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CNN PRESENTS

CNN Security Watch Special: Is America Prepared? Part 1

Aired October 1, 2005 - 15:00   ET

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


CAROL LIN, ANNOUNCER: Good evening, I'm Carol Lin.
CNN PRESENTS: IS AMERICA PREPARED? starts in just one moment, but first here's what's happening right now.

And it's a second day under water for the heart of Louisiana's Cajun country: Vermilion, Cameron, and Calcasieu Parishes, all inundated by Saturday's storm surge. Calcasieu Parish remains closed to residents who fled the hurricane.

And the FEMA-led rescue operation is in full swing, with hundreds of search-and-rescue personnel in Texas and Louisiana. About 400 people have already been plucked from the rooftops and patches of high ground. FEMA officials say they are absolutely convinced the mass evacuation was the right thing.

Now Texas has hurricane damage amounting to about $8 billion. That is the estimate from Governor Rick Perry, who toured hard-hit regions by air today. Perry says he expects the federal government to be generous and cover all of the cleanup and recovery costs.

And this number comes as a great relief to entire storm-ravaged regions: one. Only one person is reported killed, horrible for that person's family, obviously as a direct result of the hurricane, but that happened when a tornado touched down in Mississippi, not the direct result of Rita.

Parts of Rita are still obviously over the southern U.S., so let's check in with meteorologist Brad Huffines in the CNN Weather Center for the latest weekend weather. Brad?

BRAD HUFFINES, CNN WEATHER: Carol, Rita's bark is about gone, but Rita still has a bite in sections of Alabama, southern Alabama, southern Mississippi, tornado warnings every county that you see in red. And look at this cluster continuing from Jackson eastward into portions of southwestern Alabama.

Tornado watch is now still across middle Tennessee and much of Alabama as these individual cells could still create tornadoes with little or no notice, so watch out and be weather-aware in south Mississippi, south Alabama, as the remnants of Rita continue to cause a ruckus this evening.

Carol?

LIN: All right, Brad. Light damage also to the nation's refineries after Hurricane Rita should continue to be good news at the gas pumps. The Lundberg survey says the price of gas is down 20 cents a gallon over the last 2 weeks. The national average for self-serve regular is $2.81 a gallon.

I'm Carol Lin. Now, CNN PRESENTS: IS AMERICA PREPARED?

(BEGIN SPECIAL)

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): This is a special presentation of CNN Presents.

Hurricane Katrina slams into the Gulf Coast, leaving in its wake chaos, indiscriminate devastation, and many unanswered questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm trying to get out of here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said you'd help us, man! Come on now!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Tonight, an examination of America's response to catastrophe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breathe, man, live!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plans were on paper. The plans were well understood. And most of all, the plans were not executed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There'll be ample time for people to figure out what went right, and what went wrong. What I'm interested in is helping save lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): What were the missteps and will they happen again?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fundamentally, nobody pulled the trigger on the resources that could have been there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Is the government ready for civil disorder in the midst of tragedy?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER SEN. JOHN BREAUX, LOUISIANA: You have to come in with a show of force as quickly as you can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got a lot of problems with people firing at us at night, I'm trying to (unintelligible).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): What's the plan if there's another national disaster?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a threat to our assets. Deadly use of force is authorized.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Tonight, in this CNN SECURITY WATCH SPECIAL: IS AMERICA PREPARED? Lessons of Hurricane Katrina.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening. I'm Jeanne Meserve.

Four years after 9/11, after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, this country is in the midst of yet another incomprehensible catastrophe -- not at the hands of terrorists, but nature. What Hurricane Katrina did to coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, is a nightmarish calamity, compounded by what critics call a sluggish response full of missed opportunities that could have saved lives.

Some say emergency preparedness models often go to extremes, but are officials learning what they should? With recovery efforts expected to take years if not decades, the aftermath of the storm and the debate about the response to it will reverberate for a long time. Katrina's fury was expected. There were blunt warnings about the storm's strength and power from the beginning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): The drowning of New Orleans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Warehouse completely torn apart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): The death and displacement of its people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: We want out!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): The disorder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They left us all here with no lights and no security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): The danger, all of it forecast years before Katrina was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no pride in predicting something like this. There is just a lot of sadness, and now a lot of anger, because I personally feel we from academia told everyone it was going to happen. It was based on hard science, good science, and it seems to have been ignored.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): As Katrina swirled like a dervish across the Gulf of Mexico, sucking strength from the warm waters and zeroing in on New Orleans, alarm did escalate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is a very, very, dangerous hurricane, and capable of causing a lot of damage and loss of life if we're not careful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Lives were clearly at risk. The president heightened the sense of urgency by declaring a state of emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: These declarations will allow federal agencies to coordinate all disaster relief efforts with state and local officials.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MESERVE (voice-over): The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the pre-positioning of seven of its 28 urban search-and- rescue teams, 23 of its 56 disaster medical assistance teams, as well as ice, food, water, tarps, and cots.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're ready to respond in every possible way, because we do anticipate this being a very significant event.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Some localities called for mandatory evacuations on Saturday. New Orleans did not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is not going to come right away. We're going to evaluate the effect of the voluntary evacuation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Though New Orleans' own planning documents estimated it would take 72 hours to get everyone out of the city, Mayor Ray Nagin did not order a mandatory evacuation until Sunday morning, just 24 hours before Katrina was expected to make landfall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAY NAGIN, MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS: The storm is now a Category 5 with sustained winds of 150 miles an hour, with wind gusts of 190 miles per hour. The storm surge most likely will topple our levee system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Shuttle buses took some who could not find a way out of town to the Superdome for shelter. But tens of thousands stayed in their homes, many simply because they had no transportation of their own, and the city did not deploy the resources it had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they not have a plan to evacuate that one-sixth of their population, or did they not execute the plan? It has to be one or the other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): A former FEMA official says overall, the preparations did not measure up to the threat by a long shot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My personal opinion is there was a lack of leadership, a lack of understanding of how -- and how quickly -- you need to move in a disaster, and fundamentally nobody pulled the trigger on the resources that could have been there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Officials have brainstormed about this kind of catastrophe. Hurricane Pam, a fictional Category 3 hurricane, was the centerpiece of an exercise just last summer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was paid for. It was funded by FEMA. You know, you had lot of federal agencies participating. There was at least one representative of the White House. They were all there. We discussed it for 12 days -- how do we deal with a flooded New Orleans? So for anybody to say, "oh, this caught us unawares," is nonsense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): The Hurricane Pam exercise involving a storm weaker than Katrina envisioned a million evacuees, a half a million buildings destroyed, and flooding -- massive flooding.'

After Pam, officials said they had a search-and-rescue plan. But after Katrina, for days there were not enough boats, helicopters, and amphibious vehicles.

After Pam, officials said they had plans to provide medical resources. But after Katrina, there were dire shortages.

After Pam, officials projected a need for 1,000 shelters to hold evacuees for 100 days. And yet, after Katrina, the Superdome, the refuge for an estimated 20,000 people, was not well stocked with essentials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not in here to feed people. We're in here to see that when Tuesday morning comes, that they're alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Early Monday morning, Katrina, her teeth bared, gnawed her way through the Gulf Coast, chewing up and spitting out entire communities. In New Orleans, as experts had long predicted, the levee system failed. One storm was over, but another -- about preparedness and response -- was already dark on the horizon.

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Up next: flood waters rise, chaos reigns as a city falls into crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Too many people -- they got dead bodies in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Dead bodies in the Superdome?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: Failures in deployment, breakdowns in communications, thousands of people left behind to fend for themselves. So many painful lessons are being learned from Hurricane Katrina. Could government officials have been better prepared to cope, and will they be better prepared in the future?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Fort Apache, New Orleans. City cops, crippled by failed communications, forced to commandeer supplies and siphon gas simply to protect themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to tell my wife I love her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): When a chemical explosion illuminates the night, the first responders cannot respond. Three days after Katrina, how did New Orleans come to this -- and this -- and this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told you earlier today, I didn't think this would turn out to be Armageddon. I was wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Despite early reports and images that signaled impending disaster, FEMA director Mike Brown and others believed the situation was contained.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BROWN, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Let's say that right now, we're on the road to recovery.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Quite the opposite was true. The water was rising. Rescuers were overwhelmed and under-resourced. Survivors plucked from rooftops were plopped on roadways without food, water, or shelter.

The Superdome, long designated as a refuge from hurricanes, had no plumbing, insufficient food, and little emergency power. It festered with filth and depravity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Too many people -- they got dead bodies in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Dead bodies in the Superdome?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Dead bodies, too, at the Convention Center -- dead bodies and desperation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And I blame you, Ray Nagin, because you should have helped -- some people, your people -- all need you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): The mayor, in rage, turned around and pointed the finger at the federal government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAY NAGIN, MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS: Now get off your asses and let's do something. And let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): But it wasn't fixed, not for days. And for years, emergency officials will ask "why not?" as they study this sobering textbook case.

Lesson one: Listen to the warnings of experts. Federal officials said they were startled by Katrina's carnage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really one which I think was breathtaking in its surprise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): No, it wasn't. Everyone, from journalists to geologists, had long predicted the possible catastrophic effects of a hurricane on New Orleans.

Lesson two: Quick response is essential. When the city needed a tourniquet, it got band-aids.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breathe, man, live!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): The result: frustration, fear, and fatalities.

Lesson three: Know what you're dealing with. It was painfully apparent the president's man on the ground did not know what was already being widely reported.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Sir, you're not telling me that you just learned that the folks at the Convention Center didn't have food and water until today, are you? You had no idea they were completely cut off?

BROWN: The federal government did not even know about the Convention Center people until today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Lesson four: Figure out who is in charge. Two days after the storm, when local and state officials turned to the president, he said the role of federal officials was only to assist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I've instructed them to work closely with state and local officials, as well as with the private sector, to ensure that we're helping, not hindering recovery efforts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Over time, the president's position changed. But then, Louisiana's governor resisted his efforts to federalize the National Guard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHLEEN BLANCO, GOVERNOR, LOUISIANA: I was very concerned about giving up law enforcement authority.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): It left the mayor of New Orleans fuming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAGIN: What the state was doing, I don't frickin' know. But I tell you, I am pissed. It wasn't adequate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Lesson five: Maximize available resources. People and equipment poised to help went untapped. Helicopters used by the federal government to fight fires were ready to move people and supplies, but sat unused. Vital equipment sat in boxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We carried 200 radios, self-contained breathing apparatus, automatic defibrillators.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): This $2 million cache of critically needed communications and firefighting gear owned by the federal government was not deployed for a week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't just turn on a light switch and have thousands and thousands of responders showing up. There needs to be an incident command structure and an organization in place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): The question is -- why wasn't that done?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plans were insufficient. The plans were on paper. The plans were well understood. And most of all, the plans were not executed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): More assets are finally rolling into New Orleans. The situation is stabilizing, and the Congress and the president are promising investigations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: So I'm going to find out -- over time -- what went right and what went wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): In any exploration of this tragedy, there will likely be one central and critical issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that what you have to learn is, how do you coordinate all of the great forces we have in this country -- local government, state governments, and the federal government? I think there has to be a clear line on who does what and when.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): But even before the investigations and studies, one sad truth is already evident. Hundreds, if not thousands, have lost their lives to floodwaters -- and to bungling, bickering, and bureaucracy.

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Coming up next, drills for terror attacks and plans for natural disasters -- but nobody seemed ready for the mayhem Katrina stirred up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I begged a cop to stay here and help us. Don't leave us alone!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE (voice-over): Instead of help arriving in the aftermath of Katrina, New Orleans plunged into lawlessness. While looters took anything they could carry, desperation forced survivors to steal food and water. Many wonder why there was no security.

CNN Special Correspondent Frank Sesno asks why officials were not ready for civil disorder.

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chicago: gripped by a biological terror attack. People dying from plague. New London, Connecticut: An explosion unleashes mustard gas. Seattle: a radiological device -- a dirty bomb.

Each scenario a simulation -- gruesome in its implications, but an important run-through for officials who might have to deal with the real thing. But none of these scenarios -- none -- included the kind of civil unrest we saw in New Orleans with the disappearance of about a third of its police force -- events so dramatic that for a time, lawlessness and anarchy framed the Katrina story around the world, and of course, in New Orleans itself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll come visit Sunday killing people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're raping and our...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I begged a cop to stay here and help us, give us some spotlights and help us. Don't leave us alone!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO (voice-over): The city's police chief seemed as powerless as he was frustrated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDDIE COMPASS, POLICE SUPERINTENDENT, NEW ORLEANS: We had to use so much of our manpower to fight this criminal element.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO (voice-over): It's hard to know how bad and how widespread the unrest was, but this much is clear: It was not predicted, it had not been drilled, and it badly complicated rescue efforts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN NEELY, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, the big concern is the huge diversion of first responder resources to contain the civil unrest.

SESNO (voice-over): Susan Neely was assistant secretary for public affairs at Homeland Security under Tom Ridge.

NEELY: What's the main thing that we say to people when something happens? "Help the first responders help you."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO (voice-over): But that didn't always happen in New Orleans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People want help. We're trying to help them. We don't get there fast enough, so they shoot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO (voice-over): New Orleans is forcing many in the homeland security and emergency management business to rethink how they train, plan, and prepare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLEN GORDON, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL CENTER FOR HOMELAND DEFENSE AND SECURITY: Having the disaster victims themselves turn on the first responders isn't necessarily something that we've discussed and talked about in the past at any length.

SESNO (voice-over): Ellen Gordon is a former emergency management director from Iowa. She led the state's efforts to recover from the disastrous floods there in 1993.

Now she travels the country as part of a team from the Naval Postgraduate School, teaching governors, homeland security officials, and first responders. She says there's not been a lot of focus on how social breakdown plays out in a disaster.

GORDON: But I believe now that there will be many of us that will say we've got to take time out and discuss this, and say, "Are we prepared to respond to this type of situation in the future?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO (voice-over): So the training manual itself may need rewriting. The Department of Homeland Security's own 15 planning scenarios -- from nuclear terror attack to Category 5 hurricane -- barely mention serious civil unrest, or the possibility that significant numbers of first responders can't or won't respond. In New Orleans, the chief says, 500 police officers simply never showed up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORDON: It's very difficult to perform in any situation -- let alone a high-stress situation, and in the conditions that they've been performing -- if you're worried about your family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO (voice-over): Seventy percent of the city's police reportedly had homes damaged or destroyed following Hurricane Katrina.

Former Louisiana Senator John Breaux has seen hurricane damage before in his state.

(BEGIN SOUND CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some (unintelligible) at the corner of Fourth and Brainard.

(END SOUND CLIP)

SESNO (voice-over): Law and order, he says, is the first step toward recovery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BREAUX, FORMER SENATOR, LOUISIANA: You have to come in with a show of force as quickly as you can. You have to be strong -- you have to be affirmative from the very beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO (voice-over): But officials weren't prepared for this disaster.

The scenarios Ellen Gordon uses often involve mock newscasts shown to a room full of top state officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMULATION NEWS ANCHOR: When terrorists exploded a truck bomb carrying high explosives at the...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO (voice-over): The scenarios are likely to get grittier, and nastier -- a biological attack, for example, where thousands are falling sick and dying, may now put more emphasis on violence and criminal behavior.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORDON: So you could build it into a scenario -- that you start having unrest and some rioting and violence -- because the people are upset because they are not receiving the pharmaceuticals in the timeline that they should be receiving them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO (voice-over): The Department of Homeland Security says it's conducted 440 scenario drills since 9/11. If the training is to be worth the time and the money spent, it has to be realistic and bring officials face-to-face with the kind of disaster they may really face -- including a breakdown of social order.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORDON: Hurricane Katrina was certainly a wake-up call for all of us. It's definitely something that we're going to have to look at closely and analyze, and try to better understand human behaviors in times of crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Next: fighting the battle of New Orleans -- will it mean a new role for the military?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT.GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, CMDR, TASK FORCE KATRINA: We're not stuck on stupid -- we're stuck on a tough problem. This is a challenge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HONORE: Hey! Weapons down! Weapons down, damn it! Put your weapons down!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAROL LIN, ANNOUNCER: Good evening, I'm Carol Lin. CNN PRESENTS: "Is America prepared continues just a moment, but first here's a look at what's happening right now. It is a second day underwater for the heart of Louisiana's Cajun country, Vermillion, Cameroon and Calcasieu parishes, hit by yesterday's storm surge. Calcasieu Parish remains closed to residents who fled the hurricane.

And Texas has hurricane damage amounting to about $8 billion. That is the estimate from Governor Rick Perry, who toured the hard-hit regions by air today. He says he expects the federal government to be, in his words, generous and cover all of the cleanup and recovery costs

Well, the price tag will be much higher in neighboring Louisiana, where the governor today said she will ask Congress for $31 billion, just for levee repairs and getting the state's roads passable again. The main east-west traffic artery in lower Louisiana is open again, but not much else.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TROOPER JOHNNIE BROWN, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE: And if you're looking towards residents trying to get back towards Texas, they can still travel through the affected areas on Interstate 10, however, to get off of the roadway they won't be able to do that. They won't be able to get off of I-210, for example, into Calcasieu Parish because the parish is shut down.

Parish officials over there have shut down the parish for up to 48 hours.

LIN: And across Louisiana and Texas tonight, homes and businesses are in the dark. Nearly 2 million households are without electricity, many of them have yet to get power back after Hurricane Katrina. Emergency officials say restoring power is lower in priority than providing food and water and medical help.

A U.S. military helicopter has crashed in southeastern Afghanistan, killing a five onboard. The military says there were no indications the plane had been shot down. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

And Vice President Dick Cheney has left a Washington hospital a day after undergoing surgery to repair aneurysms on both backs of his knees. A spokesman says the vice president is doing well and plans to work from home tomorrow.

I'm Carol Lin, CNN PRESENTS: "Is America Prepared?" That's right after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOST: Many have complained that the rescue efforts in the wake of Katrina were slowed by red tape. Anytime U.S. troops are engaged in any endeavor, there are rules. Complicating the lines of authority this time, the decisions of local, state and federal officials.

But when a take charge general hit the scene, more boots on the ground followed, and our Barbara Starr was with him.

LG RUSSEL HONORE, U.S. ARMY: Get those weapons down.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Friday, September 2nd, four days after Katrina hit, the cavalry has arrived.

HONORE: Hey, weapons down. Weapons down, dammit. Put the weapons down.

STARR: Lieutenant General Russel Honore leads the military's humanitarian relief effort in America's largest natural disaster.

On this day, directing National Guard troops and a convoy of food and water to the Convention Center. Thousands had been on the streets for days, the suffering is growing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I lost everything.

STARR: City and state officials apparently unable to get these desperate Americans help.

HONORE: Big tiger. Big tiger. Let's go.

STARR: Honore doesn't just rescue these babies, he has a clear strategy and the tools to make it happen. There are thousands of lives to save.

(on camera): What is going to start happening now, getting the aid into ...

HONORE: If you look two streets down, you'll see the convoy trucks moving the aid in. They'll come in behind the National Guard and behind the police. We'll put the aid on the ground and we'll start distributing it.

STARR (voice-over): The army general doesn't command National Guard troops. They report to the governor. Federal law prohibits active duty troops from taking part in law enforcement activities.

But the reality is that four days into the crisis, the general is the only official providing clear leadership on the streets. He succeeds in evacuating 60,000 people from the Superdome and the Convention Center.

Honore shapes his battlefield. He builds a coalition with federal, state and local authorities. Officially, he is only giving advice. In reality, he tells them what they must do ...

HONORE: And we've got to do some screening ...

STARR: He tells them to fight.

He meets with the mayor almost daily. MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: How do you recommend we handle this?

STARR: Behind the scenes, Honor counsels the governor to present a tougher face to the public. He arranges a military briefing and then a press conference for her.

GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO, LOUISIANA: They are going to rebuild. I am going to house - we are all going to work together, we're going to be a massive team.

STARR: Honore's ability to get things done make some wonder if the law should be changed so the military can take charge in disaster relief.

Are they the only ones that can do this job?

And what the military brings to the hurricane zone is sheer manpower. Thousands of troops, helicopters, ships, vehicles and the ability to rapidly move supplies around th e stricken area.

Honore is constantly on the phone in the early hours, issuing orders, planning his next steps.

HONORE: We're not stuck on stupid. We're stuck on a tough problem is the challenge.

STARR (on camera): If you think assistance has been slow in coming to New Orleans, consider this. Days after the disaster struck, there is still no electricity, no communications. The military has taken over the city.

(voice-over): Not everything on the military side has gone quickly or smoothly. The lack of communications is as frustrating for the military as everyone else. For the first several days, Honore commands this operation with his only phone, a cell phone with a dying battery.

The 82nd Airborne Division is ordered into New Orleans by President Bush. Major General Bill Caldwell puts his elite combat forces into a place no one could have imagined.

MG BILL CALDWELL, COMMANDER, 82ND AIRBORNE DIV: If you go out in the old French Quarter right now, at any given time you'll see 2-300 in groups of seven or eight just constantly walking around, talking to folks, making sure everything's OK, checking on things ...

STARR: Even so, there are problems. The 82nd is ordered to establish a grid and search the city, house by house, block by block, in cooperation with civilian officials.

But FEMA has a different set of maps. First, they must pause and coordinate efforts.

At Honore's headquarters at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, twice a day the command team meets to review the entire operation. All military and civilian agencies are included. It looks like a war room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just the status on the pumps. You can see right now we're red on all the pumps.

STARR: Already, the military is looking at what lessons may be learned. How can it all be done better next time?

At least one general in the Louisiana National Guard reminds everyone that when all is said and done, Mother Nature has the final vote.

BG GARY JONES, LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD: We've learned a lot about the things that we have to do to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again. The problem with it, of course is that a storm like this comes along about once every 180 years and 180 years is a long time to maintain institutional knowledge.

STARR: A week into the relief efforts, Task Force Katrina is already tracking another storm.

This starts days ahead. It could be a tropical depression ...

HONORE: We chart them off the coast of Africa.

STARR: A reminder that the next time may come sooner than anyone expects.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, planning for disaster. What if a natural gas tanker blows up in Boston Harbor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the tank blows up, most likely we're all dead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: Homeland Security officials prepare for disasters in many forms. Here are just some of the scenarios they envisioned and planned for.

An anthrax attack on a handful of cities delivered by a truck using a concealed sprayer. The contamination would be extensive, some 300,000 would be exposed, resulting in more than 13,000 deaths. The economic impact would be in the billons.

Federal officials have also prepared for a scenario involving radioactive materials smuggled into the country and then used to make dirty bombs detonated in three cities. Winds as light as three miles an hour could carry contaminants 36 blocks, killing nearly 200 people. It would cost billions to clean up, the federal plans say, and it would take years to recover.

Our Randy Kaye looks at another scenario involving the explosion of a tanker loaded with liquefied natural gas in the Port of Boston.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the mayor of Boston, this is a floating time bomb, an LNG tanker, 30 million gallons of liquefied natural gas in its belly, winding its way through the Boston Harbor. Past the airport, past the historic North End, up the Mystic River, past waterfront neighborhoods alongside Bunker Hill.

If terrorists should attack a tanker like this and blow it up, a recent federal report warns a fireball could reach out a third of a mile in every direction.

(on camera): How many people do you think live within a third of a mile.

MAYOR THOMAS MENINO, BOSTON: Rough number, 100,000 people.

KAYE: And you think those neighborhoods would be wiped out?

MENINO: Good possibility. Good possibility they could be wiped out.

KAYE: That's a frightening thought.

MENINO: That's a very frightening thought.

KAYE (voice-over): The Coast Guard surrounds each arriving tanker with gunboats. It has armed personnel aboard the ship, helicopters overhead. Police watching for snipers onshore. If this departing tanker were not empty, no sailboat, no other vessel would be allowed this close,

CAPT. JAMES MCDONALD, USCG: If there's a threat to our assets, deadly use of force is authorized.

KAYE: In a way, Coast Guard Captain James McDonald is the man in charge of the fate of the city.

MCDONALD: It's very, very unlikely that any incident would be successful. And frankly, that's what we're all about is preventing bad things from happening in the first place.

KAYE (on camera): The natural gas tanker industry feels safe because in its history of nearly half a century, never has it had a disaster. Of course, nothing like the San Francisco earthquake and fire had ever happened before, nor the drowning of the City of New Orleans. Or the attack that brought down the World Trade Center.

(voice-over): Almost once a week, an LNG tanker will glide through the harbor on its way to a terminal on the Mystic River in nearby Everett. That's one way New England stays warm in the winter. The ships pass as close to the Boston skyline as this The go right by the North End, home of Paul Revere, charming new streets, gleaming new waterfront condos.

No other city in America has an LNG terminal in its mixed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bacon cheese with extra cheese, please.

KAYE: Right across the river is Jenny's pizza shop. JOEY LACEY, OWNER, JENNY'S PIZZA: If something were to happen it's like we're in the front row so it's like I might not be around to know what happened.

KAYE: Thirteen year old customer, Cameron Harrington (ph).

UNIDENTFIIED MALE: If the tank blows up, most likely we're all dead.

KAYE: A Department of Energy study last winter described a worst-case scenario. Of a city with a narrow harbor, with national landmarks and people all around.

This area they are describing sounds a lot like Boston.

MENINO: It's Boston to a T.

KAYE (on camera): Paint a picture for me, if you can, of what you think we would see here in the Boston area and the waterfront area if indeed there was a successful attack on one these tankers.

MENINO: What would happen is a cloud would rise and move across Downtown Boston. It would engulf the area. Buildings would catch on fire, people would try to flee. They would have chaos in the city. It would be just a chaotic situation and you know the fire department doesn't have the equipment to prevent this.

Nobody has the equipment to prevent it.

KAYE (voice-over): The nearby airport has one fireboat. The city has another and there are water cannons on the tubs. That's all.

The only real plan for disaster is prevention. Each tanker does have a double hull and a double skin on the containers holding the LNG.

The Coast Guard inspects each tanker before it leaves for the United States. It boards the vessel five miles outside the harbor. Cameras like these watch the ship move into port. Airplanes are diverted away from it.

This bridge is closed to traffic whenever a tanker passes underneath to keep anyone from dropping a bomb off of it.

MCDONALD: What we've done to address the issue of risk associated with LNG movements means that we can move LNG safely and securely.

KAYE: That's not enough for Mayor Menino, who wants the tankers unloaded out at sea, away from the city.

MENINO: Why can't we offload it outside of the harbor and bring it in a pipeline. A pipeline. That's what should be happening.

KAYE: Until then, what can be done in the face of an attack? Evacuation, suggests that federal report. (on camera): Tell me how on earth you can evacuate in a fire like this?

MENINO: How can you put an evacuation plan in when the LNG tank gets hit? How long do you have to evacuate the city? Matter of minutes? Can you move 100,000 people out of not just Boston; Chelsea, Everett, East Boston, matter of minutes?

I dare tell you, I don't believe so.

KAYE (voice-over): Back at Jenny's pizza, no one has ever talked to Butch Gordon (ph) about any city escape plan. His own plan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run like hell. If you knew ahead of time.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up next, leading through times of crisis.

DAVID GERGEN, HARVARD PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC SERVICE: There's beena leadership vacuum up and down the line. Local, state and national government.

ANNOUNCER: Is there a model for success?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: There will be many investigations into the response to Katrina, but some have already concluded that the primary failure was one of leadership.

Our Candy Crowley focuses on the importance a strong guiding hand in times of tragedy.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: The situation is that two airplanes have attacked apparently.

MESERVE (voice-over): In the uncertainty of 9/11, the surest thing was His Honor, the Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Tough, uncompromising, coolly competent.

GIULIANI: I'm with us.

I'd ask the people of New York City to do everything that they can to cooperate, not to be frightened.

MESERVE: Bill Doyle lost a son at the World Trade Center. He became a leader, a spokesman for 9/11 families, attending countless meetings with Mayor Giuliani.

WILLIAM DOYLE, WTC UNITED FAMILIES: Any problem that we had - every agency or charity or organization were in those rooms with us, he'd jump up and point fingers and there were a lot of red faces because he was embarrassing and he was just tough and he would say, I want this done yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where's the mayor? Mr. Nagin, where you at? You said you would help us. Mayor? Come on now. This is your people.

MESERVE: For many reasons, foreseeable and not, Katrina is a different story. It lacks a leading man or lady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I blame Kathleen Blanco because I think they're not doing their jobs for everybody.

GERGEN: We want somebody to fill the screen and tell us what to do and go for it, someone who is decisive. And Rudy Giuliani had all of those qualities. They were almost Churchillian.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.

MESERVE: The president tapped into both national anger and pride atop a pile of rubble after 9/11. An iconic picture they yearned to see on the streets of New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was a politician, one of the first things I would have done is gotten out of my car, got out of my tie and come among the people with a bullhorn to assure them that you are not lost, you have not been forgotten.

MESERVE: But the president seemed remote from the air, uncomfortable and out of tune on the ground.

BUSH: And Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job, The FEMA director is working 24 ...

MIKE DEAVER, FORMER REAGAN ADVISER: One of the things that's needed in a situation like this is for somebody to sit down with us and tell us and reassure us and help us sort of fathom it and tell us that it's going to be all right eventually.

That hasn't happened. That's sort of the leadership quotient that we haven't seen yet.

MESERVE: Also not seen, the kind of Giuliani command of details that helped steady his city.

GIULIANI: Used Kleenex, cigarette butts, chewing gum, if they have items like that, where a person would be likely to have left cells of their body, hair, a remainder of hair like a brush, then if you bring that with you, we will collect it, a medical examiner will collect it and that will aid in the identification process if that's the way it turns out.

MESERVE: By contrast, the governor of Louisiana has seemed tentative about basics.

GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO, LOUISIANA: I wouldn't think it would be toxic soup right now. I just think it's water from the lake, water from the canals - it's - you know, it's water.

MESERVE: And where Giuliani brought calm to chaos and poetry to the unspeakable. QUESTION: Do we know the number of casualties at this point, sir?

GIULIANI: I don't think we really want to speculate about that. The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear.

MESERVE: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had heated frustration.

NAGIN: I don't know whether it's the governor's problem, I don't know whether it's the president's problem but somebody needs to get their ass on the plane, and sit down, the two of them, to figure this out, right now.

MESERVE: To be sure, leadership comes in many temperaments and circumstances.

PROF. RONALD WALTERS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: He was, I think, reflecting the frustration of the people who were there. He was reflecting, I think, a sense of being cast aside. A sense of not being responded to immediately and strongly and forcefully.

MESERVE: It is not an exact comparison. The terror of Osama bin Laden versus the furor of Katrina. Five square miles, a part of one big city, versus 90,000 square miles of Gulf Coast across three states and countless jurisdictions, an horrific but finite attack, versus a 102 hour hurricane, spawning flood, fire and disease.

But 9/11 was supposed to be the catastrophe that helped us deal with other catastrophes.

THOMAS KEAN, 9/11 COMMISSION CHAIR: I think you've got to compare it because this won't be the last major catastrophe we have in this country and we've got to learn from this in ways that maybe we haven't learned enough from 9/11.

MESERVE: And the sense that comes through the TV screen is one of a multi-state, multi-city, multi-government crisis in which everyone is in charge and no one is in control.

LEE HAMILTON, 9/11 COMMISSION VICE CHAIR: I don't think it's so important to what particular official is in charge but that someone should be in charge.

MESERVE: Of all the things found wanting in the wake of Katrina, the most glaring space is the spot Rudy Giuliani occupied four years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got babies here suffering. Man, the city has let us down, Governor Blanco let us down, the mayor done let us down, the president let us down. Congress let us down. We're taxpayers, man.

MESERVE: The truth is, the story of Katrina has many heroes. What it's lacked is a leader.

(on camera): That's it for this special edition of CNN SECURITY WATCH. The recovery process from Hurricane Katrina is just beginning. There was a long, difficult road ahead. I'm Jeanne Meserve. For my colleagues at CNN, good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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