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Search for Survivors Continues in New Orleans

Aired September 8, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, the search for survivors continues as rescuers urge the last holdouts to leave New Orleans and as the floodwaters slowly recede Katrina's body count rises.

Now, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on what he's called a system wide failure in dealing with this disaster. By the way, Senator Frist is also a practicing physician who was in New Orleans last weekend doing emergency medical work.

Plus, those working to help Katrina's most vulnerable victims; the children.

More survivors in Houston desperately seeking missed loved ones.

And, a special performance by New Orleans musical legend Aaron Neville, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Senator Frist, as the Senate majority leader, how much responsibility do you think, Senator Frist, the government, the federal government takes in this?

SEN. BILL FRIST (R), TENNESSEE: Well, Larry, a lot and there's a lot of good things that have been done but I think our responsibility right now is to make sure that we at the federal level keep focusing on the victims, the displaced persons to make sure that we get the funding there aggressively to support them. And, the systems failure was vertically carried out and therefore it happened at the federal level and the state level and at the local level.

And, while I spent last Saturday and Sunday down at New Orleans Airport, saw it at the local level, there's a lot of good that's happening but it's our responsibility especially in the federal government today in the United States Senate to figure out what went wrong and also what went right and we're going to do just that.

KING: Was there, as some critics have said, too much emphasis on terror and not enough emphasis on natural?

FRIST: Well, we'll see. We'll see. I don't think so. I think the real problems were basic communication problems that were difficult at least at the local level when I was there in that airport was a command and control structure that was very confusing plus facing a catastrophe that we've never seen in the history of this country in terms of the devastation and the impact with one event followed by another event followed by another event.

KING: Senator Frist, two Republican Senators want the president to appoint a hurricane relief czar. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania pressed the issue earlier today. Do you think we need a new person in charge of this?

FRIST: Well, the proposals I think or at least that I heard both from them today and from Pete Domenici and so many others is to have an outside person, a person outside of government, outside of the Senate, outside of the federal government who participates in the long term planning and the recovery but even more importantly in the reconstruction, a commission sort of like what the Hoover Commission was back 80, 90, 100 years ago. That's one element.

Right now the command the control is under Secretary Chertoff. He's doing a very, very good job right now. Early on it was unclear who was really calling the shots. So, I think we're making real progress there.

Ultimately, we won't know the final structure for recovery and reconstruction for a couple of weeks. Right now the focus is on Secretary Chertoff and Mr. Brown at FEMA and right now things are going much, much, much better than they were eight or nine days ago.

KING: Jeff Koinange is our African correspondent but he is in the states, of course. He's in New Orleans. Jeff, from the ground what do you see went wrong?

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICAN CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you what, Larry, a lot went wrong. A, the response of the emergency services were too late to respond to this situation. When people were out there at the convention center, especially a week ago, when they were screaming and yelling out for help, help did not come in time.

By the time we got there and that was about Thursday, help still wasn't there. Help was slowly coming there. Today, I realize why people don't want to leave, Larry, twofold. One, a lot of these people have pets. They don't want to leave their pets and they don't realize wherever they go will they be allowed to take their pets with them?

Number two, a lot of the folks living in the very rich neighborhoods with multimillion dollar homes will they be able to leave their homes and feel free -- Larry?

KING: Also, Jeff, I'm told, in fact a restaurateur today told me that the French Quarter is really in pretty good shape, is that true?

KOINANGE: Absolutely. Most of the French Quarter was unharmed by Hurricane Katrina. A couple of houses have been downed by trees. For the most part it is untouched. A lot of the bars, restaurants and clubs still intact but, again, there's no water, no electricity, no sanitation, a lot of people still living out in their homes not wanting to leave -- Larry.

KING: Senator Frist, is this the number one priority in government today?

FRIST: You know it is Larry. This is the largest natural disaster that this country has ever seen in terms of the destruction that has been caused. It's also an evolving disaster as we saw it play out with the initial insult, the hurricane itself, followed by the breaking of the levees, followed by the flooding.

Then followed by the current challenge and that is hundreds of thousands of individuals and families who have settled around the country and now 150,000 people in evacuation centers in 14 states introducing a new set of problems, a huge challenge, the largest that we've ever seen, one that continues to move in waves.

Right now I am so much more comfortable in terms of the control, the direction. If you look at the component that I've been most involved with, the health component, I'm very pleased with the fact that there are 1,000 uniformed commissioned public health corps out right now in along the gulf and around the country, the fact that we've been able to send over 100 tons of medical supplies, so I'm pretty comfortable from that public health component today.

KING: Anderson Cooper has been there from the get-go in New Orleans. What do you see as -- what was the number one problem here in response?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I don't think we know the answer to that question yet. There have been a number of problems, Larry. I can tell you I just was at the convention center today with a doctor who was there from the beginning. This doctor he's a pathologist. He just went there on his own. There was no federal support there.

He went there with a New Orleans police officer for his own protection. He looted a pharmacy. I mean that's what it got down to. This doctor had to loot a pharmacy with New Orleans Police, load up garbage bags of pharmaceuticals and go to this convention center.

They were told to go to the convention center. There were 15,000 people. There were children there who were dying because they were dehydrated and couldn't get an IV bag. There were old people taken from nursing homes and their home care, deposited there and left there in their adult diapers, left to sit there for days and days and days.

And this doctor had 15,000 patients begging him for help and he had a stethoscope, Larry, to treat them. That's all he had for many of those days. I mean what he calls it, he called it today a national disgrace.

KING: Senator, you're a doctor, what's your reaction to that?

FRIST: Well, Larry, I can only comment on Saturday. I got down early Saturday morning and I went directly to the New Orleans airport and I described it then real chaos, organized chaos. From a medical standpoint most of the medical personnel there were volunteers. There were a set of people from what's called DMAT, the Disaster Medical Assistance Team, who did a tremendous job, who come from around the country, a DMAT team from Pennsylvania doing triage, a DMAT team from Florida doing a moderately intensive care work.

But still there were thousands of people coming through the door that day and about one out of every four of those people who were being unloaded off helicopters, just helicopter after helicopter after helicopter, one out of the four of them had some sort of special medical or health need and they'd go through one door. The other three would go through another door to be evacuated.

Well, just for that health door thousands, I think about 3,000 people in one day, went through so the system was overwhelmed and that day the real problem was communication where one team, volunteer team for the most part that had been set up could not communicate with the team 50 yards away, much less in another part of that terminal.

In spite of that, because of volunteers out of Texas and volunteers out of Pikeville, Kentucky who just came own on their own, people got together. They got organized. They captured that ingenuity that the health professionals oftentimes do manifest and delivered care.

Now, I mention that because on Sunday within 24 hours when there was much better security, much better organization that whole airport was working very smoothly, had been cleaned up and people had been moved on. So, we went from real chaos to organized chaos to a pretty efficient system to a self-imposed triage system.

KING: We'll be right back with more.

A program note, one week from tonight from New York for the complete hour former President Bill Clinton one week from tonight; we'll be right back.


KING: Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, will remain with us for the entire hour.

Joining us tonight again for this segment, he was with us last night and we hope to have him on a lot in the days ahead, Chief Eddie Compass, the superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department. He worked the day shift today. Did anything go better today, chief?

CHIEF EDDIE COMPASS, NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: I'll tell you, Larry, we made great progress. We're getting our communication systems up and running. We have our quartermaster systems in place. As the land is drying out we're deploying personnel to do the actual sweeps.

We still have the search and rescue in place. The vice president of the United States came and visited. The governor came and visited. We had an eventful day today.

KING: What, chief, would you say is the number one problem you still face?

COMPASS: My number one problem is a place to house my personnel on a permanent basis. You know, I have 1,700 police officers. I have about 1,200 here and, you know, we really are fragmented or at least our locations. Once we get one central place where I can house them all, we'll get a certain sense of continuity back in place.

You know, we've gotten the city under control or at least the crime. For the first time since I've been superintendent or since I've been on the police department almost 27 years, we never had one crime last night. I couldn't believe it. We had ten calls for service. All of them were for people asking to be evacuated.

Now, our number one priority is to evacuate people but my number one problem that I'm having as the superintendent of police is taking care of my officers and making sure they have somewhere to stay and some semblance of a normal life.

KING: Senator Frist, you are also a doctor, as Chief Compass knows, do the police face any heath problems?

FRIST: You know, Larry, we focus a lot on clean water. We may get back to that because that is so fundamental because it would most likely be the ideology of a lot of the diarrheal diseases, a lot of the infections that people might get.

But, we also have to be very concerned about the rescue and law enforcement, whether it's volunteers or professionals because they're the ones going in doing search and rescue, going into buildings. They have to be very protective of themselves.

If they're close to water have to wear protective gloves, protective boots, protective eye goggles because they become the ones that are most at risk because they're out there each and every day.

There's also this whole other element of people who are either staying in the area and they don't have electricity and they start relying on generators or using gas stoves or gas furnaces.

Typically after about a week after such a catastrophe like this or a disaster like this people begin to be subjected to carbon monoxide and carbon monoxide poisoning.

So, we enter this whole second phase both of people still engaged in law enforcement, search and rescue that are taking appropriate precautions and then when people go back in they subject themselves to potential injuries if they go back in, say down in Mississippi where they're going back to view their homes and begin that cleanup process.

KING: Joe Kennedy is still trying to locate his daughters. He's at the Houston Astrodome. He was with us on Monday night. We have helped a lot of people get together. An extraordinary amount of people have been helped through appearing on this show. He's trying to find his daughters. They are Jodi (ph) and Dana Kennedy. After doing this show you had to be -- you became ill Joe?


KING: Did you become ill the other night?

KENNEDY: Yes, sir.

KING: What happened?

KENNEDY: I became ill and well my stomach was bothering me. I had fell in the water and I probably drank a lot of it. I fell over a brick or something and in the process of me trying to get to somewhere where I could be rescued and I became very ill. My stomach was really irritated. My blood pressure went up. It elevated real high.

But thanks to the people in Houston they got me to where I needed to be and I'm feeling great today. They took real good care of me. They've treated me with the utmost respect, love the doctors and the nurses. They really showed a lot of care, a lot of patience with me and with a lot of other patients, so I owe them a whole lot and I thank them.

KING: Your daughters' names are Jodi and Dana. You're now going to head to Baton Rouge, Jodi and Dana right?

KENNEDY: Yes, you know, all I can do right now, I haven't heard anything from them and my sister, her name is Cheryl Banks Deal (ph). I haven't heard from any of them but if anybody knows where they are please let me contact me. I have a number here. I'm going to be leaving for Baton Rouge probably tomorrow to be with the rest of my family that I've located through this network.

And I just want somebody, you know, if you know anything about them, know where they are let them know that I'm looking for them. I love them and I miss them and I need to know that they're all right.

KING: All right, here's the number. It's 225, area code 225- 354-0782, 225-354-0782.

KENNEDY: Yes, sir.

KING: Good luck, Joe.

KENNEDY: Yes, sir, all right.

KING: We'll be right back.


KING: By the way, while Joey Kennedy is still in Houston his number there is 713-797-2653. He'll be at the other number tomorrow. You wanted to thank someone Joe?

KENNEDY: Yes, sir. I want to thank a lady, Miss Stephanie, Miss Susan, Miss Natalie and I also want to thank the city of Houston for being so kind and so generous with us. We love them and whatever I can do to help Houston at any time they can count on me. God bless everybody in Houston.

KING: God bless you Joey.

KENNEDY: Thank you, Larry. Thank you.

KING: Chief Compass, how well is the evacuation going?

COMPASS: Well, it's going extremely well. We're still moving voluntary evacuees. We still have thousands of people who want to get out that can't so what we're doing now we're concentrating our efforts on getting everybody out that wants to get out.

Then we'll get to the point where we're pretty sure that we've gotten everybody out that wants to get out then we're going to concentrate our efforts on the actual mandatory evacuation or forced evacuation but we're going to do it in a way that's going to be very sensitive.

We're going to have people, (INAUDIBLE) is going to talk to individuals, explain to them that because the water is so toxic and the danger and the hazard that it poses that they can't stay and not only that the chemicals that they're going to have to use to clean this is going to also be toxic, so if anyone would stay it would be tantamount to really suicide.

KING: Chief, you're doing a great job. We'll check with you during the day tomorrow and pick an appropriate time so we can give you a lot more time.

COMPASS: Well, I appreciate that Larry.

KING: You're a great public servant for a long time in New Orleans and we appreciate what you're doing.

COMPASS: I tell you, you know, God has blessed me and I just want to tell my wife Arlene (ph) I love her. She's eight months pregnant. I have a 3-year-old, Lorette (ph) I love her and I have a 24-year-old daughter Tiffany I love her, Candace (ph) is 18, I love her and little Eddie is 21. I love you too.

So, first time I got a chance to tell my family I love them and my sisters Stacy (ph) and Tracy (ph) and my 95-year-old aunt (INAUDIBLE) so I got my whole family, Larry and I'm just letting them know that I'm still standing. I'm still strong.

KING: We've gotten to love you, chief.

Let's go to New Orleans, another place in New Orleans and Dr. Dan Diamond. Dr. Diamond is a medical volunteer, part of the Northwest Medical Teams working in New Orleans since early Monday helping operate a triage medical area at the convention center. What does that mean a triage medical area?

DR. DAN DIAMOND, M.D., NORTHWEST MEDICAL TEAMS: The way that works is we are taking all the folks that are being evacuated in the city of New Orleans now. They come through our main area and we decide which patients need to be seen. Some of these people are still healthy.

The sick ones come to us and then we stratify that on their level of illness and we have different zones in our area. We treat them according to the red, yellow or green. It's a traditional mass casualty game plan that we're using to treat these folks.

KING: Some people call it triage. I always say triage. What's the number one problem you see there? And then I want to get Senator Frist who is also a doctor in on this comparing notes. What's your number one problem medically Dr. Diamond?

DIAMOND: I would say that the most difficulty thing that we have is these are the destitute poor folks that are coming out. They don't have their medications and their diseases that they had existing before the hurricane are worse now, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease.

It's been really difficult. I talked to one gentleman today that his medications got wet and his solution was to take the pills out and individually place them on his bed and wait for them to dry so he could continue to take them. It's been a really tough time on the poor folks here.

KING: Senator Frist, what do you make of people like Dr. Diamond and what they're doing?

FRIST: Well, you know, that's the untold story are how many heroes are in New Orleans but really along that whole Gulf Coast. On Saturday in New Orleans Airport and then Sunday in the airport and in the convention center where I was, probably one out of every other health personnel that I saw had volunteered and come in from the outside. They heard about this. They'd come running in and they set up their own triage units just like that.

I said early on that the biggest problem was the lack of command and control structure, the lack of communication, yet in spite of that, doctors, a doctor from Pikeville, Kentucky, might meet a doctor from Massachusetts, meeting a doctor from Arkansas they'd get together and take a part of that airport and make their own little triage unit and they'd bring patients in.

They'd line up those stretchers. They would test for that high blood glucose. They'd give that insulin if they needed to. And that's exactly what Dr. Diamond and others are doing today albeit in a little bit more organized environment but still a huge challenge.

Early on we saw the same problems that Dr. Diamond is seeing and that is that people left and fled and were evacuated without their medicines, so if they were on a hypertensive medicine, hypertension is a silent killer. They may not feel it so it's going to take somebody like Dr. Diamond to put that stethoscope around their arm to test for that blood pressure, treat it accordingly.

Diabetes, if you're without your insulin for a day or two days and very few people evacuated with their medicines, they simply weren't able to, somebody like Dr. Diamond can make that diagnosis, treat and triage accordingly.

KING: Doctor, what about people who were sick already?

DIAMOND: I'm sorry, could you repeat that?

KING: Yes, what about people who were already sick, illnesses, people in hospitals, people with conditions?

DIAMOND: We had a gentleman that came through that had an abdominal aneurysm so he's got an enlarged blood vessel in his belly and he was supposed to follow up with his doctor to be evaluated for possible surgery and the hurricane hit, so he wasn't able to do that. And, he came to our area and was having worsening abdominal pain, so we had to airlift him out.

We've had a very good working relationship with the 82nd Airborne, with the 72nd National Guard from Nevada, with the local EMS staff. It's been really a joint effort to take care of people like that, get them stabilized quickly and get them transported out to get the help that they need. It's been a very solid team effort and things are actually going very well.

KING: Let's go to the Houston Astrodome. Debra Brown is there trying to locate her 73-year-old father. She was reunited with her children yesterday. When was the last time you saw your father, Debra?

DEBRA BROWN, EVACUEE IN HOUSTON LOOKING FOR HER FATHER: I haven't heard from him since the storm, since before the storm.

KING: He is in New Orleans?

BROWN: Yes. He lives on South Derbany (ph) and Washington.

KING: Why didn't he...

BROWN: He thought the water was going to go down. When the helicopters came he wouldn't go with the rescue people, so I don't know if he's in there alive or what. I just need to know what has happened to him.

KING: You did get reunited with your children though right?

BROWN: Yes, last night. We were reunited last night. I'm nervous but yes.

KING: Don't be nervous Debra.

BROWN: They came on bus last night. OK.

KING: We've helped a lot of people. Now we're going to try to help you. Your father's name is what, Louis right?

BROWN: Louis Brown, yes, Louis Brown and he has a partner named Wanda Allen (ph) that was with him at the time. KING: OK, if you know anything about Louis Brown, Wanda Allen, contact Debra. We got two numbers for you, 713-635-0932, 713-635-0932 or 504-635-0932, 504-635-0932.

Aaron Neville will wind things up for us later tonight. We'll be back with more right after this.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the police and law enforcement and the fire and first responders, fire officials have done just a phenomenal job.



KING: We've been with you since all of this started every night. And we'll be with you this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Monday and Tuesday we'll be off. Monday night, Dr. Phil will host. Tuesday night Bob Costas will host. Then we'll be back Wednesday from New York. And Thursday in New York, former president Bill Clinton will be the special guest.

Before we get back with Senator Frist, let's go to Gary Tuchman in New Orleans. Gary, CNN has obtained what they tell me, I haven't seen them, horrifying images that confirm some of the appalling tales about what happened inside the convention center. We're going to show these. What can you tell us?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Larry, they truly are horrifying. We've all heard about how bad the situation was in that makeshift shelter, the New Orleans Convention Center. A source who doesn't want to be identified, but who was inside the convention center took pictures and gave them to us because he was so horrified by the situation. And what it shows are four people who died who were mutilated.

We don't know how these people died. We do know these people were savagely, physically assaulted. We can't even show you one of the pictures because it's so gruesome to look at.

But three men, one woman found dead inside the convention center. And they were mutilated. It makes you certainly wonder even more what was going on with the security situation.

We can tell you these pictures were taken at the beginning of this week. And all of the displaced people had left by Monday.

KING: What on earth do you make of it?

TUCHMAN: It's hard to tell what to make of it except extreme disgust. When we put together stories like this, when we decide whether to air pictures like this, we have to think really hard about it, because it is so grotesque. And we give the viewers a warning. But we felt it was very important to air it, because it shows more of the huge mistakes that were made in providing the security to people who so much need that security.

KING: I agree.

Before we talk with Perry Hancock and Kerry Cockrell, how do you respond to that, Senator Frist?

FRIST: You know, Larry, there's no way to absolutely -- I don't know the facts of those four terrible, tragic events. There is no question in those early days, and even on Saturday when I was there when it was very chaotic, there was inadequate security. And we're going to -- something went wrong, we're going to get to the bottom of it. That's why we have a bipartisan, bicameral Senate committee to investigate that. And we will do just that to get at the body of it -- the bottom of it.

I will say that while I was there, one of the doctors told me that one of his nurses had been stabbed. And when he, because he had no communications, had to run about, oh, 20 yards to see a security guard because there were so few security guards there, again, not pointing any fingers, the security guard said I can't leave my post. The doctor said, but I've just had a nurse stabbed and I need help. And the security guard probably appropriately said he couldn't leave because he was protecting some other people.

But we're going to get at the bottom of it, and it's important for us to do, and that's why we will aggressively, aggressively investigate this at the level of the United States Senate.

KING: We have just learned that President Bush has signed the $52 billion hurricane package. That's $52 billion additional to what's already been appropriated just signed by the president.

In Monroe, Louisiana is Perry Hancock, executive director of Louisiana Baptist Children's Home. They've been accepting children who have been displaced.

And in Austin, Texas is Kerry Cockrell, commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Do we have any idea, Kerry, how many children -- I guess children would be classified under 12 -- have been affected by this?

KERRY COCKRELL, TEXAS DEPT. OF FAMILY & PROT. SERVICES: Been affected by the hurricane?

KING: Yes. Displaced.

COCKRELL: Well, we have over 250,000 people right now in shelters in Texas. And we're working very diligently with local officials. Our department has a presence in those shelters. Our primary purpose is to respond to whatever need we can while we're there and also to facilitate the reunification of parents who have been displaced -- or children who have been displaced from their parents.

So far across the state with our presence in those shelters we've identified about 140 children who were separated from their parents or family members. Today we have -- or to this day we have been able to reunite about 60 of them. And we're working very diligently on the others.

KING: How, Perry, do you explain this to children?

PERRY HANCOCK, EXEC. DIR. LA BAPTIST CHILDREN'S HOME: It's very difficult, Larry. We see the stress they're facing, some separation anxiety. We have a wonderful staff, though, of child care professionals who are helping us day by day, each child on a one-to- one basis trying to help them face the tragedy of their lives.

Surprising to me, though, the children are doing very well. They're very resilient. I think they're going to survive the separation from their families. And I think in the days ahead they're going to thrive.

KING Carey, for those trying to locate a child or relative missing, what's the best thing to do?

COCKRELL: Well, as you have so adequately pointed out, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is sort of the clearinghouse. When we come in contact with individual cases, we're talking to them, we're facilitating taking pictures of parents, taking pictures of children, putting it on this network.

We're working with the authorities in Louisiana. We're in hourly contact with them sharing information back and forth and talking with our staff in the shelters. But mainly, we're working through the state of Louisiana in the network.

KING: Perry, I understand that non-hurricane-affected kids in your home have been putting together care kits for Katrina evacuees? Children helping other children, true?

HANCOCK: Yes. The children spent the weekend with my wife. They prepared about 270 packets. We've distributed them to other children. So we have children helping children. And some of our children have offered their allowances to help with the effort. So we're very proud of our children.

KING: Thank you, guys.

Webster Feliciano. Remember him last night? Feliciano, missing his wife and family. We did a whole plea for him. Found them today. We'll be right back.


KING: Joining us at the Astrodome is Selene Deboue, trying to find her common-law husband and her son. Her common-law husband is Lawrence Dublay (ph), who is 65 years old. Her son is Daryl (ph) Deboue. She last saw them at the Superdome in New Orleans. She's currently staying at the Reliant Center in Houston.

Selene, why did you leave the Superdome and they didn't?

SELENE DEBOUE, LOOKING FOR COMMON-LAW HUSBAND, SON: Because that place, they said women and children first. And then after I got up to the gate, the crowd was so huge, it was like a mile away, and they couldn't get up to me, because it was like salmon, smashed together. So they said we would all end up at the same place.

So I got on the bus. Now, I'm here all by myself, and I'm afraid. I don't know how to get in touch with nobody, and I just miss my -- I just love my family. I miss them. So if y'all are looking, please get on the Internet so that I can contact each one of y'all, so we can get together and reunite. Please.

KING: Well, you must assume they're probably all right if they were in the Superdome.

DEBOUE: Yes. But they went to all different places. And then I heard a bus crash. Somebody dead, a lot of people hurt. So I don't know what's going on.

I have two sons. I have -- I got in contact with one. But I left all of them together, my two sons and my common-law husband.

KING: How do they contact you, Selene?


KING: How do they contact you?

DEBOUE: Through the Internet. Over here at the Reliant Center through the Internet.

KING: All right. Good luck, Selene. We found a lot of people in this past eight days. And the best of luck with those, too, as well. And we'll let you know when it happens. I'm positive things are going to work out for you. Thank you, Selene.

DEBOUE: Thank you.

KING: John Spain is in Baton Rouge. He's executive vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. And by the way, President Bush, if you missed it, has signed the hurricane aid bill, $51.8 billion bill, the hurricane aid bill. I'm going to ask Senator Frist about it in a little while. But President Bush has signed it, 51.8.

John Spain, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation is a non-profit community organization that does what, John?

JOHN SPAIN, EXEC. VP, BATON ROUGE FOUNDATION: We basically are people who do philanthropy in our community. We've been doing it for 41 years. We support about 300 non-profit organizations. We're the oldest and largest community foundation in the state, Larry. So when the hurricane hit, it became our mission to try to put together help for our neighbors in Louisiana. And as they came to Baton Rouge, every night, we started trying to identify those services that were not going to be provided for by other agencies or by the public -- by the government.

As you pointed out so well this week, Larry, unlike most hurricanes that we deal with, most people in Louisiana leave for a couple of days and go back. This one's going to be very, very different. And we think hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, many of them in our community. And we will have to provide services for them, not for days but for months and in some cases, for years.

So we've created two special funds to do that. People around the nation have been very generous in helping us do that. But we're going to provide psychiatric help for those children, for those parents who are here. We have 3,000 kids now who have been enrolled in our local school system. They came out of south Louisiana with nothing but the clothes on their back. They have no shoes. They have no books. Our funds will help provide some of those.

Our emphasis is going to be on health long term. It's going to be on helping these people find jobs. It's going to be on trying to provide educational opportunities for those that need it. We have a huge crisis in our community in south Louisiana, by all of the people who are here who don't have homes, who do not have financial resources. And so, the funds at will be used to do that.

And then we've created a second fund, Larry, that I'd like to tell you about. And that is when people go back to New Orleans, we understand they'll have other needs. They have no homes, they have no resources to go back to. So the second fund will be money we set aside to provide for those services. We're working closely with the New Orleans Foundation. And between the two of us, we'll have funds for the immediate needs today, and then we'll set aside funds for the future when they go back to New Orleans.

KING: And that contact is, right?

SPAIN: There are actually two addresses, Larry. That one will work. That's Or because of the volume, we've created a separate Web site, and it is

And if you don't mind me saying so, let me thank our fellow Americans for all the help they've given us so far. They've been very generous. And we can use it. These people are hurting. Thank you, Larry.

KING: Thank you, John. Baton Rouge really got racked up here as sort of a source center where people went. John Spain.

When we come back, we'll ask Senator Frist about dollars in this hurricane. And then Aaron Neville will perform for us. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know that old saying, come hell or high water? They came together. It's not hell or high water. It's hell with high water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everywhere you look, it's water, water, water. Some places, water up to your stomach, some places up over your head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've seen dead bodies floating in the water, laying on the side of the street. It was horrible.



KING: By the way, if you want to reach Selene at the Reliant Center, you can go to, and they'll direct you there, or you can call our 713-797-2651.

I'm going to spend a couple more moments with Senator Bill Frist, majority leader. We have a call for Senator Frist. Chicago, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: My question is for Senator Frist.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I'm wondering why he isn't advocating an independent investigation. I heard someone say, and I believe rightly, that Congress and the administration investigating itself is like a pitcher calling his own strikes and balls.

KING: Senator?

FRIST: Yeah, Larry, it is a good question. But I think it's important for us -- our job as elected representatives is to give oversight to the executive branch, to the administration, to the programs that we have out there. That is a primary responsibility that we have. And we will do that, and we will do it aggressively.

Our government right now, or the United States Senate, is focused on three things. One you mentioned, the bill that the president signed about 15 minutes ago we just passed in the United States Senate about two hours ago, $51.8 billion. We passed a bill last Thursday night for $10 billion. This $51.8 billion. We'll pass legislation to get that emergency relief to where it's needed as quickly as possible.

The second thing that we're doing is looking at that longer reconstruction. We've got a vision for the Gulf states that is optimistic, that will return it to a prosperous, even more prosperous than in the past, and we'll legislate accordingly.

And the third is what the viewer asked. And that is to investigate, to analyze, to figure out what did not go well because it did not go well really at any level. At the federal level, at the state level, at the local level or at the integration of those three. And that's where our focus will be. And we'll be doing that over the next two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, and six weeks.

KING: We have about two minutes. We're fighting a war in Iraq. We've reduced taxes. Where's the money going to come from for this?

FRIST: Well, right now we're going directly to the taxpayer. And right now the government has a very definite role. The non-profit sector. The generous NGOs have a role. Other countries are contributing. And right now we're all pulling together to focus on this disaster which has affected so many hundreds of thousands of people directly, and indirectly, millions of people.

Right now as we rebuild that area, we're going to focus on economic stimulus packages that capture the public sector, yes, but also partner with the private sector: the dynamism, the resources, the innovation, the creativity of the private sector. And that should be our goal, to marry the public and the private sector both in terms of resources and in the economic stimulus that can get these people back to their normal lives as soon as possible.

KING One more quick call. Arlington, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Mr. King.


CALLER: My one question is why haven't we accepted help from Cuba for doctors and medicine?

KING: Do you know why, Senator Frist?

FRIST: Well, right now there are 19,000 doctors and health personnel who have volunteered. Right now we have the largest deployment of the United States Public Health Service, including the commissioned corps, in the history of this country. From a manpower standpoint, everything is under control.

Early on the problem was not the volunteers, it was the distribution. We had flooding. We had no communications. Command and control was inadequate, imperfect. We're going to go back and look and see why that is the case. Right now there are adequate number of health personnel on the ground, volunteers and professionals.

KING: So in other words, you appreciate Cuba's offer, you don't need them?

FRIST: That is correct. And there is on the CDC and the secretary of Health and Human Services Web site, there is a place that volunteers can sign up from a medical, health standpoint. And if they're need they will be contacted.

KING: Thank you, Senator Frist. As always, we'll be calling on lots -- calling on you often. Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader.

And we thank all of our guests. Very special musical close to LARRY KING LIVE is coming next. The brilliantly entertaining Aaron Neville will join us. Don't go away.


KING: By the way, one of the organizations that Baton Rouge was printed incorrectly on our slate. It's -- .org. I'm sorry.

With me is Aaron Neville, a member of one of New Orleans' most famous musical families, the Neville Brothers. He's going to sing for us. Quick talk, though. What's been the effect on the family?

AARON NEVILLE, SINGER: Well, right now we're kind of separated. Right now we're kind of separated. But we're keeping in touch, and everybody's safe so far.

KING: Nobody missing?

NEVILLE: Not that I know of. You know, it's like we're still trying to -- we've got extended -- we've got a long family. So it's going to be hard to...

KING: Are you planning to go back?

NEVILLE: You know, one day maybe. But it's going to be a while because it's going to take them a long time to clean up.

KING: You're working for the Red Cross now?

NEVILLE: Yes. We're doing -- my Christmas album is coming out. And I'm donating some of the money from the Christmas album to the Red Cross.

KING: Do you know about your property there?

NEVILLE: I know it's underwater.

KING: You know it's underwater?

NEVILLE: Oh, yes.

KING: Boy. It's such a great area of the country, too. You grew up in a great spot.

NEVILLE: Oh, yes.

KING: There's no place like New Orleans.

NEVILLE: I know.

KING: No place like it. Thank you, Aaron.

NEVILLE: Thank you. KING: We're going to close it with Aaron Neville. And he's going to sing an appropriate song from Randy Newman's, "Louisiana 1927." The song is about the great Mississippi flood of 1927. Here is Aaron Neville.



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