updated 8/31/2005 5:05:10 PM ET 2005-08-31T21:05:10

Guest: Peter Teahen, Jim Burton, Dalton Cunningham, David Vitter

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is live tonight in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Friends, this is ground zero of Hurricane Katrina.  We got over here earlier this morning.  I have been here for 12 hours.  I have never seen utter destruction like I have seen here in Biloxi, Mississippi.  And it‘s that way all the way up and down the coast; 85 miles southwest of us right now, in New Orleans, Louisiana, that is a city on the brink of total collapse.  The Crescent City is covered in some places in up to 20 feet of water, 80 percent of New Orleans right now underwater and reports tonight that additional levees may break.  It‘s a dire night. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed. 

ANNOUNCER:  From Biloxi, Mississippi, here‘s Joe Scarborough.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, friends, I‘m sure most of you know that watch this show, I have lived on the Gulf Coast for over 30 years now.  I followed hurricanes, too, closely.  We have all grown up talking about the legend of Camille, the dark legend of a hurricane that crashed right on these shores behind us back in 1969, killed some people, destroyed some property, but nothing like what I have seen today. 

You can look at the buildings.  And there are shots, there are aerial shots that you‘re going to be seeing throughout the show, that shows you from a distance what this city, what this community, what this state has been going through.  And, as you can see, they are devastating images.  But, friends, we also walk the streets of Biloxi and heartbreaking stories. 

There is a story—we brought water over from Pensacola, Florida.  It‘s only a couple hours away, because I knew, when we went through Ivan last year, almost this time last year, we knew that water was a precious commodity.  So, we brought over 1,000 bottles of water.  And we would pass it out to anybody that looked like they needed it. 

One man came up to us.  He took the water, took it back to his wife.  She was weeping silently in the passenger side of the front seat.  And the man looked down.  He said, how much do I owe you?  I don‘t have much.  I have lost everything.  And we said, you owe us nothing.  They drove away weeping. 

A couple of minutes later, we came across a young couple and their 15-month-old daughter.  She was covered in dirt from head to toe.  They were parched.  The father came up to me after we gave them water and he said, all is lost.  Is there anything left?  And I said, no, sir, it doesn‘t look like there‘s anything left. 

He has nothing left.  And so, you take those personal shots, friends.  And, again, look at these aerial shots of Biloxi, Mississippi.  You can go from Biloxi to Gautier, Mississippi, to Gulfport to Pascagoula, so many of these beautiful antebellum homes up and down the coastline destroyed.  They survived a Civil War.  They survived the Great Depression.  They survived the onslaught of Hurricane Camille in 1969.  But, friends, they were reduced to rubble just a few days ago. 

It is a devastating scene.  We‘re going to continue talking about what I have seen in Biloxi, what so many other people are seeing in Biloxi.  And, right now, you can see as you come off of I-10 the rescue trucks coming into town.  And they‘ve got a long, long job ahead of them.  We will talk about that.

But, right now, let‘s go to New Orleans, Louisiana, where the scene is just as dire. 

Let‘s go to David (sic) Handelsman, who is down there right now and can tell us about what‘s going on. 

David (sic), I understand the situation in New Orleans is dire—

Steve.  And I hear it‘s getting worse by the moment.  Bring us up to date with the very latest. 

STEVE HANDELSMAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s right, Joe.  That‘s right. 

Well, let‘s start with right now.  It is dark, hot and scary here in New Orleans; 80 percent of the city is flooded.  We‘re right in the middle of Canal Street.  And we‘re in a high and dry area, one of the rare ones.  But you can see back there that light, that arrow that‘s pointing to your left.  You notice it‘s a double image.  That‘s a reflection.  Just a block down the street, the water starts.  And the further east you go, the further north you go in the city of New Orleans, the worse the flooding is. 

For an update on that, we have got to go into a slight area of speculation.  Officials, the communication, as you can imagine, Joe, is terrible here, police radios, almost all of them, dead, the fire radios dead.  Their repeaters don‘t work.  They don‘t know what‘s going on from their Central Command. 

And “The Times Picayune,” for example, the Pulitzer Prize-winning paper here in New Orleans, the building had to be abandoned because of flooding.  So, the flow of news and information is terrible in New Orleans tonight, along with pretty much everything else.  But I can tell you what we have heard from journalists who have been up to the area where they‘re working on the levees.  And that is, they have failed so far to patch the couple of big gaps in a couple of levees that has let the water in from Lake Pontchartrain. 

Just a quick reminder of the flood process here.  So-called Lake Pontchartrain is actually linked to the Gulf of Mexico.  It‘s actually a branch, if you will, of the sea.  And, as Hurricane Katrina moved in to smash Mississippi and Alabama, it forced enough water up in the Lake Pontchartrain that we had what residents here have feared for generations.  And that is enough of a storm surge to overwhelm the pumps to overtop the levees.  And all that water is now moving through New Orleans. 

A lot of it is supposed to be pumped out, as you know, Joe, and there are unconfirmed reports tonight that there are problems with the pumps.  Certainly, anything that uses power is in trouble in the city of New Orleans.

For example, a small aside—we will get back to the flooding in a second.  Tulane University Hospital, one of the main medical centers here in town, where the many people injured in this calamity have been taken, just reported just now that its generator has failed for lack of diesel fuel.  And even though employees of the hospital ran out and tried to siphon what they could, they tried to get some fuel in, the generators quit.  The hospital went out of power.

And so, tonight, by the light of flashlights and portable lights, they‘re bringing choppers into the roof of Tulane Medical Center to evacuate that medical center. 

Back to the flooding. 

(CROSSTALK)

HANDELSMAN:  The waters rose rapidly, Joe, here this morning, trapping many, many tens of thousands of people in the east and in the northern part of New Orleans—Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve, this sounds like a nightmare scenario that you‘re laying out for us right now.  Add to that, you talked about—you talked about how it was hot, how it was a terrible situation, how it was a frightening situation.  We could talk about the alligators that are now, let‘s face it, roaming through neighborhoods, talk about the hundreds to thousands of snakes that are going through the city. 

But, also, a human dimension to the tragedy, Steve.  And that is looting. 

HANDELSMAN:  Right.  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tell us about the situation.  Do you have a civil society that is breaking down right now? 

(CROSSTALK)

HANDELSMAN:  Well, it‘s hard to quantify it, Joe.  But I can tell you, in the downtown area, which young people and poor people in New Orleans knows has the stuff that they want to steal, there was a lot of looting today, and there‘s still been some tonight. 

Just up that way is a Wal-Mart.  It was full of looters.  Now it‘s full of cops with M-16s.  They patrolled heavily after a spate of looting about midday here in the downtown area and they knocked it down.  And they went into the French Quarter at about dusk with a heavy display of weaponry and police personnel, telling people, number one, don‘t loot, and, number two, pack up and get out of New Orleans, which is the official plan now. 

They‘re even, to switch to another topic, Joe, having to close the Superdome.  The Superdome, the big dome stadium here, was the refuge for 10,000-plus New Orleanians who didn‘t evacuate the city, many who couldn‘t evacuate the city, because they had no where to go or no way to get out.  They went there and they weathered the hurricane, despite the fact that high winds damaged the roof. 

Then the Superdome became the place to go for people forced out by rapidly rising waters this morning, Joe.  Everybody we saw who were walking out through waist-deep water or getting boats that were taking them to dry land so they could hike, everyone was saying, we‘re headed to the Superdome.  So many people got there.  And people are complaining, the planning was so poor, Joe, that they‘ve run out of food and water.  They say they can‘t support the place medically. 

So, that evacuation center, Joe, will be now evacuated sometime soon, when they figure out where to take people, how to get people out, and how to get around the—past the ring of water that surrounds the Superdome now like a moat. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve, this is a nightmare scenario.  Have you talked to any officials who have given you any idea of how they‘re going to get these basically refugees out of the city and what they‘re going to do to start reestablishing order there?  I mean, are we talking about something that could be months away? 

HANDELSMAN:  Well, certainly days away before they do something about the Superdome, Joe. 

I think, on the hierarchy, you‘ve got the flooding.  That‘s what drives the whole problem.  They can‘t reenergize the city.  They can‘t repair the wiring.  They can‘t get power and water up until they stop the flooding.  So, that‘s a number one problem. 

Looting is down here.  It‘s a terrible, terrible problem, Joe, with so many people trapped in homes due to the unexpectedly quick rise of the water.  These are people that decided on their own to weather the hurricane who made it out OK, who probably—this is speculation—might have made it out and might have made it through even if the strongest winds had come to New Orleans, come to New Orleans, because these are tightly packed houses, low-lying, in low-lying areas.

But then came the flood, unexpectedly, not from rain or from immediate storm surge, like you‘re seeing out there in Mississippi and like affected Alabama, but water that seeped, but seeped fast enough, Joe, that it overwhelmed these people and it came in the dark of night.  They woke up this morning to go out on the porches that they‘d been on after the hurricane passed to find the porches underwater. 

So, to get back to your original question one would guess that they‘ll use military-kind of vehicles.  Humvees are too low.  These vehicles that the National Guard calls the deuce-and-a-half, the two-and-a-half-ton truck, it rides very high.  It‘s got 10-wheel drive.  They can put people in there.  But just do the math, if there are 10,000, 15,000 people in the Superdome.  And most people headed there would have no idea that the word has gone out it will be evacuated, they‘ll continue there.  So, they‘ll have tens of thousands of people plus that they‘ve got to get out to shelters somewhere outside the city of New Orleans. 

Joe, they want everybody to leave, not just the people in the Superdome. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you what, Steve.  It sounds like a meltdown in the Crescent City.  Thank you so much for being with us.

HANDELSMAN:  You‘re welcome. 

SCARBOROUGH:  NBC News‘ Steve Handelsman, greatly appreciate it. 

Friends, I will tell you what.  Steve talked about people in New Orleans, residents of New Orleans, waking up in the morning, finding out that water had risen up to their porches, into their homes.  We saw scenes of remarkable rescues throughout the day today, from video from yesterday, where, again—and this happens.  Again, I keep going back to my experience and the experience of my friends. 

One of our producers that work on this show actually has a home in the Pensacola area.  He went to sleep at midnight before Ivan.  And when he woke up at 3:00 a.m., he had three to four feet of water in his house and it kept rising.  It‘s a frightening—it‘s such a frightening situation for people that have been through this sort of thing.

But, friends, I think we‘re in new territory with Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath.

And somebody who knows that better than most of us is Louisiana Senator David Vitter. 

Senator, last night, when we spoke, we were talking about how New Orleans missed the big one, the big one that we all have been fearing for the past 30 or 40 years. 

SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA:  Sure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But it seems, in your hometown, David, that things are actually getting worse and not better.  Talk about the situation with the levees and about your city being 80 percent underwater. 

VITTER:  Well, that‘s the big challenge right now, is plugging these leaks in the levees.

And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard are completely focused on that.  Now, I do think there‘s a bit of hysteria out there, that, overnight, there‘s going to be 20 feet of water everywhere.  And I think we need to calm down from that.  But it is certainly a serious problem that a lot of folks, led by the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard, are trying to address right now, in terms of plugging the breaks in the levees to stop any rising water.  That‘s step one. 

Step two is to pump the water out over a significant period of time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Senator, I‘m glad you brought that up.  You talk about the hysteria that‘s out there.  I will be honest with you.  Our newsroom is buzzing with reports from a professor that came on talking about the possibility of breaches in other levees.  Is that hyperbole or is there a chance that could happen? 

VITTER:  Well, Joe, there are all sorts of possibilities, but the fact is, the whole levee system went through probably the worst hurricane in U.S. history.

And we have two select breaches and they‘re being addressed now.  So, sure, all sorts of things are happen—can happen, but they‘re not necessarily happening. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Senator Vitter, stay with us.  We are going to be going to break. 

And, friends, when we come back, much more.  We‘re going to be talking about the scene here in Biloxi, Mississippi, again, a scene of devastation I have never seen in the United States of America.  I‘m going to be talking to a reporter who served in war zones across the world.  And he‘s going to compare what he‘s seeing here today with what he‘s seen in Bosnia, what he‘s seen in Baghdad.  

We will be back with more with looting, snakes, alligators, and a situation rapidly getting out of control in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Be back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We are live in Biloxi, Mississippi, looking at Katrina‘s horrible aftermath.  We will be back with much more and some shocking images, when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  As I said, I came over to Biloxi, Mississippi, earlier today, saw scenes of devastation like I have never seen before. 

You know, last year in Pensacola, Florida, we went through Hurricane Ivan.  At the time, many people said it was the worst hurricane, the worst situation they‘d ever seen.  Well, I will tell you what.  You talk to somebody in Mississippi and they‘ll say no hurricane came close to rivaling Camille.  That is, of course, until Katrina crashed on shore. 

I walked up and down the—I think it‘s Highway 90, the beachfront road here in Biloxi today, talked to people that had endured so much during this storm and are now really looking at their homes and looking at their possessions and realizing that almost all is lost. 

Here is an interview I had with a man that I came across who said he and his family lost all of their homes in one night. 

Let‘s go to the interview. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This was my grandmother‘s house, the foundation you‘re standing in.  There was a two-story garage apartment back there.  My uncle‘s house was right next door here.  It was a two-story house.  And my grandmother‘s house is two-story.  That‘s what we call the old Parker (ph) house.  It was two-story, had an apartment upstairs. 

And this is my aunt‘s house directly behind us here.  This house and my uncle‘s house totally gone and my aunt‘s house is totally destroyed. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m from Pensacola, just a couple hours west of here.  Heard time and again that Camille was the worst storm ever.  And yet, a lot of old antebellum houses survived Camille.  That wasn‘t the case here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This—this—according to what everyone is telling me and saying is that this house had more water, more rising water.  I don‘t know that it had any more wave action or tidal surge, but it just had more water, like 21.5, 22 feet in still areas, and that much here on the beach, plus 12, 13 feet of wave action. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m looking around here.  You‘re talking about—this is your family.  I mean, this is obviously where you grew up, where your family grew up. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where I grew up.

SCARBOROUGH:  What are your thoughts?  And, you know, there are so many different emotions when my friends lost everything in Ivan last year.  What are your emotions?  What are your thoughts today as you look around at your history, your family history, and see that it‘s just reduced? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know, I don‘t know how you handle this.  I thought I handled Vietnam pretty well, but I don‘t know—I can‘t handle it.  I don‘t know that I‘m handling this well at all.  It‘s just such an emotionally stressful situation. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  It is such an emotionally stressful situation.  And a man who has been going across Biloxi and this part of Mississippi for the past few days and talking to people that have gone through just a personal living hell is MSNBC‘s David Shuster. 

David, I know you‘ve been here longer than I have.  The stories that you‘ve been hearing, they‘ve just had to be heartbreaking.  Tell us about what you‘ve seen. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Joe, I mean, obviously, there‘s a great sense of optimism among the people, even as they come back and see their homes destroyed. 

For example, the optimistic side would be, the guy who came back, his home was completely leveled.  He‘s a musician.  You‘re a musician.  What does he find in his case?  He finds his guitar.  It‘s a little bit out of tune.  The strings are there.  He says, you know what?  I can start my life right here with this. 

Then you hear the stories about, regardless of what people find in their homes, the fact that they‘re so lucky to be alive, the family that—the waters were rising.  They swam to their neighbor‘s house.  They had a backup plan that, if they couldn‘t stay on their neighbor‘s house, there was a taller roof next door.  They would swim to that.  They grab on for dear life three-and-a-half hours, facing 100-mile-per-hour winds. 

Miraculously, they survive.  Two houses over, the people who tried to do the same thing did not.  And it‘s like that everywhere you turn.  Every block, every time you interview anybody, everywhere you point the camera, everyone has an incredible story. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Talk about the war zones you‘ve been in.  It seems to me, when you look at hurricane coverage, a lot of times people get a little excited.  A shutter falls off a window and they start screaming.  But you‘ve been in war zones.  You‘ve been in Bosnia.  You‘ve been in Baghdad.  Compare those war zones with what you‘ve seen today in Gulfport and D‘Iberville and down here in Biloxi. 

SHUSTER:  Well, what‘s so striking for anybody who comes down here, first of all, compared to, say, what you might see in Baghdad or Bosnia, is that, everywhere you look here, there is debris.  There is.  There‘s debris.  There are bricks.  There‘s garbage everywhere.  I mean, you have pockets of that in Baghdad, where there‘s clearly debris where buildings have been exploded and brought down.  Fine.

But here, it is so widespread.  And everywhere you turn, there‘s just

·         there‘s garbage.  There‘s debris.  There are people who don‘t have lights on.  I mean, it‘s just—it‘s incredible.  The other thing about it is, while the long-term situation obviously is going to be better here—relief is on the way.  The first trucks just arrived.  So, that‘s of course better than maybe perhaps Baghdad or certainly than Bosnia. 

In the short term, the amount of sort of confusion with no communications—there is no black market for water, like you might have in a Baghdad or like you might have in Bosnia, because nobody has it here.  There is no black market for generators or for oil.  It just doesn‘t exist. 

I mean, there‘s nowhere to turn to find it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, I mean, you look—you look around and you see absolutely nothing.  It‘s like we are in the middle of a black inkwell, where the light here—I mean, people all across this area that we saw today, so many young children and their parents stumbling around. 

You know, we heard the story of one man who had all of his possessions in a backpack.  They have got no water, very little security, no restrooms, no sanitation, no nothing, no hospitals.  This is—this is—in all your years of reporting, this has got to be one of the most dire situations you‘ve seen. 

SHUSTER:  And you put your finger on it, Joe, and that is the variables. 

In a war zone, yes, maybe the variable is, you walk down the street, an explosive device and that‘s it.  Or maybe there‘s a sniper or a mortar shell.  But you don‘t have to deal with everything at once.  You don‘t have to deal with not having a roof.  You don‘t have to deal with not having electricity, not having water.  We saw people fighting over water bottles today, not having any gasoline, not knowing who to turn, not having any information because cell phone service is so spotty. 

There are people—most of the people we talked to today, they have

no way of telling their families that they survived because they have no

way of communicating to them, no way of getting messages, no—it‘s just -

·         it‘s the number of variables that are just up in the air.  That‘s what just—is just mind-blowing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What‘s the most moving moment you‘ve seen since you‘ve been here? 

SHUSTER:  I think the most moving moment was the woman whose son was buried in a cemetery just over there.  And she talked about visiting to see what happened to the cemetery, all the tombstones knocked over, the caskets all over the place and her son somewhere in there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.

I just saw—yes, walked through the cemetery today.  You saw baby caskets.  You saw tombstones broken, other caskets literally lifted out of the ground and thrown across the street.  A great tragedy here. 

David Shuster, thanks so much.

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Joe.  Appreciate it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate it and appreciate your reporting. 

It‘s been remarkable. 

We will be right back with some heroic rescues in New Orleans.  You‘re not going to believe some of the images that were caught by helicopter of Coast Guard people going out and literally pulling people into their grasp, saving them from certain death. 

That, plus the looting spree, plus what you can do, friends, what you can do tonight to help alleviate some of the terrible suffering that the people of Mississippi and the Gulf Coast are experiencing. 

All that and a lot more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This place is just devastated.  It‘s just unreal.  I have never been through anything like this before.  It‘s—I don‘t know what to say.  I‘m just lucky to be alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Amid heartbreak, stories of heroism across New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast.  We are going to bring you that story, that footage, more with Senator Vitter, also going to tell you how you can help, that and a lot more.

But, first, here is the news that you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From Biloxi, Mississippi, once again, Joe Scarborough. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to Biloxi, Mississippi. 

As we have been telling you for the first 30 minutes tonight, I have been surveying this situation, as has David Shuster and several other people, obviously, a lot of reporters down here, who are saying that it‘s just—it‘s scenes of devastation that they‘ve never seen in all of their years of reporting. 

But I have got to tell you, right now, the situation in New Orleans is just as dire. 

I want to bring back in Senator David Vitter, a senator from Louisiana. 

Senator, thank you so much for being back with us. 

VITTER:  Sure, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I—we have got reports tonight of the possibility of a new levee being breached in New Orleans at the 17th Street canal.  Do you have any reports on that as of now? 

VITTER:  Yes.  That‘s not a new breach.  That‘s an old breach.  That‘s been going on for over 24 hours. 

I flew over it today.  And it‘s certainly a serious situation.  I just between literally my last call and now—to you and now, I walked in and out of a briefing with an Army Corps of Engineer general and other folks who are coming up with a plan to address that, probably by sinking some grain barges where that canal meets Lake Pontchartrain and stopping about 90 percent of the flow into the canal, as they address the breach, rather than just address the breach, which could take some time to try to cut off the entrance of the canal to the lake. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Senator, we have been talking about some great scenes of heroism.  So many people in your great state have shown their best great scenes of rescue, grabbing people off of their roofs, bringing them to safety. 

Unfortunately, there‘s also been a—unfortunately, a less noble side, as looting has broken out across New Orleans.  What can you tell us about that and do you believe that situation has stabilized now? 

VITTER:  Well, I know there are those incidents.  I don‘t know exactly the number. 

I do know the Army National Guard and NOPD is all over that and very focused on it.  But I just don‘t have details or numbers to give you.  You know, these sorts of situations, Joe, I think bring out the core of folks.  And either that‘s good or bad.  I think, in the huge, huge majority of cases, for New Orleans citizens and Louisianians, it‘s bringing out the best.  And you‘ve been great reporting, some of those real acts of heroism.  I think that‘s the huge majority.

(CROSSTALK)

VITTER:  But there are certainly some folks who are on the other side of that equation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Unfortunately, there are, and some shocking video that did come out early today of looting in Wal-Mart.  But, again, I believe that‘s a minority, just like you believe that‘s just a small part of—a small part of the people in New Orleans. 

Let‘s talk about—I understand that, obviously, all officials are stepping up calls for evacuation.  Is there right now a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans?  And what can officials do to enforce that evacuation? 

VITTER:  Well, certainly, anybody who is there who can get out should get out.  And I‘m sure they need no urging from me.  They‘re there in the thick of it, and they know, if they can get out to more comfortable territory with electricity and clean water and all, they‘re going to do that.  So, of course, that makes sense for as many people as we can move out. 

Now, that‘s not going to happen immediately.  And we‘re stabilizing the situation.  It may not have to happen completely at any time, but it‘s going to take a few days to tell. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Hey, Senator, I want to thank you for being with us tonight.  And like I said last night, our thoughts and prayers are with you. 

VITTER:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Your family, all the people in New Orleans and across the state. 

VITTER:  Well, I appreciate it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to ask you, though, final question.

VITTER:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  What can people in Pensacola, in Little Rock, in Nashville, in New York, in California, what can they do to help your people get through this terrible time? 

VITTER:  Well, number one, they can offer their prayers.  And I really mean that sincerely.  I absolutely believe in the power of prayer.  And we certainly prayed for the poor folks in Florida who have been hit over and over by hurricanes.  So, all those folks you mentioned can offer their prayers.

And, number two, there will be significant relief efforts through the Red Cross and other agencies, mostly nongovernmental agencies.  So, they can offer some sacrifice there to help poor folks out. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  They‘re going to need it.  Thank you so much, David Vitter.

VITTER:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I really appreciate you being with us tonight.  And, again, you know our prayers are with you. 

And, friends, you do need to help, because, I have to tell you, when a hurricane is hitting Florida, a lot of people who suffer are people that live on barrier islands and live very well.  In Biloxi, in New Orleans, that‘s just not simply the case.  The people who suffer in these hurricanes are people who can afford it the least. 

And somebody who understands about suffering in this area is NBC‘s Ron Mott.  He has been in Gulfport, Mississippi, following all the occurrences over the past 24 hours. 

Ron, give us the situation there.  It‘s pretty bleak, isn‘t it? 

RON MOTT, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, very bleak, Joe, a lot of suffering going on here, as it is along the entire central northern Gulf Coast.

A lot of people comparing this storm to Camille back in 1969.  Those old enough to remember that said that was obviously a quite scary experience for them.  But we spoke to someone when we in fact were over in Biloxi earlier in the day.  A woman told me, she says, you know, at least Camille treated us like a lady. 

Now, an example of Camille treating this community like a lady might be this building behind me.  This is “The Daily Herald,” “The Biloxi-Gulfport Daily Herald,” old newspaper building, is now offices for a law firm.  About 25 lawyers worked out of this building.  I spoke to one as he was coming up to survey the damage earlier. 

We‘ve got some tape from the back of the building.  I asked him—he looked at the front of the building.  He said, well, that looks OK.  I said, well, have you seen the back?  He says, no.  So, we walked around to the back and the entire back half of this building is completely gone.  I asked him, I said, was there a wall of windows there?  He said, no, it was pretty much all bricked in.  So, whatever the force of that wind and the surge of the water coming through here basically destroyed this building. 

I‘m not sure what they‘re going to do.  He wasn‘t sure what they were going to do, but he had this look of exasperation on his face, as if to say, you know, we don‘t know what to do.  He just—he surveyed it and took off. 

When I left this scene here earlier today, we had five confirmed deaths here in Gulfport.  That number more than likely has risen since this morning.  Governor Barbour deployed the National Guard, so they are on the ground here.  They have been going around Gulfport just trying to organize.  It is a massive organization effort under way here tonight, Joe, as well as in Biloxi, down over into New Orleans.  And it just takes time.  It takes time. 

And I know people are probably pretty impatient with the lack of water, the lack of food.  I gave a ride to a couple of guys who were walking miles just to get to the water.  And they were very thankful for the ride.  And they helped me find out where I was going, because a lot of the street signs have been blown off of their posts.  It‘s just a very difficult situation for reporters and journalists here to work, as it is for the people who are down here trying to survive. 

So, the situation is the same here as it is in Biloxi and all along the coast, the Gulf Coast—Joe, let‘s send it back to you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Certainly a bad situation. 

Thank you so much, NBC‘s Ron Mott, in Gulfport, Mississippi. 

And it is.  It is such a terrible situation in Biloxi, in Gulfport, in Pascagoula.  Homes, again, that survived the Civil War, that survived Hurricane Camille in ‘69, reduced to rubble in just a few hours. 

We will be back with a lot more in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in just one minute.  Stay with us, much more on what you can do to help. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This was a terrible storm.  It‘s a storm that hit with a lot of ferocity.  It‘s a storm now that is moving through.  And now it‘s the time for governments to help people get their feet on the ground. 

For those of you who prayed for the folks in that area, I want to thank you for your prayers.  For those of you who are concerned about whether or not we‘re prepared to help, don‘t be.  We are. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So many harrowing images coming out of this Hurricane Katrina.  It will end up being the most devastating hurricane ever to hit the American coastline.  It will also end up without a doubt being the most expensive hurricane, the most expensive natural disaster, most likely, to ravage the United States. 

You know, it was less than a year ago that Americans and also people across the world came together to help all those that suffered through the disaster of the tsunami.  Well, tonight, there are people in your own backyard that need your help. 

And we have got some people here to talk about how you can help.  We have got Jim Burton.  He‘s with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Agency.  And we also have Major Dalton Cunningham with the Salvation Army. 

Let‘s begin with you, if we can, Major. 

Tell us, what is the Salvation Army doing?  And, you know, I drove in here and my first reaction is, it‘s too big.  There‘s no way these agencies can coordinate to bring relief to these people.  But I know it will get done.  What are you all going to do to make sure that these people suffer less? 

MAJOR DALTON CUNNINGHAM, SALVATION ARMY:  Well, this is one of the most massive disasters I have ever seen in my 32 years of service with the Salvation Army.

And it is overwhelming.  That‘s correct.  We have 72 mobile feeding kitchens that are stocked and ready and rolling into the areas right now.  We have two 54-foot kitchens ready to come in and feed people.  They‘re hungry.  They‘re thirsty.  They need ice.  Ice is like gold right now in these areas. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It certainly is.

CUNNINGHAM:  People are begging for it.  And so, we want to get in and just feed the hungry and give them water.  One of the things that hurricanes do is has a leveling influence on the entire population.  Everybody needs it.  No one has power.  No one has water.  No one has ice or the ability to refrigerate. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Isn‘t that remarkable?  Everybody is sweating.  Everybody is hungry.  Everybody is without water.  Everybody is without air conditioning.  Everybody is without restrooms, food.  It is a disaster. 

What can people that are watching right now—across America, there are so many watching right now.  They want to know what they can do to help.  Tell us, what they can do? 

CUNNINGHAM:  Well, I would love for you to do two things.  One, pray for us and for the victims that are suffering so desperately.  And if you would like to dial 1-800-SAL-ARMY—SAL-ARMY—you can make a donation over the phone or through our Internet, salvationarmyusa.org.  It will also give you an opportunity for asking about volunteer opportunities with us.

We have over 200 people already staged and serving.  We should be able to serve about 400,000 people once through the three-state area that is so massively devastated. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, there are so many opportunities for people to help through donations and also, like you said, to come down here and volunteer.  So many people need your help and they need your prayers. 

Let‘s go to Jim Burton right now. 

Jim, tell me, what‘s the Southern Baptist Convention doing to help out in this situation? 

JIM BURTON, SOUTHERN BAPTIST DISASTER RELIEF:  Well, we have been working since the weekend to get ready to prepare, starting out about 300,000 meals. 

That‘s the request we initially got from the American Red Cross.  And so, we have been getting units in place to do that.  We have more than 100 units in place.  Not all those are feeding units.  Some of those are shower units and cleanup and recovery units, as well as communication units. 

We will have been 1,000 people on the ground tomorrow beginning to cook and serve food.  We‘re also working with the Salvation Army, helping them man their kitchens, as well as bringing in kitchens to support their sites.  So, we are—we have been getting ready and we think we‘re ready to go tomorrow. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, talk about what—I‘m going to ask you the same thing that I asked the major.  What do people do to help you help so many people that are suffering along the Gulf Coast?  What do they do and what do they not do? 

(CROSSTALK)

BURTON:  Well, I couldn‘t agree with him more that the first thing we need is prayer particularly for the victims.  And please pray for the volunteers, as they walk into a very, very stressful situation. 

You asked me what should they not do.  One thing that we would not want people to do is suddenly rush to the area to help, because, suddenly, unsolicited volunteers become a problem within themselves.  You really need to have a pathway to service before you go into an affected area.  If you‘re already connected with American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Southern Baptist, or one of any number of organizations that does disaster relief, that‘s great.  That‘s the way that you should—you should be mobilized. 

But, beyond that, the other thing that you can do, even as the major has mentioned, is financial contributions.  We, too, depend upon financial contributions, and able to give the type of response that is needed here.  And we would welcome you to visit our Web site at www.namb—that‘s North American Mission Board -- .net.  And there you‘ll see information and you‘ll see what we‘re doing.  And you‘ll be able to make a contribution online. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Jim.  Greatly appreciate you being here tonight, more importantly, appreciate what you and your organization is doing. 

Same thing with you, Major.  Thank you so much.

CUNNINGHAM:  Thank you so much.

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re doing God‘s work here. 

(CROSSTALK)   

SCARBOROUGH:  And let‘s hope that all of you will pick up the phone, get on the Internet, do what‘s required to help out all those that are suffering here. 

We will be right back with much more in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, more shocking videos of what‘s happening across the Gulf Coast and down to New Orleans, when we return in a minute. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONNIE BRUSHERS, RESIDENT OF BILOXI:  My son took the dogs.  We got the dogs up on the roof.  And I got my wife on the roof.  And I took one of them plastic things and I grabbed something to keep us warm, grabbed a cell phone, grabbed cigarettes, because I got too much oxygen in my brain.  And we got up there and we survived.  And I think God for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, of course, live from Biloxi, Mississippi, ground zero of Hurricane Katrina.

And, boy, the aftereffects are devastating.  Some people have started to call this America‘s tsunami.  Could it be hyperbole?  I don‘t know.  But I will tell you, from what I have seen today, I can‘t imagine any devastation worse than what saw on the ground here. 

And I want to bring in somebody who knows a little bit about tsunamis, knows a little bit about this storm, to say the least.  And that is Peter Teahen.  He is the national spokesperson for the Red Cross. 

Peter, thanks for being here. 

Now, you—you actually were over in Sri Lanka during the tsunami, and also obviously been touring around here.  You said it brought back some memories of that.  How? 

PETER TEAHEN, AMERICAN RED CROSS:  Tremendous similarities, the massive destruction all along the coast.  Nothing was saved.  You know, you saw 25-, 30-foot surge of water come in and crush, like you said, homes that had survived the Civil War, homes that have survived hundreds of years, and was not selective. 

It touched everyone of every economic condition in this country, so it

·         and the impact overall to this country is going to be very powerful. 

And that‘s why people here really need the help of Americans coming together. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That is what so shocking, again, over here.  When Pensacola got hit last year by Ivan, as you know, a terrible storm, you would have a house that got battered and the one next door would wiped out to the foundation. 

Everything is gone here. 

TEAHEN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Everything.

So, what does the Red Cross do in a situation like this to organize efforts to bring relief to these people?  It seems so overwhelming. 

TEAHEN:  Well, we are tasked under the national response plan to lead the effort in mass care.  That provides shelter.  We did 43,000 people in evacuation shelters before the storm.

We are developing shelter plans along with FEMA in response to this incident, plus prepare for feeding and water—providing water to the families.  With the help of the Southern Baptists, we will prepare over a half-a-million meals a day. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, wow. 

TEAHEN:  And distributing it with our emergency response vehicles all over the affected area. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You guys have done so much over the past year, especially.  I know, being from Florida, all those storms that hit, you‘re always there.

I want you to do me a favor.  I want you to look in the camera and I want you to tell people tonight what they can do to help you bring relief to these people. 

TEAHEN:  The best thing you can do is call 1-800-HELP-NOW.  The people here need money donated to the nonprofits, so we can reach out and help these families. 

Every dollar you give means another meal, another bottle of water, a place to sleep.  And it can only be done with a total effort of Americans all over the country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Peter.  God bless you. 

TEAHEN:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate you being here. 

Peter Teahen with the American Red Cross.

Again, do what you can to help out, so many people all around here counting on your generosity tonight. 

We will be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  When we come back, more images of the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina, certainly the most devastating hurricane ever to hit the Gulf Coast. 

We will be back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because I knew there was other people around, that, you know, if nothing else, I needed to at least survive to where I could help someone else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So heartbreaking. 

You know, the thing that I have noticed from these hurricanes in Pensacola, across Florida and now across here, so many of us like to think that we are in complete control of our lives.  So many people think that they can decide what they are going to do tomorrow and next week and next month and next year.  There‘s nothing like a natural disaster like a hurricane to really show just how helpless you are.

And if you want to see how helpless we are as humans, all you have to do is look at the complete devastation that I saw today as we toured across the Gulf Coast, starting in Pensacola, going through Mobile, Alabama, to see where the flooding hit all those people here, and then coming across to Mississippi‘s Gulf Coast, Pascagoula, Gautier, Mississippi, Gulfport, then, of course, Biloxi, Mississippi, the scenes of utter devastation, scenes that I will never forget as long as I live. 

Stay with us.  There‘s a lot more coverage of Hurricane Katrina with Tucker Carlson and “THE SITUATION.” 

Tucker, what do you have for us tonight? 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”:  Thanks, Joe.

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

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