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CNN BREAKING NEWS
State of Emergency; President Bush Heads to Hurricane Zone Today
Aired September 2, 2005 - 05:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Here's what's all new in the next half-hour.
The floodwaters may be receding, but the potential for deadly disease is gathering strength across the Gulf states. We're going to be talking with a public health expert.
JON BIRGER, SR. WRITER, "FORTUNE": Deckers Outdoor is one of those companies that nobody knows by name, but a lot of people know what they sell. What they sell are Ugg boots, as well as Teva sandals. Ugg has been such a popular name of boots past couple years that earnings at Deckers have gone up some 150 percent a year over the past three years.
The challenge with Deckers with Teva is really brand extension. The popularity of the sandals themselves may have peeked. What they're trying to do now is expand the Teva brand into a whole array of outdoor-related products, like hiking boots, like running shoes, watches, sunglasses. The problem, of course, is everything in the fashion industry is unpredictable, and what was hot one season may not be hot the next.
COSTELLO: From the Time Warner Center in New York, this is DAYBREAK, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for joining us.
We also want to welcome our viewers from CNN International.
Our coverage of Hurricane Katrina continues in just a minute.
But first, "Now in the News."
Al Jazeera television broadcast what it says is a videotape from Mohammad Sidique, one of the four suicide bombers who attacked London on July 7. On the tape, Sidique claims responsibility for the attacks and defends his actions. Sidique died, along with 52 victims and 3 other bombers.
In Iraq, a U.S. soldier is dead after being shot by small arms fire during combat operations. The soldier was assigned to the 155th Brigade Combat Team. Boeing says it will immediately stop assembly commercial airplanes. This follows a vote by machinists to strike. The union voted overwhelmingly last night to reject a three-year contract proposal. The strike, which begins today, will affect more than 18,000 machinists.
To the Forecast Center now, Jacqui Jeras in for Chad today.
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Carol. Morning, everybody.
COSTELLO: I'm sorry, Jacqui, I'm going to have to interrupt you.
Jim Spellman, our producer in New Orleans, he's on top of that building, alongside police sharpshooters. He has some information to pass along.
Jim, what can you tell us?
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN PRODUCER: Carol, the fires and explosions that I mentioned have erupted out of control. A huge orange explosion the southwest of town, not far from us at all, supposedly a railroad district.
I'd like to put you on with a police officer here, whose name we're not going to mention, who's going to tell you a bit more.
COSTELLO: Hello, sir, and thank you for talking with us this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Hello.
COSTELLO: Hello, sir, thank you for talking with us this morning. We sure appreciate it. Tell us about the fires you see and where they're located in New Orleans and what might be set on fire.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: We're trying to get a HazMat team out there right now. We don't know what it is. We know it's in the 5th District on Charter Street. It's been going on now for about an hour. And then just about five minutes ago, looks like several cars blew up.
COSTELLO: Several cars blew up. Are you talking about railroad cars or just cars?
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Yes, railroad cars. We believe it's railroad cars. Our main concern right now is what it is and what this cloud -- where this cloud is drifting right now.
COSTELLO: I know there are a lot of petrochemical plants in the area of New Orleans. Is that where these fires are burning? UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: It's where we have all the railroad crossings up in this one particular area in the 5th District, and that appears to be where this is going on up on Charter Street.
COSTELLO: So you don't think -- you said a HazMat team is on the way, and that made me think of chemicals. Is that your concern?
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Yes, well all these railroad cars carry everything that's shipped. And at this time, we don't exactly -- like I said, we don't know what it is. We're trying to get HazMat over there to find out what's going up and, well, what we have to do.
COSTELLO: How likely is it that HazMat will be able to get over there? I mean, what, how difficult will that be?
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: I don't know the condition of that area. I believe that they can drive all the way there. I think the water is down over in that area.
COSTELLO: Sir, as you're on top of that roof looking at things transpire, I mean, I don't know how long you've been in New Orleans as a police officer. Why don't you tell us that first?
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Eighteen years.
COSTELLO: Eighteen years. So what goes through your mind when you look at your city?
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: I think it's gone, myself.
COSTELLO: I'm sorry, sir, can you still...
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: I just think -- yes. I say I think it's gone.
I think we lost her.
COSTELLO: I can still hear you, sir. You think the city is gone?
SPELLMAN: Carol, this is Jim Spellman back. The officer had to go. That's what he said, yes, he thinks this city is gone. And more and more it looks almost inevitable.
This -- let me just described the scene here for you a bit more. There are no lights, so the city is lit only by a couple of helipads on hospitals and a few emergency lights blinking on tops of buildings. And now it's getting more and more dark as this thick, very thick billowing smoke comes from these explosions and the orange glow of the fire. It's quite a scene.
COSTELLO: Charter Street, southwest of town, railroad district, is that near the French Quarter, in the French Quarter?
SPELLMAN: It looks about a couple of miles from the -- about a couple of miles from the French Quarter. The chance Chris Lawrence was up, just woken by this, as well, and he's on the scene. So I'd like to put him on with you -- Carol.
COSTELLO: All right, we'll do.
SPELLMAN: All right, here's Chris.
COSTELLO: Chris Lawrence.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Tell us what you've seen from your perspective.
LAWRENCE: Just a bright orange glow off in the distance with this white billowing smoke just pouring out of it. And it stands out because, you know I think as Jim mentioned, the entire city is dark. I mean there is just absolutely no light whatsoever, so it stands out.
And it woke us up. We were sleeping downstairs and we just heard a big boom, you know not -- we've been hearing gunfire all night, but this was obviously something different. And you just -- even from downstairs saw the entire sky in the horizon just start to glow a really bright orange.
COSTELLO: And we have no idea right...
LAWRENCE: We can't tell from this...
COSTELLO: I'm sorry. We have no idea right now what is inside those railroad cars?
LAWRENCE: No, we are trying to find that out right now. Again, it is so hard to judge even distance, at this point, because you don't have any of the natural markers that you would in a normal city when you have lights and you can judge distance. Wow! Now that is a phosphorus flare that just shot over there.
What do you think that is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks like phosphor hot (ph). I'm not sure. What it looks like.
LAWRENCE: Looked like some sort of phosphor flare that just flared up over there. Some of the orange glow is beginning to die out just a little bit.
COSTELLO: Chris, I know that you were...
LAWRENCE: But I think, at this point, we're really guessing. It's in the distance and it's just so dark out here you practically just see all silhouettes in this orange glow in the distance.
COSTELLO: You were kind of in that area yesterday. You were near the convention center. You have seen the lawlessness. Tell us about that and how this all connects to that or might connect to that.
LAWRENCE: Yes, well when we were at the convention center yesterday, there was just -- there's absolutely no one in charge. There's thousands and thousands of people, just families just sitting out there. And you know they've been out there for days with no food, no water. The police tell us there's no way they can even think about going in there without 40 to 50 men fully armed.
We were told that someone did take some shots at the people down at the convention center. And that seems to be getting to be pretty normal here in New Orleans. People shooting for absolutely no reason. Shooting at rescue helicopters. Shooting at families who are just, you know, literally living like animals in the street waiting for food or water, no rhyme or reason to it.
You know this is not the kind of violence where you know you can say there's some political motive behind it. A lot of this is just opportunistic. The city has fallen and we can do what we want sort of senseless violence.
COSTELLO: Chris, we -- I talked briefly with a police officer up on the roof with you and Jim Spellman, and he said the city was gone. There are also reports that police officers are not showing up for duty, 60 percent of them from some precincts. Have the police given up?
LAWRENCE: No. No, they have not. In fact, you're right about that, though, some police officers -- you know a lot of people, Carol, for the past few days have wondered you know why aren't the police doing more? Well, in a way they're doing more with less. Certain precincts, you know I'm not going to say where we are, but you know where we are maybe 20 percent of the officers you know didn't show up for duty or may have been trapped in the -- you know in some of the floods, you know. For whatever reason they are not on duty now.
In some of the other stations, one of the senior officers here told us as many as 50 to 60 percent of the officers may not be on duty right now. So you're talking about a police force that right now has been crippled in terms of manpower.
But you know you see the dedication from these officers who are still here. I mean just with limited resources, I mean facing people out there who will shoot them without a moment's notice, without a second thought, no respect at all, no real fear of the police. And they're here. They're defending their station. They're still going out on patrol, still trying to help people.
But they'll tell you, even on some of the rescues, when they're called out to rescue, sometimes if people feel, for whatever reason, they didn't get there fast enough, they've been shot at by some of the people they're trying to rescue. So this is a situation I don't think anyone could have dreamed of before this hurricane. I don't think anyone could have prepared for. And just in terms of how these officers are responding, dealing with things right now, it's just hard to comprehend.
COSTELLO: Well help is apparently on the way. Michael Chertoff from Homeland Security said -- I'm going to quote him -- "we have 2,800 National Guard in New Orleans as we speak today. Fourteen hundred additional National Guard military police-trained soldiers will be arriving every day. Fourteen hundred yesterday, 1,400 the next day, 1,400 the next until they" -- and the governor is asking for at least 40,000 National Guard's men and women to go into New Orleans. Is that what it will take?
LAWRENCE: Yes, it's going to take a massive, massive military effort to secure the city at this point. It's just impossible to ask this many police officers -- I mean they are doing whatever they can. I mean if you're here with them, and I know it would be natural to criticize you know why couldn't they do more. But if you see the amount of men and women, you know we're not just talking about male police officers. We're here with you know this -- the station we're at is made up plenty of female officers, and they are here all night you know sitting on the rooftop, down on the ground.
COSTELLO: Chris, I'm sorry, I'm going to have to interrupt you, because we have Alan Gould on the phone. He is at the convention center that you've been talking so much about, where it's quite dangerous inside. And we want to get him on the air, because you know it's difficult to get a hold of people inside that convention center.
Alan, can you hear me?
ALAN GOULD, INSIDE NEW ORLEANS CONVENTION CENTER: Yes.
COSTELLO: What is it like inside the convention center now?
GOULD: OK, we have a dangerous situation here. We have like what I would call a lot of genocide going on. They, more or less, corralled us in two places, this convention center and the Superdome, with no food, no water. You can say almost 90-degree heat inside.
We have small children and sick and elderly people dying every day. Small children being raped and killed. People running around with guns. I'm scared for my life, my wife and my 5-year-old daughter's life. We don't even want to live here anymore.
We need the federal help. We need the president to come, either with the Army or the National Guard, to get us out of here today. We've been here for three days ourselves.
COSTELLO: The New Orleans...
GOULD: We have people been here at least five days.
COSTELLO: The New Orleans police say that they are not equipped to deal with what's happening inside that convention center. GOULD: I've seen -- I mean what is happening, all we have is people getting sick and dying. I mean we need food. We don't have water or anything in here, no running water. I mean we need help. We just need to be out of here. They keep telling us the bus is coming, the bus is coming, and nobody showed up yet.
COSTELLO: The president, President Bush, is said to be coming there today some time to survey the damage. Is that something you need to see right now?
GOULD: Yes, we need to see somebody here to help get us out of here. I mean we have nowhere to go. The city is underwater. Our homes are gone. We have nowhere to go. We need help. We need to be out of here today.
COSTELLO: Has anyone come to you and told you what to do, where to go if a bus is coming?
GOULD: No, they keep telling us they're going to send us either one of three places: Houston, Texas; Fort Polk, Louisiana or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Now they keep saying they had 300, 400 buses ordered to get everybody out, but nobody has seen one bus, not one.
The mayor hasn't been here to see us or talk to us. The governor hasn't been here to see us or talk to us, nothing. So we need President Bush to stand up, come down here, take control of the situation and get us out of here.
COSTELLO: As far as what you're seeing inside the convention center right now, what are you seeing?
GOULD: I've got to say we have small children here. They got some babies here a month old, 2 days old, they can't take this heat. There is no air in here, no air conditioning, no running water, nothing. We don't have any food. Nobody brought anything. They said FEMA was bringing a truck of food two days ago, it hasn't gotten here yet.
COSTELLO: We've heard that crimes are being committed inside the convention center. We heard that a woman was being held at gunpoint. Have you seen anything like that?
GOULD: No, that hasn't happened here. That hasn't happened here. Now they did have some people running around with guns, but they left, they gone. They are gone. We got rid of them. We made -- they -- I don't even know where they went. They're just gone.
COSTELLO: How did you get rid of them?
GOULD: I mean we just banned together and we got up and got together and we just let them know, look, we're not having that here. We're trying to get out of here. We're trying to save these people's lives, save our lives, our family life and we want to get out of here. If they're going to act like that, they got to go somewhere else and do it. And they listened to us and they left. COSTELLO: Good for you. You know it's so difficult to understand why people would be shooting at rescue workers or why people would be stealing guns and shooting at anyone in this point. Usually you see people banding together, as you guys have done in that convention center, and help one another.
GOULD: I mean that's all we have. We are all we have. This is it. You might as well say we are family. This is one big family now. We have to help each other because nobody else is helping us.
COSTELLO: The National...
GOULD: They put us out of our homes. They literally forced us out of our homes. They turned off the water and the gas and literally forced us out of our homes, put us in these places and now they don't want to help us. They keep giving us the runaround help is coming, help is coming, help is coming. I mean it don't take five days to get a bus here.
COSTELLO: The National Guard is said to be coming in force very soon. In fact, in the days to come, there will be literally thousands coming in to New Orleans.
GOULD: OK, so we got to sit by and watch four or five more elderly sick people die or some --another baby die, or whatever, while they're making up their mind to come in? All we want is somebody to send some buses in here, or whatever, trains, cars, whatever, send somebody in here to get us out of here.
COSTELLO: Alan Gould, thank you so much for joining us. And you know, what do you say? You know I want to say good luck, but that just seems so inadequate. Alan Gould, thank you very much for talking with us this morning.
We going to go back to Chris Lawrence?
OK, we're going to try to get them back on the phone. But as you heard Chris Lawrence report a short time ago, fires are now burning a couple of miles from the French Quarter at a railroad yard. There have been explosions. Don't know what's inside that railroad car. They're trying to get a HazMat team to the scene, but, as you might imagine, that's going to be quite difficult. We'll have more information for you when we come back.
COSTELLO: Seems that one of the lasting images from New Orleans will be the looters. But in Mississippi, where entire towns were leveled, our reporters have said there's very little visible looting. And that may be because warnings came early, often and people heeded them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR (R), MISSISSIPPI: Now let me just make a very flat statement here, I have instructed the Highway Patrol and the National Guard to treat looters ruthlessly. Looting will not be tolerated, period. And rules of engagement will be as aggressive as the law allows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Only now is the crackdown beginning on looting and lawlessness in New Orleans. But CNN reporters in that city say that the police, in some police precincts as many as 20 to 60 percent of the officers seem to be AWOL.
To discuss the security situation in New Orleans, we're joined by Chuck Canterbury of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Good morning -- sir.
CHUCK CANTERBURY, PRES., FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: Good morning, Carol. How are you?
COSTELLO: That's a hard question to answer this morning, because what we're seeing in New Orleans is just -- you just can't believe it's happening in the United States.
CANTERBURY: It's pretty devastating. I've worked Hurricane Hugo and Andrew and I'm just amazed, so.
COSTELLO: Why do you think this is happening in this city?
CANTERBURY: Well, first of all, I believe that human frustration. Four days of extreme heat, little food, little water. In most of the other natural disasters that I've been involved in, at some point the running water was able to come back pretty quick. Some telephone service was back pretty quick. And we are still having trouble finding some of our police officers in that area because of the lack of communication. So it's just very primitive conditions and it's very difficult.
COSTELLO: It seemed to happen so quickly, though, that New Orleans slid into lawlessness, pretty much in three days. It seems as if the police are just protecting their own. We were hearing from our producer Jim Spellman. He was on a rooftop with police sharpshooters and basically they were protecting their own precinct.
CANTERBURY: I've not -- just heard that this morning myself. I do know that most of the officers that we have been able to talk to in the New Orleans area are sleeping on a mattress in a lobby of a hotel, bathing in the swimming pool. They haven't changed uniforms in four days. Many of them haven't seen their families, don't know if their families, where they're at. So the conditions for the officers have been pretty primitive from what we're understanding.
COSTELLO: Back to the difference between Mississippi and Louisiana. The Louisiana governor did come out and spoke some strong words, I believe, yesterday. And she said I have one message for these hoodlums, these National Guard troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will. And she's talking about the National Guardsmen that will come in to the city. Should she have said this kind of thing earlier in the game?
CANTERBURY: I think that setting the tone immediately, like Governor Barbour did in Mississippi, was essential for people to understand that this couldn't occur. And -- but I -- you know you have two totally different situations. Biloxi transportation was a little bit better for the officers able to get around because the lack of the floodwaters. In New Orleans, when it first started, it looked like the tactic was to try to stop them and send them on their way. And strict enforcement needed to take place right from the beginning.
But circumstances looked like it was very difficult. They didn't have anyplace to take anybody, no transportation. Many of the police cars are not working. Vehicles for the officers to use are scarce. So, but I believe, as I've heard this morning, the enforcement is now going to be zero tolerance.
COSTELLO: We heard reports this morning -- our Chris Lawrence is reporting that 60 percent of police officers in some precincts didn't show up for work. I talked to a police officer on top of that roof. He'd been working on the police department for 18 years. He looked out into his city and said it's gone.
I mean is that part of the reason why police officers aren't showing up? Or is it just because of the helplessness of the situation right now, as far as protecting the city?
CANTERBURY: Well, first of all, we don't have the report on the percentage of officers not showing up being near that high. I figure it could be that way in some precincts, but it could be because of redeployments. City government is obviously very fragmented. It's my understanding that the city government has moved to Baton Rouge. And with the limited communications, you know, I just don't where the officers that are on duty all are. And I don't know that the stand of control has been that good due to very, very poor communications.
I think that what I heard from that police officer was somebody that's probably been on duty since Saturday. He's probably hungry, tired and just as despair as the people standing at the convention center.
COSTELLO: When you say there will be zero tolerance, what does that mean?
CANTERBURY: Well, I've been listening to the state, Louisiana state police this morning talk about their new orders from the governor. I believe that they will start jailing looters and getting the word out that they are, you know -- because it look, at first, as almost as if they were just trying to control it by telling people to stop, put it down, leave. And I think once the word gets out that the looters will be going to jail -- there's a lot of anonymity in a crowd and once they start breaking the crowds up and getting them into smaller groups, the average person that's participating in that looting will not continue.
COSTELLO: Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. Thank you for joining DAYBREAK this morning.
We appreciate it.
To bring you up to date, because I know it's 6:03 Eastern time, there have been a number of explosions and fires in New Orleans in a railroad yard a couple of miles from the French Quarter.
Our Jim Spellman -- he's a producer -- he's on top of a building with police sharpshooters. They are protecting their own precinct right now and they saw the fire from afar and called out HAZMAT units.
Let's listen to what Jim Spellman reported just a few moments ago.
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN PRODUCER: We're on top of this building in the French Quarter with police who have barricaded themselves in the building. All of their -- all the police from this district, as well as many of their family members and people just of the public, have all barricaded into this building. There's police snipers on the roof who have been all night.
We've -- people have been shooting at us several times and police have shot back. No indication why anybody would shoot at us really, but they have. There's been fires breaking out on the horizon. Right now there's thick smoke coming from -- and periodic explosions -- coming from sort of the southeast, which police officers told me are railroad cars exploding.
At the convention center, there's been many reports of violence overnight and there's not really much the police can do about it. There was apparently a woman being held at gunpoint. There was a report that there was a fire at the convention center, all coming in on police radios. Impossible to tell if -- how they're being dealt with because the police just cannot respond.
COSTELLO: OK, so most Americans probably don't understand why the police can't go inside that convention center and help that woman.
SPELLMAN: Thousands and thousands and thousands of people, families, stranded there. They've been waiting for any type of boat, bus, something to come and help them. And as far as we can tell, that help just simply hasn't come. And we don't think that there's any indication that it will come any time soon. Certainly the mayor and police officials...
COSTELLO: Well, Jim, Jim, I understand that aspect. But from the security angle, why can't police go in there and restore order?
SPELLMAN: Well, there's a lot of people here who have looted a lot of guns from hardware stores and from sporting goods stores. And there's heavily armed men roaming the streets. And they're not afraid to -- they're firing at police at will for no reason. And there's no electricity. It's pitch black. And there's thousands and thousands of people inside this dense, this dense crowd inside the convention center. It's just simply unsafe. Part of the problem is a police officer here told us that in some districts, up to 60 percent of police officers, New Orleans police, have just left. They've abandoned their jobs and left. So the forces are thin. It's very, very difficult for them to communicate. They have some walkie-talkie systems that are working, but only on a state of emergency band.
We heard a call go out from a police officer for EMS, for an ambulance to come help a woman who had been injured and the response was no EMS are out on the street. They can't operate.
COSTELLO: Back to the number of police officers who aren't showing up, did you say 60 percent?
SPELLMAN: In some districts, 60 percent. Here at this one, only 20 percent...
COSTELLO: Why aren't they showing up? Is it because they're giving up or do they just need to get out of there?
SPELLMAN: Yes, I don't think we can really answer that. It's just -- I can tell you, they're very dismayed about it. But I tell you, the people -- the ones that have stayed here are truly incredible. These are people who have lost, you know, their own homes. The captain her of this district, his home is gone. His mother's home is gone. His mother-in-law's home is gone. And, you know, they have nothing left, just like a lot of other people here.
And they're definitely trying to do what they can. But as they've been telling me all night, they need National Guard. They need a heavy military presence. There's no way that they're going to be able to do it. There's simply more of them than there are of the police and they're more heavily armed.
COSTELLO: That report from our producer on top of a building with police sharpshooters in the City of New Orleans this morning.
WWL Radio did an incredible interview with the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin. He was talking about his recent conversation with President Bush. And this interview was so interesting that we want to bring it to you now.
So let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM CNN'S "LARRY KING LIVE, " INTERVIEW ON WWL RADIO)
MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: I basically told him we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we're outmanned in just about every respect.
You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people -- thousands of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: All right, we're going to have to jump out of this and I apologize for that. We'll listen to a bit more of it later.
Right now, Chris Lawrence has managed to get in front of a video phone. He is in the City of New Orleans and he has an update on those fires that were either set or broke out at that railroad yard -- Chris, what more can you tell us?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Carol, we now, we're standing on the rooftop of a police station now right here in the middle of New Orleans. We're pointing our cameras this way because we don't want to shed too much light out there on the roof. It makes us a target. They have been shooting here at the police all night long. The police have been returning fire. It is very much a station and a city under siege.
In the distance, we can see an orange glow out by the railroad tracks where we believe it is a railroad car that is exploding and caught fire. We were downstairs and just kind of getting up this morning and we heard a loud boom. It wasn't like anything we had heard all night. The gunfire, a distinctive sound, we were getting used to that. But this was a boom and even downstairs you could just see the entire horizon just start to glow a bright orange. And it stands out so much here in New Orleans right now because the entire city is dark, completely pitch black. It is something that you just never expected to see in a major American city.
As far as this fire is concerned, the smoke is literally pouring out of there and the police have told us they're starting to move people off the roof because they're very worried that some of these fumes could be toxic.
That cloud is starting to billow right over the center of the city now and that seems to be the real worry now, what exactly exploded and what is contained in that cloud that is now moving over the City of New Orleans -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Chris Lawrence reporting via video phone from New Orleans.
And, of course, he's talking about that fire at that railroad car or railroad yard, rather, which is on Charter Street. That's a few miles from the French Quarter. And apparently there are several big warehouses there. And these are industrial train tracks.
They're trying to get a HAZMAT team over there. But as you might imagine, it's very difficult to get anywhere in the City of New Orleans today.
We have "Spider" Marks on the phone.
He's our military analyst.
He's going to be talking to us about the security situation in New Orleans, something that needs to be explored -- good morning. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good morning, Carol.
How are you?
COSTELLO: I'm fine.
You've been listening to this all morning, I would assume.
MARKS: Yes, I have, and catching up on it.
COSTELLO: It seems that New Orleans has fallen into complete lawlessness now and there's nothing the police can do.
MARKS: Well, the size of the police force in New Orleans, the organic police force that the great City of New Orleans has, is clearly insufficient for the tasks that are at hand. And therefore you've got the National Guard and the active component mobilizing, you know, air, sea and land to provide assistance, to include the formation of a joint task force.
You know, there's a lot of debate, and there should be a discussion that follows all of this, about why weren't these forces postured sooner, why weren't more police forces made available, what was the anticipation of the leadership to be leading forward for this?
But now is the time to...
COSTELLO: Well, that's a good question because when should the National Guard have been brought in? Shouldn't they have been brought in perhaps before the storm or before, at least, the flooding happened after the storm?
MARKS: Well, Carol, you know, the National Guard was, in fact, forces were beginning to be mobilized at the state level, which is exactly where they should be mobilized, at the command and control of the state adjutant general and the governor in advance of the arrival of Katrina.
You know, the one thing that should take place right now, there is a real calming effect in terms of what the military can do and is doing. And you need to bear in mind, there is a lot of military presence. Sadly, you don't see it. When reports like Chris' come in, the first question is where are the police and where are the military?
Well, they are where they are and frankly they are handling tasks and that took place. And, sadly, there wasn't a larger presence to prevent it.
COSTELLO: Yes, but you say that and you say where are they, but then we hear about fires being set. People have been shooting at police officers on top of the roof where Chris Lawrence and our producer is all night long. Inside the convention center, where evacuees are staying, crimes are being carried out. The people are banding together and doing what vigilante justice they can.
So where are they and what are they doing?
MARKS: Well, I can tell you, Carol, that, again, there is a lot of opportunity for a lot of folks to do a lot of finger pointing. But to focus in on what is taking place -- there is a massive military mobilization. And one of the points I wanted to try to make is that there really is a calming effect of the presence of the military. And by nature and culture, the military doesn't focus in on itself, it focuses in on the tasks.
I think there needs to be a lot of -- there need to be a lot of images and a lot of talk and a lot of visible presence provided the military through the media and other means so that the folks on the ground get a sense that help is on the way and, in fact, there is a lot of help that's there right now in the form of soldiers on the ground, National Guard. MediVac work is going on. Search and rescue work, swift water rescue is ongoing.
You know, within 20 states of Louisiana, from Louisiana as far north as Connecticut, National Guard troops are available and are being mobilized, to the tune of over 100, 000 that will make themselves available for re...
COSTELLO: Well, the governor of Louisiana said she needs 40, 000 extra troops down there right now. A couple of thousand will be sent there like today and tomorrow and the next day.
I want to read you a quote from the governor. She said: "The National Guard has M-16s. They're locked and loaded. When hoodlums victimize and inflict suffering on people at their wits end, they're taking away our limited resources or whatever resources we have to save babies, to save children. I have one message for these hoodlums. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary. And I expect they will."
MARKS: You know, that gets into a very, very legally charged discussion about what's called standing rules of engagement and standing rules for the use of force. And they're very specifically and very precisely described for the soldiers on the ground. You're exactly right.
You know, and the military has got a lot of experience in this, Carol. And it's heartening to understand that, you know, during the L.A. riots in the early '90s, there was a large presence of Marines and military forces on the ground. I was part of that mission. In the riots in D.C. back in the '60s and in Detroit -- in other words, how soldiers interact both at the state level and at the federal level -- and there are restrictions to what they can and cannot do -- is very closely prescribed. And the soldiers are trained in those tasks.
COSTELLO: Well, what are they allowed to do? And you -- I guess, are they able to shoot and kill?
MARKS: Well, Carol, the discussion is what's called arming orders. Soldiers are allowed to walk through procedures. And the procedures could take a nanosecond to go from an arming order that's very benign to one where you may have to shoot to kill. Because the short answer to the question is yes, they are allowed to shoot to kill. But it's based on very precise circumstances and the threat to the individual soldier and the circumstances on the ground.
Again, it's very precisely trained and the soldiers understand that. And it is not unusual...
COSTELLO: It kind of makes me nervous, general, because a lot of people causing trouble in New Orleans are armed because they've stolen guns from stores and such, and they have no -- I mean, you know, they'll just shoot at anyone.
MARKS: Well, the...
COSTELLO: It doesn't matter.
MARKS: Yes, it appears that there are a lot of burgeoning and growing gangs. I mean and those guys need to be knocked out at the knees. I mean somebody needs to take the butt end of a weapon and smash those guys between the eyes. And that's happening, in many cases.
The -- but the thing to bear in mind is that when a governor activates a National Guard soldier, that National Guard soldier can act as a law enforcement agent. It has -- I mean that soldier has the ability to arrest, to pursue and arrest. An activated soldier federally cannot do that. Those are legal prohibitions.
So there are some advantages of the governor stepping up saying these are state activated soldiers versus federally activated soldiers.
I'm kind of dancing on the head of a pin, but it's important to understand that, but also to bear in mind the federal soldiers are moving in to assist. National Guard soldiers at the state level are present and working hard to solve these problems.
COSTELLO: Will the local police have any part in this?
MARKS: Oh, absolutely. There is a seamless combination of efforts and when the governor activates soldiers, Carol, they work for the local law enforcement, the senior local law enforcement agents in their law enforcement roles.
So Secretary Chertoff, through the FEMA director, down to the state adjutant general and the local law enforcement agents, it's a very clear chain of command. Those soldiers that are activated at the state level are working for law enforcement folks when they're in that role.
COSTELLO: General "Spider" Marks, CNN military analyst.
Thank you for joining DAYBREAK this morning.
We appreciate your insight.
We're going to get back to that interview on WWL Radio by the mayor of New Orleans that was quite incredible. You'll want to hear it.
We're going to take a break, though, first.
COSTELLO: The government is taking action on several fronts in response to the crisis left by hurricane Katrina. Federal workers can now donate their unused leave to employees who need extra time off from work as a result of the hurricane. At least 450 Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents from across the country are now being deployed to the Gulf Coast to help restore order and investigate gun crimes, of which there are many. And the Justice Department is establishing a legal task force to help agencies prepare federal prosecutions stemming from Katrina.
As we've been telling you, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is pleading for more federal help.
In an interview late last night with Garland Robinette of WWL Radio, the mayor's anger and frustration palpable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM CNN'S "LARRY KING LIVE, " INTERVIEW ON WWL RADIO)
NAGIN: I told him that we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city and I am very frustrated because we are not able to martial resources and we're outmanned in just about every respect.
You know, the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people that were stuck in attics, man. Old ladies. When you pull off the doggone ventilator vent and you look down there and they're standing in there in water up to their fricking neck. And they don't have a clue what's going on down there.
They flew down here one time, two days after the doggone event was over, with TV cameras, A.P. reporters, all kind of goddamn, excuse my French everybody in America. But I am pissed.
GARLAND ROBINETTE, WWL RADIO: Did you say to the president of the United States, I need the military in here?
NAGIN: I said I need everything. Now, I will tell you this, and I give the president some credit on this. He sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done. And his name is General Harold. And he came off the doggone chopper and he started cussing and people started moving. And he's getting some stuff done.
They ought to give that guy -- if they don't want to give it to me, give him full authority to get the job done, and we can save some people.
ROBINETTE: What do you need right now to get control of this situation? NAGIN: I need reinforcements. I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. What are they talking about, you know, one of the briefings we had they were talking about getting, you know, public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out of here. I'm like you've got to be kidding me. This is a natural disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans.
That's, they're thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can't emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy. I've got 15, 000 to 20, 000 people over there at the convention center. It's bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines Parish, they're air-vaccing people over here in New Orleans. We don't have anything and we're sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines Parish.
We -- it's awful down here, man.
ROBINETTE: Do you believe that the president is seeing this, holding a news conference on it, but can't do anything until Kathleen Blanco requested him to do it? And do you know whether or not she has made that request?
NAGIN: I have no idea what they're doing, but I will tell you this, you know, god is looking down on all this and if they are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price, because every day that we delay, people are dying. And they're dying by the hundreds, I'm willing to bet you.
They are -- we're getting reports and calls that is breaking my heart, from people saying I've been in my attic. I can't take it any more. The water is up to my neck. I don't think I can hold out. And that's happening as we speak.
And you know what really upsets me, Garland? We told everybody the importance of the 17th Street Canal issue. We said please, please take care of this. We don't care what you do, figure it out.
ROBINETTE: Who'd you say that to?
NAGIN: Everybody, the governor, you know, the homeland security, FEMA, you name it, we said it. And, you know, they allowed that pumping station next to it, pumping station six, to go underwater. Our sewage and water board people, Marcia St. Martin, stayed there and endangered their lives.
And what happened, when that pumping station went down, the water started flowing again in the city. And it started getting to levels that probably killed more people.
In addition to that, we had water flowing through the pipes in this city. That's a power station over there. So there's no water flowing anywhere on the East Bank of Orleans Parish. So a critical water supply was destroyed because of lack of action.
ROBINETTE: Why couldn't they drop the 3, 000 pound sandbags or the containers that they were talking about earlier? Was it an engineering feat that just couldn't be done?
NAGIN: They said it was some pulleys that they had to manufacture. But, you know, in a state of emergency, man, you are creative, you figure out ways to get stuff done. Then they told me that they went overnight and they built 17 concrete structures and they had the pulleys on them and they were going to drop them.
I flew over that thing yesterday and it's in the same shape that it was after the storm hit. There is nothing happening. And they're feeding the public a line of bull and they're suspending and people are dying down there.
ROBINETTE: If some of the public called and they're right, that there's a law that the president, that the federal government can't do anything without local or state requests, would you request martial law?
NAGIN: I've already re -- I've already called for martial law in the City of New Orleans. We did that a few days ago.
ROBINETTE: Did the governor do that, too?
NAGIN: I don't know. I don't think so. But we called for martial law when we realized that the looting was getting out of control. Then we redirected all of our police officers back to patrolling the streets. They were dirt, dead tired from saving people, but they worked all night because we thought this thing was going to blow wide open last night. And so we redirected all of our resources and we held it under check.
I'm not sure if we can do that another night with the current resources. And I am telling you right now, they're showing all these reports of people looting and doing all that weird stuff, and they are doing that. But people are desperate and they're trying to find food and water, the majority of them.
Now, you've got some knuckleheads out there. And they are taking advantage of this lawless, this situation where, you know, we can't really control it. And they are doing some awful, awful things. But that's a small majority of the people.
Most people are looking to try and survive. And you've got -- one of the things people have -- nobody's talked about this. Drugs flowed in and out of New Orleans and the surrounding metropolitan area so freely it was scary to me. And that's why we were having an escalation in murders. People don't want to talk about this, but I'm going to talk about it.
You had drug addicts that are now walking around this city looking for a fix. And that's the reason why they were breaking in hospitals and drugstores. They were looking for something to take the edge off of their jones, if you will.
And right now they don't have anything to take the edge off. And they -- they probably found guns. So what you're seeing is drug starving, crazy addicts, drug addicts that are wreaking havoc. And we don't have the manpower to adequately deal with it. We can only target certain sections of the city and form a perimeter around them and hope to god that we're not overrun.
ROBINETTE: Well, you and I must be in the minority, because apparently there's a section of our citizenry out there that thinks, because of a law that says the federal government can't come in unless requested by the proper people, that everything that's going on to this point has been done as good as it can possibly be.
ROBINETTE: I know you don't feel that way.
NAGIN: Well, did the tsunami victims request, go through a formal process to request? You know, did Iraq? Did the Iraqi people request that we go in there? Did they ask us to go in there? What is more important? This is -- you know, I'll tell you, man, I am probably going to get in a whole bunch of trouble. I'm probably going to get in so much trouble that it isn't any funny. They probably won't even want to deal with me after this interview is over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you and I will be in the fun place together.
NAGIN: But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety (ph) quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety (ph) quick, to take care of New York and other places. Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique -- when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.
You know, I'm not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly. And I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem. I don't know whether it's the president's problem. But somebody needs to get their (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can we do here?
NAGIN: Keep talking about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll do that. What else can we do?
NAGIN: Organize people to write letters, make calls to their congressmen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: E-mails.
NAGIN: And to the president, to the governor. Flood their dog gone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous. I don't want to see anybody do anymore (EXPLETIVE DELETED) press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city and they come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can't even count. Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming in! They're not here! It's too dog gone late.
Now, get off your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and let's do something, and let's fix the biggest (EXPLETIVE DELETED) crisis in the history of this country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'll say it right now, you're the only politician that's called and called for arms like this. And if -- whatever it takes -- the governor, the president, whatever law precedent it takes, whatever it takes -- I bet that the people listening to you are on your side.
NAGIN: Well, I hope so, Garland (ph). I am just -- I'm at the point now where it don't matter. People are dying. They don't have homes. They don't have jobs. The city of New Orleans will never be the same in this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are both pretty speechless here. I don't know what to say.
NAGIN: I've got to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Keep in touch. Keep in touch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: All right. You've been listening to the mayor of New Orleans express his frustration and at the end expressed his sadness.
You know, earlier we talked to an evacuee staying at the Convention Center in New Orleans, Allan Gould (ph). And he expressed many of the same sentiments as the mayor did. And he actually wants President Bush to come and talk to him. He wants to hear from President Bush about what is being done. He wants to tell the president of the problems that he's been facing and ask him why.
President Bush is heading to the hurricane zone today. And I don't know how close he'll let people come to him.
Elaine Quijano is on the phone from Washington right now.
Elaine, where will he go exactly?
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, what I can tell you right now is the plan as it stands is for him to take part in a briefing in the state of Alabama. And he's going to have some aerial tours of the affected areas in that state, as well as, of course, Mississippi and Louisiana.
But he will have some time on the ground, a walking tour scheduled in some of the devastated neighborhoods in Biloxi. At the end of the day, though, we are expecting him to make a statement before he leaves from Louisiana.
Now, we should say that this will not be the first time that the president has surveyed the area. You'll recall that on the way back from Texas to Washington on Wednesday, he asked the pilot of Air Force One to actually detour over the Gulf Coast region, dipping low at one point, dropping to about 1,700 feet briefly so he could get a closer look at the damage.
But, of course, this is going to be the first time that he'll be on the ground, a significant symbol. The White House trying to really send the message that the president understands that there is frustration out there, that the president understands that there is suffering, but also to try to reassure people that the government is doing everything possible to help.
COSTELLO: Elaine, so just to make things clear, he's going to be on the ground in Biloxi.
QUIJANO: That's right.
COSTELLO: But he's not going to go into the city of New Orleans on the ground.
QUIJANO: Well, what we understand right now, there is not any indication of that. But we should also mention that the situation obviously is very fluid. And one of the concerns that the White House certainly has had is that the president doesn't want to make too big a footprint, if you will, and disrupt the ongoing efforts in and around the affected areas. So, that has been a huge logistical challenge.
I can tell you that there were many reporters, obviously, who wanted to be along on this trip. But, in fact, they're just taking the pool folks, because of that very fact; that they don't want -- they want to minimize the disruption as much as possible. Obviously a tremendous amount of resources are necessary anytime the president goes anywhere. But even more so now in the midst of a situation like this they don't want to disrupt what is already taking place there on the ground.
At the same time, though, obviously he feels it's important to be there.
COSTELLO: Are there security concerns as well? Because it's really not a safe place to be in New Orleans for anyone.
QUIJANO: Well, that's something they don't talk about. Obviously, there are always security concerns anytime the president travels anywhere. So, you know, you can expect that there is going to be as tight security as they possibly can have in a situation like this. But they've never encountered a situation like this.
So, that is certainly a big question. But obviously the security officials and Secret Service will be doing everything possible to ensure that the president is able to travel safely.
COSTELLO: Well, you know, one of the things I think that the people still trapped in New Orleans will be disappointed in is that if President Bush makes his speech, you know, and you hear it via television or radio, these people in New Orleans have no electricity. They can't hear him. How will they get the message?
QUIJANO: Well, that's another good question. I think what the president and what the White House is really trying to do is just by his very presence make it known that the federal government is, in fact, there and that help is coming.
Now, how they get that message, you know, is another issue to be resolved. Obviously, a lot of these situations, we're hearing rumors, and one would hope from the administration's point of view that there will also be talk about the president being at least in the area.
So, how that message gets disseminated is unclear right now. But they feel here at the White House just the very presence is certainly an important symbol to show the people that help is on its way.
COSTELLO: All right, Elaine Quijano reporting live from Washington. I know you'll be working throughout the day. Thanks.
Many of you out there -- oh, we were going to throw to a story by Kathleen Koch. But I understand we have Chris Lawrence back. He's been at a police precinct somewhere in New Orleans. At one point, he was on the roof, along with his producer, Jim Spellman (ph), alongside some New Orleans police officers. They were, in essence -- they're sharpshooters. They were protecting their own, their own precinct, because all through the night people have been taking shots at the police.
And then, while they were on top of that roof, they heard a loud explosion. And they saw fire coming from a railroad yard a few miles from the French Quarter on Charter Street. Apparently that's an industrial rail yard, and there are also some big warehouses there.
Chris Lawrence will not be able to hear me, but he does have a report that you will be able to hear. So, let's go to him now in New Orleans.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The fire that we saw earlier that we've been watching for the last hour or so is actually a building on fire. It is not a railroad car, although it is in the area, where a lot of the railroad tracks intersect.
It is very hard to tell from this point exactly which building it is or what is contained in that building. We could hear police traffic here on the rooftop here in New Orleans, the police asking for assistance and some guidance, saying, you know, what is our clearance? You know, how close can we get to this fire?
Again, it's still very preliminary. And, again, you're talking about a situation where the fire department can't get near that building probably without a police escort. The police were telling me just now they have no doubt that if any kind of trucks start heading that way, they will be shot at. So, you've got a situation where if the fire department can get over there, they do have the ability to pump directly from the river to get water from there. So, even though there's no water pressure in this city, they could pump directly from the Mississippi River. But the problem would be, as far as I can tell from the police telling us right now, is actually getting to that location, because of just the intent security concern right here in the city of New Orleans.
Again, we are on the rooftop of a police station in the center of New Orleans. The station has been shot at overnight. The officers are really under a state of siege here. They have had to return fire on some occasions. There have some quiet moments here at night.
But overall, you have a very small band of police officers really working almost nonstop to do what they can to not only protect this police station, but also do what they can to try to protect some of the area around them as well -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Chris Lawrence reporting live from New Orleans.
The other problem that New Orleans' police are having is that 60 percent of the officers from some precincts have not shown up for work, for various reasons, because, you know, they're dealing with their own personal issues. Many of them have lost everything as well.
But as far as why some of the others haven't shown up, we really can't say. But that is certainly taxing the police officers who did show up to work tonight. But most of them are just telling people, you know, just stay off the streets. There's not much we can do.
And as you heard, they are too busy protecting their own, because so many people are taking pot shots at police officers.
Many of you out there have family for friends who were directly affected by Hurricane Katrina. You are not alone. Many members of our extended CNN family were also right in the middle of this disaster.
Our Kathleen Koch is from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. And she shows us what's left of her hometown.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mom? Why don't you get dad? I'm getting ready to go over to the bay, OK?
The high school is there. Is this the main shelter here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of the main shelters.
KOCH: I never thought I'd see the day when my high school was a shelter, but this is a perfect place. I mean, it's a perfect thing to turn into a shelter. The building is standing.
That's my high school. It's incredible. Oh, how high the water came up. Are they bringing you food and water?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They just brought water. Somebody had some gas. They were going to go all the way down to the Wal-Mart savings center and get us some.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was climbing from rooftop to rooftop. It was around 30 feet high. It was just horrifying. I mean, I've never gone through anything like this in my entire life.
KOCH: So, when I go to South Beach Boulevard I'm not going to find my house there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't think so.
KOCH: Y'all stay safe. It's hard. It's hard to even recognize this place. There was a road here you can see. It goes into the sand, and then just disappears. That's the Beach Road. If you follow it on around, you'll get to downtown Bay St. Louis to where we had our ice cream parlor that my family ran when I was in school. You'll get to downtown Bay St. Louis.
Have y'all seen any Curtisons (ph), any Curtisons (ph), Truetells (ph) or Van Schultz (ph)? No? OK.
Truetells (ph), Van Shultz (ph), Ogdens (ph), Gutzhagans (ph)? No?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know Van Shultz (ph).
KOCH: Have you seen them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't seen them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you? Oh, my god!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). Our homes are destroyed, but we're OK. We're alive. Our whole family is alive. Do you have any family here?
KOCH: Well, my brother is in Ocean Springs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
KOCH: But he and his wife and their four kids, she works at Keesler Air Force Base, and she's the head of the ICU unit. So, they took them all there, but I haven't been able to see them, because the phones don't work. And I think they're all locked in there. They won't let anyone in or out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
KOCH: And the ice cream parlor was over here. Let me see if I can get to it. This was the Sunshine Ice Cream Parlor, and there's just nothing left here.
This is -- I was going to say this is the house on South Beach Boulevard, where I lived. But it's not a house anymore.
This was the living room over here. My brother's room -- my brother's room was back here. The place we grew up in and where we had so many wonderful years is gone.
I'm going to bring a brick back for each member of the family. Seven -- OK, one for each. Bricks and memories. Good memories.
COSTELLO: Kathleen Koch joins us live now. Oh, you got me with the bricks, Kathleen. I just can't -- I just can't imagine. I just can't. How difficult this must be for you today.
KOCH: Carol, I think one of the -- yes, it's been difficult all week. But it was getting there and seeing it for myself yesterday that obviously was the hardest, because I've been here on the Gulf Coast, starting in Mobile reporting on Sunday, Monday, and then we made it to the Gulf Coast here then on Tuesday and into Pass Christian and Long Beach the next day, but I only was able yesterday to get to Bay St. Louis.
But the hardest thing I think was seeing my friends from high school. I've been able to find three of them. And they have absolutely nothing left, like so many people up and down the Gulf Coast. And they didn't want anything from me, nothing I offered them -- money, clothing. They just said, get the word out. Get the word out that, just like in New Orleans, the relief hasn't gotten to most people who need it.
There, I think, is one spot on Highway 90 in Bay St. Louis, where people can get some water. I don't know if there is food there. I don't think there is any clothing there. And they were telling me, my friends, they said there are old people in homes here in Bay St. Louis, who can't get there. They don't have car anymore. Even if they have a car, they don't have gasoline.
There are handicapped people in wheelchairs who have run out of food and water, and they are wheeling down the street getting stuck in the mud trying to make it up to Highway 90 to find something to survive on. And it's -- words just can't express what people are going through right now.
COSTELLO: The president is expected to make an appearance on the ground in Biloxi, Mississippi. What will people want to say to him?
KOCH: We need help. That's what they'll say. And where is it? Where has it been? We arrived -- again, CNN deployed us. CNN knew the storm was coming. They had us in Mobile. We came then to Gulfport on Tuesday. We got here. We've been here for days. The first Red Cross person we saw was yesterday morning, Thursday morning.
But we were able to get here. We flew into Mobile. We came here. It wasn't a shock. It wasn't a surprise. Why was no one else ready -- the Red Cross, FEMA, the National Guard? What happened? People want to know why.
COSTELLO: All excellent questions that I know the president will try to answer today. Talk a little bit about the resilience, because Americans have this spirit and this hope to rebuild. And we're talking about them being desperate and depressed right now. But, you know, Americans bounce back.
KOCH: No, that is very true, Carol. And I'm glad you raised that point, because the shot where you saw me describing where the Beach Road goes into the sand, what you didn't see was the remains of a two-mile-long bridge that used to go across the bay into Saint Louis, and it's all been blown away. There's nothing left of it.
But right there where the bridge was that's where I found my friends, two of my friends. People have clustered there, because, again, people are resilient. They are learning how to survive. They've found that it is the one place in town where some people can get a cell phone signal out. So, it's become this meeting place. People stand there.
You know, what used to be their main transportation artery to the rest of coast, now it has become their main communication artery. So they're clustering there.
And everyone is helping everyone with whatever they have. But the problem is that everyone you talk to virtually has nothing left, even here in Harrison County. Where I lived was in Hancock County to the west.
You interview someone at the coroner's office. He tells you the terrible story about how they're finding bodies here in Harrison County, how people are bringing them to the coroner's office in the back of their trucks, in the back of their personal vehicles. When they find them on the street they are covering them, and they will try to reach the coroner's office and say here is where you can find them.
Then when you get off camera, you ask this gentleman, "So, how are you doing?' He'll say, "I lost my house. I lost everything."
So many public officials we have talked to are in that same situation. So, there is such a degree of helplessness here that people are resilient. They want to help each other, but no one has anything.
COSTELLO: Yes. Kathleen Koch, thank you for sharing your personal story with us. We appreciate it. Kathleen Koch reporting from Biloxi, Mississippi.
Still ahead on DAYBREAK, what were the people of New Orleans like before Hurricane Katrina? From income to cars, we'll look at the Big Easy by the numbers. This is DAYBREAK for a Friday.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: One question that keeps coming up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is: Why didn't more people get out of New Orleans before the storm hit? Let's take a look at some stats about the city.
The per capita income is just over $17,000 a year. Twenty-seven percent of the people live below the poverty line. And 50,000 households do not have cars.
So, plenty of people simply didn't have the means to get out. But one sociologist says others who live in the city have a particular personality, a stubbornness that made them want to stay.
John Beggs is a sociologist at Louisiana State University. He joins us live by phone now.
Good morning, John.
JOHN BEGGS, LSU SOCIOLOGIST: Good morning.
COSTELLO: So, tell us about that stubbornness.
BEGGS: There are three main areas that we can talk about when we talk about the people who don't come, and that is one of them. It's not the only. You already hit on the resources. And resources are very key.
The second one has to do with people who cannot -- people with either physical disabilities or psychological disabilities have great difficulty traveling, moving anywhere.
But there is a factor also of people who just have lived there for a long time. Their families have withstood hurricanes before. They do not think that they need to. They sit there, and basically they don't bend before hurricanes. Hurricanes bend to them is sort of the idea here. I mean, we often say that...
COSTELLO: But is that something that's unique to the people of New Orleans or unique to Americans?
BEGGS: I wouldn't say it's unique to people of New Orleans. There is an aspect to that in all Americans. But this unique to hurricanes possibly with the way people face them. We don't find a storm in other areas.
These people -- I mean, we often talk in New Orleans there's a reason they have a drink called the "hurricane," and they have hurricane parties. They do and they have faced these challenges and gone on with them.
Also it's embedded in the network structures in which they're embedded that they have other people there who have been residents, who have faced the same thing, and there is this culture that develops comes out of the network structures in this local culture, telling them we can, and we have been able to withstand a hurricane.
Of course, they were withstanding -- when they withstood Betsy it was a different world out there, because the coastal region was different. Coastal erosion has eaten away at the ability of the coast between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico in order to be able to sort of diminish a hurricane as it comes inland. And so, New Orleans is not as protected anymore as it used to be.
COSTELLO: Right. I want to talk about the people who are looting, too. Many of us can understand the desperation to find food and water. There is no doubt that, you know, no one would have any problems with someone breaking into a home for food or water. But we've seen people stealing television sets and microwaves in a place where there is no electricity. And these people probably don't have a home. So, my first question is, why do that?
And we've also seen people steal guns, shoot at police, shoot at rescue workers.
I know you did a study two years ago on what would happen if the big one hit. Was that part of your study, this kind of behavior in your study?
BEGGS: Part of the behavior in our study we looked at things that people would use to make the decision to evaluate the decision to evacuate and how they would be able to cope with a storm. Both their -- you know, again, looking at the social fabric which are embedded, their network structure, and looking at a series of health outcomes. You know, from depression indices to things like the mastery index of how well they cope with the world and how much they are in control. We didn't actually look at would they or...
COSTELLO: Well, as a sociologist -- as a sociologist then, try to explain to us why this is happening.
BEGGS: I will say something roughly, because this is not an area of my specialty. You would have to talk to a criminologist.
I was talking to one of my colleagues who is a criminologist yesterday, Ed Jahana (ph), who mentioned -- he said that this falls in classic social disorganization processes, where there are lots of things that ties to society and regulatory behavior to these ties we have to society. When all of the institutions of society break down, when all of the network structures in which were embedded that hold us to society start to break down, we lose those ties. And the disorder -- the disorder that leads to the break in the integration of people into society leads to a lack of social control. And at that point in time, people start behaving differently.
And we're not talking -- it's not about -- I mean, people, and I think you heard the mayor of New Orleans talk about, this is not about people getting bread and milk for their families. It is about people going and taking, you know, other things which are not necessary for their survival. And that is happening. It's not the majority of it.
COSTELLO: No, it's a small minority. John Beggs, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Life in New Orleans will now forever be measured by Hurricane Katrina, life before the storm versus life after. The Big Easy won't have it easy, but we're sure the city will get its magic back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?
COSTELLO (voice over): These days, we do. This is the New Orleans we miss, the one we want back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Each night and day.
COSTELLO: The Big Easy, a place where life moves at a pace of its own, the home of jazz, Mardi Gras, good food, good times, and a little bit of magic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): That's where you left your heart. And there's one thing more. I miss the one I care for.
COSTELLO: It's that magic, that spirit New Orleans needs now, to combat fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need bread. I need a bath.
COSTELLO: Desperation. Lawlessness. It is the ultimate test Americans have passed before.
GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO, LOUISIANA: This is not going to be an easy time for any of our citizens who have been affected. But slowly, gradually we will recover. We will survive. We will rebuild.
COSTELLO: We await the day when the magic returns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You (INAUDIBLE) more than I miss New Orleans.
COSTELLO: From the Time Warner center in New York, I'm Carol Costello. "AMERICAN MORNING" starts right now.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Carol. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
In New Orleans, reports of explosions and fire, not far from the French Quarter. A new element of chaos as tens of thousands of people wait in horrifying conditions. The city's mayor is furious.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: This is a national disaster. Get every dog gone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their (EXPLETIVE DELETED) moving to New Orleans.
(END VIDEO CLIP) S. O'BRIEN: We're going to have more of his interview just ahead.
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