updated 9/5/2005 3:16:32 PM ET 2005-09-05T19:16:32

Guest: Sheila Jackson Lee, Martha Madden, Al Sharpton

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to THE SITUATION.  Joining you live tonight from an overpass on the outskirts of New Orleans.  It spans I-10, of course, the major artery that goes along the Gulf Coast, spanning towns that were crushed by Hurricane Katrina earlier this week. 
You can see behind me there‘s a holding place where thousands of refugees from New Orleans, from the city, from the parts that have been submerged under water have been taken, many by helicopter.  Some of them have been waiting here for days. 
There have been helicopters landing behind me all day long.  Landing, taking off.  As they do, as the rotors come down, trash blows up from the field that‘s littered with trash. 
You can see that there are people with small children.  All of these people behind me, the thousands who have been here for all of them, there‘s a total of four portajohns, four restrooms.  For the rest, using the open field as a latrine. 
It‘s a chaotic scene here.  I talked to one man who was with a small child, a daughter, about two years old.  I asked him, “Where are you going?”  A bus had just pulled up, a school bus from Lafayette Parish. 
He said, “I have no idea.”  None of the people getting on the bus seemed to have any idea where they were going, except they were leaving here, which is what they wanted to be doing. 
About 20 minutes ago, someone, a man who was standing down here on the field, ran up onto the overpass where we are.  There are no lights, of course.  The electricity is out all around.  And ran right down I-10 here, sadly, tragically, directly into a police car, and was killed. 
Sort of a small but telling metaphor, for really the complete chaos a lot of these people have been living in for the past four days since it struck. 
We got here earlier today with the help of a policeman, a New Orleans policeman named Jared Henry (ph) we ran into in Baton Rouge.  New Orleans is completely blocked off to just about everyone except emergency workers.  He was filling up gasoline, about 35 jerry cans at a gas station in Baton Rouge.  He agreed to give us a police escort into the city, so he did. 
Almost immediately upon getting here—we came with someone who we knew, who lives here, uptown.  And one of the first things we did was go to the civic center, rather, the convention center here in New Orleans, which has been the site of a lot of suffering.  Refugees there without air conditioning, without power for days.  We went there.
First thing we saw as we walked in, a police car right in front of it, all four tires slashed.  People sitting on it.  You can see the pictures there.  These are people who have been living there for a long type.  Almost a tent city.  People cooking food outside.  There‘s the police car. 
Totally inoperable. 
Today, the big development was, and I think many people who have been living at the convention center were grateful for it, the National Guard showed up.  We saw six of them buzz by, driving fork lifts, the kind they use to pick palates up in warehouses.  They sped by with their M-16s and full body armor, camouflage, et cetera.  They were a welcome sight.  Crime has been a terrible problem at the convention center, as it has been throughout New Orleans. 
So most of the people, I think, who stayed here, who have ridden out the aftermath of the hurricane, have been terrorized, by bands of roaming thugs, some of whom have committed murder.  If you‘ve been watching television, you certainly know that. 
From there, we went to meet a woman, a 75-year-old woman named Gloria Buchanan, who rode out the hurricane alone with her two dogs in an apartment.  MSNBC got a call a couple of days ago from Gloria Buchanan, saying that she was alone.  No one had come to help her.  She was running out of water and she had no food.  So we figured we‘d call her.  We did.  The second we called her and went over to her house. 
There she is.  She‘d ridden it out completely alone.  Hadn‘t talked to anybody.  So we didn‘t have a lot, but we brought her some instant soup and a couple of bottles of water.  Wandered through her house. 
She said she was terrorized during the hurricane.  Seemed a little bit disoriented. 
On the living room wall of her house, she had posted up for rescue workers, presumably a sign written in marker that said, “If found dead, call Tulane Medical Center for details on what to do next.”  This is a woman who I think at times, clearly at times expected to die.  She didn‘t. 
On the way out, amazingly enough, we ran into one of the many completely volunteer rescue workers who showed up in New Orleans.  A man from Texas, who just got in the car, rented a van, got water and food and went door to door, throughout the city, has been doing it all week as a kind of—I think as a kind of Christian mission, helping people who needed aid.  They haven‘t gotten it any other way.  We talked to him for a minute.  Here‘s what he said. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Feeding people.  We‘ve been pulling people in boats.  We‘ve been hauling people out down here in 10 foot of water.  We‘ve been hauling them in 18 inches.  We‘ve been—everything else. 
We had the privilege this morning of having a lady, whose husband passed away in the house, and she says, “Can you help me?”  And so we had to wrap him up and bag him up and take him outside for her.  Sat and had a service for him out on the front porch. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON:  Had a service on the front porch.  There was no one else to conduct that service, obviously, so he did.  Thank God he did. 
The big news here, of course, as you know, President Bush traveled here today, went to the airport in Jefferson Parish, right down this road right here and gave a short statement.  Here‘s part of what he said. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We‘ve got a job to defend this country in the war on terror, and we‘ve got a job to bring aid and comfort to the people of the Gulf Coast, and we‘ll do both.  We‘ve got plenty of resources to do both.  Somebody questioned me the other day about, do we have enough National Guard troops?  Of course we do. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON:  That quote, I should correct, does not come from the airport here.  Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans but from Biloxi.  But the message was pretty consistent from President Bush all day long. 
The implication was the government has not acted quickly enough.  He certainly is right about that, but that it will act swiftly and effectively now, and that we have the resources to help the people here in New Orleans. 
Well, a lot of people being evacuated from New Orleans are going by bus, and they‘re going right up I-10 to Houston, Texas.  And that is where our next guest comes from.  She‘s a Congress woman from Houston, Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat. 
Congresswoman, thanks a lot for joining us tonight. 
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS:  Tucker, thank you for having me in this very difficult time.  Of course my sympathy goes out to all of those families and all of those who have lost loved ones. 
CARLSON:  I was in Houston a couple of days ago.  And spoke to a couple of people who, for selfish or other reasons, but I think they were legitimate anyway, were concerned about the effect on Houston, having a lot of people from New Orleans with essentially shattered lives, bused in.  What kind of effect is this going to have on your community?
LEE:  Well, Tucker, first of all, if Houston has anything, it has a big heart, big opportunities, and big ideas. 
I spent the afternoon meeting with officials from city officials to county officials, just came back from the Astrodome, visiting with the Red Cross, visiting with survivors as we now call them.  And frankly, we are rising to the occasion. 
It is difficult.  There is quite a bit of, if you will, busyness, hurriedness, and maybe somewhat confusion, but people are being placed, cots are there.  If you will, resources are there.  But we need help from the federal government ourselves. 
And what do we need most of all?  Coordination and preparation.  We know what happened in the lacking of preparation for New Orleans, and the tragedy that occurred there, Mississippi and, of course, Alabama.  We need coordination now in terms of knowing the numbers of people that are coming in.  We‘re prepared to house them. 
Tomorrow, we will establish the Healing Hands Faith Community Opportunity, where we‘re bringing in the faith community and other providers to take care of those people that are not in the designated governmental sites. 
So we are prepared, but we need coordination.  We need resources.  We need FEMA to be on the ground.  We need those kinds of resources to do the right job, but Houston has a big heart, and I‘m proud of them. 
CARLSON:  Well, good for you, Congresswoman.  There was a quote today from Elijah Cummings, who is, of course, a congressman, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, that I found disturbing.  And I wanted to run it by you.  Doubtless you‘re familiar with it.
Here‘s what he said: “We cannot allow it to be said that the difference between those who lived and those who died in this great storm and flood of 2005 was nothing more than poverty, age, and skin color.” 
I don‘t see any evidence, Congresswoman, that the response has broken down along racial lines, that racism has played any role in the pretty selfless response of emergency workers here.  Why, I wonder, would the head of Congressional Black Caucus want to inject race into a story like this?
LEE:  Tucker, first of all, let me say that, of course, Congressman Cummings served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.  The chair now is Congressman Mel Watt.
But I also want to know that the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, working with NAACP and many others are going to be raising their own dollars to work in what we call the impact communities, and of course, Louisiana, to help in communities that are experiencing this devastation. 
Let me suggest to you, as a member of the homeland security committee, what might have been the thrust of these remarks.  We were not prepared, frankly, unfortunately.  Resources or either strategy, the levees that broke, that cast 25 billion gallons of water down upon these individuals.  The Charity Hospital that still has not been evacuated. 
But what happened is as the world saw pictures of individuals from a particular community, they saw their desperation.  They looked like they were alone.  They looked like they were unattended.  You can‘t help but make those kinds of assumptions.  I imagine the same kind of thing could have happened...
CARLSON:  Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Hold on, wait, Congresswoman. 
LEE:  It could have happened in Boston. 
CARLSON:  But you absolutely—but you absolutely can‘t help but make those kind of assumptions.  You can‘t help but make the assumption that racism played a role in any of this.  We can all agree that incompetence played a huge role, and it‘s a travesty, and the people are suffering because government didn‘t do its job.  I don‘t think anybody needs to jump to...
LEE:  You‘re not listening, Tucker.  You‘re not listening.  What I said was...
CARLSON:  OK. 
LEE:  What I said was, it could have happened in Boston.  It could have happened in Charlotte, North Carolina, but when you have the world looking, and you see a particular community, those questions come up.  You realize that race has always been an issue in this particular nation. 
However, I will say this.  I will say this.  My projection is that we were not prepared, and that what is happening now, the outpouring of concern and effort by the private sector, by nonprofits, by many other entities such as the faith community is something we can be proud of.  I‘m proud of what‘s going on here in Houston.  It is diverse. 
CARLSON:  Yes. 
LEE:  It is across religious lines, and I want to promote that and celebrate that, the announcement that we‘re going to have the Healing Hands organization working along with everyone trying to make things better. 
CARLSON:  And good for you, Congresswoman.  If I could say one thing, in many of the interviews we have done today, the racial question has come up again and again.  There‘s a great deal of paranoia here centering on that question. 
Was this one community neglected intentionally, and I guess I would just hope and pray that members of Congress wouldn‘t stoke that paranoia and that fear with comments like that from Mr. Cummings today.  I hope they wouldn‘t, because it makes people even more fearful than they already are.  It hurts people.  I don‘t think it‘s good for this country. 
Anyway, thanks a lot.
LEE:  We promise you that we are going to work for the betterment and the good of everybody.  We want their lives to be restored.  We‘re going to be working, Tucker, and thanks for being in Houston. 
CARLSON:  Thanks a lot.  Thanks, Congresswoman.
LEE:  Thank you. 
CARLSON:  Next, aid is arriving here in New Orleans with a mixture of celebration and some disgust, frankly.  Up ahead, is it enough?  Did it come soon enough?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CARLSON:  Almost five days after Hurricane Katrina crushes New Orleans, aid finally arrives from the federal government.  We‘ll tell you what difference it‘s made and what difference it hasn‘t made.  We‘ll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CARLSON:  You are looking at pictures there of an evacuation earlier today from right beneath where we‘re standing here on the overpass.  Officials only allowed mothers with children on. 
There was an ersatz mother attempting to get on.  You see him there in the pink shirt.  Cop immediately spotted him as not authentic and pulled his wig off.  Looks like the child made it on the bus.  I don‘t know what happened to him.  I don‘t think he made it on the bus. 
Well, as you know, aid finally arrived here today, in great quantities, five days after the hurricane itself.  It‘s had some effects, though maybe not as profound as many would have hoped. 
Don Teague spent the day looking into that.  Here‘s what he found.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DON TEAGUE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  For days, the government has promised these people help. 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They tell people to evacuate.  We don‘t have nowhere to go. 
TEAGUE:  Finally today, a massive convoy of National Guard troops, aid trucks, and air conditioned buses crept into the center of the city.  The first priorities, ending the violence and evacuating the Superdome and convention center. 
Overhead, a constant flow of helicopters pluck survivors off roof tops and drops them off five miles from downtown on the interstate. 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A baby, cried himself to sleep last night, because he needs—I wouldn‘t lay my baby in this filth. 
TEAGUE:  Until last night, officials were busing refugees out of this freeway triage, but with buses now going downtown, the numbers here have swelled to the thousands. 
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Food, if they have a medical problem, we‘ll get them over here to get some help.  But as long as they‘re walking and talking, we have other people we have to do first. 
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have babies?
TEAGUE:  Aid is coming here, truck loads of food and water.  Still, a state police officer tells NBC News 10 people died on the interstate yesterday alone. 
ELIZABETH ABADIE, HURRICANE SURVIVOR:  I have spent two days in the shelter, trying to do first aid, basic first aid with nothing.  I had nothing.  Where is it?
TEAGUE:  New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, strongly criticized the government‘s response last night on a local radio station. 
MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS:  Don‘t tell me 40,000 people are coming here.  They are not here.  It‘s too doggone late.  Get off your (expletive deleted) and let‘s do something.  And let‘s fix the biggest (expletive deleted) crisis in the history of this country. 
TEAGUE:  Because it‘s clear today this disaster area is far from secure.  Work crews are trying to restore water and electricity, even as fires burn across the city.  Hospitals are unable to function at all.  Nurses and doctors who stayed to help victims, now among the terrified thousands begging to be rescued. 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s totally crazy.  We feel totally abandoned
by the government. 

TEAGUE:  All of them asking the same question, how could this happen in America?
(END VIDEOTAPE)
CARLSON:  And you heard what he said, what Don Teague said.  Ten people died on this overpass just yesterday, right beneath us.  Maybe at some point, someone will explain why those people had to die. 
As you know, we‘re right next to a highway, which has been open for the last couple of days.  Trucks could come barreling right down here, and they should have, with supplies, and then with means to evacuate those people so they could get medical attention, but instead, they died.  It was, in other words, preventable.
But was this whole mess preventable to some extent?  Was the flooding of New Orleans something that the city, the state, and the federal government could have prevented years ago? 
Our next guest has some insight into that.  Her name is Martha Madden, former Louisiana secretary of environmental quality.  She joins us in Washington, D.C., tonight.
Ms. Madden, thanks a lot for joining us. 
MARTHA MADDEN, FORMER LOUISIANA SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY: 
Thank you. 
CARLSON:  Was this preventable?
MADDEN:  This is a question that we all are asking, and we‘re very concerned about.  We have had contingency plans.  We have had training.  We have had manuals that we have prepared. 
Over the years, ever since I was secretary of department of environmental quality and helped to establish one of the first emergency response commissions in the United States in Louisiana. 
And we have spent a lot of money in getting ready and training with exercises, and it‘s just difficult to understand how this is occurring right now. 
CARLSON:  Yes, I mean, anybody who‘s ever been to New Orleans or read about it for 10 minutes knows, famously, the cliche is it‘s a bowl.  Right?
MADDEN:  It‘s a bowl. 
CARLSON:  It‘s below sea level in many parts. 
MADDEN:  And it‘s bound to happen.  We knew this, and everybody has known this.  FEMA has known this, the Corps of Engineers, everyone has known that it was just something that was going to happen, as soon as that big hurricane would hit.
And so we have been trying, trying desperately to get more and more moneys in to try to help the barrier islands and other areas there along the coastal.  Forty-one percent of the coastal wetlands are on the shores of Louisiana.  Twelve billion...
CARLSON:  Bur...
MADDEN:  Yes. 
CARLSON:  I‘m sorry.  But the—leaving aside even the barrier islands, it wasn‘t the presence or absence of those islands that caused the problem here.  It was the failure of the levees in the end. 
Why weren‘t those levees strengthened sufficient to handle this kind of hurricane?  I have read that, in fact, many, many, many, many, many millions of dollars were pumped from Washington to the state of Louisiana, and the city of New Orleans to reinforce those levees, but it didn‘t happen.  Is that true, and if so, why?
MADDEN:  Well, this is what you‘d have to ask the Corps of Engineers, because moneys and training have come in, but once again, the Corps of Engineers has been saying, to my knowledge, in the last five or six years, they do not have enough moneys to adequately handle the infrastructure.
And so this is the kind of information that we‘ve been getting over the past few years.  And we have tried to get the message out, as strongly as we could, to the appropriate officials, that more moneys were need.  Our congressional delegation had been working diligently on this. 
I concur.  When the levees—when the breaches hit, that‘s when it all really became a severe problem to the whole city there.  And that‘s where the problem really lies. 
CARLSON:  Now, quickly, Ms. Madden, so much attention has been focused on the federal government and the state of Louisiana.  This is, of course, the city of New Orleans.  The people who run this city must have known about this risk.  They must have been aware of the risk.  Were they, A? 
And B, do you think they are partly responsible for the failure to do enough about it?
MADDEN:  I think it lies strictly on those persons that were all involved, and everyone has known that this was a disaster just waiting to happen, should the big hurricane hit.  Everyone has known this.  We‘ve known this for years and years and years.  And we were hoping and praying it would never happen. 
But we certainly have had some contingency plans, and some training.  And people have been prepared.  We have exercises.  And everyone has known very well that this could be a real disaster, which it is. 
CARLSON:  Well, everyone was right in the end, it turns out. 
Martha Madden, joining us tonight from Washington, D.C.  Thanks a lot. 
MADDEN:  Thank you. 
CARLSON:  We appreciate it. 
CARLSON:  Well, the aid has come, but people are continuing to suffer, partly because the aid hasn‘t reached many of them.  Also because some of them are stuck under overpasses like the one we‘re standing on. 
When we come back, we‘ll be joined by Al Sharpton, we spoke to last night.  He‘s coming to Houston tomorrow.  He‘s going to tell us what should be done, what the political implications of this disaster might be.  We‘ll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CARLSON:  Welcome back to THE SITUATION, live from New Orleans. 
Here‘s an idea.  Here‘s a new federal policy for you.  The next time there‘s a Category 3 hurricane or above anywhere in this country, the National Guard ought to deploy to the site of it before, and stay there until order and power are restored. 
When natural disasters take place in places where people live close together, there will be civil disorder.  It‘s axiomatic.  Everybody knows it.  Let‘s time let‘s act on what we know. 
What we know is that Al Sharpton joins us.  He‘s in Florida, talked to us last night.  Tomorrow, he‘ll be going to Houston, on what he calls a mission of mercy. 
We go to Al Sharpton.  Reverend Al Sharpton, thanks for joining us. 
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  Thank you. 
CARLSON:  Now, I hope you‘re not going to add your voice to that of Elijah Cummings, in an attempt to make some sort of racial point about what is certainly a multiracial, multicultural tragedy.  It affects all Americans. 
SHARPTON:  I think that it‘s a multicultural and multiracial tragedy, but I think that one would be naive or deceptive, one or the other, to act as though we do not feel in many parts of this country race is a factor in how this administration reacted, how long it took.  And it would not have been tolerated that long had not there been the involvement of black people. 
I mean, I think it is absolutely absurd to act as though, Tucker, this is something being created by those of us rather than created by the situation that is evidenced here.  Nowhere in America would I think they would have tolerated whites living under this condition for four days, and the president would have stayed in his house in Crawford, Texas, for two days. 
CARLSON:  Well, I think—hold on.  I think some of what you‘re saying is true.  I mean, if this happened in Palm Beach, and this was Worth Avenue (ph), not I-10, there‘s no way people would have waited four days to bus people out. 
SHARPTON:  There‘s a racial factor. 
CARLSON:  You‘re absolutely right.  But hold on.  Actually, it‘s like life itself.  It‘s a little bit more complicated than merely a slogan. 
The fact is, New Orleans is a majority black city with a black-run government, which failed the majority black population of the city.  This was not any racist plot from above. 
SHARPTON:  No.  Wrong. 
CARLSON:  The city is itself is the No. 1 at fault body here. 
SHARPTON:   The city government—the city government had been asking for some time for infrastructural money to help them rebuild the infrastructure of the city, including the levees.  I was there last year, when I was running for president, and we addressed this issue.  You cannot blame the city government, who did not receive the resources. 
CARLSON:  Oh, really?
SHARPTON:  And you can‘t gloss over the fact that many Americans understand that George Bush would not have responded—you‘ve had hurricanes right here in Florida that had a more immediate response from the president and his brother than they did to obvious deaths of hundreds of thousands of people before he opened his mouth one time.  Let‘s not pretend...
CARLSON:  All right.  Are you going to look—hold on.  Hold on.  Rev, are you going to look in that camera and tell me that the city of New Orleans did a good job evacuating its poor people?  Are you going to tell me they did a good job making preparations for something they knew was coming?  Because they didn‘t, and you know they didn‘t. 
SHARPTON:  The city of New Orleans had been requesting moneys and resources to try and rebuild these levees. 
CARLSON:  Right.
SHARPTON:  These levees were not rebuilt.  They did not get the infrastructural support they needed from the federal government. 
So I mean, are you going to tell me you are going to handcuff a mayor, put both arms behind his back, handcuffs on him, and ask him why he didn‘t come out swinging? 
CARLSON:  No.
SHARPTON:  And the guy with all of the power to do the swinging was sitting in Crawford, Texas, watching this on television?
CARLSON:  I think—I think the federal government and President Bush were shamefully slow to act, shamefully slow to send federal troops to the city, as they did today. 
However, when you have large numbers of the New Orleans Police Department turning in their badges rather than provide security, rather than look for survivors, because they don‘t want to deal with looters and face the threat of snipers, and that happened, I think some of blame goes to the city of New Orleans.  It may be unfashionable to say that.  I‘m sure it is.  But it‘s also true.  I can tell you, because I‘m standing here right now. 
SHARPTON:  Tucker, that is another issue in terms of the sniper.  Nobody agrees with snipers.  No one agrees with looting.  But who has been looted is the taxpayers of New Orleans that paid for infrastructure.  They paid for safety.  Those tax dollars were not used to build those levees.  Many of those tax dollars were sent to build an infrastructure in Baghdad, Iraq and not in their own cities and people are dead and people are suffering because of that. 
There is a racial element there.  I agree with Elijah Cummings.  I salute Kanye West for what he said on this telethon tonight and we are not going to in any way, shape or form water down the facts.  George Bush has set a climate in this country that makes you feel there are different strokes for different folks.
CARLSON:  I think it‘s a shame—Rev, I‘m going to cut you off there because we‘re out of time but also because I so disapprove of what you‘re saying.  I think you can point a finger at the federal government fairly and say to the Bush administration “You failed” because they did fail without bringing race into it but we‘ll continue this conversation at a later date as I know we will.
SHARPTON:  Well, you said yourself they wouldn‘t have failed in Palm -
· they wouldn‘t have failed in Palm Beach, Florida.  Why wouldn‘t they have failed (INAUDIBLE)?

CARLSON:  Yes, I think you‘re absolutely right.  I‘ll tell you exactly why.  I‘ll tell you exactly why, obviously, because rich people, not just white rich people, black rich people, brown rich people have a lot more power in this country than poor people.  That‘s such an obvious fact.  You don‘t even need to say it out loud.
SHARPTON:  Then your conclusion is...
The point is rich people don‘t suffer the way the poor do.  That‘s why people don‘t want to be poor.  But to say that people here are being targeted because they‘re black makes people paranoid and fearful.  Yes, I think it‘s complicated.  I think the fact that...
SHARPTON:  So you‘re saying—you‘re saying it‘s because it‘s class.  I‘m saying that clearly this country is led by a president and clearly the climate in this country was able to adjust to this suffering much more because it was people of color than others.  It would not have been tolerated. 
I‘m glad to see that many people, white and black, have now come to the forefront.  Many whites are stopping me saying this is outrageous and they think it‘s race but I think this administration cannot duck the blame here and try to act like the local mayor and others are responsible for the lack of infrastructure, the lack of the National Guard, the lack of the military.
CARLSON:  You are not going to see...
SHARPTON:  This is not something the mayor could have done.
CARLSON:  OK, you‘re not—you will never see me and you‘ve never seen me and you‘ll never see me in the future apologizing for the guilty, for those who deserve blame.  And, as I said three times and I mean it, the Bush administration deserves a lot of blame for this and they will take their lumps deservedly so.  But to say that the city of New Orleans has no responsibility to its own citizens is a ludicrous statement and you know it.
SHARPTON:  I didn‘t say they had no responsibility.
CARLSON:  In any case.
SHARPTON:  I‘m saying they did not have the resources and I‘m saying that the...
CARLSON:  All right.
SHARPTON: ...factors lay at the door of this president.  He can come in four or five days later and take photo ops but he will have to explain in history where he was for those two days when he was missing in action while people were dying in his country, some of whom have put their life on the line to defend this country.
CARLSON:  All right, the Reverend Al Sharpton restrained as always. 
I‘m not quite sure where you stand.  Maybe at a future date you‘ll tell us. 
But thanks for joining us now.
SHARPTON:  Thank you.
CARLSON:  As the Reverend Sharpton said, George W. Bush himself in this region today not far from where we‘re standing.  We‘ll tell you more about that when we return.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We are moving heaven and earth to get pallets of food and water to those people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON:  New Orleans has been receiving a lot of the attention, the bulk of the attention but, in fact, of course there was a huge swath of the Gulf Coast that got slammed by Hurricane Katrina earlier this week.
At almost the center of it was the town of Biloxi, Mississippi where MSNBC‘s David Shuster has been camped out all week—David.
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, here in Biloxi, the focus today was certainly on those who survived this storm.  In addition to President Bush coming through for a tour today, a number of the shelters reported that they now are getting plenty of food and water but this is not coming from any government agencies. 
This is stuff that is being delivered by private organizations, like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army and church groups that are coming in from the northern panhandle.  But, again, at least it is good news that some of the basic necessities now seem to be getting to the people who need them most.
As far as the grim task though of trying to come up with some sort of casualty figure for those who did not survive the storm, police and medical staff helping with the recovery are now telling us they expect the number of dead eventually to total more than 1,000, 1,000.
This is based on discussions with cadaver recovery teams, missing person reports and eyewitness accounts from many people who told medical personnel or police stories about their loved ones who disappeared under the water during the storm and simply never surfaced.
The official coroner‘s number is much lower than that, perhaps about 150 and officials say that‘s simply due to the overwhelming task for the corner‘s office but also the fact that many bodies that are being found are in such bad shape that they simply cannot be identified.
There is also growing—there are also growing indications that many of the casualties are in the Biloxi Point neighborhood, the most impoverished area of Biloxi.  This was a neighborhood that had about 4,000 people who lived mostly check to check and a lot of people who did business in that part of town say that they are haunted by the memories of people at the end of last month who said “I‘m out of money.  Can you loan me $30 or $40 so I can fill up a tank of gas and get out of here?” 
The business people said they couldn‘t do it and as a result they‘re simply terrified by the prospects that perhaps there may have been hundreds or, as officials estimate, perhaps even thousands of people in the most impoverished neighborhood in Biloxi who did not have the money to buy a tank of gas, who did not have the money to get out of here before the storm hit and, as a result, probably paid with their lives—Tucker, back to you.
CARLSON:  Thanks a lot David.  It‘s been nice to talk to you all week.
Well, the flooding may have been inevitable here in New Orleans anyway, an accident of geography but was the death toll preventable?  A lot of people died here a long time after the hurricane hit.  We‘ll tell you what we think when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CARLSON:  It‘s not like authorities here in Louisiana didn‘t know something like this could happen.  They did know so why didn‘t they do more to prepare for it?  We‘ll talk to someone who planned evacuations in the state when we return.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You all been lying to us telling us “We‘re coming. 
We‘re coming.”  You ain‘t coming.  If you was coming, you‘d have been here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have over 3,000 people out here with no home and no shelter.  What are they going to do?  What are we going to do?
BUSH:  We‘ll get on top of this situation and we‘re going to help people that need help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know what the future holds for me, my family and many other families but we‘re going to try to work these things out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If we can rebuild Baghdad then we can rebuild New Orleans and we will rebuild New Orleans, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON:  A lot of people have known for a long time that something like this could befall the city of New Orleans and the surrounding parishes, so why didn‘t they do more to prepare for it, to evacuate the poor people you see behind me, for instance, long before some of them died waiting around under the underpass? 
It‘s a good question and our next guest may have part of the answer anyway.  Brian Wolshon, he‘s a former consultant on the evacuation of Louisiana.  He‘s currently a professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and he joins me now by phone.  Brian, why wasn‘t the evacuation of New Orleans better planned?
BRIAN WOLSHON:  Well, you got to look at exactly what happened and who was in charge of what particular aspects of the evacuation.  The evacuation of New Orleans is actually if you look at it in its entirety is really a combination of several entities.
The State Department of Transportation and Development, the people who I did a lot of work with and the Louisiana State Police certainly their main primary concern was looking at the freeways and the utilization of the freeways and the major arterial routes out of the city to get people out.
The other thing to keep in mind is that primarily when we look at evacuation it‘s a preparedness exercise if you look at the emergency management process.  It‘s a process of preparedness, response and recovery and the preparedness comes before the event and in a lot of the evacuation that you saw occurring in many cases was occurring after the event and that was part of the problem too certainly.
CARLSON:  But I mean there must have been computer models showing that parts of the city could flood.
WOLSHON:  Oh, yes.
CARLSON:  And that those parts are primarily low income parts.  I mean uptown, one of the nicest, maybe the nicest part of the city is not flooded.  We were just there and the poor parts are.  A lot of poor people here don‘t have vehicles.  Why didn‘t the city or the state make concrete contingency plans to get those people out?
WOLSHON:  Well, that‘s a good question.  The state when they were working their plans, again they were primarily concerned with the freeway system and the major arterial routes and that was those for the most part are going to be used by people with their own—with access to their own personal transportation.
Now, the people who were—would not have access to their personal transportation, including economically disadvantaged, the elderly, the sick, those types of people there were contingency plans for those people in place, however those were made primarily at the—at the local level, if you will, the parish level and the city level.
As I understand it, the plan for those folks was mainly to use transit busses, which would be in place, which would be operating prior to the storm but would not be taking people out over the long haul over let‘s say Lake Pontchartrain or on I-10 or I-12 but they would take them more to the local shelters where people would be sheltered at those locations.
CARLSON:  Right.
WOLSHON:  Now, as I understand it those busses were running before the evacuation but they just weren‘t that well utilized.
CARLSON:  Apparently not.  I don‘t know if you can—go ahead.
WOLSHON:  Well, I was going to say and that word came from our governor in Louisiana and it also came from the mayor of New Orleans who said that these busses were running.  They just weren‘t utilized.  They were running to a lot of these areas in which—in which—which were some of the hardest hit.
CARLSON:  Right, Brian Wolshon from LSU, I don‘t know if you can see it but we just had pictures on the screen of busses that could have been taking poor people out of the city when they needed it before the flooding came.  Those busses sadly under water.  Thanks a lot for joining us.  We appreciate it.
WOLSHON:  OK, you‘re welcome.
CARLSON:  When we come back, we‘ll have an update on the sick and dying.  There are many here.  They‘re being flown out of New Orleans Louis Armstrong Airport not far from here.
NBC‘s Kerry Sanders was there today.  He‘s got a report.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CARLSON:  There are a lot of sick and injured people here in New Orleans and the surrounding area and there aren‘t many places to treat them.  Hospitals in the city have been without power, without air-conditioning, running out of medicine.  At least one of them was shot at by snipers. 
Patients and doctors who attempted to evacuate out the front door were fired upon by someone, not clear who, and of course no one stopped him because there‘s been virtually no law enforcement in the city tragically unacceptably until today.  In any case, people who were sick (INAUDIBLE) treatment elsewhere and they‘re flown out of the main airport here, Louis Armstrong International. 
Kerry Sanders was there today watching as they left.  Here‘s his report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY SANDERS NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It is the largest medical evacuation ever staged, more than 1,000 patients flown in from a half dozen flooded hospitals in New Orleans.
In 21 years reporting around the world I have never seen anything like this.  New Orleans International Airport is now a huge triage center, the sick stacked on luggage conveyors.  At baggage claim inside it‘s a sea of misery and desperation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is a nightmare.
SANDERS:  The medical staff is overwhelmed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It boggles the mind of how many patients that we have here and are processing probably 800 to 1,000 in 12, 16 hours.
SANDERS (on camera):  Are they all going to make it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I hope so.
SANDERS (voice-over):  Sister Mary, a nun for 75 years, at peace with what may come.
SISTER MARY:  And I‘m having heart trouble now.  I‘m asking Jesus to come pick me up and take me home.
SANDERS:  Stranded and feeling alone, some here are clinging to faith.  Others so confused they aren‘t even sure where they are or where they‘re going.  Ninety-one-year-old Mark Juneau (ph) called out to me.  All he wanted was something to eat and drink.
(on camera):  We‘re just going to do very little sips here for you, OK.  There.  Mark, what you‘re eating believe it or not is the food that they give to the soldiers, did you know that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.
SANDERS:  Now you‘re just going to take a little bit, see that, just a little bit, OK, how‘s that, good?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.
SANDERS (voice-over):  Not everyone survives.  I slept in the airport next to the evacuated patients.  I woke up next to those who didn‘t make it through the night.
Just before dawn the military began to fly patients out to Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville.  Four months ago, the crew of this C-17 was evacuating the wounded from Iraq.
Kerry Sanders, NBC News at the New Orleans International Airport.
(END VIDEOTAPE)
CARLSON:  Just amazing.  This doesn‘t look anything like America at all.  There are a lot of images like that from New Orleans.  We‘ve seen some of them.  We‘re going to bring you a montage of some of the most powerful when we come back.
We‘ll be right back.
(INTERRUPTED FOR SPECIAL PRESENTATION)
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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