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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Hurricane Katrina: The Aftermath
Aired September 9, 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 (voice-over): Tonight, authorities try to get the last holdouts to leave New Orleans so they can focus on finding human remains some of which have blocked pumps getting that toxic floodwater out of New Orleans. We'll get the latest on the potential disease threat with Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director of the Federal Centers for Disease Control.
Plus, embattled FEMA Director Mike Brown taken off the relief job.
And, life among Katrina's most helpless victims the children with Carl Triplehorn of Save the Children now in the disaster zone after working in Indonesia following the tsunami.
All that plus evacuees in Houston desperately seeking loved ones all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: One thing at the request of CNN late today, a federal judge in Texas has blocked emergency officials in New Orleans from preventing all the media from covering the recovery of bodies in the city, which attorneys for the network argued were being unconstitutional prior restraint on news gathering.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison issued a temporary restraining order against a zero access policy. In a note to CNN staffers today, and I just spoke with them before we went on the air, CNN newsgroup President Jim Walton said "The network has shown that it's capable of balancing vigorous reporting with respect for private concerns. Government officials cannot be allowed to hinder the free flow of information to the public and CNN will not let such a decision stand without a challenge."
There will be a special hearing tomorrow morning. They have obtained the restraining order. That holds true for now so CNN wins the first round on behalf of all the media. The district court and Keith Allison hold the full hearing scheduled Saturday morning to determine if the order should be made permanent.
Let's start in Atlanta with Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has been to the hurricane zone and will return in the future. We understand the Air Force is going to start spraying to kill off disease spreading insects. Do you know when? JULIE GERBERDING, M.D., DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: Well, those plans are in the works right now and I wouldn't be surprised if we would see spraying as early as tomorrow. We know that there could be a problem with mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus in the region with all the standing water, so probably the sooner the better.
KING: What does that do the spraying?
GERBERDING: Well, the spraying kills the adult mosquitoes. It's a very important component of vector control this time of year. We do this routinely during West Nile season all over the country, so it's not anything out of the ordinary. It's just that in this context we've got a lot more acres of water to contend with and a lot more opportunities for those mosquitoes to breed.
KING: Doctor, how big a problem will post disease cause?
GERBERDING: Well, I think what we're concerned about right now are the infections that could be transmitted in the shelters and these are very common things that anybody in a crowded circumstance could get.
One of the points we'd like to make is to reassure the communities who are accepting shelter survivors that this is not an exotic source of contagion. These are people like us who just happen to pick up some common ordinary things and are not anybody who needs to be shunned or avoided in the community.
KING: So, in other words if someone leaves New Orleans and comes to your home in Colorado you don't have to worry about catching something?
GERBERDING: I think we should open our hearts and our homes and do everything we can to help people. It's not an issue of infection.
KING: On the phone is Dr. Joe Guarisco. Dr. Guarisco is chairman of emergency medicine at Ochsner Clinic. The clinic's emergency room with the doctor and a small staff on duty was in the eye of the storm. What was that like doctor?
JOE GUARISCO, M.D., CHMN. EMERGENCY MEDICINE, OCHSNER CLINIC (by telephone): Well, it was somewhat frightening. We were there down to one generator at one time so we had no air-conditioning. It was fairly hot. We had emergency power only without very much communication to the outside, so it was a very isolating atmosphere.
KING: What's the situation-- Ochsner is very big isn't it?
GUARISCO: It's extremely big. We have over 14 clinics in the community, 500 physicians on staff. It's one of the largest teaching facilities in the south. So, it's a very big facility and we have -- the storm brought us to our knees but we have fully recovered. We have operating rooms going. We have a full ED. We have all our clinics getting ready to get up and running, so we have made a full recovery. KING: The people you're operating on though where did you get them from? Hasn't everybody gone?
GUARISCO: Not really. There's still a number of residents who are still in both Jefferson and Arlene Parishes and so we still have a few patients in those areas and we're also getting a number of patients from the rescue efforts. The rescue efforts -- the rescuers are also suffering some injury from falls and we're seeing some of that.
KING: Did you lose any of your personnel?
GUARISCO: No, we didn't lose any. We had essential personnel come in before the storm on Saturday and we stayed there for the entire week and we now have replaced that initial group of individuals with a team B, and so we are fully up and running with our replacement team.
KING: Everyone knows the organization Save the Children. Joining us from Baton Rouge is Carl Triplehorn of Save the Children. He's an emergency education specialist. His extensive field work experience, by the way, includes stints in post-tsunami Indonesia, Kosovo, Somalia, the Sudan, and Kenya. What is Save the Children -- what do you do as an emergency education specialist in this situation?
CARL TRIPLEHORN, SAVE THE CHILDREN: I just spent the day going around the different shelters distributing children's material so they can start restoring normalcy to their lives everything from jump ropes for girls to coloring books to footballs and then my biggest concern is looking at the opening of schools on Monday and preparing children for that.
KING: What schools will be opening?
TRIPLEHORN: The schools in Baton Rouge will officially be opening on Monday. The schools have been open but it's just a concern as far as how children will be processed going into the schools and how much they -- whether they're ready to go back to the schools.
I talked to two children today in a center and they -- one had been to school. The other one hadn't. And the other child was like "I don't want to go to school. I like staying in the shelter. I'm free in the shelter."
KING: How many children from New Orleans have come to Baton Rouge?
TRIPLEHORN: Just like all the other population figures here it's everybody's guess because people are living in the shelters. They are living in the communities. It's difficult to know and I think once children start going into the schools we'll begin to get a glimmer of what the total population, total displaced population is as well as what the total number of affected children are.
KING: By the way all of our guests we've been talking to will be with us through the hour. Let's go to Anderson Cooper, our CNN anchor of "ANDERSON COOPER 360." He is in Baton Rouge. He's been carrying on nobly through all of this. How is the mandatory evacuation going?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, it seems to be going but we heard less, fewer helicopters in New Orleans, you know, in the skies conducting rescue missions, so that is probably a good sign that the numbers have dwindled. There are not as many people on their rooftops or waving to helicopters for help.
But, you know, it is going to be a slow process. At some point they're going to have to decide what to do with these people who absolutely are refusing to leave. A lot of them have pets. They don't want to leave their pets behind and there are conflicting reports can you bring you pets, can you not? It depends on what officials you talk to.
And, there are people who simply don't trust the local government anymore or the federal government or the state government for that matter that they're going to look out for their homes or look after their pets when they leave.
KING: Now are they going to drag them out? Are they going to force them to leave?
COOPER: Well, I mean they don't want to say that is what they will do but I mean at some point push is going to come to shove and someone is going to have to make a decision whether that will be the policy. They'll knock on the door and say, "Look, you got five minutes. Get a bag. Get your bags together. We're leaving."
So, you know, the police chief will tell you, we've talked to him, he'll say "Look, we're going to handle this delicately. We're going to explain the situation to people. We're going to talk to them." But people know the situation. They've been talked to already. At some point, someone is going to have to decide how tough they're going to get.
KING: Thanks, Anderson, we'll be checking back.
We're going to take a break now and come back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll also be including your phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: Dr. Gerberding, the Centers for Disease Control officials there usually see things from afar. There are desks in Atlanta. They go to rooms and they read reports. What was it like to be on the scene?
GERBERDING: Well, I'll tell you, I saw an awful lot of the CDC on the scene. We've deployed more than 200 people into these shelters and into the city of New Orleans, so in addition about 1,000 of our public health service workers from the whole Department of Health and Human Services. But getting to the front line I have to tell you it was really, first of all, humbling and in some cases heart wrenching to see the stories, the horror and extreme heroism that these people have experienced.
And, our job is to support the health and, of course, that's what we're focusing on but it's also clear that people really can survive. There is hope. I really feel a sense of optimism that order will be created out of this chaos and eventually people will find their way to a home and that's what we really have to concentrate on.
From my perspective getting them healthy and keeping them healthy so that they can get there safely but this is going to be a long journey and we are just at the very beginning of it.
KING: Carl Triplehorn of Save the Children, by the way Save the Children's website is www.savethechildren.org, the phone contact is 1- 800-728-3843, how do you compare this with what you've seen elsewhere?
TRIPLEHORN: Every emergency has its own special touch. This one it's very moving, especially after the tsunami to hear the same stories again. I talked to someone yesterday and they were recounting how they saw the floodwaters coming and they reminded me of some of the worst stories I heard out of the tsunami and that type of remembering for me is very, very difficult but I think it's very similar for all the emergencies.
KING: Do you have any estimate as to how many children have been separated from parents?
TRIPLEHORN: Again, as we talked about earlier, I don't think that there's any real idea yet how many children are separated. The one thing that is interesting is watching families being separated by these relocation programs.
And, I was living in one of the shelters and a family of 16 is being separated into about four different areas of the United States. They're doing it voluntarily but it still is watching a family of 16 being broken apart and I guess that's not a part that's really being covered as far as separation.
KING: Dr. Guarisco on the phone what's the number one medical problem in New Orleans today?
GUARISCO: Larry, I think the number one thing we saw from the beginning and we're continuing to see it now are elderly patients who have been isolated without food, water and without their medications with chronic medical conditions for over ten days now.
And so, throughout the storm and until this point today we're seeing these patients coming to us for assistance and medical help and that continues to be out biggest issue are elderly patients without resources of food, water and medication.
KING: Jeff Koinange of CNN, our CNN Africa Correspondent who is in New Orleans, you spoke with Army Lieutenant General Russell Honore (ph) earlier today. What did he have to say, Jeff?
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: Well basically, Larry, that this city -- well, they're not going to let, you know, they're not going to force people to leave this city, Larry, that's number one.
But what does that mean? It means there are still so many stragglers left in this city and they can't be forced. These are people who know their rights. They can't be forced to leave the city. They want to stay home because they have homes with lots of valuables.
And what does that mean? If they leave the city they may not come back for six, eight, ten months and they don't know whether the forces on the ground will be able to take care of their houses. That's very key.
Others, it's what Anderson mentioned, people very attached to their pets, if they leave their pets behind what's going to happen? If they take it with them, would they be allowed to? So, there's a dilemma facing these officials on the ground.
But, again, the bottom line, Larry, is fear of an outbreak of disease. The city is already stretched to the limits as we speak. They don't want to start a whole -- open a whole new can of worms -- Larry.
KING: What are they making, what are they saying, what are officials there saying about Michael Brown being sort of sent back to stay in Washington, the head of FEMA?
KOINANGE: It's a little early right now, Larry, but you can just imagine there's been finger pointing the last 12 days since Hurricane Katrina swept through town. I spoke to a senior official here on the ground. He says, "Don't be surprised if more heads roll."
KING: The president is coming when, Sunday right?
KOINANGE: That's correct, Larry.
KING: And he's going to stay overnight where in Alabama, do we know?
KOINANGE: Not sure yet, Larry, no, but it will be his third trip in what about a week's time, Larry, so I guess, you know, the response was very late in getting here but once it kicked in we've seen major changes going on in the city.
But, again, people will be looking at those first five days, the first five critical days. They should have had a response on the ground in the first 24/48 hours. It didn't happen. That's what people are going to be talking about when they debrief on this entire crisis -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Jeff.
Dr. Gerberding, does the Centers for Disease Control have any previous matters comparable to this that they can say we did that then, we'll do this now?
GERBERDING: Well, we were involved with the tsunami last year and I think there are some similarities between that experience and what we're seeing here. One of the examples is the aftermath, not just rebuilding a tremendous area of destruction but the relocation of so many people and the concern about infections in the early phases and then, of course, mental health issues as time wears on.
I think the whole Department of Health and Human Services is aware that we've got to deal with the medical care of people whose doctors and medical records are missing. We've got to deal with mental health for the immediate situation as well as for the long haul.
And then restoration of services, getting people reconnected with their benefits and all of the things that they're going to need to get their life back in order. This is a tremendous challenge.
GERBERDING: But I think we've seen this before and we will all pitch in and do the best we can to help.
KING: At the bottom of the hour we'll be taking calls.
In the next segment we're going to talk with two key Congressmen, one Democrat, one Republican, their thoughts and what might happen investigatorily (sic) with regard to this.
Don't go away.
KING: Joining us now from Baton Rouge, Louisiana is Congressman Bobby Jindal, Republican of Louisiana, a member of the Homeland Security Committee. He wrote "The Wall Street Journal" op-ed piece headlined "Deadly Bureaucracy in Katrina's Wake, Red Tape too Often Trumped Common Sense." And, in Jackson, Mississippi is Congressman Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee.
We'll start with Congressman Thompson. What do you make of Michael Brown, the FEMA director, being relieved of on site responsibilities? He says the media is making him a scapegoat.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), MISSISSIPPI: Well, I think you look at his performance in Katrina and he absolutely needed to go. It was a pitiful performance and it cost a lot of lives and we can do better.
KING: Congressman Jindal, do you think this is a removal? Is this a kick upstairs?
REP. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: Well, I certainly hope the situation on the ground improves. I really don't care who's in charge, whether it's the admiral or Michael Brown. What I care about is I want my sheriffs, my mayors, my local constituents to get the food, the water, the supplies they need.
So, if putting somebody from the military in charge cleans up the bureaucracy, streamlines the process, I'm all for it but this has always been bigger than one person. It's really been about the bureaucracy.
KING: And in your article you said the opportunistic politicians, I guess you meant of both parties, playing blame game while there is so much real work to do but is it blame or is it cause?
JINDAL: You know, I don't think this is the time to be pointing fingers. You heard from the state that the federal government didn't respond quickly enough. You hear from the federal government the state didn't ask early enough. I think there will be time to ask hard questions and I hope we do that so we're better prepared for the next disaster.
But, at this point, what I'm most interested in is making sure that people on the ground that need to be rescued are rescued, people in the shelters that need answers to their questions are getting those answers, they know how to pay their bills, where to send their kids to school, they know what they're going to do next.
Many of them don't know where their jobs are. Many of them don't know where their homes are. Many of them are wondering what's going to happen to them. I think that's what's important right now. Let Washington play all the partisan politics later.
KING: Congressman Thompson there has been some, mostly Democrats, proposing a Katrina czar, someone like Colin Powell, putting someone above politics in charge what do you think?
THOMPSON: Well, I think you have to have someone who has the confidence of the community. What we have with FEMA is a leadership problem. That leadership really came to a crashing halt during Katrina, Larry. What we have to do now is pick ourselves up, look at what went wrong, put a commission together, make sure that we have good people there so we can get the job done.
Bobby is right. We need to help the people but we still have problems right now. Many of the things he's talking about I have communities in my state who are yet to get the relief that they need, so we're still having problems while we're still trying to correct them. But in Washington we need to have the commission put together.
KING: And realistically speaking, Congressman Jindal, it's still hurricane season. You could get another one or two or three or four.
JINDAL: Absolutely. Unfortunately, tragically we know that America is likely to face another tragedy, whether it's manmade or natural or there's another hurricane or another terrorist attack.
I do want to say there is some good news. The first responders have been heroic. Our law enforcement and other healthcare officials have been working around the clock without any regard to their personal safety, their personal property. Also, the private sector has been incredibly generous. Churches, charities, individuals from across the country have flooded our state and really risen to this occasion.
We've seen both the worst and the best behavior but we should really also emphasize the best behavior. We're very grateful not only for the bravery of our first responders but also the generosity of the American people.
KING: Where's the money coming from, Congressman Thompson?
THOMPSON: Well, obviously we've put $60 billion into it now, Larry. We'll probably be around $200 billion at some point just trying to get Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama back whole.
We're committed in Washington to come up with whatever it takes to get the job done. The good people of those states had nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina. In the past we've come together as a country and we'll do it again in this situation.
KING: Congressman Jindal, should active duty troops be allowed to do civilian kind of work in tragedies?
JINDAL: You know, there was a big argument early on about the ability to get enough National Guardsmen on the ground or enough active duty troops. I'm certainly -- look, if our governor had asked the president for those active duty troops, I would have supported that.
And you remember early on there were acts, not widespread, but there were acts of violence that interfered with the rescue efforts. Fortunately, a large presence of Guard supported with a smaller number of active duty troops were able to restore security to the scene working with local law enforcement.
If it had been necessary to put in more active duty troops, if the governor had said this is what it's going to take to stop the shooting to allow rescuers to do their jobs, I certainly would have supported that and I wouldn't have questioned or criticized that call.
KING: Congressman Thompson, your governor says this is going to take for Mississippi, Haley Barbour says this is going to take a long, long, long time, you agree?
THOMPSON: I agree, Larry. We've had a big hit here in Mississippi. We had Camille in 1969 but we came back. We'll have to do the same thing again but we're a resilient state. We've had difficulties in the past. We'll pull together as a state and we'll make it.
KING: Congressman Jindal, will there be a New Orleans again?
JINDAL: Absolutely. We're going to rebuild and restore those things that people around the world love about New Orleans, our history, our culture, our architecture, our food. It's one of the most authentic cities, not only in America but in the world. It's also an opportunity to improve and I don't mean opportunity casually because this is a devastating tragedy. It's the first time America will be rebuilding a major American city in the history of our country.
We had some things that were broken before the hurricane, like our public school system. We didn't have the best healthcare outcomes. We had a crime problem. Our economy was growing but we had more needs. We had more needs for good paying jobs. Shame on us if we spend all this money and all this effort and simply rebuild things that didn't work.
Let's improve public housing. Let's improve our schools. Let's create tax incentives. Let's create better paying jobs for all those people who want to come back home to New Orleans. So, absolutely we'll rebuild the city, not only keeping what was great but fixing some of the things that weren't so great.
KING: Thank you Congressman Bobby Jindal, Republican of Louisiana, Congressman Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi.
When we come back we'll reintroduce our panel. We'll include your phone calls as well on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
And, at the top of the hour, America's kind of poet laureate Dr. Maya Angelo with some appropriate words.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J.T. ALPAUGH, HURRICANE REPORTER: Politics aside, bickering aside, pointing the finger and blame aside, this is what it's all about right here, the people's resolve and the American flag flying proudly over a destroyed city, a damaged city that vows to come back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Our panelists remain. We're also just informed that the Mormon Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is sending 3,500 volunteers to communities all along the Gulf Coast to aid in this crisis. Thirty-five hundred volunteers from the Mormon Church.
Joining our panel is Dr. Juliet Saussy, the EMS, Emergency Medical Services director for the city of New Orleans. That's the 911 system, right, doctor?
DR. JULIET SAUSSY, DIRECTOR, NEW ORLEANS EMS: Yes, sir. Larry, that's correct.
KING: Is that up and going if you dial 911 in New Orleans, do you get response teams? SAUSSY: Actually there's a number you can dial other than 911. It's a kind of a makeshift 911 system that's functioning very effectively at this hour. We've been able to put our EMS system back together with the help of some out-of-state mutual aid agencies, which we're very grateful for. But we've been answering upwards of 100 calls a days, and certainly participating in the search and rescue efforts that are ongoing in the city.
KING: What's the number other than 911?
SAUSSY: You can call 504-658-7633, and we actually are not currently running night operations, because of the concerns -- just the safety concerns for our officials, but -- for our workers, but during the day, you can all 658-7633. And we're answering your calls for help.
KING: That's area code 504. What are most of the calls about?
SAUSSY: You know, many of the calls are about people who have chosen to stay in their houses, and they're, you know, suffering from dehydration and exacerbation of their chronic medical conditions. People with diabetes who have gone untreated for several days, people with hypertension without their medicine. Many of the calls are simply just to be rescued.
KING: We'll come back to you. Gary Tuchman is on the scene in Baton Rouge. Gary Tuchman is our CNN national correspondent. Last night we talked about some photos, we showed them briefly, you have something to add tonight, Gary?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's just a lot of reaction here among people we've talked to here in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. Not everyone has TV or electricity, but people are hearing about it. What we did show the audience yesterday, Larry, were pictures of people who have been physically assaulted inside the Convention Center in New Orleans, apparently after they had died. We don't know how they died, but somebody physically assaulted these people. A source who was inside gave us the pictures. And it just shows us more of how terrible it was inside that Convention Center when it was being used as a shelter.
But this, Larry, this is a shelter in Baton Rouge, a lot different place. Not everyone is happy to be here as you might imagine, because they've lost their houses. But it's fairly well- organized, and people seem to be in fairly good spirits.
KING: Have they made any guesses today about those pictures, about what caused people to do something like that?
TUCHMAN: No. And I don't know if we'll ever know the answer. What kind of person or persons does something like that? I don't think we'll know. What we do know, Larry, is that if our source did not give us those pictures, we may never have known what happened to those people.
KING: Dr. Gerberding, Director for Center for Disease Control. Is there a problem just having all those people there together, like in Baton Rouge, or in Houston?
GERBERDING: You know, there are things that are easily spread when people are crowded. And those include the respiratory illnesses. We're coming into flu season, and so we're going to encourage vaccination of all people who are in shelters, just simply to take that problem off the table as best we can. There are also some clusters of diarrheal disease. that have broken out. A fairly significant cluster in Houston was brought under control very easily. We heard good news today that that problem is now limited.
But from time to time we expect we will see these outbreaks of common infectious diseases. And that's why the CDC teams are there working side by side with local health officials to, first of all, detect these things when they happen. And then to take the steps necessary to prevent them from growing into something more serious.
KING: Let's take a call. Nashville, Tennessee, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I would like to ask a question.
CALLER: I want to know, does the government have any long-term plans in effect -- are working on any long-term plans to help the surviving people of the hurricane, the people.
KING: Gary, do you know?
TUCHMAN: Well, one of the plans they did have was to give everyone at the Astrodome a debit card with a $2,000 credit. However, that plan has been scrapped right now, it wasn't considered workable, but there are other aid plans being worked on, as we speak, they say.
KING: Are you confident of them, Gary?
TUCHMAN: Don't know for sure. You know, there's a lot of people here who believe that a lot more will have to be done to help so many victims. I mean, you're talking about, Larry, right now, more than 250 thousand people, a quarter million people, who remain in shelters in 17 states and the District of Columbia. We've never had anything of this scope before. We have a huge New Orleans diaspora around the United States. A city of 480 thousand people now has just a few thousand left inside. And they've gone all over the United States and in some cases out of the country.
KING: A program reminder. Monday night Dr. Phil will host and Bob Costas is on Tuesday. Next Thursday night, former president Bill Clinton will be our special guest for the full hour. Bill Clinton next Thursday. And Wednesday night, the mayor of New Orleans will join us. Clinton Township, Michigan, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Yes. I've been wondering how all of the relief workers are being housed and fed.
KING: Good question. How are they? Do you know? Joe Guarisco? GUARISCO: I think they're being housed throughout the city. There are some hotel rooms, there are quarters in various parts of the city. So it's not one single source of housing, but they seem to be finding a place to sleep.
KING: Gary, where do you stay?
TUCHMAN: Well we stay in the same kind of accommodations that a lot of the workers stay. We've been saying in trailers, in RVs, and we've actually been pitching tents also, and staying in tents in a parking lot. And you're right, the relief workers are staying in some hotels, but they're also some of them staying in tents and trailers like members of the news media, us.
KING: Dr. Saussy, did you lose any property where you live?
SAUSSY: Yes, sir, I lost both my houses. So we'll -- after we get through this search and rescue and recoveries, we'll begin to -- I think the public safety officials that remain in the city, you know, once we get through this, then we'll be able to focus on our own losses and move on from there. Most of the folks in my division did lose almost everything they had.
KING: So where do you stay?
SAUSSY: I actually sleep on the floor of a nursing home that the fire department and the New Orleans EMS appropriated in our search for a roof over our heads midweek last week, or actually maybe it was over the weekend. I've lost track of time, Larry, but we're staying on the floor of a nursing home.
KING: Unbelievable. By the way, we will be with you live tomorrow night and Sunday night with live editions of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When the hurricanes came ashore, 911 dispatchers in Biloxi, Mississippi, had been moved to the city's storm proof operations center. They were ready for a long night, but had no idea what they were about to go through.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The calls kept getting worse and they kept getting more serious, with people actually starting to die and starting to drown in their own homes.
911 OPERATOR: Your house is under water.
911 OPERATOR: Just get to the safest part of the house, sir.
911 OPERATOR: Are you only 12? Where's your parents?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Knowing that you're the last person they talked to and -- sorry -- and I hope their families understand that we tried.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. Louisiana rescue workers have found an elderly woman -- there you see her picture. They're calling her Jane Doe, and they're hoping someone out there knows who she is. We'll keep it on the screen. Take a look at this picture. She's somewhat unresponsive, not able to communicate well, so she can't give us much information. Doctors have no idea whether she needs any type of medication or treatment. She appears to be between 75 and 85. When they found her, she had well manicured nails with red nail polish. She has a scar on her left hip, perhaps from hip replacement surgery. Blue eyes, no upper teeth, a few bottom teeth. She was reportedly found on a causeway near the city of New Orleans.
If you know this woman's name or anything about her, please get that information to authorities by going to CNN.com, clicking on the "Hurricane Katrina" link, and then go to the help center link. That's CNN.com, click on to the "Hurricane Katrina" link, and then go to the "help center" link. And thank you.
We were talking about how you can get a little batty doing this every night. The official date when this hurricane hit the land in the Gulf area, August 29th. So if you want to remember a date that will be etched in history, Katrina hit the Gulf Coast area August 29th.
We go to The Hague in the Netherlands. Hello.
CALLER: Larry, what happens to the polluted water? What I can see on CNN, it's sent unfiltered into the Gulf or the Mississippi, and it can damage the total environment in the long term for many years.
KING: Well asked. Dr. Gerberding, what do you say to that?
GERBERDING: Well, you know, right now, the extent of the contamination of the water hasn't really been defined. The tests are just beginning. We're going to be working with EPA, who is actually conducting the tests. They have a very comprehensive sampling process.
What we know right now is basically, we're dealing with sewage, and it's being handled the same way that we handled that problem in the context of any flood, which is basically de-water the city, and then understand what the cleanup is required to really create a hygienic environment.
There certainly could be other things in the water. We know the lead levels are high. We're at the beginning of this testing process. And when they test more in the industrial areas, we might find things of greater concern. I think right now, the important thing is to get the water out of the city, and for goodness sakes, for the people who are in the city, the water is not safe for them to drink, and it's not safe for their pets to drink. And that's one of the main reasons why we join with the mayor and the officials in encouraging the people to leave the city. KING: Dr. Guarisco, anything you'd add to that about the waters?
GUARISCO: No, I think a lot of that water will be pumped back out into the lake, and some of it goes down as sediment, and the rest gets washed out into the Gulf through the outlets. So it has a natural process to cleanse itself as it's done over the years.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with more. More calls, too, and Maya Angelou, still to come. Don't go away.
KING: Back with another caller. Santa Rosa, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes, I'd like to know, is there one number that I can send a donation or donations from friends for these animals that really have lost everything? And I get so many different answers to where to send things, but I want to make sure it goes to these people who -- or these animals that really need the help.
KING: I believe I can answer that. Gary Tuchman, check me if I'm right. I think it's the ASPCA at aspca.org, or hsus.org, which is I guess the Humane Society. Aspca.org or hsus.org. Am I right, Gary?
TUCHMAN: Yes, but I think the best thing to do, to tell our California viewer and to tell all our viewers concerned about pets is to call their local Humane Societies in their town or in their county. Those people love their animals and give really good advice about where to send money to or send help to.
KING: Los Angeles, hello.
CALLER: Yes, I'm confused about something. The footage -- or, excuse me, the dialogue regarding the mandatory evacuation is very misleading, Larry, because your footage shows a middle-aged woman being knocked down and people being held in front of high-powered rifles by officers.
It concerns me. I'm in earthquake country. If people can -- if they're allowed to hold you at gunpoint and force you out of your home, it just doesn't make sense. It's very misleading.
KING: Gary, didn't Louisiana pass a law that allows them to do that?
TUCHMAN: Yes, the mayor of New Orleans has made a law that you're not allowed to stay in the city of New Orleans anymore, but you're also not allowed to drive 75 in a 55-mile-per-hour zone. That doesn't mean you can't do it sometimes. They don't have to kick people out, but they now, under the law, have the right to kick people out.
KING: And I guess the libertarians, civil libertarians would be angered at that, right? If I want to stay in my domicile, I should be allowed to stay?
TUCHMAN: Right, but under emergency conditions, lots of things change, and this certainly has.
KING: Like the 32-degree law in New York, right? If you're a homeless person and you want to stay on the streets, if it hits 32 degrees, they will take you to a shelter against your will.
TUCHMAN: And it's the same thing -- it's the same thing. They have the right to take you to the shelter, but you and I both know, Larry, walking down the streets of New York City in the winter, we still see lots of homeless people hanging around.
KING: Yeah, we sure do.
KING: Omaha, go ahead.
CALLER: Yes, my question is for Mr. Thompson.
CALLER: I'd like to know if any discussions or decisions have been made to commemorate the deceased. After seeing the images for the past 10 days, I feel the deceased deserve to have this nightmare remembered and never forgotten. And (INAUDIBLE). Thank you.
KING: The Congressman has left us, but I believe, Dr. Saussy, there's a national prayer day next Friday, right?
SAUSSY: I'm not sure about that, Larry.
KING: Gary Tuchman, is there a national prayer day?
TUCHMAN: That's what we've heard, that there's a national remembrance prayer day that will be held next week to honor all the people. And we may never know the total number of people who have died, but to honor the people who have died.
KING: Dr. Guarisco, do you have an extensive morgue at that hospital?
GUARISCO: We do have a morgue, but, you know, we haven't been housing lots of bodies from the flood. I don't think, other than a few individuals who died as a result of the hurricane, we haven't really been bringing in victims who have expired.
KING: Where are they being taken?
GUARISCO: There is -- the city has contracted to have a portable morgue set up. I'm not sure -- I think FEMA may actually be involved in that. So it's downtown in the flooded areas, but we really don't have very much involvement in that.
KING: Can that cause a problem, Dr. Gerberding? GERBERDING: It's a sad situation, but it's not a health risk. The only concern we have about bodies in this context is when the people who are carrying them or caring for them have direct contact with the body fluids. So there are some recommendations about avoiding contact and using the kind of personal protective equipment to prevent blood splashes and so forth, but it's not a health issue in general.
KING: Tampa, hello.
CALLER: Yes, good evening, Larry, thank you for taking my call. I'm a retired firefighter and ex-Coast Guard. I have a question that's been plaguing me, and I don't know who the appropriate person would be to answer it.
KING: You only have a minute, so go.
CALLER: However, I just wonder, how can they reconsider rebuilding this city on a piece of land that is going to be permanently contaminated and polluted?
KING: Anderson? No Anderson. I'm sorry. Gary Tuchman. It's been a long, long couple of days.
TUCHMAN: I'll take that.
TUCHMAN: I'll take that question, and I'll speak for Anderson about this. I think there are a lot of people here who live here in New Orleans, Louisiana, I would be most people, who say of course it should be rebuilt. This is one of the greatest American cities. And the fact is, Larry, one thing we don't talk about a lot, about 40 percent of New Orleans, Louisiana is completely dry. You drive down the streets, it looks totally normal; there's just no people. So I would think you would find very few people here who say, you shouldn't try to bring New Orleans back to the greatness it once had.
KING: Thanks to all our guests for being with us. I went a little batty there, and I made Gary Tuchman Anderson Cooper. Happens in life. Tomorrow, I'll be better.
We'll be right back with Maya Angelou. Don't go away.
KING: She's one of the most compelling voices in American literature -- poet, teacher, best-selling author, activist, and we're honored to end tonight's LARRY KING LIVE with some reflections on this hurricane from Dr. Maya Angelou.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYA ANGELOU, POET/AUTHOR: When land became water, and water began to think it was God, consuming lives here, leaving lives there, swallowing buildings, devouring cities, intoxicated with its power, mighty power, and the American people were tested.
As a result of our tumultuousness, there abides in the American psyche an idea so powerful it ennoble us, and lifts us high above the problems which beset us. It can, in fact, evict fear. It can rest despair from its lodging. Simply put, the idea is, yes, I can. I am an American, and yes, I can. I can overcome.
The one-time slave says, I have proved and am proving that I can overcome slavery. The one-time slave owner says, I have proved and I am proving that I can overcome slavery. The North can say, I have proved and am still proving that I can overcome the Civil War. The South can say, I have proved and I am still proving that I can overcome the Civil War.
With crime rampant in our streets, the American can say, our masses have not turned into masses of criminals. Even with blissful peace, Americans can say, we have not been lulled into a contented laziness.
The song that was so needed 100 years ago when it was written, so needed 50 years ago when it was used in the civil rights movement, is of great use to us these days, while we are still reeling from the onslaught of the violent hurricane. The song is "We Shall Overcome." We shall overcome. We shall overcome, I pray. Deep in my eyes, I do believe we shall overcome. Let us all pray and work to enact it.
I am Maya Angelou, and I am an American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Aaron Brown will host a two-hour special edition of "NEWSNIGHT." We'll see you again tomorrow night. Aaron, it's yours.
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