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CNN LIVE SATURDAY
The Aftermath of Katrina
Aired September 3, 2005 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HARRIS: As Betty mentioned just a moment ago, we are getting a bird's eye view of the situation in New Orleans from a chopper pilot J.T. Alpaugh he is over another fire. Let's listen in.
ALPAUGH: It is burning heavily. Very charged, dark smoke. You can see how fast moving the smoke is. That means that there's usually a lot of flame behind it. Flame trying to grab and reach for oxygen and as soon as it busts through that -- whatever is holding it back, you see what they call a back draft, an area that is searching for ventilation and trying to grab oxygen and blows out doors and windows and you can see that heavily charged smoke just pouring out laterally from this warehouse.
So yes, it looks like we thought the fireboat may have saved or saved this warehouse, but the fireboat is leaving because we believe the fireboat has -- is it already down river? OK.
The fireboat's departing the area because we believe we have an injured -- an injured firefighter and there's no ambulances in the area or any medical personnel so they may be taking him to get some help. We saw him on the back -- on the bow of that boat just couldn't tell because I got little after he hurt himself that he was holding on to something and it's his -- the fellow firefighter took him inside the boat.
Something definitely wrong there. He is going off. Yesterday in this area, yesterday in this area, we saw six fireboats working this fire. I don't know where they're at today. But there were six of them. Working hard to contain this fire and now none. Where there was one, now there's none. I'm going to come up here to show you the relationship of how far this fire is, again, from the downtown area.
HARRIS: And there you have it. Chopper pilot J.T. Alpaugh showing us another fire. He's been very busy flying over the city of New Orleans. He's shown us two fires already since we have been on the air today. First at the shops that Canal Street, a retail area in New Orleans and then, this. These most recent pictures of a warehouse fire where possibly a firefighter has been injured in fighting that blaze. And he also showed us just the devastating scenes at the New Orleans Superdome.
We'll continue to watch these pictures and we also are standing by I should add here for a press briefing coming up any moment now from officials from FEMA and also officials from the Department of Homeland Security. As we get a complete assessment of where things stand now in the rescue, recovery mission that is under way now in New Orleans and other areas surrounding New Orleans. Certainly in Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi. All tied to Hurricane Katrina.
NGUYEN: And when that happens, with will bring it to you live. Right now we want to take you to Texas. That state is taking in the majority of hurricane victims evacuated from Louisiana. It is estimated that some 200,000 people are already arrived in Houston and CNN's Peter Viles is at the Houston Astrodome and joins us now with an update on what's happening there today. Peter.
PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, they still have a lot of room here in Houston for people yet to be evacuated in New Orleans. Some 14,000 cots ready for people yet to arrive. Interesting development though here. Most of the people that have come to the Astrodome here have come directly from New Orleans. The next convoy of buses they are expecting within an hour or two is not coming from New Orleans. It is coming from Lafayette, Louisiana a place called the Cajun Dome. A stadium where people evacuated to earlier in the week. Apparently they don't have the resources anymore in Lafayette to take care of those people, they are putting them on buses, they are expected here in Houston within an hour or two.
One other development, quickly, I know you have a FEMA press conference coming up. Al Sharpton has just been here in Houston and has made a number of pointed comments saying he believes race was -- this is Al Sharpton he believes race was a factor in the government's response. He called President Bush's response to the hurricane, quote inexcusable and beyond that took the media to task to stop using the word refugee to describe the people who have left New Orleans. He says they're survivors. He says refugee is a negative connotation. That the idea would be that these people are somehow seeking charity and not the case and not a good word to use.
Lastly, and something maybe more people could agree on with him, asking church leaders across the country to appeal to churchgoers beginning tomorrow to take in the survivors of the storm to open up their home to these hundreds of thousands of people who left Louisiana and Mississippi. Betty.
NGUYEN: Yes they're not only going to need homes now, they are going to need homes for long term or at least until that city rebuild and some may not want to go back to Louisiana or Mississippi that are hard hit. Let me ask you this, though. As people have come into these shelters and we understand that two more shelters have opened up, are the donations pouring in to help folks there?
VILES: It is really heart warming to see the donations. We see people coming in, we saw a woman this morning it was as if she just gone to Costco to shop for this reason. Two huge cases of diapers, a big case of bottled of water and it goes right up the chain, small businesses, and big businesses. There's an Anheuser Busch distributor here, I believe Silver Eagle, donated $5 million worth of water to this facility. The donations are coming in. As this heart warming to see them, volunteers are accepting these donations and sorting them.
Clothing, food, diapers. They still need, I should point out, what they say they don't have enough of, could be up and down the Gulf Coast if this is true, they need more fresh, clean underwear and socks and they need diapers and formula. But in any event the donations are welcome and they really are coming in this great numbers.
NGUYEN: Also want to know about a registry. Has that been set up? Have people been able to put their names out there so family and friends can find them?
VILES: Yeah. There are two registries we know of. If you need federal aid, you need to register with FEMA, but if you are looking for family members, the one we heard about is the Red Cross is running it, a phone number, it is 877-loved-ones, 877-loved-1s. It is something the Red Cross is setting up. So if you're missing someone or you are trying to tell someone where you are, that's the number to call. We don't know how effective that system is yet. But here at the Astrodome they say if you have these concerns or information, that's the number you should call.
NGUYEN: Get information there. Peter Viles at the Astrodome in Houston, we thank you for that. And of course, we are continuing to show you the fires that are burning out of control in the Louisiana area. This in New Orleans. I believe this is the warehouse fire that we have been following. We understand that the boat there that was supposed -- the fire boat supposed to help had to leave because of possibly an injured firefighter on board. Of course, we are going to monitor this and the press conference that we're waiting on with FEMA and the Homeland Security Department. That should happen any minute now. Here's a live look at the room where that will take place. When that happens, we'll bring it to you live here on CNN. Stay tuned. We have much more to come.
HARRIS: Once again, just a reminder, standing by awaiting a press conference to begin any moment now from FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. When that happens, we'll take you there live.
Along the Mississippi Gulf coast devastated cities and towns at the beginning of a long and costly cleanup. And already some progress. Some progress is being made. CNN's Chris Huntington is keeping track of the situation in hard hit Biloxi -- Chris?
CHRIS HUNTINGTON. CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tony, we are seeing progress really by the hour. Almost by the minute. In fact just within the last couple of hours, near our location here on the coast at Biloxi, local sheriff's department setting up a checkpoint. There's clearly more order to the way people moving around and we are also seeing people make more progress to get into their home sites and begin sifting through the rubble. The situation with the fuel is improving. It is still a long way to go to being completely satisfactory to the folks around here.
Gas lines in this part of Mississippi have been extraordinarily long as recently as yesterday and earlier today. We are told, though, more and more fuel is coming in all the time. More and more of the gasoline stations are getting back up online at some sort of power is being restored. Most often power provided by generators. As people in this area, Tony, get more and more perspective on what is happening, it's been five days now, a recurring theme we hear and it something the people are calling the Camille Factor, and that is that a lot of folks in the area that survived Camille and lived in houses that survived Camille believed they saw the worst fury that nature could throw at them and there fore felt secure and safe if their homes and of course, now, they have a different benchmark to deal with.
Earlier today, we were talking with you about a problem here that is still happening and that is the inability of local coroners to remove the dead from some of the rubble and destroyed areas. The bodies have been identified; places have been identified where there are deceased still in the ruins. But it's a slow process to get them out and we are told at least by some local officials that that is up to the local coroner who's overwhelmed on that particular front. Tony.
HARRIS: Boy, Chris, it is just great to hear that there is a place that was hit by this storm where progress is being made. Chris, we appreciate that. Thank you.
So many people are in need of help. If you want to donate, there are many organizations to give. That you can give to including the American Red Cross. Their telephone numbers there on the screen. You can also go to the Web site, CNN.com for complete list of aid originations.
NGUYEN: And coming up on CNN tonight at 8:00, you want to find out how you can help? Don't miss an all-star lineup on a three-hour special edition of "Larry King Live." Again, that's tonight at 8:00 p.m., how you can help.
NGUYEN: Here's a mission critical update for you now. In New Orleans, FEMA says some 1,700 patients are awaiting evacuation from hospitals. However, everyone is now out of charity hospital in New Orleans. And an 84-bed military hospital will be set up in a city at Severfield. Meantime though there is growing health concerns there because of the stench from dead bodies inside that city. So a lot going on.
HARRIS: Not only did Hurricane Katrina tear apart the Gulf Coast, it also tore families apart.
NGUYEN: So CNN has set up a victims and relief desk, which is going to help people find those, loved ones or at least talk to them. I want to join Carol Lin who has been monitoring this. I imagine you have seen it all on that Web page.
CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Betty, Tony we have seen a lot of sad stories. People are writing in, telling their stories and we are also hearing of some success stories. We want to try to help connect people through the Internet and through television. I just got an e- mail from an Erin Bolton he managed to escape from Kenner, Louisiana with his family and he's still pretty worried because people were left behind.
He tells me that the last place that his mother and his aunts and some of their kids were seen was the Iberville Housing Development in New Orleans, in what he calls the CDD area, on Conti Street. In addition to his sister, her kids five kids, are missing. He sent us a picture of the twin girls Kai and Kobe; it is an urgent situation for him as he's trying to get information. If you know anything about these people, e-mail us at HURRICANEVICTOMS@CNN.com.
In the meantime we are also trying to connect families that both escaped but had to leave loved ones behind like a woman that had to leave her 94-year-old father behind trapped in the house right now with only one day left of food. So, we're trying to connect them. They got a chance to talk to each other on our air yesterday. We'll keep you posted on when's happening to 94-year-old Douglas Moore. Who's running out of food and water right now? Betty, Tony.
NGUYEN: Our hearts go out to all of them. Thanks for keeping us up to date on that, Carol Lin.
HARRIS: And Betty, we can go back to more -- oh boy. This is -- more pictures from our chopper pilot. His name is J.T. Alpaugh. He is flying over the city of New Orleans. And, he has found a man obviously in distress here. We want to listen in.
ALPAUGH: Each one of those boxes contains six of these meals. I believe they're lasagna. Not quite sure. They cook themselves or heat themselves up. And I believe they're sealed so this man is -- this drop here may have saved his life. Grabbing up the water. The head on a swivel. Making sure that, you know, his life is not a danger by other people wanting to get these foods. This food that they have gathered. So they have quite a few meals there. I see four of the boxes so at least 24 of those meals. For this family here. I'm going to pull out and show you something else.
Down the street. I see a boat -- coming into the area. Not sure what these crews are doing there but urban search. They look like they have -- this is someone from our hometown. The L.A. Fire Department. Los Angeles Fire Department. And we're from the L.A. Area. And good to see some familiar faces here and to help with the rescue. Another L.A. Fire Department jet ski and boat. Or wave runner, I should say. Coming into the area. L.A. City Fire Department. They're helping out. Good to see them. They also understand that it's a main resource from Los Angeles Police Department are going to be coming into this area. I'm a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Air Support Division and they will be sending personnel in, helicopters in to help with some of the law enforcement activities in the area. So proud to hear the guys coming out.
Good to see some familiar faces here. So I'm going to come back over to the Black hawk. That's LAFD Urban Search and Rescue personnel coming into the area. Look at the city to show you some of the relief efforts being done by this particular Black hawk; army Black hawk helicopter's assignment is relief. Just to drop supplies. We have done some of this in the past. We're empty right now and they're going to get another load. Which we'll be doing very soon, as well. As we come around left, you can see that at 11:00. I want to push back into the Los Angeles Fire Department and I want to see -- they looked to me like urban search and rescue crews. We'll go over the street. Not sure what the operations are consisting of here. HARRIS: We want to show you pictures from just earlier. Pictures, once again, from the chopper pilot J.T. Alpaugh of a relief drop going on. And Betty this is amazing. This is a relief helicopter dropping supplies into an American city. Into New Orleans, Louisiana. And there you see the man, on the ground, in the floodwaters certainly overjoyed to be getting the supplies. Who knows what he has been through? In the days leading up to this moment when this helicopter above head is dropping in supplies, life sustaining supplies at this point.
NGUYEN: You see the water bottles there. In a moment we'll see them really literally jumping out there in the water to grab them. Every little bit of these supplies. They're going to hold on to it. You make the point here that it's so true. This doesn't look like a scene that's happening right now in America. But it is. This is a family stuck in their homes. And they're holding on to what little relief that they can get. Here are some live pictures now of crews that are trying to get to these families. Who are stuck in their homes?
HARRIS: They are on scooters, on what are these things?
NGUYEN: Jet skies.
HARRIS: Jet skies. Trying to do anything they can just to navigate the streets. Now, if you -- I mean, if you want to clear -- there's no clearer sense available of --
NGUYEN: Where people are.
HARRIS: Where this city is in terms of its distress. To see rescue officials there on jet skies trying to navigate the streets to get to people.
NGUYEN: Obviously we are looking at more troops on the ground. This is in Nashville, Tennessee. Where they are getting relief supplies, obviously, trying to get people in position so that they can provide the help that is so greatly need.
HARRIS: And back now to those chopper pictures from just a moment ago. And, as we were describing, this is it. These are the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana.
NGUYEN: What do you do here is my question? Are they scouting to see where the families are?
NGUYEN: Because obviously, they can't pull all of them out on the back of one jet ski or the three that are there but I think the point needs to be made, they are going from house to house trying to see who's stuck and pinpointing where these families are so crews can get in there and hopefully get them out of these home that is are flooded.
HARRIS: And that's part of it, Betty. You absolutely have to set up some kind of a grid so that you know what areas have been covered, what areas have yet to be covered and you have to figure out by setting up a grid -- I think something placed on the pole, where you have been, where you haven't been and going to the areas, you have to identify where the people are who still need to be rescued. Where the people are that still need supplies. Let's listen in a little bit more.
ALPAUGH: So those personnel standing out throughout the areas. Looks like to be possibly LAFD paramedics, maybe. Urban Search and Rescue crews with the flashlights on their helmets. All of them in dry suits. Again, we were explaining earlier, the dry suits, they're exactly what they say they are. They're dry.
There's no water that gets into them. The wet suit uses water to insulate the body. The dry suits seal off the body from the outside water, probably not a bad idea with -- with the water in these areas right now. They're laden with fuel. We have seen a lot of that. But anyway, we'll pull out and move on here. Go ahead. Yeah. Looking at that. I don't have it. OK. Allen, come in here. He's pointing me into the area that -- I want to push in to and show you that.
HARRIS: Betty, trying to make something of the scene seeing now.
NGUYEN: People in the swimming pool.
HARRIS: Look at the water.
NGUYEN: Waving. They're obviously they have got float toys and everything else.
All right, Michael Chertoff now to give us a briefing, to give us an assessment of where things stand right now.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: ... you see personally what, of course, I've witnessed and he has witnessed on television and read about and spoken to people about in terms of the aftermath of the tragic, catastrophic events that have occurred in Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana.
I'm going to give a little bit of an operational update. But before I do, I want to just say that words cannot describe what one witnesses with one's own eyes when you actually see the devastation caused by Mother Nature, a Mother Nature that has been anything but maternal.
We went around and saw houses that were crushed like match sticks and watched people sitting on porches, talked to the people who had seen their entire lives just evaporate before their eyes as the storm surge and the wind destroyed their dwellings, destroyed their livelihoods. Many of them were lucky to be alive.
Louisiana is a city that is largely under water, tossed about as if it's merely a set of child's toys. The devastation, the damage to life, the damage to the entire infrastructure of the city is breathtaking and horrifying.
I can tell that you not an hour goes by that we don't spend a lot of time thinking about the people who are actively suffering in all of these parts of the Gulf. There are people on rooftops. There are still people emerging as the water begins to recede, looking for help, looking for rescue. There are people who have been sweltering in shelters, waiting for food and water. We've gotten them food and water, but they're uncomfortable, they're scared, they're frightened. They don't know what the future holds.
The United States, as the president has said, is going to move heaven and earth to rescue, feed, shelter and restore the life and health of the people who are currently suffering. We are throwing all of the capabilities and assets of the United States into this effort. This is a daunting challenge. I guess I would say this is probably the worst catastrophe or set of catastrophes certainly that I'm aware of in the history of the country, a devastating hurricane followed by a second devastating flood. I guess I would compare what I've witnessed to an effort to rescue victims of the tsunami while the tsunami is still there, before it's receded.
I will say one bright spot was the tremendous courage and spirit of the victims and the tremendous courage and spirit of those who are working very hard to rescue them, to give them aid and comfort.
You know, we talked to people on the ground who were still shell- shocked, and yet they held American flags. They came up and hugged the president. They talked about how eager they are to rebuild. And many of them talked about how they want to help others that, if you can believe it, that they feel are even less fortunate than they are.
We got to meet and talk to some of the Coast Guard and other enforcement officials and other rescue officials, who have been working literally around the clock since Tuesday, trying to pull people off of buildings, trying to get them to safety, get them food, get them water, all in an environment in which the water is well over their heads. This is really a tribute to the spirit of the people that we bring to devastating catastrophes like this.
With me here is the United States Surgeon General, Richard Carmona, Admiral Whitehead of the Coast Guard and FEMA Deputy Director Patrick Rhode.
I'm going give a brief operational update, and then I'm going to ask the surgeon general to do that and Admiral Whitehead to do it. And then I will take some questions. And I know some of you were put off a couple days ago, because you thought you got a little sandwiched between a White House briefing and my briefing. So, I'll give you a little bit of extra time, but a "little bit" is the operative word.
Yesterday, the president signed a $10.5 billion package for emergency aid, which is a down payment, as he said, on what is going to be a very, very substantial investment in response and recovery. I met with the president today, and he's been spending a good deal of time every day focused very intently on what we need to do, not only to deal with the immediate, urgent need to continue to rescue, evacuate and shelter people, but the need to make sure in the weeks and months to come they are adequately provided for. They are housed. They are educated. They get whatever health assistance that they need, and also that we give them the hope and the promise that there will be a rebuilding and there will be a future, an economic future, a future for their lives. And so, he's been spending a lot of time on that.
I'm pleased to say that 21,000 Guard troops are now operating in Louisiana and Mississippi, of which approximately 13,000 are now in New Orleans. And I think another 1,400 are coming today or tomorrow. In addition to that, the Department of Defense has deployed more than 4,000 active-duty forces, including logistics and medical support.
The situation is improving hour by hour. Nevertheless, we're not satisfied. The fact of the matter is, this set of catastrophes has broken any mold for how you deal with this kind of weather devastation. And so, we're going to break the mold in terms of how we respond.
The federal government is not going to play merely its customary role in giving all necessary support to first responders, the federal government is going to step up and take a primary role, working with state and locals to deal with the outcome of this tragedy.
As a consequence, as you know the president announced this morning that we are bringing military forces, active military forces to assist in the process of completing this evacuation, and doing whatever it is to get people to health and safety. We anticipate that today we'll have elements coming from the 82nd Airborne Division, the 1st Calvary and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, approximately 7,000. We will continue to bring forces into the city and into other areas to the extent necessary in order to make sure the mission is completely taken care of.
Let me finally emphasize before I come to some statistical updates, this is not merely a tragedy in New Orleans. The surrounding parishes are inundated, and there are people who need help there. We are going to looking to help them, and we are looking to help them.
We are actively focused on the needs of the people in Mississippi, who are currently suffering. And people all over the Gulf area are in dire straits. And therefore, we are going to be looking comprehensively in terms of our response with these new military assets at everything we need to do in order to make sure we are conducting evacuations and giving people the assistance that they need.
There are some remarkable statistics. The Coast Guard has now saved more than 9,500, rescued more than 9,500 lives, which is double the entire number of people that were rescued in the year 2003. And on top of that are hundreds and thousands rescued by local authorities.
Humanitarian aid has gone to well over 100,000 people. Emergency personnel continue to work around the clock. Operation Air Care has airlifted more than 4,000 people out of New Orleans. This is an effort to get people airlifted out using not only military aircraft, but aircraft that have been given to us or lent to us by commercial airliners.
Amtrak made its first run out of New Orleans today and evacuated people to Dallas. That's 650 people, and we expect to be running a couple of trains a day.
We are very aware of the fact that there are still patients in hospitals that need to be medevac'd. We're working systematically. We've removed a lot of patients. There are still some to be removed. And, of course, as well as the patients, there are staff and other people who are present in the hospital.
This is a picture which is improving, but we have a lot more work to do. And I will be going down to the New Orleans area tonight. I expect to be there for several days. I'm working with the new military elements that come in to make sure that we are now able to integrate and deploy this much larger footprint of federal assistance that's coming down under the Stafford Act.
Now I ask the surgeon general.
RICHARD CARMONA, SURGEON GENERAL: Yes, sir. Thank you.
Mr. Secretary, thank you for the opportunity to be with you today. On behalf of Secretary Levitt and the Department of Health and Human Services, I would like to give you an update on our activities in providing assistance to those affected by this disaster.
New Orleans hospital situation first. Three hospitals in New Orleans are still up and running with no evacuation required. Health and Human Services is supplying, with the help of its FEMA partners, needed medical supplies to these three hospitals. These hospitals are East Jefferson, West Jefferson and the Oschner Hospital.
Federal medical shelters. HHS is setting up the first 10 federal medical shelters. Each will have a 250-bed capacity. They will be at Fort Polk, Louisiana, Eglin Air Force Base, Meridian Naval Air Station and the Meridian Air and National Guard facility. We will have a total of 2,500 beds available once the deployment is complete.
Over 300 United States public health service commission corps officers have arrived to staff the medical shelters. Several hundred more are in the process of deployment. Each shelter will require three large semi-trucks of equipment, supplies. And it's going to take a great partnership to get this done under the leadership of FEMA and Secretary Chertoff, our partners within the NDMS, the National Disaster Medical System, the VA DOD, and the Public Health Service. Each shelter will require a staff of 150 persons.
The National Institutes of Health, part of the Health and Human Services Department, is setting up a telemedicine consultation and triage facility on the NIH campus. That will serve as a medical specialty service to all of the 40 federal medical shelters we are setting up on the ground. This consultation will focus on the sickest of the sick and link expertise at NIH and 125 medical centers across the country.
Medical schools across the United States have been linked in this endeavor under the guidance of the director of NIH, Dr. Zerhoni (ph).
NIH is also providing 100 critical care beds for those who are severely ill and in need of critical care. They've cleared out many of the beds at the National Institutes of Health, and they'll have the best care there.
The federal medical shelter on the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge is filling more than 1,000 prescriptions a day with medicines from our Strategic National Stockpile. And it should be noted that this is only the second time in history that the Strategic National Stockpile has been used.
Since last weekend, HHS has shipped and is distributing nearly 100 tons of vital medications and supplies, including antibiotics, including tetanus, maintenance medications for chronic diseases like diabetes, like asthma and other chronic conditions.
Today, the Health and Human Services Department released $27,275,000 in emergency energy assistance to the states hit hardest by the hurricane. This includes Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. The funding comes from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which can be used for a wide range of purposes, including transportation to shelters, for individuals whose health is endangered by loss of access to cooling, utility reconnection costs and the like.
Louisiana will receive $12 million, Mississippi, $11.75 million, Alabama, $2 million, and Florida, $1.5 million.
And last but not least, I want to say a special thanks to the Americans who have reached out. Under the leadership of Secretary Chertoff and Secretary Levitt and our other federal partners, we recognize that this is truly a national effort.
The United States usually responds to the rest of the world when in need. And today, the rest of the world has responded to us. We have had input from many countries who barely can get by with their own resources that have asked to come and help American. Our own folks have done an extraordinary job of pulling this together. And volunteerism, which, as you know, is one of the pet issues of our president, to let the American public have an outlet to volunteer is at unprecedented levels.
And because of that, we have put together a program which will allow all Americans that would like to volunteer to call into the department of Health and Human Services. And we will have people standing by to prompt them through a series of informational questions that would allow us to best categorize them and, if needed, use those volunteers in a productive and constructive way, supporting all of the activities that you've heard about.
HHS has set up a toll-free number, 1-866-KATMEDI, 1-866-528-6334. And a Web site, http://Volunteer.HHS.gov, for health care professionals and relief personnel who want to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. There will be links from our HHS Web site, as well as from the surgeon general's Web site, should anybody get lost in the Web trying to find it.
But the key here is we want to harness all the energy of the good American public, who has come forth in unprecedented manner to try and serve their country and help to mitigate and relieve some of the suffering that is driving what we're doing.
As the secretary said, in our shop, I don't think there was a dry eye in that emergency operation center. People haven't gone home. People have canceled vacations. People have gone to extraordinary lengths that we've had to send our staff home, because they couldn't stand up anymore. That's how committed we are in this administration.
And as the secretary said, we won't stop until everybody is safe, and we provide the appropriate shelter for them to get them back on their feet.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
REAR ADM. JOEL WHITEHEAD, U.S. COAST GUARD: Good afternoon.
Coast Guard personnel and assets continue to flow into the Gulf area. We now have 29 Coast Guard cutters in the area, 52 aircraft, and many response and incident teams that are also deployed.
We have recalled now 550 Coast Guard Reservists, and we have the authority from the secretary to bring in as many as 800.
Coast Guard air operations yesterday rescued 1,245 people and conducted 385 sorties. And that, as the secretary mentioned, brings the total now to about 9,500 people.
Right now, our focus is going to be on the evacuation of people from the New Orleans Convention area.
Ports and waterways are very important to us, very important to the economy as well. And they're beginning to open, although we have placed restrictions on many of those waterways. We have found -- and this is little bit of a guesstimate (ph) -- that about 70 percent of all of the aids to navigation -- that's the buoys and the markers along the waterways -- are either missing or are sunk or off-station. So, this is an area that we're continually focusing on.
Only the port of Gulfport, Mississippi, remains closed to all traffic. Pascagoula, Mississippi is open to vessels of less than 12- foot draft. Mobile is open to barge traffic. And Pensacola, Florida, and Destin and Panama City, Florida, are open to vessels, larger vessels with up to 31-feet draft. The Lower Mississippi River has been open to deep-draft vessels with up to 35-feet draft.
We continue to work in the area. Our people are just really doing tremendous work. We're very proud of them, and we continue to work with our partners in DHS, the military services, every day.
CHERTOFF: Questions? Yes. If I call on one, you know, you learned in school, wait your turn. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Two quick ones. One is why were military assets not brought in earlier? The second question to follow-on is, given that catastrophic event planning has been central to the federal government since 9/11, why is something as basic as evacuation plans seem so chaotic?
CHERTOFF: Let me answer both of those questions. The traditional model for recovery and -- response and recovery involves having the federal government come into support the first responders, who are the first on the ground. That happens in all kinds of scenarios. It happens in hurricanes as a routine matter.
And one of the reasons for that is because part of the legal framework, which governs the activities of the federal government, particularly the military, places certain restrictions on the way they can be used in the United States. Partly it's because our constitutional system really places the primary authority in each state with the governor.
In this case, I will tell that you the way these catastrophes unfolded is unprecedented in anybody's experience. We had two catastrophes. We had a category 4 hurricane that was followed the next day by really the collapse of a levee, not merely a bridge, although we had a number of breaches, but really the demolition of 300 feet of the levee, which essentially turned New Orleans into a lake the day after the hurricane.
I can't think of another incident, even the tsunami, which presented this combination of events. It's as if the tsunami, we had to do the rescue while the water was still there in the tsunami.
So under those circumstances, I think we have discovered over the last few days that with all of the tremendous effort using the existing resources and the traditional frameworks of the National Guard, the unusual set of challenges of conducting a massive evacuation in the context of a still dangerous flood, requires us to basically break the traditional model and create a new model, one for what you might call kind of an ultra-catastrophe. And that's one in which we are using the military, still within the framework of the law, to come in and really handle the evacuation, handle all of the associated elements. And that, of course, frees the National Guard up to do a security mission. So, this is really one which I think was breathtaking in its surprise.
That comes to your second question. There has been a lot of planning for catastrophes. I will tell you that there has been over the last few years some specific planning for the possibility of a significant hurricane in New Orleans with a lot of rainfall, with water rising in the levees and water overflowing the levees. And that is a very catastrophic scenario. Probably in itself it's considered one of the 15 kind of great template catastrophes that you plan for. And although the planning was not complete, a lot of work had been done.
But there were two problems here. First of all, it's as if someone took that plan and dropped an atomic bomb simply to make it more difficult. We didn't merely have the overflow. We actually had the break in the wall. And I will tell you that really that perfect storm of combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners and maybe anybody's foresight.
To make matters worse, the storm itself was unusual in its course. It began as a comparatively low-power storm. It crossed Florida. It wasn't until comparatively late, shortly before -- a day, maybe a day-and-a-half before landfall that it became clear that this was going to be a category 4 or 5 hurricane headed for the New Orleans area.
In advance of that, recognizing the danger, the president leaned forward and declared states of emergency, which is a very unusual thing, in those states in the Gulf. We began to pre-position and move assets as early as possible when we realized that that hurricane was coming in.
But with all of that, the kind of the knockout punch that Mother Nature gave us was that breakdown of the levee and the swamping of New Orleans. And I have to tell you, I've now spent a fair amount of time talking to people who do this. And nobody can come up in living memory with a pair of disasters like this, by the way, on top of which we have the obliteration of significant parts of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and a whole lot of associated problems with regard to infrastructure. Of course, the surrounding parishes of New Orleans are also under water.
This perhaps reminds us that with all of our planning and our modern technology and our confidence in our ability to master nature, when Mother Nature really wants to strike at us, she is a very, very tough opponent.
So I'm a little long-winded, but I think that answers your questions. Yes.
QUESTION: Who is in charge now in restoring law and order? And is there a central body who's dealing with a plan to evacuate people and get order restored?
CHERTOFF: The National Guard under the law has the responsibility for maintaining order. And that's why we're bringing more National Guard in.
Of course, the National Guard reports to the governor. But at this point, the National Guard is working closely with General Honore, who is the Defense Department joint task force commander on the ground. He's commanding those elements of logistical support and other DOD activities. And he's really working very closely in partnership with the Louisiana Guard authorities to make sure that security is being covered.
To free them to do that and to make sure that we have exhausted every avenue, to make sure we are moving forward with the evacuation, these additional regular Army assets and Marine assets are coming into place on the ground.
NORTHCOM, which is the military command which has responsibility for events here in the United States, for the last couple of days has been working on a set of plans to continue to move forward with the evacuation. Obviously, we're not going to stop what we're doing, but we recognize that even after we recover people from the Superdome and we finish that process, which is almost done, and from the Convention Center and the hospitals, we still have to address the issue of people who are coming out of their houses now who have to be evacuated.
We're really using some of our aerial assets. We're going to have to essentially do reconnaissance over the whole city, continue to identify pockets of people, continue to drop food and water until help arrives, get them to the busses, get them to the airplanes, get them to the trains, but as quickly as possible. We have the plans, we have the capabilities, and they're getting there.
QUESTION: A lot of our National Guard are, like, overseas now, over in Iraq. I was wondering if that was a major factor here. I mean, are we, at this point, a bit too -- you know, at this point spread out in the world?
CHERTOFF: No. The issue here actually has not been the number of National Guard. It has been the ability to get them -- you know, these are cities and soldiers. We have to get them mobilized and deployed.
When we send the National Guard overseas, we don't tell them to pack up and leave in 24 hours unless it's some huge emergency.
So, as we have staged the process of the National Guard, it does take a little bit of time to have them called and get them prepared.
One of the challenges, you know, is we need certain specialties. There are a lot of people who do different things in the National Guard.
What the Department of Defense has done is identified those with military policing, for example, as a specialty, because those are people who are trained in law enforcement, as opposed to, for example, people who are involved in driving tanks.
So that process of identifying and mobilizing has taken time. But it's not a problem of not enough Guard. It's just the inherent time it takes to mobilize.
QUESTION: A follow-up, too, as well. There are law enforcements officials around the country who actually want to go down there. I've heard that they aren't getting a lot of FEMA clearance in order to come down. Is that also a bottleneck problem going on?
CHERTOFF: Well, I know the governor, I think, a few days ago had brought in state police not only from Louisiana, but I think from other parts of the country as well. Again, one of the challenges is, as important as it is to have a lot of people to do security, it's important to have them organized in a way so that they can communicate with one another. They have a common operating plan. Bringing in people from 25 or 30 different forces who have different ways of operating actually does not necessarily enhance security. It may actually add chaos.
So, we're not turning down offers, but what we're doing is trying to make sure that what we do is the most efficient and works with the greatest degree of safety and security.
QUESTION: You said that the U.S. government will serve a primary role in the mission from this point on. Is that shorthand for saying that you've federalized the rescue and relief effort? And if so, how will that improve things?
CHERTOFF: No, we have not federalized the effort. And when I say "primary," that doesn't mean that the state and locals don't have a primary role as well.
What I mean is we typically, as a matter of the general principles of how we work in this country, act merely in a support role. We have now stepped up to stand shoulder to shoulder with state and local in a primary role.
It doesn't legally federalize state assets. What it does is it brings what are purely federal assets directly into the evacuation process. What that does is it frees the National Guard to do other things, because we can now use our capabilities to do evacuation and associated things.
QUESTION: A follow-up. The federal government has nine stockpiles of fire and rescue gear strategically located across the country for use in catastrophes of this nature. As of last night, none of those stockpiles had been moved an inch closer to New Orleans, because, we are told, the governors haven't requested them. Is this the type of thing that this change might...
CHERTOFF: You know, you're entering the thicket of various legal rules that tend to govern these matters. What this change is going to do is it means we bring into play the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, which have inherent capabilities, they have, that they carry with them to address any situation. So that we essentially can step around the normal legal issues that require someone to request something and a lot of legal standards to be met and bring capabilities to bear that carry with them what they need to execute the mission.
I think that is going to clear the way through a lot of some of these issues we've dealt with. As important, it's going to give the National Guard, which by the way, has been working very hard. I mean, everybody needs a rest. People are getting worn out. It's going to give them an opportunity to focus on the security issue.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, stepping back, given that the system doesn't seem to have been able to respond adequately to an event that's been hypothesized and planned for, what confidence can the administration give the public that DHS or the government is ready for a terror strike or a WMD strike that it cannot predict?
CHERTOFF: Well, first of all, I don't know if I agree that we haven't responded to something that was hypothesized and planned for. I think the problem is we had two events that have been hypothesized that occurred simultaneously.
And I guess that does, you know, indicate that at some level with all of the planning and all of resources, if a truly catastrophic event, if an ultra-catastrophe occurs, there's going to be some harmful fallout.
What we want to do is do the best we can to respond, to mitigate and to recover. We ideally would like to do it perfectly. We ideally would like to be able to do it instantly. But what we need to do is get closer and closer to that ideal.
In this case, I think we were well-prepared for one catastrophe. I think the second catastrophe, frankly, was a -- it added a level of challenge that no one had seen before.
But I would have to say, I think that with that, everybody has performed magnificently in stepping up to this increased challenge, reaching out for more assets, improvising additional measures that allows us to deal with what nature has dealt to us.
QUESTION: One follow-up. The statement about the federal taking the primary role suggests that the National Management System, the ICS has been set aside or not working. And also, does it mean that the locals and the states adequately executed evacuation order, knew about the situation at the time of what was going on in New York?
CHERTOFF: On the contrary. This use of federal resources is exactly what was contemplated by the National Response Plan. And one of the things that this experience has demonstrated that actually the National Response Plan is the best way to not only deal with something that we've planned for but something that is unexpected that comes on top of what we've planned for.
This is all done within the existing framework of the roles and assignments. It is, in fact, the case the National Response Plan envisions, the Department of Defense playing a role with respect to one of the emergency support functions.
And so, the plan, which is, you know, still quite new, has actually proved to be a critical tool in enabling us to immobilize as quickly as we have.
I can tell you I'm told anecdotally that in past times when we didn't have this kind of capability, it would have been much harder and much slower than it is now. So, I think this is actually a validation of the plan.
QUESTION: Why should we not have anticipated both events coming?
CHERTOFF: You know, that's the kind of question which in court a judge usually sustains the objection to. It's called argumentative. But nevertheless, you know, if we had an atomic bomb on top of this, and -- you know, I mean, we could pile on catastrophes. Whenever you do a planning process, you have to deal with what is reasonably foreseeable. It is true that you can sometimes have the combination of things that are reasonably foreseeable, but that combination is unreasonably foreseeable. Now, that's why someone wrote a book called "The Perfect Storm."
The answer is that the planning that was done, I think, although not completed, was a very good plan for what was reasonably foreseeable. I think that this major breach, not merely an overflow, but this major breach of the levee, while something itself that might have been anticipated, coming together I think, was outside of the scope of what people I think reasonably foresaw.
But, again, the strength of the system is that it enables us to adapt and move as quickly as we possibly can to make up the difference.
QUESTION: Some in Congress has suggested that perhaps the FEMA director should resign, be removed from his position. What do you think of that?
CHERTOFF: You know, I think, again -- I mean, first of all, I'm quite sure there will be plenty of time to go back and talk about, you know, who did what to whom. I must tell you right now, this is not merely response and recovery. We are in the middle of something that is dynamic. We have a choice to make. We can spend a lot of time in the rear-view mirror, or we can spend a lot of time looking out the windshield seeing the way we're going.
I will tell you the challenges we have ahead of us, we are going to have a lot of evacuees. Once we get them into temporary shelter, we have to deal with the issue of more long-term shelter, jobs, education, health care. What do we do to bring up the infrastructure again? How do we drain the city? How do we clean up any environmental hazards? There are huge tasks ahead of us.
The president has set a very, very ambitious agenda. He has said we are going to attack all of these things. We are going to bring people hope back. We are going to give people the promise that they will get back their lives and their lives will be better. That's going to take a lot of time. And it's going to take a lot of energy.
So, I have to tell you that everybody working on this is working their heart out. They're also working looking into the mirror ahead. We'll learn whatever lessons we have to learn as we go along. But I think our focus, and certainly my focus, is making sure that we are moving as quickly as possible to do everything to make lives for the victims easier.
QUESTION: Do you still have confidence in the FEMA director?
CHERTOFF: I do have confidence in the FEMA director, and I have confidence in the people who are working tirelessly for him. And I have confidence in the Coast Guard crews who are dangling young men to scoop up people on roofs. I have confidence in the people who -- the Army Corps of Engineers, which is dropping 7,000-pound bags of sand to try to finally block that gap in the 17th Street Canal. I have confidence in the military and National Guard folks, who are out there trying to deal with desperate, scared people. I have confidence in everybody involved in this process.
QUESTION: Sir, I note that a lot of this planning predates your stewardship of DHS. But your earlier answer seemed to suggest that it was unforeseeable that a category 4 hurricane would knock down a levee designed to withstand category 3 winds. Is that what you're saying was unforeseeable?
CHERTOFF: What I'm saying is that in the plan that we talked about, which was a plan that state and local officials developed in conjunction with FEMA. I think they started it a couple years ago, and it's not completely finished. But they spent a lot of time on it. That was one of the kinds of ultimate catastrophes that was planned for.
And even within that, while it was assumed in the catastrophe there would be some -- there would be overflow from the levee, maybe a small break in the levee, the collapse of a significant portion of the levee leading to the very fast flooding of the city was not envisioned.
Now, it may be that some will criticize that. And if someone said, you know, well, at the same time a bomb could have gone off, I guess, you know, one could factor that into it, too.
And there will be plenty of time to go back and say that we should hypothesize, you know, evermore apocalyptic combinations of catastrophes.
By that as it may, I'm telling you this is what the planners had in front of them. They were confronted with a second wave that they did not have built into the plan. But using the tools that they had they have now moved forward and adapt.
QUESTION: Is it not the case that the mandatory evacuation was ordered before the levee broke and was not executed, because the city did not have the means or had not planned it or that they had not informed the public about it? And on top of that, isn't it also true that (INAUDIBLE) Monday and Tuesday afternoon when officials grasped what was going on that there was a delay between the time -- before the city officials and the state grasped the significance of what was going on to put out these calls for additional assistance now that the federal government has acknowledged were too small a pipeline to respond to the problems? CHERTOFF: I think that the -- the mandatory evacuation was ordered on Sunday morning. Again, I want to take you back through the course of the hurricane, because I think that on Saturday it started to pick up speed, and the focus of the hurricane began to narrow. And at that point, I think the likelihood of an impact in the New Orleans area became much more significant.
So, you know, often you get a sense from the track of the storm, two or three days out, you could say, well, this is really zeroing in. I think -- excuse me -- if you remember the course of the hurricane, which actually started in Florida, crossed Florida, came into the Gulf. On Saturday morning it looked like it could hit anywhere in the Gulf. It picked up speed. It picked up force, and it picked up focus during the course of Saturday.
So, I think, again, nature was unhelpful in making it difficult to get sufficient warning. With that, they did order mandatory evacuation. A lot of people did get out, but regrettably there wasn't enough time to get as many people out as we would have liked. And that has unquestionably made this very challenging.
QUESTION: Emergency managers for a while have been saying that they -- said that there was a lack of balance between preparing for a natural disaster versus preparing for terrorism. Do you agree with that in the aftermath of what we just saw with Katrina? Do you think there's going to be a re-assessment in maybe changing the way you're dealing with preparedness issues?
CHERTOFF: I'll tell you my philosophy, since I guess it's my responsibility now. I think we have to plan for both, because I think they're both mutually reinforcing.
You know, if you look at the effect of this hurricane, except for the fact that there was no immediate large loss of life, for all intents and purposes it's as if an atomic bomb was dropped on New Orleans. The fact of the matter is, when you deal with a really catastrophic issue, whether it be natural or man-made, it poses an extreme set of challenges.
And I think actually I've been pretty consistent in saying from, you know, early on in my arrival of six months ago that the federal government has to get very focused on catastrophic issues, that those are the areas where the federal government, you know, has a special value added and a special role to play. So, I have to say, regrettably, this is consistent with what I've said.
I am going to have to get back to work, because we have a lot to do. I have to get down to New Orleans. I hope I've made up to you the loss of time the other day when you were held up at the White House, and I'm sure we'll be talking again. Thanks a lot.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: That was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff taking some very pointed questions on the response, why it's taking so long, and if there was some forethought, a lot of forethought that went into this. Because a lot of people are still waiting for evacuations. There are a lot of needs out there that have to be met.
We want to take a live picture right now. Actually, this is on tape of a family it appears being rescued from a balcony. Now, I haven't been told exactly which area this is in. But as you can see, there is a woman and a child there on the balcony. And it looks like the child is going to be hoisted into this apparatus and then taken off of this balcony and hopefully to a shelter nearby, where he can get some food and water.
Many families have been stuck in their homes for six days now, and it's Saturday. This hurricane hit on Monday. Obviously, they are running out of food, water. The shelter isn't adequate, without electricity. And folks are dealing with flooding in their homes.
So, this child, as you can see, is being hoisted into a helicopter and will be taken to an area where he can get some food, some shelter. Obviously these people are going to be checked out as well to see if they are in need of any kind of medical assistance.
But these kinds of operations are going on throughout the southern Gulf Coast, which have been hit hard, as you can see in this wider shot, by Katrina. Six days after she stormed ashore, you're seeing flooding. This is a neighborhood. This is not a lake. This is a neighborhood, where you see a man right now just walking waist deep in water, probably looking for some kind of food and shelter, and no telling how long he's been there.
Chertoff talking a lot about the efforts that are being made available. There are Coast Guard crews being made available. Also the 82nd Airborne Division. Some 7,000 National Guard troops will be assisting in this effort.
The Pentagon also mentioned that today some 10,000 additional troops will be added to this list of those on the ground, bringing it to some 40,000 by the end of the week. And as can you see, much still needed in the areas heavily affected by Katrina.
And here is some information, though, as we go to what is being done. Besides the troops that will be sent into these areas, we learned from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that federal medical shelters are being set up. Some 2,500 beds will be made available for the ill. Also, this is something that's very historic as well, prescriptions are being filled from the Strategic National Stockpile. Now, this is only the second time in history that this stockpile is being used.
And, of course, amid all of this, why is it taking so long? Why are we just now learning of this, Saturday, some six days after the hurricane hit? The question is: What went wrong? We have a panel that's coming up to discuss just that. Stay with us.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: So, why did Hurricane Katrina strand so many thousands of people despite plenty of early storm forecasts and warnings? Joining me now to examine that is meteorologist Brad Huffines. Brad is a storm expert and teaches FEMA classes on storms and evacuations. Joining me also here is Sidney Barthelemy, the former mayor of New Orleans. And our discussion rounds out with John Copenhaver, who was a senior FEMA official during the Clinton administration.
Gentlemen, I thank you all for being here. Thank you.
JOHN COPENHAVER, FORMER FEMA OFFICIAL: Thank you.
SIDNEY CARTHELEMY, FORMER NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: Thank you.
HARRIS: And, Brad, let me start with you. Let me do a sort of reality check on the secretary of homeland security. When did we have our best sense of the intensity of the storm and the storm path?
BRAD HUFFINES, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, let me show you what The National Hurricane Center forecasts were. As early as Friday at 5:00 p.m., The National Hurricane Center Katrina timeline shows that at 5:00 p.m. Friday, Katrina began being forecast to make landfall as a category 4 hurricane. And also, the 5:00 advisory on Friday, again, that's three days before the hurricane struck, actually about two-and- a-half days, New Orleans was also included in the area of highest strike probability.
And so, Tony, that was about two-and-a-half days out. And that's when the hurricane center really began focusing on New Orleans as the landfall, the New Orleans area and a category 4 hurricane as the strength of this storm.
And one of the things that they even say themselves, whenever you're looking at storm strength and intensity, that is one of the most hard forecasts, but this one, they said that they had a good idea as to where this one was going fairly early on and had a high confidence two-and-a-half days out.
HARRIS: Two-and-a-half days out. OK, Brad.
All right, Sidney Barthelemy, former mayor of New Orleans.
HARRIS: You got this information from the National Hurricane Center. Two-and-a-half days out your city is in the crosshairs for this storm. As we try to learn from this, what do you do?
BARTHELEMY: Well, hopefully you will have been organizing as soon as it hit the center of the Gulf and you're expecting that it may -- that New Orleans is in the probable strike zone. And you bring all of your important departments and all of the other agencies that will be impacted by the hurricane together and start planning.
HARRIS: And who are those folks? Who are you on the phone with immediately? BARTHELEMY: Well, immediately you would get your emergency management person to get all of the pertinent information about what's happening, call all the agencies -- the Levee Board, Surge and Water Board, Police Department, Fire Department. All of the departments that are involved in providing emergency management during this situation, you'd bring them in together.
HARRIS: Have you called -- have you called John at this point with FEMA, the southeast region of FEMA? Have you called him yet?
BARTHELEMY: No, I wouldn't call John. Depending on, at this point in time, you would call the governor, I think.
ha You'd call the governor.
HARRIS: OK. And what do you say? You just give the governor the information that you have at this point?
BARTHELEMY: Correct. And say, governor, it looks like New Orleans could possibly be hit with a category 4 hurricane and maybe a direct hit. We may have to evacuate everybody. We may need to take over the interstate system so that everybody can get out. We may need to get the National Guard to help us evacuate everyone, because....
HARRIS: At that point you're putting the governor on notice?
BARTHELEMY: Put him on notice, right, to say that we may need this, yes.
HARRIS: All right. And...
HUFFINES: Hey, Tony.
HARRIS: Yes, sure, Brad.
HUFFINES: And let me also cut in real quickly.
HUFFINES: I want to show you something that I've been working on as well. This is from the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness and, of course, Homeland Security. And it takes the time to evacuate, this is again from the office of the state of Louisiana, 1.2 million residents of New Orleans need between 55 and 72 hours to evacuate. That is from one of the state's own studies. So, it takes up to three days to do a full evacuation of the city of New Orleans once we know that there is a threat. So that's why this long timeline is absolutely needed to be able to get these residents out of the city.
HARRIS: Having that information -- and, John, I'll come to you in a second. But having that information, Sidney, when do you step on the gas pedal here? Two-and-a-half days out, you've got this forecast from The National Hurricane Center that you're in the storm path. When do you step on the gas pedal and say, OK, let's move them out? BARTHELEMY: Well, you start asking for voluntary evacuation. You start telling people there's a very, very strong possibility that the hurricane will hit. We need a lot of the people who can get out to go ahead and start moving on out now.
Now, the state has put together a system of evacuation with the contra flow plan. That has worked pretty well. I think the only problem in this situation was there was no plan, that I know of, and there may have been, to evacuate poor people by getting them out the city. And they thought the dome could be an adequate facility to handle that.
HARRIS: John, I want to bring you in here. As you look back over this, what are the lessons to be learned?
COPENHAVER: First, command and control lessons. Obviously, there are many people at FEMA. And I want to point this out because I think that FEMA is being slammed these days.
COPENHAVER: There are many people in FEMA that are very experienced, very capable. They've been through hurricanes before. They're very dedicated, and they know what to do.
From a command and control standpoint, I know that there are very good people. I know these people that are still left at FEMA. So, my question would be: How effective was the command and control once the storm hit?
HUFFINES: And, excuse me...
HARRIS: Yes, Brad?
HUFFINES: Sorry. And we also heard -- I want to point out real quick that we heard for the first time out of the mouth of the director of homeland security that this is one of the first situations where FEMA is actually now going to take an advisory role, because remember, FEMA has to be invited in by law. You have to invite them in before they can come in. And, again, this is the first time, according to Michael Chertoff, that they are actually going to then take the next step and say you've invited us in, and now we're taking charge.
COPENHAVER: Well, let me point out, too, that before the hurricane ever made landfall, my understanding from watching the news was that the president authorized an emergency declaration.
COPENHAVER: So there were federal resources that were authorized before the hurricane made landfall, a so-called emergency declaration. So, the process seemed to be working up until the point in time that the hurricane made landfall, the things that we had done in the past.
The concern happened when the hurricane made landfall. Shortly thereafter there should have been troops. There should have been some kind of a military presence in New Orleans. There should have been resources that were being marshaled to be able to be moved into the city very quickly.
HARRIS: I see.
HARRIS: And one more quick one.
HARRIS: One more quick point. I'll give you an opportunity to make one more quick point as a lesson we should learn from this. Anything very quickly. One last point. Sidney?
BARTHELEMY: One, I think you have to, as John was saying, you have to call the governor and ask for the National Guard.
BARTHELEMY: Immediately. I mean, you can't wait.
HARRIS: Thank you all. Thank you all very much. Brad, thank you as well.
We'll take a break, and we'll come back with more right after this.
NGUYEN: Actually, Tony, we have some information just coming in to us. Senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta just did an interview just moments ago with a flight nurse. And this interview shows you some of the things people had to leave behind.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Would you mind holding this for a second? One more thing that happens at an airport like this, when patients are being moved, a lot of times these people have to get on buses, and they cannot take some of the most valued personnel possessions.
I want to give you an example of what I'm talking about here. This is a little puppy, Goliath. And just to give you a sense, Goliath was actually left stranded, tied to a tree, was outside for at least two or three days now, was actually picked up by this nice gentleman over here, because had he nowhere to go. His family had to abandon him, because they could not take him on the bus.
This is an example of what is happening here. Goliath. We don't know if that's his real name. But pets are being left behind, unfortunately. And that is some of what's happening as well.
We'll keep you posted on what's going on here at New Orleans airport.
Back to you.
NGUYEN: Just another example of the flight that people had to take so quickly and leaving behind things as precious as a family pet.
Of course, there's much more to come, including the victims' hotline, how people are reaching out and trying to find those that they had to leave behind. Stay with us.
NGUYEN: We want to give you a look at some tape that was shot earlier today, where, obviously, supplies are being hauled in to the people who desperately need it. We were showing you just a little bit earlier video. Here's another look at it. People trapped inside their homes, out on balconies, trying to get any kind of help that's available. They're waving to rescue helicopters and hopefully trying to get out of these homes.
We also had some video a little bit earlier, too, of people being hoisted off of these balconies into those helicopters and on to shelters. And, of course, as this comes in, we will be showing it to you.
Well, CNN is helping to link family and friends to missing or stranded hurricane victims. So, we've created a victims and relief desk. Carol Lin is at that desk this afternoon, and she joins us with the latest there -- Carol.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Betty, I've got a quick update for you. We got an e-mail into our public information office that the 300 Vietnamese people who were stranded in that church have been rescued. They are now outside the Superdome ready to be taken care of.
And also, we want to let you know that we're finding ways for you to help. And there's an organization called DoSomething.org. I've got two guests with me right now, Chika Goladi (ph) and also Sam Caravello (ph). They are two students who are participating in this.
You guys are doing something called, "we've got your back campaign," where you're asking people to pack backpacks of school supplies so they can be sent to school kids who are heading to Houston to continue their education outside the hurricane zone. Tell me a little bit more about it, Sam.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, basically a few nights ago, we had an emergency phone call to see what we could do to help. And, you know, we're going back to school. And everyone is collecting their school supplies. And we just thought that we could share with them a lot of what we have.
LIN: Well, that's pretty inspiring. Chika (ph), I mean, one of the things in the press release from Do Something is that, you know, tell your grandmother, forget about that special sweater she wanted to give you for your birthday. Instead, give you a backpack of supplies that you can send off to these kids. Do you think that's pretty realistic that folks are going to give up their birthday presents for this cause?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely, just from our experience from Kid Tsunami Relief Fund that we've did back in December. We have tons of kids that have already done lots of great work. And we know that we can tap into that and get even more kids excited in donating things. It was successful once, and we have no doubt that that it's going to be successful again.
LIN: Sam, how many backpacks do you think you're going to get?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're expecting thousands. We already have hundreds of volunteers getting involved in doing this. And if, you know, we can go to every state and get everyone excited, there's no doubt that we can get tens of thousands of backpacks.
LIN: Yes. While I was talking to you, we were showing our audience some pictures of the desperation out there, and so many of these pictures have children in the video. Many of those kids going to Texas who are going to need those backpacks. Go to the Web site, everybody, www.DoSomething.org, to get more information.
Back to you Betty and Tony.
NGUYEN: That's a great site that's available. I like to see people banding together to help out.
HARRIS: Absolutely. All right, thank you, Carol.
Our special coverage of the state of emergency caused by Hurricane Katrina continues. At 3:00 p.m. Eastern, we'll get live updates from across the Gulf Coast. But now a break.
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