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Evacuees desperate to find loved ones

Editor's Note: CNN correspondents report back on what they are seeing in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Forklift operator seeks family

The Astrodome in Houston, Texas, houses thousands of evacuees.


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Disasters and Accidents

Posted: 5:35 p.m. ET
CNN's Sean Callebs in Houston, Texas

One of the toughest things about life in the Astrodome is that so many of the people here are disconnected from their loved ones. They come up with photos and phone numbers and information trying to find relatives or trying to get their information to relatives.

One person we met here is Joey Kennedy, a 53-year-old forklift operator who worked at the New Orleans Convention Center, or what's left of it. He is completely separated from everyone he knows. He doesn't know a soul in Houston. He spends his day reading his Bible and going to church. He's trying to find his mom and his aunt and his two daughters.

Ten days ago he was sitting in his home. Now he's packed in the Astrodome with 20,000 people he doesn't know. We told him anytime he wants to come by our news area he can.

Today, we went out and did a story about a guy named Kirby Robinson. His childhood friend got flooded out of New Orleans and asked to come to Houston. Then his friend's friends asked to come. And those people knew some more people. Before Robinson knew it, he was putting 27 evacuees into his mom's vacant house.

Robinson is doing everything he can to come up with money for food and formula and household goods for these people. He's late paying his own rent. He's trying to point people in the right direction for jobs. He has three kids of his own and his wife put off going to college this semester to help. The only reason his mom's house is open for guests is because she is in Iraq as a contractor. Through all this he's holding down a job as an air conditioner serviceman.

Lots of guns, no shovels

Posted: 5:30 p.m. ET
CNN's Drew Griffin in New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, the part that is not flooded, looks like a garbage dump. Wandering the streets and driving the roads, you see what seems to be an endless presence of armed officers. There are lots of guns, but no shovels. There is no cleanup as far as I can see.

Some people, the stragglers, are sweeping their porches. But the tree limbs, junk, remnants of looting, are all left right where they fell.

'Utter devastation'

Posted: 4:10 p.m. ET
CNN's Gary Tuchman at the New Orleans Airport

We are among the first news media to visit St. Bernard Parish since the hurricane, and it is utter devastation. Nearly everyone who was there either got out or is dead.

From what we're being told by officials in that parish, they got federal help two days later than New Orleans did. The sheriff's office there was handling the situation on its own. Everyone there has lost their homes. Almost the entire parish is under water.

As we've been touring around the New Orleans area, we've seen packs of animals, packs of dogs. We were on Interstate 10 a short while ago and saw six Labrador retrievers walking together in a pack down the highway.

They all had collars around their necks. It was very sad. Obviously, they were somebody's pets. They didn't know what to do. We gave them some water, but that's all we could do.

'It's what we have to do'

Posted: 3:09 p.m. ET
CNN's Christiane Amanpour in Baton Rogue, Louisiana

We visited a temporary mortuary today that was set up in a small, Louisiana town close to Baton Rouge.

The officials were making preparations for receiving the bodies and have refrigeration units and a hundred staffers who are prepared to work 24 hours a day for as long as it takes to process them. They say that they can process and identify about 130 to 150 bodies per day.

They are going to take fingerprints, X-rays, and DNA samples. After that, federal officials are going to turn the bodies over to Louisiana officials and then on to families. This is going to be a very long, complicated and torturous process. In many cases, the bodies are decomposed and it may be small amounts of DNA that will be the lone identifier.

While there, we saw several large refrigerator trucks, one of them coming in with a police escort. One of the town's residents told us some of them had resisted these initially. We couldn't find anybody who resisted today.

Many of them are saying, "Look, it's what we have to do. We have been chosen to do this. It's the least we can do to give the families some dignity as their dead relatives and friends are processed and hopefully, eventually laid to rest."

Honore hosts Mayor Nagin

Posted: 3:05 p.m. ET
CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon

The head of Task Force Katrina, Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, brought New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin aboard the USS Iwo Jima Monday night for a shower, some hot food, ice cream and a good night's rest, military officials said.

Mayor Nagin has been living in the damaged Hyatt hotel in downtown New Orleans.

Military officials also said Lt. Gen. Honore took Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to see conditions inside the Superdome, now under military control.

Boat owners hope for rescue

Posted: 12:37 p.m. ET
CNN Radio's Gary Baumgarten in Biloxi, Mississippi

While there's been a lot of attention on the oil industry and the casinos here in Biloxi, Mississippi, the shrimping industry is down for the count.

Most of the boats seem to have survived. The problem is the boats can't get out to sea because the bridges are down. They can't get under the bridges. Even if they could get them out, there would be no place to dock them because the marinas have been wiped-out. Also, there is no ice to keep the shrimp cold and fresh. There are no processing plants up and running. And they can't get fuel for the boats anyway.

Right now, the boat owners are assessing the damage to their boats and cleaning them up and hoping somebody will ride to the rescue. There is some fear that the owners of the processing plants will give up their land and walk away instead of rebuilding. Some of the shrimpers say they wouldn't criticize the plant owners for doing that, especially if someone wanted to buy the land to build a casino.

A lot of the shrimpers say they elected to ride out Hurricane Katrina on their boats in the bayou. They felt that they were probably safer in the boats than they might have been on land. They had them tied down real good and figured they could ride them up and down with the waves. Even though most survived, they are saying they will never, ever do that again.

'A doctor on every boat'

Posted: 12:21 p.m. ET
CNN's Fran Fifis at the New Orleans Airport

Joe Bradshaw from Kentucky EMS (on scene command for search and rescue off Interstate 10) says "we need boats." Bradshaw says 80 boats rescued 28 people on Sunday and 18 people and three dogs on Monday. He says they have plenty of medical personnel today, but only 10 boats. Their goal is to put a doctor on every boat.

Louisiana pastor seeks flock

Posted: 11:10 a.m. ET
CNN's Keith Oppenheim in Houston, Texas

Bishop Paul S. Morton is a Baptist pastor of what his handlers say is the largest church is Louisiana. Having spent some time with him in Houston Monday, I believe it.

To many of the African-Americans gathered here, he is a religious rock star. Because of the hurricane, much of his congregation has left Louisiana for Houston.

This is a shepherd in search of his flock.

When Bishop Morton walks into the Astrodome, people from his home city mob him -- wanting to talk, wanting to pray. His says his mission is not just spiritual. He wants to raise money to help his parishioners get back on their feet. He believes, deeply, that the church, not the state, will make the greatest difference in resurrecting his city.

At a Baptist church in Houston, Bishop Morton is a guest speaker. The choir is belting out songs, and people eventually settle into a listening mood.

Bishop Morton is a powerful orator. His frustration shows. His outrage over what he describes as governmental failure is shared by his listeners.

This feeling of betrayal alienates the pastor and his flock from government agencies. And it deepens their sense that reliance on church and faith is their best hope for rebuilding their lives.

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