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Hurricane Katrina Strengthening in Gulf; Iraqui Detainees Released from Abu Ghraib

Aired August 27, 2005 - 16:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN HOST: Packing up and heading out. Louisiana residents aren't waiting around for Katrina to come knocking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody can explain what Betsy was like, unless you were here.


KAYE: The old timers in Louisiana still remember Betsy. It's the meanest storm to blow through in the last century. Their story and life in their bayou town ahead.

And Pat Robertson's assassination comments are still drawing heat. The latest famous faces stepping up to the plate to take a swing at him. Hello, and welcome to CNN LIVE SATURDAY. I'm Randi Kaye. All that and more after this check of the headlines.

Concerned about Hurricane Katrina, residents in low lying areas of Southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi's Gulf Coast are being urged to pack up and get out. The hurricane continues to gain strength as it makes its way across the Gulf of Mexico and could be a powerful Category 4 storm when it makes landfall. A live report is just ahead.

The Base Closure and Realignment Commission wrapped up its final session today. The group is responsible for streamlining the U.S. military. Its final report is expected to go to President Bush on September 8th. The suggested cuts are expected to save about $37 billion.

In Afghanistan, one U.S. soldier was killed and four members of his combat patrol were wounded when their vehicle was hit by a bomb. Fifteen U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan this month alone. Keeping you informed, CNN, the most trusted name in news.

Time is of the essence along the upper Gulf Coast as a dangerous and still strengthening hurricane, barrels towards Louisiana and Mississippi. The latest projection show Hurricane Katrina could slam into Southeast Louisiana or Mississippi Monday as a powerful Category 4 storm. That means New Orleans could be in line for a direct hit. Emergency officials are warning people in low lying areas to leave within 32 hours. The head of FEMA says after that it will be too late.

The big easy is taking some big precautions as Hurricane Katrina approaches. Let's go to CNN's Jonathan Freed live in New Orleans. Hi, Jonathan.

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Randi. I can tell you that right now most of this area is still under a voluntary evacuation, although some of the more low-lying areas are under a mandatory evacuation at this point. We can take a look at some of the scenes that we've been seeing around here today. There are definitely lines starting to form at gas stations and the person who operates our satellite truck here said that when he was coming in to town, stopping at a truck stop to fill up, there were 19 diesel pumps and there were at least three trucks waiting at every single pump, which he says is highly unusual. So clearly people here have gotten the message and are trying to gas up.

That being said though, Randi, I can tell you that walking around downtown New Orleans and the area of the French Quarter, for example, you still get the feeling that there are tourists around. When people see we're a media crew, they'll often come up to us and ask us for advice. They want to know should they really be getting out of town. Some people clearly not wanting to accept that perhaps some weekend vacation plans might really have to be set aside, and they should probably be thinking about getting out of here, if indeed it looks like the storm is coming this way.

Now earlier today, the governor of Louisiana held a news conference and has been asking people to remain calm, especially on the roads in trying to get out of town. Let's listen to that.


GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO, LOUISIANA: I'm urging people to be very patient drivers. You're leaving to protect yourselves and your family. A small accident can cause you a lot of frustration and back up traffic dramatically. A big accident can really injure a lot of people, so we have to be very, very careful as you proceed to make your plans, and as you're leaving out.


FREED: Now, Randi, I'm standing next to Interstate 10 here outside of New Orleans. And I can tell you that in about an hour from now, we received word from the Emergency Operation Center for the state of Louisiana, that they're going to start what they call the contraflow of traffic on the interstate. That's when they start taking up some of the lanes of traffic on the other side of the road and using them to help people evacuate the city east and west. They're expecting more and more people to want to get out of here. Although, again, it's still -- most of the area here is still under a voluntary evacuation. Everybody watching the path that this storm is taking very closely. Still not clear exactly if we're going to be in the center of it all. But right now it certainly doesn't look good.

KAYE: So, Jonathan, just to be clear right now, the road heading into Louisiana is still open, but should be closing in about an hour when they start the contraflow?

FREED: Right. Well it's not clear whether or not you won't be able to get in at all. In my experience, usually they start taking over some of the lanes allowing for some flow of traffic in the opposite direction, often when media crews -- and we're trying to get into a location, there's usually at least one lane open. But it depends on the area. We'll have to watch and see how that unfolds here.

KAYE: All right. Thank you for that report, Jonathan Freed.

Let's get a look now at where Hurricane Katrina is right now and where it is heading. For that we turn to our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras --Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Randi, Katrina's holding relatively steady. Category 3. Winds of 115 miles per hour and it's moving off to the west. We are expecting it to start to turn up to the west-northwest, and as it does that it's going to be entering some very, very warm water in the Gulf of Mexico, and that's when we expect more intensification to begin. So the storm is going to be getting stronger and also just looking at this satellite picture it looks like it's starting to get a little bit larger.

This is no Charley, this is a much bigger storm system than that. We do have the hurricane watches which are in effect just east of Morgan City extending over towards the Pearl River. We do expect that that will likely be expanded. We have the 5:00 Eastern time, 4:00 Central time advisory coming up here, less than an hour from now. As soon as that comes in, we will bring that new information to you. We'll also possibly have an update or change in the forecast track.

Right now, there you can see that gradual turn, that's going to be happening slowly in the next 24 hours. And once we start to see that turn more northward. We'll have higher confidence in exactly where this is going. Right now, you do see that red, skinny line heading into New Orleans, and I know your eye just automatically draws right to that. But you really need to look at the cone of error, because there's quite a wide margin here. You're not out of the woods yet, even along the Louisiana/Texas coast extending all the way over to the Florida Panhandle.

So Florida, you're not getting a free pass just yet. Keep in mind, that there may be some changes as this continues to develop. Florida, southern Florida still feeling the impact of this. In fact tropical storm warnings remain in effect for the Dry Tortugas. Still some rain bands which have been moving over the Florida Keys. And there are some spotty showers and thunderstorms just for the daytime heating across the Sunshine State.

The other thing to keep in mind too at this time is that there are hundreds and thousands of people still without power in the Miami- Dade area, also Key West is reporting power outages by about 100 thousand people. And check out the heat index. This is the temperature your body feels from the heat and the humidity combined. It feels like 104 right now in Miami. That is dangerous when you don't have any air conditioning. So really take it easy, stay in the shade if you can. Drink lots of water. Have the fans going and try to stay cool. Here's the bottom line, here's what you need to know mostly about Katrina. Major hurricane, very likely when it makes landfall. Winds could be somewhere between 131 to 155 miles per hour plus. We have more uncertainty in the intensity forecast than we do in the forecast track, just so you know that. Landfall is likely in the Northern Gulf Coast sometime on Monday. Likely around midday and the rain bands -- we're going to start to feel the effects of this sometime late on Sunday -- Randy.

KAYE: I know, Jacqui, you don't want us to pay too much attention to that line that's going straight to New Orleans, and that's also because wherever the eye hits, it's actually the people to the east of that that can feel quite a bit of effects of that eye.

JERAS: That's right. That's where the worst winds will be and also the worst storm surge. So actually if it goes slightly west of New Orleans, that would be rally worst-case scenario.

KAYE: Okay, Jacqui Jeras, thank you so much. We're going to get an update from you once again at 4:30. And also lots of folks very eager to hear about that 5:00 Eastern advisory from the National Weather Center. As soon as that comes in and Jacqui gets that, we'll get right back to her.

If New Orleans does become ground zero, the results could be catastrophic. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu joins me on the phone to talk about preparations and what people in New Orleans and elsewhere along the coast should be doing right now. And Senator, I understand you are just east of New Orleans, is that correct?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, (D) LOUISIANA: I'm just east of New Orleans, and we do not have a mandatory evacuation for all areas, and if we are, then I will be evacuating as well. My family has been here for a couple of weeks. But people in Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf Coast are familiar with these storms and how serious and dangerous they can be. We're urging everyone to follow the direction of the Governors of the states here, Governor Blanco and Governor Barber of Mississippi, and all elected officials directing the evacuation efforts.

KAYE: Can you speak at all about this contraflow. We've been talking about this much of the day, where they turn the highways and the roads heading in one direction out of the state of Louisiana, trying to keep folks from coming in there into the dangerous area if Katrina does head that way. What do you been the plans for this?

LANDRIEU: Well not too many people are headed our way with the storm. We're just trying to get people out, and we don't have enough highways. And so that's part of the problem. We share a highway, of course, with Mississippi, I-55. I-49 is not complete. We have urged the federal government to stay focused on helping us to expand our highway infrastructure just for this purpose.

So we have to do this. We don't, literally, have enough highways to get people out. So people have to start ahead of time, and that's what's happening, and the governors have been working very closely together to try to make sure we can clear everyone out of the southern part of Mississippi and Louisiana. We hope the storm doesn't hit the mouth of the river directly. Then it becomes a real threat to the city of New Orleans, which, is again, why we've been beating the drum nationally for restoration of the wetlands that are outside of New Orleans and the coastal part of Louisiana that's served as a natural barrier. A lot of those wetlands have been eroded and it's a real danger to the millions of people that live here.

KAYE: And what's the challenge in evacuating a city like New Orleans? This is a place where people like to hang out. They may not heed the warnings from what I was reading today. Some people were actually setting up beach blankets down there on Bourbon Street and not wanting to leave. Not to mention the fact that it's surrounded by so much water, and it's sort of like a soup bowl would be the best way to describe it.

LANDRIEU: Well there will be a handful of people that will always take risks. But most people understand the danger of this storm, and we have been through them before, and will evacuate. Some of the challenges are the population of New Orleans is poor and older. About 30 percent of the population doesn't have access to an automobile or owns an automobile. So they've got to count on extended families or friends or neighbors.

The evacuation of the elderly is always a challenge of course and those that are in hospitals. The mayor is working and has been working diligently on that plan. Hopefully it will be carried out. Our National Guard is in Iraq. Three thousand of our guard is in Iraq, and they're not even going to be here, which is usually another backup to help us. And in addition, we are evacuating the Gulf of Mexico. Six thousand people work in the Gulf pumping oil and gas for the nation, keeping lights on all over America. They've got to be evacuated. Prices of gas are already high, and with the hurricane, you know --

KAYE: Certainly a big job ahead.

LANDRIEU: -- the energy infrastructure will shut down.

KAYE: All right. Senator Mary Landrieu, thank you so much for your time today. We want to remind you 5:00 Eastern time, waiting for that advisory, very important to lots of folks there along the Gulf coast, the advisory from the National Weather Center.

People in South Florida are spending much of the day cleaning up from Katrina's first swipe at land. Katrina came ashore late Thursday as a minimal Category 1 hurricane, but the storm was powerful enough to damage homes, knock down trees and power lines. Thousands of people still are without electricity. Heavy rain inundated the Miami area. The storm dumped 18 inches of rain in some areas flooding streets and homes.

Sand proved to be a problem on beach side streets in Ft. Lauderdale. Plows had to be brought into push the sand out of the way. Katrina is blamed for seven deaths in Florida. Governor Jeb Bush is asking that Miami-Dade and Broward counties be declared federal disaster areas.

Now to Crawford, Texas, where the president's working vacation has been anything but peaceful. It is the site of twin rallies, one by supporters of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan who lost her son in Iraq. The other by protesters who say Sheehan does not speak for them. Our Ed Lavandera is watching it all.

ED LAVENDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Randi. Well it hasn't been violent here by any means. But it is definitely tense, and hot. Temperatures aren't helping out. We're here at what has been called -- the area known as Camp Casey. The pro-Cindy Sheehan folks kind of camped out. Restricted over there in that area. And literally right across the street form where they're standing, are the folks who have come out in support of President Bush. There's a caravan of President Bush supporters who have made their way from California into Crawford. They were holding a rally just a short while ago in town as well.

There's a much heavier police presence here this weekend with, by our estimation, somewhere over a thousand people who have come into Crawford. And remember, Crawford is a town of 700, and many people pouring into show their signs of support, and it is actually the first time we've actually seen the most vocal opposition to Cindy Sheehan since she has been here. She spoke a little while ago.


CINDY SHEEHAN, ANTI-WAR PROTESTER: I know, I know that the Camp Casey movement is going to end the war in Iraq.


LAVENDERA: Now as I've mentioned we haven't seen any kind of violence here today, but there have been a number of arrests. Three people, that we know of so far, who have been arrested for disorderly conduct who are obstructing the work that police officers are doing. They've got people on a very tight leash here. If you are in support of Cindy Sheehan, basically restricted to that side of the street. If you are in support of President Bush, you are kept over here, and this is -- they're hoping that this little street here, this country road that leads to the president's ranch, will be enough to keep people separated.

KAYE: Ed, thank you. Ed Lavandera live in Crawford, Texas, for us today.

Coming up, a big storm is on its way to the big easy. What will happen to the city that sits below the sea? Our coverage of Hurricane Katrina continues.

And still no deal in Iraq. Is a compromise on the horizon, or will it end in a political showdown?


KAYE: Urgent warnings for bayou residents in the path of Hurricane Katrina. FEMA is telling people in Southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi's Gulf Coast to clear out. Mandatory evacuations are under way for some of Louisiana's vulnerable southernmost parishes. The storm is a powerful Category 3 hurricane, but as it moves over warm Gulf waters, it is gaining strength. Katrina is expected to make landfall again, Monday.

Turning now to Iraq. Hundreds of Iraqis are celebrating their freedom. The U.S. military announced today that almost 1,000 detainees have been released from Abu Ghraib Prison in the past few days. Most of them are Sunnis who have been jailed for nonviolent offenses. It is the largest mass release of inmates from the facility so far.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be a crucial day in Baghdad, for negotiators drafting Iraq's constitution, it could be a day of compromise or confrontation. There was more debate over the document's fine print today. Our Aneesh Raman brings us that story.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Almost two week since the first constitutional deadline and it is the same question confronting Iraqi leaders. Will this process end with comprise or confrontation. On Saturday, a last ditch effort by the Shia/Kurd coalition to bridge deep divides with the Sunni minority.

HAJIM AL-HASSANI, IRAQI NATL. ASSEMBLY SPEAKER (through translator): Agreement has been reached between the Kurdish coalition and the Shia alliance accepting the suggestions of the Sunnis. It will be announced in parliament tomorrow.

RAMAN: The new draft sidelines details on Federalism, appeasing Sunni demands, leaving the Kurds with their autonomous region in the north. It also sidelines another Sunni concern, specifics on de- baathifiction. What to do with the former members of Saddam's regime and with the Baath party. Saturday conferring among themselves, the Sunnis were deciding if this was a deal worth taking. But for some negotiators, it is already too late.

SALEH MUTLAG, SUNNI NEGOTIATOR (through translator): The situation is not balanced. We came here on the basis that there is a compromise, but it does not exist. They bypass the constitution on the national assembly without any comprising.

RAMAN: The government says the only looming legal deadline now is October 15th, by when a national referendum must take place. In the interim, the Shia/Kurd coalition will try everything to get everyone on board, especially the Sunnis.

This is why in Baqubah on Friday, thousands of Iraqis in the majority Sunni area. pouring on to the streets saying no to federalism. With such sentiment and with the urging of their political leaders, the Sunnis, as well as some Shia, could vote down the constitutional referendum forcing the national assembly to be dissolved and the political process to start from scratch. With the likelihood of only reaching this same point again, next year. (on camera): The speaker says with the national assembly set to convene, Sunday will be a crucial day. And Shia negotiators are calling this the end of the road suggesting a conclusion to this process long stalled may now be at hand. But in Iraqi politics, anything can happen. And it usually does in the 11 hour. Aneesh Raman, CNN, Baghdad.


KAYE: Coming up, more on our top story, Hurricane Katrina ahead. This storm is currently churning away in the Gulf. Jacqui Jeras gives us an update.

Also, he's outraged many with the call for the assassination of Venezuela's president. What is the battle ahead for Pat Robertson?


KAYE: This just in, take a look at these live pictures. This coming to us from our affiliate WVUE in New Orleans. That is a live picture of highway I-10 west. You can take a look there on the right side of your screen where all that traffic is. Those are folks who are trying to get out of town, out of city of New Orleans. Jacqui Jeras will have a live update for us in about six minutes from now on Hurricane Katrina.

Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson is headed to Venezuela to do damage control. He says U.S./Venezuelan relations have been strained by comments made by Christian Pat Robertson. Monday, Robertson called on the U.S. to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Robertson has since apologized and said he was speaking out of frustration. Jackson says it's time for the Bush administration to speak up.


REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: I was appalled. A, because it is an immoral suggestion and an illegal one. In the silence of the FCC in terms of setting standards for what can be broadcast, because this is beyond free speech recommending assassination, and silence of the White House, likewise, is deafening. Why does it reverberate so? Because we have a history of political assassinations. In Guatemala, in Chile, in the Congo. So it conjures up all of these old fears. And that's why President Bush has some obligation to calm those fears by making it emphatic that it is not our desire nor design nor is it our policy.


KAYE: Jackson says he will emphasize the importance of strong U.S./Venezuelan relations during talks with President Chavez. And he says he will stress to Chavez that the U.S. doesn't support assassinations. SO how did conservative Christians in the U.S. react to Robertson's call to assassinate the Venezuelan president? CNN's Mary Snow has that.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Late Wednesday afternoon, Pat Robertson issued a statement apologizing for comments calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He said, quote, "I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. out to kill him." Earlier Wednesday, Robertson blamed the media for misconstruing his comments.

PAT ROBERTSON, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTER: I didn't say assassination, I said our special forces should, quote, take him out. And take him out can be a number of things, including kidnapping.

SNOW: But on Monday, this was Robertson, in his own words speaking to his 700 Club viewers about Chavez.

ROBERTSON: If thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think, we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.

SNOW: Robertson hadn't found allies to back him up. Even among Christian evangelicals.

REV. TED HAGGARD, NATL. ASSN. OF EVANGELICALS: Pat Robertson was wrong in recommending this. He was wrong in saying it, but he was not wrong in being able to just openly discuss it the way political pundits do all the time.

SNOW: Robertson's clout in politics and in the White House has waned over the years. He doesn't hold the kind of influence he had when he ran for president in 1988, and then went on to create the Christian Coalition the following year. Still, he is a prominent member of the president's core electoral base. His 700 Club program draws an estimated 865,000 viewers a day. Some Christian groups say given Robertson's influence that when remarks such as this go unchallenged, it creates an impression for American evangelicals and others.

STEVEN WALDMAN, CEO, BELIEFNET.COM: People need to realize that when a major Christian leader makes comments like that, other people are going to think, oh, well this is what evangelical Christians are like.

SNOW (on camera): While Robertson sought to squelch the controversy with his written apology. Part of his statement went on to praise Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was killed by the Nazi's after he attempted to assassinate Adolph Hitler, and Robertson says today he deserves respect and consideration. Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


KAYE: Coming up, is the big easy prepared for the big storm? Jacqui Jeras gives us an update on Hurricane Katrina.

And people on land aren't only ones preparing for Katrina's arrival. Oil workers offshore are preparing as well. We'll tell you how they're getting ready.


KAYE: Now in the news. New Orleans' mayor is warning residents, quote, this is not a test, as Hurricane Katrina creeps closer. Federal Emergency Management officials are urging residents of low- lying areas to evacuate. Katrina is a Category 3 storm right now, but forecasters say it could become a Category 4 storm by the time it makes landfall as early as Monday.

In Iraq, Sunni Arab law-makers prepare a compromise for Iraq's draft constitution. They have listed 13 objections to the charter, but those objections may become a non issue. Shiite Arabs say they plan to submit it to voters this fall if they can't come to an agreement with the Sunnis today.

Supporters and protesters of President Bush's policies in Iraq are squaring off in Texas today. More than 3,000 supporters of the Iraq war have set up shop near President Bush's ranch. They are there to counter Cindy Sheehan's anti-war demonstration. So far, one pro- Bush protester has been arrested.

Thousands are under orders to evacuate Coastal Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina approaches. That includes scores of people in Grand Isle, Louisiana's lone inhabited barrier island. Forty years ago a powerful hurricane practically blew Grand Isle off the map. CNN's Peter Viles talked to residents who lived through that storm and are hoping to avoid a repeat.


PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Here is a quiet old cajun fishing village, where the fish really are jumping. Where Bayou Lafourche spills into the Gulf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bayou Lafourche is in this area here.

VILES: It's the kind of place where you can see the mayor without an appointment. Where men carry knives, because you never know when you'll need to shuck an oyster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now there's your live oyster. Right out of the water. Fresh out of water.

VILES: It's a place where old men like to gossip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People (INAUDIBLE) They don't have nothing on us.

VILES: And like to hold memories of simpler days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wasn't raised with electric lights. Kerosene lamps, candles. We used to -- when you wanted to eat you go right back down the street from where we're standing not one block and throw a cast net and catch mullets. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we were kids somebody would -- a young couple would get married in the neighborhood, everybody grab a hammer, a handful of nails and go build them a house. And you have a house to sleep in at night.

VILES: Even today, old timers will study the birds and the oak trees that their grandfathers planted for signs a coming storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the trees got acorns there is no hurricane. If they ain't got no acorns then they got a hurricane.

VILES: And what you got on the trees right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leaves. No acorns.

VILES: The defining moment in the town's history was Hurricane Betsy in 1965 with winds of more than 125 miles an hour, it blew away 90 percent of the town.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody can explain what Betsy was like unless you were here.

VILES: The mayor was seven, his father's restaurant disappeared. It was later found 15 miles away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember asking my daddy when he was 37 years old with Betsy, and I was seven, and I looked at him like that and I said Dad what are we going to do? He said we're going to start all over.

VILES: The whole town started over, knowing someday a storm could wipe it off the map.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sooner or later, I don't know when, but this island will go back to sea.

VILES: These two aren't going anywhere yet. If forced to evacuate, they will, but they'll be back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can live off this land. I don't need air condition. I don't need nothing. I can live here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as there's a grain of sand left, I will stay on Grand Isle.

VILES: So don't write off this little town just yet. Peter Viles for CNN, Grand Isle, Louisiana.


KAYE: And there we go. Once again, we want to show you that live picture from our affiliate WVUE. That is highway I-10 west, and we can only assume those folks are trying to get out of town. Hurricane Katrina is approaching the Gulf Coast with an eye heading straight for New Orleans at this point. We are waiting, we're just a few minutes away from the latest adviser from the National Weather Center. Jacqui Jeras will have that for us in just a moment. Actually we are told she has it right now. So, Jacqui, what is the latest on Hurricane Katrina.

JERAS: Well it looks like the hurricane watch has been extended, Randi. I'm reading this off, literally, as we speak, hot off the press. And obviously a fair amount early. This is the 4:00 Central time, 5:00 Eastern time advisory. The watch has been extended westward to Intercoastal City, Louisiana, and eastward to the Florida/Alabama border. So that really brings the watch out quite a ways there.

Also it looks like we've seen very little change in intensity. Still looking at winds around 115 miles per hour. That keeps it a Category 3 status at this time. It's moving west at 7 miles per hour, so we're not seeing any changes. It hasn't started turning up the north and to the west just yet. We may see a change on the forecast track. But I'm going to need to go through all of this before I can bring that to you. So breaking information that we have. Hurricane watches extended from Intercoastal City, Louisiana, all the way over to the Alabama/Florida border. So very large area.

Here you can see the satellite imagery looking very impressive at this time. It looks like this storm maybe getting a little bit bigger in size possibly. The rain bands still hitting the Florida Keys. And you can see the showers and thunderstorms. We expect the rain to be arriving along the north coast of the Gulf some time probably late tomorrow, maybe even tomorrow night. So those first outer feeder bands are going to be moving in. We still think it's probably going to be a Category 4 when it makes landfall.

What does that mean to you? What does a four mean? Well it means that winds will be between 131 to 155 miles per hour. Storm surge as much as 13 to 18 feet. This can level small residences, uproot large trees, and those were the fatalities that we had when Katrina made landfall in Florida. Palm trees, crushing people that were out and about during the storm. A terrain lower than 10 feet above mean sea level can be flooded requiring massive evacuations. And we saw that video, some people already heeding the advice and starting to get out of big easy -- Randi.

KAYE: All right. Jacqui Jeras with the very latest breaking information on Hurricane Katrina. Thank you.

Hurricane Katrina packed a powerful punch as it roared across South Florida. One of our citizen journalists sent us this picture of a damaged building in Pompano Beach. You can see it's pretty much collapsed there. If you are in an area affected by Katrina and would like to become a citizen journalist, you can e-mail us your pictures, your stories by logging onto CNN.COM/STORIES. Be sure to include your name, your location and your telephone number, and most importantly, while you're gather this kind of pictures and video for us, please be very careful.

Coming up, is it real or are they just acting?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEW BRODERICK, FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF: This is my ninth sick day this semester. It's getting pretty tough coming up with new illnesses.


KAYE: If you suspect your kid is taking a cue from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, well, stay tuned. We'll tell you how you can tell if they're faking it and what that might mean.

And we're going a few rounds with this kid. Get to know a little boxer with big dreams in Colombia next.


KAYE: Preparing your child for college isn't just about buying dorm furniture and school books. It may also mean scheduling a trip to the doctor's office. Many colleges are now requiring students get certain vaccination before they move to campus. CNN medical correspondent Christy Feig explains why.


CHRISTY FEIG, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Alex Gittelson is a freshman at the University of Maryland. He's got his schedule, his books, now all he needs is a meningitis shot. The state of Maryland requires that all college students get the vaccine or sign a waiver. Alex knew little about the disease, now he understands why it's important to get one.

ALEX GITTELSON, COLLEGE STUDENT: It's transmitted through sharing, whether it's drinks, cigarettes, et cetera.

FEIG: Meningitis has become a major concern for campus health departments. Meningococcal meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord caused by a bacteria and transmitted from person to person. As many as 3,000 cases are diagnosed each year. About 5 percent of those occur on college campuses in dorm settings. It isn't that common, but when it strikes it can be deadly?

DR. JUDITH PERRY, IMMUNIZATION PROG., UNIV. OF MD.: In 27 years here I've had -- we've seen 11 total cases of meningitis throughout that entire time. But it's devastating.

FEIG: Most schools also recommend that students get a series of three Hepatitis B shots. According to the CDC 80,000 people, mostly young adults, become infected yearly. Spread through sexual contact or needle sharing. Hepatitis B can become a chronic illness with serious complications.

PERRY: Of those people that are chronic carriers, about ten percent of those are high at risk for later developing in life cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

FEIG: Personal physicians can also talk to parents and young people about the inoculations and how they are given. I'm Christy Feig, reporting from Washington.


KAYE: And now to a scenario almost every parent has faced at some point or another. Your child wakes up complaining he's too sick to go to school, but to you he seems suspiciously healthy. So how can you tell when your child is really sick or just putting up the performance of a lifetime. Joining us now with some tips is Dr. Bill Lloyd. Good to see you doctor. Lot's of parents --

DR. BILL LLOYD, UNIV. OF CALIF.-DAVIS, MED. CTR.: Randi, with that hurricane approaching, students in Louisiana and Mississippi are going to get a holiday. So students in the other 48 states, they're going to want equal time off as well.

KAYE: You're right. But they may or may not be really sick. So how do we know if the symptoms are genuine?

LLOYD: Well you know, it's the natural law that the siblings are skeptical. And they're the one's that say you're faking. But parents need to be health advocates for their children. And if a child doesn't have a reputation for faking it, it's probably smarter to trust the child and the child will trust the parents. Be careful when the children start off saying I'm too sick to go to school. Sick children usually start off by saying I have a sore throat, or simply, I don't feel well.

KAYE: So if this is just a first time experience with this, then parents should believe them, trust them and keep them home?

LLOYD: Well you could do a few simple things. You can check for the fever, use one of the nice digital thermometers that you place in the ear. You'll get an accurate reading from them. Go ahead and ask a few questions. Tell me now, where does it hurt? Where do you feel uncomfortable? And if they give you a bunch of vague, nonsense and they don't have a fever and they've slept all night. Well then you might want to have a second thought about things. Because missing school can be disruptive not only for the student, but for you the parent as well when you have to make arrangements for that young child to stay home.

KAYE: So should you always gently probe or is there ever a time when you should just call your child on the carpet and say, uh-uh, you're faking it.

LLOYD: No. I think parents should be good at being parents and not being doctors. I think parents have to understand and take the time to communicate with the child and find out why is it you really don't want to go to school. There could be some very powerful reasons. An oppressive amount of school work. And truthfully, we've let our kids stay home when there was just too much work to do. You don't need to tell a story. If there's issues with the teachers or a gesture trying to seek attention, you might want to sit down and spend some time talking, rather than giving Tylenol or aspirin.

You know, Randi, there's a big problem with bullying in schools. And some children don't want to go to school because they are fearful of their classmates. You need to know about that. Or if the child just has generalized anxiety about life in school. There's a problem that can be resolved by listening without having to go see the doctor.

KAYE: So, doctor, if you let your child get away with it this one time, how do you prevent if it from becoming a habit?

LLOYD: Boy that's the real big question. You have to impose certain rules. If you decide yes, you can you stay home today because I think you're not well enough to go. You can't reward them. No internet, no watching TV, no DVDs. If you're sick enough that you have to stay home, then you should be staying in bed. You shouldn't be on the telephone. And if you're so sick that you can't go to school today, you probably can't go to that birthday party tomorrow. If the child understands what the rules and consequences are for taking a day off, whether or not they're sick, they'll think twice before they push that button again.

KAYE: So if they're home and they're faking it, what should you or should you not allow them to do that day? Are they allowed to lay in their bed because they are not feeling well, supposedly, and watch TV. What kind of limits do you think you should put on that?

LLOYD: I think you need to keep limits on it and they need to know they're going to be monitored. Older children, you'll be calling home to check on them. Or I'll be stopping home during the lunch hour to see how you're doing. Younger children, of course, we'll be watching you continuously. If you're not feeling well, you need to lie down in bed. Take some fluids. Have a little Tylenol and get better. Or if you have a fever, maybe we need to go see the doctor. There might be a shot involved. And not reward them by not letting them play around the house all day when they should be in school.

KAYE: All right. And don't let them watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off. That's number one.

LLOYD: It's loaded with bad ideas.

KAYE: There you go. All right. Dr. Bill Lloyd, thanks so much.

LLOYD: We'll talk again soon.

KAYE: OK. Hope so. Erica Hill is a here with a preview of what's to come. What's on tap for your shows tonight?

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Nice to see you, Randi. Well a little more hurricane coverage, as I'm sure you could guess. Actually coming up at 6:00, we're going to speak with Governor Halley Barber of Mississippi. Get a little perspective on how preparations are going in that state, what they're expecting there.

We're also going to learn a little bit more about New Orleans. John Zarrella is going to tell us why this city, which you've heard so much about lately, why is it so vulnerable? We know it's basically under sea level, but there's a little bit more to it than that. We'll delve into that at six. And then coming up tonight at 10:00, we are going to take a look at Martha Stewart from the author of Martha, Inc. The ankle bracelet comes off this week, August 31st, that fashion accessory will be gone. A whole new life starts for Martha Stewart. Two new TV shows, so we'll check in on Martha and find out who the real Martha is. We're also going to check in with the Governor of Louisiana, Governor Kathleen Blanco, to get a little bit more perspective on how things are going there, because a lot of activity down there, you might say.

KAYE: Oh, yeah. We can see the people heading out of town already, the traffic is beginning. So the time to go is certainly now.

HILL: Indeed it is.

KAYE: All right. Erica, we look forward to those shows. Thanks so much.

Coming up, we all know French fries aren't the healthiest side dish, but do they need a warning label? We'll tell you why some officials are asking for one.

And he's taking on an intimidating opponent, poverty. We'll introduce you to this young and determined fighter, next.


KAYE: Well folks in New Orleans and surrounding areas have been told the time to evacuate is now. And there you see it, a live picture from our affiliate WVUE. Traffic there on I-10 west heading out of town, out of the New Orleans area. Folks certainly seem to be paying attention to those warnings. I want to bring in Jacqui Jeras who has been getting some warnings of her own from the National Weather Center. What's the very latest.

JERAS: Yes. We want to show you those updates graphically now, Randi, so people at home get a better idea of what we're talking about. The forecast track has shifted just a smidge off to the west. So not much of a change here and really still keeps that big bull's- eye heading towards New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. So not much of a change there, just a touch on off to the west. And still the intensity forecast has not changed. There you see the big number four, so possibly a major hurricane a large four is what we're expecting.

Here's the watches I was talking about from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, extending all the way over to the Florida/Alabama state line. That means hurricane conditions are expected in about 36 hours -- Randi.

KAYE: OK. Jacqui, thanks so much. And of course keep it here for the very latest on Hurricane Katrina as it heads to the Gulf Coast there, the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico.

Now to a story of persistence and hope out of Colombia. The countries government says blacks and Indians are among the poorest sectors of society there. But one boy has, literally, decided to take the fight against poverty into his own hands. Karl Penhaul has his story.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): His dad named him Marlon Brando to try and set him apart from all the other poor black kids. As he shadow boxes on Colombia's top tourist beach, he dreams of becoming a pro fighter. He thinks it's his best chance of defeating the unseen opponents he's battled for all of his 13 years, poverty and racial discrimination. I want to become a professional and help my family, he says.

Marlon's dad Lassero (ph) Perez has worked on Cartagena Beach for 25 years, fetching beer and suntan oil for wealthy tourists. Earning maybe $10 on a good day. The best home the family of seven can afford is this wood shack in a slum. Marlon shares a bed with sister Karina, the only private space he has is a shelf where he keeps a few school books and a ragged Bible. He's a good student, but knows there'll never be enough money for college. So he's putting his faith in his fists.

When I become a professional, I'll build them a house with three floors out of brick and a swimming pool he says. Between the reality and that dream lies a one-and-a-half hour, 25 cent bus ride and years of training in this back street gym. It reeks of poverty. The boots are scuffed and the gloves have seen better days. Even the poster of the greatest has lost its shine.

Trainer Anibal Gonzalez doesn't charge young wanna-bes like Marlon. He says he sometimes has to give them bus fair from his own pocket, and a square meal from his own kitchen. We train kids from poor neighborhoods, because they're the kids who are hungry and want a taste of glory. They want to be somebody in life he says.

Boxing is hugely popular on Colombia's Caribbean coast. Boxing hall of famer Colombian Antonio "Kid Pambele" Cervantes is an inspiration for black kids here that the dream can come true. He was world champion in the 1970s, defending his junior welterweight title 16 times.

The dream of all kids that come into this sport is to one day become a champion and achieve their goals. It's difficult, but it's not impossible, he says.

Marlon weighs in at 68 pounds, he's suffering from parasites and needs multi-vitamins. For all that, he still packs a hefty punch for his size, and he seems to have a fighter's heart.

The first few times I was a little frightened when the bell rang, but when you get used to it, you lose your fear. You have to be alert and watch the other boxer's hands, he tells me. Marlon's had nine amateur fights so far, he lost one and won the next eight by knockout. He knows he has a battle on his hands if he wants to turn pro, but he knows if he fails, his fight to escape poverty, may be unwinnable. Karl Penhaul, CNN, Cartagena, Colombia. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE: And there is still much more ahead on CNN. Straight ahead "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" profiles the ups and downs of the British royal family.

Then at 6:00 Eastern, the very latest on Hurricane Katrina, plus a special look at why New Orleans is so vulnerable.

And at 7:00 p.m. Eastern it is on the story. CNN's frontline correspondents take you inside the stories of the week. And I'll be back with Jacqui Jeras with more on Hurricane Katrina.


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