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CNN Larry King Live

Hurricane Katrina's Aftermath

Aired August 31, 2005 - 21:00   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're dealing with one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Hurricane Katrina's death toll now said to be over 100 in Mississippi alone. And the major of New Orleans fears hundreds, maybe thousands are already dead in his city. There's looting and chaos and more than 2 million people across the sweltering Gulf Coast have no electricity. And now, fears of disease and a massive health crisis with desperate survivors wondering when help will arrive.

We'll get the latest on rescue and relief efforts from Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, Federal Emergency Managing Agency director Mike Brown, plus officers of the Coast Guard, National Guard and more all next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Lots of people to talk to. We'll be doing it all through this hour and through the night. A couple of quick reminders. We'll be with you all weekend long, there will be live editions on Sunday night, on Labor night Monday. And on Saturday night, there'll be a three-hour special 8:00 to 11:00 Eastern, 5:00 to 8:00 Pacific, a "LARRY KING LIVE" special "How You Can Help." Please turn in -- tune in, rather, for this very important program.

Let's start with Senator Mary Landrieu at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Senator, this is a horrific, horrific occurrence. A year ago in "National Geographic," the article said the Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane in New Orleans as one of the most dire threats in the nation equal to a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack in New York City. Should we have been better prepared?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, (D) LOUISIANA: Absolutely, Larry, we should have been. But you know, tonight, we are focused on a rescue operation that is still underway. And there is great stress on the system as we proceed to continue to rescue people and keep them safe.

Let me say, Larry, thanks to the news media, particularly CNN, for being part of the solution and not the problem. You can understand, Larry, you've been through this before, the communication systems throughout the entire Gulf Coast are severely compromised. By that, I mean that some emergency people can't talk to others, sheriffs can't talk to firefighters in every case. So a desperate situation has been complicated.

One second subject I want to address. New Orleans, St. Tammany, St. Bernard and Plaquemines, Jefferson Parish in Louisiana was hit not only by a hurricane, but by a very serious breach of levees. And so we're dealing with two catastrophes that have exacerbated the situation, particularly in the city of New Orleans and in St. Bernard parish.

The corps of engineers is struggling mightily. I know you have other people that want to speak. But please let everybody know that the leadership here is doing everything it can. We thank the president for his great help and support. We'll talk about what we didn't do later. There will be plenty of time for that. And the truth will speak for itself. But right now, this operation is fully underway and in gear.

KING: Joining us now on the phone as he did last night is Governor Haley Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi who's in a helicopter most of the day. How bad, governor?

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR, (R) MISSISSIPPI: Of course, Larry, the coast is just the greatest devastation I've ever seen. It's as if they set off a nuclear weapon there. But I spent most of the day inland. 100 miles inland, we had winds 110, 130 miles an hour gusts. And there's -- this is not just a calamity of the coast for us, this goes way up into our state. And it's -- I am confident, I saw Camille -- this is the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

KING: CNN correspondents governor, on the ground in your state are reporting stories of desperate, scared, frustrated people asking for help. What's the story there?

BARBOUR: There's no question -- you know the devastation is such that if you fly over it, Larry, where -- you can't see any asphalt. The roads are covered in lumber, shingles, furniture, clothes, knee deep, waist deep, head deep. And we're clearing out roads every hour as fast as we can, and we're searching up under that debris.

But we're talking about 30 miles in one county, several blocks deep, where 90 percent of the structures are totally destroyed, devastated. And it's going to be a long time. I look at your picture right now. At that huge pile of debris. Well, we've got 30 miles of that in just one county and another 15 miles in another county. And they're digging through it one at a time.

KING: So, what do you do? It sounds insurmountable.

BARBOUR: Well, it's not insurmountable, but we're throwing all the people at it that we can, as fast as we can. We're digging out as fast as we can. It's hard. You've got to be patient.

But it's not insurmountable. We're going to get over this. I mean, when we finish, it's going to be hard, but when we finish we'll build the coast back bigger and better than ever. It's not insurmountable.

KING: Senator Landrieu, you want to say something to Haley?

LANDRIEU: Well, I just wanted to add, governor, thank you for everything you're doing. I've been with our governor for three days. And Larry, I can't tell you what these governors are under tremendous pressure. Their cabinets are working overtime, rescuing people, making split decisions, doing everything we can.

Now as federal resources come to bear, we're grateful to the president. The Senate leadership, both Republicans and Democrats are working with the president to bring the resources to this region. The FEMA directors are on the ground, the Red Cross is on the ground. People are setting up. But please, Larry, understand, this is unprecedented. And anything the federal government can do to help our governors is absolutely essential.

KING: Governor, what did the president say to you today? He flew over the area, right?

BARBOUR: He and I have talked about three times. And he said to me privately what he expressed publicly that this is the biggest natural disaster in the history of the country. And that the federal government is going to pull out all stops to help Louisiana, and Mississippi and Alabama.

That -- we have seen that in more than words. The cooperation we've gotten, the support we've gotten -- and I have to say so many other states, Alabama and Florida, our great neighbors, but Pennsylvania called today. And Ed Rendell said we're going to send 2500 National Guardsmen down there Saturday.

KING: Wow.

BARBOUR: People from Washington State to Maine...

LANDRIEU: Thank you, Ed.

BARBOUR: ...Republicans and Democrats are saying, hey, we want to help. And that's a great thing about America.

KING: The mayor of New Orleans, governor, said there may be 1,000 dead in New Orleans. Have you got an estimate in your state?

BARBOUR: Well, we don't have a hard estimate. The estimates so far are about 100. And that to me is not official, but that's very credible. And I think it will go above that.

KING: Don't leave us Haley, don't leave us senator. The senator will be remaining with us. We'll have a few more questions for Haley. We're checking in with a lot of other people during this hour.

And don't forget Aaron Brown has a two-hour edition of "NEWSNIGHT" at the top of the next hour. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: Our first priority is to save lives. We're assisting local officials in New Orleans in evacuating any remaining citizens from the affected area.




KING: Want to check with some correspondents on the ground. We've lost contact with Governor Barbour. We'll try to get him back. I want to check in on the phone from Gulfport, Mississippi, with Major General Harold Cross. Major Cross is adjutant general of Mississippi and commander of the military department of Mississippi, includes the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and Mississippi State Guard. What are they all doing now, General.

MAJOR GENERAL HAROLD CROSS, Adjutant General OF MISSISSIPPI: Larry, they're very busy. We've got people fanned out all across Mississippi's Gulf coast. We're getting help from a lot of other states National Guards, and they're very busy trying to rescue people, get water to them, and get people out of stranded areas. We're also, Governor Barbour left no doubt in our minds that we're to deal with looters ruthlessly. And we will, and we'll get law and order permanently restored down here. We don't have the problem New Orleans has got as far as law and order right now.

But it's a disaster of heart breaking catastrophic proportions, Larry. Unimaginable. We're getting a tremendous flow into Gulfport. And if you can imagine, without communications as the senator mentioned earlier, we're having to fight this like someone in the war of 1812. I'm sending runners from command post to commanders to get orders out to them. And we've got a tremendous logistics problem and we're going to work through it and we're going to get people the relief they need.

KING: And you know a lot of people are saying where's the help. Can you say, General, in retrospect, and maybe it's too early to look at it, there's something we could have done sooner.

CROSS: Larry, you've got to realize, this is a Category 5 hurricane. You can't position troops on the coast with a Category 5 coming. We would have had 2,500 troops dead. We had troops stationed throughout the state because of the direction of plume of this hurricane going through our state. And then we had to cut our way through. I had 175 National Guardsmen on the ground in Gulfport and Biloxi and Bay St. Louis during the hurricane. I actually lost one soldier shortly -- making a rescue during the windstorm. But then we cut our way through down that night to arrive in Gulfport with about 500 troops.

I'll have close to somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 by the end of this week. And they're all doing without sleep. We don't have running water or electricity at our staging base either. And we're moving out just like wartime, setting up a foreign operating base. But we're going to come through this, Larry. We've got very resilient people helping each other. The death toll will rise very dramatically. But we're getting to people as fast as we can with all of my energy, just like we were fighting a war.

KING: Major General Harold Cross. Haley Barbour is back with us. You got a very, very busy man. What are you saying to your citizenry that can hear you, Governor? What are you asking them to do?

BARBOUR: I'm telling them to be patient. I'm asking them to be patient. The fact is that we've got a big mountain in front of us. We've been struck a grievous blow, but it's not a mortal blow. And we're going to come back. It's going to take time. It's one step at a time. I told some people, we turned some corners yesterday. We turned some corners today. We've got a whole bunch of corners in front of us. But when it's all said and done, and it's not going to be next week or next month or next year even, when all is said and done, we will rebuild Mississippi bigger and better than ever before. Our people'll have a better life. But it ain't going to be easy and we're going to all have to work together to do it.

KING: And as you said last night, you have two-and-a-half years to go. It will still be a problem two-and-a-half years from now.

BARBOUR: Well we won't have made every -- we won't have gotten everything done in two-and-a-half years. That's right. We'll be working on this the rest of this term.

KING: Thank you as always, Governor. Good talking to you.

BARBOUR: Thank you, friend.

KING: Anderson Cooper, what's the situation from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi where you are?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It's not a good situation, Larry. I mean, you know, people are getting really desperate. It just, it's been more than 48 hours now. There has been some looting in Waveland where I was earlier today. There are a lot of rescue workers here, urban search and rescue workers that are out. Five hundred to cover these four counties around Waveland and Bay St. Louis. They're finding bodies every hour. I was out with them for a couple hours today. We found six bodies while I was there. Families that thought they could ride out the storm. Families who ended up drowning in their homes in their living rooms clutching on to their loved ones.

There are entire swathes of this community which are completely gone, especially in Waveland. I have never seen just an entire neighborhood completely destroyed. You couldn't even see the ground, there were so many wood planks from homes that used to be standing there that are now just boards of wood. And you know, there are a lot of angry people here who -- I got -- a man pulled up to me today and said, ask the federal government where are they? I mean, where are the troops? Where are the National Guards? I know, and you know, I said to him, look I've been out with FEMA all day. There's a lot of people working really hard here. But, you know, there are a lot of people in need, Larry. There are a lot of questions being asked and a lot of frustration right now. And people are not getting answers that they expect.

KING: Joe Becker's in Washington, he's senior vice president for Emergency Preparedness and the American Red Cross. Were you unprepared, Joe? Did this hit you more than you thought?

JOE BECKER, RED CROSS SR. V.P FOR EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: Larry, the only good thing about a hurricane that I can think of is that you know it's coming. And we prepositioned a lot of our people and a lot of our resources along the Gulf Coast for it. And as it was said before, we couldn't get all the way down on to the coast, because we've had had thousands of Red Crossers being part of the problem instead part of the help right now.

KING: Jeanne Meserve is in Baton Rouge. Was Baton Rouge hit at all hard?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. Life here is normal. But we traveled out of New Orleans today. And it is very hard to describe. I would -- amongst those of us that were coming out that really saw what was going on, we compared it to Baghdad. We compared it to the tsunami. We compared it to the catastrophic floods in Bangladesh. People were taken out of the water and off rooftops and left on a highway without any transportation into town. They were dying by the side of the road. Elderly people who had no water who desperately needed health care, they had nothing. That is just one little piece of the tragedy. It is far, it is wide, it is incredibly deep. I know a lot of resources are being put into this. They didn't come soon enough. And it still isn't enough. It will not be enough to deal with this -- Larry.

KING: On the phone in Alexandria, Louisiana is Admiral Robert Duncan. He's commander of the East Coast Guard District, normally headquartered in New Orleans, responsible for Coast Guard operations covering 26 states, 1,200 miles of coastline. Earlier today, the Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff hailed the Coast Guard's actions during the past 48 hours as heroic. Do you still have a lot to do, Admiral.

ADM. ROBERT DUNCAN, U.S. COAST GUARD: Larry, I think we all do. Jeanne painted a pretty good picture of a tragedies that come close to describing what we're dealing with here. But unless you've actually seen it and been part of it, it really is hard to understand the tragedy that's unfolding. And our hearts go out to those who are dealing with it. And many of our people are in areas that really don't know whether we're going to back to any houses or not either.

But I can tell you that there's a great effort working and a very strong team pulling things together of which we are a part. We followed the storm in with C-130 aircraft, the type of aircraft that you use for hurricane hunters. And as soon as the air was calm enough, in fact, we cheated a little bit on that, we flew helicopters in and were picking people up off roofs of houses. I ended up over flying it in a small jet and it was a bumpy ride for me in a jet and these guys were flying helicopters below me doing amazing things. We've lifted over 2,600 people that were in need off of roofs of houses and put them in places of relative safety. Jeanne's right, though, that they need further care from those positions of safety. So we've been delivering water and MREs and other things that we can find to those location points throughout the day trying to find some kind of shelter and some kind of sustainment for folks that are in dire positions.

KING: Admiral, what's the biggest problem you face tomorrow?

DUNCAN: Tomorrow is -- the care of those folks that are stranded and need immediate sustainment. We can break it down into a number of things. We need to evacuate a number of people. We've evacuated Baptist Memorial Hospital last night. We'll do another one tonight. People that are critically injured or ordinarily ended up in a hospital for one reason or another and need continuing care that is running out in their current location. So we're moving them. We need to get information to people. And I think this show and others like it are doing a good job in filling a craving for information about what is happening on the ground, and how do you protect yourself, how do you stay in a position of safety, and what is coming your way. We need to continue to run the lifesaving operation that we're doing. I know that you ran to the break on the presidents remarks that his first priority is saving lives. That certainly is true and everyone involved with this effort aligns closely with that.

The next step is to look at the waterways and make sure we are able to open those waterways for commercial purposes.

KING: Admiral.


KING: I've got to get a break. I thank you very much, admiral.


KING: We'll be checking with you again tomorrow and over the weekend.

DUNCAN: Thank you, Larry.

KING: We're not leaving this one. Admiral Robert Duncan.

When we come back, lost more from Senator Landrieu. We'll also be talking with Sam Champion, with the deputy director, Ivor Von Heerden, of the Louisiana State Hurricane Center, with our correspondents all over the area and with the governor of Texas. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now from Austin, Texas, is the governor of Texas, Governor Rick Perry. Governor, who came up with the idea to transfer all these people from the Superdome in New Orleans, to the Astrodome in Houston. GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Well, the process has been going on now for better than 24 hours. We were looking at it as a relief facility and then Kathleen Blanco, the governor, gave me a call this morning about 8:00 and said would we be willing to take 23,000 people that are in the Superdome? And we said absolutely. Let's work it out. FEMA's buses are most likely enroute back to Texas now with the first of those individuals.

And you know, the fact of the matter is there may be more and we'll do what we can. You know, by the grace of God, I could be in that helicopter today and Haley Barbour could be sitting where I am, saying here's what we're going to do to help Texas. And this truly is a national effort and hopefully soon to be an international effort to help these citizens.

KING: Governor, how long do you think you're going to have to accommodate them?

PERRY: I don't know. We're kind of test pilots right now. This has never happened in America before, but we know one thing: That if it happened to us, the folks in Mississippi and Alabama and Louisiana would be helping us get over it. And we're going to do that. Whatever it takes, we're going to make it happen. .

KING: When will they be arriving?

PERRY: Approximately midnight tonight we ought to be getting the first ones in and then, however long it takes to transport 23,000 citizens of Louisiana to Houston from New Orleans and we'll have them all there. And as I said earlier, there will probably be more.

KING: What do you make of this, governor, as a neighboring state?

PERRY: Well, obviously we've been through this before. All of us along the Gulf Coast have had our hurricanes, we've had our tornadoes, wind storms, floods, you name it. Tropical Storm Allison did $5 billion worth of damage to Houston a few years back and we had help from Mississippi and Alabama and Louisiana, other states.

And the fact of the matter is, although it is of almost biblical proportion, we've never seen anything like this before, as Haley said, we'll see Mississippi rebuild. We'll help them do that and we'll make it through this.

I mean, I've got great faith in the American people and great faith that we're going to make it work and help our friends along the way, whether it's getting their kids in school once they get here. It's going to be a long arduous task, but we're going to be there to help. We've got a hand out and a hand up is what we're going to be doing.

KING: Are you also using the Reliance Arena, too.

PERRY: No, they're not at this particular point in time.


PERRY: There's some other facilities that they're looking at, but we're not ready to be making any announcements about the other relief facilities. Beaumont, Texas and Governor Griffith (ph) has very graciously opened up the Ford Center there, which holds a substantial number of people. That's over right next to Louisiana in Jefferson County.

KING: Governor, we salute you.

PERRY: Thank you, brother. Appreciate what you're doing, Larry.

KING: Thank you.

PERRY: So long.

KING: Gov. Rick Perry.

Let's check in with Gary Tuchman. He's also, as is Anderson, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Now, they got it real bad, didn't they, Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They've got it really bad in this part of Mississippi, Larry and there's still no electricity or no water for anybody. So, the people here haven't gotten to watch or listen to the president or their governor or local leaders.

But most of the people we've talked to, don't much care what they have to say. They want to see action. And in almost all the neighborhoods we go here, we see absolutely nothing.

The roads are impassable. The homes are demolished like huge bombs fell on top of them and these people just don't know what to do. There's no communication and they just walk around aimlessly looking for food. And it almost looks prehistoric in a way. And it's very sad.

KING: Now Senator Landrieu, I know you said earlier we should talk about this after the fact, but these people are suffering now. Should something have been planned better or was this so catastrophic that it was impossible to plan?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Larry, it's impossible to plan these things. As you've heard from the governors and the National Guard, all available assets were fully deployed. There are plans in place, but Larry, the plans aren't worth what they're written on if the communication system doesn't allow them to be executed.

Let me just say thanks to Senator Frist and Senator Harry Reid for calling this morning. They are on the job as well as the House leadership. Larry, the networks could be of tremendous support right now to all of the local sheriffs, police officers and National Guard that are risking their life to stabilize the situation under the direction of the governors with FEMA and the Red Cross.

If you, Larry and the producers of CNN who have been so good could encourage yourselves and the other networks to be supportive, this is not only a story, it is a rescue mission underway. And the communication systems are imperative. People did not take radios with them with batteries as they're told. They did not keep flashlights with them.

So, they can't get information that's critical. And number two, the emergency package of the United States of America equal to what was done or exceeding New York, must be put together as an appropriator, I know Thad Cochran who chairs the Appropriations Committee, has probably already drafted it, but Thad, put a lot of money in it because we're going to need it.

KING: We're going to take a break and we'll come back and check in with lost more people. We'll try to include some of your phone calls as we do every night. One reminder: We'll be on every night covering this. Saturday night, a three-hour LARRY KING LIVE special from 8:00 to 11:00 Eastern time, 5:00 to 8:00 Pacific time: "How You Can Help."

"How You Can Help," will be aired Saturday night live, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll be hosting it. It's the LARRY KING LIVE special. Back with a lot more. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us for a few moments from Baton Rouge is Michael Brown, undersecretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response. He's director of FEMA.

I must tell you, Michael, throughout this first half hour of LARRY KING LIVE, all of our correspondents, other people telling our correspondents that they're frustrated, they're angry, they're mad at the government, state, federal. They're not getting enough. And they're saying where is the help. So where is the help?

MICHAEL BROWN, FEMA: Larry, the help is right there. And it's going to be moving in very, very rapidly. I'm going to ask the country to be patient. I think Governor Barbour said it best that we cannot put these people in harm's way because we have additional casualties if we do. And I must say this storm is much, much bigger than anyone expected.

So that help is there. We have an agreement with Secretary Rumsfeld, the president has stepped in. We're going to have air lifting commodities in. We're going to have those caravans moving tonight. So tomorrow you're going to see that relief.

I also want to add, I understand the frustrations of those victims. It is miserable out here. It is hot. It is humid. They don't have water. Their lives have been totally upended. We're going to do absolutely everything within my power and the president's power to help these individuals.

KING: I quoted earlier from the "National Geographic" where the Federal Emergency Management Agency last year listed a hurricane coming to New Orleans as the most dire threat to the nation, equaling a big earthquake in California or a terrorist attack in New York. Did you share that view then? And if so, were you still prepared enough now?

BROWN: Larry, let me tell you something I did. When I became the director of FEMA a couple of years ago, I decided it was time we did some really serious catastrophic disaster planning. So, the president gave me money through our budget to do that. And we went around the country to figure out what's the best model we can do for a catastrophic disaster in this country? And we picked New Orleans, Louisiana, being struck dead on by a cat five hurricane.

This did not happen in this event. But that cat 4 hurricane caused the same kind of damage that we anticipated. So we planned for it two years ago. Last year, we exercised it. And unfortunately this year, we're implementing it.

KING: Thank you, Mike. Michael Brown, the head of FEMA.

Want to check in one more time with Jeanne Meserve. She's in Baton Rouge, but I want to ask her what was it like to be in New Orleans, Jeanne?

MESERVE: Larry, it's just so hard to describe how it was. It's gruesome.

The first night we were there, we could hear the people yelling for help and there was no one there to help them. We watched the people on the side of the road who needed that help. Even in the hotels, the situation is going to become dire. You have whole families living in single rooms. They don't have plumbing. There's going to be waste problems. There's going to be disease there potentially.

We were in a hotel that was well provisioned and owned by a big corporation that could bring in more water, more food, and they were rationing things very carefully. I'm sure there are some hotels in New Orleans that don't have those resources. Those people need to be helped, too.

We have to triage here. The government has to triage and save people first. But this is another dimension of the tragedy beyond the people on rooftops, beyond the people in the Superdome that has to be paid attention to. And then there are all the people here.

I wonder, Larry, where the rescuers and other volunteers are going to stay. There is no hotel space.

Again, families living in rooms here. It's going to be very difficult logistically to bring call -- to this all together. I don't know how it's going to work. I hope it will and fast.

KING: Thanks, Jeanne, great work.

We want to check in with our friend Jack Hannah. He's in Flat Head Light Lodge in Big Fork, Montana. The reason we're bringing him in as you know, he's one of the great animal experts, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and host of his own animal adventure show. Are animal -- what, do they pose -- do animals pose any threat to humans in a disaster like this, Jack?

JACK HANNAH, ANIMAL EXPERT: Well, Larry, they're dealing with several things, the wild animals, the pets like the dog I have here, and of course the domestic livestock. Wild animals are just as confused as the people are now. You've got toxins in the water, oil, sewage, all sorts of things.

So, an alligator let's say, or a water moccasin is out there displaced right now not knowing what to do. The best thing to do for everyone is, sure, you're going to get excited. But just leave them alone. Because they want to be away from you just as much as you want to be away from them.

Now when you go back into your areas here in a couple or three days, hopefully, in some housing and you find boards and tubs overturned or toilet bowls, whatever it might be, anything like that is where snakes will hide and other animals like that. But that would probably be the least of everybody's worries now with human life lost.

But the thing they can do, Larry, we've heard about the dogs in Louisiana now going into Texas. The humane society is there, which is a great thing they're doing. But all you have to do is get tags on your dogs. Of course, for the next time, wherever this may hit throughout the country, have the tags on your dogs. Your veterinarian, your own tags., put halters on your horses with the tags there. Have a photo of your animal in a plastic bag that's sealed. Have hopefully two weeks of supplies of food. There are very simple things to do.

I've had all kinds of calls, Larry, on where can we take our dogs? Where do we take our dogs and cats. And I'm not promoting any hotel chain. I'm just tired of people -- Red Roof Inns, Motel Sixes all take dogs and cats. It's a very simple thing. Call them quickly, or call other hotels that might do that. But you have to know where to take these animals when something happens, because the shelters, Larry -- when you go to a shelter like the Superdome or the dome in Houston, they don't take the pets or animals.

KING: The one creature that's going to survive, though, is the mosquito, right?

HANNAH: Yeah. The mosquito is going to be a big, big problem, Larry, in more ways than one. And they will survive. Animals that take flight will survive.

And animals really, Larry -- of course, we have to get human life first, but animals have a tremendous survival instinct. And a lot of them will survive where they think they won't survive. But the best thing is, especially with the wild animals, is just stay away because they're now displaced, they're confused and they want to be away from you just as much as you want to be away from them.

KING: Thanks, Jack. And we'll be calling on you again. Jack Hanna, our good friend with advice on the animal community in a tragedy like this. We have to think of everyone, don't we? And everything.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Aaron Brown hosts a two-hour edition of "NEWSNIGHT" at the top of the hour. We're around the clock on this story. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's bad around here. People trying to eat and survive, you know, just trying to take care of their family.



KING: We're going to give, in a moment, talk to the lady who gave birth to a baby during all of this. Going to check back with Senator Landrieu in a minute. But I want to check in with Rob Marciano who is in Biloxi. Rob, what's the latest there.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEORLOGIST: Well that sounds like a good news story, Larry. We're trying to find some good news stories out of Biloxi. When we were out with some search and rescue crews earlier today watching them bang on doors looking for folks. They were down at a retirement home, and lo and behold, they pulled an elderly man out and two women out after being held up there for 50 hours and they were alive and okay. So that's one positive story out of Biloxi.

But after surveying some of the areas here, it's unbelievable to me the storm surge. It's seems to me that it's easily 25 feet. Some areas well away from the shore look like glaciers and mud flows of nothing but debris and broken homes and rooftops and windows and window frames. And it begs the question, how could a dying Category 4 storm have a greater storm surge than a Category 5 like Camille? Well I'll leave that up to the professors that do that research. It's my opinion that once it becomes a Category 5 storm and it's less than 24 hours away the damage has already been done it seems. I mean it seems like it's already got that momentum of water heading that way.

And Do you remember Hurricane Isabelle that came in and the Baltimore D.C. area was flooded? Well that was a Cat 5 as well but it came on shore as a Cat 2. So we have to re-evaluate this storm surge deal. Because it seems like it has some momentum even as a storm dies.

KING: Before we check with the senator, Sam, I know we haven't paid much attention to Sam Champion tonight, but the story is kind of away from you. Do you agree with what Rob just said about surges and coming on shore.

CHAMPION: Yes. Well, Larry, I mean, the one thing we learned through the tsunami is water is an excellent conductor of energy. And once that wave gets going and storm surge is the same way, yes, I think what we need to do is educate people that once a storm has been a Category 5, the surge can continue as bad as that, particularly if it loses a category before it makes landfall. I mean, there's things like that and these people, one of the things I just wanted to say, the forecast down there is 90 degrees 94 degrees over the next four or five days. There's been widely scattered thundershowers tight around where Rob is right now this afternoon and tonight. That will be around tomorrow. But you've got to imagine these people without food, without water, without power, in 90-95 degree heat blistering sunshine, very little cloudiness out there. I mean, just picture what that's like down there for them.

KING: Senator Landrieu, you wanted to say something about hotels?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, (D) LOUISIANA: I do, Larry. This is very important. The Red Cross is on the ground. They were on the ground in our states, all of our states before the storm. They're standing up their assets as quickly as they can. Everyone has been in touch with the director of the Red Cross, Marty Evans. All the guys and gals are doing great. The hotel chains could really step in here and help us. And I'm dead serious about this.

We don't have enough shelters. These hotels are shelters for refugees, basically, all throughout the country. They're people as far away. If the hotel chains could do anything and work with the federal government and our state officials to just allow people to stay where they are, please don't price gouge. Reduce the rates if you can. And let people stay. It would be a huge help to the Red Cross.

KING: Well said, Mary. We'll take a break and come back and meet the couple who had a baby during all of this. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things are not good in New Orleans. These people are frustrated. They are hungry.



KING: A little good news in all of this. Joining us from Milton, Florida, Richard and Karen Howell. Their new baby Loren is with them. We will not be able to interview him. The Howells left Biloxi Sunday afternoon evacuating toward Milton. What happened along the way, Karen?

KAREN HOWELL, BABY BORN FLEEING STORM: Well, Larry, it took us five hours to get here. And there was bumper to bumper traffic, and long lines for everything. And we got into Milton. I have an aunt and uncle here, and we got in along with a lot of other family members staying at their house about 8:00 Sunday night. And I knew I had to be near a hospital, because I felt like the time was near. And at 1:00 in the morning, the time came. So we went out in the bad weather, Richard and I and my aunt. And went to the Santa Rosa Medical Center, and they said you're definitely in labor. And as the storm came through, about 11:30 in the morning, Loren was born.

KING: And you stopped in Gulfport but you weren't in active labor, right?

K. HOWELL: They said I was not in active labor. I wanted them to admit me so we have a place to stay, you know, at the hospital. You're not in active labor, we can't keep you. And I told my husband you have got to get me near a hospital. I know you cannot deliver this baby. And I was right. So, yes, they --

KING: What's the situation of your house back in Biloxi?

K. HOWELL: We're very fortunate. It is all intact. We had trees hit the roof and we lost every tree in the yard, but fortunately, from what we can tell, there's no water in our house.

KING: Who did you communicate with?

K. HOWELL: My parents have a key and they were in town. And so, they were able about 24 hours later, to go in -- to get to the house and they went in and they don't see any water in the house.

KING: Good. Richard, are you there?

K. HOWELL: Richard? He's here.


R. HOWELL: Yes, sir.

KING: You're going to have great stories to tell Loren as he grows up.

R. HOWELL: Yes, I sure will. I was nine when Camille came through and we stayed in Ocean Springs and I can still remember it, but this is just unbelievable.

KING: Are you thinking of moving north?

R. HOWELL: No. Absolutely not.

KING: Why not?

R. HOWELL: Absolutely not. Well, it's just a beautiful area. I was born and raised in Biloxi and lived in Ocean Springs all my life and you know, that's where we have our life. You know, that's -- you don't run -- move out of Kansas because you don't like tornadoes, you know?

KING: Yes. Well, congratulations to both of you and give our best to Loren.

R. HOWELL: Thanks a lot, Larry.

KING: Richard and Karen Howell. What a story.

Ivor van Heerden is with us in Baton Rouge. He's deputy director of Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center. What's the aftermath of this? What problems are we going to have with regard to public health?

VAN HEERDEN: Well, Larry, our first concern is if you do the numbers, apparently 80 percent . [ inaudible ] evacuated. That means approximately 250,000 people didn't. If you look at the numbers rescued, the numbers being moved to Texas, the numbers in the Superdome, they don't add up.

There's a whole lot of missing people. So the number one thing is we've got to get to those people as soon as possible. The conditions are deteriorating very, very rapidly. There's all kinds of contamination in the water. Anything organic is going to putrefy or ferment very, very rapidly. This is hot and warm Louisiana. And then we've going to worry about mosquitoes, some of the wildlife, fire ants. The list goes on and on.

KING: Randi Kaye is in Biloxi, Mississippi. Are you there, Randi? Randi, are you there?


KING: OK. What can you tell us about Biloxi from your standpoint?

KAYE: Well, we spent the last couple of days driving through the local streets here, sort of out of downtown and we talked to a lot of residents here and saw a lot of the damage.

Most of the homes are completely destroyed. Their transportation is gone. Most of them are just looking lost and confused. They're walking the streets with shopping carts, which -- with -- holding whatever few belongings might have survived Hurricane Katrina.

And just today walking the streets, Larry, everybody was asking us and coming up to us and saying where is FEMA, where is our aid? We talked to one man who rode, actually, a 25-foot wave from the first floor up to the second floor in his apartment complex and survived, but his two neighbors drowned and he watch that had happen.

He only has four tablets left. He's a diabetic. He's getting no medical help, no food, no water.

KING: Oh, boy.

KAYE: He's been living on potato chips for three days. So, we've been giving out water and some meals-ready-to-eat and just trying to do our best to help as best we can, Larry.

KING: Well, FEMA says they're on the way. Let's hope it all happens quickly and as is pointed out by Senator Landrieu, where do they stay?

We'll be back with more moments and then Aaron Brown. Don't forget our special, three hours Saturday night: "How You Can Help," 8:00 Eastern. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Before we get some parting words from Senator Landrieu on the situation in Louisiana, let's get it from the ground with John Zarrella, who's in Baton Rouge, who was in New Orleans. You ain't seen nothing like that have you, John? You cover a lot of them.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing remotely close. You know, the difference between Andrew and this, Andrew was a very small, compact category five; tremendous damage localized.

You know, in this instance you've got water compounding the problem. At least after Andrew, people could leave, they could get out, relief supplies could get in. Here in the New Orleans area, that's just totally impossible. It's compounded the problem to such a greater degree. It's unfathomable what's going on in the city tonight.

KING: Thank you, John Zarrella. Now let's check in for a final word. She's been with us all the way: Senator Mary Landrieu, the Democrat of Louisiana, the daughter of the former mayor of New Orleans. Senator, you've heard all the complaints. We began the show asking about it. Do you think we're going to get through this? Because so many people appear to be angry.

LANDRIEU: Absolutely, Larry and we know that people are angry and frustrated. And I know that when we ask for patience, it's hard to give. But believe me, the National Guard is on the scene. They are deploying in all of our states as many assets as could come to bear.

Governors all over this country are sending their National Guards. Governors are talking with the president as we speak. Military assets are on the way. The president understands the situation. The senators and House members understand it.

We will recover. We will rebuild, Larry and everybody's just got to work together to get through this. There are people's lives at stake and our country is up to it and the people here are up to it. So press on and Larry, thank you so much for everything that you all are doing.

KING: Senator, we have only about 30 seconds. Are you going to go to New Orleans?

LANDRIEU: I have been to New Orleans, Larry. I landed on the Superdome with the governor, the head of the FEMA, the head of the state police and the National Guard over a day ago. I have seen the Superdome.

Mayor Ray Nagin has not left the city. His people have had to walk out to bring reports, because the communication systems are not working. Trust me when I tell you, these sheriffs and mayors all over this region have literally been risking their lives.

My brother, who's lieutenant governor, has been picking up bodies out of New Orleans and rescuing people, the lieutenant governor himself, for two days. Larry, everybody is doing everything they can. The military is coming. Please come fast.

KING: Thank you, senator. Senator Mary Landrieu was with us all the way. The Democratic senator from Louisiana.

We'll do it again tomorrow night, of course. It's all CNN -- we'll give you other news as it happens, but this is our main priority of course. And on Saturday night, I'll host a three-hour special THE LARRY KING LIVE special "How You Can Help." It's at 8:00 Eastern.

And he's been manning every night for two hours each night. With two-hour editions of "NEWSNIGHT" He's going to do it again tonight. Aaron Brown in New York and Aaron, it don't get any better.