Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Waveland, Mississippi: 30 Days Later; Chris Rock's Mission; Prisoners and Pets
Aired September 29, 2005 - 19:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Lou, thanks very much. Good evening, everyone, from the border of Bay St. Louis and Waveland, Mississippi -- two cities trying to rebound after Hurricane Katrina hit here one month ago today.
It is 4:00 p.m. on the West Coast, 7:00 p.m. in the East and 6:00 p.m. right here in the great state of Mississippi. 360 starts now.
ANNOUNCER: Comedian Chris Rock. He can make people laugh. Now he's trying to help people recover. Tonight, he talks one-on-one with Anderson about his new mission to jumpstart the lives hit hard by Katrina and Rita.
Setting sail on your tax dollars. The government pays a cruise line more than $200 million to use their ships as emergency shelters. But as they sit half full, is your money going to waste?
About 2,000 people at one shelter in Texas still waiting for help. Why are they still struggling? Wasn't relief supposed to arrive by now? We'll take you there.
And Waveland, Mississippi, one month later. We were there right after Katrina ripped it to shreds. Tonight, we return. How has this community recovered? What about its future and the future of the Gulf.
This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "State of Emergency."
COOPER: And good evening, again.
Tonight I'm standing on the border of Waveland, Mississippi, and Bay St. Louis, two communities hard hit, to say the least, by Hurricane Katrina one month ago today. We came here not too long after the storm crashed down and tonight we're back to see how the recovery is going. We're going to introduce you to the people we met the first time and see how they're doing now. We're going to show you around the town a little bit.
But first, here are the stories making news right now.
John Roberts is the 17th chief justice of the United States. He was sworn in this afternoon just a few hours after the Senate voted 78 to 22 to confirm his nomination. We're going to have more on this story in a moment.
The New Orleans Police Department is investigating allegations that 12 of its officers looted stores after Hurricane Katrina. Four of those officers have been suspended and another was reassigned.
Sixty thousand more people have filed for unemployment benefits because of Hurricane Katrina. The number of storm-related jobless claims is now 279,000.
And we may know the fate of the Superdome within the next two months. The stadium's operator says it is premature to say whether it will be condemned. As many as 40,000 people took refuge there and suffered through squalid conditions after Hurricane Katrina.
We're going to have a lot more on the aftermaths of Hurricane Katrina and Rita tonight.
But we begin in Southern California where 28 square miles are in flames right now in Los Angeles and Ventura County. From Simi Valley in the north, to Thousand Oaks in the west, residential areas are threatened. Homes have been evacuated. And that is without any wind, which is threatening to pick up and make things much, much worse.
CNN's Thelma Gutierrez is standing by in the town of West Hills, north of LA. Thelma, what's the situation there?
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Anderson, that so far some of the residents that are up here on this ridge have been watching nervously all day long as the flames have they are kind of surrounding this area, have been flirting with their neighborhood. If you take a look at the ridge right back there, you can see the black smoke billowing in that area. We were there a short time ago. That area, the flames are literally in the backyards of some of the homes in that area. Firefighters have chased everybody out.
Now, you can see that there is an engine right here. This engine is here watching those flames, watching that ridge to make sure that the flames don't jump it and if they do, they're in place, they're ready to call for backup.
Now, the homes that are in greatest peril right now as we swing around are right in the back. That's an area called Bell Canyon. Now many of those homes out there are multimillion dollar homes within a gated community. The residents were forced to evacuate in that area, and all the roads leading up there have been closed. Firefighters say there is so much dry brush in the mountains in this area, all it takes is a wind shift and you have flames raging right towards you.
Now, we went out with an LA city strike team earlier today. Some of the firefighters told us they have been working nonstop all day long. And there are 3,000 firefighters who have come in from all over the state. They've been working in record heat. And if you consider that 17,000 acres have burned and only one home has been lost, that really is testament to the hard work that some of these people have been doing.
There are hundreds of people who have been evacuated in nine areas out here in Southern California. The Red Cross says that 500 people are staying in five different shelters that they have set up. And firefighters say this is the first time that they have seen so many people so prepared and so willing to evacuate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mainly what we did was we put some clothes in a suitcase, so everybody grabbed a suitcase, and put some clothes in there just in case we were going to be gone for a couple days. Grabbed the computers, some paperwork, some artwork, and then we filled up all the cars. My daughter filled up hers, my wife and then I filled mine as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ: Now, in addition to all the work that the ground crews are doing down here, we should mention that there has been a very aggressive air assault. There have been Black Hawks and Hueys flying all day long. They've been dumping up to a thousand gallons of water in some of these hot spots. And, Anderson, I can tell you that many of the firefighters say that that's the reason they've been able to gain some control of this fire.
Back to you.
COOPER: All right. Thelma Gutierrez, we'll continue to follow the story. Thanks.
As of today, well, the country has a new chief justice, its 17th, replacing the late William Rehnquist who served in that capacity, of course, for nearly 20 years until his death earlier this month. Now all 55 Republicans in the Senate voted to confirm John Roberts, as did better than half -- only by a fraction -- of the chamber's Democrats.
So a new era begins for the Supreme Court and the U.S. about which no one can say really very much with any certainty except that it will be a long one. The new chief justice is 50 years old.
Oh, yes, there is still a vacancy on the court, of course. Joining me from New York to talk about that, CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeffrey, you know, a lot of people believe Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement is going to have a bigger impact than Roberts replacing Rehnquist. Do you think that's true?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I do. Absolutely, Anderson. You know, Chief Justice Rehnquist was a reliable conservative vote on the court. John Roberts is likely to be another reliable conservative vote. So the net effect on the results the Supreme Court reaches is likely to be very little.
Sandra Day O'Connor was the wild card -- often conservative but often not conservative, especially in recent years. She saved affirmative action by a single vote. She saved abortion rights by a single vote in the year 2000. So, you know, that replacement, if a true blue conservative replaces here, the court will reach very different decisions.
COOPER: How much pressure do you think the president is under to name a woman to the bench?
TOOBIN: Well, his wife certainly wants him to name a woman to the bench. But, you know, I don't think he really is under that much pressure. He's got 55 Republicans in the Senate. They're going to confirm just about anybody he puts up there.
A new name surfaced, however, recently, Harriet Miers, his White House counsel, as a possible nominee. She'd be a very surprising choice. She has no judicial experience.
For a president who's been accused of cronyism lately, you know, she's his former personal lawyer -- a Dallas lawyer, very much out of the public eye. She's a possibility but it's a wide open field as far as I can tell.
COOPER: Well, Bush has also hinted he may select another minority candidate, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. A good pick in your estimation?
TOOBIN: Well, he'd be probably relatively easy to confirm. His problem is that the Republican base doesn't like him. I don't quite understand why. But he's suspected of being a closet moderate and there's nothing that the hard right hates more than that.
He's got some votes in his past when he was on the Texas Supreme Court that appeared to support abortion rights and affirmative action. That makes him persona non grata among the right wing. But President Bush is very loyal to him, likes him a lot, and he's certainly a possibility. And, of course, he'd be the first Hispanic ever to serve on the court.
COOPER: Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much.
Coming up next on 360, helping the evacuees or hurting taxpayers? FEMA's quarter of a billion dollar bill for cruise ships that now sit half empty. What's going on with that? We'll investigate.
Also tonight, the long road back. A month after Katrina, we return to Waveland, Mississippi, to see how it is recovering and introduce you to some of the people you met a month ago.
And a little later, Chris Rock live. The comedian tells us what he and his wife are doing to help evacuees in Houston.
COOPER: Coming up on 360, the long road back. People returning to New Orleans for the first time. We'll tell you how it went for them. Be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. We are in Bay St. Louis. The sun is starting to fall. What you're seeing is a number of people picking through the rubble of a home owned by a man named Charles Gray (ph). He's the county historian here. And he has a lot of important, historical artifacts. A letter to his family dating back to Revolutionary War times. A lot of volunteers picking through, sifting through, trying to reacquire those historical possessions so that they can remain in this county and not be lost forever. Just one story that we are finding here in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, where we spent today and going to bring you a lot more stories from this area later on tonight.
New Orleans though, for a moment. It is taking the first step towards getting back in business. Today was the first phase of Mayor Ray Nagin's re-entry plan. Entrepreneurs from eight zip codes were allowed to return to their businesses and assess the damage. Tomorrow, some residents are going to start coming back.
CNN's Mary Snow joins us now from New Orleans. Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that re-entry plan being overshadowed by charges of police misconduct. Tonight, the New Orleans Police Department saying it's suspending four officers, reassigning one other. This as it looks into allegations that officers engaged in looting following the days of Hurricane Katrina. The department also says that it investigating at least a dozen other officers for possible misconduct.
The new acting superintendent of the department, Warren Riley, saying that videotapes brought the investigation to light. He is also saying that he is going to be looking into any other complaints that come about. He was asked also about officers riding in Cadillacs during the hurricane in the days right after the hurricane.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACTING SUPT. WARREN RILEY, NEW ORLEANS POLICE: There were some officers who actually patrolled in Cadillacs. I will tell you that. But it was done with the greatest intent. Those cars were not stolen. We recovered, I believe, 90 something Cadillacs. We recovered some of those that were stolen. We warehoused those cars. We still have those cars. We have obtained the keys for those cars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: Those are just some of the reports being looked into. Now Warren Riley just became superintendent two days ago when Eddie Compass abruptly resigned. Mr. Riley saying tonight that on reports of 249 police officers who deserted during the storm, he says that he believes many of them were just unable to communicate to the superiors. But he says of those who did desert, he is going to be meeting with a city attorney to decide what disciplinary action, if any, should be taken.
Now this comes as residents are beginning to getting ready to move back into New Orleans as this plan expands. The new acting superintendent was asked about the force. He says, it is not dysfunctional and he is reassuring residents here that the city is safe.
Anderson. COOPER: Mary Snow, thanks for that from New Orleans.
Locking around here and throughout the damaged Gulf, and you see there is still a lot of work to be done, of course. And one way or another, we are all going to have to chip in. By some estimates the federal government is going to have to shell out $200 billion say some to pay for the hurricane disasters. And no doubt you want that money to actually help people. But we're learning now the government seems to maybe be wasting our tax dollars in some regards.
CNN's Chris Lawrence has this revealing report on cruise ships.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): You're looking at one of the most expensive cruises money can buy and you bought it. Your tax dollars fund FEMA, which paid more than $230 million to Carnival Cruise Lines. FEMA bought out three cruise ships for six months, expecting close to 10,000 evacuees to live onboard. There's fewer than 2,000 people still there.
REP JAY INSLEE, (D) WASHINGTON: So it actually costs the taxpayers about $3,500 a week and you can go on a cruise for $599 a week.
LAWRENCE: Congressman Jay Inslee is one of many officials calling for a chief financial officer to oversee Katrina spending.
INSLEE: So we could actually send people on six-month cruises for half the price that we're paying to actually have people sit at the dock.
LAWRENCE: Before you blame Carnival, consider this. The price wasn't calculated on a per cabin basis. It was based on what Carnival would have earned if the ships were kept in regular service -- all the money they normally get from casinos, liquor and shore excursions, that are not open to evacuees. Carnival says, "in the end, the company will make no additional money on this deal versus what we would have made by keeping these ships in service."
We left several messages for FEMA officials and finally went down to the port ourselves.
We're doing a story on the FEMA contract. Trying to talk to some evacuees up on the ship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You won't be able to do that, sir. You have to get some authorization from FEMA.
LAWRENCE: We had better luck talking to this family -- a New Orleans firefighter living on board with his wife and kids.
DERRICK JONES, NEW ORLEANS FIRE DEPT.: There's a lot of the guys, you know, been there since the storm. We hadn't seen our families. You know, we hadn't no whereabouts where our family was. LAWRENCE: The FEMA contract put families back together. It allowed first responders to go to work and come back to some sort of home. They have free use of the ship, 24-hour meals and activities for the kids.
JACQUELINE JONES, WIFE OF DERRICK JONES: You know, words cannot express. They really can't. I mean it is it's excellent. I don't know exactly what they paid but it's worth every dollar. Every dollar.
LAWRENCE: To be fair, FEMA signed those contracts early on when thousands of people were still crammed into the Superdome and Convention Center. And if the ships had stayed at full capacity, the average cost would have been about $1,200 a week. Remember, that $600 the congressman quoted is only for the cheapest cabins. Some can cost more than $2,000. But what critics want to know is, why didn't FEMA negotiate contingency deals before the disaster, which they probably could have done for much cheaper prices?
COOPER: Chris, thanks. Kind of damned if they do, damned if they don't. They got criticized for not moving fast enough. Then they made a quick deal on this, getting criticized now.
360 next, Rita's forgotten town. Days went by without any help. But that all changed when a desperate e-mail was sent out. We'll tell you why.
Also tonight, 30 days later a victim of Katrina who lost everything talks about his past, the present and his future.
COOPER: It's one of the many destroyed homes here in Waveland, Bay St. Louis area, Mississippi. We're basically on the border of Waveland and Bay St. Louis. Thirty days ago when I was here just after Katrina hit people would come up to me asking when help was arriving. That's the same plea coming this week from Texas in the town of San Augustine. Rita left it virtually cut off without food or water and it lasted that way for days until the community's urgent e-mail for help was answered.
CNN's Randi Kaye investigates.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): We are on the start of what will be a three-hour journey. CNN received an alarming message. Call it an Internet SOS. They need help in a remote area of Texas. San Augustine County.
We started out in Cameron, Louisiana. Made our way to Beaumont. Picked up Highway 69, then 96, all the way up to San Augustine. We should be there in just a minute. (INAUDIBLE). The e-mail says 2,000 evacuees from Hurricane Rita are stranded and starving.
This group is supposedly camped out at Elpinon (ph) estates, at Lake Sam Rayburn. They've been there for a week. They're running out of supplies. And they haven't had any federal help at all.
The e-mail directs us to look for Mike McQueen (ph). He's the man who sent out the SOS.
Where can I find this Marine Mike McQueen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the second street over, turn left. It would be on your right.
KAYE: OK. So that way down there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will see a sign on his gate.
KAYE: Says McQueen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
KAYE: Sure enough, McQueen is in his front yard.
You sound pretty darn frustrated with . . .
MIKE MCQUEEN: No, ma'am, I'm pissed as hell.
KAYE: Angry because he thinks this corner of Texas has been forgotten, if not abandoned.
MCQUEEN: When an old lady comes up you have to estimate her in her 80s and she says, I need Albuterol inhalers because my oxygen tank won't work. And I've been going through about one a day, because she doesn't have electricity. And she's staggering like a drunk, you know, and you've got to take her inside and put ice packs on her. How bad do you think it is?
KAYE: McQueen is a former Marine. He fled his home 100 miles away and came here but he didn't escape the hurricane. No food, no water for a week. He climbed this tree to get a cell phone signal and call a friend, a retired New York City Policeman who sent the Internet SOS.
This place is especially as risk because of who lives here most of the year. San Augustine is popular with snowbirds and retirees. Elderly left without food, water, medicine. And the gasoline to get supplies for some reason dropped more than an hour away.
MCQUEEN: Isn't that amazing. You put out a SOS (ph) and everybody and the pope shows up.
KAYE: McQueen is thrilled his cell phone to Internet SOS worked. In fact, he says, he hopes President Bush is listening. He says the president's plan to respond to the so called golden triangle communities closer to the water completely overlooked this community. MCQUEEN: I'd take him and I would show him all this and then I'd kick him right square in the butt and we'd sit down and drink a beer and I would explain to him that these people are up here eating tree bark while everything that he's got free staged is ready to go into the golden triangle and not coming in to these people.
KAYE: What infuriates McQueen is the government, he says, trying to have it both ways. Telling evacuees, stay where you are, but not getting them vital supplies and medicine. McQueen's neighbor, a diabetic, passed out. He's now borrowing insulin from a friend. About an hour after we arrive with our cameras, so does the Red Cross. Is it a coincidence or did they get the same Internet SOS?
MCQUEEN: How did you do this so quick? I just talked to you an hour ago and now you've got the Red Cross out here.
KAYE: Is this the first you've seen the Red Cross.
MCQUEEN: The first I've seen the Red Cross.
KAYE: Since the storm?
KAYE: So why did it take the Red Cross so long to get here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been up in Lufkin for three days without any food or any water. First we didn't have any trucks. Yes, it's just logistics I guess.
KAYE: But people here wonder, how is it their community got so completely overlooked in the planning for the second hurricane and why it may have taken an Internet SOS to get them help.
KAYE: Now one thing that the Red Cross could not supply here today was gasoline. Those pumps that you see there behind me, they are dry. The owner of this store, Anderson, actually bought a generator so she could run those pumps. But when she went to the neighboring county to get gasoline, they sent her back here, telling her they can't give her gasoline, she has to get that from her own county.
So we managed to get a gasoline truck in here today for our own vehicles. We ended up giving her some gasoline for her car. Also, all the food that we had in our own cars. The Red Cross said they'll be back here tomorrow. Still no power in this entire area.
COOPER: So much trouble for a small town. Thanks very much, Randi.
Still to come on 360, Waveland, Mississippi. I'll show you around this area -- what's changed in the month since Hurricane Katrina hit and what has stayed the same. Plus, Comedian Chris Rock tells me about his new mission, helping the hurricane victims. We'll talk to him live ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back to this special edition of 360. I'm coming to you from the border region of Bay St. Louis and Waveland, Mississippi, amid the rubble from Hurricane Katrina strike one month ago.
Here's a look at stories making news "At this Moment.
A wildfire in Southern California has scorched nearly 17,000 acres and dry conditions are only making it worse. At least 300 residents in the Ventura and Los Angeles Counties have been evacuated.
Some of the thousands who evacuated in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina are returning today. Mayor Ray Nagin opened several neighborhoods to business owners. Some residents will be allowed back tomorrow.
The admiral in charge of domestic defense forces says the military failed to provide enough emergency communications for Hurricane Katrina. Admiral Timothy Keating says the lack of satellite telephones and other equipment contributed to the days of confusion following the storm.
And the IRS is giving Hurricane Katrina survivors a break. Those affected by the storm now have until February 28 of next year to file tax returns and pay any taxes that are due. The IRS says that taxpayers who need to identify themselves as hurricane victims should write "Hurricane Katrina" in red ink on the top of any forms they file.
Well, 30 days ago today on the 29th of August, Waveland, Mississippi, was transformed from a beautiful beachfront town with a population of about 7,000 people into a plot of land that's studded with concrete slabs where people's homes once were. There used to be houses on the foundation slabs back before Katrina.
The saying is that time heals all wounds. We went back to Waveland to see how much healing may have happened in this past month. Take a look.
COOPER (voice over): One month after Hurricane Katrina swept away Waveland, much of the town remains the same. There's miles and miles of debris, broken dreams, and splintered homes. Amidst the rubble you find American flags still flying, a bathroom sink, a "Partridge Family" album. "We've Got to Get Out of This Place," the first track.
(on camera): I remember helping a woman pull this chair out of the ditch which was here. She was coming back to her house for first time. And she was just completely overwhelmed.
PAULINE CONAWAY, HURRICANE KATRINA SURVIVOR: That's my chair.
COOPER (voice over): Her name was Pauline Conaway, and I'll never forget her pain. Her home was gone; only a few possessions remained. It was the first time I'd seen someone so distraught and not been able to do anything about it.
(on camera): You find just about any block you go down here in Waveland, especially along the beach, I mean, people are just coming back, one by one, finding the homes just completely gone. And it's -- it's devastating.
I mean -- actually, let's...
(voice over): Today, we found no sign of Pauline, but the chair and the grill and the ceramic bear are all still where she left them.
(on camera): Some people, they come back to their homes and they just get overwhelmed. They think they are going to pick up things, but maybe they find a few plates or whatever, but then they -- they just decide to leave everything where it is.
(voice over): A month ago in Waveland we also met Myrtle Kearney and her family. Her sense of humor I'll never forget.
(on camera): You vacuumed the house?
MYRTLE KEARNEY, HURRICANE KATRINA SURVIVOR: I vacuumed my house to the moon so that when we came back we would have a pleasant environment to come back in.
COOPER (voice over): At the home of the Kearneys today, we found work crews cleaning up the streets. Their property, however, is still littered with debris.
(on camera): I'll never forget Myrtle told me that she collected rocks, and right before the storm, right before she evacuated, that she went around her home and hid all the rocks. I'm not exactly sure why she did that, but she did.
And that's one of the things she was looking for when I met her here a month ago. And we just came back and noticed this must be from her rock collection. I'll have to call them and let them know Myrtle's rocks have shown up.
(voice over): Everywhere we went today in Waveland people talked to us, glad to see we were back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I was in Guadalajara when this hit. And I knew I could count on you, because you said your dad was from there and you grew up in New Orleans. And I want to thank you for all the hard work all of you are all doing.
COOPER (on camera): How are you doing now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine until I start talking to people. COOPER (voice over): One month has already passed, but in Waveland the emotions have not. The memories of what happened here are simply too painful to forget.
COOPER: We're joined now by Mayor Longo of Waveland, and also the chief of police and the city administrator and the deputy chief of police.
Deputy chief of police?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Assistant.
COOPER: Assistant chief. I'm sorry about that.
How is Waveland doing?
MAYOR TOMMY LONGO, WAVELAND, MISSISSIPPI: We're doing -- we're doing fine, Anderson. Each day is a little better than the day before. And each week has been better than the week before. So, we've got both feet planted and we're doing OK.
COOPER: You still have people missing?
LONGO: Yes, sir.
COOPER: How many people missing?
LONGO: Last -- last told, it was 51 south of the CSX Railroad.
COOPER: So, between -- from the railroad to the water, 51 people still missing?
LONGO: Yes, sir.
COOPER: And do you think they are -- have been recovered and just not identified, or do you think there are people still amidst the rubble here?
LONGO: I think it's a little of both.
COOPER: And, I mean, is there hope that just in the cleanup those people will be found. Or do you think...
LONGO: Yes, sir. It's being handled very, very, carefully and, of course, with a great deal of dignity. And we have local teams that are with the search and rescue teams. And of course there is always hope that somebody may show up that is missing in another city that we don't know about. So, we don't give up hope on -- on anyone.
COOPER: What surprised you most over the last 30 days since this storm?
LONGO: The unbelievable outpouring of people around the country. They have taken our families in across the country in virtually every state. And they have (INAUDIBLE) of our people there, and they're treating our families like they are their own.
And then those cities are also giving to our people here, our police department, our fire department, our public works department, because we lost virtually everything. And without their support, we would never be where we're at today.
And, of course, the resilience of our people and our local businesses, that never surprises me. But it gives us great hope to see them, their mettle tested and see them back and being as resilient as they are.
COOPER: Well, I'm happy to be back in this town. And I hope to come back a year from now when things are better along and life returns to some semblance of normal. I look forward to it.
LONGO: We would love to have you. And remember that the structures are not what the city is. The city is our people. And Waveland is the Hospitality City. And we look forward to having you back as many times as you want to be.
COOPER: OK. Thanks very much, Mayor.
LONGO: Thank you.
COOPER: I appreciate it, and all you're doing. Thank you very much, gentlemen. I appreciate that.
Coming up next, we'll have more from Waveland.
Also, comedian Chris Rock joins me live from Houston to talk about how he and his wife are helping victims of Katrina.
Also tonight, I'll talk again with residents of Waveland, Mississippi. The last time we met this resident, his house had just been completely destroyed. We'll show you how he's doing now.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back to this special edition of 360. We are in Waveland, Mississippi, on the border with Bay St. Louis.
Since Katrina first hit, a lot of people have come to the Gulf Coast to help the victims any way they can, including Chris Rock. A few weeks ago, the comedian and his wife Malaak Compton, adopted a Houston shelter and its residents who were evacuees from the hurricane. Chris Rock joins us live in just a moment, but first, here is more on his mission of hope.
Actually I'm told -- I'm sorry, I'm told he is joining us live right now in Houston.
Hey, Chris, I don't know if you can hear me. This is Anderson. Tell us a little bit about Bonita House where you are and how you're trying to help them. CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: Bonita House, they took in a bunch of families from Hurricane Katrina. And me and my wife are down here just trying to get corporations and people to contribute to help these good people out.
COOPER: I know the first time you came down I think it was for an Oprah Winfrey special. What surprised you most? I mean, what -- you were clearly moved in that. What moved you so much?
ROCK: You know -- you know -- you know, people need help. And, you know, I didn't get where I am by myself, you know. A lot of people helped me out.
And I just wanted to give back. You know, this is a dire time and, you know, I have, so I have it to give.
COOPER: What have you been able to do so far for them?
ROCK: Well, let's see. My wife made a bunch of calls, and Bed Bath and Beyond sent some stuff, and I think Pottery Barn. Who else? Toys R Us, BabyStyle.
COOPER: It's obviously -- you know, I talk to a lot of people who watch this on television, and they all want to help, they want to be there. How is it different actually being there and meeting people than it is just kind of watching it on television?
ROCK: You know, when you are here, you meet the people, and, you know, you form a relationship. And, you know, they are real to you. It's not -- and you want to help, you want to -- you know, you want to be hands on. You don't want to just send a check. And you want to see that, you know, the money you are giving is, you know -- you know, going to good.
COOPER: And what -- what can you show us? I know you're -- I can't see where you are, because we're a little -- because I'm over here in Mississippi. What can you show us where you are?
ROCK: What can I show you? OK. I think this is like -- what is this called? I mean, I don't want to sound like a rich guy. I know it's an apartment. But it's called a two bedroom efficiency. A family lives in here.
I sound like (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Sorry.
Just people. You know, my man is here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say, "Hi."
ROCK: And, you know, just families like -- it's like 20 houses like this at Bonita House. So, there's a lot of families here.
COOPER: And what do you want people to know who are watching this about not only about what you're doing, but about what you're seeing and the people you've met? ROCK: Just know that these are good, hard-working Americans that need your help, and you know, really need your help. They are not, you know -- you know, being who I am, I get a lot of requests, and it's normally -- you know, most of the wounds are self-inflicted.
But these people, you know, they got hit by, you know, the most devastating hurricane in, you know, the history of our country. And they really need your help. And it's not their fault that they are in the predicament that they are in.
COOPER: Chris, I know your wife is there, Malaak. We never met. It's good to see you.
MALAAK COMPTON, CHRIS ROCK'S WIFE: Good to see you.
COOPER: What do you want people to know about the organization you're working for?
COMPTON: You know, it's a really, really wonderful organization. The man who runs this place, he's been in this business helping people in need for about 15 years. And this building was actually going to close because he opened another building a week before Bonita House.
He got an offer on this building and decided not to take it and to house these people instead. And what's really wonderful is that he's in it for the long run.
As you know, Anderson, this is not a quick fix. These people are going to need a lot of support, a lot of support services for years to come. And I feel blessed to have found this place to help, because I know that they are going to continue to get services long after they move out of here and go into permanent housing.
That's what's really special about it. And hopefully the American people will truly understand that we cannot forget about this in six months, or even a year. But this is a long, long process. And Chris and I are really in it for the long haul.
COOPER: Well, Malaak and Chris, I appreciate what you're doing. I appreciate you talking about.
If anyone at home would like to contribute to their organization, you can send an e-mail to BonitaHope@SBCglobal.net. The phone number is 713-691-0900. The address, Bonita House of Hope, 2605 Parker Road, Houston, Texas, 77093.
Coming up next on 360, helping animals left behind in a very unlikely place, a prison.
Also tonight, his house in Waveland, Mississippi, was destroyed. He waited days for help. Tonight, an update on a Katrina survivor we met one month ago.
COOPER: Some of those answering the call to help animals abandoned and left behind in Louisiana are in some pretty unlikely places, including a state facility accustomed to housing convicts, not canines.
CNN's Ed Lavandera has more.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are strange sounds coming from this old prison dairy farm tucked away in the backwoods of southeast Louisiana. That makes warden Jimmy LeBlanc smile.
JIMMY LEBLANC, WARDEN, DIXON CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE: Of course we have 160 dogs. We have four-legged and two-legged. And then we have our chickens, in this part here, which they all seem to be getting along real well, at the moment. And then the geese. And the geese are doing well, too.
LAVANDERA: The Dixon Correctional Institute is a full-time prison and now a part-time animal shelter. The Humane Society started bringing animals rescued from New Orleans to this prison after area shelters filled up.
RICHARD PALMER, INMATE: There, boy, you want to run everywhere?
LAVANDERA: Inmate Richard Palmer couldn't be happier. It's not often a prisoner gets to feel like a warden.
PALMER: I often reward them when they do good. So I give them like dog treats when they do good. If they be bad, I won't give them a dog treat until later on that evening. Tell him you aren't turning down that.
LAVANDERA: Palmer is one of 13 inmates assigned to help care for this stable of orphaned animals. He's just weeks away from finishing a 13-year prison sentence for armed robbery and says this experience is preparing him for life on the outside.
PALMER: And then the Lord was just telling me, say, well look, you know what, this is where you're going to learn your patience at, with these dogs. He said because I can't get you to learn patience nowhere else, but I'm going to get you to learn patience right here, because you've got to be gentle with them. You've got to take up a lot of time with them. Show some love.
LAVANDERA: Palmer feeds the dogs.
PALMER: You just said you don't want none. You just turned down my cookie. Now you want it now?
LAVANDERA: He walks them.
PALMER: What you want to do, girl?
LAVANDERA: And usually does a whole lot of talking. PALMER: We haven't given them names. We haven't given them. We just call them out of love. I just give them names as I walk by them. I just call them little love, little feisty, little trouble. I give them a hug.
LAVANDERA: Warden LeBlanc says caring for these animals makes the inmates feel they're helping people recover from the hurricanes.
LEBLANC: There's no way that they can help out, you know, from prison. So this kind of brings it to them a little bit and they're able to contribute back something from the natural disaster, from Katrina down there.
LAVANDERA: All the inmates working in the shelter volunteered for this job. But when the workday ends, some of them can't shake off the sounds of the farm.
JOHN LOYD, INMATE: I hear dogs barking in my sleep. I, really, I do.
PALMER: You going to turn over on your stomach, boy?
LAVANDERA: Richard Palmer can't get enough, though. He plans to volunteer to take care of these animals even after he's released from prison.
PALMER: A lot of guys, you know, they find -- they don't find love nowhere else. You know we have people that's been in prison all their life and they don't know nothing, they don't know nobody, you know. So they find a place of stability when they come around these dogs, you know. It's like they have a friend now.
LAVANDERA: There's a special bond here between these men and these animals. Some say they love and understand each other. Maybe that's because right now they all live behind bars.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Jackson, Louisiana.
COOPER: I love that story.
Let's find out what is coming up at the top of the hour on PAULA ZAHN NOW. Paula joins us from Washington. Hey, Paula.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson. I am here tonight, of course, where there's a huge debate about how much of your tax money should be spent to clean up after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And tonight there is a major development, a story of CNN's investigative unit that we have been looking into for sometime.
The New Orleans Police Department has suspended four officers and is now investigating whether at least a dozen were connected with looting after the hurricane. Our Drew Griffin has been on the story from the start. We'll have the very latest on all of that at the top of the hour. Anderson.
COOPER: Paula, thanks very much.
Coming up next, though, on 360, the last time we were in Waveland it was just days after Hurricane Katrina hit. I'll introduce you to some of the people we saw then and tell you how they are doing now.
COOPER: We have another story of Waveland to report. Perhaps the saddest story to tell as any we have come across in our time in the Gulf Coast about a family profoundly changed by Hurricane Katrina. The family survives, but in a much smaller form.
COOPER (voice over): One month ago, in Waveland, we went along with a FEMA urban search and rescue team from Virginia. They had been told there was a family who drowned inside this house, discovered by neighbor Sally Slaughter.
SALLY SAUGHTER, HURRICANE KATRINA SURVIVOR: I went up in the attic and nothing. You know, so I broke that window out, and they were right there, right inside the window.
COOPER: The team found four members of the Bane (ph) family inside. Edgar and his wife Christine (ph) and their two disabled sons, Carl (ph) and Edgar Jr.
(on camera): People boarded up their home before the storm, and some of them were hiding inside the homes. They were all boarded up. So, these four people, a man and wife and two children, have died in this home.
And they have been inside for 48 hours now. So when the rescue workers break inside, the home and open up the windows, the smell, it's -- it's overwhelming. It goes down the block.
(voice over): In those first few days after the storm, there were so many bodies in Waveland, so much work to be done, all the searchers could do was take pictures of the dead and mark the door. Today, when we arrived at the house, the markings on the door were no longer visible, and the Banes' (ph) two remaining children, Laura and Serena, were visiting inside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this was the kitchen. And this is where they had died.
COOPER: Laura is 25. Serena 18. Neither were at home when the storm hit, but Laura had to identify her brothers' bodies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only reason why we knew how to tell who he was is from his feet. We just know what their feet look like. I mean, as far as looking at the face and the bodies, you couldn't tell.
COOPER: So even looking at -- looking at your brother's face, you couldn't tell?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't tell who he was. I did not know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All you could see is their lips.
COOPER (voice over): The storm washed away most of their family photos. All they have left are their parents driver's licenses and their brother's high school IDs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my papa, and that's my (INAUDIBLE). And that's my Uncle Edgar and my Uncle Carl (ph) behind Edgar.
COOPER: Laura's son Derek (ph) is just five and doesn't quite understand what happened to his grandmother.
DEREK BANE, HURRICANE KATRINA SURVIVOR: Yes, because my mama died, that's why I got to talk to her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I came here and found out that they -- that they died, that night, you know, when I laid down, you know, I said my prayers, just like every other night, and I was talking to my family. And I just felt them just hover over me. You know? And it was basically letting me know that they was OK.
COOPER: Laura and Serena are struggling not just with the death of their parents and their brothers, but they are also struggling to find a place to live and a way to rebuild.
(on camera): What is going to happen tomorrow?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know. We're just basically living day by day, because we can't tell you what's going to happen tomorrow. We can't even -- you know, I couldn't tell you where I'm going to be, you know, who I'm going to be with. I mean, it's just -- it's terrible.
COOPER (voice over): Both women try to remember their parents as they lived, not as they died. But it's hard for them not to imagine what happened when the water came in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like I'm imagining what happened, what my mom was thinking, what they were doing at the time, you know, when the water was coming in. What they were thinking.
COOPER: Yesterday was Christina Banes' (ph) birthday. She would have been 45 years old. Her daughters say they will try to celebrate somehow, but the memories of her death are hard to forget.
COOPER: It is hard to forget what happened here in Waveland.
I'm joined by Charles Kearney, a man I met a month ago. Your family, your wife and child and your parents are OK. How is everyone doing now? It's been a month. CHARLES KEARNEY, WAVELAND RESIDENT: Everybody -- everybody is doing real well. We're, you know, settled in Baton Rouge. And it's been a trying time, but, you know, the glass is half full and we're looking forward to getting rid of all the debris and coming back home to Waveland and getting -- getting things going again.
COOPER: How has it been dealing with insurance, the government, things likes that?
KEARNEY: It's been a nightmare to get an adjuster. However, I did just get a phone call. And I don't want to say on national TV, but I think it is looking good for me.
Unfortunately, I don't think the rest of the people have as good of news as I've gotten. In terms of the government, we've been able to finally get Red Cross and finally been able to -- FEMA came through early on.
The real story here is all the private organizations that have come to town, the churches and Park View Baptist (ph) who gave us furniture and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I mean...
COOPER: People just stepping up and helping their neighbors.
KEARNEY: People stepping up. Neighbors helping neighbors and community helping community.
COOPER: We're going to talk more with Charles in the special two- hour edition of NEWSNIGHT tonight, starting at 10:00 Eastern Time. We'll talk to him in the 11:00 hour. So join us more for that and more from Waveland.
Charles, thanks. We'll see you at 10:00.
KEARNEY: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: A lot more ahead with Aaron Brown, myself at 10:00 Eastern Time to midnight.
Right now, CNN's primetime coverage continues with Paula Zahn. Paula is joining us tonight from Washington, as opposed to New York. She will be looking into how funding for Katrina is -- how it is going to be paid for, and also investigations into New Orleans Police.
Paula joins us now. Hey, Paula.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com