Video: Desperation in New Orleans

msnbc.com
updated 9/1/2005 2:47:24 PM ET 2005-09-01T18:47:24

After spending the morning shooting some chaotic scenes at the New Orleans Convention Center, NBC Photojournalist Tony Zumbado joined MSNBC's Alison Stewart to describe the scene.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" link to the right.

ALISON STEWART: Tony, I know you've seen a lot of things in your career, but have you ever seen anything like that?

TONY ZUMBADO: I've gotta tell you, I thought I'd seen it all, but just when you think you've seen it all, you go into another situation and you see something horrific. I've never seen anything in my life like this. ... I can't put it into words the amount of destruction that is in this city and how these people are coping. They are just left behind. There is nothing offered to them. No water, no ice, no C-rations, nothing, for the last four days.

They were told to go to the convention center. They did, they've been behaving. It's unbelievable how organized they are, how supportive they are of each other. They have not started any mêlées, any riots ... they just want food and support. And what I saw there I've never seen in this country.

We need to really look at this situation at the convention center. It's getting very very crazy in there and very dangerous. Somebody needs to come down with a lot of food and a lot of water. There's no hostility there ... they need support. These people are very desperate. I saw two gentlemen die in front of me because of dehydration. I saw a baby near death.

I went back with Harry Connick Jr. He spoke to them and told them he would do anything he can to help them. They seemed to appreciate that. He's the only person of authority - believe it or not, a musician -- to go in there and tell them that things are going to be ok.

STEWART: Are you telling me there is no police in the area, no National Guard in the area?

ZUMBADO: I don't want to sound negative against anybody or any official, but according to them, and what they saw, they left and they're there on their own. There's no police there's no authority.  ... You would never ever imagine what you saw in the convention center in New Orleans.

STEWART: Tell me about the sanitation.

ZUMBADO: The sanitation was unbelievable. The stench in there... was unbelievable. Dead people around the walls of the convention center, laying in the middle of the street in their dying chairs. ... They were just covered up ... Babies, two babies dehydrated and died. I'm telling you, I couldn't take it.

To watch the entire interview between Stewart and Zumbado, please click on the "Launch" button above and to the right.

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