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Clapton, Connick on King 'help' show

CNN special an effort to link viewers, missing, relief efforts

Eric Clapton with John Mayer: 'See the water lie on the ground, from where the heavens opened.'



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(CNN) -- Before the end of his first stanza, Eric Clapton plied melody into the horror that victims of Hurricane Katrina faced.

See the water lie on the ground, from where the heavens opened

From his stool on the set of "Larry King Live," Clapton lent his talent Saturday night to King's celebrity-chocked fundraiser for people who survived the wrath of the Category 4 storm that strafed southern Florida and ravaged the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Clapton, actor John Goodman, country-crooner LeAnn Rimes, Clay Aiken of American Idol fame and entertainer Bill Cosby participated in the first part of the 3-hour "How You Can Help" special.

Holding a child's doll, Cosby begged urgently for aid.

"We need your money now," he said. "Please don't wait. We need it now."

Celine Dion appeared via satellite on the show after pledging $1 million. Diminishing her gift, Dion said fresh drinking water is more meaningful than her cash and issued stinging criticism of the federal response.

"There's people still there waiting to be rescued. To me that is not acceptable," she yelled. "I know they have reasons for it. But I don't want to hear those reasons. ... How can it be so easy to send planes in another country to kill everybody in a second and destroy lives. We need to serve our country."

Thousands still wait for evacuation from flooded, filthy New Orleans, while residents in the remote towns between there and Mobile, Alabama, hope the death in the metropolis won't dwarf their devastation.

Lord, how will you get through this night with your dreams departed? And who alone will comfort you?

Sela Ward, Magic Johnson, Terri Hatcher and Richard Simmons are among those committed to put their fame and time behind King's cause.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and charity organization officials are participating to give guidance on relief efforts.

Other guests included: Marty Evans, Red Cross CEO and president; Nick MacDonald, senior program officer of Mercy Corps; Jonathan Reckford, pastoral leader for Habitat for Humanity; Maj. George Hood, national community relations secretary of the Salvation Army; Bob Forney, president and CEO of America's Second Harvest; John Hill of the National Next of Kin Registry; Nancy Aossey, president and CEO of the International Medical Corp.; and Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard.

International compassion prompted the cable network to prepare the special, its president said.

"People here and around the globe have been overwhelmed by Katrina's destructive wake, and they want to know how they can help," said Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S.

The program provided viewers with phone numbers, Web sites and other contacts for organizations assisting in the relief effort.

And former President Bill Clinton called the show to express his faith in the country's generosity.

"They are always there when you need them," Clinton said. "They're always there. The rich are, the poor are, the middle-class are. We're coming forward."

When the wind blows down this hard, many a bond is broken

Authorities said that they have evacuated some 42,000 people from New Orleans proper by bus, air and Amtrak trains. They also said that three Carnival cruise ships were on their way to the area to serve as temporary housing. Most of the evacuees have been moved to shelters in Texas.

King's special included refugees who are seeking kin they lost.

Among them was Sanika Whitley who was looking for her dad, who decided to stay in New Orleans. During 2004, the family had evacuated for storms that never brought harm. He thought leaving again would be wasted time, Whitley said.

"We tried to tell him that we felt in our heart that this was going to be the big one," but he ignored their intuition she said.

Connick urged viewers to remember the need for houses and to donate to Habitat for Humanity to provide victims with a place to live.

And who alone will enter there, only the broken hearted

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