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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

New Orleans Three Months After Hurricane Katrina; Saddam Hussein Trial Resumes

Aired November 28, 2005 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper, live in New Orleans, a city which is still reeling from three months ago, from Hurricane Katrina. It is the three-month anniversary of the storm striking.
And, if you thought the city was back on the feet, think again. Take a look at this, a car just completely destroyed. You see this block after block, completely covered in sand, one of the many cars. You can go down any street in this neighborhood here in New Orleans, and you will find the scenes just like this.

A special edition of 360 starts now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Nearly three months after Katrina's wrath, New Orleans residents still seething over what has not been done, and now new talk the city should be abandoned. Will it ever be safe to come home?

Saddam on trial, take two -- after defense lawyers are murdered and the trial finally resumes, Saddam has his say. But this is one judge who won't roll over for the former dictator.

And, from the classrooms of California, to the streets of New Orleans, how one elementary school thousands of miles from Katrina's destruction reached into their wallets and their hearts to help Katrina's victims and turned to a familiar face to help.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from New Orleans, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And welcome back.

We're glad you're with us again tonight. We are back in New Orleans, as I said, exactly three months since Katrina, and we are finding a lot of anger about what has been done and what has not been done here. We are also here to help keep them honest, to make sure the people who are being held accountable, the ones making the promises, are doing their jobs and keeping their word to the people here in New Orleans and all throughout the Gulf Coast.

And this week also marks the end to the 2005 hurricane season, if you can believe it. What a year it has been. We start tonight with some of the headlines we are following at this moment.

The president traveled to Arizona today, where he delivered some tough talk on immigration. Mr. Bush said he's determined to protect the nation's border and urged Congress to pass legislation making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in America. He's also asking lawmakers to reduce the amount of red tape when it comes to sending illegal immigrants back home.

In San Diego today, a congressman quits after pleading guilty to bribery. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, an eight-term Republican, admitted to taking more than $2 million in cash and gifts. The bribes were from a military contractor hoping to do business the Defense Department. Cunningham will be sentenced in February. He faces a maximum 10 years in prison.

And, right here in New Orleans, it is official. The city has a new top cop. Mayor Ray Nagin swore in Warren Riley to be the police chief. Riley has been the acting chief since September. He has a lot of work ahead of him. We will be taking a close look at the embattled New Orleans police force in the next hour.

And, in Washington, Christmas arrived early at the White House today. In a tradition that has lasted for decades, a horse-drawn wagon delivered the Christmas tree to the first family. The 18-and-a- half feet Fraser Fir will stand in the Blue Room in the White House.

Here in New Orleans, certain things floor you, not the least of which is a neighborhood just like this. This is a neighborhood probably about 10 minutes or so from -- from downtown, from Bourbon Street. And if you have seen the scenes on Bourbon Street, you see people out drinking, it looks like life has returned to normal.

But then you come to a place like here and you realize there is no life. Life has not returned to normal. I mean, take a look at this home here. The possessions are still laying all around. You can still -- I mean, you can just walk right up and see right into this person's house. There's a piano. There's the piano. It looks like there was a little bar by the kitchen.

And -- and it is block after block here in New Orleans of this kind of scenes. You know, you -- you would think, three months after this storm hit -- watch your step there -- three months after this storm hit, you would think these areas had -- would at least start to have been rebuilt. They really haven't. Some of the roads have been cleared, but this is pretty exactly like it was just three months ago.

And it has made a lot of people here angry, angry at the pace of rebuilding, angry that some people are even saying the city should not rebuilt -- be rebuilt.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has been talking to people here, and he's gotten a real sense of the anger.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The graffiti on the wall says it all, "Vote for someone who cares," a statement that captures a growing sense of abandonment Gulf Coast residents are feeling.

TRACY FLORES, RESIDENT OF NEW ORLEANS: You can look around you. There are no people, no children playing, no lights, no water, thing that is you need.

LAVANDERA: Tracy Flores has only been allowed back to her Lower Ninth Ward home once since Katrina struck. When she found out a neighbor's house had been torn down without permission, she lost trust in the government and joined a campaign to stop the bulldozers.

FLORES: Our area still isn't open, you know, to come in to clean up, to do whatever we need to do. And -- and, you know, people are -- are disheartened.

LAVANDERA: The pace of rebuilding is so slow, people wonder if the job will ever end or, in some places, ever begin. Streets still look like dump sites. There are few places to live. Power and water are still out in many areas. Despite $62 billion in federal aid being promised for the region, Saint Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack Stephens has lost faith in the federal government's ability to help.

JACK STEPHENS, SAINT BERNARD PARISH SHERIFF: It's like when you're growing up, you know, and you always -- you know, you think your parents love you. And -- and you think that, if you ever get in trouble, or you get hurt, or you fall down, they're going to be there to pick you up and help you get your life started again. I have been a patriot my whole life, and that's how I always felt about the federal government.

LAVANDERA: He says the region is trying to stand up, but the helping hand is missing.

(on camera): Anger and frustration runs all along the Gulf Coast, but, here in New Orleans, it cuts a little deeper. They like to say here that this was a city struck by two disasters. One, they can blame Mother Nature for. The second, they say, was manmade.

(voice-over): John Biguenet says poorly designed levees crippled the city. Now he thinks little is being done to make the levees bigger and stronger. Without that, he argues, people and businesses won't come back.

JOHN BIGUENET, RESIDENT OF NEW ORLEANS: The government itself, after making glorious promises about how they would rebuild this place even better than before -- the president stood in front of our cathedral and promises us that this would all be taken care of. Months later, nothing has happened.

LAVANDERA: Biguenet is a New Orleans novelist who has been writing about his experiences here for "The New York Times."

BIGUENET: And this was an entire wall of books. LAVANDERA: He fears, the city his family has lived in since the 19th century is in danger of disappearing.

BIGUENET: Now that we need their help, they're dithering, just the way they did when people were in the Superdome and on rooftops, basically doing nothing at all.

LAVANDERA: John Biguenet hopes the rest of the country will hear these calls for help and understand that hundreds of thousands of people are still left in the dark, and a lot of help is still needed to make it shine again.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, of course, we have been tracking this for weeks now. Remember all those promises about rebuilding the levees bigger and stronger and better. That is simply not done. The money has not been allocated. At this point, they're still waiting for Washington to make a decision.

And you can take a look behind me on the other camera at the levee. That's the London Canal there. The -- the levee was breached here. It was not overtopped. It was breached. The -- the levee simply split here. And the water just came pouring down, and that -- and that's why everything is covered in mud and sand here, because it brought with it just tons of debris and sediment with us.

And -- and -- and that, of course, has provoked a lot of anger. The fact that these levees are just being rebuilt to the same strength that they were before, Category 3, no stronger than that, there's anger, of course, and outrage. And then there is this, white-hot fury. You feel it here whenever somebody raises the notion that New Orleans simply cannot be protected from the Gulf, and, therefore, ought not to be saved.

Some people are saying that. The latest firestorm happened last week, when a report on "60 Minutes" implied just that. Here's what their expert told "60 Minutes."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES")

TIM KUSKY, EXPERT: New Orleans is going to be 15 to 18 feet below sea level, sitting off the coast of North America, surrounded by 50- to 100-foot tall levee system to protect the city.

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS REPORTER: And completely surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico?

KUSKY: Completely surrounded.

PELLEY: And you're talking about just 90 years from now?

KUSKY: That's the projection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It is a startling image, the idea that New Orleans might be completely surrounded by the Gulf and 12 to 18 feet under water. It's certainly not a popular view.

The question that we wondered is, is it the bitter scientific truth? According to Joseph Kelley, the answer is no. Professor Kelley teaches in Maine, but he certainly knows the lay of the land here. He lived in New Orleans, taught at the university here. And he was happy to return here to give us his take on the rebuilding of New Orleans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Walk around New Orleans with a marine geologist, and the problem is clear. The city is sinking.

(on camera): You actually see the sinking in -- in neighborhoods like this?

PROFESSOR JOSEPH KELLEY, MARINE GEOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF MAINE: You can see that the -- that the land here has sunk, but the piles are holding the slab and the house up. And, so, the ground is separating from its house.

COOPER (voice-over): Joseph Kelley is a geology professor at the University of Maine.

(on camera): So, at one point, the ground was where...

(CROSSTALK)

KELLEY: Up -- up -- up at this level here.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLEY: It's a foot-and-a-half of sinking here. But they may have added fill to -- to keep up with it.

COOPER (voice-over): Kelley knows this city well. He used to teach at the University of New Orleans. In fact, this used to be his house.

KELLEY: It is very, very shocking, particularly to see the waterline on the -- on the wall. And -- and it crosses there.

COOPER: Even though parts of New Orleans are below sea level, Kelley strongly disagrees with those who say that this city should not be rebuilt.

(on camera): On "60 Minutes," they had a professor saying that, within 80, 90 years, New Orleans is cut off from the rest of the United States, surrounded by water, and -- and, you know, at least 12 to 18 feet under water.

KELLEY: That's just an extreme exaggeration. It -- nobody would let that happen. And it isn't that difficult to prevent that from happening by letting the river naturally build more wetlands and more land, and more high ground, even, to -- to make the city safer. That's an utterly implausible situation.

COOPER (voice-over): For Kelley, the question is not whether New Orleans should be rebuilt or not. It's what parts should be rebuilt, what neighborhoods.

KELLEY: Engineers could probably make any place safe enough, but the cost for -- for doing that in -- in areas that have sunk a great deal is very, very high. And it's a question of whether you would really want to pay that money.

It's really going to take an economic assessment, looking at what's left -- what value is left and what will it cost to -- to save, protect this area, so that people feel safe here.

COOPER: According to Kelley, some of the worst-hit areas, like Lakeview, New Orleans East, and the Lower Ninth Ward, might not be worth rebuilding.

(on camera): At some point, the -- I mean, the economic contribution of a neighborhood has to be weighed against the cost of protecting it.

KELLEY: Absolutely. And, if the cost is -- is -- is extreme, and the risk even possibly remains, even after the -- the walls and so forth are built, then that's an area you might really have to abandon.

COOPER (voice-over): But New Orleans East and the Lower Ninth Ward are predominantly African-American neighborhoods. And talk of abandoning them has caused an uproar here.

When he appeared before Congress, Mayor Ray Nagin seemed open to abandoning some of those areas. But his comments drew so much criticism back home, he has since reversed himself.

RAY NAGIN (D), MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: Read my lips. We will rebuild New Orleans East and the Lower Ninth Ward.

COOPER: But who gets to make that decision in the end isn't clear. There are several separate commissions looking into rebuilding, all with their own plans and agendas.

(on camera): There are those who say none of it should be rebuilt, that the whole city -- and that -- that it -- it's -- it's sinking. It's -- you know, nature should be allowed to take its course.

KELLEY: Oh, lord.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLEY: We wouldn't be living anywhere if we let nature take its course. No, the city should be rebuilt. I don't think that it's going to disappear. It's -- it's a -- it's a -- there are a lot of areas of high ground. And there are ways that engineers can enable the city to persist, and persist in a healthy environment, for a long time.

COOPER (voice-over): Professor Joseph Kelley thinks independent scientists should look at where to rebuild. For him, it should be a question of geology and economics, not politics.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, for a lot of people, it is more than that, for -- geology or -- or economics or -- or even politics. It is what they have seen and they cannot forget, not in three months, or three years, or even a lifetime or two.

"Here lies Vera. God help us." Those are the words on the sheet that covered a woman named Vera Smith on the sidewalk where she died and where her body lay for at least five days in New Orleans. This weekend, her cremated remains were interred at a family plot in a cemetery in South Texas. Tonight, finally, Vera Smith is home.

Coming up next on 360, Saddam Hussein on trial, defiant as always and now complaining about the inconvenience of a broken elevator -- what's that about? We will tell you. We will give you a firsthand look at what happened inside the courtroom.

Plus, you saw them after Hurricane Katrina, sad, helpless pets stranded by the storm. Now, nearly three months later, they are still being rescued, if you can believe it. We will go on a rescue operation.

Also want to tell you for a little difference from where we are here, just a few blocks away, Bourbon Street, where it is a busy night, as always, people out strolling around, a lot of people involved in the -- in the rebuilding effort here out for a night on the town -- a very different slice of life in New Orleans when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back.

We are live in New Orleans in the 3rd District, a residential community, not far from Bourbon Street, but the scene here, of course, radically different.

For the longest time, I was trying to figure out what this is. Then I realized, of course, it's -- it's a basketball net that has just been completely knocked over by the debris, by the force of the water, and just tons of sand that just came and knocked it right over.

We will have more here from New Orleans in a moment, but, first, what's happening in Iraq. Saddam Hussein's day in court was over not long after it began -- his trial put on hold for a week, after defendants voiced their concerns about a number of issues, including their own safety. Two defense lawyers, after all, were murdered within the past couple of months.

But what was it like inside the courtroom? What little happened today was not without high drama or fierce defiance.

CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson was there in the courtroom.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): An empty chair where Saddam Hussein should be, everyone kept waiting -- he was more than six minutes late. On the courtroom videotape, the next shot shows Hussein in his chair. But I was there, and what I saw tells a story.

I saw Hussein stroll in, looking relaxed, ambling toward the dock, smiling at his co-defendants, at first, no hint of the anger he would soon unleash on the judge, fifteen minutes later, venomously blasting the chief judge, making clear this was going to be his day in court.

Hussein complained about a broken elevator. The judge replied, he would ask the guards to look at it.

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FORMER IRAQI PRESIDENT (through translator): Chief Judge, I don't want you to call them. I want you to order them. They are in our country.

ROBERTSON: A verbal bashing, implying the chief judge kowtowed to the American invaders.

Minutes later, the boot was on the other foot -- the judge showing video of Hussein ordering an investigation right after the 1982 assassination attempt in the village of Dujayl. That assassination attempt was followed by a murderous repression in the Dujayl area.

That's the first of the crimes on which Hussein is being tried. Hussein seemed unmoved. His new international adviser, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, kept a low profile. But he says he's worried the trial is not fair.

RAMSEY CLARK, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I've been in many unpopular cases where there's been high community prejudice against the defendants. But, here, it's just everybody has been hurt. And everybody's angry.

ROBERTSON: Hussein had showed his anger, too, but I saw him smile as the judge called a break for lunch and told the defendants they could talk to their lawyers.

An hour and 20 minutes later, it was Hussein's allies on the attack. Hussein's former vice president stood to announce he would not work with the court-appointed lawyers. Hussein's half-brother and a former chief justice also left their seats to voice complaints -- and then Hussein on his feet again. HUSSEIN (through translator): What's the memo? About what? What was the moment? Do you have a formal request about it? Two memos? Yes, 25 pages.

ROBERTSON: This time quizzing the judge about letters he claimed to have sent him, letters the judge claimed not to have received -- the judge ending proceedings, calling for a seven-day adjournment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: Well, the trial is proving a lot more prone to delay and interruption, angering many Iraqis. But, for Saddam Hussein, it's giving him an opportunity to steal the limelight and cast himself once again as the great Iraqi leader -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nic, it is interesting, though, because the last Saddam Hussein was -- was in the courtroom, he was challenging the -- the eligibility -- eligibility of the court. He seems now to have fully accepted it. He's just now complaining about these other things.

ROBERTSON: I think he is looking to the new defense team advice -- his defense team, with Ramsey Clark.

It -- he's -- believes that -- that they're going to be doing this, that his defense lawyers are going to be -- are going to be questioning the authenticity of the court, the credibility of the court. Indeed, there's another international adviser, the former justice minister from Qatar. He actually stood up in court today and said that the court was illegitimate.

And Saddam Hussein -- I talked to his lawyer over the weekend -- he still believes he's president, still believes the court has no -- has no legitimacy in Iraq.

COOPER: Hmm. It's fascinating to see him putting on a show like that today.

Nic, thanks very much -- Nic Robertson reporting from Baghdad.

Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we are following right now.

Hey, Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.

A political shakeup tonight by our neighbors to the north which came with a round of applause in Canada's House of Common, after three opposition parties united for a no-confidence vote against the government of Prime Minister Paul Martin. Now, this means an election will now be held next month. But Martin, whose Liberal Party has been dogged by a corruption scandal, is staying upbeat and calling on his party to get ready for an election battle.

Back in Washington, a new development in the CIA leak investigation -- special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald asking now a second "TIME" magazine reporter to testify before a grand jury. "TIME" reports Viveca Novak has been asked to testify under oath about her conversations with Karl Rove's attorney. Back in July, Matthew Cooper was the first "TIME" reporter to testify in the case.

Across the plains, wild weather, and clean-up is now under way after this weekend's tornadoes in Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri. Meantime, in western Kansas -- check this out -- blizzard conditions -- and part of that same weather system has dumped up to six feet of snow in Colorado.

Well, in Augusta, Maine, it's what you might call a hot attraction in the pre-winter chill, live models. You will see them in just a moment -- there she is -- posing in the window of a lingerie store -- some residents complaining. They call it morally wrong. Police, however, say it is not illegal.

We showed some people on the street before, said they were fine with it.

And, Anderson, by the way, the store's name, in case you didn't catch it on the window there, on it, Spellbound.

COOPER: Ah.

HILL: What more is there to say?

COOPER: There you go. It's perfect.

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: Indeed.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Erica, thanks very much. Yes. I'm spellbound.

We will talk with you in about half-an-hour.

Coming up next on 360, back to Iraq. He spent time with the insurgents, learned how they operate. Now he's just finished a tour embedded with U.S. troops -- "TIME" magazine's Michael Ware reporter on whether this fight can be won and how it could be won.

Plus, young children in California reaching out and reaching far -- their effort to make a big difference in the lives of people they don't even know, people here in New Orleans and all through the Gulf -- that story when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: As we told you before the break, Saddam Hussein's trial was put on hold for one -- one more week, the latest act in a trial plagued by delays and murders.

While many Americans and Iraqis are eagerly anticipating the eventual verdict, if it comes, there remains the question as to whether it will have any effect on the violence in Iraq, on the insurgents.

Earlier, I spoke by phone with "TIME" magazine's Michael Ware, who is in Baghdad and has been on the ground with U.S. troops.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: In terms of the impact on the insurgency, what do you think that might be?

MICHAEL WARE, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": Look, Anderson, it is absolutely zero.

I mean, this is the thing about the whole trial. The trial is essentially circus. It is a three-ring circus. It is theater. I mean, this is for Western consumption. For the Iraqis, it means nothing. For the Iraqi Shia, for the Kurds, for anyone who had been touched by Saddam's regime, there's no question of guilt. There's no question of what should happen and what will happen.

COOPER: You were just embedded with a group, the Blue Platoon, up in Ramadi. An amazing statistic I read in your article that is in "TIME" magazine this week, one in three members of this platoon have either been killed or wounded since July. That's a remarkable statistic, a terrible statistic.

What was it like being embedded with them?

WARE: It really is one of the great front lines that remains of the Iraq war.

Their convoys get hit by IEDs. They get rocket-propelled grenades. They came under coordinated simultaneous attack on five U.S. bases at once. I mean, that's what it is like out there for these guys. And that is what it's like to be with them. I mean, I got off a helicopter, and I walked straight into a city-wide firefight.

COOPER: You write in your article, "The insurgents' ability to preserve and regenerate their forces is a hallmark of the war."

I mean, there have been thousands of insurgent fatalities, but you're saying they're -- they're able to just regenerate?

WARE: We are roughly looking at 15,000 to 20,000 fighting men in the field on any one given day. Now, the significant thing is that that 15,000 or 20,000 that's in the field, it takes at least six or eight people behind that man to put him into that field.

So, the support base is quite considerable. The real thing is that that 15,000 never changes. Despite everything that the coalition does, everything the military does, taking out Fallujah, taking out Samarra, taking out Tal Afar, all the disruptions that it causes to the insurgents, that number stays at 15,000, 20,000.

COOPER: We are starting to hear from this White House talk that the Iraqis maybe are doing better than we had previously thought. Their -- their security forces, their military is -- is maybe more ready than we had thought.

There are a lot people that say, well, look, that's just politics. They're just trying to say that to set the timetable for withdrawal. From what you're seeing, from what you're hearing from the troops you have been embedded with, do they have confidence in -- in the Iraqis they're training?

WARE: Whoever from the White House is saying that is one of two things. Clearly, they have never been in Iraq. And, clearly, they have never been in a firefight with an Iraqi unit.

Secondly, they're clearly lying, whether they know it or not. I mean, a very senior U.S. military intelligence officer, one of the most high-ranking in the country, just in the last few days, said to me, these Iraqi forces will never be in a position to be able to crush this insurgency.

On the ground here, no one has no any real illusions about that. I have been in battle with almost every type of Iraqi security force there is, from police commandos, to special forces, to 36 Commando, to the elite counterterrorism force akin to the Delta.

I have been with Kurds and Shia and Sunni. And I'm telling you, if the Iraqi security forces are the exit strategy, then get ready to be here for a long time. And your troops know that. They work with them side by side every day.

Yes, there are advances. Yes, there are gains. But will this military that's emerging here ever be able to replace the American military in Iraq? No.

COOPER: Michael Ware, it's a great article this week in "TIME."

Thanks very much.

WARE: Thanks very much, Anderson. Take care.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And, if you get the chance, you should read the article in "TIME" magazine this week by Michael Ware, embedded with the Blue Platoon in Ramadi. It's a remarkable account of just heroic efforts by these soldiers fighting back this insurgency.

Coming up next on 360, 2,000 miles from New Orleans, a class of schoolkids watched in disbelief the wreckage Katrina left behind, but then they did something about it. We are going to meet these remarkable kids and see how they are truly making a difference.

Also, a horrifying attack that seemed to come out of nowhere -- what caused a pack of dogs to maul a woman and then turn on the man who stopped to help her? We will talk to Jack Hanna on pack behavior.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome become. We are live in New Orleans. After Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, Americans reached deep into their pockets to help, donating close to $3 billion for disaster relief. Truly amazing. Many made donations by phone or online but some others took a different path.

This story begins nearly 2,000 miles from where we are in New Orleans in a place called Chico, California, where a group of school kids saw what many others lost so far away and decided they wanted to do something about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Parkview Elementary School in Chico, California is about as far from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans as you can get. There aren't any storm evacuees here. No kids with personal connections to the Gulf.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take a big breath in.

COOPER: But when Rita Dane's fifth grade students heard about Hurricane Katrina, saw kids like them on TV without homes, animals without food, they felt compelled to help. The students went from classroom to classroom, talking about the deadly storm. Collecting donations in mason jars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the jars were glittery and all that. It was cute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like to use glitter a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot. A lot.

COOPER: The change piled up. In just two weeks, this school of 375 kids collected $1482.50. But they weren't sure where to send the money so they turned to CNN.

SARA KRAATZ, 5TH GRADER: Dear Mr. Anderson Cooper. My name is Sara and I was the one who organized the funding for the Hurricane Katrina survivors.

TEAGUE CORNING, 5TH GRADER: When I heard it about the hurricane, it made me want to reach out through the TV and help those survivors really bad.

ATTY PIERCE, 5TH GRADER: We as a class decided we wanted all the money to go to the children and lost animals in Katrina and Rita.

KELSEY REED, 5TH GRADER: It is also very important that the animals get help because unlike people, they can't talk on their cell phone or yell for help.

MARCO CASTENADEZ, 5TH GRADER: Our teacher, Ms. Dane, trusts you to get the money where it is needed so please take care of things for us.

JADE BECKER, 5TH GRADER: Even though we couldn't win the award for bringing in the most money, I feel like I have already won. It's been one of my greatest accomplishments.

KRAATZ: Thank you very much. Sincerely, Sara.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the way down. Touch your toes.

COOPER: Last week, as Ms. Dane's fifth graders were getting ready for Thanksgiving break.

Hello.

I traveled to Chico to meet them. I asked them why they decided to raise money for children and animals affected by the storm.

NICOLE JOLLIFFEE, 5TH GRADER: A lot of people always kind of think, what was that what if that was my family that was stranded? You always think of -- you always think of it. You never really understand how tragic it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been to New Orleans before. And I saw some buildings and when I looked at the pictures, it was amazing how different it looked to me.

COOPER: What was New Orleans like when you went?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lively. Very fun. And lots of -- you could see how fun it was. In the peoples' faces. Now it's just devastated.

COOPER: It was 10-year-old Sara who came up with the fundraising plan.

KRAATZ: I -- I asked my dad, dad, there's so many people out there. And, I knew I couldn't just do it by myself. So I -- I just said it in class and the teacher said it would be a good idea to do it. And that's how it all started.

COOPER (on camera): But you weren't doing it in class. You were taking your own time after class and during lunch and stuff.

JONAH NILSSON, 5TH GRADER: A lot of people felt so bad they brought so much money. And, and I think that's how we raised a lot of it. Just by the people wanting to give.

REED: We counted it by hand all the money.

COOPER: Wow.

REED: It took like weeks to do.

COOPER (on camera): It's worth pointing out Chico is not a wealthy community. But that didn't stop the kids from giving what they could.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you think people who maybe don't have as much want to give a lot? Why do you think that?

CASTENADEZ: We couldn't possibly be in a worst situation than they are right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.

CASTENADEZ: So we -- we want to give as much as we possibly can.

COOPER: We promised Ms. Dane and the students to come to New Orleans and make sure the money went to kids and animals in need.

What kind of impact do you think this has on them, they followed this through and did it.

RITA DANE, 5TH GRADE TEACHER: I think one man boy said it made me tickle on the inside. And I think that kind of sums it up. I think all the kids felt tickled on the inside.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): I kind of feel tickled on the inside, too. Ahead, on 360, we will tell you who's getting some of the kids hard earned money and they wanted to help the homeless pets. We'll tell you how they are going to do just that and you'll meet some of the kids ahead.

Also, more wild weather out west. Plenty of clouds, no silver linings at all. 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back. We are live in New Orleans in the third district near the London Canal. As you just heard those big- hearted kids in Chico, California wanted half the money to go toward helping homeless animals here in New Orleans or the Gulf region. So we asked ourselves, do we know anyone that specializes in that thing? Someone, say, who has responded to the needs of stricken pets after two earthquakes, 15 fires, 14 floods, seven hurricanes, three oil spills, three tropical storms and a terrorist attack? Turns out, we do.

Her new organization is called Noah's Wish.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Terri Crisp arrived in Louisiana two days after Katrina hit and with a handful of volunteers, started rescuing pets that same day.

TERRI CRISP, NOAH'S WISH: The house she came out of had a good 6 to 7 feet of water in it and we found her in the laundry room.

COOPER: For weeks they worked around the clock, rescuing abandoned pets. Coordinating medical attention. Reuniting animals with their owners.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank you so much.

COOPER: In all, they saved nearly 2,000 animals. CRISP: These animals are real scared right now. For the majority of them, though they're extremely hungry and they're very grateful to see somebody.

COOPER: Crisp started her nonprofit group Noah's Wish in 2002. It's mission, rescue animals after disasters.

CRISP: There needs to be someone like us. A Red Cross for lack of a better explanation for animals.

COOPER: We first met terry in Sri Lanka after the tsunami.

CRISP: Since last week, we've done 5,000 dogs. We are putting the red collars on the dogs once they've been vaccinated so people know that these are animals that they don't need to be afraid of.

COOPER: Since Katrina, nearly 70 percent of the animals Terri's group rescued at home with their families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming home.

COOPER: Crisp has left the Gulf Coast but Noah's Wish has left its mark and donations are still being funneled to help animals in foster care and rebuild animal control facility in Slidell, Louisiana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (on camera): All right. So this is where live television comes in really handy. In a moment, you're going to meet some of the kids from Chico, California. But first, I'm here in New Orleans. Terri Crisp of Noah's Wish in Sacramento, California. She joins me tonight. Terri, good to see you.

CRISP: Good to see you, Anderson, too.

COOPER: And you brought an animal with you.

CRISP: Yeah, this is Tabasco, he's one of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. He was found on a washing machine in a house that flooded. And he, his sister, his mother and another dog all survived.

COOPER: You have been to so many of these disasters. How was Katrina different, do you think?

CRISP: I think it was different in that it took a long longer for rescues to take place, especially in New Orleans. We were really fortunate in Slidell to start the Wednesday following the hurricane. But the delay in other parts of the Gulf States that were affected, that resulted in a lot of animals not surviving, unfortunately.

COOPER: Now, Terri, we kind of brought you here under false circumstances. We didn't tell you exactly why we wanted you to come on tonight. There's a school in Chico, California. Some kids in a class to raise money to help people here in New Orleans and also animals. And they were looking -- they called CNN, asked us to send their checks to an organization to -- some organizations that were doing good work. So, we wanted their money, half of their money, some $725.50, I believe, to go to you. And we wanted the kids to actually meet you and be able to talk to you. So joining us on another satellite is teacher Rita Dane, with two of her fifth grade students, Atty Pierce and Sara Kraatz. Are you guys there?

DANE: Yes, we are.

KRAATZ: Hello.

PIERCE: Hello.

DANE: How are you?

COOPER: Terri, this is the group.

Oh, you guys are the best. This is so good.

KRAATZ: Hi.

PIERCE: Hi.

DANE: Hi.

CRISP: Do you like this, Tabasco?

COOPER: Now ...

CRISP: You're falling.

COOPER: Miss Dane, why do you think it was so important for the kids to do this?

DANE: I didn't come up with the idea, the students came up with the idea and I think that's what made it extra special. I was basically along for the ride, helping give them the time but it was their idea and so, I just wanted to -- I'm glad I was an instrument in their decision.

COOPER: So Sara, you came up with the idea. I know you talked to your dad about it. Why did you want to help animals?

KRAATZ: Well, I felt so sad for the people there. And I wanted to help them. Because I have so many things and they don't have anything that it would be so sad that I would have everything and they have none.

COOPER: And Atty, I know you had been to New Orleans before. What was it like when you were there before?

PIERCE: Lively. Very fun.

COOPER: Lively, yeah.

PIERCE: And very, very -- everything was so happy and now it is just gone.

COOPER: Do you have any questions for Terri or anything you want to know about what she does working with animals?

PIERCE: What was the oddest animal you ever found?

CRISP: Well, we actually did get an alligator. On this disaster which is the first one. It was actually a wild one. But we brought it to the shelter because we always suspected that we would see one in the disaster so thankfully, the alligator was relocated to somewhere where it will continue to be safe.

COOPER: Sara, how about you?

KRAATZ: Well, like, how many dogs and animals have you rescued?

CRISP: In Hurricane Katrina, it was almost 2,000 animals that came through our shelter. In addition to that, there were hundreds of animals that we distributed food to on a daily basis because their family didn't have the money to buy the food. We also gave out a lot of heartworm preventive. We gave out lots of dog toys and collars and beds and all kinds of things that people needed so that they could continue to care for their animals. In the homes that they were living in temporarily.

COOPER: Well, I want to thank you all for being with us. Terri, I want to thank you for all you've done and sending you a check. It is half the money that these kids raised. It took them weeks to do it. It is a small school and they really worked hard. So, I hope you put it to good use.

And kids, we'll see you later on in the next hour and find out where we're giving the rest of your money to, Atty and Sara and Rita, we'll talk to you soon. Thanks very much.

ATTY: Okay. Bye.

KRAATZ: Thank you.

COOPER: Bye. Coming up next -- isn't TV amazing sometimes? Coming up next on 360, more on the fight to save the animals left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. Three months later, if you believe it, the pet rescues go on here. We'll take you on one today.

And in the next hour of 360, a very different animal tale. A pack of dogs attacked an elderly woman. She was mowing her lawn when it happened. We will have the latest and talk with animal behavior expert Jack Hanna what you should do if you're ever in that situation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back. We are live in New Orleans. Terri Crisp and the people at Noah's Wish are hardly alone in saving the homeless pets. More than 18,000 people registered with the ASPCA to volunteer to help here and since the hurricane, the organization says some 15,000 dogs, cats and other animals have been rescued in the Gulf region.

CNN's Randi Kaye went in -- was just back from one animal rescue operation that happened not far from here. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDFENT (voice-over): This pit bull mix spent seven weeks locked in a bathroom. Her owners evacuated when Katrina hit and left her behind. Animal rescue volunteers found her and named her Bubbles.

HOLLY QUAGLIA, ANIMAL RESCUE NEW ORLEANS: I couldn't bear being home seeing that there was still animals needing to be rescued and not being able to do anything.

KAYE: Holly Quaglia quit her job in Virginia to join the independent rescue group that found the stranded pit bull. Animal Rescue New Orleans.

QUAGLIA: There is no denying that there are still hundreds upon thousands that are needing rescue. That families are still looking for and why we're here to make sure to bring the families back together again.

KAYE (on camera): Three months after the storm, how many dogs and cats really need to be rescued is a bone of contention between out of state volunteer groups and the Louisiana SPCA. It's estimated 250,000 dogs and cats may have been left behind by their owners; 15,000 of them have been rescued including this little one from underneath a house. Thousands more likely died. But that would still leave as many as 200,000 pets unaccounted for.

(voice-over): Pets like Smoky the cat.

ROBERTS JOHNSON, LOST CAT IN KATRINA: This is not just a cat. This is Smoky. Smoky is a part of the family. And we're going to find him sooner or later.

KAYE: But Laura Maloni (ph) says even with so many animals missing, the SPCA has a problem under control.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're hearing thousands of starving animals but we're not seeing thousands of starving animals.

KAYE: Still, Quaglia's group claims it knows of 3,000 locations where animals have been reported hiding under porches and homes.

QUAGLIA: These are not imaginary animals that we're off the streets. These are animals with collars and tags. These are peoples' family members and they have every right to get their animal back as part of the family.

KAYE: Oh, look. There's a puppy. You're stuck in with the kitties.

QUAGLIA: Maloney says volunteers mean well but have been criticized for breaking into abandoning homes to rescue animals and for not having proper training. LAURA MALONEY, LOUISIANA SPCA: Animals were aggressive like a volunteer put a fighting pit bull into a fence with two other dogs and that dog promptly killed the other two.

KAYE: Still, Holly Quaglia and her team plan to stay until as she puts, the SPCA really has control of the city.

QUAGLIA: The fact of the matter is there's still a problem and there's a solution. And that's getting these animals off the streets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE (on camera): And this little dog here is Anderson's new best friend. This is a cocker spaniel mix, Anderson. She was found November 6th in the area of Algiers and has no teeth. Blind in one eye. She is 8 years old. She is actually open for adoption. But she needs a special needs home because of some of her medical conditions.

COOPER: Did you say some 200,000 animals may still be out there? I find that impossible to believe.

KAYE: We did too, and we checked and every organization that we checked with actually gave us the same numbers because it is hard to believe but they do actually estimate that maybe 250,000 pets left behind by owners here in New Orleans and given how many may have been died in the storm and how many actually might have been rescued they're thinking about 200,000 unaccounted for.

COOPER: And people can go to petfinder.com.

KAYE: Yep. Petharbor.com or petfinder.com and look for pets they lost or adopt some that have been lost.

COOPER: All right Randi. Thanks.

KAYE: Want this one?

COOPER: I wish I could.

KAYE: You're on the road too much for this one.

COOPER: Thanks very much, Randi. Amazing to think so many animals out there.

Other stories elsewhere tonight, including an especially troubling one out of the Texas, a woman completely different kind of animal story. A woman set upon and killed by a pack of dogs. How could it happen? And how can you keep it from happening to you? The report and some potentially life-saving tips from animal expert Jack Hanna coming up a bit later on the program.

On the radar for tomorrow, let's take a look with hurricane season finally coming to an end, questions about exactly what happened. These punishing the few months and the question being asked is, could the government have done more and will it be able to do enough next time? Tom Foreman is keeping them honest tomorrow. And remember, Jack Abramoff? The lobbyist at the center of an investigation into bribery, corruption and perhaps even more - is it Abramoff? What is it? Abramoff. There you go. I'll get it right by tomorrow.

His one-time partner cut a deal with the government. Imagine that. What he's saying and could be implicated. We'll tell you about that. Reports today that a dozen U.S. lawmakers, perhaps more, in a legal cross hairs. Imagine that. A dozen lawmakers. We'll show you where the investigation stands and where it is going next.

And with hundreds of enemy attacks still happening every week on the ground in Iraq, we're going to revisit perhaps the most important front in the war -- the one here at home. Our John King visits a part of the country where support for the president and the war always runs high but now is it a different story? We'll take a look. Stories in the headlines tomorrow, perhaps a long time to come. All on the radar tonight.

Next, though, on 360, a lethal kiss linked to peanut butter. Poison apparently on the lips of a boyfriend.

Plus, what are surely among the most famous few square blocks of earth, the French Quarter in New Orleans, Bourbon Street. The intersection of the past and future. From New Orleans and around the world, this is 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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