Guest: Tamer El-Ghobashy, Bobby Jindal, Russell Levenson, Sidney
Barthelemy, David Vitter
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: We are here tonight live again in Biloxi.
But the big news today out of New Orleans, the city that America has seemingly forgotten and its politicians have let down in its greatest hour of need.
And here in Biloxi, a place where, when we traveled around, we couldn't find enough federal agents, enough state agents, enough emergency personnel around to even begin to take care of those young children and elderly adults that are still without food, still without water, still without the most basic of necessities.
Friends, I have got to tell you, I have been involved in a lot of hurricane relief before, and what I have been seeing these past few days is nothing short of a national disgrace.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed.
We are here tonight in Biloxi again, a coastal city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Those storms started hitting on Sunday, and yet, four full days later, still, we just aren't seeing emergency relief agents on the ground, in the neighborhoods that have been affected the most. There's video all—that we have been taking all throughout the day of people that simply aren't getting water. They are not getting food. They are not getting the basic necessities.
Friends, it's a disgrace here. But if you think it's a disgrace here, the situation in New Orleans is beyond description. The Associated Press reported this earlier this evening—quote—“Dateline New Orleans, storm victims raped and beaten inside the convention center; 88 officers also beaten back by angry mobs.”
The scene in New Orleans keeps getting more apocalyptic by the day, and many Americans on both political sides of the American scene are wondering where Washington politicians and where Louisiana politicians are.
Well, NBC's Don Teague is in that beleaguered city, and he gets us up to date with the latest bad news out of New Orleans—Don.
DON TEAGUE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Joe.
I can't tell you where the politicians are, but I can tell you where the refugees are, or at least some of them from this hurricane. They are over my shoulder. You are looking at about 2,000 people there. We are gathered on Interstate 10 here, heading out of the city. If you can believe it, these folks who have been out here for hours, who are living in a muddy swamp right now, are the lucky ones, because there's a chance they will be on buses out of here tonight.
For countless others out there, there's no end in sight.
TEAGUE (voice-over): It's a profound humanitarian crisis that grows deeper by the day, tens of thousands of hurricane refugees trapped in a city that is dissolving into chaos.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We haven't eaten in, like, five days!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a 3-week-old infant won't be able to survive out here with no milk, no water.
TEAGUE: At the Superdome and nearby convention center, victims, mostly poor and black, wait for 1,000 promised buses to take them to safety in Texas. Officials want everyone out in 24 hours, a seemingly impossible task. A few busloads did make it out overnight, but the operation shut down when someone shot at rescue helicopters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back inside, please.
TEAGUE: Police arrested this desperate family, who'd stolen a car, saying they just wanted out. There is widespread lawlessness, fires citywide. One police lieutenant told NBC News there's no one in charge here, and even officers have to loot their own food and water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No food. No water—I mean, the bare necessities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we get? Nothing!
TEAGUE: But victims who've suffered for days say they need help now and want to know where it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is wrong! We have no water! You could have dropped it from the sky from the helicopters.
TEAGUE: All this as rescue efforts continue around the clock, the death toll clearly mounting, but officials so overwhelmed by the living, they can't even begin to count bodies.
At the city's primary triage area, helicopters and ambulances bring an unending wave of shell-shocked victims, most among the 28 percent of New Orleans residents who live below the poverty line and lacked the resources to get out before the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ain't got nothing. I know that.
TEAGUE: And increasingly, it's apparent those who stayed have made heart-breaking choices, sometimes splitting up. Wardell Edwards (ph) rowed a boat to safety with 18 children from his housing project. Their mothers couldn't fit in the boat and stayed behind to wait for rescuers. That was two days ago. Today, still no sign of the women.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I love them. That's why I do all I can do for them.
TEAGUE: And some children arrive here completely alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And your mommy? Where's your mommy today?
TEAGUE: A heartbreak this National Guard major experiences again and again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you do?
TEAGUE: It is all simply too much to comprehend, and in rare, quiet moments, too much for those still trying to save this city to handle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will prevail.
TEAGUE: Well, Joe, I had one of those moments yesterday. I was driving between the convention center and the Superdome, tens of thousands of people in each of those. I came across a lone police officer who was just walking toward me down the street.
And he had his head hanging down. He had his M-16 rifle slung across his shoulder. And I asked him if he was OK, and he literally broke down in tears. And it's really—it's really hard to comprehend that. He was just so overcome with the emotion of what was going on, what he is seeing and what we are all seeing here, couldn't even respond—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Don, you know, you have so many heartbreaking stories that you are bringing out of New Orleans. I can tell you, in middle America, what everybody is asking me is, where is the federal government? Where is the National Guard? Where are the law enforcement officers from across Louisiana?
Can you tell us tonight, has any—you had a quote here. NBC News had somebody saying that no one is in charge there. Are you having any signs of any order being restored tonight, or is it still a city gripped by fear as much tonight as it has been over the past four nights?
TEAGUE: Well, first of all, I left the downtown area this afternoon. Our report from our crews who are still in that downtown area say the rain shower we had this afternoon seems to have calmed people down a bit who were there all day. That's one bit of good news.
As far as where the help is, I can tell you they are on the way. Last night, I traveled with the first load of buses that left here toward Houston. We followed them up to about Baton Rouge. And that whole 80 or so miles from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, it was just an army of relief workers, really vehicles, federal, state, local, you name it, military, coming this way.
The problem is, they haven't all made it into the city. They clearly haven't made it to the downtown area, because there are just a few local cops and an occasional patrol of National Guard. That's all you see there. I can tell you that part of the reason is because they have been so focused on the rescue effort, and that has been going, you know, pretty well, here, at least.
Let me explain a little bit about what we are seeing. We are on Interstate 10, Joe, and I know you know this area. This is the main freeway that crosses the bottom of the country, and also takes you right into New Orleans. And if you can see all of these people, these are people that have been rescued today, not over the last couple of days, not the first day. These people have been rescued today.
We have counted close to 2,000 of them, our best estimate of what is here. They have been brought off of rooftops. They have been plucked by helicopters. They have been taken on boats. In fact, those vehicles you see in the background, a good number of them are boats that are coming from the makeshift launch ramp that they have about a quarter-mile from here, where the freeway descends into what is now a lake, and what used to be the city.
So, these people are being brought up here, and they are being pretty well cared for. This is where it seems to be working. The folks here have been catching buses that have taken them to Houston. We watched the Army just a little while ago drop MREs and food and even bring cots out to these people. And we are pretty confident that they are going to get them out of here sometime tonight on buses that are waiting just out of our sight—
SCARBOROUGH: NBC's Don Teague, thank you so much for that report. We greatly appreciate you getting us up to date.
And, also, I greatly appreciate Don telling us that there is a reason to be hopeful, that at least, outside of New Orleans proper, that some things are starting to go well.
But that's not the situation inside the city tonight. Friends, this isn't hyperbole. This is a city gripped by fear. NBC News, for the first time I think ever, has had to hire a security operation to cover a domestic story, because there's no law enforcement officers there that can protect our crews.
Well, here are some of the sights and the sounds today, as, again, that apocalyptic scene continues to expand in the Crescent City, the city that some say God forgot. I say it's the city that our politicians have forgotten.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're tell everybody that we are all right.
They're lying! (INAUDIBLE) They don't give us nothing!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When daytime, we had all the protection that was here. But at nighttime came, in the dark with no lights, we didn't have no protection at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right here. (INAUDIBLE) My mother suffers from congestive heart failure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her eyes is so gross in there. I need to get her out of here. This is ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Living in these deplorable conditions, when the state was supposed to take care of us.
CROWD: Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look how hot he is. He is not waking up very easy. I am not—this is not about low-income. It's not about rich people, poor people. It's about people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Jesus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relax, darling. It's going to be all right. It's going to be all right. It's going to be all right. Breathe in. Breathe, baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why nobody can't get no help down here for these people (INAUDIBLE) They got children out here. They got pregnant women out here. They won't even bring water. They won't bring food. You got to go steal water to drink to survive out here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need help, sir. We really do. We need help. They are not doing nothing. They are not telling us nothing. They are not doing nothing. We have been out. Look at these old people. They're out here without their medication. They are in wheelchairs. We need help, sir. We really need help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: National Guard, the mayor, they have got (INAUDIBLE) like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, man. We have got little babies need drinks. They need juices and stuff, man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See all these old people here. These old people been out here ever since Monday. (INAUDIBLE) won't even give these old people peanut butter and jelly and a glass of water. They have brought nothing! Make sure you all show that. Show all these old people, these—look at that baby there.
SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you what. It is such sad video. I know a lot of people out there say, well, how can people be looting?
You got to understand that these are people who have young babies who haven't had water in four days, in some cases, haven't had formula, haven't had basic necessities. I just wonder what you would do, what I would do if we were in a situation where our 15-month-old child or our 2-year-old baby needed something to stay alive. I don't know what you would do. I know I would do anything it took to get what they needed.
Now, I should be getting it from the federal government if I am in New Orleans, from the state government. But I will tell you what. It is amateur hour, and it has been amateur hour over the past four or five days. This is completely different, friends, from the way the crises were handled in Florida last year, four hurricanes, two of them major, it was handled with ruthless efficiency. I know. I was there. That is not happening tonight in New Orleans.
Let's go back to New Orleans and talk to NBC's Michelle Hofland.
Michelle, this morning, I heard reports that you were going to have an influx of National Guardsmen coming in, about 1,400 a day. Has that begun? And, after that, if you can just tell us, is New Orleans still a city gripped by fear tonight?
MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Things have actually changed dramatically here, Joe, over the past four to five hours.
It sounds like a war zone in this area. We have heard so many helicopters overhead, relief and rescue helicopters over the past few hours here on the streets of New Orleans. I am on Canal Street right now. We have seen so many armed troops and police officers up and down the streets here tonight.
And at the Convention Center earlier today, desperate refugees rushed helicopters, who are finally arriving there with cases and cartons of bottled water. We have seen a few helicopters arrive at the Convention Center in Riverwalk for those people today. But, as you said, it is too late for a number of people who already have died there, some before our cameras at the Convention Center.
Over the past three or four days, refugees were told to go there for food or water or transportation, women nine months pregnant, a young mother with a baby, crying children and the elderly all desperately waiting for water.
And then, over at the Superdome, people there are now getting some water and some food. They have been pushed out of the Superdome, 20,000 of those people, into the contaminated water. But now tonight, there are buses escorting those people out of there and trying to get them off to Houston tonight—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Michelle. Thank God for some good news. I will tell you what, such a different scene from, like you said, just what was happening earlier today.
Friends, again, I tell you, the Associated Press at 4:15 today was reporting that chaos had broken out again in New Orleans and that basically the thugs were running the city. Tonight, Michelle tells us, the troops—this is breaking news, friends. The troops are finally starting to arrive, and the people of New Orleans will get the government they finally deserve.
We will be right back with more shocking images from New Orleans. Also, my tour around Biloxi, where I asked, where, where are the relief workers?
That and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Over the past three days, I have been going across Biloxi. Today, I took a tour of one of the areas hardest-hit. And I learned that too many of these residents haven't seen relief workers in their backyard yet.
We will give you the whole story when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: The United States Senate has just reconvened tonight, obviously getting on the floor talking about the tragedy, terrible tragedy, in Mississippi and Louisiana.
On the floor right now, that's Thad Cochran. He's the senior senator from the state of Mississippi, obviously one of the states most hardest-hit. And they are returning, returning early, and they are going to be talking on—about a $10.5 billion package for storm relief. That's going on right now. Certainly, it's going to pass, if not unanimously, then almost unanimously.
And I suspect that some will come on the floor and be very critical of the administration's response to this package. And too many Republicans, too many Democrats out there would agree with those criticisms.
I want to go right now, though, to Senator David Vitter. He's a Republican from the state of Louisiana.
And, Senator, it's been all bad news over the past four days, but a report from NBC News tonight, Michelle Hofland, telling us that the troops have come in, and, in the past four hours, order is slowly returning to the city. What's your response?
SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA: Well, Joe, I hope as heck that report is right.
We have been pushing for that for two days, and saying that we need enormous federal resources there, boots on the ground, starting with security, National Guard, and even blow past National Guard and go directly into Department of Defense, full-time enlisted people if that's what we need. But we need boots on the ground there for security first, as well as the evacuation relief effort.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, David, when we served on the Judiciary Committee, I always respected you because you were a strong, independent voice, a conservative, but an independent voice.
Are you willing to go out on the line tonight and say that the administration may have botched the early stages of this relief effort in the city of New Orleans by not getting troops on the ground fast enough?
VITTER: Well, there's no question that we didn't get troops and relief there fast enough, no question about it. There will be plenty of blame to go around, and there are plenty of issues and reasons. But, for whatever reason, we didn't get relief supplies or troops on the ground there nearly fast enough or in nearly big enough numbers.
SCARBOROUGH: Let's talk about Denny Hastert. He is speaker of the House. He told a suburban Chicago newspaper today that he questions the wisdom of rebuilding New Orleans.
First of all, have you heard about that quote? And, secondly, do you care to respond to the speaker of the House's assertions?
VITTER: I did read the quote. It's an outrageous quote and completely ridiculous.
I was at least glad to see that, an hour later, it was so ridiculous that he issued a new statement and said, of course, New Orleans would be rebuilt. He was just concerned about the safety of the citizens in a new city. But it was an outrageous quote and certainly very insensitive.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, David, a lot of times we in the media—and I count myself among those people—tend to focus on the negative too often, tend to focus on the dark side of the story, the side that people are fascinated by and will stay tuned to on the channels. Good news doesn't sell. Let's face it.
But, in this case, is this a case where there is just far too much bad news going on in New Orleans? Or are there a lot of heroes in New Orleans that we just aren't paying enough attention to?
VITTER: Well, there's no question that all of that bad news is very real. I wish it weren't. I wish it were just completely overblown. I wish it was half-a-percent of the real story, but it's not.
All of that is real. Now, at the same time, there are plenty of heroic cases and heroic stories, some of which I have seen firsthand. And that's real, too. But I don't want to stand here and deny that that bad story is very, very real. Hopefully, it's beginning to turn around, as you are reporting, but it's been all too real the last few days.
SCARBOROUGH: David, I have been critical of the administration, the Republican administration, the Republican leaders, up and down the chain.
Let's talk about the leader of New—of Louisiana. Many people are looking at your governor and simply saying that she is not up to managing one of the greatest relief efforts in U.S. history. Is that fair?
VITTER: Well, I think there's going to be plenty of time to look back and levy criticism. At this point, it has to be a massive federal effort, has to be managed by, yes, the governor, but also the president and his entire Cabinet. And I think that's finally on track now.
SCARBOROUGH: Al right, David, I love your city. Got great respect for you. I can't wait to go back to New Orleans with my family. And I will see you there.
This is a city, this is a strong city that is going to rebuild, and I know you are going to be at the center of it. God bless you. And thanks for being with us tonight.
VITTER: Thank you, Joe. And, as bad as those stories and visuals are, it is going to rebuild. We are going to be back. It is a great city, and that's not ending with this storm.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks a lot.
It is a great city, friends. And, you know, it's almost surreal, but this time last week, my wife and I were in New Orleans, a great, great town. And it's just so sad what's happened. But it will rebuild again.
I want to go now to a man who had a lot to do with the growth of New Orleans in the past. He is former mayor of New Orleans, Sidney Barthelemy.
Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us.
I want to continue asking the tough questions about politicians who have let the people of New Orleans down. Do you believe the administration and the governor of Louisiana have let these people down in their—really in their hour of most dire need?
SIDNEY BARTHELEMY, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: I really believe that the governor and the mayor of the city were overwhelmed. I don't think they had any idea this hurricane was going to do what it did.
And I don't believe the administration really understood the nature of what was going on in the city, and finally, I am happy to say that they finally realized that this was a national emergency, this was a national disaster, not just a city disaster, and started to take action. We should have known. Everybody should have known when we saw the nature of that hurricane taking up almost the whole Gulf, that it was something that had never happened before, in our lifetime, anyway, and that it was going to be a monumental disaster and begin to...
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Governor, Governor—or, Mr. Mayor—yes, Mr. Mayor, you know, I'm sorry to interrupt you.
BARTHELEMY: That's all right.
SCARBOROUGH: I wanted to ask you this question, though.
BARTHELEMY: That's all right.
SCARBOROUGH: You have been watching these—you have been watching these horrific images. As somebody that lives a couple of hours away from New Orleans, visits it with my friends and family, I mean, it breaks my heart seeing these images. What is it like for you, a man that has lived in the city your whole life, loves the city, and devoted your professional life, your political life, to making New Orleans a better place? How heartbroken are you tonight at the images of death and destruction you have seen over the past week?
BARTHELEMY: I can't tell you how heart heartbroken I am to see the situation. I was really almost as hopeless as some of the people in the first part of the week, when I saw what the hurricane did, and it just seemed that it was almost a hopeless situation. And there didn't seem to be the help coming that should have been coming.
But I feel more optimistic now, because everybody finally realizes that this city needs help and that it's going to take a tremendous amount of resources. And the president has stepped up. And even the two former presidents have formed a committee to start raising money. This is going to take a tremendous effort on our part. And I might say, Mike (sic), that the rest of the world is looking at us.
And I heard you ask David Vitter the question about the speaker of the House. If he said that, that was horrendous. And...
SCARBOROUGH: It really was, Mr. Mayor. It was an absolute disgrace.
SCARBOROUGH: I'm sorry. We are going to have to go on to break. I want to thank you, Mr. Mayor, though, for being with us. It was a disgraceful thing to say. So many bad things have been happening over the past week. The last thing you need to do is tell people who are fighting for their lives that their city is not worth rebuilding.
This is a city that is worth rebuilding, and I think a lot of Republicans and Democrats alike and federal bureaucrats tonight and politicians need to examine what's happened over the past four days and make sure it doesn't happen again.
When we come back, talking about failure to relieve people in need, we are going to come back and talk about Biloxi, talk about what I saw today and what MSNBC's David Shuster has seen over the past several days in terms of emergency relief.
That a lot of more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hear airplanes flying every place, but there's no supplies, and we haven't had ice or water in three days, no food at all, with the exception of the Salvation Army. We are devastated.
We need your help, Haley Barbour. George W. Bush, get out the White House and come help us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Our continuing coverage of Hurricane Katrina continues, unbelievable video from storm chasers that we got a hold of. We will tell you that story and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
But, first, here's the latest news that you and your family need to know.
ANNOUNCER: From Biloxi, Mississippi, once again, Joe Scarborough.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back.
Breaking news out of the United States Senate. Tonight, the Senate has voted overwhelmingly to approve a $10.5 billion relief package for the people of the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
A lot going on tonight. Also out of New Orleans, the first half of the show, there's a bit of breaking news also. We got a report from Michelle Hofland. She's an NBC reporter stuck in New Orleans, who said there's been a remarkable change, a sea change over the past three or four hours. That is now a city that appears to be under control, at least some parts of the city under control, by U.S. troops, which is good news.
I want to bring in MSNBC's David Shuster.
David, you're an investigative reporter. Earlier tonight, I heard Haley Barbour saying that Mississippi was caught off guard by the size and scope of this storm. We heard our last speaker, the mayor, former mayor of New Orleans, saying New Orleans officials, Louisiana officials, caught off guard by the size of this storm. You are an investigative reporter. Do you buy that?
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: No. I mean, the facts are simple. And the facts in this case, they are less than a week old. I mean, 36 hours before it hit New Orleans, they knew it was headed for New Orleans. They knew it was a huge storm.
SCARBOROUGH: The president had a press conference.
SHUSTER: The president had a press conference.
And 24 hours, they were starting to—they were evacuating the city and they were telling people, get out, get out. So, I mean, if they are telling people 24 to 36 hours, get out, it's a direct hit on New Orleans, for them to say, well, the politicians were caught by surprise, that's nonsense.
SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, FEMA actually did—as you know, FEMA did a study on this a year ago. Mike Brown was talking about it earlier this week, that they had planned for this, which makes it all the more remarkable.
I want to show you what I saw today, though, when I was going around Biloxi. It's a lot of what David has also seen his past three days here, too. Take a look at what we found.
SCARBOROUGH (voice-over): When hurricanes crash across America's coastline, citizens can usually count on a quick, efficient response. That's what Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the feds gave Floridians four times this last year. But the fed's response this week, from New Orleans to Biloxi, has been heartbreakingly slow, confused, and, in some places, nonexistent.
And that's left some Gulf Coast residents seeing red.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we can send money to Iraq, why can't our president come down here? It's not over. You know, it—I don't understand this. We have waited five days for relief.
SCARBOROUGH (on camera): What do you think about the fact that we have helped other countries, but, again, five days into it, nobody has been helping here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unbelievable, but it's for real. That's what they do. He sends all that money for a war and let his people suffer like this.
SCARBOROUGH (voice-over): When I showed up in Biloxi the day after the storm, there were no police officers, no National Guardsmen, no relief agents.
(on camera): So, you have been in the shelter since almost the storm began, and this is the—these are the first supplies today that you got?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: You haven't seen the state government here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody, nobody.
SCARBOROUGH (voice-over): My wife, Susan, was so distressed by what she saw that she and her friends launched a fund-raising drive through a local charity. By the time we arrived in Biloxi, we were besieged by residents, who told us four days later that we were some of the first relief workers they had seen.
That had many of my wife's Republican friends asking where the president they voted for has been for the past week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am very disappointed. And, you know, you want to go to the very top and complain. And I have voted for Bush, but I am sort of disappointed. I mean, I feel like, if I was in charge right now, there are a lot of things I would be doing differently. I mean, there was a military base right across the street from where we were handing stuff out. And why are there not gigantic helicopters full of water and stuff bringing it into these people? There was no one on the base.
SCARBOROUGH: A local pastor called the relief effort dismal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we have seen today is a huge tragedy. And just a few moments ago, I was speaking with some newspeople from Barcelona, Spain, who came over and said, when you are in trouble—when we are in trouble, you come immediately to our aid. Where are your people that help? He said, I don't see anybody.
And I had to confess, neither do I. We made the drive over. We didn't see any relief trucks. I think we saw one police car, no state troopers, no military help on the roads. That's my biggest impression. We have driven in here, and as far as I know, we are the only relief agency that has come in today.
SCARBOROUGH: And most of the people that we spoke to today simply believe the federal government and the state government have forgotten them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a disaster. This is a catastrophe. I don't think America ever seen anything like this. I mean, this is like a Third World country. And this is the most powerful country on Earth, and they can't come down here and help us?
SCARBOROUGH: The most powerful country on Earth, and yet, again, I have been here for three days now. You have, too. I wrote it down. Today, at 5:11 p.m., was the first time I saw a National Guardsman out on the street. What is going on here?
SHUSTER: Well, and, Joe, we went to an official distribution center, the one that people hear about on the radio, where they're told, go to the Division Street distribution center. It's at this address. We went there. The trucks show up, and they are trucks that are only about half-full with water, one that had some ice, but it was only a couple of pallets. And then two-thirds of the truck is empty.
And you are thinking, what about the food? These people haven't eaten in four days. What can they do with just water and just ice and an empty truck? What—I mean, that is such wasted space. And the people are like, that's great. We have got water, but if you don't feed us in a couple of days, people are starving. What about the people that can't even get to the distribution center?
SCARBOROUGH: And I have got a—we got a desperate e-mail forwarded from a federal office to us, as I was coming over here. A lady said there were babies at a hospital, had not changed diapers in three days, had terrible diaper rash, had no formula, no food, and were close to death. Again, what is the political fallout for leaders on both sides going to be?
SHUSTER: I mean, I think the fallout is horrible, not only just those pictures in New Orleans. Nobody likes to see anarchy in a major U.S. city.
But nobody likes to hear about Americans starving to death because they are being told to sit around, the trucks are coming in, and it's such an inefficient job, that we are going to start hearing in a couple of days of people who are dying of hunger? I mean, that's...
SCARBOROUGH: It's unbelievable, while you know millions and millions of Americans would give the shirts literally off their backs to help these people.
David Shuster, thanks so much for your coverage this week.
Friends, we will be right back. And I got to tell you one other thing that disturbs me. And I have got to get this off my chest. When we talked to relief agencies driving over from Pensacola that were on the ground here, they basically told us, don't bother. We have got the situation under control. They don't. And people are dying because of it.
We will be right back in a second with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Jacob Bugal (ph) at Mississippi, Bay St. Louis. I just want to tell my family that I am all right, that I am here, I am safe. Everything is perfect, besides houses and everything, of course, but just want to make sure everybody knows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Jeremy Hill (ph) from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. I was here. I stayed through here. I had no place to go. Just wanted to let everybody know at home that I am safe, I'm fine, and that I will make it through, and I will see you all as soon as I can.
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SCARBOROUGH: When we began our efforts this morning in Pensacola, Florida, we launched our relief efforts from Christ Church, an Episcopalian church.
With us tonight is the rector of that Episcopal Church, Russell Levenson.
Thank you so much for being with us, Russell.
We were looking at images of what you saw today. It's remarkable.
That's an hour-and-a-half, two hours away from us. We have got everything.
These people have nothing. What are your thoughts?
RUSSELL LEVENSON, CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, FLORIDA: Well, and, of course, we are standing right in the middle of it here, Joe. And we met with a reporter just a little while ago that covered the tsunami.
And she said this—this—while certainly this is not a comparison, she said it looks very much the same, everywhere we look, tremendous devastation today and, everywhere we had gone, tremendous suffering.
SCARBOROUGH: And an NYPD cop compared this to 9/11.
LEVENSON: Well, he was under tower one when it fell. And he said, really, in much the same way, that that was a tremendous disaster for New York, but he said, really, while that was a terrible terrorist disaster, that that pales in comparison to the natural disaster he has seen here today.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Russell, you have been involved in a lot of relief efforts. You have been on the Gulf Coast for quite some time, Louisiana also, Alabama, Florida. And you led relief efforts during Ivan. Compare what you saw in Ivan last year with what you have seen today in Biloxi.
LEVENSON: Well, of course, the biggest disappointment, in Ivan, we had immediate, immediate on-the-ground help.
SCARBOROUGH: Had immediate relief on the ground.
LEVENSON: Immediate relief on the ground.
And now, of course, we are four days into it, and we really need relief. We need relief from politicians. We also need relief from our spiritual and faith communities, too. And that's what we tried to do today.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks a lot, Russell.
LEVENSON: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Greatly appreciate it.
Now, if you want to help, you can certainly do it by giving to an organization that I know about. It's called Christian Ministries. You can send a donation to Christian ministries. It's P.O. Box 911, Pensacola, Florida, 32591. That's Christian ministries, P.O. Box 911, Pensacola, Florida, 32591.
And, friends, this is my thought. At some point, the Red Cross, these other agencies are going to be starting to get what's needed on the ground. That has happened yet. And, as long as it doesn't happen, we are going to keep bringing food, clothes, water, over to the people of Biloxi, and the entire Gulf Coast.
I now want to go to Congressman Bobby Jindal. He's been waiting patiently for us.
Congressman, you know an awful lot about Louisiana politics. You know an awful lot about national politics. If you can, rate for us how the president and the governor of Louisiana have been doing in this crisis.
REP. BOBBY JINDAL ®, LOUISIANA: Yes, I had the privilege of hearing David Vitter. And I want to echo a couple of things he said, clearly, there should have been more boots on the ground earlier. There should have been more relief earlier.
You and I talked yesterday. There should have been a zero-tolerance policy from the beginning. By allowing looting, that's degenerated into violence. And I think that, unfortunately, now we are having to come back and reestablish civil order after the fact.
And what's been frustrating is also watching the debate about who could declare order, when, clearly, that needed to happen. Like David, I also think, while there are people still in the water—there will time to assess blame after the fact. I think the important thing is what you're reporting, in breaking news, that it does appear that troops are arriving. It does appear that we are beginning to reclaim the city.
But to the people that have been stuck for days now without food, without drinkable water, relief is coming a little late. The good news is, I found a lot of—a lot of—yesterday in shelters—people who were able to be evacuated out of New Orleans in the last couple of days are finally getting the food, the water. The church groups have been phenomenal. Churches all over Louisiana are just literally opening their doors to strangers.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, churches are really doing a remarkable job, churches, synagogues, faith-based organizations going overboard and doing what it's taking. They really have stepped into the breach here and are making a difference.
I want to ask you really quickly, Bobby, is the governor of Louisiana up to the task of protecting your state in this time of crisis?
JINDAL: Well, again, I am going to have to echo what David said. Now that we are in the middle of it, I think it's important that we get these people safe.
I think there will be an appropriate when we do need to look back and say what worked, what didn't work, because we cannot have this happen again. If we ever are unfortunate enough to face any kind of tragedy of this scope, we have got to be prepared to act quickly. I think there will be a time to assess blame. And there's plenty of blame to go around, but, at this point, let's focus on getting those people safe.
All right. Thank you so much, Congressman. I greatly appreciate you staying with us tonight. I love getting your input, because you talk straight.
And I just—I am going to echo what David Shuster said earlier. People are talking about the need to be prepared next time. Why weren't they prepared this time? They knew a direct hit on New Orleans and Biloxi was going to be a disaster. And they did nothing in time.
Coming next, what you can do to help. That's when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: While the people of Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Louisiana Gulf Coast are suffering through yet another sweltering night without water, without shelter, without electricity, without air conditioning, 1,500 miles away, in Washington, D.C., the United States Senate has approved a $10.5 billion relief package for the people of these besieged areas. Let's hope it's not too late for so many residents along the Gulf Coast.
I want to go right now to a “Daily News” reporter. His name is Tamer El-Ghobashy.
I hope I said that right, Tamer.
He wrote an incredible article for “The Daily News.” He has been in the darkness that is New Orleans. And he wrote today that he went to the Emerald City, but what he found instead was Dodge City.
Tamer, tell us about it. Talk—take us inside New Orleans tonight.
TAMER EL-GHOBASHY, “THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”: Well, the situation tonight is markedly better in most of the city than it was yesterday.
First of all, the temperature is a lot cooler, because it rained tonight, which helped a lot. They have the Superdome mostly on its way to being evacuated by now. The only real hot spot that I know of at the moment is the Convention Center, which is pretty much in pandemonium.
People were taken there when they couldn't go to the Superdome, and told to go there, where what they encountered were thousands of other people with no food, no water, and absolutely no authorities there. The authorities have said that they will not be going there any time soon. They feel outnumbered and outmanned. They don't have the resources to deal with these folks.
They did do a couple of helicopter drops of food and water, which really placated the crowd a lot. They were just desperate for supplies. That's what they needed.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. That—that certainly helped. Obviously, more troops are on the ground right now. Tell me about the most harrowing scene you have seen in New Orleans over the past few days.
EL-GHOBASHY: I mean, I have seen dead bodies on the side of the road, which is pretty jarring.
However, probably the most harrowing thing has to be vigilante sheriffs, regular citizens, taking it upon themselves to stop the looters by shooting at them and in their direction. Now, one thing to keep in mind about these looters is that not—I mean, very few of them are opportunistic people taking electronics and other things. Most of them have been taking supplies, things they need, Pampers, water, juice, food, anything they need to survive.
SCARBOROUGH: And, again, Tamer, we are going to be hearing that story as we move forward, that so many of these looters were people going into these stores to get diapers, to get water, to get formula, to get wipes, to get life support for their children and their families.
We will be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in just a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: Friends, breaking news tonight.
As we have said before, the Senate has approved a $10.5 billion relief bill for this devastated area. It's time for that aid to get down here. Also, the House is about to convene, and I am sure they will pass it unanimously. The president will sign it. And, hopefully, that money in Washington, D.C., 1,500 miles away, will make its way down here.
You know, friends, I was in public office. I was a member of Congress. I understand how difficult some of these situations are. But don't you believe in the coming days that this storm caught people by surprise. We knew in Pensacola, Florida, that this was going to be a killer storm. It was going to be a Category 4. We were saying on Friday, it would be a historic storm.
So, any politician in Louisiana, Alabama, or Mississippi that tells you they were surprised, well, they don't deserve your trust or your vote next time.
We are going to Slidell, Louisiana, now, with Tucker Carlson.
Tucker, bring us up to date with the devastation...
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”: Thanks.
SCARBOROUGH: ... one state over.
CARLSON: Thanks, Joe. Every word you just said is true, by the way.
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