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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
How you can help.
Aired September 3, 2005 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR, LARRY KING LIVE (Voice over): A natural disaster. What maybe the worst catastrophe in U.S. history. Devastation, desperation, utter despair. But in the mist of unspeakable heartbreak acts of heroism and flashes of hope. Tonight responding to the crisis after Hurricane Katrina, making the difference between life and death. A three hour CNN LARRY KING LIVE special, "How you can help".
(On camera): Good evening. This is a LARRY KING LIVE special we wish we didn't have to do. But a lot of people are in a lot of trouble and we can't sit around hoping that somebody else will help. We've got an A-plus list of disaster relief experts plus stars that who want to lend a hand right now.
We'll talk to our field reporters, we'll hear from people trying to find lost loved ones. You're going to feel a lot in the next three hours. One thing we don't want you to feel is helpless or hopeless. You can do something and we're here to tell you how.
First as we go on let me remind you that this three hour program is being simulcast on CNN International and on CNN Radio. It will be repeated as well tonight. Fro more information on how you can help and on all the organizations that we'll be talking about you can go to -- log on to CNN.com at anytime during the program or anytime during 24 hour period anytime -- CNN.com.
Our panelist are -- and they'll be with us through the three hours -- Marty Evans, the president and CEO of the American Red Cross in New York. In Minneapolis Jonathan Reckford the pastoral leader and CEO of Habitat for Humanity. Here in Los Angeles, Major George Hood of the Salvation Army National Community Relations Secretary. In Chicago is Bob Forney, president and CEO of America's Second Harvest. In Wichita, Kansas is John Hill, the National Next of Kin Registry. In Los Angeles, Nancy Aossey, the president and CEO of the International Medical Corp. With us in the first hour only is Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. And in Jackson, Mississippi, Larry Jones, the co-founder and president of Feed the Children.
A couple of announcements, Kobe Bryant got in touch with us right before the show. He is donating $100,000 and asking fellow NBA players to come on board. The famous diet guru Jenny Craig donating $1 million. She couldn't be with us tonight because she's heading to the area to help her sister. She asks all of her subscribers to help. And my own, the Larry King Cardiac Foundation has donated $25,000.
Let's start in Montgomery Alabama with Governor Bob Riley. Governor, what can the citizens of Alabama do?
BOB RILEY, GOVERNOR, ALABAMA: Well Alabama has come together like I've never seen them come together. All over the state of Alabama we started a new program called Golden Rule and its been fabulous. Every community is opening up shelters. We had a goal of trying to open up 10,000 beds. By this time next week it looks like now we may open up 20,000, Larry.
KING: Is there any number, any place you want Alabamans to contact?
RILEY: Absolutely, thanks you asking. The number is 877-273- 5018. You'll call that number if you want to volunteer, if you want to be a volunteer at a shelter, if you'd like to help to try to house someone. We've opened up closed Army bases, closed mental facilities. We're also looking at some type of semi-permanent facilities and FEMA's had their strike teams in here all day long looking at different possibilities. So we think that the relief effort is not only going great for the people in south Alabama but we're going to take as many people as we possibly can from Mississippi and Louisiana.
KING: You're saying tonight you're doors are open.
RILEY: Our doors are not only open, the people of Alabama -- it was really remarkable. I was up at this closed military base the other day. The community came together -- there's probably 40 or 50 people there and they were already planning what they were going to do for the children for Christmas.
KING: That's Governor Bob Riley from Montgomery Alabama, the state capitol of course.
Anderson Cooper joins us from Biloxi Mississippi. Anderson, you've been reporting about all of the tragedy you're covering. What do you think about what people can do? What can people do to help?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well you know people are doing a lot to help right now. I mean they are -- its neighbors helping neighbors here in Mississippi. They are -- it is the people here who have taken out chainsaws and are cleaning the roads and have been for the last couple of days. Now were seeing some National Guard bulldozers in and thank god for that. But it is neighbors who have been helping neighbors.
And all around the country people can do stuff. We were at a shelter earlier today, they need cots. This is a shelter that's in an elementary school that was taken over basically by three of four people from this town who saw a need and just opened up this shelter. They need cots, they need batteries, they need hearing aid batteries. All these things you don't really think about.
The other thing is phones, no one can call their loved ones to tell them that they're alive. I've got people everyday coming up to me -- we have these satellite phones, this is the only way we can communicate -- I've got people begging me to use this satellite phone. I give it out as many times as I can. Every one of these calls that I hear is heartbreaking. People weeping on the phone when that connection is made. You would think that some cell phone company would come down here or somebody would come down with a satellite phone maybe from the government, put it on a street corner, just let people make some calls. Let their loved ones know they're alive. That'd be a good start.
KING: Good idea.
In Wichita, John Hill of the National Next of Kin Registry. How can people get in touch with people?
JONATHAN HILL, NATIONAL NEXT OF KIN REGISTRY: Well sir, the NOKR, like the Red Cross we're a completely volunteer driven organization. We're a facilitating organization where the public can go to securely register emergency information. And right now we're taking approximately 1500 registries per hour and we encourage state, local and government agencies to contact our organization and access our data base where that information can be made available.
KING: And the number to call for the National Next of Kin Registry is 800-944-4084, 800-944-4084.
Lieutenant General Blum will be with us in the first hour only, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Can the public do something to help the Guard?
LIEUTENANT GENERAL STEVEN BLUM, CHIEF, NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU: Absolutely, Larry, they can. The first thing they can do is understand and support the help that we're trying to provide and reduce the suffering for victims all around the world. But the most important thing they can do -- you know we have 75,000 soldiers deployed overseas right now in addition to almost 30,000 that are responding in the Gulf area to this Hurricane Katrina disaster. And many of these people overseas are quite concerned about what happened to their families.
Two brigades of the National Guard were from Mississippi and Louisiana right where the storm hit shore and had some of its greatest devastation. You can help us please if you have information on families of members of deployed soldiers by reporting that information to a 1-888 number, 777-7731. This will ease the angst and the anxiety on our soldiers that are deployed overseas and allow them to focus on their job while we focus back here at home making sure that we take care of their families. Finding them, caring for them, providing shelter for them and reuniting them with their soldier and citizen soldier when they come home.
KING: General, did you say 1-800-777-7731?
BLUM: I'll repeat it again, Larry. Its 1-888-777-7731. And of course you can go to CNN.com and get that number at anytime during this program.
KING: You sure can. During this program, anytime you can get any of the numbers of any of the agencies. We're finding out how you can help. We'll be here for three hours and we'll be right back.
(20:12) KING: Joining us from St. Louis is John Goodman, the famed actor. He wasn't born in New Orleans but the Big Easy got into his blood. Been living there for about a decade. His wife is from Louisiana. In fact they were married in October 1989 in New Orleans.
You are a naturalized citizen of New Orleans, John?
JOHN GOODMAN, ACTOR, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: Yes, you're right.
KING: How did that come about?
GOODMAN: I like the red beans and rice, sir. I went down there in 1972 with 50 fraternity guys, fell in love with the place immediately. I've never seen anything like it in my life. Every time I'd get a couple nickels scrapped together I'd go down and hang out. And I decided -- I married a Louisiana girl and decided to live there, make it my home. And I just want to thank the people in St. Louis. I noticed today there were kids out on the corner collecting money for American Red Cross. Kids selling Kool-Aid in my neighborhood, kids from (INAUDIBLE) collecting money. Firemen collecting money in a boot going to the Red Cross. There's a lot of people out there, there's a lot of people concerned.
KING: How is your home in New Orleans?
GOODMAN: I don't know. A home is a home. A house is a house. A family is fine. I don't want to be glib but I can always get new stuff its just knowing that everybody is safe. I'll find out about that later. I'm more worried about friends that I have that I haven't heard from yet. I'm bringing one guy up to St. Louis tomorrow.
But Anderson was right about the communications. That's what will drive you crazy. And I'm half there to begin with anyway. You don't know what's going on it'll just drive you rammy.
KING: What can you do? We're asking people -- you're a famous actor and you certainly have wherewithal -- what can people like you do?
GOODMAN: All I can do is just ask people to contribute to the American Red Cross. Turn on CNN.com, get these phone numbers down for communications with the troops, with people, with lost people. There's friends of mine that I haven't heard from that I'm concerned about. People like me can try to raise funds. Just . . .
GOODMAN: I don't know that that's a good idea. It might be a little selfish. I will when the time comes. But I'm just trying to stay away right now because there's more important things going on down there.
KING: Thank you, John.
KING: You're one of a kind my man.
Marty, what does the American Red Cross specifically do? Say somebody gives them $100, what happens to that $100?
MARTY EVANS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Well that $100 is turned into service. It's turned into things like supporting shelter operations, bringing food in, giving people some basic essentials that they need. Helping them with just getting through it, bringing our volunteers in from across the country. We have 4200 people from across the country outside the area that have already come in to help in addition to all of our volunteers there. So it supports the operation, $100 can help a family for quite sometime in one of our shelters.
KING: And the number for the American Red Cross is 800-HELP-NOW or 1-800-435-7669.
Joining us from the Houston Astrodome is Sanika Whitely trying to locate her father Sandy. She and her mother evacuated from New Orleans before the hurricane. Why didn't your father go with you Sanika?
SANIKA WHITLEY, RESIDENT, NEW ORLEANS: I don't know but we tried to tell him that we felt in our heart that this one was going to be the big one. He just thought that like last year that it was going to be the same way, that we were going to make a blank trip. But it didn't. It was the big one.
KING: All right. What can she do -- lets try this out, Major Hood -- what can she do to find her father?
MAJOR GEORGE HOOD, NATIONAL COMMUNITY RELATIONS SECRETARY, SALVATION ARMY: Well she can network with the various agencies that are down there. One of the things that we're doing is a ham radio network that we call SATERN. Salvation Army Team Emergency Response Network, ERN. Ham operators all throughout that area and across the country have logged up to 30,000 request to help find lost family and have been instrumental in the research and rescue effort, of pin pointing where there are stranded people.
KING: Sanika, how are you trying to get him? How are you trying to get to him?
WHITLEY: Just putting up signs, you know we came here to the Astrodome to look for him. So far we've found that he is not here. So I'm also looking for my cousin Karee Jane (ph), he also was left in New Orleans.
KING: Is your father in good health?
WHITLEY: Can you repeat yourself?
KING: Is he in good health?
WHITLEY: In good health?
KING: Is he in good health?
WHITLEY: Yes he is. He is in good health.
KING: So we don't have to worry about an illness affecting him. Sanika, we wish you the best. We hope everything works out for you. And that you and your dad, Sandy, can get together.
What does the Mercy Corp do? What does -- Nancy, what does the International Medical Corp do?
NANCY AOSSEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS.: Well out expertise is the last 20 years has been focused in developing countries. Many of them crisis and conflict.
KING: You work outside the United States.
AOSSEY: Most of our work has been out . . .
KING: So what are you doing here?
AOSSEY: Well this was such an unprecedented American tragedy that several days ago as we watched the images on CNN unfold we decided as an international relief and development organization that we wanted to do something to help our fellow Americans.
KING: So we're being seen all around the world. What can someone who wants to help in London, Tokyo -- what's the best way to do it?
AOSSEY: The best way to do it is what I would say during the tsunami or Bosnia or Rwanda, cash. Organization . . .
AOSSEY: Well to certainly to the organizations you have on the show. You're sending list out. I want to make one general statement, the best way to help an organization is to find an organization you like and support it. And give them the flexibility to do what they know is best.
KING: Whether it's the Red Cross, Salvation Army, the National -- whatever.
AOSSEY: Whatever the organization is.
KING: Give to that one.
AOSSEY: Find an organization like at International Medical Corp. we accept our cash donations and we know how to use them best. The key is to support efforts underway. KING: We'll be right back with more of this LARRY KING LIVE special "How you can help". Don't go away.
KING: This three hour special is being simulcast on CNN International and CNN Radio. Also you get all of the information by logging on to CNN.com.
Speaking of CNN International joining us from Louis Armstrong Airport is Christiane Amanpour, the CNN chief international correspondent. She's seen a lot of disasters, a lot of movements of people around the world.
How does this compare, Christiana?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, I haven't yet got there. I'm in Baton Rouge right now. But this is an extraordinary thing, certainly from watching it from overseas and now coming to see it first hand. It is incredible to think that in the most powerful, the most developed nation in the world A, this kind of natural disaster can happen. And B, that it has taken so long for even the most minimal of help and coordinated federal relief to arrive.
And this has been the subject of many, many people's commentaries overseas. There's a lot of sympathy being expressed overseas and a lot of offer of help from countries from the Far East to the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, all over the world. Substantial amounts of money, small amounts of money from friends and foes alike. Even leaders like Fidel Castro is promising doctors, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, cheep oil. Of course the United States hasn't yet taken up any of they offers, from friend of foe yet.
But a huge amount of sympathy as well as a huge amount of shock. Some newspapers are saying you know look at this, "Third world America". They can't believe that this is going on. The respected Financial Times of England, "Fix this God damn crisis", it says that President Bush was told at his visit in New Orleans. And pointing out another thing, which is profoundly shocked the rest of the world, that the number of the victims here, the overwhelming number of victims are poor blacks who are the biggest victims of this hurricane. So a huge sense of disbelief really.
KING: You have some thoughts though on what people can do. You've been around people in terrible situations. What can the citizen do?
AMANPOUR: As a couple of people already have mentioned things like communication. It's obviously the most dramatic and desperately needed immediate relief of food, water, medical supplies, sanitation equipment, security. I mean in the places we've been -- and this is why it's so shocking -- we've seen American troops, we've seen other troops respond to these natural disasters with immediate airlifts with huge numbers of troops, and airlifts and airdrops. And the kinds of things that simply hasn't been seen here until recently. So that's the kind of immediate -- communications as Anderson was saying, the National Guard commander was saying that also is very important. But also security to prevent the kind of anarchy we saw New Orleans slipping into. And desperately needed equipment, medical supplies, things for children, food, water, to be rescued.
KING: Well said, Christiane.
Bob Forney is president and CEO of America's Second Harvest. What do they do?
BOB FORNEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, AMERICA'S SECOND HARVEST: Well we are the nation's emergency food bank network. We have more than 100,000 food banks, pantries, shelters that are operating every day in America. In the three effected states there are over 3300 of these. We're dealing with disasters everyday and unfortunately now we're dealing with a much greater disaster and an incredible concentration of pain.
KING: So if I'm a food chain and I want to send food to these people do I do it through you?
KING: Simply put. I get the food to you and you get it to them.
FORNEY: That's right. What we need right now is help to move additional food and water and hope to the communities that are effected. We have the infrastructure in place. Much of that infrastructure unfortunately has been damaged. And certainly it all needs to be expanded. But with the help of Americans we will be able to move substantial food.
KING: I've got to go to break. We'll be coming back to you. But the number for America's Second Harvest is 877 -- that's toll-free -- 817-817-2307.
Back with a special live performance, when we come back.
KING: She preformed last week at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. She is now on stage at Virginia Beach, Virginia in the middle of a concert. She's the beautiful and talented Leann Rimes. One of her band members lives in New Orleans. She is a girl from Mississippi. How has all of this impacted you or your family, Leann?
LEANN RIMES, SINGER: Well it's hitting very close to home. I have a bunch of family in Mississippi that is still without power and the siding has some off their house completely. But they're alive which is great. One of my band members, Shane Terio (ph) is from New Orleans and he hasn't been able to go home yet. So we're housing him out here on the road. And we're just happy that he's alive and with us today. KING: And one other quick thing before you sing, what are you doing to help?
RIMES: You know what, I going to be -- hopefully going down to Mississippi and doing a couple of concerts very, very soon. We're trying to round up a bunch of artist and everybody that's from Mississippi to get down there to help. I know just something close to home, I'm going to be going through my closet as soon as I get home and donating clothes. And as soon as I get to a computer I'm making a donation to the Red Cross as soon as I can. So anything I can do to help I'm there.
KING: Okay ladies and gentlemen of Virginia Beach and worldwide on CNN, Leann Rimes on this program tonight, a live performance of "Probably wouldn't be this way." Leann Rimes.
RIMES: Thank you.
(Leann Rimes singing "Probably wouldn't be this way")
RIMES: Thank you. Sending out all my love out to everyone down in the south experiencing this tragedy. Thank you guys so much.
KING: Remember you can get information on any of these organizations by going to the numbers we put on the screen or checking in with CNN.com. We're being simulcast on CNN International and on CNN Radio. The program will be repeated an hour after we finish for the full three hours.
By the way, for help with animals, this is important, you can contact the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, ASPCA, at 866 -- that's toll-free -- 866-275-3923.
Jonathan Reckford is the pastoral leader and CEO of Habitat for Humanity. Now how can people help with regard to your organization, Jonathan?
JONATHAN RECKFORD, PASTORAL LEADER, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY: Larry, Habitat for Humanity id undertaking a three-tiered approach to helping recover from Hurricane Katrina. While we're not a first order relief organization we hope to be instrumental in helping families after the initial recovery is started get back into homes. And we're calling it Operation Home Delivery. The first part is to help of local affiliates get back on their feet. As you can imagine many homes have been damaged or destroyed and our affiliates have lost their offices, construction facilities, tools and vehicles. And their staff have suffered personal losses as well.
So our first order is to get them going so that they're in a position to serve all of the families and partners down there. At the same time we want to be a catalyst, pulling together corporate partners, churches, other not-for-profits and local governments to build a coalition around low income housing and recovery on a scale that we could never do all by ourselves. And finally the centerpiece of Habitat's effort is something we're calling, A Home in a Box Project. And this is the boldest part of our plan and what we want to do is assemble materials and pre-build homes in communities all around the country. And then we're going to disassemble these homes, put them on containers and as soon as the infrastructure is in place ship them down to the Gulf areas that have been most affected. And this way we can build many more houses far more quickly and most importantly get families in those homes as quickly as possible.
KING: And what you need is what, money?
RECKFORD: So what we're asking people to do is first donate money to help because we're committed to repair and build as many homes -- hopefully in the thousands -- as we can fund. And then at the same time people can go to Habitat.org and find ways first to donate. And then second we hope to get personally involved, to lift a hammer and become part of the process.
KING: And the number of Habitat for Humanity is 866-292-7892. There you see it on the screen. Or www.Habitat.org.
Let's check in with Jeff Koinange CNN correspondent in New Orleans. What are the people in New Orleans doing to help themselves? Can they do anything, Jeff?
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Those who have been trapped or who have been literally homeless for the last six days, Larry, they can't do a thing. A, they were so hungry up until the National Guard started bringing in the MRE's or meals ready to eat and the water -- which was yesterday. And they couldn't do anything. They we're growing angrier by the day. And as you know and angry man -- or a hungry man is an angry man and that's exactly what happened, Larry.
Up until yesterday they were ready to do anything and that's why you saw the looting. And some people justifying their looting by saying that they were taking groceries from stores and feeding it to the people because no on was feeding them, Larry.
KING: Larry Jones is co-founder and president of Feed the Children. He's in Jackson Mississippi. Specifically, how does Feed the Children work in relation to this crisis?
LARRY JONES, CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, FEED THE CHILDREN: Well, Larry, we have a fleet of 55 trucks. We've already delivered 63 loads into the affected areas. One thing that hasn't been mentioned and this is very important, gas has gone up a good dollar in many, many places and so for all of us its going to cost us more to help these people. So I want to take you for having us on tonight, I also want to thank the people for understanding that just because of the spike in gas prices it's going to cost everyone a tremendous amount.
But I also want to say this. We've been getting lots of food and water and personal care items from large corporations across America and with our fleet of 55 trucks we're not only asking people to call and give us money to run those trucks but if they have a truckload of food or water or personal care items or something else that we use on a daily basis if they'll just give us a call we'll get back with them and we'll take it to where its needed most. Because we've been to -- not only to, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, we've been going into Texas. We've also been into Georgia and Tennessee as a lot of these evacuees are going into those states.
KING: Feed the Children is www.feedthechildren.org or 1-800-525- 7575.
This is interesting Major George Hood of the Salvation Army, the other night a general was on, told us about all of your people trapped in New Orleans. What happened?
HOOD: We opened up a shelter, a building in downtown New Orleans before the hurricane, 290 people moved into that facility to be protected. And once the hurricane passed of course the flood waters came in and they were all trapped inside that building. The water consumed the first floor, they moved up. They were all consumed and we couldn't get them out and then lost contact with them.
For four days they were locked in that building, trapped with no food, no water, no electricity and on your show Thursday night we talked about that. The very next day the Coast Guard and National Guard brought helicopters in and evacuated 290 people. Children from the ages of four months old all the way up to senior citizens.
KING: Someone in the Coast Guard saw this?
HOOD: Somebody saw and it's getting the word out there and constantly communicating and networking.
KING: As we go to break here's a special message for how you can help this LARRY KING LIVE special from our friend Bill Cosby.
BILL COSBY, ACTOR: Thank you, Larry. Thank you, CNN. Nature, here's a picture of nature, what it can be like, what it can sound like. Here's a picture of nature and what it can do and what it did. Devastation, frustration but all very, very for real. Things that people never thought or even dreamt of. It's happened here in this United States.
We need your help ladies and gentlemen. Those of us in the United States have always sent money overseas to help whenever sites similar to this have happened and now we ask you. And we ask you and we beg of you, please we need your money now. A child's doll, children's toys, things for the elderly, we need your money now. And wonderful organizations like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, please don't wait. We need it now.
KING: Lieutenant General Steven Blum has to leave us when this hour ends so I would be remiss by not asking him, are you satisfied with the performance of the Guard? BLUM: Larry, I'm not only satisfied, I'm immensely proud. You know we had 10,000, over 10,000 Guardsman on duty. Left their families, left their jobs, went to help prepare to help others before the hurricane hit. We were not sure exactly where it would hit so we positioned citizen soldiers in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. As it comes out the hurricane goes where the hurricane wants to go and then we have to go and do what we have to do.
Since it made landfall we have flowed 30,000 additional National Guard soldiers from 40 states around this nation. Airplane after airplane, truck after truckload of food and water and medical supplies, to provide security. We are augmenting the police department in New Orleans. We are finding and evacuating 2,000 people to date with our helicopters. We're moving food and water to people.
The communications is the big issue. People can help us help them when they know of a situation like you described a little bit earlier about those children that were stuck and the Salvation Army got through and got on to CNN and we finally knew that they were there. We immediately went in with our partners the Coast Guard and reduced that suffering.
So that I am immensely proud of these twenty-first century citizen soldiers. The first citizen soldiers responded to the shot heard around the world. Now were responding to the storm heard round the world.
KING: It did take a while for them to be deployed though didn't it?
BLUM: Well yes it does because the storm irradiated and decimated the lines of communication. Roads, four lane highways that cease to exist. Bridges were out, airports were closed, navigable waterways were not navigable. So we had to fight our way in to actually come in and assist the people. We're now there in force and we're piling on at the rate of about 8,000 a day and we should crest at about 40,000 National Guard soldiers.
In addition the president has turned on a second spigot today and you now see active duty forces coming into assist us. All of this is welcome relief. As of the end of the weekend we'll probably have in excess of 54,000 National Guard soldiers and active duty soldiers. Mostly in Mississippi and Louisiana. Reducing pain and suffering, saving lives and giving hope to the people that their government can respond against this terrible, terrible natural disaster.
KING: And did you recommend to the president that he act sooner?
BLUM: I recommended to the president those capabilities that we did not have them. And we did that when the president actually toured the area and demonstrated his absolute commitment to sending anything and everything that this United States government has, or the department of defense has that could be useful in the response to this terrible event. And you see immediate action today with C-17 airplane bringing in literally thousands of soldiers to help with security and reducing suffering and distributing the commodities and helping find the people.
The big issue is that we have to find and know where the need is to get it there. Just sending supplies is no good unless it gets into the hands of those who needs it. And that's what we're working very hard -- and we are in support, Larry, it's very important everybody needs to know this in the country, that we are in support of the lead federal agency. The civilian authorities are in charge. The apparatuses of government are still in charge. This is not martial law. This is the United States of America and its military responds to support the governors of these states are very capable of handling this problem with the resources that were seeing.
KING: And the number you gave us earlier in addition to the number we had, 800-833-7662 is 888- 777-7731.
BLUM: Larry, I'd like to give you one other number before I have to leave. And that is if you like what you see, if you want to be part of the solution, if you want to be part of the response that you're seeing on the screen I'd like you to go to 1-800-GO-GUARD and see about joining the National Guard so that you can actually be part of an organization that will defend this nation whenever its in need, whether its here at home or abroad. So to answer your question succinctly I couldn't be more proud of the people in the National Guard. And the absolute awesome response they're showing to this natural disaster.
KING: Thank you. And thank you for joining us, General Blum.
BLUM: Thank you, Larry. It's been my privilege to be here.
KING: Joining us now in Los Angeles is Sela Ward. You all know the beautiful Sela Ward, the Emmy award winning actress. Currently has a role on the TV series "House". I'm giving you another award.
SELA WARD, ACTRESS: Yes, I'll take it.
KING: She's born in Meridian Mississippi. You wrote about life there in your memoir. And you graduated from the University of Alabama. What do you make of this?
WARD: Oh it's just disastrous. It really is. I've been in touch with everyone I know there on a constant basis. I just talked to my girlfriend to heads up the Red Cross in Meridian. Meridian which is three hours north of New Orleans got 100 miles-per-hour winds with wind gust higher than that. Peoples driveways are blocked by trees, can't get in their cars and go anywhere. They're being delivered meals by the Red Cross. Trees threw houses. And we are now in Meridian now one of the largest places for evacuees to go with the Naval air station and the National Guard.
KING: Do you have a home there?
WARD: I do have a home there.
WARD: Lots of property damage, insignificant to what happening to everyone else.
KING: We have two more hours. It's called "How you can help." What are you saying to people?
WARD: I'm saying to people give to the Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund. Also the United Way is a great organization to give to because it helps very many different organizations within a community. Meals-on-wheels, the Red Cross in my hometown help Hope Village for Children (ph) a children's home. It operates very many different agencies in different communities in great need.
KING: When are you going home?
WARD: I'm in the middle of filming or I'd be there right now, trust me. So as soon as I get a chance, a break in the filming here I will go back there.
KING: Anyone you haven't been able to reach?
WARD: No everyone in Mississippi that I know is fine, thank god. People in New Orleans that I know are fine and did get out. So I'm very relieved about that.
KING: Must be horrendous to look at all the images you've been looking at of a place you're from.
WARD: It's just incredible. I had a place in the Quarter after I first got married. My husband and I spent a lot of time down there. And New Orleans is where I would fly into to get home, for many, many years. It's a part of everyone's inner life from down there. A great part of our history and a great treasure for our nation.
KING: Thanks for coming by, Sela.
WARD: I did want to say one thing, Larry, that I think is really important to be said. There has been so much about race mentioned with this issue and with all the dark there is always a lot of light and in Mississippi in particular. And this I know first hand, I live there part of the year, I know people on the ground there now. There is no color, colorblind is the state of affairs there now. Black people helping white people, white people helping black people. There's and extraordinary outpour of heart and humanity. And that's something that should be acknowledged. And is a beautiful thing.
KING: Well said. Sela Ward.
We have two more hours to go on this LARRY KING LIVE special, "How you can help." Our panel, the regular panel will be with us throughout. Lots of other guest coming aboard as well. Don't go away.
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