.

So we just had to start moving. And we were running around. And my mom didn't have shoes on her and feet. And that's the way we brought her here.

ZAHN: Our hearts go out to you. Carol, thank you for sharing your story with us tonight. And we hope you do get some good news about your pregnant daughter.

If you like to help the hurricane victims, please join CNN tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for a special star studded three- hour edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."

We're going to check the other headlines in a minute. Guess what the storm is doing to gasoline prices. Well, for those of you traveling over this holiday weekend, you already know. Ouch.

Also ahead, how a woman found her father alive. A special reunion coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one time did I see or anybody see an official step out here and tuck to these people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Much more Katrina news in a moment, but first more headlines with Erica Hill of Headline News. HILL: Paula, the lines for gasoline continue to grow and so do the prices. This was the scene at a station near Baltimore. The average price today with a new record high, $2.86 a gallon. The energy department says 26 countries will release 60 million barrels of reserve oil to help ease the shortages.

Meantime, there were fewer people looking for work as the August unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent, that is the lowest level in years. Some predict unemployment could surge now along the Gulf Coast until devastated areas recover.

A Reuters' report says Saddam Hussein's trial will begin on October 19. The report says Saddam and several aides will face charges for the killing of dozens of Shiite villagers in a 1982 massacre.

A new law that allows the mandatory sterilization of pit bulls and other potentially dangerous breeds passed by California lawmakers. Some U.S. cities as well as Ontario, Canada, have completely banned the breed.

And Paula, that is the latest from Headline News at this hour. Back the you in New York.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Erica.

The CNN victims and relief desk is making a huge difference. Coming up, how did a woman find her father alive?

Also, it's been one of the most frightening locations in New Orleans. What's the convention center like now?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: All week long, we have been hearing about people trapped in Charity Hospital in downtown New Orleans. A turn from a place where the sick cared for to a place with where the sick are dying. Attempts to evacuate patients and staff had to be stopped for security reasons until now. Senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is one of those who made the journey today from Charity Hospital to Baton Rouge. Here's his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SINGING)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Any hospital would have a difficult time in a disaster like this one. Even one with the name Charity. At New Orleans' largest public hospital, the goal of the staff today: that nobody dies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are their only hope. And we are trying as hard as we can to get them some help.

GUPTA: What's going to happen to these patients if you don't get out them out of here? UNIDENTIFIED MALE; Two of them have already died here on this ramp waiting to get out. In this very spot.

GUPTA (voice-over): There's no electricity, no water, no food, but more than 200 patients. And it's been this way for days.

(on camera): So this is what a Charity Hospital looks like in the middle of a natural disaster. We are in downtown New Orleans, this is actually an auditorium that we're standing in now. At one time held up to 40 patients all around this place. Several patients still remain here, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are at the point developing medication probably without the power, without light.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a third world country. We know the risks and doing the best we can.

GUPTA: But this is the United States. Tuesday, the governor said this place would be evacuated. Three days later, we watch as medical personnel of Tulane right across the street were picked up by helicopters while Charity's patients, some on ventilators being worked by hand pumps waited in this parking garage.

(on camera): Last night, this hospital had a good night because nobody died.

(voice-over): Fortunate because the morgue in the basement is flooded. The dead have to wait in the stairwell.

At the hospital named Charity, it takes good doctors, quick thinking and a lot of faith.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because victory today is mine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And of course, there's a lot of concern about medical workers' health, as well. They have no water to wash their hands with. Some of them actually giving each other IVs because they are so dehydrated, not having any food or water in that hospital since Monday. That was Sanjay Gupta reporting.

Tonight, the evacuation of Katrina's victims continues. And when we come back, we're to tell you a little bit more about those that are in shelters in nine different states, many still out of touch with loved ones. And CNN is doing what it can to help. And Carol Lin has the very latest on that in Atlanta.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Paula, we have heard from so many different people. And we at the victim's relief desk will be here all weekend gathering stories and e-mails and giving updates. But we want to talk about the people who need help. And too many people can't get it.

I talked with a remarkable woman. Her name is Shirley Cade. Her 94-year-old father is trapped in his house in New Orleans, and he is on the brink of starvation. We actually managed to hook both of them up by telephone earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHIRLEY CADE, EVACUEE: Dad, we love you. We want you to hold on. We know you're a tough old bird. Hold on. We are doing everything we can.

DOUGLAS MOORE, 94-YEAR-OLD NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: I am holding on, baby. And -- and I'm completely dependent on what y'all can do for me to get me out of this situation. You say you're going to do this and you're going to do that, and nobody can get to do anything.

CADE: I know but...

MOORE: And the food is dwindling. Dwindling. I mean, dwindling.

CADE: We know, daddy. We know.

LIN (voice-over): Shirley Cade's 94-year-old dad has only a few gallons of water and a dozen eggs. He is eating once a day to conserve food. Shirley says her father and others are the untold stories in this disaster.

CADE: They're focused on the Convention Center and the Superdome, but there are citizens trapped inside their homes who are alive.

LIN: For Jennifer Watson, the Internet and a link to a CNN story gave her the first confirmation that her father is still alive.

JENNIFER WATSON, SAW MISSING FATHER ON CNN: We weren't getting a lot of information up here, and then I just happened to come across him on video. I was like, I saw you on TV and I see you're doing good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: If you're looking for information about loved ones or relief efforts or how you can help, check out cnn.com/helpcenter. And if you want to send us information, letting people know that you're OK or ask about people who are missing, send an e-mail to hurricanevictims@cnn.com. We want to share your stories. We want to help people find people -- Paula.

ZAHN: Certainly have helped so far. Carol Lin, thank you.

Now, more on the situation in downtown New Orleans, when we come back. We just heard from Barbara Starr, who was embedded with some of the troops coming into this city, that there's great concern about tension there tonight and the possibility of violence. We'll take a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: If you look at that picture closely, it is with very good reason that that soldier was pointing his gun to the ground. Barbara Starr, just reporting -- who is embedded with some of the National Guard troops that are now coming into New Orleans -- that these troops have been given very strict instructions to make it appear as though they're there on a humanitarian mission. They've been instructed to hold their guns to the ground. There is an expectation, or I should say there is a fear, as Barbara Starr just described, a little over 40 minutes, that there could be some violence there tonight.

The situation in New Orleans continues to be frightening, and last night our own Chris Lawrence spent the night on top of a police station where officers were basically hostages in their own police station, because it was too dangerous to go out into the streets. Here's Chris Lawrence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police officers under siege in New Orleans prepare to defend their station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know too much about (INAUDIBLE). I only know what goes on here, and it's been hell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officers being shot at continuously. Same thing every day. People want help. We try to help them. We don't get there fast enough, so they shoot.

LAWRENCE: With the city in chaos, an officer delivers this message home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to tell my wife, I love her. Her name is Rachel Weatherly (ph). Rachel Weatherly (ph). I love her. I love you.

LAWRENCE: The police are undermanned and often overwhelmed.

I want to have something to say, and y'all could get it out, I want you to get it out the them. All the cowards that are here on the New Orleans Police Department that fled the city in the time of need -- when you raised your right hand, you were sworn to protect these citizens.

LAWRENCE: Police say a third of the force deserted after the hurricane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For all you cowards that are supposed to wear the badge, are you truly, are you truly -- can you truly wear the badge like our motto say? Evidently you can't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody up on the roof, on me.

LAWRENCE: It's pitch black when they take the posts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's guys out here, you know, shooting at the police. Like I said, raping kids and women. LAWRENCE: One officer compares the catastrophe to September 11th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think just the number of people dead is going to be worse. And we're not going to...

LAWRENCE (on camera): We just heard a gunshot. We were just talking to one of the officers, and just like that, you heard a gunshot just go off, aimed somewhere near us. It's hard to even tell where he was aiming.

(voice-over): That was early on. This came later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had three people shooting at us from the project. I picked up the flash on the last shot, and I put about five shots over there, and quieted down.

LAWRENCE: Just as the night winds down, a chemical fire explodes off in the distance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm getting everybody off the roof, getting them downstairs. And that's about all we can do right now until we get further orders.

LAWRENCE: Finally, the sun rises through the smoke, and police offer some perspective on Hurricane Katrina.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think the real story is finished yet. This is only part one. Part two is where we are right now, dealing with all of this. The aftermath and the city, with the flooding, with the looting, with the killing, with the raping. Part three, that's the story that isn't finished yet. What's going to happen to this city? We're going to rebuild.

LAWRENCE: Questions right now with no answers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will survive. I know that, but we need to do more than that. We need to go back to living with faith, and with hope, even with compassion. For some of the people who didn't have any. For us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Chris Lawrence, giving us the first look that any of us has seen of what the reality is like for these police officers that have been on duty around the clock, with no electricity, no food, no water.

And as we just said, things are very far from secure at the New Orleans Convention Center. Our Jeff Koinange is there. He joins us now by videophone. How tense are things there right now, Jeff?

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, picture this: Walking into a refugee camp in a third-world country. Only this is the most powerful country on the planet. It was very tense when we walked into that convention center. Thousands of people gathered outside, despite the fact that thousands have already been transported to the Astrodome in Houston. People are angry, people are calling on the government, saying why was this allowed to go so far, Paula.

ZAHN: So, what is the fear tonight? We understand from Barbara Starr's reporting that troops, obviously, I guess 1,000 of them are in place tonight. By this time tomorrow night, 7,000 National Guard troops in place. What are they prepared for?

KOINANGE: Well, they're prepared for anything, Paula. Because we have been hearing from reports inside the convention center. And we took a walk inside. And the stench, the garbage, kids all over the place. It's such a terrible situation.

But people are scared, because they kept saying the police would be there up until 7:00 in the evening and then they would take off until the next morning. They don't know whether the National Guard is going to remain all night long. That's the fear right there, Paula. They tell us people have been raped, people have been killed. And there was a stench inside that convention center like you would never believe it, Paula.

ZAHN: Hate to hear that, Jeff Koinange. We also should point out for folks that aren't -- there are also folks outside of that convention center on I-10 we are now told, thousands of them, that will be spending the night along the highway. We're not too sure what the security situation is there.

To find out how you can help any of the victims, join CNN tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for a special three-hour edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."

Coming up next, we are going to take you to the Mississippi coast. Are they having better luck than New Orleans in coping with this disaster? Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see one FEMA person come in here and see what they can do to help me and help these other people in here. You know, I'd rather you not say, I'm coming, I'm coming, I'm coming. Just don't say that all, you'll feel better. You make more of a problem when you say you're coming and don't show.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: In Mississippi, especially in the area around Biloxi, many, many people are still missing and feared dead. Today's search and rescue teams ventured into areas no one had gone to since Katrina struck to search for any survivors. Randi Kaye is embedded with the teams and filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a husband and father. And right now, Doug Bair is 1100 miles from home. Part of Pennsylvania's urban search and rescue team.

DOUG BAIR, URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE: Unbelievable. You know? Unbelievable. It really puts it into perspective what, you know, what you have so don't complain. I mean, you know, I have a home and a family to go home to. A lot of these people have nothing now.

KAYE: Bair and his team are searching for survivors in the resort community of Diamondhead, about 40 miles west of Biloxi, Mississippi. Dimondhead is a community of 8,000 residents. Local authorities fear as many as 3,000 could be trapped in their homes.

MIKE MUNGER, DIAMONDHEAD FIRE DEPT: I still think there's a possibility of people that didn't make it.

KAYE: Locals like Mike Munger provide initial reconnaissance for Bair's Pennsylvania team. They're strangers to the area and street signs are gone.

BAIR: OK, OK, OK, OK. Yes. It was completely broken, Jeff. You're just clearing glass out of the bottom, so we don't get any in them.

KAYE: Bair's group gets inside these homes any way they can, desperate for any signs of life.

BAIR: Hello? Anybody here? Fire department. Anybody here?

KAYE: They search every room at this home. No answers. No bodies. All clear. Yes.

BAIR: It's OK. We marked it, who searched it, the date, the time, no hazards. Nobody inside. Now we're moving on.

KAYE: House to house, Bair's crew lugs its gear in 90 degree heat. They work 20 hours a day, climbing and crawling through debris outside and inside.

BAIR: Let's see if we can get in the garage. There might be an attic space like the last one.

KAYE (on camera): How do you feel about risking your life to save others?

BAIR: You don't look at it like that. I mean, it's just -- we're just hear to do a job. It's like you coming to work for CNN. It's the same thing. We have got a job to do, and we do it.

KAYE: This job may be just routine to Doug Bair, but it is reassuring to those he meets. In a community with little or nothing left, it's nice to know somebody out there cares enough to come looking.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: They certainly proven that they do. Randi Kaye reporting. We'll take a short break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And I leave you with the latest from New Orleans, a city very much on edge. Our reporters on the ground telling us that in spite of the presence of 1,000 National Guard troops, things are not under control.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next.

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