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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Helicopter Goes Down in New Orleans, Light Injuries Reported; National Guard Begin Recovery of Bodies; Congress Begins "Blame Game"
Aired September 7, 2005 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, HOST: The mayor of New Orleans says time is up for people who stayed through the storm. They've got to go. But will they?
It is 4:00 p.m. now in the West, 7:00 p.m. on the East, 6:00 p.m. in Louisiana.
360 starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police, open up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: New Orleans survivors refuse to leave. The mayor says it's unsafe, they must. But U.S. troops on hand refuse to force them out. As for the police, for now, they are overwhelmed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once all the voluntary evacuees are evacuated, then we will enforce the mandatory evacuation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the struggle to get people out of a city becoming more dangerous every day.
People who lost everything never gave up on finding their best friends. Tonight, we go on a rescue, and watch as families somehow find those they had to leave behind.
It's been called a toxic gumbo, water in the streets of New Orleans, a cesspool of bacteria, viruses, and gasoline. And now it's getting pumped into Lake Pontchartrain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything that went into the sewers, hazardous material from industry, feces, et cetera, et cetera, is all in the sewers, and now it's all in a toxic soup.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, Anderson teams up with doctors to test the waters.
And, America's Atlantis. A Louisiana parish reclaimed by the sea. Those who lived there and died here may be missing forever. Tonight, we look at the city that's simply disappeared.
This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, Hurricane Katrina, Mission Critical.
HILL: Good evening, everyone. I am Erica Hill in Atlanta, sitting in at this moment for Anderson Cooper. He's in New Orleans, we'll check in with him as soon as possible.
We want to get you caught up (INAUDIBLE) no, now, on a story that is happening right at this moment. We are just learning about some gruesome discoveries right outside New Orleans. The bodies of 25 to 30 people have been found in a flooded-out nursing home. Still unclear what happened to the staff.
Our Soledad O'Brien, though, is standing by there with more on the story. Soledad?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on phone): Hey, Erica.
You're absolutely right, it certainly is gruesome. And I can actually update those numbers for you. We're now being told by the sheriff of St. Bernard County -- Parish, rather, excuse me, that the number of deaths in the 30-plus region, he says. He confirmed for us that this is a nursing home, St. Regis. We're actually standing right in front of it, a massive of water still, probably two or three feet of water surrounds the nursing home, which is quite a large complex. People have estimated for us about 100 nursing home patients would have been inside at the time.
The sheriff told us that he thought about 40 people had been successfully evacuated. It's unclear, though, what happened with the remaining 30 or more who were not able to get out. The water, clearly more than eight feet high at this nursing home, because we can see in the parking lot, or what looks to be a parking lot, there's just a bunch of cars sort of parked around. But, again, we got a lot of water here. And a lot of the debris in the grass and the ground has been piled on top of those vehicles.
The water obviously came up very high, and it had disastrous consequences for the people inside this nursing home. The nursing home is a facility for the elderly, and it's taken (INAUDIBLE) -- it is really giving a huge hit to a community that is utterly devastated.
As we drive down these (INAUDIBLE), there is nothing. I mean, just mile after mile after mile of homes destroyed. We rode over with a sheriff's deputy from the St. Bernard Parish. And he said -- I said, What percentage of your parish still stands? I mean, how many homes are still viable? And he said, We've lost 100 percent, 100 percent. And from what we can see, that's true.
He drove by and pointed out for us too his own home, utterly destroyed, absolutely destroyed. So you have a circumstance where people here have lost everything. And they've been continuing to work on the recovery.
Erica, earlier today, earlier this afternoon, we had the DEMORT team, the recovery team we're in. They brought in big refrigerated trucks to bring those bodies out. Those bodies then identified after they were recovered, and they will eventually go off to the morgue. And then they're trying to, of course, match up the remains with family members, so at least they can give some information to family members.
So just a disastrous scene here in what you can tell was once a very quite lovely community. Just ravaged, just wrecked. The trees are down. The water's high. It's a mess.
HILL: It's just a horrific picture. Soledad, thanks so much. We'll be checking with -- in with you again a little bit later.
We want to turn now to Anderson Cooper, who is standing by in New Orleans. Anderson, can you hear me?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erica, I can. And thanks for a, we had a little bit of a technical problem. As you can imagine here, it is a very difficult city to operate in.
We are actually on an off-ramp on I-10 West by Tulane Street. As you can see behind me, it is completely flooded. They have actually rescued, really, the technical problem is that we were late in setting up, because they have been rescuing people out of here all day. They've rescued some 30 people from this spot. There are still more people out there, if you can believe it when you see those waters, still more people out there in homes that they have been hunkered down in now for more than a week.
And they are finally, people are finally getting out. I mean, this city is going to have to evacuate. It's going to have to drain. And it is going to have to get cleaned. It is a very tense time right now. There are choppers in the air. There are heavy military and police presence on the streets.
But there are people in their homes who have not wanted to leave, because they've had their pets. And all along, the rescuers have told them, Look, you can't bring your animals on these choppers. They are now finally changing their tune on that one. We've seen a lot of evacuees today with their pets, with their cats and their dogs, being allowed onto choppers. And that's encouraging the holdouts.
But who knows how many people still remain in homes alive, waiting to get out?
CNN's Ted Rowlands takes a look not only at what is going on here in New Orleans right now, but what is going on all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the entire disaster region.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been nine days since Katrina cut a devastating path across the Gulf Coast. And in New Orleans, there is yet another controversy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a mandatory evacuation in place.
ROWLANDS: The city's police chief, under orders from the mayor, says officers will soon begin to remove residents who stayed behind after the storm from their homes, by force, if necessary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once all the volunteer evacuations have taken place, then we'll concentrate our efforts and our forces to mandatorily evacuating individuals.
ROWLANDS: But the man in charge of military operations on the ground there, General Russell Honore, says his troops won't make anyone move. They'll leave that to law enforcement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, how you doing there?
ROWLANDS: The National Guard was out patrolling the streets today, handing out humanitarian aid to those left behind, bringing military-style meals and kind words to some seeking refuge on Bourbon Street.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police, open up! Anybody home? (INAUDIBLE).
ROWLANDS: While Border Patrol agents joined in the search for survivors, always mindful of the danger that could be waiting behind each door, as sporadic gunfire is still heard around the city.
COOPER: The situation's changing here very quickly. You're watching it right now. They have been rescuing people from this location all day long. There's a Coast Guard helicopter. These guys have been doing tremendous work over the last eight or nine days.
They are now hovering, they may actually land in this location. There have been reports that there are other evacuees, some people maybe even in a nursing home, although that point, it is not yet known (INAUDIBLE). We're not sure what's going to happen.
Basically, often what happens is that the helicopters will land, take the evacuees to the Convention Center...
HILL: And we have just lost Anderson Cooper's signal. As soon as we get that back up, we're going to take you back to him there in New Orleans.
But in the meantime, we want to take you to Plaquemines Parish. It's Louisiana's southernmost stretch of territory, an 845-square-mile peninsula. Down the middle flows the Mississippi River, which drains into the Gulf of Mexico.
As CNN's Gary Tuchman reports, for Hurricane Katrina, it was easy prey.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Route 23, the main road in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, a road that is now being used by the vessels of the sea.
Southeast of New Orleans, sticking out into the bayou, most of Plaquemines now looks like the lost continent of Atlantis, the houses, the businesses, the parks, the memories of life under water.
Three bodies have been recovered here, but dozens of people who are not believed to have evacuated are still missing. The search for them is taking place with local police and the military.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think overall, I mean, we will have our share of the loss. Now, exactly how much that will be. I wouldn't have a clue.
TUCHMAN: Many people have been rescued, including crusty John Woodward, who realizes he's lucky.
JOHN WOODWARD, PLAQUEMINES PARISH RESIDENT: Well, the more you think about it, if you keep thinking about it, you'll go clean insane. Thirty-foot waves are not fun.
TUCHMAN (on camera): This parish is 67 miles long, from the outskirts of New Orleans in the north, to the mouth of the Mississippi in the south. It's the bottom two-thirds of the parish, the part behind me, that became submerged after Hurricane Katrina arrived.
(voice-over): What you see here is surreal and depressing. Shirts still hanging in the closet of a house that is destroyed, caskets that have washed up from cemeteries and floated away, confused cattle hunting for the last pieces of dry land, and a truck, somehow perfectly balanced on an air-conditioning vent.
Russell Gainy (ph) owns an excavating company and volunteers for the sheriff's department. His home and business are gone. He uses his bulldozer, which was spared, to do his small part in the huge cleanup effort.
RUSSELL GAINY, PLAQUEMINES PARISH RESIDENT: It's just -- everything is just leveled. It's like a bomb went off.
TUCHMAN: The water levels are receding and will continue to do so. But the damage is immense.
As the search continues for the dead, the New Mexico National Guard comes across a VFW hall on the water, with Old Glory and a Vietnam POW flag still flying proudly. They present the flags to the nephew of the treasurer of the post.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The building's still there? Look at all this catastrophe. It's unbelievable.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Getting those flags must make you feel good, though.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Mississippi River barges are on land. And towns like Home Place are now places in the sea. Life has given all here a detour.
SOPHIA CHOI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that, of course, was Gary Tuchman reporting.
We wanted to bring you Gary live, but he's with Anderson Cooper, where the helicopters are flying right now. And that scene is making our satellite signal a bit unstable. So as soon as we get their signal back, we're going to take you back to Anderson Cooper. But we do want you to know that both of them are safe.
In the meantime, we'll try to carry on from here in Atlanta.
360 next, spinning the storm. The White House on damage control. Can it rebound?
And a little later, the children, having to start over in a new school, in a new town. Two high school students share their emotions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I still cry every day and every night, because living in the Superdome, the six days we lived in there, I mean, people saw what was going on on the outside, they didn't see the inside, because we were there for six days. And it's a pain that won't go away, you know. And, I mean, my children just cried. They never been through anything before. And things that they saw, it really hurt them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHOI: Well, you know the old saying, success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan?
Well, it's true. An awful lot of politicians seem very busy just now denying paternity of the mess that followed the disaster on the Gulf Coast. Evidently, New Orleans isn't the only place that needs to be pumped out.
CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash reports from Washington.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What you're seeing is a White House in full-fledged damage control.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The delivery of those government services and benefits to the people who have been affected, that's a high priority for us right now. And the immediate cash assistance, Medicaid benefits, other health care benefits, and child care, Food Stamps.
BASH: Laundry lists of actions and activity from a Bush team battling scathing allegations it was asleep at the switch. Presidential meetings, disaster zone visits by a myriad of officials promising help. The message, they are now on top of it.
But even Bush allies are quietly asking, Why did such an experienced political team seem so slow to understand the devastation of the storm, and potential damage to the president?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: This has not been a graceful time for -- or a time of genuine leadership of the kind he displayed in the first term. And it's a puzzle, I think it's a mystery.
BASH: Privately, Bush sources do concede several early missteps, from a visible FEMA director appearing out of touch, to a president claiming not to know what others did, New Orleans has long been at risk.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.
BASH: Now, the strategy is quite different. Admit the obvious. Aid didn't come fast enough.
MCCLELLAN: That's unacceptable to the president.
BASH: But refuse for now to answer whether the administration is at fault. Like, did the president shortchange funding at key agencies? Or has the focus on terrorism lowered disaster relief as a priority? Or even possibly put it in inexperienced hands?
BUSH: One of the things that people want us to do here is to play a blame game. (INAUDIBLE), we got to solve problems.
BASH: That's for public consumption. But privately, there is a blame game. Administration officials are telling reporters local government was too slow to respond. To make that point, the White House relies on friends.
REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: I remind you that the emergency response system was set up to work from the bottom up.
BASH: Now, the White House hopes new images of strength and grateful locals...
MAYOR RAY NAGIN (D), NEW ORLEANS: ... and I want to thank the president...
BASH: ... and words of support from early critics will reverse the stings of last week.
The president's leadership was criticized in the days after 9/11 too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, September 2001)
BUSH: I can hear you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: But that all turned around with a trip to the rubble. The problem for the president now...
GERGEN: There was no bullhorn moment here in the early days.
BASH (on camera): The White Houses knows a key difference, perhaps, between 9/11 and now may be their biggest challenge. And that is, then, Americans had an enemy to blame. Now, it may be just the government, and a president who promised to be prepared and to protect them, Sophia.
CHOI: And, in fact, a recent poll shows the public blaming Mother Nature at most. Dana, thanks.
Also at stake, the reputations of other politicians and their opinions of one another. When we spoke with Democratic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu last week about the pace of the relief efforts, she sounded more or less satisfied with what was being done in Washington and elsewhere.
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: I know what the people are suffering. The governor knows, the president knows, the military officials know. And they're trying to do the very best they can to stabilize the situation. Senator Vitter, our congressional delegation, all of us understand what is happening. We are doing our very, very best to get the situation under control.
But I want to thank the president. He will be here tomorrow, we think. And the military is sending assets as we speak.
CHOI: But those assets were a long time coming. And when the fingerpointing began, with federal officials responding to criticism directed at them by blaming Louisiana state and local officials for the problems on the ground, Senator Landrieu took offense.
LANDRIEU: If one person criticizes them or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me. One more word about it, after this show airs, and I -- I might likely have to punch him, literally.
But their infrastructure, our infrastructure, is devastated. Their lives are in shatters. The region is torn to pieces. Would the president please stop taking photo ops, and please come see what I'm trying to show him?
CHOI: Now, on the other hand, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has remained a staunch supporter of the president from the very beginning. No rise and fall in his feelings. GOV. HALEY BARBOUR (R), MISSISSIPPI: We're going to have about 9,000 National Guard by the end of the day today. Our sister states have been fabulous. The federal government's been fabulous. In our state, they have worked and worked and worked.
CHOI: Now, we have repeatedly asked the governor to appear on this program, but he has declined each and every time.
And next on 360, the pets that were left behind. We'll look at some animal survivors and what owners are now doing to try to track them down.
Also tonight, a surprise discovery while touring New Orleans's murky waters. How our investigation of filthy sewage turned into a search and rescue effort.
COOPER: We are live here in New Orleans, an off-ramp off I-10 West.
There has been, we believe, a helicopter down. The Coast Guard came here, they landed their chopper.
I just want to show you a T-shirt that is being held up behind me, "God Help Us All." That is being held up by an officer from Destin Springs, Louisiana, who has come here to save lives, to help people. And he is saying, "God help us all." He doesn't want to talk on camera, but I think his T-shirt says an awful lot. He's saying all of us.
And there are a lot of people here who are angry, who are frustrated about the lack of coordination, about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. And that's a man I've talked to quite a bit over the last couple days. We just happened to run into each other, and he just wanted to hold up that T-shirt to send you all a message about what is happening here and what he believes is happening here and what he is seeing on the ground.
He shows up to locations, tries to help, gets told, No, you're -- y'all aren't needed here. He's got a bunch of boats, he's ready to go. He's ready to save some lives. He just goes out on his own, there's no one coordinating him, there's no one really helping him. He's just going out on his own. So there's a lot of anger, and there's a lot of frustration.
We just saw -- the reason we disappeared for a while, I mean, these things happen here. We saw what we believe was a chopper going down a short time ago. Four rescue boats are now in the water. Coast Guard landed two helicopters here right by our live shot position and blew us off the air. But, you know, hey, that's OK. We want those people to get to the boats as quickly as possible.
The guys from Destin Springs just landed. There's no communication. I mean, these guys just landed, they had boats, they could have gotten there, but they didn't know that a, you know, a chopper had even gone down near here.
Gary Tuchman was covering this. He ran over to check it out. What do you know... I'm going to put you on my mike here. I'm not sure which of these mikes work? What do you know about what just, what happened?
TUCHMAN: (INAUDIBLE) highly sophisticated (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: Yes, I know. What, what just happened? We were blown off the air. You and I were talking, yammering on. What happened?
TUCHMAN: Here's what we know. Helicopter definitely went down. We still don't know what type of helicopter, but there is some encouraging news. We've just been told that these officers -- that the injuries are light at most. Nothing serious. We don't know how many people were aboard. But there are either no injuries to some of the people, or light injuries, but no major injuries.
COOPER: That is certainly good news.
I don't know how much of you saw when we were on the air, because, frankly, we lost all communications, so we just kept on talking. Two choppers landed, two Coast Guard helicopters. The reason it is quiet now, they have now gone up. We assume, if there are any injuries, and of they are serious enough, those people will be evacuated.
Most likely -- I mean, there's a triage unit over by the Convention Center. They can be dropped off there. They could also be taken to Baton Rouge.
There is now a system in place, but, you know, to be quite honest, for the last seven days, there hasn't been this system in place. It was only once the military really arrived.
TUCHMAN: Well, the complicating factor too, Anderson, is, we are on a ramp over Interstate 10. Behind us is water, in front of us is water. And the helicopter landed in water, so they couldn't get to them right away. Several boats went out very quickly. But the news they've just told these officers is that the injuries are definitely not serious.
COOPER: Well, that is certainly good news. I mean, these helicopters, you know, they're just -- the men and women who have been flying them and been crews on them have just been doing heroic work. And, you know, we'll try to get an update before the end of the program tonight to find out exactly what happened to those guys. We actually saw the chopper kind of going down in a sickening pattern.
But I'm not even sure if that was a chopper, so I don't want to say much more than that. We'll try to get you information.
CNN's Adaora Udoji, they've been rescuing people all day long, Evacuees, people who didn't want to leave their homes, largely because of their animals. They were always told they couldn't evacuate their animals. That is slowly changing. CNN's Adaora Udoji went out with some rescuers who are specifically targeting animals. Take a look.
ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pat Boezman's (ph) living one nightmare after another. Her city's flooded. Now, she's frantically searching emergency animal shelters for her two dogs.
PAT BOEZMAN, PET OWNER: Nicky, no, that's not him. That's not him.
UDOJI: On New Orleans' waterlogged streets, you can hear the dogs for miles. They are trapped on boats, rooves, porches surrounded by blackened, putrid water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One block that way is General Persian (ph).
UDOJI: But the cavalry, led by Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has teams from as far away as Boston tracking them down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have an address on your list. It's a Forette (ph) Street address, Forette Vet Clinic?
UDOJI: Chief Craig Warren sent his four teams out with inflatable rafts, armed with a handful of hundreds of addresses pet owners have called in. The work's hot and painstaking for this volunteer San Diego team we followed. The first dog we see, a Labrador mix, is not on their list, so they keep going. The dog follows us four blocks to the team's first address, where they find nothing. So they pick the dog up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, oh, good boy.
UDOJI: The lucky Labrador turns out to be a female.
The next dog doesn't come so easily. The team says he's scared and hungry. The situation escalates quickly.
(on camera): That little terrier didn't want to go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no. And sometimes you just -- you can't get them.
UDOJI (voice-over): But they keep going, because they do save so many animals. The team's rescued two dozen this day, which are sent 50 miles north to the Lamar Dixon Center, where every day, hundreds of people come looking, some, like this man, forced to leave his pet when he was evacuated.
It's a sweet reunion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glad I came and got you, huh, boy? I know he's happy, too.
UDOJI (on camera): Who do you think is happier, him or you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both. Probably both.
UDOJI (voice-over): So far, 600 animals have rolled in, dogs, cats, pigs, surprisingly, most in good shape, say animal workers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a very long day. We start -- we're out of here by 7:00, and we don't go home until after midnight.
UDOJI: Louisiana's director expects more than 2,000 animals. That's more pets, more horses, more mules. They can barely keep up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifteen trucks going in. We could use, you know, 100, really.
UDOJI: The rescued Labrador from earlier comes in on one of them. Like all animals, she's photographed, checked, then decontaminated. So dehydrated, she laps up her shower. All stations fully manned.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm volunteering to help the animals.
UDOJI (on camera): Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's a fun thing to do, and to help save them.
UDOJI (voice-over): Dozens of volunteers are caring for the animals, feeding them from tons of donated pet food.
But a crushed Pat Boezman doesn't find her dogs here.
(on camera): You must be a little disappointed.
BOEZMAN: Yes, but I hope they're (INAUDIBLE).
UDOJI (voice-over): She moves on, driven by her faith her family pets will be found.
UDOJI: Now, Anderson, animal rescue workers are trying to expedite reunions. The pictures they're taking of pets, they're putting them on the Web site at www.petfinder.com. Or you can call Louisiana officials. They know well that for many people in this area, the pet, the family pet, may be the only thing they're left with after this terrible disaster, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Adaora, thanks very much.
We just -- again, the guys Destin Springs, Louisiana, don't want to appear on camera, but, you know, like a lot of people, probably pretty frustrated. They just handed me this shirt, which they found on a porch, someone they'd evacuated. It says, "Pump Me Out." Someone had written that as a sign on their shirt.
They also wrote, "Hotel Rwanda" on it. Hotel Rwanda. It gives you a sense of the conditions they felt they have been living in for the last couple of days. Just a shirt they found on a porch.
When we come back, we'll have a lot more on the conditions here. What we are seeing. Some of the outrage on the ground. And also this chopper going down in the water, light injuries we are told. We are trying to get more information. It is literally happening as we speak. The responders have gone out to it. We'll be right back with more on that.
COOPER: Welcome back. We are watching rescue and recovery efforts underway. We are told the injuries are light. That's CNN's Gary Tuchman going out in our boat to try to get to the scene. We sent a cameraman with him, also a phone to see if he can bring us any live reports.
Again, at this point, we are told the injuries are light. We do not know what type of chopper, what service was involved in this. But we are certainly going to continue.
There's a Coast Guard helicopter, as you can see, hovering. There's a number of helicopters in this area. Two of them had just landed on this off ramp just a short time ago. And a number of local the guys from Destin Springs Fire Department and paramedics search and rescue have gone as well. So, we will try for an update as quickly as we can.
There has been among -- among first responders here on the ground, I think we showed you a bit earlier, a lot of frustration. And they are hearing things out of Washington. A lot will speak to my privately, they don't want to appear on camera, but they are hearing things out of Washington of people -- the blame game, I think, everyone calls it. Democrats and Republicans sort of pointing the finger at one another. The federals pointing fingers at state and local officials. And there's a lot of finger pointing going on.
I want to show you some comments that Representative Tom DeLay made last night. And then tell you about what some of the responses on the ground here have been to those comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM DELAY, (R-TX) HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: I remind you that the emergency response system was set up to work from the bottom up. And it's the local officials trying to handle the problem, when they can't handle the problem, they go to the state. And the state does what they can do, and if they need assistance from FEMA and the federal government, they ask for it. And it's delivered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Congressman Tom DeLay last night.
COOPER: How frustrating is it for you to hear people in Washington, now, from the federal government, criticizing -- or in Congress criticizing state and local officials?
GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO, LOUISIANA: They know not of what they speak.
COOPER: So it's frustrating?
BLANCO: It's frustrating.
COOPER: Is it, I mean, is it unfair, do you think? I mean, because, every first responder I've talked to, I was just out with Dr. Henderson you spoke with a little bit earlier, he was outraged and says, look, there were people here on the ground who took matters into their own hands and did things when the federal government wasn't doing things. Is that your experience? Is that what you saw?
BLANCO: Well, you know, I think that we expect that of ourselves. But we expect help to follow quickly. And I guess that was where the frustration came in.
You know, we are pretty tough, stable people. We know how to take care of ourselves, even in an emergency. But you know, you need help to be able to sustain it. And in the volume, the magnitude of the problem, you know, it was really more than could be expected to sustain in primitive conditions.
COOPER: The hurricane was a natural disaster. What's happened since? Is that a man-made disaster?
BLANCO: Well, you know, there are a lot of heroic stories in what's happened since. And, I mean, we had a slow beginning, let's say in a lot of ways -- or not as fast as we would have liked it. But, it's all coming into play.
I'm beginning to feel fresh air coming in. You know, I'm beginning to feel a little bit relief. I know that there's still a lot of work to do. Families have to be reunited. People have to be cared for.
COOPER: What about these bodies? I mean, there are so many bodies out there in the water. And they are just floating on the water.
BLANCO: That's our next challenge. And I mean, it's ongoing right now. They are being recovered.
COOPER: But we haven't seen many people picking up these bodies, why?
BLANCO: Um, you know, everybody's still looking for the living. And there are details that are being organized as we speak to go recover the dead. And we have to remember that we have to respect these people who are family members. They have loved ones everywhere. It's -- it's just a nightmare for them and for us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They not helping us. No kind of Red Cross, FEMA, nothing. All I'm saying is we need help, sir. We don't have nothing. We need doctors. We need everything. Why lie to us and get our hopes up high? Talking about we getting all kinds of benefits and stuff. We not getting anything? We have a baby and everything with us. All I'm saying, we need help. Stop lying to us telling us we are getting all kinds of thing, that we are not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Some of the frustration and just white hot anger that you are hearing here on the streets of New Orleans. The Coast Guard helicopter, the third one to land there during this program has just landed and taken off again. We've sent CNN's Gary Tuchman out in the boat to try get to the downed helicopter try to find out what the situation is there. The last he had heard, the injuries were light. That is certainly good news. But all day long, these helicopters have just been circling, landing, dropping down crew members. Trying to literally hold on to people in bringing them up to safety. They are trying to -- they have got to evacuate the city. And that's what they are trying to do now. We are going to be seeing that for the next couple of days. CNN's Rick Sanchez went out, found some evacuees who simply do not want to leave.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After days of debate and confusion about mandatory evacuation, New Orleans police officials now tell CNN they are willing to remove people from their homes by force if necessary.
(on camera): Are you willing or ready to consider the option of having to literally physically extricate someone from their home?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are. Yes.
SANCHEZ: You are willing to do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are, yes.
SANCHEZ (voice over): It's estimated some 10,000 squatters remain in these neighborhoods reclaimed first by swamp water, and now by the government. The most resolute of residents say they are not willing to give in to either one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And as far as the law goes, I think that we actually do have a right to be here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you get out, you can't get back in. And everybody talking about evacuating. What do you do when your money runs out? I mean if you are here, you know how you are going to survive. SANCHEZ: The reasons for staying are varied. Some are simply too anxiety-riddled to move. Others, afraid they'll lose what little they have left. Still, others say, what the government is offering is no better than what they have now. Police say the reasons don't matter.
(on camera): Would they be under arrest at that point?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. We are going to take them and we are going to bring them to the location where we are evacuating people. We are going to put them on the chopper and get them out in safe.
SANCHEZ (voice over): National Guard units under the direction of Lieutenant General Russell Honore have gone a long way in restoring order in a city that just a week ago was considered lawless. But when it comes to pulling or starving people out of their homes, Honore tells CNN that's not going to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody in there? State police. Hello?
SANCHEZ: So it falls into the hands of local police to first try and coax squatters with warnings about the dangers of diseases that lurk in these waters, but if that doesn't work, they'll use force. And they're telling CNN they'll do it before the waters recede.
(on camera): Has anyone to this point been forcibly extricated from their home, yet?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
SANCHEZ: But you are now willing to do it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the coming day, yes.
SANCHEZ (voice over): Officers we talk to say they don't feel good about using force on fellow residents. But they say given how rancid and dangerous conditions are about to get, they'll undertake it as a mission to save lives. Even if those that are being moved don't see it that way.
SANCHEZ (on camera): Whether removed forcibly or otherwise this is likely the place where they will be helicoptered into, Louis Armstrong Airport just outside of New Orleans. One thing is still uncertain though. After our conversation with police officials today, they are still not sure, I should say, whether federal officials in the form of the National Guard will be assisting. And if so, how closely? The police spokesman I talked to seemed to intimate though, that he expects that they'll be there. We'll be following it. Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Yes. Definitely something to follow. Rick, thanks very much for that.
When we come back, we're going to talk to a doctor who we booked for earlier in the show on a completely different subject who has just been trying to help out with this rescue effort underway for a downed shopper. We'll have the latest from him when we return.
COOPER: We have had quite a dramatic hour here. Dr. Greg Henderson we had planned to talk to on another subject earlier in the program. A chopper went down nearby here. Being the good doctor that he is. He went out to help out, see what he could do.
DR. GREGORY HENDERSON, PATHOLOGIST: It looks like a civilian helicopter went down on top of a house. broke in half. Both of the people, the pilot and the passenger are OK. They had a Blackhawk rescue helicopter come in and then take both the pilots out and evac them out. However, the draft from the evac helicopter drove one of the military air boats into the water, and dumped a bunch of the military guys into that filthy water. So we spent a lot of time fishing them out.
COOPER: Let's talk about this water. I mean, how bad is it? CDC says its got high levels of E. coli. What else does it have?
HENDERSON: This water has got everything. This water is not only -- I mean, we've been talking about infectious organisms. Everything that lives in your colon is out here flourishing in this heat. Everything, every bacteria that you could probably think of you could probably culture out here. I think, right when I was out there for the first time experiencing that, that's when I really appreciate just how much chemical there is in this water. We took a big splash in our face.
COOPER: You got it on your face?
HENDERSON: Yes, we had a bunch of it. There's --
COOPER: Did you have safety gear on?
HENDERSON: No. I didn't --
COOPER: Did any of those guys out there have safety gear on?
HENDERSON: No. They're all wet. They're all getting evacced out to the zephyr spot to get cleaned up. mean we hit -- you know, you're driving on streets with cars that are sunk. And so the boats are hitting cars.
COOPER: It's incredible. You've been working with the first responders. You don't know this at home, but this man is a hero for what he has done. You have been here when no one else was. You were working in the Convention Center. Virtually the only medical personnel there was you walking around trying to treat 15,000 people with a stethoscope.
HENDERSON: Trying, not doing a very good job, but doing the best I could. COOPER: How frustrated, angered, whatever the word is, are you by what you have seen by the response here on the ground these last days, these last weeks?
HENDERSON: Well you know, the last few days we're coming together. So we're starting to get a response. Obviously the first few days there was no response, so my level as a physician was incredibly frustrated. My job, my -- the way I think as a physician, the way I'm hard-wired is you see a problem, you make a diagnosis and you fix it. You do everything you can to fix it. And you're in a situation where you have got innumerable medical problems laying out right in front of you and no means to do anything about it.
COOPER: People died, in your mind, from what you have seen with your own two eyes, people died because of the lack of response?
HENDERSON: People died, yes. People died because there was no medical care here to give them. Absolutely.
COOPER: Children, babies died because there were no IVs for them.
HENDERSON: People got dehydrated. Babies, old people, more old people than baby, thank God, but some babies did die. One night we had one woman give birth and I think the baby did die that evening.
COOPER: You've also been treating New Orleans Police Department, New Orleans Fire Department, these local responders who, I mean, they don't even have these protective masks, in many cases, which I have just started to wear. When you hear politicians in Washington saying, well you know what, response to this start from the bottom up, and if they couldn't do it they should have asked for the federal government. And it's got to go from the ground up. You probably haven't heard them say that, but that's what they just said.
HENDERSON: I haven't heard what everybody's been talking about. HENDERSON: I can tell you something right now, that all I have seen for the past nine days is ground up inaction. I have seen people, I've seen -- you called me a hero, I'm not a hero. The New Orleans Police Department, individual men who didn't vacate their job and stayed 24 hours a day and did exactly what I did. Those are the heroes on the ground.
The people on the ground didn't have the structure to tell them what to do. And they figured it out on the fly. We've all figured it out on the fly.
COOPER: So, what do you want to tell people in Washington who are you know, pointing fingers and playing the blame game?
HENDERSON: Look, we are going to waste a lot of time spending time blaming everybody about everything. People can make careers out of blaming things. Let's solve the problem. I'm willing to get together with them and solve the problem.
What this entire episode has exposed for us, just like 9/11 exposed a problem, OK, this exposed a massive problem. The problem is put very simply, this, is we really do not have any immediate civilian medical response team to drop into a disaster area that can handle the population and give them what they need. I mean quickly. Not four days, five days, I mean now.
We are all used to, we are very familiar -- we are the generation of M.A.S.H. as a television show, you know, military, army surgical hospital. We need to start thinking about civilian mobile hospitals where we can drop in and treat these people quickly. And that's what we need. Because we can't have me running around with a stethoscope, holding hands and patting shoulders. That's not going to do any good.
COOPER: We are going to talk to you more tomorrow. We went out with the doctor today. It's just a remarkable day with him. We really appreciate your candor. Thank you very much.
HENDERSON: Thank you.
COOPER: And God bless you for what you all -- what you been doing. It is truly remarkable.
Jason Carroll has the story now of two children who have been evacuated and the difficulties they are having. We are trying to understand what is going on. Take a look.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Between classes, Lauren Sherman has a look of someone who isn't quite sure of where to do next. It's her second day at St. Benedict's High School in Memphis, Tennessee. She's saying the with relatives. Her home and everything familiar to her in New Orleans now seems very far away.
LAUREN SHERMAN, EVACUEE: Right now, it's like, I'm staying in a house. But at home, it's like my home, you know? I mean they are so welcoming to me, and it feels like my home there, but it's not my home, really.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I go up these stairs, I'm going left? OK.
CARROLL: Greg Johnson knows exactly what Lauren is feeling. He has been at Bishop Burn High School for a week.
GREG JOHNSON, EVACUEE: What's up, G?
CARROLL: His home in New Orleans Ninth Ward flooded in several feet of water. Now this is home, a church shelter in Mississippi near Tennessee's border.
JOHNSON: It's real tough. My family there at the shelter. They didn't allow know come back from school. And one little room, where I lay my head every night, it's real tough.
CARROLL: A promising basketball player, Greg has received letters from several universities. But the letters and his transcripts are gone. (on camera): What do you think the chances of making it to college now, are?
JOHNSON: 50/50. It's making me feel sad, all right, to tell you the truth. I just don't know what to say about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The result is...
CARROLL (voice-over): Lauren is a junior. College not a concern yet, but when we caught up with her on her first day of school, she was worried about just fitting in.
SHERMAN: I'm like fine with it, you know. Just not being with everyone. But, I mean, it's the same. Junior year's like your prom year, you know?
CARROLL: Lauren says the one place she's always been able to put aside feelings of hurt is on the soccer field. Her new school found a spot on the team for her.
SHERMAN: Well, it gets a lot off my mind when I'm out there. I'm like, you know -- and, it's my favorite thing to do.
CARROLL: But there's no court for Greg to play basketball right now. His new school wants him to play football instead. So, he finds solace within himself.
JOHNSON: I tell myself every day I'm going to make it.
CARROLL (on camera): By telling yourself that, does it work? do you believe it?
CARROLL (voice-over): Jason Carroll, CNN, Memphis, Tennessee.
COOPER: When we come back, searching for answers, we've been trying to get answers to questions. We have all week long. We've been getting a lot of responses to question, not answers. We'll try to figure it out when we come back. We'll be right back.
COOPER: It's been a chaotic hour with this helicopter rescue that we've been witnessing over the course of the hour. I was going to say early on -- we've been getting a lot of e-mails from viewers about what I am wearing around my neck. I actually didn't realize I was still wearing it. It's a face mask that we've been wearing. The smell from this water is just growing every day in this heat. It is getting very nasty. We don't know what sort of chemicals or disease is in it. So we've all begun to just wear these masks for our own safety.
That being said, we found one woman is still in her home waiting to be evacuated. She hasn't wanted to leave, because of her guide dog, her companion dog. But they wouldn't let her take it with us. Here's what we saw. All of my problems and all of my ways
COOPER (voice-over): In a ramshackle rental in a poor part of town, an elderly lady waits for a sign. The dog is Abu, the woman, Ms. Connie: a preacher, a widow, she's alone and legally blind.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he's my service dog. Now my dog goes where I go. I don't go.
Now this is what fell, you see my skylight?
COOPER: That's your skylight?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; Oh, yes, my skylight for lack of a better word.
COOPER: When the police finally came this morning to evacuate Ms. Connie. They told her Abu would have to stay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Temporarily.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will be taken care of, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, dear. No, dear. I'm sorry. I'm not being hard case. But I can't see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I guarantee you, you won't be left alone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any dog goes where I go. That's not too hard to do for a dog.
I don't trust very much law officials for this reason. They can't make up their mind.
COOPER: Ms. Connie's not sure what to bring with her besides her dog, Abu. She doesn't have many bags to put things in, she says, so she's going to try to take a couple pieces of clothing. And she's not sure where she'll end up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uh, let's rephrase that one.
COOPER: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not sure where I'll end up, but I'm very sure that God knows where I'll end up. And my son who isn't very religious backed it, and said your ministry is done here. It's time to move on and administer to other people somewhere else. COOPER (voice-over): A few blocks away, evacuees from around the city are brought in by police and soldiers. Nearly all have pets, and the soldiers let them in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are trying to get a flight. Hopefully we can fly them.
COOPER: Back at Ms. Connie's, the police have decide she can take Abu along. She believes it's a sign that the time has come to go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe the Lord will give you guidance and talk to you if you listen. And if you'll do.
COOPER: God is still watching over New Orleans?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. Will she rise again, yes indeed. Absolutely.
COOPER: Well, hopes have been dashed here, but faith is still strong in the beleaguered city of New Orleans. We'll be here tomorrow as well. Not leaving any time soon.
CNN's Paula Zahn is next -- Paula.
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