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Anger, hopelessness in Mississippi towns

Editor's Note: CNN correspondents report back on what they are seeing in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities hit by Hurricane Katrina. Programming Note: CNN correspondents throughout the region gauge the impact from the heart of disaster. (Program Schedule)

Some residents don't see light at the end of the tunnel


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New Orleans (Louisiana)
Disasters and Accidents

Posted: 6:15 p.m. ET
CNN's Gary Tuchman in Biloxi, Mississippi

When we arrived here Sunday night, we knew that people were well aware this was going to be a big hurricane.

Monday was devastating. We were out doing live reports all day. I've been in a lot of hurricanes, but this lasted longer and was more powerful than any I had seen before.

At one point, the van we were in was demolished by a 200 pound chunk of fence. We could only imagine what happened to people who decided to ride this storm out instead of leaving. (See video of a Biloxi resident talking about the devastation in his hometown -- 2:52)

When we drive now for miles and miles, it is hard to believe the level of devastation. Now is an especially tough time, here in Mississippi, because the state is still out of electricity and water. And no one is talking about when it will be back.

It is hot. In most neighborhoods, people haven't seen anyone of any authority. People are angry. They are wandering, in many cases aimlessly. That's what strikes me about this hurricane.

While there are some people who are optimistic, there are many more people than I've ever seen before who are getting more hopeless.

They don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. Their kids don't have schools. They don't have jobs or houses. They have to restart their lives. I think many people just realize how big this could be.

The only silver lining I see is that people in any hurricane now will know they have to get out of town.

Desperate residents starting to get medical attention

Posted: 3:41 p.m. ET
CNN's Barbara Starr in New Orleans, Louisiana

I am seeing moments of utter heartbreak and desperation here. There is no other word for it than unbelievable.

We were walking with U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore and his military team from the convention center and there are still hundreds of people on the street. They are just sitting there in terrible circumstances.

We came across one young African American mother. She had twin young infants in her arms. She was trying to walk in this terrible heat and she apparently was so exhausted that the babies were half falling out of her arms.

It was at that point that Gen. Honore just stopped cold in the middle of the street. He went up to this woman and said, "We're going to get you help." He took both of those babies and handed them to his soldiers. They also evacuated another mother and her baby. (See the convoy slog through floodwaters 3:33)

Then we all got on a Coast Guard ship. These three infants and two mothers, who are terribly dehydrated and exhausted, are now getting instant medical care on this ship. And the mothers tell us that there simply has been no help. They tell us they escaped their homes by swimming to safety during the flood. They have been waiting ever since with their babies on the street for someone to pick them up.

It's a story we are seeing again and again in all of these places.

'Patients walking barefoot on tarmac'

Posted: 12:01 p.m. ET
CNN's Ed Lavandera in Kenner, Louisiana

Just a short while ago I spoke with one FEMA official who said all of these people being airlifted into this airport are in the process of being taken out of the New Orleans area.

In the last day, 40,000 people have come through the New Orleans airport. They have either been taken to the terminal to get medical attention or to get on flights out of New Orleans.

This is a massive operation. The medical teams here are treating about 800 patients an hour. (See the helicopter transport of the stranded's sickest -- 2:46)

When I first arrived with the commanders of this particular field hospital, they felt they were equipped. They thought they were going to be able to deal with about 250 patients an hour. They are at 800.

There are helicopters constantly landing and taking off from the ground here. They say that at the very earliest this will last until Sunday. I've heard others estimate that what we see here at the airport could last another six days.

As we've reported over the last couple of days, many of these folks are in critical condition. They are plucked from hospitals or from nursing homes around the area.

It is a constant flow of people coming through here. It is gut wrenching to see many of these people being dropped off on luggage racks, holding their belongings in trash bags. Many of them are walking barefoot along the tarmac here just hoping the catch a flight out of the city.

This is a field hospital. There are only certain things they can do here. This isn't a full-fledged hospital. And if you don't need medical attention, you are shuttled to the other side of the airport where there are flights taking people out of the city.

I was told a little while ago by the director of the airport that he estimates there are about 75 helicopters now circling the New Orleans skies. I've been told that the Coast Guard helicopters are the ones that are actually going to do what they call the hot rescues. That is, people who are still trapped in their homes and in the more intense situations.

People living on highway

Posted: 11:10 a.m. ET
CNN's Chris Lawrence in New Orleans, Louisiana

We're now driving on Interstate 10, and there is just an incredible scene. It looks like people are actually living on the highway.

Some of them may be waiting to be picked-up. But I'm not exaggerating when I say probably thousands of people are just sitting on the interstate, sitting on the side of the road, and shielding their faces from the sun. It is an intensely hot day.

Even port-a-johns have been set up on Interstate 10.

You can tell the job of trying to get all these people out of New Orleans is enormous.

Early this morning, I think it was around 4:30 a.m. or so, there was a massive explosion, just a massive boom. We've heard a lot of gunfire in the city, but this was unlike anything else we have heard. And as soon as I stepped outside, I saw this orange glow out on the horizon. (See the video report of explosions and gunfire -- 2:12)

The entire city of New Orleans is black at night. There are no lights whatsoever in the city. And there was this orange glow after the boom. From there, a flame appeared, and within about an hour, there was a black rainbow that rose up and covered part of downtown.

We're told that a hazmat team has been assembled and is heading out that way. With the security situation the way it is now, it will be very difficult for them to make their way around the city.

Primitive conditions at hospital

Posted: 10:15 a.m. ET
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta in New Orleans, Louisiana

The scene inside Charity Hospital is disgusting. I think that is probably the best word for it. It really is unbelievable.

There's no electricity. There's no working plumbing. They haven't had power since Monday. They have had no water since Tuesday.

In these conditions, the doctors are trying to take care of critically ill patients. I walk through the halls with doctors and they just literally grab at my shirt and say, "Tell them to send help. We need boats. We need amphibious vehicles." (See Dr. Gupta's report on the "gruesome" conditions at Charity Hospital -- 4:45)

Charity is one of the largest hospitals in Louisiana. It is surrounded by six to eight feet of water. The only way you can get here is by boat or amphibious vehicle. We took a boat here yesterday.

I was told that someone was shooting at doctors and patients as they were trying to get out of this place to other hospitals where they can get better care. This is the most mind boggling thing I have heard.

There was a patient on a ventilator that needed to have air bagged into their lungs. Doctors and nurses and healthcare professionals were doing that for hours on end. Two patients died on the parking deck, which has become a modified landing zone for helicopters.

So it is primitive. It is disgusting.

In fairness, conditions did start to improve somewhat yesterday. They were able to get some patients out yesterday and they were told that evacuations would start again sometime this morning.

But evacuations haven't started as of yet.

The way it works here is they figure out who is the neediest, who needs to go. They find their medications and tape those to the patients' stretchers and wait right by the water for a boat to come and take them to the landing zone.

That is what is happening right now. They are waiting.

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