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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

West Virginia Mine Fire; Bin Laden's New Threats; Abducted Journalist; Haleigh's Battle; New Orleans in 2016?

Aired January 19, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Marilyn Crosby, who's a 911 director who took the call.
Marilyn, what exactly did the caller say from this mine?

MARILYN CROSBY, LOCAL COUNTY 911 DIRECTOR: Okay, I didn't actually take the call myself. I was at home, but when this started happening, I came in. It's my understanding that they called a little bit after 8:00 requesting that a fire truck be put on standby.

COOPER: Did they say what the nature of the fire was?

CROSBY: No, not at first. But the initial call didn't have a whole lot of information. But we started getting some more information from other sources after that, and so we started sending all of our emergency services to the site.

COOPER: What sort of response did you send? How many emergency services?

CROSBY: Okay, we sent the local fire department that covered that area, plus I think there was a couple of ambulances. And, of course, we sent our emergency service director, our local emergency service director, and then there's also law enforcement on scene.

COOPER: The report that we have heard and we have not independently confirmed, was that it was a conveyer belt fire. Have you heard anything about that?

CROSBY: Yes. That was the initial calls that we got and that hasn't been confirmed that's, you know, what's we're hearing.

COOPER: And there was also a report about two workers being unaccounted for. Do you know anything about that?

CROSBY: We are hearing that also.

COOPER: Okay, but you're hearing that from the person who called?

CROSBY: Yes, we're hearing that our personnel on scene

COOPER: All right. Appreciate you joining us. It's a busy for you. We'll check in with you throughout this hour. Thanks very much.

(END BREAKING NEWS) Tonight, another threat of disaster to the U.S. But is Osama bin Laden strong enough to carry it out?

ANNOUNCER: Osama bin Laden breaks his silence with a new audiotape and the promise of attacks on American soil.

OSAMA BIN LADEN, TERRORIST: It's only a question of time. They are underway and you will hear bout them soon.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the hunt for one of world's most dangerous terrorists.

First, Hurricane Katrina destroys thousands of houses; and now homeowners are shocked by what insurance companies refuse to cover. The solution, don't clean up. Leave the damage as proof to enforce insurers to pay.

And what about -- is New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin right? Will New Orleans be a chocolate city? 360 looks into the future to look at the Big Easy's biggest asset -- it's people. Will they ever come back?

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from the Gulf Coast. Here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Good evening. We begin tonight, with a tough talk from Osama bin Laden. In a tape broadcast today on the Arab network Al- Jazeera. The world's most-wanted terrorist ridiculed President Bush, called Iraq a magnet for al Qaeda fighters and said plans were underway for another attack on American soil. That threat, not surprising, is still of course unsettling every time we hear it.

How big of a threat is it really? CNN National Security Correspondent David Ensor looks now at al Qaeda's power today.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Osama bin Laden threatened attacks similar to those in London and Madrid. Those attacks were lethal, but not on the scale of 9/11.

U.S. intelligence officials say they have to take the threat seriously. But the Bush administration it has al Qaeda on the defensive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we've got him on the run. We've got him under a lot of pressure. And we're going to continuing taking the fight to them.

ENSOR: A series of recent CIA missile strikes against al Qaeda targets in the mountains of Pakistan have given officials confidence they are getting close to bin Laden and his top Deputy Ayman al- Zawahiri, even if the two are still alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we've captured and killed a lot of people that were close into the leadership and I don't think it's as affective as it once was. ENSOR: Officials believe al-Zawahiri probably survived the CIA attack last week, but al Qaeda's Chemical Weapons Expert Abu Khabab al-Masri may have died, along with Khalid Habib, al Qaeda's chief of operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan; and Abu Khabab al-Masri, another operations chief. And that was the third CIA strike against al Qaeda in Pakistan in just a few weeks.

But even after al Qaeda takes a punch, the pattern of attacks around the globe in the last two years suggests it may still be capable of an attack, whether under direct orders from bin Laden or not.

JOHN PARACHINI, RAND CORPORATION: He is sort of like a snake that's gone quiet, but you never know he might strike. But if we look at the attacks that have occurred in recent years, it's not been from the core people associated with bin Laden and al Qaeda, but rather the people in the broader global Jihadas movement who are inspired by the call to Jihad by bin Laden.

ENSOR: In fact, authorities say the attacks in Britain and Spain may have been plotted locally, without direction from al Qaeda central. Al Qaeda, the group, is turning into al Qaeda the movement. Bin Laden, the leader, has become bin Laden, the icon.


ENSOR: The problem is attacks like those in Europe require far less planning and personnel than 9/11 did. And while U.S. officials doubt bin Laden can order them up, he might inspire them. They can disparage bin Laden, they can't ignore him -- Anderson.

COOPER: David, thanks very much. Stick around. A lot more to ask you and a pair of experts on homeland security and Osama bin Laden.

First though, the immediate reaction from the people in charge of keeping us safe. Just before airtime, we learned that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security plan to send out a bulletin, urging greater vigilance on the part of state and local authorities. That's still to come. For what's being done already, here's our Homeland Security Correspondent, Jeanne Meserve.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More police will be more visible at Los Angeles International Airport.

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: At this time, I'd like to emphasize there is no known direct threat to Los Angeles, but as always, we remain vigilant.

MESERVE: Other major cities, including the prime targets of Washington, D.C., and New York are not increasing security.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR, NEW YORK: People's antennas are up. But fundamentally, we treat today like any other day. There is always a risk.

MESERVE: Counter-terrorism officials say there is no plan to raise the national threat level at this time because there is no intelligence indicating an attack plan is in motion. And they have seen no upsurge in so-called chatter.

J.D. CROUCH, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We're probably not going to be changing the security level, simply because we don't see in this particular document a particular threat. It's a general threat.

MESERVE: Six times specific credible intelligence triggered boosts in the threat level. The seventh time, last summer, it was hiked as a precaution after the London train bombings, but only for transit. It has never been raised solely because of a tape from Osama bin Laden, and it shouldn't be this time, according to the man who created this system.

TOM RIDGE, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Based solely on the tape, absolutely not. It's not news that we're a target. It's not news that he would say publicly that they continue to plan for attacks in the United States.

MESERVE: In the nation's capitol, the deputy mayor for public safety, who would help craft D.C.'s security response, still had not received official notification about the tape eight hours after its release.

EDWARD REISKIN, DEPUTY MAYOR, WASHINGTON, D.C.: It is information that we would like to have even before it's been bedded, validated, verified.

MESERVE (on camera): Officials say the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are sending a bulletin to state and local governments, urging them to be vigilant. It does not recommend any specific security steps. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, there's certainly a lot of concerns and questions tonight about Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network. Joining me again from Washington, CNN National Security Correspondent David Ensor, CNN Security Analyst Clark Kent Ervin, and CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen.

Peter, we've heard al Qaeda's become more decentralized and in the past, you've said bin Laden's power is really the power to inspire at this point. Is that true?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I think that's true. I mean, you know, David's piece made the distinction between bin Laden ordering something and bin Laden inspiring something, but I think that you can make the argument that somebody who's inspiring things is just as important as somebody ordering things. And we've had a lot of statements from bin Laden since 9/11. Some of them have had rather specific instructions, like attack members of the coalition in Iraq. And we've seen attacks in Spain and in the United Kingdom as a result of that. And some with just more generalized, kill Westerners, kill Jews and kill the American allies. And so I think that, you know, if bin Laden is still out there four years after 9/11, pumping up his base and instructing them with these broad strategic guidance, remains a big problem.

COOPER: Clark Kent Irvin, David Ensor was saying that an attack in Europe is easier than an attack in the United States. Why is that?

CLARK KENT ERVIN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we've certainly taken some measures since 9/11 to make it harder -- measurably harder to attack in this country. There's no question about that. I would argue and many other people argue that we haven't done all that we can do, but it's harder to do it here. We're on the lookout for terrorists and so surely that's the reason.

COOPER: David Ensor, how does an attack get planned? I mean, how would word get passed down, whether it's from Osama bin Laden or whomever may be planning it?

ENSOR: Well, that's the thing. In these last attacks that we're talking about in Europe may not have been passed down. There was a general call to attack countries that had troops in Iraq, as Peter mentioned, but the British and the Spanish police are saying they think these were local home-grown terrorist operations, if you will. And they were actually rather primitive. It's not very hard to put a bomb on a bus or in an underground train.

COOPER: Peter Bergen, you've just written a book about an oral history of people who knew Osama bin Laden. In their own words, in talking about the man, he now is talking about a truce. Is that the first time he's talked about it? Is that to be taken seriously?

BERGEN: Well, I don't think it's to be taken seriously, but it's not the first time that he's done it. In the last year or two, bin Laden has sort of repositioned himself as the eldest statesman of Jihad, this sort of big picture guy, offering truces to European countries in Iraq. Those calls for a truce were ignored by the European countries. There was the attack in London in July of 2005 that probably had something to do with that. So, he's done this in the last year, offering these kind of truces.

And traditionally, an Islamic jurisprudence, if you attack somebody, you're supposed to warn them. Osama bin Laden has warned repeatedly that he's going to attack the United States. One of the problems has been is we've discounted those warnings. Post 9/11, I don't think we are.

COOPER: David, any indications of when this tape might have been made?

ENSOR: Well, it's believed to have been made after November 22, for reasons that are on the tape. He refers to an incident that was only public after that. The counterterrorism officials I've talked to say it was probably in the month of December or soon thereafter. So recently, is I guess the answer. COOPER: And Peter, you think they hold on to these tapes and decide sort of when the best time to release them is in terms of politics or public opinion?

BERGEN: Well, it certainly indicates that the U.S. presidential election, bin Laden crafted a very happy-made (ph) videotape which was released five days before the U.S. presidential election, back in -- and the tape was released October 29, 2004. So, they've done it in the past. Did they have this on the shelf, were they waiting for some kind of news event, for instance the attack that has been referenced out here in the hour in Pakistan, which killed some senior al Qaeda leaders. That's possible. Or it might just be coincidence.

Either way, it's kind of, you know, it's interesting that we haven't heard from him for a year and suddenly he's back to his order. A very uninformed speculation that he might be dead. I never believed any of it. This is a very disciplined guy. He comes out at the moment of his choosing. He's a very paranoid guy. He's aware of the fact that every time he makes these statements, he might be detected.

COOPER: Why make a tape, though, Peter, an audiotape and not a videotape?

BERGEN: I think videotapes reveal more about your situation than audiotapes. I mean, small details like are your clothes pressed, might tell you is this guy in a more urbanized environment or more like in a cave. The last videotape we saw from bin Laden, you know, he was very well dressed. His clothes were immaculately laundered. I think it indicated that he was not in a cave, that he was in a more sort of civilized situation, perhaps in a sort of semi-urbanized environment, of which there are some in the tribal territories between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

COOPER: Peter, very briefly, I'm just kind of obsessed that you actually met this guy. Did he shake hands with you? Did he, I mean, seem hostile to you?

BERGEN: He wasn't hostile at all. He was very low key. I can't really remember shaking hands. The cameraman that I was with, Peter Juvenile (ph), remembers a rather limp-wristed handshake, so I think that was the full extent of the handshake.

COOPER: Fascinating. Peter Bergen, thanks again; David Ensor, as well; and Clark Kent Ervin, thank you very much.

As we've told you, bin Laden says in his tape, that Iraq has become a magnet for al Qaeda fighters. It's also been a base for militant kidnappers, like the ones holding American Journalist Jill Carroll. Her captors are threatening to kill her tomorrow if the U.S. does not release all its female Iraqi prisoners or if Iraq does not release those prisoners. The United States does not negotiate with terrorists.

A lot of people have appealed for Jill Carroll's release, including her mother, today. She read a statement during an exclusive interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY BETH CARROLL, JILL CARROLL'S MOTHER: Jill's fairness in reporting and her genuine concern for the Iraqi people made her the invited and welcomed guest of her many Iraqi friends. A video just released gives us hope that Jill is alive, but has also shaken us about her fate. So I, her father and her sister are appealing directly to her captors to release this young woman who has worked so hard to show the suffering of Iraqis to the world.

Jill has always shown the highest respect for the Iraqi people and their customs. We hope that her captors will show Jill the same respect in return. Taking vengeance on my innocent daughter, who loves Iraq and its people, will not create justice.


COOPER: That is Jill Carroll's mother.

Iraq's Justice Ministry says six of the eight women being held by the U.S. will be freed, but not because of the kidnappers' demands. The U.S. has not confirmed that report.

We're in the Gulf tonight, where the recovery for many people hasn't even started. A teenager, living in a trailer with her grandmother. The rubble of their former home spread all around them. It's as if Katrina happened just yesterday. Imagine that, and it is almost five months later. Their story, coming up on 360.

Also, an unexpected twist in the tragic story of a child at the center of a right to die case. What will it mean for the man, her stepfather, suspected of beating her into a coma?

And fishermen in the Gulf, facing serious obstacles. Coming up, what the storm did to the water they fish in and to their boats. Can they recover?

From the Gulf, you're watching 360.


COOPER: And you're looking at a live picture of the Scotia Prince.


But we have some breaking news to begin with tonight. I want to show you a map of where we have a report of a fire in a West Virginia mine. This is a mine in Melville, West Virginia, very close to the Kentucky border. According to the Associated Press, there is a fire at the Aracoma Coal Company's mine in Melville.

We just talked to a 911 operator, who said they had dispatched a number of fire vehicles and emergency personnel to the scene. The Associated Press had reported and this 911 operator said that they had also received accounts that two people were unaccounted for at this time, and that an early report indicated that it was a conveyer belt fire. But as we all know, early reports often do not pan out and do not mean much.

So we are continuing to watch this breaking story. All we know is that there has been a call to a 911 call center, saying that there is some sort of a fire in a coal mine, perhaps in the belt, very close to the Kentucky border. We'll continue to have updates throughout this hour.


COOPER: To the east of us, where we're standing now on the ship, the Scotia Prince, which is filled with about 850 people who have nowhere else to go, no homes, and are waiting for trailers, some place that they can put their belongings on the ground in St. Bernard Parish. To the east of this ship, where tens of thousands of homes leveled by Katrina, is Mississippi.

The vast majority of buildings along the Biloxi Gulfport coastline are destroyed. Waveland, Mississippi was hit incredibly hard. That's where we spent the first several days after Katrina.

Before Katrina, the city of nearly 8,000 residents -- today there are between 800 and 1,500.

This is the story of one family and its struggle to try to rebuild. Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A cow bell rings to end the day at the damaged Bay High School on Mississippi's gulf coast. And 17-year-old Rebecca McIntosh makes her way back to her neighborhood in the town of Waveland. A neighborhood that looks like it's stuck in a time warp.

Four and a half months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed property and lives, Pine Ridge Road looks almost the same as it did in August, when we first met Rebecca.

(On camera): Do you know who used to live in this house we're standing on?

REBECCA MCINTOSH, 17-YEAR-OLD: I think this is the roof to the house that was right there that a friend of mine used to live in.

TUCHMAN: It was two days after the hurricane, the first time she saw her house.

Is that black thing over there, was that your roof?

MCINTOSH: That was our roof.

TUCHMAN: It blew all they way down there.

Today, this is the view. Not much different. When we walk through your house, it looks exactly the same as it did the day after the hurricane.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Except now, next to the rubble of the home, is the small FEMA trailer she is living in with her grandmother, Kathy Everard.

KATHY EVERARD, REBECCA'S GRANDMOTHER: Well, I can't go any place else. I have no place else to go. I have no money to go elsewhere.

TUCHMAN: Rebecca's grandmother initially thought she would have money to rebuild here or elsewhere. But she was in for a rude surprise.

EVERARD: I've got excellent insurance. And they say well, we can't help you because you don't have any wind damage.

TUCHMAN: Kathy Everard says the insurance company told her all this damage is from flood water. So while the government's flood insurance program has paid out money, it only covers a portion of the cost of what was a 3,000 square foot home. The grandmother refuses to have the rubble cleared, hoping to use it as evidence as she fights the insurance company over the phone.

EVERARD: Yes, and that's what hit my house, was a tornado. And I've got trees to prove it.

TUCHMAN: Throughout the Gulf region, many families from all walks of life are having similar battles with their insurance companies.

Granddaughter and grandmother do their best to cope in very tight conditions in their trailer. Rebecca, who was a National Honor Society student, says she tries to keep her mind off the troubles.

MCINTOSH: I try not to let anything affect my school because my school is pretty much all I have.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Here is -- what's this?

MCINTOSH: It's actually a Mardi Gras doll that I got when I was like 7.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Back in August, Rebecca told us how her lifelong doll collection had been destroyed. After our story aired, viewers and businesses sent her new dolls.

MCINTOSH: And Mattel sent me these right here.

TUCHMAN: Brightening her outlook, as well as that of her grandmother. But the insurance issue is becoming harder and harder for Kathy Everard to deal with.

EVERARD: I feel so alone. And I've never felt so desperate in my entire life.


TUCHMAN: You may notice we didn't identify the insurance company and that's because there are many insurance companies in the same dispute.

But, we talked with the insurance company and here is the latest. Officials there do acknowledge this is from wind damage. They say they are going to come here, talk to Kathy Everard and they anticipate a payment. So the people inside this trailer, granddaughter and grandmother, very happy about that news -- Anderson.

COOPER: It's so frustrating. It seems like every time -- especially you, Gary, do a story on a particular family, you know, the insurance company or whoever it is will say, okay, well in this case, actually they were right and they give out the money. But, you know, you can only do stories on so many people and there's so many people out there who don't have TV cameras following them around. It's so frustrating that people have to go through this after what they already survived in the storm.

Gary, appreciate you doing that report in Waveland, keeping them honest.

Coming up tonight, the latest development in Haleigh's story. Remember her? She's the little girl we told you about last night, the one at the center of a right to die court battle. After all she has been through -- she was beaten by her adoptive parents. Could this beleaguered child still be fighting for her life?

And what will New Orleans look like in the year 2016? Can you imagine? We'll talk to an expert who paints a vivid picture of a future Big Easy, starkly different from its pre-Katrina days.

Stay with us.


homes destroyed by Katrina: 353,000.



COOPER: Some of the volunteers from the University of Scranton, who are here with Catholic Charities, helping people try to rebuild their lives.

In Massachusetts, an update tonight on the little girl named Haleigh. Her eleven years have been marked by, well, by neglect and abuse and it put her at the center of a right to die court battle. And now in a case with one unthinkable twist after another, comes still one more. CNN's Dan Lothian has un update.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Doctors had concluded 11-year-old Haleigh Poutre was in a permanent vegetative state, but now it appears that may not be the case.

ALLISON SUDYKA AVRETT, BIOLOGICAL MOTHER: Some changes, she's responding to some things.

LOTHIAN: The Department of Social Services, which has custody of the child, confirms there has been significant change in her condition and that she's breathing on her own.

Haleigh was hospitalized last September after authorities said her adoptive mother and stepfather abused her, allegedly kicking and beating her with a baseball bat and causing a clot in the brain.

This case ended up in the state supreme court last year. Her stepfather, Jason Strickland, who is charged with assault, tried to block attempts by DSS to have Haleigh removed from life support. If she dies, he could be charged with murder. His lawyers argued for parental rights, but this week the high court rejected that, paving the way for life support to be removed.

Now, new developments have put plans for that on hold. The girl's birth mother, who gave her up seven years ago, after allegations of neglect and during a difficult time in her own life, is cautiously optimistic.

AVRETT: There's hope now. She's fighting.

LOTHIAN: Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


COOPER: Hmm, unbelievable case.

The world's most wanted man speaks out. Osama bin Laden makes it clear he is planning attacks on American soil. How can the nation defend itself? And why is it still so hard to catch this guy? We'll look at that ahead.

And a look ahead, as in the future face of New Orleans. What will it look like? Who will call it home? Tonight, an idea of the dramatic changes that may be ahead for the Big Easy.


COOPER: And welcome back. We are live on the ship you are looking at right now, the Scotia Prince. About 800 or 850 Katrina survivors are living aboard this ship because they have nowhere else to go. They're waiting for trailers to come her in St. Bernard Parish, for them to try to start to rebuild their lives.

We're going to have more on bin Laden's threat against the U.S., as well as more from the Gulf here in a moment, but first, here are some of the other stories that we're following right now.

Breaking news in West Virginia, a fire at a coal mine. In Logan County, two mine employees are unaccounted for. The director of the county's 911 system says reports from the scene indicate the fire may have -- and we say may have been caused by a conveyor belt. We are monitoring the story. It is happening as we speak. We'll bring you an update shortly.

Tonight, the mother of an American journalist held hostage in Iraq is hoping that her captors will release her daughter. Mary Beth Carroll told CNN's Soledad O'Brien that Jill Carroll is not an enemy of Iraq and has the highest respect for the Iraqi people. The hostage takers are threatening to kill Carroll if the U.S. does not release all female Iraqi prisoners by tomorrow.

In Rancho Mirage, California, tonight, Gerald Ford is still in the hospital. The former president was admitted on Saturday. The 92- year-old Ford is being treated for pneumonia. His chief of staff says Ford's doctors are giving him therapy that is not easily available at home and that's why he's still in the hospital.

Tonight, the voice of terror has returned. In an audiotape, Osama bin Laden warns of new attacks on the U.S. Now the al Qaeda leader says the plans for the attacks are already underway. At the same time, bin Laden suggested the possibility of a truce.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson joins us from Washington with more on bin Laden's new threat -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this threat directly aimed at the people of the United States. Bin Laden says that the reason he's putting his message out is that President Bush is essentially lying to the people of the United States, that the United States is losing in Iraq, losing in Afghanistan, that they should pull out of those countries. And if they do, there's an offer of a truce.

But bin Laden says that because al Qaeda's been able to perpetrate attacks in capitals in Europe, they quite capable, ready, willing and planning right now to attack in this country too.


BIN LADEN: I would also like to say that the war against America and its allies will not be confined to Iraq. Iraq has become a magnet for attracting and training talented fighters. Our Mujah Hadin were able to overcome all security measures in European countries, and you saw their operation in major European capitals. As for similar operations taking place in America, it's only a matter of time. They are in the planning stages and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete.


ROBERTSON: Now, the best indication is that this was recorded sometime after early December last year. Interesting that bin Laden chose that moment after more than a year of silence, now, to break that silence -- Anderson.

COOPER: It is amazing, his sense of public relations, his sense of timing, when to do all this. Nic Robertson, thanks.

On this boat and all around the Gulf, really, people have every reason in the world to think about what things will be like tomorrow and the day after and the weeks to come. When your life is unsettled, you have to do that.

But was wanted to look beyond the immediate future, to wonder something else again. What might the city of New Orleans be like in say the year 2016? CNN's Rick Sanchez reports.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To know where New Orleans is going, your first have to understand where it's been. So we visit a premier urban historian to find out how his city, older than the United States, will change after Katrina.

ARNOLD HIRSCH, AUTHOR AND PROFESSOR: So what you have here is an extraordinary event, really an unprecedented event. The depopulation of a city, virtually overnight, and then a long process of repopulating the city.

SANCHEZ: A process Author and Professor Arnold Hirsch says will take up to 10 years. But how will New Orleans change? Who will be in? Who will be out? First, in.

HIRSCH: Will be something of a Latinization.

SANCHEZ: A Latinization driven by Hispanic workers that since Katrina, have come by the thousands, looking for work, changing New Orleans from just 3 percent Hispanic to nearly 20 percent. Will they stay? History says they will.

HIRSCH: Many thousands pass through, many thousands stay.

SANCHEZ: It's been a pattern in every major American city. When immigrant workers arrive in mass, they create their own communities. In New Orleans, it happened in the mid-1800s. Irish immigrants poured into the city, attracted by available jobs at the port.

HIRSCH: Where they landed, were poor, got jobs to scrape by and established a presence.

SANCHEZ: The Irish?

HIRSCH: The Irish.

SANCHEZ: It was a time of severe demographic change because prior to the arrival of Irish and German immigrants, New Orleans was uniquely -- get this -- neither black, nor white. People here looked mixed.

HIRSCH: Part African, part European, part Indian, all mixed up together in some fashion.

SANCHEZ: That mix, uniquely New Orleanian, which many referred to as Creole, gives the city a look and feel like no other. It's in the food, the music, the accents, the look and the culture of its people.

(On camera): Hirsch says that is likely to diminish.

HIRSCH: I think we may be at a crossroads here for that culture.

SANCHEZ: Crossroads because it's a community that was already thinning out. Now, with Hurricane Katrina, it's lots its geographic base, as have tens of thousands of African Americans lost their geographic base.

Case in point. This is the lower Ninth Ward. It was 98 percent African American. Devastated, as you can see, by Hurricane Katrina. Will they come back?

HIRSCH: There's no housing supply.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): That means at least for the foreseeable future, no, they won't come back. Why? Because rentals in New Orleans are scarce and expensive. Efforts by FEMA to put in trailers are being met with resistance by other New Oreleanians. History says that not in my neighborhood philosophy will stifle attempts by many blacks to get home. As it did in the 1940s when the federal government, during wartime, while the nation was coming out of the Depression, tried to set up public housing, to assist in the war effort.

HIRSCH: And the federal government, which then had emergency war powers, where it could have selected a site and overridden local objections to it, found it too bitter and deep a resistance to fight against.

SANCHEZ: It's about obstacles. And those obstacles that are confronting many African Americans may simply be too difficult to overcome. Even if they want to come back.

HIRSCH: There's a sense that poor people who own their bit of property, if it's subjected to one disaster, that is the hurricane, they're about to be submitted to a second disaster that is not a natural one, but a political one.

SANCHEZ: So what will New Orleans look like 10 years from now? History and current trend seem to tell us it will look less black, more Hispanic and smaller than it was before. And much of that uniqueness, that creoleness that makes New Orleans, well New Orleans, will likely continue to shrink as well.


SANCHEZ: There's an irony in this. And the irony is this is a city, a town, perhaps like no other in the United States. It's really been able to bring people together historically. The professor tells us the emphasis now may be both politically and economically to tend to pull people apart -- Anderson.

COOPER: Why is that? What do you mean, pull people apart?

SANCHEZ: The emphasis, he says as he looks at the plans and places like the Ninth Ward, is to put an emphasis on development, on really the bucks, not the people who --

COOPER: And there are developers who are involved in this sort of plan to rebuild New Orleans.

SANCHEZ: Exactly. And unfortunately, there might be a lot of people who live there, who used to live there for many years, who might be left out in the lurch in that. And that's the fear and that's why probably New Orleans will not be what it once looked like.

COOPER: And it is very political right now, indeed. Rick Sanchez, thanks. We're sure to look back in history.

New Orleans is less than half the town it used to be. Literally, more of its residents are elsewhere now than they are at home. So how come they're talking about holding elections here? How is that possible? We'll look at that.

Also ahead, there's a victim of Hurricane Katrina you haven't heard much about. The nation's food supply. Where do you think much of our seafood comes from anyway? Katrina and the fishermen of the Gulf, that's where, when 360 continues.


People displaced by Katrina: Over 1.5 million.



COOPER: And welcome back. We are live on the Scotia Prince, a ship just right in the port here in St. Bernard Parish. There are about 850 people living onboard this ship. They've been here for months.

If you think living on a cruise ship is somehow glamorous, I can assure you it is not. This isn't even really a cruise ship. This is an overnight passenger ferry. The rooms are much smaller. It really was not built to accommodate people for night after night after night, month after month after month.

New Orleans in the future was our subject just a few minutes ago. Next, New Orleans as it is right now and what it is right now. More than anything else, is scattered. Fewer than half the people who were here before the storm are here now. So why have mayoral elections been scheduled for late in April, you may ask. And who's going to vote? And where? A lot of questions CNN's John King tries to answer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The voting machines fill the warehouse, waiting to record Hurricane Katrina's political impact on the city it hit hardest.

The elections were on indefinite hold, but now are all but certain to take place April 22, just three months from now. In a changing city, still very much an open wound.

Many of the African American churches and neighborhoods, so vital to New Orleans politics, like Bethel AME in the lower Ninth Ward, are still empty.


Bishop C. Garnett Henning lives in New Orleans and oversees AME churches across Louisiana and Mississippi. While at a conference in Alabama this week, he said more than 20,000 church members from New Orleans remain scattered across the country. Too soon, he says, to hold an election.

C. GARNETT HENNING, BISHOP, AME CHURCH: We need more time. We just have to have more time.

KING (on camera): Bishop Henning is one of many African American leaders angry at a new election time table they see as a deliberate attempt to redraw their city's character.

HENNING: I think we would move from a -- to quote the mayor, chocolate city, to a vanilla city.

KING (voice-over): Pre-Katrina New Orleans was a city of 480,000. Today, about 190,000 people live here.

GREG RIGAMER, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: We're shading it now based on race.

KING: Greg Rigamer's research for the city suggested new electorate will be more white and more affluent than was the case in pre-Katrina New Orleans.

Then, about 63 percent of voters were African American, 30 percent white. And now --

RIGAMER: We have about 51 percent or 52 percent African American. We're going to have about 40 plus percent white.

KING (on camera): State Elections Commissioner Angie LaPlace hopes to ease anxiety in the African American community by launching an unprecedented campaign to reach the tens of thousands of displaced city residents, still eligible to vote.

This explanation of absentee voting is being mailed to displaced New Orleans residents registered with FEMA. And the post office is also sharing its change of address files.

ANGIE LAPLACE, STATE ELECTIONS COMMISSIONER: And we also will a full-blown media campaign on TV, with an 1-800 number, so that the displaced citizens can call us and get information. We're going to put that out all over major states where our displaced citizens reside.

KING: Another big question is just where will people vote. The more than 800 machines kept in this warehouse are normally shipped to some 442 precincts across the city, but more than half of those polling places are still out of commission because of hurricane damage.

The city council on Thursday approved consolidating the voting at two dozen super precincts. This warehouse will be one of them. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, the candidates on the test ballot now. The real deal in three months, to decide, among other things, whether the embattled mayor can win a second term.


KING: And as the time table for the elections accelerate, just imagine this. Still, Anderson, as you've been noting tonight, almost five months later, all this finger pointing. Who didn't deliver the trailers? Who's responsible for lack of temporary housing? What about the jobs? What will the city look like down in the future? A lot of finger pointing, a lot of blame games still. Why not toss in a few million dollars' worth of attack ads?

COOPER: We know Mayor Nagin is running again. Do we know of anyone who is running against him at this point? Has anyone else announced?

KING: That is the great question. There are no announced candidates as yet that anyone thinks has a good chance of beating the mayor, but everyone's been waiting to get this timetable. Now that you assume the elections will go forward in April, all eyes at the moment are on the Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu. His family, of course, has a history in this city. Many thinks that he wants to be the next mayor. They're waiting for him to make his intentions known. He would be the most serious challenger to the Incumbent Ray Nagin.

COOPER: And the governor elections, those are at a later date. And I know Kathleen Blanco just said Tuesday that she is in fact going to run again.

KING: She plans on running again. And there's a bigger question about what happens in New Orleans that will affect Governor Blanco's race when she runs. This is a state that tends to be Democratic statewide. It's also one of the very few southern states where Democrats are competitive in presidential elections.

Everybody wants to see the African American turnout in the city elections. Again, likely to be held in April, with the runoff in May. Everyone wants to see how this works out because it will not only affect the character and the politics of this city, it will affect the state politics as well, because the African American vote over history has been so important from this city. The big question is, what will it look like in the future? COOPER: All right, John King, thanks.

Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS," joins us with some of the business stories we're following tonight.

Hi Erica.


We start off with a new legal fight for big tobacco. A group of Marlboro smokers now suing Philip Morris, but not for cash. They want medical care, specifically lung cancer screening. The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of current and former Marlboro smokers over 50 years old, who smoked a pack a day or more for 20 years.

A spokesman for the parent company of Philip Morris, says juries in two similar cases where smokers sought money for medical monitoring, ruled in favor of the tobacco company.

The good news if you're in the market for a mortgage, rates, now at a three-month low, due to signs of easing inflation. Freddie Mac says the average rate for a 30-year fixed, now at 6.10 percent, and the 15-year rate is down to 5.67 percent.

Could the housing boom, though, be about to burst? The Commerce Department reporting new home construction fell by nearly 9 percent last month. That's the biggest drop in nine months, but we should point out last year construction on single-family homes surged to an all-time high.

And if you're looking to boost the paycheck a little, maybe you want to think about getting an MBA. "USA Today" reports MBA holders are scoring more cash. The president of the Graduate Management Admissions Council told the paper that last year's salaries and signing bonuses for new MBA grads jumped to a record $106,000. That's up more than 13 percent from 2004. Not bad. Plus, it'll help you pay off all the loans from business school.

COOPER: Do you have an MBA?

HILL: No. I have a B --

COOPER: Yes, me neither.

HILL: There you go.

COOPER: I got a big deal, that's about it. Erica, thanks very much.

So sticking with the business buzz, is the nation's seafood supply at risk? That's what some fishermen in New Orleans are saying tonight. We'll tell you why they are so worried. Coming up next.


COOPER: Well, Hurricane Katrina not only destroyed much of New Orleans, it nearly decimated its fishing industry, considering that 25 percent of the nation's seafood is produced in Louisiana, we are all suffering from it. But it's the fishermen here who are taking the heaviest tolls. CNN Meteorologist Rob Marciano reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to follow you all to the spot.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Chris Buler (ph) and his crew most mornings since Hurricane Katrina. Heading out onto Lake Pontchartrain. They will find fish --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spotted sea turtle.

MARCIANO: -- and test them for toxins and bacteria. But they don't expect to find much.

Buler's (ph) team from the Department of Environmental Quality has tested 487 fish samples and more than 600 water samples and has not found any chemical contaminants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't see anything of any concern. Metals, pesticides, PCBs or otherwise.

MARCIANO: That might surprise some people, after seeing vivid pictures like this. Dirty water being pumped out of New Orleans and back into Lake Pontchartrain.

Buler (ph) says the dirty water quickly disbursed in the lake.

You're telling me that the fish caught in Lake Pontchartrain, the fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico is safe?


MARCIANO: Environmentalists agree. Sounds like good news, right? Well, not so fast. The seafood may be safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beautiful fish.

MARCIANO: But he fishermen have another problem. Many still don't have boats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Piles of bricks.

MARCIANO: Pete Gerica (ph) has been fishing Bayou Savage most of his life. He calls the day Katrina hit, the day hell visited Louisiana.

PETE GERICA (PH): Sheets and sheets and sheets of rain, but you couldn't even look this way because it was so hard a rain. If you looked this way, it would sting your eyes and stuff.

MARCIANO: Gerica (ph), his daughter and his mother rode out the storm in a tree. The tree is still standing, but not much else. GERICA (ph): My bigger boat was this one here that's on the side here. It's got a big hole in the bottom, it's split in half on the bottom. You know, it's all in pieces now.

MARCIANO: Louisiana fishermen like Gerica (ph) are stranded all over the state and fighting huge obstacles. Gerica (ph) gives us a tour.

GERICA (ph): There's stuff sunk in the middle of the pass there, so you can't get in and out.

MARCIANO: Many of the canals are clogged with sunken boats and other debris, all ready to snare fishing boats or their fragile nets. And for the few who do catch something, there's yet another hurdle.

(ON CAMERA): Scenes like this. Demolished fishing boats line the bayous of Louisiana. But even if your vote was lucky enough to survive Katrina, it doesn't mean you're in business. There's no place left to sell your fish. This used to be a huge dock where fishermen would come and unload their catch. The dock's gone, as is the processing plant. The fishing industry here in Louisiana is crippled.

There's no easy way to get fish from boats to restaurants and supermarkets.

GERICA (ph): In the back here was a two-story building, which was the crab shed, where we sold our crabs. It's gone.

MARCIANO: If you even had a big catch of crab, you got nowhere to bring it to?

GERICA (ph): Well, I'd have to take and call somebody in town and have them truck them to someplace else. And so you're going to get less money.


GERICA (ph): Bottom line, you're going to get less money.

MARCIANO: The cost of doing business has gone way up.

GERICA (ph): It's gone way up.


MARCIANO: Harlon Pearce is a seafood processor. He warns that if the docks aren't rebuilt soon, the nation's seafood supply could dry up.

PEARCE: 81 percent of the shrimp caught in this country come from Louisiana; 40 percent of the crabs caught in this country come from Louisiana. This country is heavily dependent on what Louisiana does. But without Louisiana, this country's seafood is going to suffer. It's going to hurt.

MARCIANO: For fishermen like Gerica (ph), quitting is not an option.

GERICA (ph): We all got saltwater in our banks. You can't take us away from the water. We'd be miserable.

MARCIANO: It could be the only thing keeping fishermen from being miserable, is knowing that saltwater is clean.

(ON CAMERA): Just this afternoon, Nola put out its own report on the water and it jives with the EPA, the FDA, the DEQs of Louisiana- Mississippi. That report, too, says that the water is clean.

And Anderson, as a professional courtesy, the crew and I did our own field study. We can say that the seafood here is good as well. Mighty tasty, my friend. Back to you.

COOPER: I just had some crawfish for dinner. I can attest to that as well. Thanks very much, Rob.

We're going to have more of 360 in just a moment. Stay with us.


COOPER: We'll be back in New Orleans tomorrow night. Hope you join us.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is next, talking about the latest on Osama bin Laden and the kidnapping of American Journalist Jill Carroll.