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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Hurricane Katrina: The Aftermath
Aired September 10, 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, as Katrina's rising death toll nears 400, the Red Cross makes an historic desperate appeal for 40,000 new volunteers to help with the relief effort. We'll get the latest from the Red Cross spokeswoman for the entire southeast.
We'll meet the mayors of cities and towns in Mississippi and Louisiana brought to their knees by Katrina, the mayor of Houston how his city is absorbing those thousands of evacuees.
And, we'll hear from the evacuees themselves desperately searching for loved ones left behind.
It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: With you again live on this Saturday night before we meet our mayors let's check in, in New Orleans, with Jeff Koinange. What's the story today on body retrievals Jeff?
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, the bodies continue to pile up. We sent several crews out and they actually filmed bodies in several homes, so as the waters recede, and this is what we've been talking about all along, as the waters recede you will get more and more bodies in attics, in upstairs rooms, in second floor buildings. We're going to see a lot more of those the more the water recedes.
But we saw another thing, Larry, that's very significant about this city, some cleanup campaigns going on, leaf blowers, people manually cleaning up garbage, packing it up and putting it away. It's shows that this city hasn't quite lost its soul -- Larry.
KING: True that the death toll may not be as high as originally thought?
KOINANGE: You know that's just speculation. It's very early days. We're what two weeks into this disaster? I think that's speculation and it's optimism for the most part. It will be a great thing if that happens in the end that the death toll wasn't as high as predicted.
But I can tell you, Larry, what we've seen out there in the water to this day is eight, ten feet high, vehicles still under water, people still living in those homes. There's places which are completely inaccessible. Don't be surprised, Larry, if that death toll rises dramatically in the coming days and weeks.
KING: Thanks, Jeff, Jeff Koinange in New Orleans.
Now, let's meet our mayors. In Biloxi, Mississippi is Mayor Matthew Avara, the mayor of Pascagoula, Mississippi. Also in Biloxi is Ben Morris, the mayor of Slidell, Louisiana. In Houston, is Bill White, the mayor of Houston, Texas. And, also in Biloxi is A.J. Holloway, the mayor of Biloxi.
Let's start with Matthew Avara, the mayor of Pascagoula. Give us the story of your city, mayor, what happened?
MAYOR MATTHEW AVARA, PASCAGOULA, MISSISSIPPI: Well, we had a very devastating storm that hit our town. We've got a lot of people that are displaced, not only from the coastline to the north but throughout our city. Best estimates right now is we have about 90 to 95 percent of our city was flooded with water.
It's been devastating. Our people are suffering, you know. We're making the best of it but we've been hit hard. I've not been able to see a lot of the news. I've seen some TV reports and some newspaper reports but it was a devastating storm for all of our people.
KING: What was the federal response in Pascagoula in your opinion?
AVARA: Well, we're moving forward. We've got a lot of assets on the ground. Some of those are state. Some of those are federal. I have to say that a lot of the assets that we had on the ground were local assets. We had a disaster relief company that we had in place and so that was helpful for us.
We had teams that were staged within 50 to 100 miles outside of our city. They were able to bring those resources in immediately while the wind was still blowing but clearly the FEMA response has been slow.
We got a lot of good people on the ground here that are with FEMA and with state agencies. They wear their badges and they look good but unfortunately we just not have seen all the assets and all the resources that we need in our city.
KING: We'll be coming back to you of course.
Let's check with Mayor Bill White in Houston. How is your city handling all of this influx?
MAYOR BILL WHITE, HOUSTON, TEXAS: We hope with grace and efficiency. We're just so glad to be able to be caregivers right now rather than victims and we're stepping up. We've set up a virtual city within a city, almost 200,000 people here an we've provided food, clothing, shelter, medical services, good hygiene, enrolled thousands in schools and everybody has just chipped in, Larry, to make this relief effort come true. Most of it has been just local government, private entities, corporations, non-profits, that's what it's been so far with the exception of the Coast Guard. They've been here all along.
KING: Do you have a pretty good idea, mayor, as to how many people have come to Houston?
WHITE: Yes, we do. We know it's over 150,000. I would estimate it's less than 200,000 but it's probably close to that 200,000 and most of them are staying with families or with friends and relatives. We have almost 50,000 still in the motel and hotel rooms, 10,000 or so in Red Cross shelters, so we have a lot of folks with us now.
KING: We'll be coming back to you.
Let's go to Ben Morris. He's in Biloxi. He's the mayor of Slidell, Louisiana. Slidell is where east of New Orleans, mayor?
MAYOR BEN MORRIS, SLIDELL, LOUISIANA: No, sir. It's north of New Orleans on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
KING: How bad did you get it?
MORRIS: We have about 85 to 87 percent of our homes have been damaged to some extent or another. I figure we can have 10,000, 15,000 people with homes that they cannot live in.
It was a catastrophic storm. When it passed our entire infrastructure was down and as of this date we've brought it all back. We still don't have power completely in the city but it's slowly coming back. Our electric company has done a bang up job.
We have a lot of assistance there from the United States Marine Corps, the Louisiana National Guard, Alabama National Guard. I know you're going to ask me about the FEMA response. It's been quite slow but we do have some of their folks on the ground and they're working real hard. Hopefully, they'll get up to speed sometime soon.
KING: Slow at the beginning mayor?
MORRIS: Basically non-existent at the beginning. Everything we did was on our own. I had 136 miles of streets that were blocked in multiple places and my city crews cleared those streets in about four days. My water system was down. My sewer system was under about seven feet of water. Gassy water was leaking in sewers, leaking all over the city but we took -- we've got it all under control and Slidell is back.
KING: Good to hear.
Now let's check with Mayor A.J. Holloway, the mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi, all the mayors in that area are together. Mayor Holloway, we've heard so many reports, how bad was it?
MAYOR A.J. HOLLOWAY, BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI: Well, it was quite bad, you know, out of about the 30,000 structures we have in the city of Biloxi probably 6,000 of them were totally destroyed. We have a community, a residential area that was probably started from three miles back from the tip of the Peninsula of Biloxi that was just totally wiped out, a residential area.
And of course all of our commercial buildings, all the casinos are damaged, some of them totally destroyed. All the hotels and motels along the waterfront has been totally destroyed. Our tax base is probably about -- we lost probably about 85 percent, 85 to 90 percent of our sales tax base. Our base (INAUDIBLE) is going to be devastating next year.
We hope that we can get this city cleaned up and cleared off that people can start beginning to rebuild and we're a resilient people here in the city of Biloxi. I know that all the casinos have told me that they are going to build back and build back better. We're looking at hopefully to put in the land base, the ones that want to, if we can get the state legislature to legalize land base gaming.
KING: What was the FEMA response like?
HOLLOWAY: Well, you know, this is my 13th year in the mayor's office and this is not our first rodeo. Of course, it's the worst rodeo we've ever had but we knew we was going to have to be self sufficient for at least three to four days before we would see any help come in.
But FEMA is here now. We're working with them. They're doing the job that they're supposed to be doing. FEMA is doing the job they're supposed to be doing. We're just thankful for all the aid that we've been getting from outside of the state of Mississippi. It's just pouring into Biloxi and the Gulf Coast from all over the world. I mean it's just fantastic.
We have (INAUDIBLE) cities in Biloxi that's representing other cities away from here in police, fire, civil defense and so forth. So, it's just been a fantastic turnout and our people have worked very, very hard around the clock our public safety, public works and all of our city employees have just been busting their buns (INAUDIBLE).
KING: We'll be checking back with our mayors in just a moment.
Let's go right to Atlanta and our hurricane center and weather center. Jacqui Jeras is there. We have what a tornado in Miami?
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's right, Miami Beach to be exact. The public just reported over Biscayne Bay a tornado near the McArthur (ph) Causeway and that storm itself is pushing off to the east and it is heading toward downtown Miami.
So, if you live in this area you do need to be taking cover now. This is an actual reported tornado and it is heading toward downtown Miami. This is not related, by the way, to Ophelia.
Ophelia now a hurricane with 80 mile-per-hour winds has been kind of drifting off to the north and the east today away from land but we are expecting it to take a turn towards the U.S. coastline likely about 24 hours from now. Hurricane watches from the Savannah River extending on up towards Cape Outlook and we are expecting landfall, we think at the earliest, sometime on Tuesday somewhere along the North Carolina/South Carolina state line.
Again, Larry, a tornado on the ground in Miami Beach -- back to you.
KING: Thanks, Jacqui.
September 10th, by the way, is the middle of the hurricane season, the middle. There's 50 percent more to go.
We'll be right back.
KING: Mayor Avara of Pascagoula isn't that the area where there's a lot of oil refineries?
AVARA: Yes, sir we do. We have probably the largest refinery certainly in the southeast but probably one of the largest in the country in Pascagoula, yes sir.
KING: And was it damaged?
AVARA: Yes, sir it was. Chevron put a dike up right after Hurricane George which happened in 1998, I believe. It did go over the banks of the dike. We did have -- we did sustain some damage but we believe that we're going to be able to get that refinery back up as a normal shutdown would occur. We hope to get that back up within the next 25 to 30 days.
As Mayor Holloway stated our economy has taken a tough punch. We also have Northrop Grumman shipyard in Pascagoula and we employ between 12,000 and 13,000 people just in my city alone, some more in Gulfport, a few more thousand in Louisiana. They sustained very significant damage.
But I've spoken with leadership there as recently as this afternoon. We hope to have 3,000 to 4,000 folks back on the job as early as Monday perhaps be in full production by the latter part of next week.
So, as Mayor Holloway said, we have sustained an economic devastation but we're moving forward. And, Mr. King, if I could, I would like to mention there are so many different corporations, such as Chevron, it's my understanding Chevron has appropriated $5 million for my city.
They have a tent city set up right now that will take care of 1,700 to 1,800 employees of Chevron, their families that have been displaced. They've made available room for our police department, for our sheriff's department. So many cities have contacted me and wanted to adopt our city.
KING: That's great.
AVARA: The outpouring of support has been phenomenal and I've been in office now for two months and five days. This is my third hurricane and we're going to get through it but the outpouring of support nationwide, as well as international has been phenomenal.
KING: That's great.
AVARA: And I appreciate your coverage of our community.
KING: Thank you. We're trying to focus more attention in Mississippi.
Ben Morris, have you learned a lot from this in Slidell?
MORRIS: Yes, sir. I can tell you that I learned that Mother Nature is going to do what she wants to do and we are very fortunate to have survived this storm without any deaths inside the city limits and without any serious injuries that I'm aware of.
The nice thing and I guess the most humbling thing has been the support that has poured in from all over the country. I think we've been adopted about five times and I can tell you I'm more than thankful for that because we're in a transition period right now where we're going from the adrenalin rush to the phase where we're going to have to start dealing with the human tragedy here.
And it's going to be very difficult to take these people that are now homeless, find them homes and replace all of just the daily needs of things that people need, clothing, bed clothing, mattresses, you name it because it's all gone. So, I thank God and thank everybody that's come forward to support us. It's really been a humbling experience for me.
KING: Mayor Holloway did a lot of people evacuate Biloxi?
HOLLOWAY: Well, I think so, Mr. King. I don't know just how many. We're still in the search and rescue or search and recovery right now unfortunately. We have probably about, last word I got was about 100 deaths in the city of Biloxi and it's very, very devastating.
KING: mayor White, I want to -- I think I speak for all of us in congratulating you and your city. You deserve a great deal of plaudits for what you and the people of Houston have done.
WHITE: Well, it's just our privilege to be Americans and help out our fellow citizens. We've really done a miracle here. We've done it by organizing ourselves and people across the nation have seen it as the Astrodome.
But I want to tell you that's just a small percentage of the people that are with us. We've come together great and done it by ourselves as local government, non-profits and we haven't waited for the federal government to get here to help.
KING: You deserve a big salute.
By the way, the city of Biloxi has a website where people can get more detailed information on storm damage and the help that the city needs. It's Biloxi.ms.us., Biloxi.ms.us.
We thank the mayors. We'll be right back.
KING: Joining us now here in Los Angeles is Jay Thomas, the Emmy award winning actor born and raised in New Orleans. It took a week to find out his mother, who has Alzheimer's has been evacuated and was safe.
And, in Washington is Montel Williams, the host of his own, of course, TV show called "Montel." He's traveled to the hurricane zone and to Houston to meet with displaced families.
We'll check with Gary Tuchman in a moment.
We'll start with Montel. What was it like?
MONTEL WILLIAMS, TALK SHOW HOST: I'll tell you, Larry, for those I've said it about 25 times if you haven't seen it live then you really can't get it through the pictures. I was in Biloxi with Mayor Holloway the other day and I'll tell you amazing things are being done in a city like that.
One-third of the hospital staff of the Biloxi Regional Medical Center has lost their own home. They lost their home. Some of them are missing loved ones but they were still in the hospital working.
Right here there's some footage that we shot above New Orleans and I'm going to tell you I've never seen devastation like that before in my life anywhere.
KING: Jay Thomas, you were born and raised in New Orleans. You haven't been back right?
JAY THOMAS, ACTOR: Yes, well no, born in Texas, raised in Louisiana. My mother's home, my next door neighbor Gigi (INAUDIBLE) called me, water came through the top and I have a home in the lower garden district, 135-year-old duplex.
But my whole life is on that coast. I went to college in Panama City, Florida. There's my house. I don't know if it still looks like that but that's the house and that front porch had been blown off in 1969 by Camille and we were just about to put it back together so it looked like it did 135 years ago.
KING: How's your mom?
THOMAS: She's good but, you know, for a week we didn't know where she was and I went on the Internet and no one had said "Oh, we're evacuating to X." And we went on all of the Alzheimer's Louisiana rehabilitation home centers. Then we heard of one home where people had died and I found here at the Lion Creek Baptist Church in Kentwood, Louisiana and my cousin's gone there, my cousin Drew and my aunt Elizabeth went and they said they're doing great. I can't get a phone call in there. They have low power too all the way up to Jackson, Mississippi they have low power.
KING: Gary Tuchman, our CNN National Correspondent, is in New Orleans. You got a story about pets, Gary?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Larry.
We spent the day today on a boat going through some of the neighborhoods here in New Orleans. We were with a man who had a 2- month-old puppy. He fled his home at the last second was only allowed to take his puppy but his puppy's mother and his puppy's brother were left at his house 12 days ago.
We went back to his house with him. He was afraid what he was going to find because he only left enough food for a day or two, enough food and water for a day or two.
And we got back to his house, because that's all he thought he'd be gone for, went back to his house in a boat and as we came around the corner towards his house in the center of this city in five feet of water we heard some barking and we saw two emaciated, very thirsty dogs frantically barking.
When they saw the boat they immediately recognized their little 2-month-old son, the puppy, and they wanted to jump in this very disgusting water. The owner of the dogs said "Don't jump. Don't jump. Don't jump."
We pulled the boat up really close and then the dogs jumped in the boat with us and amazingly he has a cat, he's a cat owner too, he left a cat there, the cat was there and the cat jumped in the boat too. We took the two dogs and the cat all back and they're now safe and sound.
KING: What a story, thanks Gary.
Montel, is this going to change your show now for the fall?
WILLIAMS: Well, you know what I'm doing, I'm starting the season on Monday with two shows, Monday and Tuesday about the tragedy and also another show on Friday and we're going to be doing a lot of different things this year, part of which I'm going to be hosting or having a guest host on from Jackson, Mississippi next Friday and I'm going to probably do that for a period of time until we see what this tragedy takes us or where it takes us to.
KING: Was it worse than you thought it would be?
WILLIAMS: Larry, I will tell you I really thought that I was going to see the same thing that I saw on television but at one point in time you showed pictures of us. We landed on the bridge, right here, above the 9th Ward. That's where I'm standing.
And, it's about, I don't know probably about 100 yards away from the nursing home that was just opened the other day where they found the number of bodies. That's a stop sign right there. That's how much water is there and several of the people that we took out and I got to speak to, like this 100-year-old lady right here, she's from that ward.
It felt like you were standing over death and fortunately these people were able to get out and I'm so glad to hear that the numbers that now they're expecting with the death toll could be lower than originally expected. Because I'm telling you when I was standing there it felt as if it was hopeless.
KING: Jay, do you feel hopeless?
THOMAS: You know, I'm going to go back and rebuild and I've invested down there and I love New Orleans and it's my life and it's why I'm who I am but I'm really unhappy because now I read today that they pulled back the Davis Bacon Act, which sets prevailing prices for workers and it's only been done three times, not for more than six weeks in the history of the United States.
KING: To get people to pay less.
THOMAS: Yes, but I looked at it and now we're running no bid, you know, there's no bid and my dad was in the oil business and Halliburton is not a bad word to us and I know that Halliburton can do the job. But why wouldn't they cap the profits that you could make on a national disaster?
KING: Why wouldn't everyone tap their profits?
THOMAS: I don't know and what's amazing to me is when I see that lobbyists are already working, when I see that contractors are, you know, screaming for no bids, now I'm going to go back in just as a single family reconstruction guy and I'm going to tell you now I'm going to bring honest guys back and do stuff in our neighborhood. But I mean there's a lot of God being talked about and I go...
KING: Aren't there always people who take advantage of...
THOMAS: I can't believe it and the website, you know I went on a website looking for my mother and I got X-rated messages back from people and there's all kind of phony -- they're selling me Viagra. When I went to Katrina they were selling me Viagra and they had X- rated sites for Katrina.
You know, it is amazing to me the pervasive either evil or greed that's out there and we do have a chance to not be like that and I commend people that will come in and say, look, I'm not going to have a $300 hammer when we do the job.
KING: You know we ought to do a whole -- we ought to do more on this. So should you Montel.
WILLIAMS: You know what we will.
KING: People who gouge and take advantage of the less fortunate situations.
WILLIAMS: No ifs, ands or buts, Larry, but I got to tell you there are a lot of good people out there doing this.
KING: Sure, yes.
WILLIAMS: I met a woman by the name of Cheryl Graves (ph) who opened up her own home, three bedroom home, one bathroom, one kitchen, she opened up her home to 22 people in one family to let them come in for seven days. There's a lot of good people out there and I hope more people get that sentiment rather than what Jay's talking about because anybody who is caught doing what Jay was just talking about should be first off the contract should be void. And, number two, we should go after them, really go after them.
KING: You're not kidding. Thank you, Montel. Thank you, Jay.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
THOMAS: Thank you very much, Larry.
KING: Montel Williams, Jay Thomas, back with more on this live edition of LARRY KING LIVE for this Saturday night. Don't go away.
KING: By the way, we will be back for another live session tomorrow night, get a couple nights off on Monday and Tuesday when Dr. Phil and Bob Costas will host. Then we're back Wednesday from New York. And next Thursday night in New York for an hour, former President Bill Clinton.
Joining us now from Biloxi, Mississippi is Laura Howe. Laura is the American Red Cross' southeastern regional spokeswoman.
At the Houston Astrodome is Macy Gray, who sang for us the other night. Macy is the Grammy award winning singer. She was here on Wednesday looking great as always. She spent her Labor Day weekend working with evacuees there and is back there again.
And, with her is Edna Griggs, a Houston resident, volunteering at the Astrodome. Her grandmother is still missing from New Orleans.
Let's start with Laura Howe. What's the Red Cross situation in Biloxi?
LAURA HOWE, RED CROSS SPOKESPERSON: I'll tell you every day we seem to be turning a new corner. We seem to be gaining a little bit of ground every single day on this disaster. We go out, we reach more people.
We're going to be ramping up the financial assistance here in the next several days that we're going to be doing for some of the people here in the Biloxi area.
We still have a whole lot of people in shelters, people who need the very basics of life, people who need a roof over their head, people who need to be fed every day.
So, while we're gaining ground, we see some progress, there's still some very, very basic needs that need to be met and we're trying to do that every day, take care of those physical needs, take care of the emotional needs that people have too because people are starting to get very tired and they're starting to get stressed.
KING: Why 40,000 volunteers?
HOWE: Larry, 40,000 volunteers because we need them that's why because we're dealing with a disaster area that is 90,000 square miles, roughly the size of Great Britain. We have a lot of work to do in this area.
You know it's interesting when you sit at home and see this disaster. I heard Montel Williams talking about it a few minutes ago. You see a very small piece of it. You see 19 inches of it. You see 27 inches of it, however large your TV screen is.
And when you see the enormity of it I think you begin to understand the enormity of the task ahead of us and the number of people across the southeastern United States and now across the country as evacuees move into other areas who really do need our help.
KING: Macy Gray, the terrific singer who was there Labor Day weekend is back there again. Notice any difference Macy at the Astrodome?
MACY GRAY, SINGER: Yes, there's a lot less people. There's about -- they told me about 8,000 people here. When I was here there was 30, so it's a lot more organized as far as the agencies that are set up here and people seem to be moving along a little bit.
KING: Do they seem to be getting everything they need?
GRAY: There's definitely like food, water and a lot of clothes donations but the main thing they need is housing and they're not getting housing very easily. You know, mainly people want somewhere to go. They want somewhere to like to live and I think that's the thing that's been really slow for them.
KING: Edna Griggs you live in Houston, right Edna, but your grandmother is missing does she live in New Orleans?
EDNA GRIGGS, HOUSTON RESIDENT: Yes, Larry, she lives in New Orleans. She was in the St. Martins Manor is where she lived at and she was actually admitted in the hospital the day that the storm hit. She was going to have gallbladder surgery and we haven't been able to find out any information since that time.
KING: Edna's cell number by the way is 713-594-0056, 713-594- 0056. If you have any information about her grandmother.
Macy, is there anything you want to ask of Edna or say to her?
GRAY: I just want to say that everybody out there, our heart goes out to you and we want to find your grandmother for you.
GRIGGS: Thank you. Thank you.
GRAY: All right.
KING: What do you do as a volunteer Edna?
GRIGGS: I've been volunteering out at the Astrodome, Larry, just helping out trying to do everything that I can, you know, keep my mind off of everything else that's going on. I'm just here to help. Just wherever I can help I'm there.
KING: And, Macy, what are you doing?
GRAY: Today, me an some friends of mine (INAUDIBLE) we came out and we adopted four families here out of Houston. We put them into apartments.
GRAY: And bought them some furniture and we're going to come back next week and get their kids in school, stuff like that. And then (INAUDIBLE) who is also with us, she adopted four families out of Georgia.
So, like we're trying to grab people one by one and just get them out of here because a lot of them have kids and it's really rough in there. It's not as many people as before but they're still homeless, you know, so we're trying to help out as much as we can and give them a place to live.
KING: Macy, you're amazing. Macy Gray we'll be checking with you again and Edna Griggs, good luck with your grandmother. The number again 713-594-0056. You want to add something Macy?
GRAY: Larry, yes I want to thank Harper (ph) Furniture for hooking us up with furniture and City View Apartments.
GRAY: Because they're the ones that opened up their building for us.
KING: Laura Howe of the American Red Cross you have a tracked down loved ones registry right? How does that work?
HOWE: Absolutely. You can call 1-877-LOVED-1-S and you can go to that telephone number. You'll talk to an operator who will register your loved one or check the registry for you.
You can also go to redcross.org and check and we have a registry on that website as well. And I have to tell you, Larry, that's been one of the hardest parts about being here on the ground is working with these families who have lost a loved one.
We were in a neighborhood in Mississippi today and as we drove by on a tree there was a piece of cardboard that was tacked up to that tree and the piece of cardboard red "Where is Erica Harden (ph)? Mom loves you." And it's those messages you see in the community, people so desperate.
Every day we get stopped as we're on the street, people asking us to help them. Some of my colleagues met a Secret Service agent yesterday who is here in Biloxi looking for his lost brother, his twin brother.
People are going shelter to shelter. They're going to the hospitals. They're looking for loved ones and I think it's the hardest part about being here and it's the most heart wrenching part about being here on the ground and being part of this disaster.
KING: Let's take a call, Sacramento, hello.
CALLER FROM SACRAMENTO: Hello. My wife and I are certified volunteers for the Red Cross. We've gone through the training. We're sitting here in Sacramento waiting to be deployed and we've been told there's a freeze on our deployment.
KING: What's that about Laura?
HOWE: I haven't heard that, Larry. I would encourage people to call their local chapter, check directly with their local chapter of the Red Cross. I know that we need all the people that we can get. The other thing too is we're going to need people...
KING: So, why would there be a freeze?
HOWE: Well, I haven't heard of that and I don't know that that is necessarily accurate information. One of the things that we know about this disaster this is going to take a long time and so we're going to need people on the ground here for months and months.
So, if you can't come now, if you've been trained, if you can't deploy with us now, we're going to need you for several weeks and several months on end, so this is going to be a long term operation.
So, you know, if you are a Red Cross volunteer and you haven't been called yet, I would ask people to be patient because I'm sure that you will be called in the coming days and weeks.
KING: Let's hope so. Thanks, Laura. Laura Howe of the American Red Cross.
Back with more of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.
KING: Joining us now in Washington is Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.
And, in New York, Michael Feinstein, this is hysterical. I asked him how he pronounces his name. I thought this was another Michael Feinstein. I know him as one of the great musicians of all time, the owner of Feinstein's in the Regency but he's the four-time Grammy nominated singer/musician who's also a spokesperson for the ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. How long, Michael, have you been involved with that organization?
MICHAEL FEINSTEIN, SINGER, ENTERTAINER: I've been involved with them for a couple of years, Larry. They're wonderful people, an incredible organization, the oldest charity in the United States and we're trying desperately to raise more money to help the animals who have been separated from their families.
KING: What do they do specifically? Let's say I give money to the ASPCA. What will they do vis-a-vis the animals in that area?
FEINSTEIN: Well, right now the ASPCA is spearheading operations with all the other charities, including the Humane Society to reunited families with their pets. If you go to aspca.org and if you make a donation, you can provide money that will help to save these animals.
There are so many things happening with care and medical supplies, so many incredible success stories that have bee happening because these are people who are bereft of everything and to be able to reunited them with their pets is a very important thing.
KING: Now, Wayne Pacelle, what does the Humane Society do regarding let's say do you do things in conjunction with the ASPCA?
WAYNE PACELLE, PRES., HUMANE SOCIETY OF U.S.: Yes, they're certainly a sister organization and we've had a major disaster relief program. The Humane Society of the U.S. is the largest animal welfare group in the country.
We have about 250 people down on the ground in Louisiana, another 100 in Mississippi and we're working with local humane societies like the Oregon Humane Society, the Michigan Humane Society and we are going house to house now.
We've received through our 1-800-HUMANE-1 line and through our website hsus.org, 2,500 calls of people who evacuated New Orleans and left their pets there. They said "My three cats are on the second floor. My four dogs are in the garage." We are going house to house, door to door, breaking in doors and pulling these animals out.
We've saved with the Louisiana SPCA about 2,000 animals in Louisiana already and then 1,000 in Mississippi but there are tens of thousands of other animals at risk and it's just an extraordinary number of animals. And, part of the problem, Larry, is the federal government ignores animals. They have not helped with any of the rescue.
PACELLE: They haven't helped with any of the rescue. In fact, they're telling people to leave and they're forcing them to keep their animals there and that's one of the reasons why so many people are staying. They don't want to abandon their beloved partners and their family. They don't want to leave their pets behind.
KING: Michael, where are the animals taken?
FEINSTEIN: Well, they're taken to two facilities and again this is in connection with the Humane Society and all the other organizations and they are given extraordinary medical care and there is a database through petfinders.com to reunite them and the money is needed desperately. This is a situation -- go ahead.
KING: I'm sorry, go ahead Michael.
FEINSTEIN: This is a situation where we can all make a difference in helping to reunite these pets with their loved ones and there have been success stories like we all heard about Snowball, the little puppy that was taken from the little child who was evacuated from the Superdome and on Thursday they found Snowball and he's going to be reunited with this child. What could be more important than to reunite families with their pets?
PACELLE: Larry, let me just say if I may that, you know, we have thousands of animals still alive in homes and roaming the street. The Humane Society of the U.S. and other groups we have hundreds of people there but we need hundreds more and the federal government can help us. It's not too late.
There are some success stories but there are a lot of potential failures out there. There are animals dying right now. We need the Coast Guard. We need the Navy. We need others. I appeal to the president and others in the administration please allow these human responders to help us now.
Now that the people have been largely evacuated they can help us rescue thousands of animals. Our facility in Gonzalez, Louisiana is overflowing. We need to send some of them out to Houston SPCA and other local humane societies.
KING: OK, people -- can people adopt the pets or are you trying to find their owners?
PACELLE: Well, we're trying to find their owners and that will happen through petfinder.com but...
KING: All right, let me get a call. There's a call coming in about this, Reno, Nevada, hello.
CALLER FROM RENO, NEVADA: Hello, hi Larry. My question is I saw a segment with Anderson Cooper last week where there was this gentleman who had nine stranded miniature horses. How can someone get in touch to help evacuate these animals especially like us who have property who are willing...
KING: Do your websites help Wayne and Michael?
KING: Let me give them out. I'm running tough on time here. The website for the Humane Society is www.hsus.org, right?
PACELLE: Yes and we respond to horses, farm animals, everything. We just need to have people contact us either through the website or 1-800-HUMANE-1 between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. and we'll try to respond if we can. But we need the government to help us, Larry.
KING: I got you. And the ASPCA, Michael, is www.aspca.org?
FEINSTEIN: Yes, please send money and please adopt.
KING: Thank you all very much.
We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.
KING: Karl Penhaul, our CNN Correspondent, can you give me a quick update in New Orleans?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well today, Larry, we were out with the 82nd Airborne Division, the paratroopers, a lot of them battle hardened from Iraq and Afghanistan but today they were out on humanitarian relief.
Today, we followed them through the mid city area of New Orleans and they were wading, going house to house, knocking on doors to see if there were any survivors in any of the buildings who hadn't managed to get out, any of the stragglers who didn't want to leave and they would advise them to leave.
But in the area actually that they were combing very little was found. No human life was found there. Everybody seems to have got out of that district, although they did find interestingly enough talking about animals they found a lot of dogs there still on the porches of those houses, gave them a little food, water, some of the MRE rations and then moved on -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Karl.
With us in Charlotte, North Carolina is Hans Leutenegger. He's the Verizon Wireless' vice president of network operations. In Overland Park, Kansas, Steve Dykes, Sprint vice president for corporate communications.
Hans, I understand you have 300 employees impacted by the hurricane but they kept on setting up lines, right? HANS LEUTENEGGER, VERIZON WIRELESS: That's correct, Larry. We have about 700 employees in the Gulf Coast area but 300 of them were impacted with homes that were either totally destroyed or all their belongings as well and yet those are some of the first people that came in after the storm passed and said "We want to be involved with helping to restore the network" and those people in conjunction with hundreds of engineers and technicians across the country who came in have been doing a phenomenal job of getting our service back up.
KING: What about at Sprint, Steve.
STEVE DYKES, SPRINT: Larry, we had about 400 employees affected by the storm in Mississippi, Alabama and New Orleans and the Louisiana area. They are still working. We have set up a huge Sprint city outside of Baton Rouge where we're deploying 24 hours a day getting supplies, telephones and emergency equipment to the federal government, local government, state government as well as many citizens of the community as we possibly can.
KING: Is the goal, Hans, to get a cell phone to everyone you can get one too and have it work?
LEUTENEGGER: Absolutely. We've been donating over 10,000 phones to the shelters in Houston and across the country to allow any of the victims or the evacuees be able to make calls to loved ones and often these are the first calls they're able to make and the first time that their family and friends can find out that they've been OK and oftentimes we've been able to reunite people who were separated during the evacuation.
KING: Well, I salute you both. We're going to do more on with both of you in a night ahead. I'm running close on time here.
We'll be right back. Don't go away.
KING: To close it out tonight, we'll go to Miami and the great Gloria Estefan -- Gloria.
GLORIA ESTEFAN, GRAMMY WINNING SINGER: I wrote these two songs as a celebration of hope and I want to send it out to all those people that are suffering through this terrible disaster and please know that you are not alone and you will not be. They go like this.
(SONGS BY GLORIA ESTEFAN)
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