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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Brown Recalled to Washington
Aired September 9, 2005 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Lou, thanks very much. Have a good weekend.
Good evening everyone. We're at a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge. Earlier today in this city, a big announcement, there's a new man in charge of the hurricane recovery effort and FEMA's Michael Brown is headed back to Washington. 4:00 p.m. on the West Coast, 7:00 p.m. in the East and 6:00 p.m. here in Louisiana.
360 starts now.
ANNOUNCER: A doctor returns to the New Orleans Convention Center to tell us about the horrors he saw there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is America. This doesn't happen here.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, a view of what happened you've never seen. Hints of the awful secrets, days after the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This breaks my heart.
ANNOUNCER: Plus, how to deal with so much pain. Anderson runs into Dr. Phil, who has sound advice.
Hurricane survivors wildly frustrated with FEMA's failures, show them the money. A blistering new report says FEMA's top managers are in over their heads.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't have emergency management experience.
ANNOUNCER: Now FEMA's boss, the president's good friend, is being pulled back to Washington. Tonight, we take you inside the FEMA controversy.
St. Bernard Parish, still drowning. It's been 11 days since the hurricane. Here, it looks like the storm just hit. We take you to a place still cut off from the world. So quiet, rescuers are losing hope they'll find anyone alive.
This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Hurricane Katrina, State of Emergency."
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Good evening from Baton Rouge. We're at a Red Cross shelter, where there are some 4,500 people here tonight. We're going to show you more of the shelter later. But we have a lot of developing stories to tell you about. Let's tell you what's happening at this moment. About 60 percent of New Orleans is still under water. Two levees, the London Avenue canal and the Industrial Canal, remain breached. About three dozen of the 174 pumps in the city are working. The Army Corps of Engineers says it will take 80 days to remove all the water.
Home from war at the first 100 members of the Louisiana National Guard arrive in the U.S. from Iraq today. They will now help their families deal with the disaster. In the next two weeks a total 3,000 guard members are going to come home to help them.
And in response to official government statements that the media will be barred from showing photographs of bodies, of dead Americans in New Orleans, today, CNN filed a lawsuit, saying a denial of airing the pictures prohibits us from fully and fairly covering the story. The government cannot be allowed to hinder the free throw of information. That's what we say in the lawsuit. We'll bring you more on that later tonight.
I'm at this Red Cross shelter, the River Center in Baton Rouge. This is one of many hurricane evacuee centers in a city that's doubled in size since this monster storm struck. Five hundred thousand people now call Louisiana home. But for many of them, home is merely a cot in a theater like this one. And this is a clean, well organized shelter. I can tell you that. You can see all around, there are families here, people of all ages.
They have spent many days here and are likely to spend many more. Throughout this program you'll hear announcements being made over a loud speaker, it is people receiving phone calls, people having relatives come by to see them. Occasionally someone will say Humphrey family, we have got some good news for you. That means maybe someone is coming to take them to another place to live, a family bringing them into their home.
Seventy five miles away from this shelter, the recovery efforts continue in New Orleans. We're going to have several reports on those efforts over the next hour. But we begin with the big news out of Washington where today embattled FEMA Director Michael Brown, a man who the president said last week was doing a "heck of a job" was stripped of his storm duties.
Many are wondering tonight why it took so long. CNN's Gary Tuchman has more in the day wrap.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eleven days after the storm, the man at the top of the relief effort and at the center of controversy is being removed from the line of fire.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Hurricane Katrina will go down as the largest natural disaster in American history. Mike Brown has done everything he possibly could to coordinate the federal response to this unprecedented challenge. I appreciate his work, as does everybody here.
TUCHMAN: Now in charge, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Thad Allen who knows something about the challenge of Katrina. He was in charge of hurricane operations in Louisiana.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, get out.
TUCHMAN: While the faces at the top may change, the problems continue. There is more tension on the streets of New Orleans today. Police say everyone who wanted out of the city is now gone. And they're ready to forcibly evict residents who refuse to leave.
They'd like to avoid pictures like this, though. An elderly woman, exhausted but defiant, dragged from her home lie law enforcement officers who say she pointed a gun at them. Officials say people no longer have to fear for the safety of what little they may have left in their homes.
SHERRY LANDRY, NEW ORLEANS CITY ATTORNEY: This city is now fully secured; 14,000 troops are in Orleans Parish at present. They're actively patrolling all areas of the city and are running nightly reconnaissance missions on air and ground to prevent further looting.
TUCHMAN: There was news that brought relief today. In the midst of all the devastation, New Orleans authorities say a preliminary sweep of the city shows the death toll there may turn out to be far less than the 10,000 that had been feared.
TERRY EBBERT, N.O. OFFICE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: There's some encouragement in what we found in the initial sweeps, that some of the catastrophic death that some people predicted may not, in fact, have occurred.
TUCHMAN: More than 300 miles away, at the Houston Astrodome, evacuees lined up long before dawn, hoping for some financial relief. FEMA finally began handing out debit cards with $2,000. Another small step towards starting their new lives. In Biloxi, Mississippi, another city battered by Katrina, help has arrived from south of the border, and across the ocean.
One contingent of sailors from the Mexican navy and another, members of the Belgian army, arrived today to help with the cleanup and recovery.
But for another contingent of troops, this mission of mercy is bittersweet, indeed. Members of the 256th Brigade combat team returned home from Iraq today. Home to Louisiana. Home to help rebuild what Katrina had destroyed. Not knowing what was left of the lives they left behind.
TUCHMAN: Less than two weeks ago, there were 480,000 people who lived in this City of New Orleans, Louisiana. Now, at the most, there are a few thousand stragglers and across the united states, quarter of a million homeless people still in shelters in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Anderson?
COOPER: Gary, you've spent a lot of time in this shelter here in Baton Rouge. It's a clean place, it's a well-lit place. It's air conditioned. But it's still not home. I mean, it's difficult for these people to be here. Very hard.
TUCHMAN: It's very difficult here and it's very harsh for a lot of people but compared to the New Orleans Superdome, compared to the New Orleans Convention Center, this is pretty good.
COOPER: Yeah, we were in the convention center and a little later tonight, on 360 at about the half hour, we'll take you on an inside tour of what happened there with a doctor who was there and saw with his own eyes. It's a shocking report. You'll want to stay tuned for that. Gary, thanks very much.
There's an awful lot of people that have got to be spending long, long hours with their hands in their -- their heads in their hands, I should say, these days, vainly wishing the last two weeks never happened. Among them, we're guessing might be Michael Brown, the FEMA director who until this afternoon, as Gary just reported, was the man in charge of the relief effort on the Gulf Coast.
Now, amid questions about his qualifications and his resume that surfaced yesterday and scorching criticism of the job he's done, Michael Brown is now heading back to Washington. We get more details from CNN's Jeanne Meserve.
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you all for -- Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job. The FEMA director is working 24 ...
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What a difference a week makes.
CHERTOFF: I have directed Mike Brown to return to administering FEMA nationally.
MESERVE: Michael Brown, abruptly removed as overseer of the hurricane response, replaced by Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen.
MICHAEL BROWN, FEMA DIRECTOR: I would say that right now, you're on your road to recovery.
MESERVE: Brown seemed slow to recognize the magnitude of the Katrina catastrophe, slow to marshal federal resources and unaware of widely reported aspects of the tragedy around him.
BROWN: The federal government did not even know about the Convention Center people until today.
MESERVE: The criticism of FEMA and Brown was withering. REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER: And Michael Brown has no qualifications for the job. He proved that last week. He removed all doubt.
REP. JOHN DINGELL, (D) MI: Mr. Brown was regrettably an administrator or officer the head of an Arabian horse association. Hardly qualifying him to address the kind of problems he's looking at now.
MESERVE: Compounding brown's problems a "Time Magazine" report that he inflated his credentials. A FEMA spokeswoman characterized that report as misleading. But critics said Brown should be ousted from FEMA altogether.
SCHUMER: The bottom line is that his removal from the scene is a good thing. But given the allegations that he padded his resume in a serious way, I don't think he should stay as head of FEMA.
MESERVE: When Brown was asked about his future and his past, there was a smack down.
QUESTION: Is this the first step in Mr. Brown's resignation? Can you answer that Mr. Brown, please. And also, how do you respond to reports that you embellished your resume? There was the report in "Time Magazine."
CHERTOFF: You heard the ground rules. I'm going to answer the questions. I've explained what we're doing. I thought I was about as clear as I possibly could be in English as to what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.
MESERVE (on camera): Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen, who replaces Brown as head of the Katrina recovery efforts is regarded by people inside and outside the administration as a no-nonsense individual who can get the job done, if anyone can. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, we have some new information just in. CNN has learned that FEMA is now scrapping its debit card program. The debit cards were valued at $2,000. They were supposed to be given to those in shelters across the country, in particular at the Astrodome. Some cards have already been distributed to people in the Astrodome. It caused a security concern yesterday. They actually had to lock it down. That program has now been scrapped.
That just in to CNN. We'll give you any more developments on that over the next hour that we can.
Coming up next, though, tonight, a dramatic look back at what actually happened. The storm, the surge, the collapse of the levees. The sinking of a city. Convergence of many forces all at once in one doomed and luckless place.
And the holdouts. Thousands of them. The people who have faced the flood and the fury and they are filled with fury, refusing to leave. Will they also now have to face police with drawn guns? We'll take a look at that.
Plus Dr. Phil. I talked to him about the psychological impact, how this may hit the first responders, the homeless and others for days and years to come. Stay with us.
COOPER: Well, just east of New Orleans lies St. Bernard Parish, a community which, two weeks ago had a population of 67,000 people. Now there are barely any signs of life there.
St. Bernard Parish is one of the areas that was hardest hit by Katrina and 11 days later hasn't improved very much at all. Water levels are dropping. But much of the region under a mix of muck perhaps as toxic as the sludge in New Orleans. There is oil, there are wildlife carcasses, there are human bodies.
Right now, the navy is touring the flooded region, looking for those who need help. Many are finding area to be awfully quiet. Police say about 100 of our neighbors, Americans have been discovered dead. More than 30 were found there at St. Rita's nursing home. The bodies have stayed there until a couple days ago. It seems like every part of this parish was damaged by the storm.
The parish council, through their Web site, says it is, quote, "facing serious health, disease and contamination issues that are out of our control."
All of that water which caused such destruction in St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans didn't come from one place alone. In fact, it looks like the region was the victim of a three-pronged strike. An explosive combination that left people with nowhere to hide.
CNN's Tom Foreman explained how it all happened.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the low lying east end of New Orleans and into neighboring St. Bernard Parish are some of the neighborhoods Katrina hit first, hit hardest and where the storm lingered longest. Why? Because this area was uniquely caught in a vice of water.
At the National Weather Service, Scott Kiser thinks data being collected right now will show Katrina's storm surge was more than 20 feet deep. And ...
SCOTT KISER, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: No matter how high the storm surge is, especially for a storm like Katrina's size, you've got 15 or 20 feet of battering waves on top of that.
FOREMAN: That is what swept in on this area. From Lake Borgne to the east, driving waves over levees, many of which were lower here than in other parts of town, and simultaneously from Lake Pontchartrain to the north, as the water filled the bays, bayous and canals to overflowing.
KISER: All that storm surge, that energy, that momentum of water gets constricted when the land starts becoming -- when the body of water becomes more narrower. So you're going to get it extremely high storm surge at the point of where everything comes together.
FOREMAN: Then, with the entire area surrounded on three sides by rushing water, the levee on the Industrial Canal burst, releasing an explosive wave over the last path out. No one can say exactly how big the waves were all through this area, but pictures of St. Rita's nursing home where 32 people died, speak of enormous power.
And all along the Gulf, where Katrina's force became concentrated by surrounding land witnesses saw remarkable things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw waves that were 30 feet high in Back Bay Biloxi. That -- I couldn't even believe. I couldn't comprehend. It's just unbelievable.
FOREMAN: As the waters recede, the death toll in Eastern New Orleans and St. Bernard parish will likely soar. This area was home to thousands of working class and poor families. Many of them had no cars, little ability to run before the storm arrived.
And scientists suggest it is increasingly clear these families also had little chance of survival when Katrina finally came. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Perfect storm of destruction. So the latest news tonight if you weren't with us at the top of the program, FEMA Director Michael Brown is on his way back to Washington. A new person is going to be in charge on the ground of this recovery effort.
We also tonight are still trying to get answers to questions. We're looking at exactly what happened inside the halls of horror of the Convention Center in New Orleans. We went there with a doctor who was there, one of the only physicians trying to treat 15 to 20 thousand people. They didn't have any medicine. All he had was a stethoscope. He says what happened there is a national disgrace. We'll show you why he says that.
Also, I'm going to talk to the top cop in New Orleans. I'll ask him why police didn't go into the Convention Center to try to keep the peace. Or if they did, why weren't they able to? We'll be right back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anywhere else I go, I'll be homeless. I'll be part of the problem, not part of the solution. I'll only go kicking and screaming. I can't see my life being any better, anywhere else than it is right here.
COOPER: That's just one of the many people in New Orleans who simply don't want to leave their homes, even if they're living in flood conditions. They don't trust the local, the state or the federal authorities to look after their property. And you can understand why given what you've all seen in the past two weeks or so.
Or maybe they have pets and don't think the pets will get taken care of. And you can also understand that given all the pets we've seen running around. Jeff Koinange went out with one group of ministers who are trying to use a spiritual approach to convince people to leave their homes at least temporarily. Here he is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're from the church. We're not police, sir. We'd like to help you.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The power of persuasion in times of trouble. These are members of a Christian organization who have come to New Orleans all the way from Las Vegas. Supported by the National Guard, their mission to try to try to talk people like Dave Gutierrez (ph) to leaving his fast deteriorating city.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not the police.
KOINANGE: But the more they talk, it seems, the more Gutierrez resists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He went back into the house. I'm trying to get him out again.
KOINANGE: They manage to reach Gutierrez's sister by telephone and get us to hand him the phone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get outta here and go where?
KOINANGE: But Gutierrez isn't convinced. He retreats inside his house, but comes out a short while later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No I don't want to leave.
KOINANGE: Tell me why, Dave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's my home. New Orleans is my home.
KOINANGE: If he insists if it comes to forced removals, he still won't leave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can't do that to people.
KOINANGE: Pastor Raymond Junta (ph) isn't about to give up he's seen his fair share of crises and says he's here to make sure no one gets left behind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was the chaplain at the World Trade Center for three months. I was the chaplain at Oklahoma City and I've never seen anything like this in my life, to see an entire city annihilated by water and the despair and hopelessness in the hearts of people is just overwhelming.
KOINANGE: In the end, Gutierrez rejects their pleas but gladly accepts a bottle of water. Such is the dilemma facing rescue teams across New Orleans 12 days after Katrina left the city under water. In most case, these teams return to base empty handed. The few stragglers remaining simply refuse to leave.
The National Guard are under orders not to forcibly evacuate residents even as the threat of waterborne diseases mounts. Those who voluntarily agree to evacuate are brought here to a central drop-off point. They're searched, checked for injuries by a team of military physicians, and given water and food while they await the next leg of their journey to safety.
Lieutenant General Russel Honore is the man responsible for the entire ground operation. He compares this crisis to a football game, where his team is behind, but the game is far from over.
LTG RUSSEL HONORE, NATIONAL GUARD: We're still in the first quarter of this operation. If you make the analogy to an American football game, we're in the first quarter. A lot of things left to be done, and we're here to make it happen.
KOINANGE: To make it happen, the general now commands a growing force of more than 19,000 military and police personnel from across the nation. And that's besides the army of volunteers that have converged on New Orleans.
Jeff Koinange, CNN, New Orleans.
COOPER: Coming up next on 360, the unspeakable situation inside New Orleans Convention Center. How did it happen? How was it allowed to happen? Local officials telling 15 to 20 thousand people to go there, and there was no help to be had. One doctor we talked to calls it a national disgrace. See if you agree.
We're also going to talk with the beleaguered city's top cop to ask, among other things, why his force wasn't able to control what was going on inside the Convention Center.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: This disaster, of course, the story continues. We want to keep you as up to date as possible, as up to the minute with regular updates on the situation in New Orleans and other areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath from a place called the status desk. CNN's Deborah Feyerick has the duty at this hour.
Deborah? DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, status alert on victim numbers. The official count of remains at 118. Of those, 51 have been identified. They have been returned to their families.
Status alert, Jefferson Parish. Some hope there. Electricity, water, sewage fast becoming restored. A state congressman tells CNN schools could reopen as early as October 3rd, less than a month away. Less clear, whether mold and other damage to homes will keep people from returning.
Status alert on water pumps. There are 140 in New Orleans. Only 20 are working. And because they're so old, people trying to fix them have had to set up tool shops on the river banks to try to make new parts from scratch.
Final status alert, body recovery. Thailand appears to have done a better job collecting its dead after the tsunami than the United States following Hurricane Katrina. An expert close to both recovery efforts tells CNN FEMA has yet to sign a contract with a private company that FEMA itself called on to gather storm victims and coordinate the efforts. That's the latest status alert. Back to you Anderson.
COOPER: Deb, thanks very much.
The hardest stories of all to tell, harder than those involving floating bodies, people who have died and remain in the water, harder than the tales of loss, harder than any consequence, however terrible, of nature's wrath, are the stories of the system failing completely at state, at local, at federal level. Of helpless people, fearful, hungry, vulnerable, exhausted, entirely forgotten for not one day, not two days, but three and four, weeks at a time. Death by disaster is one thing. Death by neglect is another thing entirely. That is what happened at the New Orleans Convention Center before it was finally emptied. Take a look.
COOPER (voice over): New Orleans Convention Center is now empty. The piles of trash outside, the only evidence of the horror that happened here.
DR. GREG HENDERSON, PATHOLOGIST: Got in here the smell is -- you kind of get a little bit of it right now.
COOPER (on camera): Yes.
HENDERSON: You multiply it by about ten.
COOPER (voice over): In the days after the hurricane, the scene here was desperate. Fifteen to 20 thousand evacuees. Young and old, frail and infirmed, stuck. No medicine, no help, no way to get out.
HENDERSON: That's where the real hell was. This is where hell opened its mouth. COOPER: Dr. Greg Henderson came to the Convention Center two days after the storm. He'll never forget what he saw inside.
HENDERSON: No air conditioning?
COOPER (on camera): Nothing. People crying.
HENDERSON: Crying. Crying and dying. Crying and dying.
COOPER: Dr. Henderson came to the Convention Center thinking he'd find other doctors who might need help. He discovered there weren't any other doctors.
HENDERSON: It was just me walking through this crowd with a stethoscope. And that's why I told you, I'm not sure if I was really being more of a doctor or a priest you know, because what -- there's not a hell of a lot you can do for people this sick with a stethoscope. The best you can do is for the ones who are not that bad or are going to make it. You can put the stethoscope on their heart and hold their hand and say it's going to be okay. Just hang on, and just hang on. I promise something's coming.
COOPER: And was that always true? I mean, when you said that, did you believe it?
HENDERSON: I believed it somewhere in my heart. I just didn't know when it was going to happen. I mean, I knew they weren't going to leave us forever.
COOPER (voice over): It's not known how many died at the Convention Center. The doctor believe he's saw about 50 bodies. CNN has just obtained these photographs taken sometime last week. Some of the bodies appear to have been mutilated.
HENDERSON: And I heard, you know, some pretty harrowing stories of how they would go and get young women and come back here and rape them. And I think a lot of the stories got a lot of press, and maybe contributed to not this area getting the help, because I think maybe there was a collective attitude of everybody's just murdering each other down there. Just stay away from that area. You're going to die.
COOPER (on camera): So there wasn't a law enforcement presence inside this building.
HENDERSON: Absolutely not.
COOPER (voice over): Wandering through this empty hall of horrors, Dr. Henderson can still hear the cries of those in need.
HENDERSON: And you have thousands of voices saying, is there any help coming? Doctor, I need you, Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Doctor. Over here, over here.
COOPER: He can still see the faces of those he couldn't help. HENDERSON: This is the shoe. You see it and you hope he got somewhere good. It just breaks my heart. You know, symbols like that, little kids shoes. You know, I remember how many of them there were here. God, there's kids everywhere. You know, it's weird. And like I said, some of them are laughing playing, it's just, hey, school's out. Some of them are laying on the floor seizing.
COOPER: Late last Friday, more than four days after Katrina hit, help finally came. A military convoy with medical aid. The Convention Center has now been evacuated. Only two abandoned dogs remain inside. Dr. Henderson doesn't want anyone to forget what happened here, doesn't want anyone to forget how he says bureaucratic failure and officials mistakes left so many stranded for so long together alone.
HENDERSON: Nowhere in this country should that ever have to happen again. Nowhere. Learn from this. Whoever is listening to this, whoever runs the power, whoever wants to do something, learn from this, because if you don't learn from this, it's going to be very ugly, because it's going to happen again.
COOPER (on camera): I want to talk about those dogs you saw in the piece. There were two of them. I want you to know that we didn't just walk away from them. We called the Humane Society to come pick the dogs up. I can't tell you where they are now. In some shelter somewhere, we hope, no doubt. But we can tell you that at least they're not wandering friendless and abandoned in that Convention Center any longer.
Joining me from New Orleans, the city's police chief, Superintendent Eddie Compass. Chief, appreciate you joining us again tonight. I want to talk about a couple things. But No. 1, this Convention Center. How did that happen? How -- what can we learn so that never happens again?
SUPT. EDDIE COMPASS,NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPT.: Well, we can learn to have people adhere to the mayor's mandate to evacuate. You know, we couldn't stop that. We had the Dome we were trying to secure. We were searching people for weapons at the Dome.
And the Convention Center is just something that just happened before our very eyes. You know, people started drifting towards that, because they ran out of room at the Dome. We had almost 30,000 people there. And then the hotels started letting their staff go and all of the visitors started going to the Convention Center. And you had people who were being rescued, who were being dropped off at the Convention Center. And next thing you know your population --
COOPER: But, I mean, there were local officials telling people to go to the Convention Center. It's not just people that came up with that out of the clear blue sky. I mean, why would officials tell people to go there if there wasn't police protection for them?
COMPASS: Well, they had nowhere else to go. People waiting till the last minute. You had thousands and thousands of people that, literally, had nowhere to go. We never thought that the Superdome wouldn't be big enough you know, from a police standpoint, that our forces was depleted. I mean, we were fighting a battle at the Superdome and we were fighting a battle throughout the city. And then when the Convention Center started to evolve, I sent 100 officers there immediately. You know, and we only were able to secure the perimeters. Because when you look at what was going on inside in the Superdome, they had been searched. In the Convention Center people were walking in there indiscriminately with weapons. So it was a very dangerous place.
COOPER: So the people inside the Convention Center were basically on their own. The old people, the children inside there were basically on their own, prey to whatever roving gangs were around.
COMPASS: Exactly, which was horrible. And, I mean -- my S.W.A.T. Team made 30 entries in that Convention Center. When we were fired upon, we didn't fire back. My S.W.A.T. commander and I had agreed that we would not fire back. My guys would run to where the flash was, start patting individuals down towards the flash. If an officer felt the gun, they'd yell gun the S.W.A.T. Team would then converge and then extract individuals. My S.W.A.T. Team made 30 times.
COOPER: You know, you said that, you know, it sort of, it's people's fault, because they didn't evacuate till the last minute or they chose not to evacuate. But, I mean, didn't you guys know, didn't your local city government know that there were 100,000 people without access to cars in New Orleans. And, I mean, where were the buses that could have been provided for them?
COMPASS: Well the mayor gave all the buses that we had. I mean, we're a city. We're not the federal government. We don't have unlimited resources. When you look at what we did with the mandatory evacuation, we did everything humanly possible. When you -- just look how long it took to evacuate with all the resources --
COOPER: but when you know there's flooding coming, which you knew there was going to likely be with this Category storm as studies had shown, why not order more buses? Did the mayor ask for more buses? Did you ask him to get more buses?
COMPASS: We begged for buses. Asked for buses. We begged for buses. It wasn't a question of us not being prepared. It was a question that the resources weren't there. We used all the buses we had. You don't understand --
COOPER: Who did you beg for the buses? Who were you begging for buses? To the governor?
COMPASS: To the government. We had -- our city was under water. So our buses that we had staged were in high areas where we couldn't get them. So when the water started to recede, the areas where the buses were parked didn't recede. So we were caught. I mean, it was something --. COOPER: But I'm just -- the next time I interview the governor, I want to be able to ask the right questions to try to get these answers. So you're saying you asked the governor for buses?
COMPASS: I didn't personally ask for anything. The mayor asked for the buses. I don't know exactly who he talked to, whether it was the governor or the federal government. I wasn't privy to that. I was too busy fighting the battle on the street. I don't know who the buses were asked of. I don't know. I had my hands full. We were fighting for our lives. So I just wanted the buses to come.
COOPER: Yes. And we've seen that a lot of your officers, you know, working around the clock, day after day after day without any ammo, without any radios. I mean, they did a heroic job. Can you tell me what the policy is right now, though? Are you going to start shooting stray animals? There's a lot of rumors floating around about that. And also, are people being asked to evacuate? Are they allowed to take their animals with them?
COMPASS: The evacuation is being held -- being coordinated by Ms. Sherry Landry, the city attorney. So I'm not allowed to comment on what the plan. I'm strictly law enforcement and security of the city right now. The mayor has given everyone different tasks, so there don't be any mixed messages. I'm strictly law enforcement. The evacuation is taking place, and she's involved with the coordination. That's Sherry Landry, the city attorney.
COOPER: OK. If your officers aren't involved in going to, you know, asking people to leave, you're saying?
COMPASS: The plan that's going to be in place in all the comments involving evacuation will be by Sherry Landry, the city attorney. That was the mayors orders. And, I mean, I work for the mayor, and I'm not going to disrespect him. You know, so I really can't comment on it. I'm sorry.
COOPER: All right. Well we'll try to get her on the show. Hey, Chief, appreciate you joining us. I know these are just incredibly busy times for you, and you're working around the clock. And sleeping in your office, of all places. So, Chief, again, thanks for being on the program tonight.
COMPASS: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: Coming up next on 360, the strain of the storm on the first responders. I mean, these people, these men these women, they are out there in boats. You know, they don't have latex gloves. The chief's officers, they don't have latex gloves on, they don't have face protectors. They're out there still. They're working. I speak with Dr. Phil about the psychological impact on the rescuers and others here.
Also tonight, survivor who for the most part made it unscathed. They have food and their homes don't have much damage. So why are they being told to leave? That's what they want to know. We'll try to find out. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Well there's some concern now that the first responders, who are seeing the horrors here every day, may themselves become victims of the storm. Earlier I ran into Phil McGraw, known to most of you simply as Dr. Phil. We discussed how this storm has affected the minds of everyone here.
COOPER: How concerned are you about the health of these first responders? I mean, these guys are out there -- they're not only without gloves on, without masks, but I mean just mentally, seeing bodies in the streets of America, day after day, it's a tough thing.
DR. PHIL MCGRAW: Well, what I'm told is the E. Coli and choliform bacteria is just off the charts. I mean, they can't even measure it it's off the charts so high. And I worry that these people are going to get infected. Those first responders. And they're seeing things that people just shouldn't have to see. Hour after hour after hour after hour. I mean, the decomposed bodies, the babies, the broken hearts. Are any of us geared up to do that? And that's one of the reasons that I'm here today is we're meeting later with a lot of these front line rescuers that are saying, this is getting away from me. I mean, what do I say to myself? What do I say to my children? And 80 percent of them have lost their homes.
COOPER: I find all of us who are working the story and first responders as well, I mean, I've been talking to a lot of them, doctors even find themselves just crying at weird times. I mean little things will set you off. More so than on any other story I've ever been on.
MCGRAW: I think it's the magnitude of it. It's like everywhere you turn, and, you know, it's hot, it's sticky, it's -- the odors are horrible for them down there. And I think it just wears you down. You know, adrenaline carries you awhile, but then the enormity of it. And then they start missing their families, and they need a break but can't take one.
COOPER: Does the level of response surprise you? Because what we're seeing, and, I mean, we're standing in this place where these are local volunteers. There's a woman who was watching this stuff on CNN came out here, she's cooking for these guys. I mean, it's not the government in many respects who are helping these people. It's, you know, local people who -- a local little league team donated sausages to feed these first responders.
MCGRAW: Well they said they fed 6,000 people yesterday, right here, where we're standing. And it's all volunteer. Everything donated, all volunteer. Does that surprise me, no. But I'm from the south.
COOPER: And what do you tell people who are listening at home and feel frustrated that they can't do anything? You know, they're watching this night after night. And, you know, that has an effect on them.
MCGRAW: Anderson, that's a good question. And I think that what people need to understand is the thing that makes us the most frustrated is when we feel helpless. It's like I see it. I can't -- I wish I could do something. I wish I could hustle. I wish I could work hard and do something.
But what you can do is give money to the Red Cross, because I'm telling you, those people are heroes and they're on the front lines and they need money. They don't really need supplies right now. There's a stockpile of that down here, they're telling me. And also at the shelters, they've got the stuff stockpiled. They need money. Money for transition, money for housing, money for medicine. They need cash. That's what they need. So what we can do is give money, if it's a dollar, five dollars, or ten dollars.
And if your children are watching this, don't let them see it all the time. They need to see it, they need to understand it, and then get them involved in the process. They need to give money. They need to empty their own piggy banks so they feel like they did something for the children here. The best medicine is to give. And for people -- adults and kids, that will help a lot. I mean, you feel better when you know you did something.
COOPER: We are at a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge.
Coming up next on 360, the other New Orleans. No damage to their homes, plenty of reasons to stay put. Tonight, the residents who are vowing they are going to remain.
Also, the kindness of strangers, an amazing story of just how far some are willing to go to help the heroes working around the clock in New Orleans. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. We're in Baton Rouge at a shelter run by the Red Cross. They have just had dinner and they are getting ready for watching a little TV and then go to bed.
Tonight, there are people in New Orleans who say they have more than enough to get by. They have food and a home that is not damaged, that is not flooded, and the way they tell it it is not the hurricane that is upending their lives. They say now it is the bureaucrats. CNN's Drew Griffin has their story.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Could this be the same New Orleans, a New Orleans getting cleaned up, a New Orleans where power is coming on, where a grocery store stands unlooted and intact? The answer is yes. And it's why the holdouts want to keep holding out. And why so many are now wondering, why is the mayor still ordering everyone to evacuate? (on camera): You see any reason to leave?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
GRIFFIN: The French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Preservation Hall, Jackson Square, Cafe Dumont, all fine. The central business district, Kevin Reagan (ph) runs three hotels here. His Sheraton has been powered for nearly a week. He's trying to reopen, and wishes the city would do the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's what's needed in the government. They need to cut through all the crap and just start making things happen.
GRIFFIN: And in the Garden District -- yes, even the lower Garden District, where the poor people live -- things, according to James McLauren (ph), are more than fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to leave.
GRIFFIN (on camera): You have water inside?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got enough water for four weeks.
GRIFFIN: And you have water pressure to flush your toilet and all that stuff?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got plenty of water to flush the toilet, and i got enough drinking water to last me four weeks, and food.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The residents here have running water, phones that work. And hurricane damage?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ain't had a window pane break out of my house.
GRIFFIN: Not one window...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a window pane. I've been here 53 years. Ain't had a window pane to break out of my house.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): These people on Constance Street have bonded, cooking out twice a day. All they wish is to see more or any cleanup crews and fewer armed soldiers trying to scare them out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See what they're doing, they're coming around trying to brain-wash us for you to go, and leave your place so when you come back, you won't have nothing to come back to. That's what they're trying to do.
GRIFFIN (on camera): And how do they brain wash you? Telling you it's dangerous?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's dangerous. We're going to go and order your body bag. I said, well, I'm going to need one anyway sooner or later. GRIFFIN (voice-over): To say all of New Orleans is like this would be misleading. Large portions of the city are uninhabitable. But many parts never had high water. Some parts didn't even have damage.
While school children are being displaced, we walked all around Xavier prep on the evacuated west side, and found just two broken widows.
(on camera): I'm not sure if that's storm damage. It actually looks like a ball went through there.
(voice-over): Today, the city held a news conference, saying it's still too dangerous even to drive here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some streets still have broken glass. Many of our vehicles have been put temporarily out of commission by flat tires.
GRIFFIN (on camera): And as for getting a flat tire, take a look at my tires. We've been driving all around New Orleans for six days, and we have not had a single flat.
(voice-over): The people on Constance Street are beginning to wonder if their city leaders understand. They are suspicious. Is something else going on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one of these houses out here is damaged. None of them.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Why do you think the mayor wants you out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know why? He don't know nothing, and the policemen is doing the looting.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): These residents aren't leaving, they say, unless they do get carried out in those supposedly tailor-made body bags.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says, well...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... get your weight for an oversize body bag.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much we weigh and everything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... one size fits all.
COOPER: All right, that's Drew Griffin reporting. Let's find out what's coming up at the top of the hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW" -- Paula.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Anderson. We're working on a very special hour, about the children of the storm. Tonight, even as I speak, more than 1,200 children, who survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, are still separated from their parents. And those kids who managed to stay with their families know that their lives have been changed forever too. What these children have to say about their harrowing experiences is unforgettable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: When our house flooded, we had water. My momma told me to go downstairs to fix us some water, and the water was pushing in our house, and it came up to our stairs, and we (INAUDIBLE) to get on the roof, and a helicopter came got us.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I miss my family. I miss my auntie. I miss everybody who stood there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Young souls, who should never have to endure that kind of pain. You're going to meet more of these children at the top of the hour, Anderson. See you then.
COOPER: Paula, thanks.
Coming up next, kindness from strangers. What we're seeing, the heroes of this storm, are individuals, gathering together to help one another, to help complete strangers. A woman who watched CNN and is now serving hot meals to 6,000 first responders.
COOPER: It is pretty incredible these last several days. Everywhere we go, we see individual citizens banding together helping out others, ignoring the bureaucracy, the red tape. They just want to get things done. One of the best examples is in New Orleans, where a group of people are making a very big difference. They are feeding the police, the first responders, the soldiers, and they get their food from a very unlikely source. Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corn and beans on both.
PAIGE BENSON, VOLUNTEER: Corn and beans on both.
From watching CNN the whole week, we really wanted to do something. When we got here, we realized we were the only people that were here. And we served 6,000 meals yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I saw when I got here was 800 police officers with nothing to eat and hadn't eaten since before the storm.
BENSON: When this initially started, they came out with the supply of meat, and they were running out. And the guys were so desperate for the food at that point that the Elberta Little League team had all of the sausage that they were going to use for a fund- raiser to buy their uniforms and whatnot, and instead of doing that, they ended up donating it to us. And so they sent it down here so that all the soldiers could have their sausage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And because of that, we have decided to name this thing Elberta Little League. And friends.
BENSON: You want beans on both of those?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very nice. Appreciate the Little League for putting that together for us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a hot meal. Better than what we've had. So.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MREs.
BENSON: The people that we're taking care of are federal and state and city employees. You know, this is people that they should be looking after more than anyone. I mean, really, they should be taking care of these people. They're out here trying to save lives and take care of this city and put it back to where it was. And no one's looking after them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I probably cooked 500 or 600 (INAUDIBLE). We got a guy over here cooking. We've all cooked at least that many. I don't know how many we've served today, but it's quite a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the command center for the police department and for the military. They put us in the center of it to cook for them. Now, it's become -- it's become the eating place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The MREs are all right, but I mean, you get a hot meal, it means you're closer to home, makes you feel closer to home.
BENSON: Everyone seemed to be in you could say good spirits for what's going on. I mean, it's much better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) made with love right there.
COOPER: That piece shot and edited by Ephram Doller (ph) and Steve Handley (ph).
This final note: Breaking news. CNN has obtained a restraining order to allow access to the search and recovery of the dead from Hurricane Katrina. CNN filed suit in federal court, arguing that an announcement by FEMA and New Orleans city officials that reporters would be barred from covering the body recovery effort was unconstitutional, in violation of the First Amendment.
I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us. I'll be back at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, with Aaron Brown. We'll be right back.
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