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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush
Aired September 5, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, former President George Herbert Walker Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush on the Hurricane Katrina relief effort he's spearheading with former President Bill Clinton and on the questions about their son's leadership in the aftermath of the worst natural disaster to hit America in our lifetime next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: We begin tonight by going to Houston where we welcome to LARRY KING LIVE for one of many visits they've made, most of them under a lot better circumstances former President George Herbert Walker Bush and the former First Lady Barbara Bush. They are in front of the Houston Astrodome. They've spent the day there. We'll talk with them about that but first Mr. President your thoughts on the passing of William Rehnquist and the selection of John Roberts to be his successor?
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Bill Rehnquist and I were the same age. We've been friends for long, long time. Barbara and I are friends with their family. Their daughter Janet worked for me in the White House.
And so, I feel I've lost a close friend but I think the United States has lost a great chief justice and it will be hard to fill those shoes but I am very, very pleased that the president nominated Mr. Roberts to be the chief justice.
KING: Were you surprised?
G. BUSH: Surprised, yes, brilliant man, a brilliant man with the highest ranking from the bar association and I hope he's just promptly confirmed.
KING: Now tell me what you did today at the Astrodome.
BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: We went in to Reliance Center and visited with about 10,000 people, families, single mothers, a lot of children, numbers of volunteers. We're so proud of Houston, Larry, you can't believe it. They have 25,000 volunteers I think at the Astrodome and Reliance Center. People had the most moving stories you ever heard, grateful to be here in Houston.
G. BUSH: Their spirits, Larry, are surprisingly good. Obviously, they've been through a lot. We had these harrowing tales of a man swimming away from his family to come back only to find that they weren't there anymore. We have children separated from their parents. You have every reason in the world for these families to be down.
But I think it's a great credit to those that are working this relief facility to know that they're being well taken care of, that their spirits are coming back and I am so very pleased that Barbara and I just had a chance to go and say hello. And, President Clinton was here and I know, I just talked to him and I know he feels exactly the same way.
KING: And in that regard, President Clinton, who called in here on Saturday night, the Bush/Clinton team have gotten together again and you can help at www.bushclintonkatrinafund -- that's all one word, bushclintonkatrinafund.org. And how does the money go, Mr. President? Tell me how it works.
G. BUSH: Larry, we contacted all three governors of the embattled states, Mississippi and, you know, Louisiana, Alabama and all of them need some funds that they themselves control so the Bush/Clinton Katrina Fund will send the money to the various relief organizations set up by the governors. Still, people are going to support as they should Salvation Army, Red Cross, whatever.
But these are special funds and there will be a lot of them to go right directly to the governors who are in charge of their states and I feel very good about it because the governors have so strongly and positively reacted to this idea and we're off to a good start. We've raised today some close to $40 million or $50 million.
KING: Wow. Was the president with you today?
G. BUSH: No, he was over at the -- in the embattled states and we've stayed in Texas all day as has President Clinton.
KING: How do you compare this with tsunami?
G. BUSH: Well, it's different, Larry. The tsunami, the death toll was far, far greater even in the high estimates that you might see on Louisiana. But, the hardship of lost homes is identical. In the tsunami the homes were wiped out, gone, and the same thing unfortunately is true here with Katrina. So, there are some differences.
The common thread is the heartbreak for the families and that is the same here as it was in Sri Lanka or wherever it might have been but golly I wish you'd seen it. You would have really left there feeling good about our country and feeling sad about the broken homes, the lost homes for these poor people.
KING: Barbara, is there any training that you have how to console people?
B. BUSH: Well, I think the city has done a great job. They've worked with federal, state and local government and county but I think the most exciting thing we've seen is that people from all around the country are responding and taking families, giving them jobs. Wal- Mart, for instance, who lost how many stores?
G. BUSH: I don't know how many, 40 or something like.
B. BUSH: Forty stores is saying to all of their people "We'll put you in other stores. We'll put you up, give you a job. You have not lost your job." And people like a man from Denver took I think 20 families and is putting them to work and giving them homes.
I think it's very exciting and I think that's something churches and synagogues and temples and mosques can do around the country is they can offer to take several families, put them to work, feed them, clothe them, get them housing, let them live a respectable, decent, honest life.
KING: What is it like for you, Barbara, in other words what do you say to people who don't know where their family members are?
B. BUSH: Well, most of the people we talked to are finding them. They've got a great setup here and they're finding them and they're so glad to be alive. We talked to a mother with twin boys. They were less than a month old now that spent three or four days on that bridge. She's so glad to be alive.
So, they're beginning to think of the future but there's a lot of hope here. People are giving them hope and taking them in. I think there are 100,000 people in Houston, maybe 35,000 are in these shelters, the others are in homes and getting going.
KING: What do make of...
G. BUSH: Larry, not...
KING: I'm sorry, go ahead Mr. President.
G. BUSH: No, I was going to say not one single person, not one, came up to me or to Barbara or I believe to Bill Clinton, President Clinton to say well we need something else or we're not getting enough or the people aren't treating us well.
Of course they need more but none did anything but praise the facilities here, what Harris County is doing, what the city is doing and it gave them hope. They could have a clean bed. They could have a good shower. And so, it's very different than what they endured out of the horrors of the dome in New Orleans.
KING: What do you make of the international response, not only Great Britain, Germany but adversaries Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, people like the U.N., the European Union also contributing? Are you surprised at that?
G. BUSH: No, I'm not. I didn't know about Cuba but I'm not surprised because, you know, it's kind of people to people and I have a friend in Korea he sent me a wonderful e-mail about what he personally is going to do and what the Korean government will do. And so, it's happening worldwide and I think people see, thanks to your medium, the total destruction and devastation and so it doesn't matter whether they're a communist country or socialist country or a capitalistic country. I think they feel something about the individuals suffering and the loss of family. I know that's true in China, for example.
KING: We'll take a break and come right back with the Bush's, former President George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Bush.
And, remember the number if you click in they'll give you all the information. The Web site is www.bushclintonkatrinafund, all one word, bushclintonkatrinafund.org.
We'll be right back.
KING: We're back with former President George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Bush. We have to get to this. Mr. President, what do you make of all the criticism?
G. BUSH: The criticism of what?
KING: The federal government's response, the lateness, this didn't get there fast enough, FEMA didn't react quickly enough? You know you had it with Andrew.
G. BUSH: Oh, I sure did and I think any time there's a crisis people want to blame someone. I've never been much for the Monday morning quarterbacking and to be very candid, Larry, I think some of the criticism had been grossly unfair, particularly when they suggest the president doesn't care and all of that.
You have to understand that people that are hurting are going to criticize. I thought President Clinton put it pretty well today when he said "Let's get on with it and then there will be plenty of time to assign blame."
But you know the media has a fascination, Larry, and you know this, I'm not saying you but the media has a fascination with the blame game and instead of looking for what can we do to help now there's a lot of why didn't we do something different?
So, they got time now and let's all come together, work positively for solving these problems and then there will be plenty of time to have commissions and have studies and have legislation and have people that know all along what we should have been doing.
KING: But it's hard, Barbara, when you're sitting on a roof and you can't find your son not to be angry at something.
B. BUSH: That's right.
KING: And, if you're a reporter covering it, standing by there, seeing it, it's also very hard not to look around to blame something isn't it?
B. BUSH: No, I don't really think so. A week ago tomorrow was when the floods came. Look what's happened. Thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated and are in comfortable shelters. It's going to take a while for families to get together. But I talked to a lady today whose son was in Austin she just found out. They're doing a good job.
G. BUSH: But I think Larry's right that if you're sitting on a roof and you don't have any way to get off and you don't know whether your life is going to be saved you're going to lash out but I haven't heard the individuals sitting on those roofs being interviewed saying that so and so is to blame or why didn't FEMA act sooner or where is the Coast Guard? Why weren't they sooner?
I mean I can understand the criticism and I think the president understands the criticism and he can take it just as I had to take it when I was president but the big thing, the important thing is what's going right and how do we continue down that path so we solve the problems affecting these poor families?
KING: But even the president said the reaction should have been faster that he wasn't satisfied.
G. BUSH: Sure. I don't think -- certainly I'm not satisfied but I'm just talking about the blame game and there was one particularly vicious comment that the president didn't care, was insensitive on ethnicity.
G. BUSH: Insensitive about race. Now that one hurt because I know this president and I know he does care and you know what can he do? He can just go out and do what he's doing today, showing that the federal government is involved, has been involved, will continue to be involved.
Huge numbers of dollars have been appropriated or signed off on for the Congress, both Senate and the House and he had to push forward. He cannot listen to every critic from the editorial page of "The New York Times."
KING: But it's true isn't it that Katrina devastated the three states, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana that probably would be the three poorest states in terms of income and therefore the poorest Americans were the most affected.
G. BUSH: Definitely and that's what's so sad about that and that's what was so in a way heartening about today. We're embracing them, holding them in our arms here and they're saying they want to get on with their lives. It was inspiring today.
But you're absolutely right. These states were, you know, what state can afford this kind of disaster? But these states particularly are vulnerable and what gets me is the resilience of their people. It's marvelous. KING: How did you react, Barbara, when race was brought up and someone mentioned that your son doesn't care?
B. BUSH: I don't believe that. I really didn't hear it. I'm going to tell you the truth but I don't believe it. I know it's not true and of course as George says if you want to really get in trouble criticize my son to me.
KING: I know.
B. BUSH: But I really didn't hear that at all today. People came up to me all day long and said "God bless your son," people of different races and it was very, very moving and touching and they felt like when he flew over that it made all the difference in their lives so I just don't hear that.
KING: What's it like when you talk to him? How does he react talking to his mother about this kind of pressure that's on him?
B. BUSH: You know he's very strong, Larry, and he's doing the best he can. He encourages me when I get down a little bit but he's a very strong man full of faith truthfully.
G. BUSH: I had supper with him three nights ago in the White House, just he, Marvin and Gene Becker my chief of staff, four of us in the White House dining room and what I sensed was the concern he feels about people. It was so obvious to me. But then I also sense a determination not to weaken or wring his hands in the face of criticism.
It was wonderful. I came away from that, came home and told Barbara I said "This guy of ours is strong and he's determined" and the American people if they don't see it now will see it because that's what's in his heart. That's what's in his heart.
KING: What do you think it's like? He's fighting two wars isn't he? He's fighting a war in Iraq and he's fighting a war against nature.
G. BUSH: Yes, that's right. Now the first war can be run by generals and I think, I'm confident we'll prevail there. But this other one was just so devastating because it struck without any political overtones. It just was terrible.
But you know I talked to Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi yesterday because some people were saying, "Well, if you hadn't sent your National Guard to Iraq, we here in Mississippi would be better off."
He told me "I've been out in the field every single day, hour, for four days and no one, not one single mention of the word Iraq." Now where does that come from? Where does that story come from if the governor is not picking up one word about it? I don't know. I can use my imagination.
B. BUSH: That was a guess. G. BUSH: I don't want to be in my attack mode, Larry, but...
KING: Why not?
G. BUSH: I've already said enough. Mr. Sulzberger will be calling in.
KING: Barbara, you get your dander up though don't you?
B. BUSH: I get it up, yes, but I must say now people come up to me all over the country and certainly today and praise what George is doing and how much they admire him and I agree with them, of course.
KING: We're going to spend some more moments with the former president and former first lady. And, again, if you want to help, the money you give here goes directly to Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, www.bushclintonkatrinafund.org, all one word, right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing we do can be an adequate response to the agony that we have seen, the suffering of the people of Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with the former president and former first lady. Mr. President, very few Americans, less than 45, have experienced what the current president is experiencing and what you have experienced. How does a president deal with this kind of pressure? Forget just criticism, the pressure of people you have sent to war, as you did, people dying through nature's actions, how do you sleep?
G. BUSH: Well, it's hard to sleep. I think in the case of both the president and me faith has a lot to do with it. If you believe that there's a being superior to yourself and that will guide you, strengthen you that helps a lot but, you know, you just have to stay the course. You just got to stay in there. You cannot be waffling or taking a poll to see what people think. You have to do what you think is right and this president is doing what he thinks is right in this massive recovery and in Iraq too.
KING: Barbara, in a natural disaster as this is called do you ever question your faith?
B. BUSH: No, and you asked me that before once. I don't question my faith but I feel that we really have a job to do, which has something to do with my faith that we have to get together as people and help these people who really need us now.
KING: Mr. President, don't you ever say though why God, why? G. BUSH: I do. I do. Why if you're a loving, forgiving, caring God do you have this kind of disaster afflicted on people? But, as the Bible says, "The Lord works in mysterious ways" and you have to believe, as I do. And, much more important to the situation today and we're out of it is what the president, what's in his heart and I know that this faith will get him through.
It was Abraham Lincoln "You cannot be president without spending time on your knees in prayer." Well, our president believes that. He does it his own way. He doesn't think everybody has to agree with him on what denomination but you asked how you get through a tough time that's how he does it.
KING: Are either of you going to go to any of the areas?
G. BUSH: I think Bill Clinton and I, President Clinton and I will but we don't want to get down there now and be one more guy, "Hey, we're here" you know kind of getting a little publicity going. We want to wait maybe two or three weeks and then go down and see what's going on and if there are areas that we think additional help can be provided we'll say so.
And, if we see progress, we won't be ashamed to say, hey, they're doing some good things here. The families are getting back together again. They have some hope. So, we will go and I look forward to it.
KING: Barbara, what do you make of this friendship between your husband and the former president?
B. BUSH: I think it's good for the country. I think it's good for the world to see that Americans when they have a cause can get together no matter what party and I rather dislike the political side of this disaster. I think we all ought to start saying what we can do and not what's wrong with it. I think it's wonderful that Bill and George have put aside politics and are working for a great cause.
KING: President Clinton said on this program that, and you said earlier, it's much too soon to criticize but he has been prone not to criticize at all as you were, why? Why shouldn't a former president criticize a current in any issue?
G. BUSH: Well, he can. He can do that. I told him when he beat me and I left the White House, "I'm not going to be out there criticizing." You got a lot of elected critics, loyal opposition critics so I've never felt I ought to be out there knocking his brains out when he was president.
Now, we're dealing together on something that's far bigger than I think than my own political fortune or his and therefore I think he's right in, you know, cooling it down. Later on he may have some criticism and that's fine, maybe have it today but he's not in this as a critic of the president trying to be out there getting a headline because he bashes the president of the United States why, because he's been there. Why for me, because I've been there and it's my son.
KING: How long is this going to take do you think? Haley Barbour told us he'll be out of office in two and a half years. It will go way past that.
G. BUSH: I think -- well, I'd go more with what Haley says or what Governor Blanco says or what Governor Riley says but it's going to take a long time but I think the abject fear and hurt for the families will go away long before that.
KING: Do you agree Barbara?
B. BUSH: I hope so. I hope so. I think it will.
G. BUSH: There are families that are divided. They don't know where their brothers are. They don't know where their kids are. They don't know whether their mother and dad are alive or not. Now that will be laid to rest in a little while.
B. BUSH: We may end up with a bigger, better New Orleans too, safer.
KING: It's always good seeing both of you. Congratulations on your work.
G. BUSH: Well, thank you, Larry, for helping the American people understand that there is a way to support these states. I appreciate it very, very much.
KING: Thank you Barbara.
B. BUSH: Thank you.
KING: Again, you want to help www.bushclintonkatrinafund.org, all one word, back with more after this.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE.
A couple of notes. Tomorrow night, Dr. Phil will be with us in studio, back from the Houston Astrodome.
Last night on this show, we spoke very briefly with a hurricane evacuee named Andrea Charles, who's desperately trying to get information on her mother, dad, and two sisters, two brothers, nieces and nephews. She didn't have a chance to give out her contact number. It is 281-856-2273, 281-856-2273.
And good news. Last night, Jiselle Boutte-Sparkman -- remember she was with us? She'll be with us a little later -- located her entire family. Ernest Pope (ph) located his three sisters, all after last night's show.
Cassandra Napa (ph) has located her mother in a Texas hospital. Sanika Wilson (ph) has located her daddy and her cousin.
Our panel members through this half-hour, in Dallas, Bishop T.D. Jakes, the founding pastor of the Potter's House. He accompanied President Bush today when he toured the disaster zone. Marty Evans is president and CEO of the American Red Cross. She's at the Astrodome.
In New Orleans is Jeff Koinange, the CNN African correspondent. And in Biloxi, Mississippi, is Ted Rowlands, CNN correspondent.
At the Houston Astrodome, is April Flowers. She been with us the past two nights. And good news. Look at that, now reunited with her sister, Barbara, and Barbara's three children.
When did this happen, April?
APRIL FLOWERS, EVACUEE AT ASTRODOME: Like two nights ago.
KING: How did you learn of this?
FLOWERS: Well, actually, I was on a show showing my sister's pictures and my husband's picture, too. And when I got back to the shelter, there was an anonymous phone call with a ticket saying that they located my sister. She was evacuated from the Vietnamese church in New Orleans and she was safe at -- she went to safety grounds. And then, when I heard the news, I called my sister's cell phone, and it was her. It was 1:00 in the morning.
KING: And, Barbara, what was that like for you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was happy.
KING: Were you wondering? Or what happened to you, Barbara? Where were you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we was at the Vietnamese church for two days, and then we got rescued. We had got rescued by the wildlife people coming to the church to get us out.
And we had gotten a ride with the Army people to the convention center. And we was there, like, 3 1/2 days. But it was happy to get a hold of my sister, because I've been trying to get a hold of her, but the lines were down. So we wasn't able to, you know...
KING: April's become a regular around here. Congratulations, April. We're so happy for you.
FLOWERS: Thank you.
KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be meeting other survivors and people looking for so survivors in a little while.
Bishop T.D. Jakes in Dallas, Texas, counseling evacuees, is this a very hard part of your job?
T.D. JAKES, PASTOR, POTTER'S HOUSE: It's been a very difficult part of the job emotionally, very taxing emotionally to see the many, many people who are wounded and hurting, facing uncertainty, having lost their jobs. I had an opportunity to be in the reunion arena here in Dallas, as well as the Houston Astrodome this afternoon, with Sheila Jackson Lee. And, of course, I was with the president this morning. And all around the country, there are messages of hope, and yet they come through tearful eyes.
KING: Do you -- so many other blacks are questioning the president's sincerity. Do you?
JAKES: You know, I really think that that's not the road that we really need to take at this point. I understand the anger and the outrage. I myself am outraged at how long it took to get help to these people.
I really cannot understand, in the country that we live in today, with the technology that we have, and the vast array of power and force we have in military, and what have you, why it would take that many days to get help through.
But I think we have to put that anger and rage aside and wait until the appropriate time, because we have bigger fish to fry. We have children who cannot find their mothers. We have people who are hurting all over the country.
KING: Jeff Koinange in New Orleans, how is the evacuation going? Is about everybody out now?
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pretty much so, Larry. But there are still some people who insist on staying in their apartments and their homes because they don't want to be evacuated from the city because they don't feel that the city is safe enough to leave their homes unattended.
So those are being told right now, as of this evening, to evacuate the city. Some of them are still fighting tooth and nail. But for the most part, the city is secure.
Thousands of National Guardsmen on the ground, more coming. And looks like, Larry, yes, for the most part, evacuations are pretty much done. The big mess behind me, around the city, which is basically waterlogged, that's going to start in the coming days and coming weeks. It will take months more for this rebuilding of New Orleans to take place, Larry.
KING: Jeff, is that the whole city? Are we talking about every part of New Orleans?
KOINANGE: We're talking about every part of New Orleans. In fact, interestingly, Larry, for the first time today, in Jefferson Parish, they actually allowed people to come in, inspect their homes, and then go back out, which is a good thing.
Because eight days after Katrina hit town, people didn't know the extent of damage to their homes. For the first time, people were coming in, just as long as they took what they needed and then leave the city again. But there is still that small percentage of people who just will not leave, Larry.
KING: Ted Rowlands, what's the situation regarding Biloxi?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, today, we saw the military arrive. Five hundred Marines, 4,000 members of the Navy are here in Biloxi. They're using this as a camp. They've established a camp on the beach here. They've called it Camp Restore.
They say they're going to be here until the job is done. This is going to be a huge job. We're talking about miles and miles of complete destruction. Some of them will stay here; others have already started to fan out across the state, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
It is mind-boggling. You mentioned Governor Barbour saying it could be more than 2 1/2 years. When you get on the ground, you can see where he's coming from, because every one of these homes is either completely demolished or in real bad shape. The Navy and Marines, they're first goal, try to get the sewage system worked out so that there's no health problems, then work through electricity, and methodically start the rebuilding process.
KING: When we come back, we'll get Marty Evans' assessment at the Houston Astrodome and meet more people looking for more people. Don't go away.
KING: We have some heroes joining us now from the Houston Astrodome. These are evacuees, heroes because they helped scores of people in St. Bernard Parish just east of New Orleans.
They're Brian Anthony Kaufman, Errol Brown, and Corey Williams. And for several days after Katrina struck, they brought people out of their housing project and ferried them to relevant safety, first using an air mattress, later using a boat they had to physically pull through the water, because it had no motor.
Brian's parents told them to take him out after he helped everyone else. Finally, after three days, the National Guard showed up.
Corey, how did you get the idea to use an air mattress?
COREY WILLIAMS, EVACUEE AT ASTRODOME: Well, I was bringing dressers up in my house, emptying all the clothes out, and I was nailing some dresses together, and we threw it in the water, and it sank. So I said, "Something else got to work."
So we were throwing over stuff in there and that sank. So we were sleeping on the air mattress on the porch, so I said, "Hey, let's throw that in, see if it works." So we did. And we used some brooms for paddles, and it worked good.
KING: Errol, where did you get the boat that you used later? ERROL BROWN, EVACUEE AT ASTRODOME: Well, me and Brian here, we was on the air mattress after Corey told to us use the air mattress. After we evacuated at least about 100 people, we found the boat under the bridge that was just abandoned. So somebody must have left it there after they evacuated the scene.
And we just took the boat. Brian said, "Well, let's grab the boat." And we grabbed the boat, and we left on out with the boat.
KING: Brian, you ought to be very proud of yourself.
BRIAN KAUFMAN, EVACUEE AT ASTRODOME: Well, actually, I am, but the idea was like this. When we woke up on Monday, right after the hurricane hit, it was -- the power went out immediately. The water started rising, so we didn't hit the panic mode, but we were sort of speaking like, "We have to do something," because we seen helicopters flying over. We don't see nobody coming to the area trying to get people out.
The water started rising. The rain hasn't stopped after the hurricane, but we wondered where the water started rising from. So like you said, we went to (INAUDIBLE) boats to a raft that we had, actually a raft, which was made out of four pieces of plywood.
That didn't work, like he said. So when we did use the air mattress, we tried with two adults. So we figured me and him, that's at least 370 pounds. You're looking at two adults. That's another 180 pounds to 200 pounds.
So once we passed that first test, we wanted to get adults on first, so we can at least have an idea of what type of weight we was able to maneuver well on a mattress.
KAUFMAN: That's when we took four infants on the next trip. And once we made it with those four little babies, everybody else knew it would be successful thing.
KING: You deserve the salute of all of us, Brian Anthony Kaufman, Errol Brown and Corey Williams. What a job they did. There are lots of heroic stories like this. We're happy to bring them to you.
Marty Evans is at the Astrodome. I guess that's not unusual, Marty. We see bravery in times like this, do we not?
MARTY EVANS, CEO, RED CROSS: Well, we sure do. And, you know, these are extraordinary acts of bravery. And I've seen today people that have come in and done some amazing things to help people that have been in such difficult circumstances.
KING: What is the Red Cross doing inside the Astrodome?
EVANS: Well, we're doing a lot of things inside the Astrodome. We're helping to process people. We're providing assistance, aid, comfort. We're doing some of the basic general shelter operations. We're providing some mental health support.
And I think the thing that is most inspiring to me is, we're listening to what peoples' needs are. And just, in my walk through, many people came up to me and asked where they could find this, where they could find eyeglasses. And so Red Crossers in the Astrodome are serving as a really important resource. And some of them have signs on that say, "May I help you?"
KING: Are there a lot of Red Cross people there?
EVANS: You know, Larry, we've had close to 6,000 Red Crossers from all around the country come into this region. We also have a very strong network of Red Cross chapters in Texas, in and around the Houston area, as well.
And the Red Cross is blessed, because we have hundreds of people here in this area who are coming to Red Cross saying, "I want to become a volunteer." They go through a brief training program, just a couple of hours, and then they're actually doing important work. So it's a way for people in Houston to connect to this extraordinary operation. And it truly is extraordinary.
KING: Back at the Astrodome, Brian Anthony Kaufman wanted to add something to what he said.
Brian, what do you want to add?
KAUFMAN: I just want to let everybody know -- everything that we put out, we're staying at the Park Plaza Hotel. I mean, if anybody could do anything to give back, to help us, because we're stuck with nothing. I mean, I just would like everybody to know -- we're staying at the Park Plaza Hotel. If you could come, do anything, give us anything that can help us out, we'd sure appreciate it.
KING: Are all of you without money or anything?
KAUFMAN: We don't have anything. I mean, my credit card, my credit is gone, my car is gone. All I have right now is what you see, my family and my friends.
KING: You're at the Park Plaza Hotel in Houston?
KAUFMAN: Yes, sir.
KING: OK. And their names, if you want to help, are Brian Anthony Kaufman, Errol Brown, and Corey Williams.
And we'll be right back.
KING: Let's include a call.
Columbus, Ohio, hello?
CALLER: Hello, I'm Lisa Cox. I live in St. Bernard Parish right by the St. Bernard-Plaquemines line.
CALLER: And we haven't really heard anything about St. Bernard Parish near Plaquemines. And we're dying to know. We're starving for information.
KING: Jeff, do you know anything about what's happened at St. Bernard's Parish?
KOINANGE: Not yet, Larry. Basically, we just started going into the various areas today. Like I said, Jefferson Parish, we went in there, we saw people coming back. We're going to be going in the coming days to other areas. Haven't heard of that parish right there that you mentioned, Larry.
KING: New York City, hello?
CALLER: Hi, Larry, thank you for taking my call.
CALLER: My call is more directed toward the pastor.
CALLER: Pastor, why would God do this? I feel so hurt and so upset for these beautiful people. And I feel that I know I shouldn't be angry, but why didn't the president help them? Why, God, why?
KING: That's two questions.
Bishop, do you question your Lord?
JAKES: You know, I really don't. Over the years, I've come to understand, and the Bible is quite clear about pain, the symbol of Christianity, of the cross. So it's very transparent that pain is a part of living.
And yet, it does hurt. And I understand her anger, and anger is a part of the grief process. I think one of the things that we don't understand when we go through grief is that we don't realize that, as our emotions begin to vent themselves and ventilate themselves, we weep, and sometimes we're angry, and we're confused.
Most of us, it takes years before we begin to put our lives together and look in retrospect and say, "Lord, you were there all the time, not just in the good times, not just in the blessings, but even in the hardships."
As I walked around the Astrodome today, I was amazed at the faith and the fervency that existed in the lives of people who have lost their children or lost their mothers. And I couldn't allow myself to remain angry, when I see so many people full of faith who have lost so much more than you and I.
KING: Palm Springs, California, hello?
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thank you for taking my call.
CALLER: I was just wondering if, why couldn't we use the military bases that have been closed to bring these people and, you know, by areas into these places, train them to be electricians, and carpenters, and plumbers, and let them go home and build their city back?
KING: You know, the governor of Alabama was suggesting this, Ted, opening up military bases. I believe he did open up some.
ROWLANDS: Yes, you know, the problem is logistics. And it sounds great, and maybe they could do it on a case-by-case or a small program, but you're talking about taking people, displacing them, you know, people with families, wives, kids, training them, then bringing them back to presumably build their own homes.
You know, they're having a tough time figuring out how they're going to get rid of all this debris before it completely pollutes the sewage and the water systems. Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it is so spread out. And that is the problem. It is miles, and miles, and miles.
There was a crew here from New York that said Ground Zero was -- as horrible as it was, wasn't as big and as hard to deal with as what they're seeing along the Mississippi Gulf Coast because of the logistics. Something like that sounds good. Whether they could do it or not, it would be tough.
KING: Ted, how much of Biloxi is deserted?
ROWLANDS: Well, they have a curfew in the evenings. During the day, people are coming to see what's left of their homes. And that's pretty much the case now all along the Gulf Coast, now that the National Guard is here. They're enforcing a very stringent curfew.
But during the day, people are coming back. We're seeing it more and more everyday. And those that survived, some are still holed up in their homes. I'd say, though, percentage-wise along the coast, you know, maybe 5 percent of the people are still hunkered down here in their homes.
KING: Thanks, Ted.
ROWLANDS: The rest have gone elsewhere.
KING: Jiselle Boutte-Sparkman now joins us from the Houston Astrodome. Viewers of this program will remember here. On Thursday night -- it's good to see them all there -- she was desperately searching for information about family members left behind.
She has now found everyone who was missing. Jessie evacuated from New Orleans with her husband, her daughter, her sister, and her sisters' kids, but her two brothers didn't want to leave. Other members of the family, including an uncle, an aunt, a niece, a nephew, and a grandnephew were missing, too.
She's there with everybody, including her grandmother, Mary Davenport. Jiselle, how did this happen?
JISELLE BOUTTE-SPARKMAN, FAMILY NOW REUNITED: Well, thanks to CNN and the viewers of CNN, everybody found everybody.
Mary, where were you, Mary Davenport, the grandma?
MARY DAVENPORT, GRANDMOTHER: I'm grand and great grand now. I'm sitting right in the middle.
KING: Where were you during all this? Where were you during the hurricane?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sitting right in the middle.
SPARKMAN: Larry, my grandmother is 87 years old. And she's -- she's a little -- going through a little senility right now. But she was actually here in Texas, in Houston, at a relative's home.
KING: Jiselle, what must it be like when you got them all together?
SPARKMAN: A lot of tears, and hugs, and kisses, and more kisses, and hugs, and tears.
KING: I'm so happy we were be a part of it. Best of luck to everybody.
SPARKMAN: Thank you so much.
KING: Jiselle Boute Sparkman and her family, what a story.
Back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, right after this.
KING: Joining us now in the Astrodome -- dig this -- is Joey Kennedy, an evacuee who is on his own. How on his own? He has no idea if anyone in his family made it out of New Orleans.
He's looking for his daughter, Jodie (ph), his other daughter, Dana, his grandmother, Rose Powell (ph), his aunt, Jotina Haygood (ph), his sister, Connie Powell (ph), his sister, Cheryl Banks Veal (ph), his brother, Albert Banks, and his sister-in-law, Pamela Banks.
Why did they all stay, Joey?
JOEY KENNEDY, EVACUEE ALONE AT ASTRODOME: Well, I don't think that they stayed. Finally, this morning, I finally called New York. And I talked with my uncle in New York, and he found my mother and my grandmother and all of them. They contacted him. But I still can't find my daughters.
KING: Now, we have a voicemail number. Joey, I know that this is tough on you. We have a voicemail number, 713-797-2423, or they can call your nephew, Michael, at 225-354-0782.
How old are your daughters, Joey?
KENNEDY: One's 22, and one's 24.
KING: Where did you last see them?
KENNEDY: Well, I didn't see them before the storm. But my sister, my baby sister, I had left her. That was the last person I seen. And, you know, I just want them to know I'm hurting.
My momma want to see them, and she want to hear from them. So, you know, if anybody out there know these people, please let them know to call my mother or contact me to let me know that they're all right.
KING: All right, Joey, let me give the numbers again, 713-797- 2423. That's a voicemail number. Just leave a message. Or call Joey's nephew, Michael Haygood (ph), at 225-354-0782.
And I hope you're back tomorrow night with good news, Joey.
KENNEDY: Yes, sir. Thank you very much.
KING: Thank you.
KENNEDY: I hope everybody pray for me.
KING: Yes, we sure are.
Marty Evans, I don't know how that you handle all of this heartbreak there.
EVANS: You know, Larry, it is -- it's just heartbreaking to see people suffering so much, on the one hand. On the other hand, it's inspiring to see the hope that people have.
It's also inspiring to see that they're beginning to make progress in thinking about the future. I went to one shelter today, not the Astrodome, but in a neighboring community, the new life shelter, run by the Red Cross. And I will tell you what was really exciting was they're not called evacuees. They're not called refugees. They're called re-builders.
And these people have suffered so much. They're still dealing with losses. But the staff at the shelter is, in a most loving way, helping them look at the future and helping them think about rebuilding. And that was really inspiring to me.
KING: Thank you, Marty. And thank all of our guests, and we thank the Bushes for being with us earlier. Tomorrow night, Dr. Phil joins us. He was with us last night from the Astrodome. Tomorrow night, he'll be here in studio, talking about counseling and helping people, as this tragedy still needs to take a turn. And New Orleans is a city, apparently, that once was. Great town, too.
Aaron Brown will anchor NEWSNIGHT. And he'll do two hours again out of New York this evening.
Aaron, it goes on.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and New Orleans will be a city once again. It'll be a different city, but it'll be a city once again.
Thank you, Larry. Nice job on Saturday night, by the way.
Good evening again, everyone. It was a week ago tonight that Jeanne Meserve described to us the rising
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