Skip to main content
Search
Services


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

New Orleans: The Missing; Mobile Homes Not Reaching Victims; Owners Reuniting With Pets Months Later, While Many Are Still Missing; Fugitives Missing; Insurance Problems

Aired February 10, 2006 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Here, where I am, in this house, an empty damaged home. Just one of the many parts of a vibrant city that are still missing.
ANNOUNCER: Five months have passed. August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slams New Orleans in the Gulf Coast. Hundreds of thousands of lives, unimaginably changed forever.

And now, tonight, no one would have guessed it could still be so bad, that so much and so many people would still be missing. Housing, medical care, businesses, loved ones -- so much still missing, so many promises still not delivered.

This is special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360. "New Orleans: The Missing." Here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And good evening. I'm standing at 5801 Bancroft Drive, near Lake Pontratrain. Inside, what was once somebody's home. A place that was so heavily damaged by the floods after Hurricane Katrina, no one will ever live here again. This place was once part of the vibrant New Orleans. Tonight, it's a symbol of the void left after the storm. A void that remains.

In this special edition of 360, we're going to explore all that is missing in this city, even the things that should be here by now -- and there is much that should be here. It should be an eye opener to people who may see some of the better spots of New Orleans and think that everything is OK.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): The lights are on, on Bourbon Street. People are back outside looking for a good time. Music once again fills the air.

Images like these show what has returned to New Orleans, and we'll soon see more in the weeks ahead when Mardi Gras parades march through.

But these images are deceiving. For everything that has returned to the Gulf region, there is still so much missing. Sure, people have moved back into New Orleans, but only 150,000. The city is still missing about 330,000 residents -- two-thirds of its pre-Katrina population, now spread out elsewhere in the country. One thing we noticed early on is the lack of children here. A good number of families haven't returned, concerned that their kids wouldn't have a safe place to live and play.

LIN KENNEDY, MOTHER: I wouldn't let them play outside. They're probably terrified.

COOPER: And even if all the children had returned to New Orleans, where would they learn? Schools are among the missing. The mayor's office says only three of the city's 117 public schools have reopened.

And then there's the question of where people could live. With large parts of the Gulf still in ruins, many residents have turned to the government for help, asking for trailers to live in as they rebuild.

But a lot of those trailers are still missing. FEMA had received 135,000 trailer requests from all along the Gulf Coast. Only a little more than half of those requests had been filled. And New Orleans has received less than a fifth of the trailers it wanted.

For those who chose to return to their homes, in some neighborhoods, basic necessities are still missing. Sewage systems are still not working for Neighborhoods along Lake Pontratrain. Five percent of this city is still in the dark. No electricity. And trash is everywhere. Just 6 million of the city's 50 million cubic yards of hurricane debris has been cleared.

Before Katrina, New Orleans had seven working hospitals. Now, only two are open and only one is for adults. About 3,000 doctors who fled New Orleans because of Katrina have yet to return.

This is just scratching the surface. People are still missing loved ones. Pets are still missing their owners. Victims are still missing much needed aid. And bodies are still missing identities.

Considering it's already been almost half a year since the storm, there's a good chance these things will remain missing for a long time to come.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): Well, sometimes the list of the missing in New Orleans includes a mistake. Take the case of Walter Askew. When Katrina hit, he survived. Somehow, his name popped up as one of the missing victims of the storm. What's it like to be never lost, but found? CNN's Gary Tuchman has the interview.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Walter, you're on the Missing Persons home page for Hurricane Katrina missing people. Did you know that?

WALTER ASKEW, WRONGLY LISTED AS MISSING: No I didn't. No idea at all.

TUCHMAN: Well, let's make sure it's the same Walter Askew. Are you 48 years old?

ASKEW: Yes, I am.

TUCHMAN: Are you 70 inches tall?

ASKEW: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Two-hundred pounds?

ASKEW: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Do you have a beard?

ASKEW: Yes.

TUCHMAN: OK, I can tell you that. Medical condition -- needs medication?

ASKEW: Diabetic.

TUCHMAN: So that's you on that list.

ASKEW: That's me.

TUCHMAN: Does this surprise you, this news?

ASKEW: Yes, it does.

TUCHMAN: Have you ever been missing?

ASKEW: No.

TUCHMAN: Where have you been since Hurricane Katrina?

ASKEW: I've been to Hammond, and to Virginia.

TUCHMAN: Hammond, Louisiana.

ASKEW: Hammond, Louisiana; Manassas, Virginia; and Bethesda, Maryland.

TUCHMAN: So, you were living in the Washington, D.C., area for a while?

ASKEW: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Your home was destroyed here?

ASKEW: Yes.

TUCHMAN: And now you're back here in Louisiana.

ASKEW: Now I'm back here.

TUCHMAN: How do you think you got on that list? Do you have any idea? ASKEW: No. I thought of a couple of people, maybe, but none that makes any sense.

TUCHMAN: I mean, is there anyone in your life who may have reported you, you haven't talked to for a while?

ASKEW: I was thinking maybe my son.

TUCHMAN: Your son?

ASKEW: Quinton.

TUCHMAN: And what's the situation with your son?

ASKEW: I haven't talked to him in a while.

TUCHMAN: OK.

ASKEW: Me and his mother split.

TUCHMAN: Oh, I see. So maybe he reported you missing because he hadn't heard from you.

ASKEW: Right. Maybe.

TUCHMAN: Well, that's good. He was concerned about you.

ASKEW: Yes.

TUCHMAN: What happened to you and your family here? You're married and you have children?

ASKEW: Yes.

TUCHMAN: And what happened to you -- were you here when the hurricane hit or did you go elsewhere?

ASKEW: I left Sunday morning and went to Hammond.

TUCHMAN: How far is Hammond from here?

ASKEW: About 60 miles -- 60 or 70 miles.

TUCHMAN: And you lived here in Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish.

ASKEW: St. Bernard Parish.

TUCHMAN: And what happened to your home?

ASKEW: Destroyed.

TUCHMAN: Destroyed. And then you went up to Maryland.

ASKEW: Yes.

TUCHMAN: And how were you able to afford life up there with no money and no clothes or anything?

ASKEW: My job continued to pay me for a while and I had some savings and a temple adopted us -- basically gave us furniture and gave us some money for food.

TUCHMAN: So the synagogue helped your family.

ASKEW: Synagogue helped us, yes.

TUCHMAN: And then you came back here to start your life again in Louisiana.

ASKEW: Start again, go back to work.

TUCHMAN: Well, I hope that you are relieved that you're not missing.

ASKEW: Yes, I am.

TUCHMAN: And I'll tell you all the other people who know you are probably relieved you're not missing either.

ASKEW: That would be nice.

TUCHMAN: I'm glad you're OK.

ASKEW: OK, thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN, (on camera): Anderson, Walter was very surprised when he found out he was on that missing list.

COOPER: So, there are thousands of people listed as missing. Some of them clearly are missing, some of them may be deceased, but a number of people aren't. Like him, they somehow just got on that list.

TUCHMAN: That's right. And there's something interesting we found out today from the group that has that list. We contacted the National Center for Missing Adults, and that's the group that listed Walter Askew as missing on its Web site.

We wanted to know more about why his name was there. And a response the organization told 360, it's doing its very best to manage and update all the cases it handles and that it's on its sixth attempt to contact each of the families with open cases. It went on to say that quote, "Any criticism should be directed towards the lack of support from our federal government who has designated our agency to be a primary agency to provide assistance to these individuals that have been displaced from the hurricane without providing us with the support or assistance that we need." Very harsh words.

Now, there's a story about everyone on the list; and unfortunately, some of those stories are very sad. We spent time today with a family that's living through an absolute nightmare. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): A family drives hundreds of miles from their temporary home in Georgia to the home that Katrina forced them to leave. Their beloved city of New Orleans.

What were you thinking about while you were in the car?

DENISE HERBERT, DAUGHTER OF VICTIM: Why I'm coming back.

TUCHMAN: Denise Herbert is coming back to say goodbye to her mother, Ethel. What the Herbert family has gone through has been incredibly painful.

We met Denise Herbert in Atlanta, where Louisiana's governor was meeting with displaced Louisiana residents. Denise told us her mother had been missing since two days after Katrina struck.

HERBERT: I'm very angry. And guess what? Everybody in America's got a mom, but where is mine? That's what I want to know today. Where is my mother? And I'm angry with the world. And they can parade around here, talk about Mardi Gras and what they want to do with New Orleans, well what about these 3,000 and some people missing and one of them is my mom? I'm sick of these people. I'm really -- I'm sick of these people.

TUCHMAN: Her outburst quieted the room and got the attention of the governor.

The Herberts' children and grandchildren had been calling government officials, hospitals and morgues for months and had found out nothing.

Did you think for a little while that maybe you'd hear something good about this?

HERBERT: Yes, I did. Because my mother was a fighter.

TUCHMAN: After our story aired, a CNN viewer called to tell us he helped treat Ethel Herbert on an interstate overpass near the Super Dome. By chance, this picture was taken of her by a photographer on that overpass.

DAVID LIPIN, RESCUER: We began to assess her. We didn't get very far because some snipers opened up and started shooting at us while we were stopped there. So that sort of interrupted everything that we really wanted to do.

TUCHMAN: After meeting Denise, we called morgue officials, who this week notified Denise Herbert that one of their unidentified bodies was indeed her mother.

HERBERT: For somebody I've been with all my life, it's heartbreaking. Heartbreaking.

TUCHMAN: And now Denise and her daughter, D'Lon, are home for the funeral this weekend. It is only the second time they've been back since the hurricane. Denise lived in an apartment in a unit right next to her mother. A building that is still uninhabitable.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And it probably is unbelievable to you that this even happened, isn't it?

HERBERT: It's like it's not real. It's not real.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Denise was told that her mother died two hours after doctors took her from the overpass and put her on an emergency helicopter. That she didn't suffer anonymously for days or weeks, offers some comfort.

D'LON HERBERT, GRANDDAUGHTER OF VICTIM: Although that situation is sad, but you know, her work is finished. So, we have to let her go.

TUCHMAN: After the funeral, the Herberts will go back to Atlanta.

Do you want to come back to New Orleans some day?

HERBERT: Oh, I have to. She's here. She's here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I mean, how did this happen? Was she alone on that overpass?

TUCHMAN: Right. Ethel Herbert was with her family on that overpass. But what happened was medical personnel got there. They saw she had a stroke, so they took her on a golf cart into the Super Dome. The family couldn't go along. They couldn't fit on the golf cart. They never saw her again. She was in the Super Dome. They decided to put her on the helicopter. Two hours later, she passed away and she had been in the morgue for over five months.

COOPER: Unidentified. No one knew who she was.

TUCHMAN: One of the unidentified. And until the story aired and our viewer called us, they didn't know who she was and now they do.

COOPER: Unbelievable. And the funeral tomorrow -- memorial service tomorrow.

TUCHMAN: Memorial service tomorrow.

COOPER: Our thoughts and our prayers are with them.

So many families, though, still waiting for answers. I mean, whether it's people who shouldn't be on that list and are, but so many people still unidentified.

TUCHMAN: It's just amazing. This hurricane was in the summer; we're in the middle of the winter, and so many people are still wondering. COOPER: Gary, thanks. Great story tonight.

Washington made a pledge to help the victims of Katrina. We all heard it, but was it an empty promise? Billions of dollars were earmarked for the Gulf Coast. So why are so many people still waiting for the help? Where is the money? Tonight, we're "Keeping them Honest."

Also ahead, a city without children. How can it be that nearly six months after Katrina, so many children have yet to return to New Orleans?

And later, the lost pets. An estimated 50,000 were missing after the storm. Tonight, an update on the nationwide effort to reunite the animals with their owners when this special edition of 360 from New Orleans continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, you've heard so many people who say, you know, unless you've actually been here, it's hard to really get a sense of what it is like. We just want to show you what it is really like.

This is the home of Lea Freeman. This home is going to be destroyed. It's completely uninhabitable. It smells. The smell of mold is all around. You need a face mask when you come in.

And it's so surreal to think that -- I mean, this is five plus months since this storm and this is pretty much exactly as the house was after the storm.

The wine bottles are still here. All her personal possessions are still here. And you know, you go through the entire house and it's just, it's room after room. I mean, look at this wall. This is just all mold that has grown over the wall. And you can see the various water marks as the water rose, and then as it fell once again. And all her possessions are still around. I found this a little bit earlier. It's a child's toy.

And, you know, it's not just this house. I mean, this is just one house that we happened to pick. You can go just about anywhere down this block and you'll see the same kind of destruction.

There are so many people here having trouble with their insurance companies, still waiting for money from insurance companies or from the federal government.

It ought to be good news -- heck, it ought to be great news that FEMA has acquired thousands of trailers, exactly what the thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina have been promised, after all, and have been waiting for.

There's a little something, though, just a tiny detail that keeps this from being the great news it ought to be. Another "Keeping them Honest" report again. Here's CNN's Susan Roesgen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You're looking at emergency housing for victims of Katrina. Row after row of mobile homes -- nearly 11,000. FEMA purchased so many, you can barely squeeze between them. But the problem is, this is Arkansas, not Louisiana. And this empty city of mobile homes is 450 miles away from where it should be.

The mayor of Hope, Arkansas, Dennis Ramsey, says FEMA leased this area near the airport in October.

DENNIS RAMSEY, MAYOR OF ARKANSAS: They asked what we wanted and we said $25,000 a month. And they came back a couple days later and said that's within FEMA guidelines and the contract was signed.

ROESGEN: That's right. FEMA is paying $25,000 a month to let these mobile homes sit here. A good deal for Hope, but no glory for FEMA. Arkansas Congressman Mike Ross.

REP. MIKE ROSS (D), ARKANSAS: We want them to come up here and pick these manufactured homes up -- all 11,000 of them and take them to the people who lost their homes and everything they owned in the Gulf Coast well over five months ago. This is five months past due and it's time for FEMA to get moving.

ROESGEN: Ross came down from D.C. with fellow Congressman Dennis Cardoza of California and a posse of staff to show CNN $431 million tax dollars worth of mobile homes sitting unused in an Arkansas cow pasture.

What's the holdup? How does FEMA explain the delays? Well first, FEMA says some people who could live in a mobile home, don't want one because they're much larger than the travel trailers that can fit in a driveway. Second, FEMA says some communities lack the infrastructure to support a mobile home, like hookups for water and power. And third, FEMA rules say mobile homes can't be placed in a flood plain. Their sheer size and weight make them a unique problem. Never mind that much of the Gulf region is in fact a flood plain.

DAVID PASSEY, FEMA: I think we have been surprised with this extraordinary housing mission, at the number of obstacles in placing manufactured housing.

ROESGEN: FEMA's rep in the area, David Passey, gave the congressmen a private tour to defend FEMA's operation.

PASSEY: If people want to blame us, then they can blame us. But, we need cooperation from local property owners. We need cooperation from local officials. And then we have to realize there will be some physical limitations to where we can place emergency housing.

ROESGEN: But after getting a good look at the unoccupied mobile homes in Hope, the congressmen say no excuses. FEMA must get them down to the people who need them. REP. DENNIS CARDOZA (D), CALIFORNIA: It's outrageous that we're not breaking through those regulations to get the job done. Five months after the disaster. It's just unacceptable.

ROESGEN: Congressman, can you do that? Can you break that bureaucratic red tape?

CARDOZA: We're going to try.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: What defies logic, though, is that I mean, FEMA ordered these trailers. Now they're paying $25,000 just to keep them in Arkansas. They ordered them, but they're saying well, we can't bring them here because it's a flood plain.

ROESGEN: It's a flood plain.

COOPER: But why would they order trailers that couldn't go to a flood plain?

ROESGEN: Anderson, that is the same question I asked, and the most I got for an answer was a little bit of what you heard from David Passey there, the FEMA rep in this area talking about well, we ordered them, but we've seen some obstacles. But they knew the rules beforehand as well, that you can't put these mobile homes in a flood plain, so it didn't make a whole lot of sense.

COOPER: It's not, of course, just trailers that people are waiting for here. It's federal money as well.

ROESGEN: That's so true. And you know, it was I think about a month ago that we first checked in with the city of New Orleans to find out what had happened to the $600 million that the city of New Orleans had asked for from the federal government just to keep going shortly after the hurricane hit.

It turns out, Anderson, that they've still had only $100 million of what the federal government had promised. That's not enough to fix the street lights in New Orleans. It's not enough to pick up all the garbage.

On the state level, the state had requested and been promised $6 billion in community development block grants to do things like fix up highways and give people some more housing. Well, out of that money, Anderson, I checked just today; and once again, the state hasn't received a single penny of that money.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

ROESGEN: It is unbelievable. And then finally, so many people in the city are just gone. You know, we've got three-quarters of the population have left. You don't have much of a tax base when you have that going on. And 100,000 jobs lost across the state.

COOPER: Susan, Roesgen, thanks very much. It is just starting to rain here, of all things. But rain is the last thing anyone here wanted to see, but that is indeed what we have.

The search for the missing pets. That story coming up from New Orleans, but first Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS," joins us with some of the other stories we're following.

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.

We start off with a new deadline for an American being held hostage in Iraq. Today, Jill Carroll's captors threatened to kill her if all female Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody are not released by February 26. Carroll is a freelance reporter, working for the "Christian Science Monitor." She was kidnapped on January 7 in Baghdad.

In England, the man charged with murdering his wife and baby will not fight extradition to Massachusetts. Neil Entwistle waived that right during a court hearing today. He is accused of shooting to death his wife, Rachel, and their 9-month-old daughter last month before fleeing to England.

And in the Middle East, renewed clashes between the Israelis and Palestinians. Today, Palestinian officials say an Israeli gunship fired on the Gaza Strip and a car was destroyed. No one was injured. Israel says the missiles were aimed at areas used by militants to launch rocket attacks on Israel.

And in Egypt, a long lost neighbor of King Tut surfaces. Today, American archeologists found what they believe to be a tomb containing five mummies. It's the first discovery of its kind in nearly 85 years. And the tomb is just 16 feet from King Tut's crypt -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Erica, thanks very much. Erica Hill, we'll talk to you a little bit later on.

Coming up, what happened to all those missing animals? The missing pets -- 50,000 of them roaming the streets at one point, it was said. We'll have an update on the efforts to find them and find them homes.

We'll also take a look at missing fugitives, people who are wanted here in Louisiana and have gone to Texas; and the hunt to find them there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HILL: And welcome back, everyone, to this special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360. I'm Erica Hill in Atlanta. Some rain has moved into New Orleans area where Anderson is. We're experiencing a few technical difficulties. We will get back to him as soon as possible.

We want to continue on. As we are keeping people honest, we continue to look at what's happened along the Gulf Coast since Katrina. Tens of thousands of people, of course, were rescued in the days after Katrina struck -- plucked from rooftops, pulled from the waters, lifted out of trees.

But there's another rescue operation that was just as large, if not larger. Here's Anderson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): In the days and weeks after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, scenes like this were common -- cats and dogs left behind, forced to fend for themselves after their best friends had gone.

As flood waters receded, confused and frightened pets scrounged for food. Humans who could help, did.

LEE BERGERUN, ANIMAL RESCUE VOLUNTEER: You know, two weeks without food and water a lot of these guys went. We're just trying to get as many of them fed as we can so we can buy time and rescue them later.

COOPER: Evacuees anguished over the pets they were forced to leave behind.

WAYNE PACELLE, PRESIDENT, THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF AMERICA: The people who were evacuated and who left their pets behind are calling us inconsolably, saying please rescue our pets.

COOPER: As many as 50,000 animals needed to be rescued. The Humane Society and other animal welfare agencies -- public and private -- arrived along the Gulf and began saving all kinds of cats and dogs, from mutts to retrievers. Volunteers from around the country waded into toxic waters to search in, under and around homes. They did whatever was necessary to rescue pets.

Shelters quickly filled to capacity. Even the most unexpected pitched in. One prison in Louisiana took in 160 dogs; 13 inmates cared for the orphaned animals, giving them food, water and a lot of TLC.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to be gentle with them. You got to take up a lot of time with them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show some love.

COOPER: And as soon as owners were able to come back, they came looking for their beloved companions, searching shelters, hoping for reunions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're welcome.

COOPER: Web sites like petfinder.com helped thousands of returning pet owners, including Nancy Hicks, who found her dog, Precious. NANCY HICKS, PET OWNER: My family wasn't complete until I found Precious.

COOPER (on camera): She's already used to being back in your arms, it looks like.

HICKS: It seems like she's never gotten unused to it.

COOPER (voice-over): Sadly, there are several hundred reunions that still have not happened.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Well, as many pets wait to be reunited with their owners, the rescues amazingly continue, even after all of these months. Again, here's Anderson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon. How are you doing?

COOPER (voice-over): Hard to believe, but more than five months after the storm, Louisiana Animal Control workers are still rescuing the four-legged victims of Katrina.

The SPCA says in the weeks after the hurricane, animal care groups from around the country scoured 7,000 homes in Louisiana for abandoned pets, rescuing about 8,500, reuniting 2,000 dogs and cats with their owners.

(on camera): Are you still finding animals on the streets?

SHEILA BARRIOS, LOUISIANA SPCA: We are still finding some animals on the street, but not nearly the numbers as before Katrina.

COOPER (voice-over): Animal control teams are still laying traps for lost pets and 120 people have come here to the shelter, searching for their cats and dogs.

The SPCA says there were 10 reunions in the past month. Last week, one dog found in St. Bernard Parish was returned to its owners clear across the Mississippi river in Algiers.

(on camera): It's amazing that animals could still be alive out here on their own.

BARRIOS: It is, but animals are very, very resilient and very resourceful. We are finding now we're starting to have puppies being born again.

COOPER (voice-over): Those puppies can be hard to track down. Today, one team crawled under a waterlogged house, hunting for the last baby of a rescued litter. They came up empty.

BARRIOS: No such luck today.

COOPER: So many animals lost, but some have found new homes. Like Jag, here, adopted by little Lindsay Klein (ph) after Katrina.

Why'd you name it Jag?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it looks like a jaguar.

COOPER: Jag is just the latest member of Gary Klein's growing brood.

Do you keep it outside or move it in?

GARY KLEIN (PH), ADOPTED JAG: It's going to stay outside. We have three cats inside already.

COOPER: You got a full house.

G. KLEIN (PH): We got a full house already, right.

COOPER: The happy endings, however, are fewer these days, but as long as returning owners keep looking for their lost pets, animal workers promise to keep looking as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Well, you may remember the exodus to Houston back in September. Police are now saying that hiding in plain site were some fugitives. Texas authorities have been working to round up suspects, but in some cases, it is too late and violent crime has spiked in Houston. We're going to take a look at the connection.

Plus, the presence of children -- something really lacking in New Orleans these days. And how can you rebuild a city if you don't have children to help it grow?

You're watching a special edition of 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back to a suddenly very wet New Orleans. A downpour knocked us off the air momentarily, but we are back. Appreciate Erica Hill for filling in for me while we've been gone.

I want to talk about some fugitives who are now on the loose in Texas, some of whom have already been caught. But there are many more still out there.

So many people left New Orleans and ended up in Texas, and among them were some very bad people indeed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): In the weeks and months following Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people sought refuge in Texas. Many were looking for assistance, a hot meal, clean clothes, shelter after the storm. But a small minority saw something different -- opportunity, a way to disappear from the law. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, along with the people who came here to the state of Texas were included fugitives from the law, people who have committed very serious crimes in Louisiana.

COOPER: Fugitives from the law. The Texas Fugitive Unit had to find and arrest the ones that came to Texas. A daunting task, but in some cases made easier because believe it or not, some of those fugitives actually used their real names when they applied for Katrina-related federal assistance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far, our fugitive unit has arrested 13 fugitives from Louisiana. They include child sex offenders, rapists and robbers.

COOPER: Among those arrested, Deon Hepolitae (ph), wanted by Louisiana police officials on outstanding warrants for weapons charges and aggravated assault.

Arrested December 1, Ronald D'Hon (ph), who had a warrant for violating probation in connection with an aggravated battery charge.

Milton Jacobs was arrested in Houston. He'd been a fugitive since June 24, for failing to appear to face stalking charges.

The Texas Fugitive Unit returned all three to Louisiana authorities. But the hunt isn't over. Still at large, a dozen Louisiana fugitives who asked for FEMA aid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's important to understand that the people we are looking for are very, very dangerous. They are wanted for a variety of crimes, including murder, rape and attempted homicide of a police officer.

COOPER: That's right. This man, Troy Dixon (ph), is accused of trying to run over a sheriff's deputy. And, he is still missing.

Another Louisiana fugitive on the run, Eugene Davis, convicted of manslaughter. Davis violated his probation two years ago when he disappeared. But they tracked him to a hotel in Texas, where officials say he received FEMA aid for the hurricane. But he got away and he is still missing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): Well, to dig further into this issue, we spoke earlier with David Boatright. He's the chief of Texas's Criminal Investigations Division.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Chief, in December your unit caught 13 fugitives. How do you go about doing it?

DAVID BOATRIGHT, DIVISION CHIEF, TEXAS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Anderson, it's certainly a tactical operation that requires research and boots on the ground to actually be out in the communities looking for these violent offenders that are trying to elude law enforcement.

COOPER: Did it surprise you that some of them actually used their real names when they were applying for FEMA aid?

BOATRIGHT: It was very surprising that people that were wanted felons from the state of Louisiana were coming into Texas, applying for FEMA benefits, using their real name and their real identifiers. Obviously, that aided our ability to be able to track these people down and put them behind bars.

COOPER: Are these guys in hiding?

BOATRIGHT: Well, certainly, they were using the advantage of the events of Hurricane Katrina to use that as a cover, I think, to elude law enforcement and evade capture. And only through the work of our fugitive unit at the Attorney General's Office, we were able to track these people down and put them back behind bars.

COOPER: Do you have any sense of how many fugitives there may be in Texas right now?

BOATRIGHT: Well, certainly, we're still searching for another 16 or 17 fugitives that we believe were at one time in Texas and I believe you're going to talk about a couple of them later on tonight. And certainly, any help that we can obtain from the public in tracking these people down is of a great benefit to us in law enforcement.

COOPER: Yes, this guy Troy Dixon is wanted for attempting to run over a sheriff's deputy. How are you going about trying to find him?

BOATRIGHT: Well, Troy Dixon is somebody that, as you mentioned, that we're particularly interested in. We have tracked him about as far as we can track him, using intelligence and using certain databases that we have available and using the FEMA data that we have available. We're hoping that maybe by highlighting his case and showing his picture to the public through the media, will cause someone to recognize him.

COOPER: And if someone does recognize him, what do they do?

BOATRIGHT: They need to call 911. If they recognize Dixon from your news story and they say that's the guy next door to me. They need to immediately call 911 and report that to their local police department.

COOPER: Do you think he's in Texas though, still?

BOATRIGHT: We really don't know exactly where he is. The trail ended about two months ago in Texas. Certainly, he's from the Gulf Coast area, so he has ties to Louisiana. He may have returned to Louisiana, or he still may be in Texas. That's what we exactly don't know is his whereabouts today.

COOPER: Have any of these fugitives, to your knowledge, committed crimes while in Texas? BOATRIGHT: Of the people that we have arrested in our Attorney General's fugitive unit, they haven't committed any other offense while they were here in Texas, but we think partly that is in part due to our swift and rather quick methods in which we used to try to police these people up.

COOPER: And what do you do once you find them? Do you return them to Louisiana.

BOATRIGHT: They're returned to custody back into the jurisdiction where they are arrested and they are eventually extradited back to the state of Louisiana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, a million stories began when Katrina came ashore. In a moment, the ones that are still being written. The people still looking for answers about what happened to a friend or a parent.

Also, what's going on with the schools now that so many families have left and a few are coming back?

From New Orleans, this is a special edition of 360. "The Missing."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, people who live in rustbelt cities, like Pittsburgh, know what it means to see their hometown shrink dramatically over time. Here it happened nearly overnight, leaving churches with no parishioners and schools without children. Not to mention, a city without enough taxpayers to keep everything running.

Fortunately, many would say, blessedly, there are some exceptions. As CNN's Adaora Udoji discovered at school.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since the chaos of Katrina, there have been joyous reunions at schools all over New Orleans.

In the storm's bleak aftermath, some had wondered if New Orleans would end up childless. Like everything else, schools took a beating. So did playgrounds and backyards.

Back then, Lin Kennedy, who escaped to Atlanta with her three kids, like so many parents, just couldn't see going home anytime soon.

LIN KENNEDY, MOTHER: I don't think that we'll have that in New Orleans. I mean, I wouldn't let them play outside. They're probably terrified.

UDOJI: Less than five months later, some parents have changed their minds and some students are back. MIKE THOMPSON, CONSULTANT, NEW ORLEANS SCHOOLS: They are back and I think part of that is there's a hope and a future within New Orleans. I think the long range plans within this city are excellent.

UDOJI: The beleaguered New Orleans public school system has long ranked among the state's worst. Now, it's managed to reopen 18 schools, serving nearly 10,000 students. A far cry from the nearly 60,000 who were enrolled in August. And with so few students, more than 7,500 employees have been laid off.

That didn't happen at the Archdiocese of New Orleans -- 95 percent of their employees came back to help, opened 30 Catholic schools for 14,000 students.

FATHER WILLIAM MAESTRI, SUPERINTENDENT, ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS: We have referred to schools as magnets of hope. What we have learned is, is that if we open schools, parents and families returned to communities. That's essential to building an infrastructure in any community.

UDOJI: Still, it's not all rosy, especially for the public school system that was troubled before Katrina, with below average test scores and serious financial woes. The schools expect a massive rush of students in the fall. If they're right, that's good news for a city desperate to rebuild itself.

Adaora Udoji, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So few schools, though, have reopened at this point.

Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS," joins us for some of the other stories we're following -- Erica.

HILL: Hi again, Anderson.

The U.S. trade deficit is setting a new record. But that's not necessarily a good thing. The Commerce Department says it climbed 18 percent to more than $725 billion last year, fueled mainly by American consumers' demand foreign goods, things like oil.

Meantime, over at Ford and GM, the cuts continue. This time for the showroom. Executives of the two automakers saying today they need to reduce the number of dealerships as their U.S. market share shrinks. Speaking before the start of the Annual National Automotive Dealers Association Convention, Ford's President of the Americas Mark Fields called the move rightsizing.

If you choose your cable channels, you could save as much as 13 percent each month on your cable bill. That's a finding in a new FCC report on a la carte cable TV pricing. And really, it's an about face from an earlier report from the FCC that said picking and choosing your channels would actually leave you with fewer options and a higher bill. So when will you see this? It could be a while, but Senator John McCain says he'll introduce legislation next week to move toward a la carte cable.

And arrivederci Chantico. Starbucks, dropping the rich chocolate drink after only a year on the menu. Apparently Starbucks customers who were used to tailoring their drinks to their liking, didn't really take to the one size, no add-on, no subtraction, Chantico, making it a venti flop -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Erica, I'll let you go on that one. Thanks very much.

You know, here in New Orleans, once again we're getting a firsthand look at the destruction that is still here. Earlier, I spoke to the woman who owns this house, Lea Freeman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Your home's probably going to be demolished, right?

LEA FREEMAN, HOMEOWNER: It will be, yes.

COOPER: I just want to kind of, if you could just kind of walk us through to show viewers what so many people here in New Orleans, what kind of situation they're dealing with in their homes. How long have you lived here?

FREEMAN: 15 years. And as you can see, it's utterly devastated.

COOPER: This was the living room. So these are all your...

FREEMAN: ... Actually, this was the den.

COOPER: This was the den? And these are all your possessions?

FREEMAN: Yes.

COOPER: None of this is salvageable, right?

FREEMAN: Nothing. Nothing is salvageable.

COOPER: So family photographs, all, you just have to kind of...

FREEMAN: ... all gone. Artwork, all gone.

COOPER: And everything, I mean, it's covered in this mold. I mean, the air -- it's very difficult to breath in here. For health reasons, it's recommended that we have masks.

FREEMAN: That we wear masks. This is the funny part about the house. The waterline, they say, came to here. And, of course, the roof, wind damage; but the part here, where all the mold is, is not covered by either wind or flood.

COOPER: So wait a minute. Insurance covers...

FREEMAN: Up to the flood line.

COOPER: Up to the flood line, but not up to here?

FREEMAN: No.

COOPER: Not anything beyond that.

FREEMAN: And so there's this little space that's not covered.

COOPER: And you're having a real trouble with insurance companies, as are many people here in New Orleans, because they're saying this is the result of flood, not of wind.

FREEMAN: Correct.

COOPER: And if it was the result of wind, then they would reimburse you?

FREEMAN: Correct. And also, for loss of use, the first adjuster said, sure, we'll cover loss of use. But then, they said, no, you have to prove that it's from wind and not flood.

COOPER: I mean, this is just incredible that five months, this is all still like exact -- I mean this could have been the week after the storm.

FREEMAN: Yes.

COOPER: And what room was this?

FREEMAN: This is the living room, actually.

COOPER: Look at this wall. This is just incredible.

FREEMAN: Yes, it's pretty incredible. But you see how the furniture is? The water actually picked everything up and moved it around.

COOPER: Oh, so this was all where the water left it?

FREEMAN: This is where the water left it.

COOPER: Incredible.

FREEMAN: And as you can see, I mean, I wanted to get some pieces out that were antique pieces, like that little table over there. It's all buckled and ruined.

COOPER: So when are you going to -- when will the house be demolished?

FREEMAN: I don't know. We're waiting to see. We're going to demolish four of them in a row and probably any day now.

COOPER: Well, I am so sorry for what you're going through. I mean, you know you're not alone because everyone in this neighborhood, all the homes on this side are going through it as well. You know, people around the country talk about Katrina fatigue, and it always kind of makes me annoyed that they say that because the only people who should be fatigued are you and the people who live here.

FREEMAN: Yes. And the sad thing is we're sandwiched between two sets of grandparents and they can't come back and rebuild. They've lived here for over 50 years. So the neighborhood's going to have to -- the whole logistics of the neighborhood, the whole feeling is changing.

COOPER: Well, I wish you the best.

FREEMAN: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Lee Freeman.

We're going to tell you a few more stories of the missing, ahead; some of which have endings and some which all this time later, still do not. When this special edition of 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We began this hour with the sobering reminder that thousands of people still are listed as missing from this city and the Gulf almost six months after Hurricane Katrina.

We've tried to follow the sad part of the stories since the very beginning. And so we're in a position to tell you what has happened to a couple of the cases that we focused on over these last several months.

There was this report, for instance, in mid-November from Rusty Dornin, about a missing woman and a missing house.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Susie Eaton (ph) worried her mother, Viola, might have been stuck inside her house in the Ninth Ward when Hurricane Katrina hit.

Eaton, who lives in Florida, received a death certificate for the wrong person. Upset, she tried, but couldn't get answers from officials in New Orleans.

She ended up calling CNN and told us about her worst fears.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My feelings are that my mother may be still in her house, that she was not able to get out in time before the levee broke.

DORNIN: We volunteered to go to her mother's house to see what we could find.

(on camera): This is what's left of the block where Susie Eaton's mother lived. We have no idea exactly where the house was, but we did have the address and we found her mailbox. When we called Eaton, she said she was thankful to know that much, but still wonders what happened to her mother.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, we checked. Shocking to say, Susie Eaton is still wondering what happened to her mother. She doesn't know whether Viola Eaton's body has been found, whether it's in a state morgue. She doesn't anything at all. The Missing Persons Center calls the case of Viola Eaton an ongoing investigation.

And then there was a report from Ted Rowlands, which originally aired on the first of October 2005. Remember, that was already a month after the storm.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 56-year-old Carmen Bennett decided to stay in her home with her dog during Hurricane Katrina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wind was loud, she was hearing trees falling and she was obviously panicked.

ROWLANDS: Her brother, Jose, who had evacuated, was on the phone with Carmen until the line went dead.

Two weeks later, still no word until a relative e-mailed Jose a photo of Carmen's home, painted on the side a number 1 and the word dead. Jose says he wants his sister's body, but he doesn't know where she is. He says he's done everything he could think of. He's given a DNA sample, and he's talked to every agency involved in the recovery process. Still, nobody has told him anything about Carmen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Carmen's brother was finally told something about his sister. It was bad news and it didn't come until the 30th of December, in the form of a call from morgue officials, after four months in the mortuary and three months since the family had supplied DNA -- three months since the supplied DNA. A body otherwise known as Jane Doe was finally identified as being that of Carmen Feran (ph). She was buried just two weeks ago.

A lot of comments showing up on the radar and on our blog about our reporting tonight.

Marian in Franklin, Tennessee, writes, "I totally agree that until mistakes are noted and admitted they will be repeated. Thanks for your personal commitment to helping us remember, holding people accountable, and for keeping them honest."

It is the least we can do.

David in Burlington, Vermont, says, "Don't worry about getting preachy." Earlier on the blog, I had apologized for doing that a little bit. "We need accountability," he said, "for this terrible disaster and every effort should be made to help our fellow Americans in the Gulf region."

From Katie in Port Arthur, Texas, "I think attention should also be given to those that suffered from hurricane Rita. Rita is the forgotten hurricane." And Port Arthur was badly hit.

And from Alex in Ville Platte, Louisiana, there's this observation, "The facts with a human face is the most powerful tool the media has. The whole country needs to keep up with the many Katrina stories because they encompass so much about what's right and wrong with this country."

On our blog, on the radar tonight.

More of 360, live from New Orleans in a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Thanks for watching this special edition of 360.

"LARRY KING" is next, with the latest on the search for a missing Florida girl. And an exclusive, Christian Rocker Michael W. Smith, on his near drug overdose and finding God.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines