updated 8/30/2005 4:24:21 PM ET 2005-08-30T20:24:21

Guest: Frank Melton, Kevin Cowan, Kyle Kogan, Karen Kogan, David Johnson, Denton Cinquegrana

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Tonight, a special hour of THE SITUATION on the wrath and wake of Katrina, now a tropical storm soaking Mississippi.  The latest astounding video of the damage, seen here for the first time, and news on when and where recovery begins.

Plus, we‘ve got one of the truly incredible stories of an escape from the city of New Orleans.  You have to hear it to believe it. 

We begin tonight in Mobile, Alabama, a city essentially under water at this hour.  That‘s where we find MSNBC‘s Ron Blome. 

Ron, what is the situation in Mobile down the coast right now?

RON BLOME, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it‘s only a part of the city.  It could have been a whole city under water, as New Orleans could have been.  But the storm surge wasn‘t as they had expected. 

In fact, what happened was about 16 blocks, major blocks of the commercial district did get ocean water into it.  In fact, we were down there as the wind was blowing.  And it just had the salty, gritty taste and feel to you. 

What happened is the storm pushed in the water up into Mobile Bay, very shallow, up into the river and then pushed it up.  It came within inches of going over Royal Street and then flooding down into many square miles of housing area, but that didn‘t happen. 

The storm moved further north a little quicker than anticipated.  So that was safe.

Some other things that happened here is a drilling rig broke loose from the ship yards and was pushed up almost into the bridge that spans the Mobile River, just north of the twin tunnels.  But it was caught by tug boats and pushed aside. 

Those bridges won‘t reopen until they‘re inspected tomorrow. 

Down in Dauphin Island, that‘s going to be the heaviest damage.  It‘s a very low barrier island just a couple feet above sea level.  And they had 10 to 15 foot storm surge and 20-foot waves there.  And even though the homes were built up on tall pilings, we are told that there is just very widespread devastation there, perhaps even some people missing who decided to ride the storm out.  The county commissioner here who‘s in charge of all that, Stephen Nodyne (ph) said he‘s not even sure.  They haven‘t gotten a handle on it because the winds and rain were still going on as we approached sunset down in that particular area, but Mobile. 

And the history, is written on Katrina, it‘s going to be the city that‘s called the lucky place, because what could have been just an enormous disaster here was not so bad.  The power is out, but that‘s more of a nuisance for everyone, especially if you look at the destruction on down the Mississippi gulf coast, in Mississippi, and then over to Louisiana. 

In Mobile tonight, I‘m Ron Blome.  Back to you. 

HANNITY:  MSNBC‘s Ron Blome in Mobile.  Thanks, Ron. 

Well, Bill Karins is the MSNBC Weather Plus meteorologist.  He has been on top of the situation since last week when Katrina swept across Florida.  Bill, what‘s going on now?

BILL KARINS, MSNBC WEATHER PLUS METEOROLOGIST:  Well, we‘re seeing a weakening system, but I think we‘re starting to realize just how intense the storm was at landfall.  The pictures are matching up to the weather information that we had last night and this morning. 

I‘ll just quickly get you up to speed.  Sixty-mile-per-hour winds, now crossing from Mississippi into northern sections of Alabama.  The storm is expected to race here.  The next 48 hours, this storm is going to be all the way up into the Canadian Maritimes, and it may mean a couple of more locations here, maybe from about northern sections of Alabama up to Nashville.

Minor power outages with some gusty winds, but after that, the storm should weaken significantly.  Still worried about the threat of tornadoes, but the good news is that a lot of the feeder bands coming of the Gulf have now dried up.  So we don‘t have any tornado warnings out there.  Hardly.

The big story is the temperature this next week, for those hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people without power in this region.   The temperatures are really going to heat up.  The sun is going to be full blast each and every afternoon.  We are not going to get those afternoon rains.

We have all the moisture on the ground that we‘ve been seeing, and that adds to the humidity of the air.  So we should see the heat index about 100, possibly as high as 105, 110, as we go throughout Wednesday, Thursday, into Friday. 

And being in the Deep South, hot, humid at night.  Without an air conditioner means miserable sleeping conditions, not without hot water, don‘t any have cold food.  It‘s pretty much a worst case scenario.  And some people could probably be without power for as much as two to three weeks dealing with these—this situation. 

I also want to show you what areas we still think are going to get the worst damage from this system.  Now, we haven‘t seen any picture from these areas because a lot of them aren‘t even accessible yet.  We have to wait until the morning for either aerial shots or for boats to get into these locations. 

The eye of the storm headed pretty much right on the border of Louisiana, just to the east side here of Slidell.  From Gulfport all the way back to about Slidell, some of the towns in the middle there, Waveland, Bay St. Louis. 

And Bay St. Louis, you see by the “G” here, this little bay that comes in here.  I wind was coming out of the due south-southeast, right into that. 

I visited that location earlier this year.  I know all those million dollar houses are right there on the water.  I highly doubt that most of them held up very well with this storm. 

These are the pictures that you‘ll be seeing for the first time tomorrow.  We‘ll be getting crews in there.  A lot of the NBC News crews are heading down into that location. 

And Tucker, when we—right before the eye hit land, just to the south right in here, right in here, we reported 40-foot waves with some of those buoys out here , and that‘s the storm surge and the waves that hit this location. 

And again, we‘re starting to see those pictures now from outside New Orleans.  I expect much worse from the coastline there, from Gulfport down to Slidell. 

CARLSON:  Al right.  Bill Karins, our meteorologist, on the scene. 

Thanks, appreciate it. 

Frank Melton is the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.  He joins us now by phone from a shelter in that city. 

Mr. Mayor, are you there?

FRANK MELTON, MAYOR, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI:  Yes, I am. 

CARLSON:  Give us the update.  How is Jackson?

MELTON:  Well, we‘re still having a little bit of drizzle.  The hardest part hit us earlier this afternoon.  The winds were about 60 miles an hour.  We lost a lot of trees.  The power is out for 70,000 citizens. 

We have kids over at Jackson State University, and kids who came up from Tulane University to get away from the weather.  And we had a power outage over there, and also Toutelou College (ph).

And pretty big portion of the city right now is in the dark, and the crews are out working.  Our priorities are to remove all of the debris and leaves and trees from the street, so that we can have safe passage, and then we‘ll start repairing the electrical lines. 

CARLSON:  Mayor Melton, why did—I had read earlier today that people from New Orleans, from Tulane specifically were evacuated to Jackson.  Why Jackson?

MELTON:  That‘s an agreement that the two universities have had for years, and I am very pleased to see the kids here from Tulane.  They are wonderful kids.  The football team is here.  The soccer team, and then the general student body.  I have been spending a lot of time with them.

But there is a reciprocating agreement between the universities that has been in place for a number of years.  And it took great experience for the kids at Jackson State University and for the city of Jackson. 

CARLSON:  So if there‘s a crisis at one university, then that student body relocates to the other university?

MELTON:  Yes, sir, that is correct. 

CARLSON:  Now tell me about injuries in Jackson.  Are you familiar with any?

MELTON:  We‘ve had one fatality.  Earlier this afternoon, a tree fell on a home, and a lady did lose her life. 

CARLSON:  What about downed power lines?

MELTON:  Yes, sir, we have them all over the city.  They‘re working on those now.  We have to wait until the wind dies down a little bit for the safety of the crew and also the preservation of the equipment that they‘re using.  The wind has died down considerably, and they are out working.  But we have a lot of power lines down throughout the city here. 

CARLSON:  Now when a power line goes down, pardon my ignorance, is it always live?

MELTON:  We assume that they are live.  We don‘t take that chance, and we will close the streets off, and we have been doing that this afternoon.  We had one go down right in front of city hall.  We had to block that area of downtown Jackson off, but I would rather be safe than sorry, and my assumption is they are live.  Although the electricity may be off in other parts of the city, I would just rather not take that chance. 

I have implemented a curfew here in the city until 8 a.m. in the morning, because I don‘t want people out where they don‘t have clear vision and accidentally step on or run across a power line or a tree limb. 

CARLSON:  Now Mr. Mayor, we have breaking news coming across our screen from the Associated Press.  Fifty hurricane related deaths in Harrison County, Mississippi.  Can you tell us where that is precisely?

MELTON:  Yes, sir.  That‘s on the Gulf Coast.  Harrison County is just near just the place you were talking about earlier, when your meteorologist was giving the report about the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Harrison County is down on the coast. 

CARLSON:  Right.  What about that, how far is that from where you are?

MELTON:  About 150 miles. 

CARLSON:  What time did the storm hit Jackson?

MELTON:  Between 6:15 and 7 p.m.

CARLSON:  Where were you?

COLMES:  So we were indoors when the out at the university with the kids, and making our rounds, and making sure that everybody was safe and secure.  We‘ve been out most of the day.  The only time I‘ve come to this location is to talk to you guys. 

CARLSON:  So were you indoors when the storm hit or were you outside?

MELTON:  No.  We were indoors. 

CARLSON:  What was it like?

MELTON:  Well, I‘m from Houston, Texas, and I have lived through hurricanes most of my life, but it was still pretty scary.  At my own personal home, I lost six trees.  I mean, very big trees. 

And the thing that‘s so fascinating about the power of the storm is that a lot of the trees that are down, and I am talking about oak trees, that they were uprooted.  I mean, you can see the roots of the tree, and that‘s a pretty strong wind. 

CARLSON:  That sounds like a tornado to me.  Did you have tornadoes in Jackson?

MELTON:  No, sir, we‘ve not had any indications of any type of tornado activity.  It was just a tremendous amount of rain accompanied by some very, very strong winds, and the winds were periodic.  They would come very hard.  Then they‘d stop for awhile.  And then they would come back.  And, you know, took out quite a few trees in the capital city. 

CARLSON:  Wow, that‘s amazing. 

Thank you, mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, thanks for joining us.  I know you‘re busy. 

MELTON:  You bet.  Thank you.  Bye-bye. 

CARLSON:  The pictures you were looking at there are similar to the ones you‘re going to see in a moment. 

When we come back, fresh video from New Orleans, not before aired.  We will be running this on a seven-second delay.  Candidly, this is so fresh, we haven‘t seen all of it ourselves.  You are seeing it for the first time.  As Katrina tears a soggy path in Mississippi, it is nighttime in the city of New Orleans.  How well did it survive, and how can it recover?  We‘ll tell you.  Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, when will residents of New Orleans be able to head home and assess the damage to their houses?  We‘ll have expert analyses.

But, I‘ll speak to a family who spent $3,700 bucks on a limo ride to get out of town.  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I used to live in Pennsylvania.  So I‘m not used to nothing like this.  I‘m a little nervous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BUSH:  In the meantime, Americans will pray.  Pray for the health and safety of all our citizens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  The Associated Press reporting at least 50 years in the Gulf Coast county of Harrison in the state of Mississippi tonight.

Well, 80 percent of New Orleans‘ half a million residences heated the evacuation order.  You never—one of them is yet around to the terms of that inundated city.  When they do return, they‘ll find a perpetually deadly, certainly expensive mess. 

Lieutenant Kevin Cowan is with the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness.  He joins us now by phone to elaborate on what‘s happening there.

Lieutenant Cowan, thanks for joining us. 

LT. KEVIN COWAN, LOUISIANA OFFICE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS:  I‘m Glad to be here. 

So what are people going to find when they return to New Orleans?

COWAN:  Unfortunately, it looks like there‘s going to be a lot of water.  Most of New Orleans is flooded under several feet of water.  A lot of trees knocked down, a lot of power lines.  It‘s pretty messy. 

CARLSON:  So when you say water, is this salt water, fresh water, what is in the water?

COWAN:  It‘s a combination.  There‘s a lot of heavy rain.  There was some breaching of the levee system that pushed the water into St. Bernard Parish and into New Orleans proper itself, flooding neighborhoods.  Streets are completely flooded. 

CARLSON:  So I take it it‘s not clean.  So what sort of medical problems might that kind of water give rise to?  What are you worried about?

COWAN:  Well, there‘s always the possibility for any type of stagnant water to set, but what we‘re planning is the pumps in New Orleans, hopefully, will be able to pump out the water relatively quickly. 

Crews are working nonstop to make sure that these pumps are operational and pumping out as much water as they can.  Efforts are being made to repair any damages to the levy system, so that more water will not be seeping back in.  So it‘s easier to pump water out and not have to work with the backfill. 

CARLSON:  I know there was a real fear last night the levees wouldn‘t hold.  How did they fare?

COWAN:  Actually pretty well.  There were some breaches where water was pushed over the top.  I am sure there were areas that the levee did fail.  We haven‘t gotten complete reports.  We are still getting reports from the various parishes, trying to find out the damage that they have been able to assess on the ground.  Once they get that information, they then, in turn, let us know so that we can coordinate getting the resources from the various state and federal agencies to help fix the problem. 

CARLSON:  People must be really anxious to return to their homes in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.  How long is it going to be before they can come back, do you think?

COWAN:  We‘re still waiting on the damage assessments.  Unfortunately, the evacuees that did leave are not able to return yet, because we want to make sure that it‘s safe for them to come back in. 

Sure, there are people that did stay in New Orleans, which we really couldn‘t control, and they are going about their business.  Unfortunately, they‘re in a dangerous situation because there are power lines that are down.  Some of them still in the water.

Could cause electrocution, so we‘re trying to stress the importance for people to be very, very wary outside, in the water, splashing around, driving through the water, because it is still very dangerous.  And we want to make sure that it is safe for those evacuees to return to a safe situation so that we can start the disaster recovery process. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Lieutenant Kevin Cowan, Louisiana office of emergency preparedness, thanks a lot for joining us. 

COWAN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Before Katrina arrived Monday morning, students arrived at Tulane University in New Orleans for the fall semester.  Not everyone wanted to start the school year riding out a Category 4 hurricane.  That would include Kyle Kogan, a freshman from New Orleans.  He got out of New Orleans in style and just in time Sunday night. 

Joining me now from his home, Kyle and his mom, Karen.  Thanks a lot for joining us.  So how did you get out?

KAREN KOGAN, MOTHER:  You go. 

KYLE KOGAN, FRESHMAN, TULANE UNIVERSITY:  Well, we first tried to—we had planes, obviously, but they were all canceled because of the wind.  Then we tried to rent a car, but all of the cars were rented out.  And then we went to bed.  We were going to weather it out. 

But my mom stayed awake, because she was so scared.  She couldn‘t handle it.  So—so she woke my dad up at 4:30.  He went to the desk and called around and found a limo who would take us all the way up to Chicago. 

CARLSON:  So what was your pitch to the limo driver, Karen, just can you take me to Chicago?  And what did he say?

KAREN KOGAN:  Marty just called around and found a limousine service that had an available car and asked one of the drivers if he‘d be willing to leave and take us to Chicago, and he certainly was willing to get out of there, too. 

And we were very excited, because we were very scared, and there was another couple standing behind Marty in the hotel, and Marty overheard them asking for a car, too, and they couldn‘t get one.  We got the last one, it sounds like. 

And so Marty said, you know, why don‘t you come with us?  Even though they were from South Dakota, they came to Chicago and flew out of Chicago after we got here and went home to South Dakota. 

CARLSON:  So what was the drive like?

KAREN KOGAN:  The drive, when we first left New Orleans, was very, very slow.  It took us about six or seven hours to go about 120 miles.  It was just bumper to bumper, but everybody was peaceful and just going along.  And not like we were smiling and waving at each other because we were all nervous, but nobody was honking and nobody—there was no road rage.  Everyone just tried to keep it together, to get out of there. 

KYLE KOGAN:  We were all calmed down as soon...

CARLSON:  I‘m sorry.  Go ahead, Kyle. 

KYLE KOGAN:  We all calmed down as soon.  As we were out of the seven-hour traffic jam out of New Orleans, we all calmed down and started talking and making jokes. 

CARLSON:  I can imagine.  That sounds—it sounds like a good time, better certainly than the option, which apparently was to get on a two-lane bus and drive to Jackson, Mississippi, to spend an unknown period of time in a shelter there.  Did you consider that?

KYLE KOGAN:  Well, initially, funny, I met a lot of people, girls especially, that said they were going.  So I‘m like, “OK, I want to go with.  It would be fun.” 

And I didn‘t—you know, I didn‘t think, first of all—it was a Category 3 at the time.  So I didn‘t think—you know, I thought it would be actually fun.

But now that my mom, you know, persistently said, “You‘re not going,” so I went home with her.  And I‘m happy now that I went home with her, because it would have been awful sitting in that gym for days. 

CARLSON:  So when are you going back to Tulane?

KYLE KOGAN:  They said the earliest is the seventh of September, but I‘m guessing it could be a month. 

KAREN KOGAN:  No. 

KYLE KOGAN:  It could be a month, with the waters, floodwaters. 

KAREN KOGAN:  Well, I hope not. 

KYLE KOGAN:  I hope not.

CARLSON:  Are you going to take a limo back?

KYLE KOGAN:  No, no, we‘re going to fly back.  We‘re going to fly back.

CARLSON:  I think that‘s a good choice.

KYLE KOGAN:  I never want to do that limo ride again. 

CARLSON:  Kyle and Karen Kogan, thanks a lot for joining us.  I‘m glad you‘re safe and sound in Chicago. 

KYRA KOGAN:  Thank you.

KAREN KOGAN:  Our pleasure.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  We should note that Harrison County, Mississippi, is confirming only four deaths.  The A.P. is continuing to report 50 have died there on the Gulf Coast of the Mississippi. 

Still ahead, there‘s only a sliver of coastline in Alabama, but hell blew through it Monday morning.  The pictures, the latest and the prognosis from Mobile, Alabama, when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have been on the windows, the debris from the trees that are beginning to shred.  You can see I just lost my hat. 

Stop about another 50 feet that way, it would be even stronger.  And it‘s also picking up, as you can see. 

Flying debris, and we‘ve got a piece right back here.  I don‘t know if you can see it, but it‘s starting to roll around the parking lot there.  And I mean, that‘s the stuff we‘re concerned about here with—you know, we‘re watching it. 

Now we‘re now dealing with the wind, and very light rain, and as you can see, the wind is still substantial. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Enduring images, of major weather events inevitably, but people cover them, braving elements to bring us their stories. 

John Donnell is the editor No; do not come fair to editor, major online affiliates for “New Orleans Times Picayune.”  He rode out Katrina Sunday night and Monday.  He joins us now.  Thanks a lot. 

JOHN DONNELL, EDITOR, “NEW ORLEANS TIMES PICAYUNE:  Hey, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  How was it?  Are you glad you stayed?

DONNELL:  Well, it was my job.  I wouldn‘t have missed it. 

CARLSON:  Was it as dramatic as you thought it would be?

DONNELL:  It was a little scarier than I thought it would be.  I‘ve actually flown into a hurricane before on a hurricane hunter flight, but that was a nice, safe C-130. 

CARLSON:  This was scarier than flying into a hurricane on a propeller plane?

DONNELL:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  So set the scene for us.  Where were you when it hit?

DONLEY:  We are in what we are call the hurricane bunker.  We created it after hurricane Georges to allow us and the “Times Picayune” to keep publishing something in a major weather event.  We are in the interior behind three levels of walls of the third floor of the “Times Picayune” building, which is on the edge of downtown New Orleans just a little north of the Superdome. 

And the outer wall windows are bullet proof glass, and then we have executive offices, and then the newsroom, and we are back another level on what‘s normally the photo lab, and this is the only area that now has electricity.  We‘ve been—general electricity off since about 6 this morning.  So we‘re...

CARLSON:  Have you been—I think most of our viewers are familiar with New Orleans, would be familiar with the French quarter.  Have you been down there?

DONLEY:  No, we have not been able to get out at all today until just about sunset.  We were still having pretty high winds, and we are far enough away from the downtown area that it‘s dangerous to get out unless you‘re in a very big vehicle, so we‘re planning to go down there tomorrow to see what kind of mess we got. 

CARLSON:  Is it dangerous because there‘s so much water in the streets or because of downed power lines?

DONLEY:  At the time, before it started getting dark, we were still getting tropical storm gusts, and we‘re now surrounded by water here at the “Times Picayune” building.  All of the roads are not real deep, but headlights, four feet deep, that range.  So we‘re kind of isolated out here. 

CARLSON:  Now, there were some reports this afternoon—and I have no idea if they‘re accurate, maybe you can tell me, that there was some looting in New Orleans today.  Have you heard that?

DONLEY:  Yes, there definitely was some looting in New Orleans.  We had—we had a couple of our photo and reporting teams out, making it to the nearby neighborhood, and they had friendly chats with people filing out of the stores with their bags of goods. 

CARLSON:  Are there no—there are no police around, no National Guardsmen, no one to stop it?

DONLEY:  All of the emergency crews that are out at the moment, there‘s no law enforcement that I know of, and I‘m sitting under a police scanner.  I am not hearing any law enforcement type calls.  It‘s all trying to get the people off the roofs in east New Orleans, the ninth ward, in Tremay (ph) before they drown.  Most of the efforts have been made to try and save people‘s lives. 

CARLSON:  Yea.  I imagine law enforcement triage at the moment. 

DONLEY:  Right. 

CARLSON:  John Donley, editor of Nowhere.com, editor with the “Times Picayune.”  Thanks a lot for joining us. 

DONLEY:  Thank you much. 

CARLSON:  Coming up, it was a hurricane problem until just hours ago,

but Katrina has left a different kind of problem now.  The man in charge of

fixing it joins us next with a forecast.  ‘

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Katrina is a pretty devastating hurricane.  I‘ve been through many of these since 1969.  I‘ve been on the Gulf of Mexico riding them out and each one has its own little thing it does. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

We know a lot about weather but not everything apparently.  We didn‘t get it exactly right. 

Brigadier General David Johnson is the director of the National Weather Service.  The weather service has inherited Katrina from the National Hurricane Center.  General Johnson joins us live from Washington, D.C.

General, what did we get wrong in forecasting this hurricane?

BRIG. GENERAL DAVID JOHNSON, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: 

Well, we did a pretty good job overall.  The team used the Air Force Reserve hurricane hunters, satellite pictures, as well as forecasting tools and about 48 hours out we projected a landfall point that only ended up being about 30 miles off and we had the speed pretty accurate at that point in time.  I think there‘s an opportunity to do a little bit more research to increase our knowledge of intensity but I think the whole team did a good job.

CARLSON:  Do you think that—I know that there was at least in the press the expectation that the effects of it were going to be biblical in one of the words that was floating around yesterday.  Do you think we overestimated its capacity to destroy or it was just good luck at the end that it didn‘t?

JOHNSON:  Well I think the cone of uncertainty is something that you guys in the media did a real good job explaining to the American public this time.  I think that beginning on Friday afternoon we had New Orleans included in the cone of uncertainty and had the track been just a couple of miles further west that northeast quadrant of the storm surge would have—would have exacerbated the issue for the metropolitan New Orleans area and you‘d be doing a much different story than you are tonight.

CARLSON:  Yes, thank God we‘re not.

JOHNSON:  Yes.

CARLSON:  There‘s been a lot of talk comparing this hurricane to previous hurricanes.  Can you put this into some perspective for us?  How big was this relative to hurricanes over the past 50 years?

JOHNSON:  Well, a lot of people are talking about Betsy and Camille.  I think with the significant increase in the population in the coastal counties in and around America we‘ll see some pretty significant damage numbers once it comes out. 

I‘m just thankful that the timely and accurate warning was out and that regional emergency managers had an opportunity to make good decisions and pass that on to the people. 

I think that the magnitude of this storm indicates that there are going to be some substantial losses overall.  I‘m just happy that a lot of people were able to get out.

CARLSON:  So, is this demographic change is that something you all worry about?  More people live on the coast I think than have lived on the coast at any time in American history.  Does that mean that every storm is potentially more deadly?

JOHNSON:  Potentially, you bet and our sister organization in Bureau of Census is also part of the Department of Commerce, along with NOAA and the Weather Service and they tell us that 53 percent of America now lives in coastal communities and that trend continues and that trend is worrisome to people who are charged with protecting lives and property.  So, yes, that‘s something that we pay attention to.

CARLSON:  That it is.  General David Johnson thanks for joining us.

JOHNSON:  You‘re welcome.

CARLSON:  Well, Katrina has covered a lot of ground since making landfall early this morning. 

NBC‘s Martin Savidge helps us retrace the steps of this historic storm.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Just before dawn, Katrina heads northwest, straight for the coast, down a hair from its 175 mile per hour peak but still a ferocious category four and New Orleans buckles in for a bumpy ride.

The storm makes landfall at 6:10 local time.

BILL KARINS, NBC METEOROLOGIST:  Hurricane Katrina, 140 mile per hour winds, a strong category four storm made landfall early on Monday in southern Louisiana, the worst damage throughout coastal locations of Mississippi all the way to Mobile.

SAVIDGE:  But what is hardship for Mississippi and Alabama where severe flooding is making rivers out of roads spares New Orleans from disaster.

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR, ®, MISSISSIPPI:  The storm surge has been much bigger than anything ever before.  The results have been in some cases people being trapped.

SAVIDGE:  By 10:00 a.m. Central Time, Katrina is weaker, a category three storm now but still plenty bad news for people here in New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It was incredible.  The noise is what‘s scary.

SAVIDGE (on camera):  You don‘t have to go far to find scenes that look like they‘re right out of a disaster movie.  This is just off of Canal Street.

(voice-over):  Biloxi, Mississippi now and winds are howling.  There‘s flying debris everywhere and high tide in the middle of the city.

JEFF RAMERI, NBC CORRRESPONDENT:  Right now the strongest part of Katrina barreling through Biloxi, Mississippi as the eye of the storm is completely over us right now with winds gusting in excess of 90 miles per hour, possibly over 100 at times.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Our Gulf Coast is getting hit and hit hard.  In the meantime, America will pray, pray for the health and safety of all our citizens.

SAVIDGE:  Noon, Central, Katrina is now a category two storm but winds are still gusting to 105 miles per hour.  Sadly, it‘s not enough to stop looters in New Orleans.  In New Orleans, a city mostly below sea level, residents emerging to assess the damage find the water is rushing in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I wouldn‘t do it again.  I wouldn‘t stay home. 

The feeling out there water through the windows.

SAVIDGE:  And folks rush to help.  Katrina may have moved on but she‘s still causing trouble to hundreds of thousands of people in New Orleans who are either homeless or without power tonight.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Coming up, the scariest description you‘ve ever heard of what‘s in all that water currently flooding New Orleans.  Put this way, alligators and snakes are not the creepy part.  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come now that Hurricane Katrina has stomped her way through the Gulf of Mexico, is she about to become the most expensive storm in U.S. history?  A leading oil analyst joins me next when THE SITUATION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBOUR:  It came in on Mississippi like a ton of bricks.  It‘s a terrible storm.  Whether it will turn out to be worse than Camille, Lord I hope not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What is your worst fear governor?

BARBOUR:  That there are a lot of dead people down there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour in an emotional

moment this afternoon; Biloxi, Mississippi, probably the town hardest hit

by Katrina. 

NBC News‘ David Shuster is in Biloxi.  He‘s been there since this began.  We talked to him last night.  He joins us now.  David, I‘m glad you‘re OK, first off.  Second, what‘s the latest?  We‘re hearing conflicting reports on people dead, AP reporting 50 in Harrison County.  There are conflicting reports saying as few as four.  Do you know anything about this?

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESONDENT:  Well, apparently NBC has contacted this official and he‘s denying that he said that but nobody is expecting that the number that we reported earlier, four dead, will actually stay.  Everyone thinks that the number is going to go up simply because, Tucker, there are so many parts of southern Mississippi where officials have no information.

The roads are blocked because of power lines or debris blocking the roads.  Other roads, for example, going into Biloxi are under water, no cell phones, no power, so as a result simply no information on a lot of people.

And given that, for example, the major of Biloxi told us last night that he expected perhaps as many as 5,000 to 10,000 people in the greater Biloxi area who should be evacuated were instead going to stay, there may be hundreds or perhaps even thousands of people who had some problems over the last day that officials simply don‘t know about so we do expect that the death toll will rise dramatically tomorrow, although everyone‘s hoping that perhaps, in fact, everyone survived.

CARLSON:  Have you had a chance to go out and about in Biloxi today?

SHUSTER:  We couldn‘t get there, Tucker.  We tried.  About five hours after the hurricane eye went through here we managed to sort of go on Highway 110 which leads south to Biloxi. 

We got about two miles and there‘s a town called D‘Iberville which is between here and sort of Biloxi proper.  It‘s a town of about 6,000 people and it was completely under water. 

The auto shops, the restaurants, the gas stations, the local high school totally demolished and unusable and so—and then when we tried to get a little bit closer to Biloxi there were power lines that were blocking the road and we couldn‘t get any further and apparently that was the same problem that some of the emergency management people had.

They apparently couldn‘t get into parts of Biloxi until very late today, so we really don‘t know exactly what the damage was or what we‘re going to find tomorrow. 

We‘re hoping that by tomorrow some of the emergency crews will have cleared the roadways because they want to try to start getting some emergency supplies in there for the people who may need it.  And, remember, there‘s no power.  There‘s no water, no electricity, nothing, so the people who are there are really in some dire straits. 

CARLSON:  It sounds like a war zone.  There‘s been so much focus over the last 24 hours on New Orleans and Louisiana more generally and then so much relief that that city was spared the brunt of this hurricane.  I think people tend to lose sight of the fact that Mississippi is really the place that bore the real strength of this storm.

Tell us about your experience last night.  We had talked at about midnight right before, a couple hours before the storm started.  You were bracing for it.  What did it end up being like?

SHUSTER:  Tucker, it was really strange.  I mean everything that I had heard about hurricanes is that it comes in and within a couple hours it‘s gone and, you know, in the midst of it when they eye comes over the sun comes out and it‘s really quiet.

This was nothing like that at all.  I mean the rain gradually hour by hour after we were on the air with you last night picked up from 20 miles per hour, 30, 40, 50 and by dawn this morning we were getting gusts of 70 or 80 miles per hour.

And then when the eye came through there was no—there was no quiet at all and, in fact, there were some gusts of over 100 miles per hour that were registering at our hotel.  And, remember, we were sort of blocked by the hotel as far as where our camera position was and the wind is much stronger closer to the coast.

And this went on literally for like eight hours today.  I think it was maybe only about six hours after the storm had sort of passed through when it finally started to calm down but even a few hours ago when we were doing some reports tonight there were gusts of 40, 50 miles an hour that would kick up, so that I think just underscored the enormity.

The other thing, Tucker, is when the winds are really kicking up, 100 miles per hour, I mean it was just chaos as far as you couldn‘t see very much.  The stop signs were bent over.  Some of the signs we were talking about last night advertising the restaurants they were peeling apart. 

You saw sort of the edges of the roof decks were coming off and there was metal debris that was flying through the air and that‘s the stuff, you know, obviously you worry about because if that hits your hotel, your building, or I suppose your house then you‘re in some—you‘re in some trouble.

CARLSON:  Yes, I guess.

SHUSTER:  It was, you know, frankly it was pretty scary.

CARLSON:  Now, how did the people you were with at the hotel who aren‘t with NBC News who just happened to be stuck in this hotel for the night how are they responding to all this?

SHUSTER:  Well, they were pretty sad in part because they were hearing some of the same reports and getting some anecdotal information that what they had left behind was under water.

But beyond that, it was pretty—it wasn‘t such a great situation at the hotel given that for a lot of people I mean when the power goes out, the lights go out, the electricity, the air-conditioner goes out.

And then on top of that a lot of people had brought their pets, their dogs and their cats and, you know, I‘m a pet lover but when you have dogs who are just as scared as human beings they tend to do things to the inside of a hotel that make it smell and there‘s nobody around to clean it up.

And, you know, the toilets don‘t work and there‘s no water and so for the people who at least have some shelter, I think they were grateful that, you know, the roof didn‘t blow off on the hotel but you really got a sense that, you know, if it was sort of bad for these people in the hotel and they‘re having to deal with these sort of conditions of not having the sort of creature comforts.

Everyone said, you know, you can imagine how much worse it is for the people who decided to stay in their homes closer to the water who not only lost all of that as well but also had the their roofs peel off and had all the windows smashed because of the debris and everything flying through the air.

So, I think people were uncomfortable today and I think they‘re going to be uncomfortable for a while given that people are talking about there not being power here for at least maybe even a couple of weeks but I think at least the people at our hotel were fairly grateful that nobody was hurt.

CARLSON;  It just sounds like a completely different country.  David Shuster we‘re glad you‘re not hurt.  Thanks.

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Talk to you later.

Coming up, we‘re going to have amazing video from New Orleans, the Hyatt Hotel took, there it is right there, that‘s the Hyatt Hotel in New Orleans.  If you‘ve been in New Orleans you know that hotel.  It looks like an entire side of it is missing the glass.  You see the curtains blowing in the wind there.  We earlier had pictures up of some of those curtains on Canal Street hanging off the gas lamps like streamers.  Look at that.  The whole side of it.

Apparently, almost every hotel and almost every high rise hotel in New Orleans was full to capacity in many cases.  I think the Hyatt was among them.  There were people in that hotel when that happened.  All that glass went somewhere, not clear where it went, down of course, not sure at this point if anyone was hurt by it.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  You‘re watching video we‘ve just received of a Coast Guard rescue.  We believe it‘s in Louisiana.  You can see people on their roofs, water all the way up, all the way up to the roof line, people clamoring out to be rescued by the Coast Guard.  They‘ve apparently chopped through the roofs from the inside. 

You can see that brown stuff is water right there.  That‘s amazing.  I believe this was shot today at some point, part of a huge trove of videotape MSNBC has just obtained.  We‘ll be showing it throughout the night and into tomorrow.  Haven‘t had time to see most of it but we‘re going to bring it to you as soon as we do.  Look at that.

Well, Denton Cinquegrana is an analyst with the Oil Price Information Service, an expert on petroleum and the markets.  Denton, thanks a lot for joining us.

DENTON CINQUEGRANA, OIL ANALYST:  My pleasure.

CARLSON;  Oil prices spiked on news of Katrina, why and what‘s going to happen?

CINQUEGRANA:  Well, the market is filled with panic to begin with based on what‘s happened in the Middle East, storms that happen to go through the Gulf Coast and through the Gulf of Mexico where most of the oil production in the U.S. is and when that happens everyone tends to buy and no one wants to sell.

CARLSON:  So, I read that there is something like let‘s say, hey I think this is right, eight refineries closed down.

CINQUEGRANA:  Yes.

CARLSON:  And something like 20 percent of American gasoline comes from those eight refineries.  Is this in the ballpark?

CINQUEGRANA:  Yes, yes it definitely is.

CARLSON:  But why is such a small number of refineries responsible in a fairly small geographic area responsible for such a huge percentage of American gasoline production?  It seems like a lot of eggs in one basket.

CINQUEGRANA:  It is and there‘s the largest concentration of refineries in the U.S. is along that Gulf Coast and that‘s partially because the oil production is in the Gulf of Mexico so it has a shorter distance to travel.  From there, from all those refineries it‘s distributed through up to the East Coast, up into the Midwest, so there‘s a lot of...

CARLSON:  By pipeline?

CINQUEGRANA:  By pipeline, correct.

CARLSON:  So, are those pipelines affected?

CINQUEGRANA:  They‘ll be affected.  A couple of them have shut down.  One of the worst things that could happen is having water get mixed in with the pipeline and contaminate the product and it‘s completely useless at that point.

CARLSON:  It has to be literally thrown away at that point?

CINQUEGRANA:  Yes, discarded.  It‘s not good anymore especially when it gets contaminated with water.

CARLSON:  So, I guess the micro question is how long will this stoppage go on and the macro question is when are we going to build more refineries?

CINQUEGRANA:  Both good questions.  In the short term, we‘re still going to have to wait and see what kind of impact we‘ve had on the refineries based on the shut downs.  It will probably take another day or two but if there was any sort of flooding, it could be—it could be very ugly.

As far as building new refineries that‘s a—that‘s a tougher question.  There hasn‘t been a new refinery built in this country from the ground up in at least 25 years.

CARLSON:  It sounds like we need them.

CINQUEGRANA:  We could definitely use them.  There‘s just a permitting process and getting permits from the EPA, state, local and federal entities and just the community backlashes that might come with trying to build a refinery.

CARLSON:  So, news tonight has the president considering strongly, possibly even deciding to dip into the strategic petroleum reserve.  Is that definitely going to happen do you know and is it a good idea do you think?

CINQUEGRANA:  I don‘t know if it‘s going to happen.  Psychologically for the market it would be a help but really there‘s enough crude oil around.  It‘s just that there‘s not enough refineries to turn it into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel.

CARLSON:  What‘s going to happen to gas prices in the short term?

CINQUEGRANA:  Short term we‘re definitely going to see potentially ten to 20, maybe even 30 cents of price rise over the next 30 days or so.

CARLSON:  Per gallon?

CINQUEGRANA:  Per gallon, yes, this...

CARLSON:  You can see a 30-cent price rise per gallon?

CINQUEGRANA:  Based on what‘s been happening in the market and the supply situation has been very tight in places like the southeast and the Midwest, so this hurricane really has exacerbated that.

CARLSON:  That‘s huge.  I mean that affects everything from the (INAUDIBLE) the price of your tomatoes.

CINQUEGRANA:  Absolutely.

CARLSON:  All right, Denton Cinquegrana thanks very much, appreciate it.

CINQUEGRANA:  My pleasure.

CARLSON:  Well, from Biloxi to Jackson, Mississippi bore the brunt of Katrina.  Is Tennessee the next state in her sights?  An update from the Weather Center when THE SITUATION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:   You can‘t take a chance you know.  It‘s not just me and my wife.  It‘s, you know, the young ones too.  They have no choice, so you have to make up your mind for everybody it‘s time to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  One last check of Katrina‘s path with NBC Weather Plus Meteorologist Bill Karins—Bill.

(WEATHER FORECAST)

CARLSON:  Bill Karins, thanks.

Well, we‘ve got lots more ahead all through the night and into tomorrow.  We‘re going to be telling you exactly what‘s happening in the aftermath of Katrina.

But now I want to show you video we‘ve just received.  This is apparently a marina fire in Louisiana shot, of course, from the air, pulling back.  There it is.  Look at that.  You can see a lot of the boats clearly wrecked in the marina.

The outlines of this disaster just becoming clear.  We‘ll bring you the details as we get them.

That‘s THE SITUATION for tonight.  I‘m Tucker Carlson.  We‘ll see you tomorrow, Tuesday night, 11:00 p.m. Eastern, live as always.  Thanks for watching.

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

END   

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