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FEMA Director Recalled
Aired September 9, 2005 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, the Southland is fighting for its life, restoring law and order, trying to drain billions of gallons of toxic flood waters, stopping fires, looting, chaos, trying to provide clothes, food, shelter for thousands of Katrina victims. Tonight, U.S. troops in Iraq from the Southland to come home to see what, if anything, remains of their lives.
And breaking news tonight. The FEMA director overseeing the relief effort stripped of his storm duties.
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. So many remain uprooted across the Southland, thousands missing, thousands casualties of the hurricane. The region`s still in need of food, clothing, shelter, and a stop to deadly violence, looting and fires that have brought the region to its knees.
Tonight, straight out to Sean Callebs, standing by in Houston, Texas. Sean what do you see?
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nancy, here the situation is dramatically different, obviously, from what people are going through in the New Orleans area. What we`ve seen here in Reliant city is an area that has become more and more calm each day as more of the evacuees who were brought here to the Astrodome and the two adjoining complexes -- those people are getting out. They`re finding temporary homes, apartments, moving in in faith-based organizations.
Yesterday, there was a problem with the Red Cross handing out debit cards. We know some of the evacuees in desperate need just came flooding into here, and there was somewhat of a security problem for a while. Well, today FEMA was handing out its debit cards to basically the same people. That went very smoothly. However, we just heard a report that, apparently, they are running out of debit cards, and that could cause a big problem.
One of the things we`ve really enjoyed seeing here, Nancy, over the past week...
GRACE: Wait, wait, wait!
GRACE: Wait! Running out of debit cards? We get them in the mail, for Pete`s sake, undesired credit cards, debit cards, you name it! And you`re telling me the federal government can`t get enough debit cards for these people that are literally starving?
CALLEBS: Well, we`ve heard -- what we`re trying to find out -- the Red Cross is handing on out debit cards...
CALLEBS: ... as well as FEMA. And we don`t know if it is the FEMA side that is running out or Red Cross. We had a producer just go inside. We will know very shortly. He`s going to e-mail me. I have my Blackberry, Nancy, and when I find out, I will tell you which side. It may not be the federal government running out of debit cards, it could be the Red Cross.
But without question, it`s just another frustrating hurdle that all of these people that have been forced here really are having to cope with at this late hour.
GRACE: Well, there`s a big difference, you`re right, between the Red Cross and the federal government. The Red Cross is there by the grace of God, for Pete`s sake! Standing by there, Sean Callebs. Sean, are evacuees moving out of the Astrodome?
CALLEBS: Yes, that has really been the big story here this week. If you think about it, about a week ago, they had 30,000 people signed up here. Well, now there`s about 8,000, so they have really reduced that number in a very, very rapid time. This has been an organization here that has run very smoothly.
And one thing that has been very gratifying to see since we have been here, all the families that have been disconnected, separated from their brothers, their sisters, especially children -- well, we have seen legions of families find loved ones. It`s been very heartwarming to see. But of course, there are still hundreds, hundreds of children out there, last estimate I heard, more than 1,500 children separated from their parents. So while it certainly is a positive story, by no means is it over. There are still thousands of people disconnected at this hour, Nancy.
GRACE: Before we head out to Anderson Cooper, Sean, how is Houston paying for all this?
CALLEBS: What they`re hoping for is help in the future. They`re doing everything they can, but certainly, Houston and the counties here that have been affected by this massive influx -- you`re talking about 245,000 people that have been brought here in about a week. If you think about it, that`s the size of the population of a city like Anchorage, Alaska, or St. Paul, Minnesota, suddenly instantly moving here. But Mayor White here, as well as all the county officials are hoping that with the massive bill floating around Congress, these counties are going to be reimbursed.
And it doesn`t end there. Think about the school kids. We went to a school this week, and we know that in this one district alone, it`s going to be an extra $16 million to take care of all these kids. And the principal told us that if, indeed, the federal government doesn`t help them, the local taxpayers are going to have to handle the burden. No one`s complaining right now. They want to do everything they can to help these people who have been through so much...
GRACE: Hey, Sean...
CALLEBS: ... but eventually, the bill is going to come due.
GRACE: Sean, I`m so afraid no good deed will go unpunished. Hey, Sean, I`m heading over to Anderson Cooper. But if you could -- last night, the mayor of Houston was on with us, and he gave us a Web site for people to make donations to Houston to help them shoulder this burden of our fellow Americans. Could you get that and pass it on to Elizabeth (ph), dear, so I can...
GRACE: OK. Sean, thank you friend.
CALLEBS: We`ll get that.
GRACE: Right now, we are traveling to Baton Rouge. Standing by with an altogether different story, CNN correspondent Anderson cooper. Anderson, what`s happening?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Nancy. You know, I actually got an update for you on those debit cards. It is FEMA which today just announced they are stopping those debit cards. And that`s one of the things that, you know, it just -- it...
GRACE: I knew it.
COOPER: It just adds another layer of anger. Yes, you knew it, FEMA. It adds another layer of anger because when people are promised something, especially, you know, a certain amount of money or a debit card, and then it`s taken away from them, I mean, it`s -- you know, it`s just another one of those indignities.
I mean, these are people who are in shelters, who are sleeping, you know, shoulder to shoulder with people they don`t know. You know, it`s very frustrating for people when they feel like the people who are supposed to be watching over them don`t really have their act together. And the FEMA director today, as you know, Nancy, was recalled back to Washington. Someone else was put in charge of operations on the ground.
GRACE: What`s happening at the shelter there, Anderson?
COOPER: You know, they just had dinner here. I`m in a shelter in Baton Rouge. This is run by the Red Cross. It is a well-run shelter. It is air-conditioned. It is cool in here. It is clean in here. I`ve been in the bathrooms. I`ve looked around. There are about 4,500 people here tonight. The numbers fluctuate to 6,00. They drop down. And it`s -- you know, it`s families. It`s little children. There are women in wheelchairs. I`m looking behind me. They`re getting ready. You know, the kids are playing. I see some playing football, some people watching a football game on television.
But it`s not home, you know? And that`s one of the things you realize -- you know, everyone who`s watching, let`s hope they`re home and comfortable in their beds tonight and with their loved ones because there are a lot of people here who are still searching for their loved ones and who are still, you know, holding onto hope that they can find their families and find their loved ones, Nancy.
GRACE: Another issue, Anderson. I understand that troops from Iraq, fighting for our country overseas, are now coming home to find out what, if anything, is left of their life.
GRACE: What`s happening?
COOPER: Well, there`s a lot of National Guard troops, as you know, from Louisiana, from Mississippi, who are serving over in Iraq and serving well and have been for a long time. They are now being allowed to come home. The first group, I think, got back or at least started the move back today. I think the number I heard -- and I hesitate to say it because I don`t want to give out the wrong number. I believe the number I heard was 3,000 in total will be allowed to return home.
But I mean, imagine what it`s like, you`re serving overseas, you can`t reach your loved one back home, you know, you can`t e-mail back home, and there`s just not enough information. And when you`re serving overseas, as we all know, I mean, that is -- you know, it`s hard enough to have your family missing, not know where they are. It`s -- you know, it`ll be good for those soldier, those National Guard troops, to be able to come home, at least for a little while.
GRACE: Well, Anderson is telling about American evacuees. Here`s what one of them had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re not supposed to force you out of your house, and I told my son that. I`m sure I could have stayed there. Nobody could have forced me out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you get out, you can`t get back in. And everybody`s talking about evacuating. What do you do when your money run out? I mean, if you`re here, you know how you`re going to survive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Joining us now, in an addition to Anderson Cooper in Baton Rouge, is a very special guest, Eddie Compass. He`s the New Orleans police superintendent, born and bred in New Orleans. Sir, thank you for being with us.
CHIEF EDDIE COMPASS, NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Glad to be here, ma`am.
GRACE: Sir, a lot of respect to you tonight for what you have been going through, seeing your men and women go through so much. Tell me what they have been going through.
COMPASS: Well, you know, people really don`t understand the hardships that we face. You know, we first started this thing, endeavor, this tragedy, we were fighting an enemy that was very well armed. They had hit all the gun stores. We didn`t have any weaponry. We didn`t have any extra weaponry. We ran out of ammunition. We were in the same clothes, wearing the same underwear. Our vehicles was of no use to us because the water was to high. We were defecating, urinating in the streets. Our radio communication systems went down. I had the same pair of underwear on for five days. And it was horrible.
You know, we were put in positions where they were shooting at us. We couldn`t shoot back because they were in crowds of people. It was pitch black. It was a real nightmare for those first days, you know? When you think about a police department -- you know, we were fighting guerrilla warfare, to a certain extent. But the training and the commanders of this police department stood intact, and the training that these officers received really helped to quell this without losing one police officer. I mean, it`s amazing, not one police officer lost their lives. We had one officer shot in the head, Kevin Thomas, and I got good news today that they say he`s going to probably be OK. We had one National Guardsman`s weapon was taken and he was shot in the leg. You know, it just -- I thank God that, you know, he put a cover over my police department and myself.
I mean, they tried to take me hostage on Convention Center Boulevard. My security team fought the people back. They said if they take me, maybe they can get a bus, they can trade me for a bus. I mean, we went through so many things. Chief Lanny Swank (ph) stayed in the Superdome and commanded that with about 60 officers for six days. You had 30,000 people in there. I mean, it was hot, no lights, no electricity, no air- conditioning, and we lived in those conditions.
I have an officer whose face is so swollen, they had to put an eye patch on him, from being in the Superdome. There`s so much disease and infection there. I had one officer who had a dog bite, and infection from the water got in his legs...
COMPASS: ... that, you know, he`s gone through some serious problems. You know, I mean, you know, I know I`m not in the best of shape, but I have some officers that are really -- have some very, very serious illnesses...
GRACE: And you know...
COMPASS: ... because of the battle that we fought here.
GRACE: With us is New Orleans police superintendent Eddie Compass, and his men and women are trained to fight violence. I don`t know that they were trained to face Hurricane Katrina. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMPASS: We were fighting odds that you couldn`t imagine. We had no food. We had no water. We ran out of ammunition. We had no vehicles. We were fighting in waist-deep water that was infected and polluted. I have officers with infections from cuts. See, this is the real story. You`re hearing it from the person who was out there on the front line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: With us tonight, New Orleans police superintendent Eddie Compass. Sir, what part of New Orleans are you from?
COMPASS: Well, I lived in the 6th ward area, a block from the housing projects, 821 North Johnson Street. It`s called the Trim (ph) area, 6th ward.
GRACE: Sir, a lot of your officers are hurricane victims, too. Did many of them lose their homes?
COMPASS: You know, we had, like, 80 percent of our police department lost their homes. And the situation we`re in now, we`re paying for our families to live out of town. We`re still paying for houses we can`t live in. It`s a very difficult situation.
GRACE: Sir, what is the worst thing you have seen?
COMPASS: The worst thing I`ve seen? So many horrible things. I saw a little baby that was swollen about -- the baby was less than 1 years old. The baby was swollen. He was -- the baby looked like he was dehydrated, looked like one of those -- you know how you see those commercials for those countries in Africa, where people are starving? And I just wept.
What I would do, I would put food in my pockets and water in my pockets, and I`d walk through the crowd, I would give it out to try to help some of the people. And it didn`t seem like much, but I remember that story when they said about the starfish, that they had a million starfish, and the guy threw -- this little boy was throwing one in, and the little -- the guy said, Well, why are you throwing him in? It doesn`t matter. He said, It matters to this one.
So my security team and I would put food in our pockets as we walked through the crowds as we did our patrols. You know, and it just -- you know, we just tried to do everything we could, you know?
I mean, the low point or low -- two low points -- my daughter works at the Ritz Carlton, and there was a report that they had some gang members that broke into the Ritz Carlton and were raping women. And my two daughters were there and my ex-wife was there. And I just -- I just lost it. But some of my task force guys that worked (INAUDIBLE) in the 5th district knew my daughter was there, and they stood there and they beat those guys back and they saved my family. And the Ritz Carlton guys were taking care of my daughters. And I really appreciate that.
And my public information guy, a guy on my staff, he committed suicide. And I was, like, the last person to talk to him. He said he was under stress. I said, Carl (ph)...
GRACE: What happened...
COMPASS: ... take the rest of the day off...
GRACE: What happened to him? I was about to ask you about him. He was your PIO, right, your information officer?
COMPASS: Right. Well, what happened, you know, he couldn`t find his wife. He thought his wife was dead. His house was under water. I mean, as we were going out -- because I commanded from the streets, and he was with me. So he was in the vehicle with me. And it was dark and they were shooting, and he -- you know, he`s a good guy, but I guess he wasn`t used to that kind of action. You know, the other guys I had with me had tactical experience. We had been in situations similar to that. And I guess it took a toll on him, and with his not knowing where his wife was at.
And you know, I was kind of blaming myself for a minute because I said if I`d have kept him with me -- but I talked to Dr. Phil, and he made me feel a lot better about it. You know, I was self-blaming because I said if I`d have had him with me, he wouldn`t have did it. He wouldn`t have had the opportunity. But you know, God, you know, only knows what would have happened. So I mean, I -- so that was my two worst times, from a personal standpoint.
GRACE: Joining us tonight from the streets of New Orleans, the New Orleans police superintendent, Eddie Compass, born and bred in New Orleans and now in charge of fighting the biggest fight New Orleans has ever seen.
I will be right back with the superintendent.
Tonight, believe it or not, "Hurricane Tracking." Forecasters say Ophelia could hit landfall late Monday, early Tuesday along the South Carolina coast. If Ophelia changes courses, northern Florida and the Carolinas advised to prepare. Ophelia up to 75 mph tonight, expected to remain a category 1 hurricane when and if it makes landfall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s simply not safe to be in the city right now. The water is one of the hazards of concern, and people really do need to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re coming by with guns at our house, saying we have to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`d like to remain so we can put this city back together. We love the city.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police! Open the door!
COMPASS: We have a mandatory evacuation in place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re roofers and carpenters, and we`re waiting to rebuild. This is our city. We are not going to abandon it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: It`s hard to believe that these images are coming from our own country. It looks like a third world country.
With us tonight, a very special guest that I am proud to have on our airwaves. The New Orleans police superintendent, Eddie Compass, is with us from the streets of New Orleans. And if you think the police don`t care, this man is born and bred in New Orleans. This is his home that he is fighting to save.
Sir, I understand that mandatory evacuations have been ordered. Now, what do you do when you meet up with someone that does not want to leave their home?
COMPASS: Well, we were instructed by the mayor to direct all questions about the evacuations to Sherri Landry (ph), the city attorney. The mayor put protocols in place that I deal strictly with security and the city attorney deals with evacuation. So I don`t want to send any mixed messages or give any information that`s not accurate. So I really can`t comment. I`m sorry.
GRACE: Well, are the police doing mandatory evacuations? Are you enforcing mandatory evacuations as of now?
COMPASS: Well, you know, the mayor is my boss and I respect him. And he said he don`t want us to say anything about the evacuations. He wants all that to go through Sherri Landry. She`s the city attorney. Because if I say something that`s in conflict to her, people will get mixed messages. This is going to be difficult enough, so he wants one message, one voice, one word, one sound. So I can get you in touch with Sherri Landry, and maybe she can come on and she can answer those specific questions.
GRACE: I would love to hear about that because at this juncture, with the waters receding, it`s going to be tough to make people leave their homes if they don`t want to leave their home after all they`ve been through. Sir, how many arrests have you made, and what are you doing with the people you arrest? Where are you putting them?
COMPASS: Well, you know, we really hit the ground running. We have a temporary jail facility set up at the Amtrak station, and we`ve made over 200 arrests since the beginning of the storm. I can safely say that this may be the safest city in America. Now, for the last three nights, we haven`t had any arrests, any crimes reported and no calls for service. All we had was 10 calls that was 10 people that wanted to be voluntarily evacuated. So you know, maybe, you know, God in his infinite wisdom (INAUDIBLE) to really put some peace in this city. But right now, it`s really quiet.
GRACE: Sir, you mentioned seeing a little baby all swollen up like the videos, the pictures of commercials we see from other countries where people are starving to death. Did you ever believe you would see this in your home?
COMPASS: Never in my wildest dreams. It was like I was walking through a nightmare. You know, and I love kids. I was the commander of police (INAUDIBLE) I have four kids. My wife is pregnant right now with my fifth. I mean, I love kids. And I think that was the toughest part for me, not being able to help all those kids out there that needed help. You know, it was, like, who do you pick? Who do you choose?
When we tried to bring fruit into the convention center, we`d give it to the kids and old people. And then when we would leave, the gangs would take it from them. So gangs were getting stronger, and the old people were getting -- and children were getting weaker. So we were making the strong stronger and the weak weaker. So we stopped the food drops because we didn`t have enough manpower to do it throughout.
I mean, it was frustrating. It was -- the more I think about it, it`s just -- it`s just unreal. It`s still not real to me, you know, in America, in this country we live in, that you had little children starving. You had old people starving. You had...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON DOBY, EVACUEE: There was too much pushing and shoving, and we -- we couldn`t even control ourselves, less our children. We was hungry. We was thirsty. It was below poverty down there. It was ridiculous. So some kind of way, I let his hand go. I had his hand and her hand at the same time. She had my hand tight. He had my hand tight, as well. But I don`t know what happened in between that time for...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s the last time you`ve heard from him?
DOBY: Last time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back. I`m Nancy Grace. Thank you for being with us.
I want to go straight out to Elizabeth Cohen in Baton Rouge, CNN medical correspondent. Elizabeth, tell me about the contaminated water.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we`ve been doing several stories on the contaminated water. CNN ran its own test. The Environmental Protection Agency ran their tests, as well. And not very surprisingly, Nancy, high levels of fecal coliform. If you want me to spell that out for you, I will, but I think you know what I mean, where that bacteria came from. Our tests -- the government`s tests found that the levels were 10 times higher than what`s considered safe. Ours found that it was more like 100 times higher than what`s considered safe. Also, lead. Also, lead was in there, too.
GRACE: How serious is the threat?
COHEN: You know, it all depends. If you`re an old person or a very young person and you`re sick and if you ingested some of this, that could really be a problem. And lead, if you`re a pregnant woman, possibly be a problem to your unborn child.
THOMAS ROBERTS, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I`m Thomas Roberts. And this is your "Headline Prime Newsbreak."
Ophelia is back to hurricane status tonight, now projected to possibly hit the East Coast. Some long-range forecasts show the Category 1 storm making landfall either late Monday or early Tuesday along the South Carolina coast.
Ophelia is currently moving slowly northeast with sustained winds about 75 miles per hour.
Rescue teams think that they`ve found everyone in New Orleans who wants to be helped and are now focusing their attention on removing bodies. Authorities say, so far, it looks like the death toll may not be as great as first feared. Hundreds of residents are still refusing to leave the city, which remains about 60 percent under floodwaters.
The price of gas continues to fall, but not by much. AAA says regular unleaded gas has dropped a little more than a penny a gallon today to an average of $3.01. The prices dropped four cents since reaching a record high on Monday.
That is the news for now. Thanks so much for joining us. I`m Thomas Roberts. We take you back for more of NANCY GRACE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello? Yes. (INAUDIBLE) oh, I love you! What y`all doing? I love y`all. Y`all want to come by me? Y`all want to come by me? I`m so happy. I`m in Houston, Texas. I love y`all so much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`d really like to thank Nancy and CNN because they truly helped us a lot. Without your help, I could not have done this on my own.
Hey, my own baby!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank God for TV. And love that all these people, I didn`t know whether I would find my kids or not. I love these people so much, I could just squeeze them tight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That was Wanda Brown. Remember you met her earlier in the week? She was devastated, not being able to find her family. Ms. Brown has been reunited. It`s not thanks to us, it`s thanks to you for helping us reunite them.
I`m going to go straight out to Drew Griffin, CNN correspondent, standing by in New Orleans.
Drew, what`s happening?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I want to tell you something, Nancy. That`s a touching story we just heard on your show, but the Red Rock Fire Department from Minnesota just went by, as well as the Eagle, Colorado, Fire Department just went by. That shows you the kind of support New Orleans is now getting from the entire nation here.
I do want to tell you about a story I was out on today. It`s a side of New Orleans we haven`t been showing. We`ve been focusing mostly on those flooded areas and rightly so.
But there`s an entire half of this city that really is ready to come back to life and wants to come back to life. Take a look at the pictures that we took just a couple hours ago. This is in the western district of New Orleans. We`ve been all through the French Quarter.
There`s really not much damage there at all. There`s limbs down. There`s trees down. And that`s why people do not want to leave that area.
I want to show you a video of James McClaren (ph), sitting out on his front porch in the lower Garden District. This guy has water for four weeks, he says. He and his neighbors have been cooking twice a day, pooling their food, pooling their resources. He`s got a phone. The water is back on, so he can flush his toilet. And he says he just does not want to leave.
GRACE: You know, amazing to me that the theory of forcing these people out of their homes when they don`t want to go is still being advanced.
Drew, another question. This guy is getting by, but what about all the others?
GRIFFIN: They all are seemingly getting by. And every night, Nancy, we`re seeing more and more lights come on in this city, not in that flood zone.
Now, let me make that perfectly clear. The people that are there in that terrible, putrid water seriously need to get out. But I`m talking about blocks, and blocks, and blocks away, and whole districts that never had any water. They were high and dry through this entire storm.
Those people, those business owners, they want to get open and get parts of this city coming back to life. They say that`s what`s going to bring back New Orleans.
And I`m talking about the big spots, too, the French Quarter, right here in the lower business district, right along the river. These are areas not affected by this water.
GRACE: I want to quickly go to Louisiana native Renee Rockwell whose own family is there suffering through all of this.
Renee, what is your theory on whether or not these people can be forced out of their homes? Has anybody ever heard of the Second Amendment?
RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, I absolutely think that people should not be made to leave their homes. It`s too late now. If they`re there and they`ve made it through the storm, and for a variety of reasons.
They don`t want to leave because they have pets. They don`t want to leave because maybe they don`t even have a deed to their home. And if they leave, they might not be able to come back and reclaim their property.
And what`s the difference between somebody that`s in a $2 million home, with a generator and electricity, air conditioning, because of the generator, food, water? If that person can stay, because they`re shown to be all right, then a poor person should be able to stay in their home, Nancy.
GRACE: Well, another issue, Renee, is the Second Amendment right to bear arms. And my point there is, look, you and I have seen plenty of gun violence, you as a defense attorney, me as a prosecutor.
But the reality is, these are not people that have stolen their guns over at Wal-Mart. Remember when Wal-Mart was looted last week, every gun gone? These are people that are being forced to give up their guns when they leave their home.
Now, listen. If I was staying there and had decided to weather the storm, I wouldn`t take kindly to police, a, trying to force me out, and, b, taking the gun, too.
ROCKWELL: It`s an absolute violation, Nancy, of someone`s civil rights to bear arms. We`ve learned one thing, I think, from this tragedy, is that you cannot depend on the government.
It`s going to have to be yourself, your family, your community, maybe your church. But if you`re making people give up a firearm, and I`m not talking about a stolen firearm. For the people that aren`t leaving, I have information that the police are going in, confiscating their firearms, and then leaving.
So if you can`t protect yourself, what else can you do?
GRACE: On another note, I`m hearing in my ear from Elizabeth, we`re now hooked up to Ernie Allen with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Ernie, welcome, friend. Tell me what you and NCMEC is doing to reunite these families.
ERNIE ALLEN, PRES., NCMEC: Well, Nancy, there`s real progress being made. We`ve doubled the number of recoveries just today; 258 children have been reunited with their families.
The numbers of reported missing children continues to climb. There are about 1,500. But information is improving, people are sharing information. Law enforcement, social service agencies are engaged.
Just today, through the good work of the San Antonio School District, 13 children were identified who`d been enrolled in the San Antonio schools who were reunited with their families. So, from that perspective, it`s getting better.
GRACE: I want to go now to Rosa Brooks, who is looking desperately for her family. Ms. Brooks, are you with me?
ROSA BROOKS, LOOKING FOR MISSING DAUGHTER AND THREE GRANDCHILDREN: Yes, I am.
GRACE: Ms. Brooks, what happened?
BROOKS: Well, all I know that I talked with my daughter on that Sunday of August the 28th around about 8:40. And I was told that she was going to see about coming to the -- wherever she was going.
I don`t exactly know, because she said she was going to see. I don`t know what she mean, you know? But I hadn`t heard from her since.
GRACE: Veronica Brooks, daughter, Fernanda, granddaughter, Ashley, granddaughter, Robert, grandson, 832-731-9060.
Ms. Brooks, where are you staying tonight?
BROOKS: At the Reliant Center.
GRACE: What are the conditions there?
BROOKS: Well, it`s all right, you know. But I like more like my own home.
GRACE: And what has become of your home?
BROOKS: Well, it was destroyed during the hurricane.
GRACE: Where are you going to go after this?
BROOKS: Well, I assume to be here somewhere in Houston.
GRACE: Joining me is Rosa Brooks. She is looking tonight for her daughter and her grandchildren.
Elizabeth, if you can put the number back up again, the number, there you go, 832-731-9060.
Very quickly, back to Elizabeth Cohen, standing by in Baton Rouge.
You know, now there is the additional threat -- we heard the police superintendent talking about his officer, who had been bitten by a dog, and then got in this water, and now is deadly ill.
COHEN: That`s right. This water is especially problematic if you drink it. I know that sounds crazy, Nancy, but we`re told by a nurse in a shelter that some of those folks did drink it because they had nothing else to drink or, also, huge problem if you have a cut in your leg.
It could be really a potentially a very big deal, what this nurse described in graphic detail about blisters that were infected, about cuts that were infected. A medic at the airport told us about a cut that was infected all the way down to the bone. He dressed it and shipped the guy out to the nearest hospital. So it really is a problem.
GRACE: Quick break, everyone. We at NANCY GRACE want very much to help reunite families torn apart by Katrina. Take a look at Mauriconna Porter, just 2 years old, last known to be with a baby-sitter in New Orleans. Not seen or heard from since Katrina hit.
If you have any information on Mauriconna Porter, please call the Louisiana Missing Children`s Clearinghouse, 225-342-8631.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Animal rights activists are passionate about what they do. These people got them beat all hollow.
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GRACE: Today, animals were evacuated from the aquarium there in New Orleans. If you`re familiar with it, one of the most beautiful aquariums in the world, right on the water.
Welcome back. I`m Nancy Grace. Thank you for being with us.
I want to go out to Bruce Bernard. He is missing his 91-year-old mother who lives in New Orleans.
Sir, welcome. Tell us what happened.
BRUCE BERNARD, MISSING HIS MOTHER IN NEW ORLEANS: Hi, Nancy. Well, my mom was actually in Touro Hospital when the storm hit, and they fully evacuated the hospital, but since then we`ve been unable to find her. And we have an intensive search going on. And thank you very much for having us on.
GRACE: Oh, no, sir, thank you. Everybody, look at this beautiful lady. Just gorgeous. She is 91 years old. She was in Touro Hospital there in New Orleans. She has Alzheimer`s, everybody. She has a hard time communicating.
She`s 5`1". She weighs 120 pounds. She has a feeding tube. Her name, Marian Bernard. She`s 91 years old. Bruce Bernard is with us.
Have you been able to get any information after you heard about the evacuation?
BERNARD: Nancy, we have talked to a few people with Touro, and, of course, they have a web site. But the problem is that we don`t have any specific information, because I think what happened is, in the craziness of the evacuation, that once these patients left the rooftops in Black Hawk helicopters, and buses, and vans, no one is really sure exactly where they went. And we`ve found patients from Touro in at least 25 places across the southeast United States.
GRACE: Right. Bruce, do you know if she had on a wrist band or any kind of I.D. on her?
BERNARD: Nancy, every patient, we were told, that left Touro had their personal file with them, their medical file, as well as a wrist band. So someone out there should see that.
GRACE: Oh, God help her.
Everybody, please take a look and help us. We`re looking for Marian Bernard. She`s 91. And what number -- oh, here`s the number, everybody, 619-804-1094, repeat, 619-804-1094.
And I want to tell you quickly, before I go straight back out on the field, about Hardy Jackson. You all met him at the beginning of the week. He was the gentleman holding on to his wife and she got torn away from him, begging him in her last words to take care of their children and grandchildren.
If anyone knows the whereabouts of Hardy Jackson, he`s been relocated. We have found employment and financial support for Mr. Jackson. He needs to call 212 -- we`ve set up a number for him -- 212-275-7546, 212-275-7546.
Mr. Jackson, let us help you.
Joining us now, a face you know well who has been called to volunteer. High-profile Seattle lawyer Anne Bremner is in Houston, Texas.
Anne, welcome, friend. Tell me, what are the legal issues facing these people?
ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Well, everything, Nancy. I`ll tell you, I got out into the Astrodome today, and that`s what I heard from everyone, is they need everything. But the most important, child welfare, adoption, you know, children without parents, custody issues, support. And then, of course, financial assistance, government programs, programs through employers that they had before the disaster struck.
And then, finally, and I`m sad to say, probate. Of course, there are so many now living, but, of course, they also have somebody -- they`re connected to the dead. And they need to know how to do a probate. Wills are lost. Many died in testate. You know, most lawyers die in testate.
So those are just some of the areas. And this is a call to arms to lawyers, Nancy. And you`re doing it here on CNN Headline News. Lawyers need to volunteer, and they need to do it right here, right now.
GRACE: The other night, everybody, Anne Bremner was with me when I was told I could not go to the hurricane relief effort myself. And sitting there with me after the show the other night, Anne Bremner said, "If you can`t go, I`ll go." And there she is.
BREMNER: Absolutely, Nancy. I`m here. And, you know, I just love you, because you thought of this.
GRACE: Now, hold on...
BREMNER: To get out here, you thought of this, to get out here, and do a call to arms, and say, lawyers everywhere in America, you can volunteer. We have a web site. It`s www.abanet.org.
And getting the lawyers ready, getting them here, Nancy, you`re putting it out on the air and bless you for that.
GRACE: You know, Anne, it`s amazing to me that these people have to start from nowhere. They have no birth certificate, no Social Security, and these children that have lost their parents. How are they going to go about getting adopted?
BREMNER: Well, exactly. And you know, when I walked to the Astrodome today, a little boy walked up to me. And he said he had seven siblings, and then he said, "But two of my brothers are dead." And then he went on his way and told me, well, he didn`t like where his cot was.
I mean, that`s just one child. I walked by one woman, I said, "How are you?" And she said, "Blessed."
People are positive here. You know, they can be lifted -- you know, when you lift up others, you lift up yourself. And that`s what you`ve done all your life. And these victims can be empowered to lives really beyond what they had before this.
And the lawyers out there, they can help. I mean, it`s our highest and best use, frankly. And I think that it`s part of our oath, to help those that are disenfranchised, those that need our help, in times like this, in the biggest catastrophe in the history of our nation.
And, by the way, let me say something about Houston. Houston`s way ahead of the game. And Randy Sorrels here at the Houston Bar Association has been so helpful.
They`re out here. They have a flyer -- I`ve written on it, all kinds of notes from today -- for help. And they`ve been helping people here in Houston all along.
So I say, all lawyers in the nation, volunteer, start with the ABA web site, and you`ve put up graphics for hotlines throughout the Gulf states, the affected states.
GRACE: Anne Bremner, don`t move. She`s standing by there in Houston at the Astrodome.
You met a man last night. I got floods of e-mails and phone calls about him. He nearly broke my heart. Take a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to let all of them know I love them. I want Mama to know I miss her. I want my brother to know that all the stuff we went through, I wish we could be together.
About five minutes after the show, a lady called my sister`s phone. And she said that she been with my mama and them the whole time. They was in Austin, Texas.
And then she called back, about five minutes later after that, and she gave me the number where my people was at. And I called my mama, and my brother, and my stepdad. And all of us were happy to talk to each other.
It was like the most exciting thing in my life. It was like God just gave me more energy.
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GRACE: That is Jerome Pitts (ph). Our producer there at the Astrodome, Naomi, has managed to help reunite him with his family. And we are driving him to his family. And we`ll be doing that on Monday.
Anne Bremner, there are stories like this all over.
BREMNER: Absolutely, Nancy. It`s such -- it`s so heartbreaking to come in here and see these families. And children, I mean, little groups of children playing, and the elderly, and the cots are like little forts, Nancy. Everything they have is there on their cot.
It`s just incredible to see all of this. They need our help, and they need lawyers` help right now.
GRACE: Twelve days since Katrina hit. It feels like a year. Tonight, take a look at the stories and, more important, the people who touched all of our lives.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love you so much! Mama missed you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The criminal element tried to get us down, but they can`t get us, because we`re still together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to go home to our family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But my brother-in-law we have not seen since Sunday night. Nobody`s heard from him since Sunday night.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to go home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just wish I could find them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Want to thank everybody for what they`re doing. If it wasn`t for this and other things, like the food, and water, and ice, I don`t know how we would make it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a mandatory evacuation (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they come with the M-16s to the house, right with their hands on the trigger, I`m not crazy. I will go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The governor picking you up, telling you, "Come on, let`s go, let`s go, let`s go, let`s go." After that, they`ll drop the ball again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will she rise again? Yes, indeed. Absolutely.
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GRACE: Thanks to all my guests. My biggest thank you, to you for being with us.
From the suffering of the southland to a note of happiness. Best wishes to our tech director, George. He`s heading to his wedding.
And tonight, from our control room, good night. A special thanks to you for helping us reunite families and proving again that one person can make a difference.
I`m Nancy Grace signing off. Our hearts and prayers with the southland. See you Monday night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.