updated 8/31/2005 5:09:31 PM ET 2005-08-31T21:09:31

Guest: Stephanie McCorkle, Sidney Smith, Lawrence McCleary, Don Basham, Gary Loveman, Dr. William Gray

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  We‘re live with the very latest on the incredible disaster of Hurricane Katrina, including shocking pictures of police officers, cops taking part in a looting at a New Orleans Wal-Mart.  Dramatic stories of survival and rescue from the flooded city, plus news about the evacuation of New Orleans, which is without drinking water or power tonight. 

First up, some shocking raw footage from inside a New Orleans Wal-Mart.  This was shot by NBC‘s Martin Savidge and his crew just this afternoon.  This is really stunning.  Watch this. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  State of emergency, what we got to do?  Like the Saints, this is our fate right here.  Get it.  Got to eat.  Going to eat.  We‘re going to be stuck here waiting for everybody to try to rescue us.  Got to get it.  Now I need to come on, too.  Oh, this is the wrong aisle again.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Really?  Come on.  I mean, if you‘re going to take it, have the sense to at least talk about it. 


SAVIDGE:  Wait a minute.  This hardly looks like essential. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  I‘m getting it for my daughter. 

SAVIDGE:  You‘re giving it to your daughter, but I mean, it‘s not survival stuff. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is survival.  My daughter, hey, come on, with the camera.  A camera, man.  Come on. 

SAVIDGE:  Are you not the least bit feeling guilty?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, concerning that nobody is coming down here, no. 

SAVIDGE:  Nobody is coming down here.  Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They‘re supplies.  They said to take it. 

SAVIDGE:  Yes, but I don‘t think Wal-Mart decided to make it their personal message to help. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hold on to it.  How are you doing?

SAVIDGE:  Hi.  What are you doing here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m doing my job. 

SAVIDGE:  Taking shoes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No.  I‘m looking for looters. 

SAVIDGE:  Looking for looters?  And what do you do when you find them? 

Because I think I see them. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s all I can do right now. 

SAVIDGE:  Look around.  They‘re all around us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That‘s what I see.  Including you. 

SAVIDGE:  I haven‘t taken anything, ma‘am. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But you‘re in the store. 


CARLSON:  That is just really amazing video.  It‘s heart-breaking to see Americans doing that, able-bodied Americans who could be helping their fellow Louisianans on this day.  To see cops doing it, taking part in looting, stealing shoes.  If you recognize the police officers in this video, I hope you‘ll call someone to bring them to justice.  Martin Savidge really did an amazing job. 

To see Marty‘s complete story, and what he experienced in that Wal-Mart today, watch “The Today Show” tomorrow morning on NBC. 

Later, we‘ll speak to a Louisiana police officer about the looting and the lawlessness in New Orleans, which by all reports tonight is growing out of control.  There‘s a late report that one New Orleans police officer shot in the head.  He‘s now in surgery.  He was shot at a Chevron station in the city of New Orleans by looters who he interrupted during the act of looting. 

Well, as those pictures indicate, people in New Orleans are in a desperate situation.  Most of those who rode out Monday‘s storm and survived are not looters; they‘re just stuck in a flooded town with no electricity or drinking water. 

One of those joins me tonight, in the French Quarter in New Orleans. 

Stephanie McCorkle is on the phone.

Stephanie McCorkle, are you there?


CARLSON:  So what is it—the pictures we‘re getting from New Orleans paint a scene of lawlessness and chaos.  Is that what you‘re experiencing?

MCCORKLE:  Yes, pretty much.  There are people walking around the French Quarter with strapped-on rifles.  I know some of my neighbors have been doing looting themselves.  And, you know, I‘m not going to name any names, of course, but they‘re just doing what‘s necessary for us to survive. 

Now that we have heard that they have given up on fixing the broken levee, we‘re just—we‘re just really hoping and praying for the best. 

CARLSON:  So there are civilians with guns roaming the French Quarter right now?

MCCORKLE:  Right now. 

CARLSON:  Are you alone in your house?

MCCORKLE:  Well, I actually am fortunate not to live over what used to be a 24-hour bar, so I‘ve been going back and forth between up here and downstairs.  I‘m with my husband.  And he is just—we‘re just trying to keep an eye on things down there.  And if the water starts rising, we‘ll just have to try to get out on the roof.  There‘s not really anything else we can do. 

CARLSON:  How high is the water?  What street are you on in the French Quarter?

MCCORKLE:  I live on St. Phillips Street, and right now, our street is bone dry.  But I don‘t know how long that‘s going to last.  And I know it‘s in the upper corridor, down by Canal, and it hasn‘t gotten here yet, but I‘m expecting that we will see some water in the next few hours. 

CARLSON:  Have you had any contact with anyone in authority, anybody from the city, cops, federal officials?

MCCORKLE:  Yes.  Yes, pretty much they‘ve all said the same thing, that power is the very least of our worries.  It‘s the water.  And as soon as the gas—they‘re out of gasoline, they‘re gone. 

CARLSON:  Stephanie McCorkle, in the French Quarter tonight, joining us live by phone.  Be careful. 


CARLSON:  Thanks. 

Well, Sunday night at MSNBC, we spoke with Sidney Smith.  He leads haunted tours of New Orleans.  You may have met him if you visited the city.  As Katrina approached, Mr. Smith said he simply had faith he‘d survive the storm, and he did. 

Sidney Smith joins us again tonight by phone.  Mr. Smith, are you there?

SIDNEY SMITH, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT:  Greetings, Tucker.  How are you?

CARLSON:  Glad to hear your voice.  How was it?

SMITH:  Let‘s just say I made a colossal mistake. 

CARLSON:  You did?  Why?

SMITH:  Because I stayed.  Right now, as I‘m talking to you, well, let‘s first of all say that there will be no more Haunted History Tours in New Orleans for quite some time.  As a matter of fact, there won‘t be anything going on in New Orleans for quite some time.  We are 80 percent under water. 

I am also sitting in a house right now, which is my house with—I‘m on the second floor, because I‘ve got two feet of water downstairs, and it‘s rising. 

When I went to sleep on—well, last night when I went to sleep, I thought the whole thing was over with, power lines, trees were down.  We had lost electricity.  And I thought that was the end of it. 

When I woke up this morning, my street was a river, and my front yard was a lake, and growing, and it has grown throughout the day. 

There—I mean, the devastation is overwhelming.  There‘s search and rescue going on.  The levee broke this morning, which has completely flooded the city.  I think we‘re 80, 90 percent under water.  The girl you just talked to, the lady, Stephanie McCorkle, she‘s actually one of my Haunted History Tour guides, and I‘m amazed to hear that she is dry in the French Quarter, because we are completely under water. 

CARLSON:  Now where are you?  Where are you in the city, for our viewers who know New Orleans?

SMITH:  I‘m in uptown New Orleans, you know, around Tulane University.


SMITH:  That area, the Garden District, and we are completely under water.  Not to the point where I‘d have to get on my roof yet, but the water in my house is rising. 

The twin spans are gone, the twin spans being I-10, leading out of the city toward Florida.  It was washed away. 

There‘s no sewage.  You know, some areas have no ability to even flush their toilets, no water.  All the surrounding areas are totally under water.  There‘s no light in the city.  Look up, you can see the stars like you‘re in the wilderness.  It makes the New York blackout look like Cinderella. 

CARLSON:  Are you frightened?

SMITH:  No, I‘m not frightened, I‘m just—you know, it‘s waist deep water around the Superdome.  It‘s a crisis of sanitary conditions, really. 

You know, there‘s no commerce in the city whatsoever, maybe for months.  Sea life is coming in through the flooded waters.  A three-foot shark was seen today by police, swimming down the interstate. 

Trees are twisted.  They‘re blown down.  Power poles are down.  There‘s debris all over the place.  Schools will not be open for months, I‘m sure.  The city is just not a safe place to be in right now.  The water is contaminated. 

CARLSON:  Let‘s say you didn‘t—you were running out of food or water.  I take it you don‘t have running water. 

SMITH:  Well, we actually—we do in my house.  We have running water.  That‘s about the only thing we have. 

CARLSON:  Amen. 

SMITH:  I do smell a hideous gas leak somewhere close-by.  You know, if—there are helicopters flying above.  It wouldn‘t be a bad idea for me to send an SOS at this point in time to rescue the haunted history crew, because we actually—I took in four adults, two kids, and three dogs and a cat during this.  Those people being my tour guides.  And—and so if we don‘t get rescued, there may be no more Haunted History Tours. 

CARLSON:  Well, so how, Mr. Smith—let‘s say you wanted to leave New Orleans.  Would you have to go by helicopter?  I mean, how else would you leave?

SMITH:  That‘s what it seems like.  I don‘t—there‘s been a significant loss of life.  Believe it or not, I‘m hearing that corpses are floating down the street.  I don‘t know if that is from buried people in the ground or whether people have died and they‘re floating down the streets. 

I mean, I‘m basically shut out to communication.  I have no television.  There‘s one radio station that I can pick up on a battery operated radio.  You know, there are people trapped in their attics and on their roofs. 

CARLSON:  Have you been—we‘ve been hearing that the governor of your state has called for a mandatory evacuation of the city.  Have you been asked to evacuate?

SMITH:  Well, there‘s no way you can.  You cannot come into New Orleans.  You cannot leave New Orleans at this time.  If you try to go east, there‘s no way you can get out, because the interstate is broken down.  If you try to go west, you can‘t get out because it‘s flooded.  We are surrounded by water.  New Orleans really is in a bowl. 

I mean, our city should never have been built here, but that was way back in the 1700‘s, so we can‘t...


SMITH:  We can‘t look at hindsight at this point in time, but we are truly surrounded by water, a lake on one side.  We‘ve got the river on the south side.  And we‘ve got swamps and marshes all around us. 

The National Guard started dropping 3,000-pound sandbags today into the breach in the levee. 

You know, there are hundreds of people still on roof tops, from what I gather.  There‘s only one way into the city, and that‘s being used by commercial—I‘m sorry, emergency personnel. 

CARLSON:  That is just...

SMITH:  The water outside my house is like a toxic soup.  I mean, it‘s really unbelievable.  I mean, the devastation is truly overwhelming. 

CARLSON:  So much worse than any of us imagined it would be.  You have great powers of description, Sidney Smith.  And we appreciate your coming on and sharing with us.  I hope we can talk to you later in the week. 

SMITH:  We try to describe things well at Haunted History Tours. 

CARLSON:  You do a great job. 

SMITH:  All righty.

CARLSON:  Thanks for joining us. 

SMITH:  No problem. 

CARLSON:  You‘ve already seen on this show times of crisis bring out the best in some people and the worst in others.  Looters taking advantage of a defenseless New Orleans today.  We‘ll have the law enforcement angle on that when we come back.


CARLSON:  Still to come, the messy situation in New Orleans has given looters the ability to steal from the Wal-Mart, even in front of our camera crew.  A disgusting scene.  Is there any way to stop it?  The answer is ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s all I got right here, just for him to drink. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Stole the TV, stole the stuff. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Come on.  I got you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There you go. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Going to be all right. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  New Orleans will come back.  It will come back. 

We got to survive this.  It‘s a test.  We got to survive it. 


CARLSON:  You‘ve seen it before, usually in other countries, often during wartime.  Disaster hits, the looting begins.  Is there any way to stop it?

Joining us on the phone now to discuss the situation, Lieutenant Lawrence McLeary from the Louisiana State Police.  He joins us from the emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Welcome, Lieutenant McLeary. 

LT. LAWRENCE MCLEARY, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE:  Thank you.  Good evening, sir. 

CARLSON:  Now I take it you saw the pictures we had at the top of the show, two uniformed New Orleans policemen looting a Wal-Mart.  What do you make of that?  What‘s your first reaction to that?

MCLEARY:  My reaction is these people are morally bankrupt, despicable.  How could you take advantage of the situation at the most vulnerable time?

CARLSON:  The fear, of course, is that looting contributes to the sense that things are out of control, and that lawlessness begins to snowball, and that stealing becomes murder, which apparently has already happened, at least attempted murder today in New Orleans. 

Why do you think the city of New Orleans has not stepped in more aggressively and prevented people from looting?

MCLEARY:  Well, I think several things have taken place.  It‘s very difficult to have communication down there between officers and their headquarters.  They were displaced just as well as the citizens of New Orleans, so they‘re trying to regroup. 

One of the things that they did was, in anticipation of the hurricane, they called in officers preparing them for duty and how the facility that itself lost power, and they weren‘t able to get in contact with them, and they were trapped in that facility by the water.

So it‘s been isolated incidents like that that have kept the officers from responding. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  It was reported today by the “Times Picayune,” the paper in New Orleans, that rescue workers and law enforcement officials couldn‘t communicate with one another, because their radios weren‘t compatible.  Do you know if that‘s true?

MCLEARY:  Well, I know that there are some agencies out there where our systems are incompatible, and one of the things that happens is even if we can talk with each other, these portable radios are battery operated, and officers don‘t have the ability to recharge them.  And their batteries are going out. 

CARLSON:  Lieutenant Lawrence McLeary, you‘ve got a lot to do.  Thanks for taking the time out to joining us.  Good luck. 

MCLEARY:  Absolutely.  We appreciate the country‘s prayers and the generosity of the people that are calling in and offering their help to us. 

CARLSON:  Well, you‘re getting the country‘s prayers, no doubt. 


MCLEARY:  Thank you, sir. 

CARLSON:  Coming up next, stunning pictures from above the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.  The mayor of Biloxi called it that town‘s tsunami.  You‘ll see why.  Stay with us.



GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO (D), LOUISIANA:  Gradually, we will recover.  We will survive.  We will rebuild.  It‘s going to take some time.  And this cannot happen overnight. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Water continues to pour from Lake Pontchartrain into the city of New Orleans.  The governor of Louisiana called today for the evacuation of all who remain in the city, where there is no drinkable water. 

NBC‘s Steve Handelsman has been reporting from there all day long, doing a really remarkable job. 

Steve, it looks from here like New Orleans is spinning out of control. 

Is that true?  What are your impressions?

STEVE HANDELSMAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Actually, Tucker, first of all, I‘ve got to tell you that, as bad as the situation is in New Orleans tonight—dark, scary no power, a lot of people without water, there‘s been considerable looting, a lot of homes are under water—officials tell us it could get a lot worse, and soon, and here‘s why. 

They say they‘ve given up tonight trying to fix the broken levees in the northwestern part of the city that have let Lake Pontchartrain, as you put it, pour into New Orleans, which is exactly what‘s happening. 

They say in addition to that, they expect the flood pumps, that basically are designed to get the water out of this bathtub that they call a city, will fail shortly, and if they‘re right about that, they say, as much as nine feet of water could then—nine more feet, of course, of water could come into New Orleans. 

And the sad thing is that, as deadly dangerous as that would be, Tucker, a lot of local residents have no way to find out about that threat or about the evacuation order, because they‘ve got no power and they‘ve got no way to receive communications, no mass media. 

CARLSON:  Steve, have officials explained why they have called off efforts to fix the levees for the night?

HANDELSMAN:  Well, they‘ve said that the efforts that they‘ve made have failed. 

Now, these are brand-new levees.  That particular part of the levee system, the locals know, was built just recently and completed with great fanfare.  It‘s a special hurricane levee to prevent exactly what happened, which is a big hurricane like Katrina, which, remember, didn‘t go in the very worst path that would have put the maximum storm surge load into Lake Pontchartrain, but it will still be bad enough.

Lake Pontchartrain, should remind viewers, it‘s not a—not a lake at all.  It‘s really a branch of the Gulf of Mexico.  It‘s got a narrow entrance, but it is tidal.

And so this hurricane, even though it kind of went right over that entrance to Lake Pontchartrain, and most of the force was directed on the Mississippi coastline and Alabama, it pushed a big enough storm surge into the lake that it overwhelmed this brand-new levee system.

And, of course, you can imagine how hard it is to build a dam when you‘ve got rushing water that‘s trying to get through the dam.  That‘s the situation they‘ve got up there tonight. 

They couldn‘t fix it, because it‘s almost impossible to fix a levee at maximum flood stage, when it‘s been broken and breached in a couple of places.  They threw sand in there.  Tucker, they threw reportedly some scrap automobiles in there, anything they could put in there, and it didn‘t work.  The water just took it right out and kept coming right here into New Orleans. 

CARLSON:  That is frightening.  Steve Handelsman, really doing an outstanding job.  Thanks a lot, Steve. 

HANDELSMAN:  Thanks, Tucker.  Bye-bye. 

CARLSON:                  Monday‘s initial reports about the impact of Hurricane Katrina left many thinking the storm had not lived up to its near biblical forecast.  Tonight we know it did. 

The shocking images you‘re about to see, shot and narrated by correspondent Coyt Bailey of our affiliate, WLBT, in Jackson, Mississippi, leave no doubt about that. 


COYT BAILEY, WLBT CORRESPONDENT:  We left the office this morning early, about daylight, and I‘ll tell you, we really weren‘t prepared for all the damage just en route down to Gulfport.  It was just incredible.

But once we got down there, this place that you‘re seeing is in the Long Beach area, which is just to the west of Gulfport, about three to five miles west of the Gulfport Airport.  This was along the beach. 

The devastation was just amazing.  It looks like about half a mile in from the beach, everything has been leveled, flat, destroyed.  The buildings, there just aren‘t really any structures standing anymore.  It‘s just incredible. 

You can see where the storm surge came up and deposited al this debris.  We‘re looking at an area now that‘s probably a quarter mile inland from the beach. 

That‘s right from—I think it‘s formally a Kmart right there, and that was a marina right in the Long Beach area, which was just flattened, just nothing left there standing at all.  There was restaurants and marina offices there that are just gone. 

This is proceeding eastbound along the beach.  The Gulfport Airport is just to the north of this area, and as you can see, it‘s—everything was destroyed: homes, businesses. 

We‘re looking at a lot of freight vehicles from the port of Gulfport there that were stacked in the port area, and they‘ve been washed all through the downtown area of Gulfport.  At first we thought they were rail cars, but it appears that those were the 18-wheeler containers washed out of the port of Gulfport. 

We‘ve been flying these hurricane stories for 10 years now.  We‘ve covered them in Florida and Alabama and Mississippi, and they do not compare to what we‘ve seen today.  It‘s just absolutely beyond description. 

All of the casinos that we saw along the coast that, as you know, were floating on the water were basically just picked up and deposited inland.  Many of them over Highway 90, where the casinos were actually picked up and deposited on top of homes and businesses. 

That‘s another casino in the Gulfport port area that was moved.  I‘ve never seen anything that has compared with this, just the complete devastation, and for the length that it went along the coast. 

This was Treasure Bay Casino.  It looked like a Spanish galleon.  As you can see, the structure has been completely undermined as the storm surge just went all the way through it.  It‘s still not up on the beach, but it has been—it has been essentially destroyed. 

This is the back end of the Hard Rock Casino, which was still under construction, but as you can see, it has just fallen off into the water now. 

It‘s going to be a big job.  We saw so much damage leaving Jackson, all the way to Gulfport.  Power lines down everywhere, rail lines blocked with trees and debris.  Hattiesburg had extensive damage, and there we flew over the downtown area, Southern—University of Southern Mississippi. 

That‘s a—that, I believe, is the Grand Casino in Biloxi that was picked up, removed from its moorings, and deposited to the west of its—where it was moored, and it was brought back over Highway 90 there and just dropped down, looked like what appeared to be.  But this was one of the premiere casinos along the coast, and it—it‘s just been completely destroyed. 

This is the downtown Biloxi area going out towards Point Cadet. 

And it looked like the storm surge came all the way through this area.  Yes, there‘s nothing left of this, and it‘s going to be a major job to remove all of that concrete and debris for navigation, for ships in the area.  And rebuilding it for Highway 90.  It‘s going to be a long, long process. 

It‘s so extensive, and we were asking ourselves that question earlier.  And I think, as Governor Barbour had said earlier, I think we first focus on the search and rescue efforts, and that‘s certainly going on now. 

And once you focus on getting the utilities back up, you focus on getting power and water.  And you just start taking those steps towards rebuilding, and you don‘t try to think about the whole—the whole picture.  You just do the first steps that are right in front of us now. 


CARLSON:  Amazing.  Every time you see those pictures, every time, they don‘t become less stunning. 

We‘ll have a live report, a live update from David Shuster, who‘s standing by in Biloxi, right after this for the third night in a row. 

After that, residents tonight in New Orleans prepare to evacuate the Superdome and other places of refuge.  Is there anything to be done to stop the massive flooding?  We‘ll have the answers next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It looks like a bomb went off here or a tornado came through and destroyed everything.  It‘s going to take a long time to clean up.  We‘ll work together and we‘ll do it.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.

As New Orleans drowns slowly but surely beneath rising floodwater to the west and Alabamans cope without power to the east, the people of Mississippi now bearing the heaviest burden from Hurricane Katrina.

David Shuster is in the devastated town of Biloxi, Mississippi.  He joins us now.  David, what‘s it like there?

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Tucker, it‘s been just another just bizarre day in the sense that I mean you saw on your program the incredible aerial photos.

When you see them from the ground it‘s just as incredible because every block there is just so much debris.  There is trash and wood and pieces of paper and clothing hanging in the trees from where the water receded so that gives it sort of a spooky look.

And then on top of that every time you talk to somebody they have so many different issues on their mind.  First of all, of course, where‘s the bottled water?  We had so many people walk past us today saying where did you get the bottle of water?  Is the Red Cross this way?  Is it up by the police station?

The next question what are people doing for food?  Yes, some people stocked up, a lot of the food swept away when people realized that the water was going to go perhaps all the way to their roof.

The third question a lot of people are deciding, for example right now, obviously nobody has any power.  There‘s no power, no electricity.  A lot of people don‘t have clean linens. 

I mean the question is after this kind of, you know, sewer water essentially sweeps through the area, gets everything dirty, you don‘t have an opportunity to shower or anything because you don‘t really have—you‘re fighting for bottles of water to drink. 

Do you make the decision to go ahead and sleep on something that, you know, has all sorts of different stuff in it that could then lead to various health problems?  I mean and they beyond that the long term is what happens to my casino job? 

I mean a third of all the people who work here, we talked to one person today who said my job down there that‘s gone.  I‘m not getting anymore paychecks.  I was living month to month anyway.  What do I do now?  And when you talk to these people it is just unbelievable.

CARLSON:  Well, David, when you see the pictures, we just had them up on the screen, it‘s hard to believe that anyone survived in some of those areas and yet because the power is out and I think cell towers are down it‘s probably not clear where people are.  Is there talk of large numbers of missing people?  There must be.

SHUSTER:  Well, Tucker, that‘s a big question is because it was difficult for them to figure out who left in the first place, when you look at the damaged homes nobody is really certain whether somebody was trying to ride out the storm in one of those homes.  And so, as a result, they have no idea really. 

They have an estimate that the mayor, for example, said the other night, oh maybe about only 30 percent of Biloxi actually left.  Well, that leaves you out of a population of 25,000 permanent residents that‘s what 17,000, 18,000 people who presumably tried to ride out the storm.

Well, they have no real way of accounting for those people because there are no communications and they can‘t get to some of the roads.  It‘s not like somebody can go like a postmaster and say, OK, somebody lives here.  Somebody lives here. Somebody is not here. 

Because, A, they don‘t know if the house is just empty because somebody split and tried to go north or is there somebody under this pile of debris.  And one of the sheriffs that we talked to today he said the biggest problem that they have, they actually went and tried to look for bodies.  Well, the problem was there was so much debris that just to get through one yard was taking them an endless amount of time.

They said, you know what, to hell with it.  We‘re just going to wait for the dogs and hope that once the dogs can come through they can sniff and try to tell us where stuff is.

CARLSON:  That is really, really disturbing, David Shuster in Biloxi, Mississippi this story is going to be going on a long time.  Thanks for joining us, talk to you tomorrow.

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Well, all day Tuesday and as we speak water from Lake Pontchartrain has been flooding New Orleans after two protective levees were compromised in Hurricane Katrina‘s wake.

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said today that 80 percent of the city was now under water.  MSNBC has learned the city of New Orleans has stopped trying to fix the broken levees for tonight.

Joining me now to explain the flooding and how it might be alleviated, Don Basham of the Army Corps of Engineers.  Mr. Basham, thanks a lot for joining us.


CARLSON:  Do you have any clue why state and federal authorities would have stopped trying to close up the levee for the night?

BASHAM:  Well, I think there‘s a couple things.  There was an attempt this afternoon to bring in some helicopters, to bring in some 3,000-pound bags of sand to try to fill the opening. 

When we got in there and started dropping some initial bags we realized the opening was a lot bigger and severe than we thought it was and then, of course, with the onset of nightfall with the safety considerations we just could not proceed anymore and to make sure we protect people‘s lives there.

And so, we‘re trying to now assess other conditions and other alternatives that we can—to fill that gap and close that gap to include there‘s a bridge up towards the end of the canal that right at the head of going into Lake Pontchartrain that we‘re looking to see if we can build some type of temporary dam structure there to close off the water into the canal that would then allow us to get down there and close that opening up.

CARLSON:  In the meantime, we‘re getting reports that water levels in the city of New Orleans could rise anywhere between nine to 15 feet.  Are those accurate those estimates do you think?

BASHAM:  I‘d say those are probably fairly close, you know.  It‘s hard to tell with the amount of drainage and runoff you‘ve got through the rest of the area. Most of the pumps it‘s our understanding are now shut down and not operating so that‘s not helping at all with trying to move any of the water out.

But quite frankly, you know, with Lake Pontchartrain I think being four and a half to five feet above sea level until that level drops down and, of course, that water is moving down towards the city, which is below sea level, until those equal levels reach that equal level the water is going to continue to rise and so it could very well rise another nine to ten feet.

CARLSON:  So, essentially, if I‘m hearing what you‘re saying correctly, there‘s almost nothing that can be done until the water finds its natural level and the city is flooded.

BASHAM:  Unless we can get that opening closed up, yes, and if we cannot get the opening closed up and to where we can get the water in a steady state and do that, yes, the only way you‘ll keep the water from rising is, of course, to equal level. 

And, of course, we‘re going to try everything we can to prevent that from happening.  Every foot that we are able to save we think contributes to reducing the damage and the devastation that‘s going on there.  And so, we‘re pulling out all the stops and doing everything we can to try to help that situation.

CARLSON:  Boy, Don Basham, the Army Corps of Engineers, this is just a shocking disaster whose parameters only now becoming clear, thanks a lot for joining us.

BASHAM:  You‘re welcome.

CARLSON:  Coming up on THE SITUATION, riverboat casinos are the life blood of many cities along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.  We‘re joined next by the CEO of Harrah‘s Entertainment for a look at if and how the gambling industry will recover from Hurricane Katrina.  Stay with us.


CARLSON:  Waters have receded from Mississippi‘s soggy Gulf Coast but the pain has just begun.  Casinos are the engine that drives that region‘s economy and they have been destroyed, most of them.  What will happen to the jobs?  We‘ll ask a Harrah‘s Entertainment executive when THE SITUATION returns.



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


CARLSON:  In recent years, Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have developed thriving tourism businesses including very successful casino resorts.  It‘s going to shut them down indefinitely.

Gary Loveman is the CEO of Harrah‘s Casinos and Entertainment, one of the largest businesses on the Gulf Coast.  He joins us tonight from Las Vegas.  Mr. Loveman, thanks for joining us.


CARLSON:  How many people does the gambling industry employ in the Mississippi Gulf Coast?

LOVEMAN:  Well, we employ 8,000 people in Mississippi and in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast area, my competitors and we together, I‘m sure it‘s in the neighborhood of 20,000 people.

CARLSON:  What‘s going to happen to those jobs?

LOVEMAN:  Well, temporarily everybody is looking after their own circumstances, I‘m sure, trying to find out the conditions of their homes and so on.  We have promised that we will pay all of our employees from the time of the closure of our facilities for at least the next 90 days so that they can be sure that they‘ll have their normal stream of income while they‘re trying to deal with this disaster.

We hope to work with Governor Barbour in Mississippi in particular to get at least temporary casinos open as quickly as possible and get everybody back to work.  We‘ll use their help on remediation.  We‘ll try to transfer them if necessary to some of our other 40 casinos around the country and try to do everything we can to keep them busy.

In the long term, we‘ll rebuild terrific facilities in the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which we think is a great market and we‘ll have at least as many jobs in the long term as we do today.

CARLSON:  I should have started with the most obvious question, Mr.  Loveman, which is how many casinos did you have in Mississippi and what happened to them?

LOVEMAN:  Well, we have some in Tunica that were unaffected by this disaster but we have one in Biloxi, one in Gulfport and then, of course, we have Harrah‘s New Orleans near the French Quarter in the city.  The Biloxi casino...

CARLSON:  A great casino by the way.

LOVEMAN:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  I lost quite a bit of money in that casino.

LOVEMAN:  Well, we wish you a long and prosperous life.

CARLSON:  Thank you.

LOVEMAN:  But with respect to the casino in Biloxi, it‘s a big barge that was lifted off its moorings and dumped on the opposite side of the street.  That casino will probably never operate again and we‘ll have to replace it initially with some sort of temporary structure and then in the longer term hopefully a beautiful new facility all together there in Biloxi.

In Gulfport, the casino stayed on its moorings but suffered a great deal of damage.  Our hotels and restaurants we think fared better.  I‘m sure they‘re damaged but I think they will be something that we can repair fairly easily.

CARLSON:  So, are they insured or do you eat the damages or how does that work?

LOVEMAN:  The properties are insured, so minus some modest deductibles so we‘ll be in pretty good shape.  Even though the City of New Orleans is in very desperate circumstances, our casino there fared quite well and suffered very modest damage.

CARLSON:  How much do you think Harrah‘s lost in all this do you have any sense?

LOVEMAN:  Well, the losses on the property side are really not terribly consequential as they are largely insured.  The bigger issue is the ongoing inability to have the business up and running and to have it prosperous over this period of time.

But, Tucker, I hasten to say really our thoughts are with the 8,000 people that work for us and the really terrible sorts of challenges that we know each of them are facing tonight and we‘re going to dedicate ourselves to trying to address that and help in every way we can.

CARLSON:  Have you accounted for your employees?

LOVEMAN:  There‘s virtually no communication with our folks down there at all, other than the handful that have been with or around our facilities there.  It‘s been very difficult for us to stay in touch with them.  We‘re setting up 800 numbers.  We‘re beginning to get people into the area now shortly and we hope to be able to begin to account for them in the next few days.

CARLSON:  Gary Loveman, CEO of Harrah‘s, thanks.

LOVEMAN:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Hurricane Katrina left behind terrifying images like these.  

Coming up next a weather expert puts the storm in surprising perspective.  Has global warming made hurricanes worse or was Katrina as nature intended?  Be right back.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We know that many are anxious to return to their homes.  It‘s not possible at this moment.  Right now our priority is on saving lives and we are still in the midst of search and rescue operations.


CARLSON:  Many of us conditioned to assume that cataclysmic weather events, like Hurricane Katrina, are at least in part our fault, made worse or more frequent by human activity but are we right?

Dr. William Gray is one of the nation‘s foremost hurricane experts.  He joins us from Colorado State University where he‘s a professor of atmospheric science, Dr. Gray thanks a lot for coming on.  One of the most offensive things...


CARLSON:  Thank you.  I want to read you a quote here.  This is from Germany‘s environmental minister who issued a statement today through a German newspaper blaming the United States and its refusal to sign the Kyoto Treaty for Hurricane Katrina. 

It says that the cost to the United States is profound because of events like Katrina and it‘s because “of our neglected environmental policies” that we have hurricanes like this.  Is that true?

GRAY:  That‘s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.  Those of us that have been studying these storms a long time, I‘ve been around about 50 years and a lot of my older colleagues, this is a natural event and it‘s a very unfortunate one but it‘s certainly within the natural range of things and there‘s no reason at all to think that human induced global warming is the cause of this.

Now, we have had some global warming the last 30 years and the last ten years.  I don‘t have any doubt about that.  But, we‘ve had a pick up of Atlantic basin major hurricanes.  That‘s the Saffir-Simpson Category 3, 4, 5, since 1995 but we haven‘t had that many hit the coast.  We‘ve had 41 major Atlantic basin hurricanes since ‘95 and even if you include Katrina we‘ve only had six.

CARLSON:  Why—sorry to interrupt you, doctor, but then why would this no-nothing German minister, Jurgen Trittin, claim apparently on what he says is some evidence that it‘s our fault that this hurricane struck the Gulf Coast?  Is he—is there any evidence at all to suggest that or is he just making it up?

GRAY:  No, not at all.  He doesn‘t know anything about hurricanes.  I mean this topic of human induced global warming has gone out of the objective scientific realm into the political one and we have no reason to think that humans are in any significant way making the globe warmer.

Yes, the globe has gotten warmer but in my view and others it‘s due to the ocean currents changes and other features that are well within the natural range of things.

CARLSON:  Well, Dr. Gray, at some point we‘re going to have a fundraiser for you, raise some money and have you go over to Germany and set those Germans straight.  I think you‘re just the man to do it.  But, in the meantime, I want to thank you for coming on our show.  You were terrific.

GRAY:  All right well thank you.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Dr. Gray.

Still ahead on THE SITUATION, the power of Hurricane Katrina has been equaled in recent years only by that of Hurricane Andrew.  Among other things, Andrew leveled the Miami Zoo and left animals wandering the streets, could New Orleans now be facing the same problem, the answer next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Our infrastructure is damaged.  The highways are damaged.  One sewer plant is completely down right now.  Of course, we‘re all out of water and we‘re all out of electricity, the whole city, so those are the main things.  I tell people help is coming but it‘s going to take a little while to get here.


CARLSON:  When Hurricane Andrew slammed into South Florida in 1992, Miami‘s Metro Zoo was all but wiped off the map.  The storm left hundreds of birds and animals to roam the streets.  Well nearly all of the animals at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans are safe tonight.  Their main concern is about wild animals on the loose around that city.

To discuss the very real problem of animal displacement, I‘m joined now by Ron Magill of the Miami Metro Zoo, Mr. Magill thanks a lot for joining us.

RON MAGILL, MIAMI METRO ZOO:  My pleasure, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So, what kind of animals might be on the loose in New Orleans tonight?

MAGILL:  Well, you know, in the bayou and the swamps, of course, there‘s always snakes and these animals have been displaced, just like the people have been displaced.  Animals that are subterranean they go under the ground.  With the water and the flooding these animals are going to come out.

There is, of course, the alligators in the swamps and such and the problem with the water and the flooding is that this water provides basically kind of an accelerated highway for these animals to be dispersed throughout areas that they normally wouldn‘t be in.

So there‘s an ongoing issue there, and not to mention people‘s pets, people‘s pets are out and, Tucker, I can‘t overemphasize that animals that are hurt and frightened can be dangerous and people need to keep that in mind.

CARLSON:  So you think there‘s a possibility you could see water borne snakes on the streets of New Orleans tonight?

MAGILL:  Oh, absolutely, absolutely.  Absolutely, there‘s a possibility.  I mean there‘s a possibility of animals from the Gulf, I mean fish and sea life coming into New Orleans depending on how this flooding is going. 

This is something, I mean as catastrophic as Andrew was for us, you know, when the wind was over we saw light at the end of the tunnel.  We were able to recover and start clearing up and the animals that had survived the storm we were able to secure them.

The water issue that they‘re having here in New Orleans is just overwhelming.  It‘s almost incomprehensible to me because it‘s something that seems to be able to get worse before it‘s getting better and I don‘t know what to tell those folks.

CARLSON:  So, there was a report earlier today and I‘m not even sure what to make of it.  We haven‘t reported it directly because it sounds kind of implausible.  Maybe it is plausible, a three-foot shark floating by down the street in New Orleans, possible?

MAGILL:  It‘s very possible but the problem is now this water is going to become very contaminated very quickly and with those contaminated waters these animals are going to die and that‘s going to compound the problem because you‘re going to have dead, decaying wildlife start infecting the area over and above what‘s already there.  This becomes a monumental problem and, you know, I just feel for them.  I can‘t—I can‘t express my feelings adequately enough to say how catastrophic this is.

CARLSON:  So, you said that household pets can become dangerous under these circumstances.  How should people approach them?

MAGILL:  Well, they need to be very, very careful.  I mean something as normally people would look at as friendly as a deer, you know, that‘s hurt, you approach a deer that‘s hurt and these animals don‘t understand you‘re trying to help them. 

They‘re panicking.  They‘re trying to protect themselves and that‘s when they can bite.  A deer kicking you can eviscerate you in a heartbeat and people don‘t understand that because they‘ve seen too many movies of Bambi and things like that.

CARLSON:  People have been injured by deer for real?

MAGILL:  Oh, absolutely, been eviscerated by deer.  These are things, their hooves will slice you open like a knife, Tucker, and this is out of a panic as they try to run away. 

If a deer has a broken leg or if a deer is drowning or inundated in mud or something like that, you need to be very careful.  Don‘t approach this wildlife unless you contact the authorities or you have some help there because it can turn on you incredibly quickly.

CARLSON:  And, quickly, I think most people‘s real concern is for household pets, dogs and cats.  Can you reassure people that they can—can they live on their own for a while?  What are their chances?

MAGILL:  You know, I said this after the hurricane at the zoo.  I said, folks, you have to keep something in mind.  There is no single animal life that‘s more important than a human life. 

Take care of your human neighbors right now.  The animals have the instincts, even domestic ones to survive the rain and the flooding and things like that.  They‘ll find the food.  If we take care of the people they in turn will take care of the animals.  Don‘t become skewed with your focus.

CARLSON:  OK, but we do with the dogs the best truly.

MAGILL:  Absolutely.

CARLSON:  Well, Ron Magill, we wish you the best too, thanks for coming on.

MAGILL:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  That‘s THE SITUATION for tonight.  I‘m Tucker Carlson. 

We‘ll see you here tomorrow night, 11:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 p.m.

Pacific.  Thanks for watching.



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