updated 9/7/2005 7:32:57 PM ET 2005-09-07T23:32:57

Guest: Pamela Barra, Brent Warr, Mike Tidwell, Mitch Landrieu
 
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  We have got the Gulf Coast covered tonight. 

The floodwaters are going down, but what they are finding in New Orleans is a shocking toxic mess.  And, friends, don‘t listen to politicians.  There was warning.  There was time.  But our government didn‘t do its job.  And now, because of that, I hate to say it, but thousands of our fellow Americans may be dead.  We have got to get answers, and we have got to get them now, so towns across America can learn from the tragedy that was Katrina. 
Then we go out to the Houston Astrodome.  This place is full.  A quarter-of-a-million survivors have slammed into Texas, and the Lone Star State is stretched to the limits.  Evacuees are sick.  Children are alone.  And nobody one knows when they can go home or if they ever will.  But I‘ll tell you what.  The people of Texas have a huge heart, and they are reaching out, doing everything they can to help. 
Welcome to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Katrina crisis and recovery.  
We are live on the Gulf Coast tonight in Pensacola, Florida, looking across the Gulf Coast.  Remarkable, what‘s going on.  Let‘s talk about New Orleans, first of all,.  Of course, you have heard about the E coli.  You have heard about the fires.  I wrote it down, corpses rotting in hospitals, sewage running into the streets, a small town outside of New Orleans being turned into a makeshift morgue.  You know what, friends?  Order may be restored, but, right now, as the floodwaters recede, what we are finding is shocking. 
Meanwhile, the relief situation goes on, not only in New Orleans, but also where we have been for the past week, in Biloxi, Mississippi; Alabama; other areas hard hit by this storm. 
I just got to tell you, I am so disappointed, so disappointed that all of these large institutions, all of these big bureaucracies that are supposed to be helping us have let us down.  Seven days into it, it‘s still the small organizations, the churches, the operation—what is that called, operation—Operation Blessing, which we have seen.  I just had to ask some friends that have been over in Biloxi with me.  We have seen these small organizations doing a remarkable job on the ground.
But while everybody is bashing FEMA, and everybody is bashing the White House and the governors, I have just got to ask, where are these huge organizations that we pay millions and millions of dollars to?  Why is it that people in shelters that I have been talking to over the past week still haven‘t seen them, still haven‘t seen their representatives, still haven‘t seen the feds?  I talked to Trent Lott a couple days ago.  He said, Joe, let‘s be patient. 
Today, Trent Lott, the Republican senator from Mississippi, steps forward and says, I am sick and tired of FEMA just saying no.  There are millions of people across this country, and tons in Mississippi, who are hungry tonight.  They are hurting.  They are homeless.  And all they are getting are no‘s.  No, you can‘t bring the trailers from Atlanta down to Mississippi.  No, you can‘t bring the vaccines from Pensacola, Florida, over to Mississippi.  No, you can‘t bring supplies into here.  FEMA has got to look at it first.  No, the Red Cross isn‘t prepositioned. 
I am telling you, friends, I have seen it.  You can get mad at me if you want to.  If you work at the Red Cross, be angry with me.  I don‘t care.  If you work for the White House, be angry with me.  I couldn‘t care less.  If you work for the Louisiana governor or the mayor of New Orleans, be mad at me.  I don‘t care.  The fact is, you people aren‘t doing your job. 
There are still so many people who are homeless and hurting, and yet the supplies aren‘t getting there.  I know it, because my wife, myself, and my friends from Pensacola, Florida, have been delivering goods over there for the past week.  And so many shelters we go into, we hear the same thing. 
What do we hear, Rich (ph)?  We hear, you are the first people we have ever seen here.  Where is the government?  Where is the Red Cross?  I don‘t understand it.  There are so many big questions that have to be answered, not just about government entities, but these massive charities.  How long is it going to—you know what?  If it‘s going to take the Red Cross two weeks to get in and make a big difference on the ground, that‘s fine.  Let us know that up front. 
And before you start running fund-raisers, let us know.  We will take your money and once we get turning, we are going to be helping millions and millions of people, but it may take us 10 days.  It may take us 14 days.  We may not be able to reach the people, the poorest people that are most affected by these storms. 
Let us know in advance, and we won‘t hold you accountable for what‘s been going on over the past seven days.  We are going to fight tonight to get some answers.
But, first, I want to go to New Orleans, because this is still a situation flux.  A few lights are on in New Orleans right now.  But, my gosh, as the waters are starting to recede and some hope is being returned to that ravaged city, there are some horrible, horrible discoveries that are being unearthed. 
I want to go to Michelle Hofland, who has just been doing a remarkable job in New Orleans over the past week. 
Michelle, tell us what‘s going on, on the ground in New Orleans tonight.  What are you learning as the waters recede? 
MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, first of all, let‘s start with the good news. 
The good news is that the water is receding.  In the areas that I traveled to this evening, it looks like the water has dropped between 14 inches and two feet. 
However, that water is deadly.  Already, reports tonight are that four people have died from an airborne bacteria.  And the tests show that the waters contained are—contain the norovirus, a cholera type bacteria, and possibly E coli. 
And we have been telling you about the countless bodies floating in the water.  They have been in the water so long, and, in this heat, it‘s sad to say, but now some of those bodies have broken open. 
And, tonight, we wanted to see what is inside some of these buildings, some of these buildings surrounded still by water.  Photographer Tony Zumbado traveled to Memorial Hospital, which is only accessible by boat.  Inside, it looks like time is standing still.  You can see how hard the nurses and doctors apparently work to care for the patients with limited power. 
And the door to the basement, possibly where the generator was, is filled with water.  A note on the door reads, do not enter.  Inside is a chapel, 13 bodies respectably covered with sheets.  At the altar, the Bible is open.  It looks as somebody has performed a memorial service. 
Our crew only went to a small part in the first and second floor of that hospital, Joe.  They said that they counted 17 bodies.  They say that the stench was horrific.  But, unfortunately, that is just what is occurring throughout the city right now.  But there are some encouraging signs. 
(CROSSTALK)
SCARBOROUGH:  Michelle, Michelle, I don‘t know if you can hear me. 
HOFLAND:  Go ahead. 
SCARBOROUGH:  But, yes, I just—I just—while you are talking about this, I want our viewers to know, these shocking images that we are seeing right now are the images that your photographer took when he went in there., and, again, just as you are describing it, such grisly, grisly images. 
I‘m sorry to interrupt you, but I wanted people to put context to those images.  Go ahead. 
(CROSSTALK)
HOFLAND:  Well, and I want to tell you, Joe, too, when we go into these homes, these buildings, these hospitals around this area, that have been filled with water this whole time, where people couldn‘t escape—they would go from floor to floor to get away from the water—the police here fear that this is what they are going to find in so many buildings in this area.  And it‘s a pretty grim sight.  But it‘s—as I said, it‘s reality down here right now. 
How about if I end with a little bit of encouraging news tonight?  The firefighters here in New Orleans, you know, they have been working 11 days now without any breaks whatsoever.  There‘s no communication, or very little communication.  And there‘s very little water pressure.  None of those firefighters, according to a captain I spoke with, has—has left their post at all. 
Now firefighters from across the country are here in New Orleans.  And, tomorrow, all the firefighters are going to be able to go home, go see their families, if their homes are left, but they get relief and have five days off to take a rest and try to recover from this type of thing. 
And, also, as you said, the lights are on here, Joe, at a number of the hotels around here for the first time in seven days.  This is the first time that we have seen any light at all.  Now, most of it is—we believe is powered by generators.  But when we haven‘t seen any lights down here for seven days, a light is a light. 
SCARBOROUGH:  You know, we are looking right now at images of this toxic water that is draining into—I guess that‘s Pontchartrain.  Talk about how long is that going to be going, and, obviously, they are not going to be filtering this water.  They just want to pump it out and save lives. 
But how long do they think this pumping operation is going to take, and how concerned are they about the health hazards of, again, dumping this toxic brew into Pontchartrain? 
HOFLAND:  You know, I haven‘t actually heard anything about what they are planning on doing with Lake Pontchartrain.  And that‘s a place where people boat.  They sail. 
And—but I do know that what they fear is that, once all this water has been pumped out into Lake Pontchartrain, that what is going to be left inside these homes, in the streets and everything is going to be a toxic muck that is going to be covering this entire area. 
What they are telling the rescuers tonight and the people that are recovering the bodies is, you got to wear gloves.  You got to be trying to decontaminate yourself at every possible moment.  And, if at all possible, stay out of this water, because, I said earlier, this water can be deadly. 
SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  Thank you so much, Michelle, again, a great report.  We really appreciate it. 
And I want to put context on the report about the water, friends. 
Again, I have been talking about these shelters we have been going over to.  One shelter we went to, there was running water.  It certainly looked a lot cleaner than the water that is being dumped back into Lake Pontchartrain, but we saw people actually washing their hands in untreated water that was coming out of a rusty pipe in a wall. 
We warned them about dysentery.  They had to clear out that shelter, 20 people, including a 2-year-old girl that, quite frankly, my wife and I became attached to, rushed to hospitals because of dysentery, could have killed obviously young children, older people. 
Look at that sludge coming out.  I am telling you, you come in contact with that, if you have an open cut, as this young 2-year-old girl had, because she had been on her roof and her legs had been all scraped up, and then she got in that water, it can be deadly.  I will tell you, so many health problems. 
I‘ll tell you, there‘s another problem right now in New Orleans.  One of the big problems that city is facing is fire.  The water is full of flammable material, the houses made of wood.  And close together, one spark, just one spark can cause an entire neighborhood to go up in flames. 
Take a look at this report. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yet another fire that has just started.
And if this fire spreads to another house, which is right next door—and it very likely could—you know, the problem here is that these homes are so closely compacted together, that, as one fire starts, it just moves from home to home.
So, here you can see, as this fire rages—and now it‘s just a shell of a building—the fire department is just arriving.  And, again, the difficulty is getting here and even knowing about the fire, the fire department getting some of its information from people flying over.  But, still, it‘s very hard to coordinate a location.  You can‘t look down and say, I know that address and I know where it is. 
And here we see a Black Hawk helicopter, otherwise known as Firehawk, it is moving in.  And he has got one of those slings under there, otherwise known as a Bambi bucket, filled with water to try and get in on that fire to put it out.  And there goes the first drop of water on the fire.  And now he has just taken on a load from Mississippi, where he is going to bring that bucket over and do yet one more drop on this raging fire. 
There we go, direct hit, direct hit.  We can see that there‘s a hook and ladder.  They are trying to work out a route to get in.  And look how slowly.  I mean, that‘s a—you know how big a fire truck is.  The water is right up to the halfway mark on the doors.  That‘s a heck of a fire.  It is really, really burning. 
Well, we have seen it spread from one to two buildings.  And we see now it spreading to a third building.  And we have the Firehawk out of Florida coming in one more time.  Well, that was a direct hit, couldn‘t have been any better if they—well, there we see the structure falling down, what‘s left of it. 
This will take quite some time for them to try to get this fire under control.  But they will, indeed, do that, because that‘s what they do on a daily basis, when there are forest fires burning out west, or sometimes even in Florida. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you what.  That is a town right now that‘s cursed.  I mean, we have never seen anything like this before.  And I pray to God we are not going to see anything like this again anytime soon. 
The question is, how bad did things get in New Orleans?  Well, coming up next, how the people of the Gulf Coast were so badly served by their elected and unelected leaders and how we can make sure it never happens again. 
Plus, more reports out of New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi.  This is Brenda McGrew (ph).  I am from New Orleans.  I am here in Memphis.  I am looking for my brother Ronald Berg (ph) and Loyce Berg (ph). 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at images of sludge coming out of the city of New Orleans, being dumped into Pontchartrain.  Progress is being made, but it‘s still a deadly, volatile situation. 
Much more straight ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s go back to New Orleans right now. 
And I want to bring in MSNBC‘s David Shuster.  And also with us from Houston, we have got Tulane University professor Doug Brinkley, who was one of many New Orleans residents who evacuated. 
Doug, this is your hometown, Douglas, your hometown.  I know you have got to be broken-hearted.  Tell me about the horrific scenes you saw in your hometown of New Orleans. 
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, NBC ANALYST:  Well, I just got back to Houston, where my family is at, Joe, and I have been listening to you.
And if some people think you are overstating or talking in hyperbole, you are not.  It is a disaster zone in New Orleans.  There are some good signs, some things in the French Quarter and the historic district around Tulane and Audubon Park.  But I went and the—down to Napoleon Avenue, where the water begins.  And people are putting some boats right near the Superdome, not that far, housing projects.  We went into that horrible water, and just pulling out people left and right. 
You wonder where are people to save some of these people that are still in buildings as we speak this evening.  And you go by and corpses are laying around.  They are rotted.  They‘re bloated.  There‘s a stench.  You have to cover your face.  You go by them.  You don‘t know whether you should check their wallet for identification to call into some family, but you are afraid to touch the bodies because of the disease.
And, you know, a lot of people that are—are doing the best work in New Orleans now aren‘t people that are being talked about.  And that is, there‘s a group of New Orleanians that didn‘t leave because they love their city, and they are filling in the void from the federal agencies that don‘t seem to be there.  And it‘s a—it‘s just as gruesome and grisly a situation that you could possibly imagine. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Doug, it is so surreal, looking at these pictures.  I want to follow up on that point. 
You know, we have got, obviously, a lot of government agencies, federal agencies, state agencies, local agencies that are supposed to be helping, the Red Cross, other organizations.  And I have got to be honest with you.  I just didn‘t see them on the ground in Mississippi the first five, six days.  I know David Shuster didn‘t either, for a large part.  Did you see them working actively in New Orleans, in your hometown? 
BRINKLEY:  I saw in Houston—I have been to the Astrodome, and the Red Cross has done a good job there.
But, in New Orleans, the answer is no.  There‘s nothing there.  People around the country would be stunned at the lack of resources getting in to the people that need it the most.  I mean, these are the—the heroes I have encountered are guys in fishing boats, Cajun guys.  They‘re just bringing their boats and pulling in people.
And, you know, what—something like hydrogen peroxide, which, after you are in the water, you want to put on your hands, people are having to like—good people are walking into dark drugstores and essentially just taking medical supplies because there‘s nobody there to provide them.  When we pulled people out, about 40 human beings yesterday, and brought them back to dry land on Saint Charles Avenue, we didn‘t know what to do with them. 
You put them on the street corner, people saying they would come and get them.  I circled back, which I tend to do.  And three hours later, these people that we rescued are just sitting on the side of the street with nothing.  Some of them had—one person had diabetes.  One person had no leg. 
(CROSSTALK)
BRINKLEY:  And we ended up loading them up into a van I had, and a bunch of journalists just are—journalists are starting to become emergency workers.  They are often throwing down their pad and pencil.  We had to rush to the Oschner Hospital. 
And the best, most efficient thing going in New Orleans is Oschner Hospital along River Road, where they are really taking in a lot of people.  But other hospitals, like Memorial, I went to, and it‘s not only flooded, but while I was in a little boat, the building next to it was burning on fire while you‘re sitting in this toxic water.
And I just think that the public health risk in the coming days is extremely serious.  And when I hear politicians say that this isn‘t the time for pointing at who is to blame, I think we have got to be careful, because we have got to first learn from past history.  We have got to talk seriously about where the breakdowns are occurring, because we are still in hurricane season, as you know, in the Gulf Coast.  There‘s possible tropical storms coming.
And I think we do have to talk about where this breakdown of communication and distribution of supplies is coming from.  And it‘s not a matter of beating up on somebody, saying, FEMA, you screwed up, or, President Bush, you did.  There will be time for that.  But we do have to find out, why is it so hard to get medical supplies to people?  Why can‘t people that are wounded...
SCARBOROUGH:  On the ground.  I mean, you are exactly right.  And you‘re right.
We are in the middle of hurricane season, but we are also still in the middle of this Katrina recovery.
And, David Shuster, we were—last week, we were in Mississippi.  I talked to Trent Lott earlier in the week.  He was being tactful about it, basically saying, Joe, you know how hurricanes are.  We have got to be patient.  Well, today, he came out firing, attacking FEMA, attacking MEMA, Mississippi‘s version of FEMA, saying, all these people are doing is saying no to the people of Mississippi, who are homeless, who are hungry, who are helpless right now. 
We were over there, David.  We went to these shelters.  These people said they were there for five days, saw nobody from the federal, the state government, saw no Red Cross people. 
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes.  I mean, and not only that.
SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, what is going on?
SHUSTER:  Not only did it take five or six days for FEMA and these federal agencies to come in.  But what is so depressing, Joe, when you compare Biloxi with New Orleans, Biloxi is just total devastation, just debris everywhere. 
New Orleans, not only is it—you have got debris.  And, remember, they had strong winds here.  There is glass everywhere.  There are trees down everywhere.  And never mind the areas where people are underwater.  The rest of the city, the 40 percent that is not underwater, is a big trash heap.  There‘s garbage everywhere.  It smells.  It‘s just a disgusting city.
And so, never mind the whole rescue that they‘re trying to do and whether or not there are government resources.  But just the cleanup alone is just a massive undertaking.  And you sort of wonder, well, who is going to do this?  Who is going to pick up all the garbage just on two or three city blocks which are stacked as high as I am?  It‘s disgusting. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Tell me, make a comparison, if you will.  We were in Mississippi all last week.  Compare what you have seen in Mississippi to what you have seen in New Orleans, because, right now, it looks like, again, things are getting better in New Orleans.  As Doug Brinkley said, we don‘t want to engage in hyperbole, but this looks like a city that is still spinning out of control. 
SHUSTER:  I have lost IFB.  Joe, I can‘t hear you, but just—I can imagine I think what you are asking about, as far as just the sort of the general perception about New Orleans. 
Remember, it‘s not just that the federal government has got to come in and try to help people who are being rescued and pick up the people that Doug Brinkley was talking about.  It goes beyond that.  There is so much work that has to be done in New Orleans.  I mean, the mayor was talking today about, oh, well, maybe we will have the water pumped out in three or four weeks, and then it will be another three or four weeks to sort of clean up the city. 
I don‘t see how that‘s possible at all, unless they have—unless there‘s an army out there of 10,000 to 15,000 people that are going to come in and scrub the city, that‘s not—I mean, you are not going to be on that sort of timeline that the mayor is talking about.  And it doesn‘t look like there‘s that army out there waiting to come in and start cleaning up. 
I mean, there is debris everywhere.  There‘s the water.  There are trees down.  There‘s glass everywhere.  There‘s garbage piled high.  They are going to need a lot more, a lot more than just whatever teams are in now trying to rescue people. 
SCARBOROUGH:  It is a horrible situation, the worst storm that‘s ever crashed on the Gulf Coast.  And, again, the biggest disconnect right now is getting help to the people in the affected areas. 
I want to talk right now to the lieutenant governor of Louisiana, Mitch Landrieu, and see how this disconnect, how this breach can be repaired. 
Lieutenant Governor, thanks for being with us. 
LT. GOV. MITCH LANDRIEU, LOUISIANA:  Hey, Joe.  How you doing? 
SCARBOROUGH:  New Orleans obviously—hey, I‘m doing all right.  I know your heart has got to be breaking. 
LANDRIEU:  Oh, man. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Because your city is going up in fire.  These people—and the people that are left behind, unfortunately, as you know, are some of the weakest and the poorest people there.  Tell me, what can we do?  What can we Americans do to help you out and help the people of your state out? 
(CROSSTALK)
LANDRIEU:  I will tell you a couple of things. 
First of all, this is very personal to so many of us, because I have
eight brothers and sisters.  And five of us lost our houses.  My mom and
daddy‘s house is underwater.  The Baptist hospital that the fellow was on -
· and I apologize—I didn‘t get his name—is right down the street. 

And I was in the water down there yesterday at the same location, on Napoleon and Saint Charles doing rescue efforts.  And the way he describes the city is accurate.  This is my take on it.  Number one, the blame game has been, you know, getting in the way.  It‘s got to be done.  There are going to be people who are held accountable for what they did right and what they did wrong.  Heroes will be made and demons will be created.
And that‘s important.  But all I have said about that very clearly and directly is, let‘s not do that right now.  What we have been trying to do is get people out of the city.  And it‘s been, as you can see—and my friend, Doug Brinkley, who lives right down the street from me, has said it very well.  It‘s been a storm of epidemic proportions.  It‘s just incredible.
You know a little bit of this, because you—when you were a congressman, you represented Pensacola. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, yes.
LANDRIEU:  Pensacola got smashed last year.  And our family lost a home there as well.  So, we have been through this.  And it‘s very real to us, and our heart does break. 
There are a couple of things that I would like to ask the country to focus in on.  Number one, we got an American tragedy.  And we are just in the first act.  And it was a horrific first act.  Act two is going to be worse, because, as we now have moved almost all of the people out, we still have some people in that we are trying to get to.
Now, quite frankly, there are some people that refuse to leave.  I was on a boat yesterday in that very area that the gentleman was talking about, and I ran into maybe 15 people who were still in their homes.  And they will not leave.
SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Lieutenant Governor, can I stop you there? 
LANDRIEU:  Sure.
SCARBOROUGH:  Because I want to ask you, I was on—I was on with a national talk radio host earlier today.  He was jumping all over me for going after the government and the government agencies and saying, you know, it‘s these people‘s own fault because they stayed in New Orleans.  They stayed in Mississippi.  They chose to stay there and die. 
Can you explain why so many people stayed in New Orleans and stayed in Mississippi, as they stay in Florida when hurricanes approach Pensacola?
(CROSSTALK)
LANDRIEU:  First of all, let me say this.  It‘s nobody‘s fault. 
When people analyze this particular storm, Joe—and you have seen this because you are from the Gulf Coast—this was a monster storm.  This thing was wide.  It was big.  It was deep.  It was strong.  And it was slow, which is the worst.  And it came at the city in the worst possible angle. 
So, you know, Mother Nature did most of this.  However, I can tell you why people didn‘t leave, because I asked them.  I got in the water in the Ninth Ward.  And I would ask people.  You know, they would say, oh, Lieutenant Governor, I can‘t believe you came to get me.  And I said, you recognize me, huh?  They said yes.  I said, you saw me on TV?  They said yes.  I said, you heard me tell you to leave?  Yes.  Why didn‘t you leave?  Why didn‘t you listen to me? 
Well, you know, we have had so many storms.  We just didn‘t think it was going to come.  We thought it was going to turn.  We didn‘t think it was going to come up that high, that fast. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 
LANDRIEU:  These are all the things that you hear.  Now, there were some people that...
SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Mitch, stay with us.  We have got a hard break.  I want to talk to you on the other side, because you just nailed it.  People just never believe it‘s going to actually hit them.  As we found out in Florida last year, Ivan did.  And they found out, it did there, too. 
We‘ll be right back in a second.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCARBOROUGH:  Progress being made in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast, but it is a toxic situation, a dangerous situation that we are going to continue following, going to be talking about it more in a minute.
But, first, here is the latest news that you and your family need to know. 
(NEWS BREAK)
SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 
Let‘s go back.  I want to go right now to Douglas Brinkley in a in.
But, first, just to let you know, we are going to be going to the Astrodome, going to be checking on what‘s going on over there, also going across the Gulf Coast, finding out what it‘s like to take in 250,000 evacuees into your city.  Obviously, there are going to be social strains, but the people of Houston have really opened their arms and their hearts to these people that really needed a place to go and needed shelter from the storm.  And they have got it there, thank God. 
Want to go back to Douglas Brinkley and Lieutenant Governor Landrieu.
Doug, put this in a historical perspective for us.  Can you?  I mean, maybe the 1919 flu epidemic.  How do you rank this as far as natural-act-of-God disasters in American history? 
BRINKLEY:  Well, you are right.  The 1919 flu epidemic, I think as a natural disaster goes, it‘s the worst in American history. 
People talk about the Galveston hurricane, which was devastating a century ago.  And people talk about the Johnstown flood.  But the—
Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans is a major chapter in American history.  I think 100, 200, 500 years from now, it will be studied, because it tells us so much about ourselves, our politicians and what‘s wrong, our sense of priorities, and the fact that the so-called underclass, what Michael Harrington called the other Americans in the ‘60s, people that are poor.
The divide is so great.  And I think it‘s going to—this is hopefully going to cause us to do a big look about our country and see how we can prioritize public health, education, some of the social issues that have been swept under the tarp, so to speak, in the last decade. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 
And I will tell you, Doug, it doesn‘t matter whether you are a conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat.  You have got to look at those faces of those young children, the elderly and the others and understand that it really was the truly disadvantaged that got harmed the most by this storm. 
Lieutenant Governor, I want to ask you, how long will it take for your city to recover?
(CROSSTALK)
SCARBOROUGH:  And, by the end of this, do you believe, like many others, that there will be at least 10,000 dead in New Orleans? 
LANDRIEU:  Well, let me say a couple of things.  First of all, thank you to all of the people from over the country who have helped.  You mentioned Houston and Dallas.  There‘s San Antonio.  There‘s Utah.  All of the folks have been awesome. 
You asked me what the country can do.  It can stay focused.  As President Bush often says, it can lean forward and not blink when it gets really hard, like how much money it‘s going to take to rebuild.  And, as Douglas said, you know, when you saw all of those poor people, they sure look liked the huddled masses that is emboldened on the Statue of Liberty.
And they have been left behind educationally.  They have been left behind technologically.  This isn‘t the first time that happened.  And we are having to face that as a much larger national issue as well.  It‘s going to take longer than people are saying to get the city back up and operating.
But I have no doubt, because of the spirit and what New Orleans the region stands for, how it‘s culturally rich and can‘t be duplicated, that this area is absolutely going to be rebuilt.  I mean, you really can‘t imagine music without jazz and food without New Orleans. 
SCARBOROUGH:  No.
LANDRIEU:  And you can‘t really imagine this country without the metropolitan area of New Orleans.  It would not be the same place. 
SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  There‘s only one New Orleans.  And anybody along the Gulf Coast or anybody that has ever visited New Orleans knows that.  There simply—there is not another city like the Big Easy, as it was once called.  I don‘t know that it will be called that again any time soon, but I know this city will rise again. 
Thank you so much for being with us, Lieutenant Governor. 
Thank you, Doug Brinkley. 
Greatly appreciate it. 
Right now, let‘s bring in Mike Tidwell.  He‘s the author of “Bayou Farewell.”  Also with us, we got the mayor of Gulfport, Mississippi, Brent Warr.
I want to thank both of you for being with us—Brent Warr.
You know, Mike, I just said that the city of New Orleans would rise again.  It‘s actually been sinking for some time.  As they go back in there, is there any way to reverse a lot of the manmade disaster?  Could you have wetlands mitigation, where you turn over a certain percentage of the city to wetlands?  Could you do things differently, or is this a city that you believe is doomed? 
MIKE TIDWELL, AUTHOR, “BAYOU FAREWELL”:  Well, I don‘t think Katrina is truly a natural disaster. 
There‘s a lot of about what‘s happened in the last week that‘s not natural at all.  We created a runway.  We created a watery runway, a path for Katrina to follow right into New Orleans.  And we did it by destroying basically the entire land platform of south Louisiana.  Even without Katrina, every day in south Louisiana, 50 acres of land turn to water.  An area of land the size of Manhattan turns to water every 10 months.  It is...
SCARBOROUGH:  And New Orleans is sinking too, right? 
TIDWELL:  New Orleans is sinking because of the levees, because in any river delta system anywhere in the world, you have two major phenomenon that at work all the time. 
One is flooding.  The flooding deposits the sediments that built the whole sole of the Louisiana boot.  The other phenomenon is the issue of subsidence.  That alluvial soil, that fine soil from two-thirds of America flying down into the Gulf—into the Mississippi River, built the whole land platform of Louisiana.  But it‘s very fine, unstable soil.  And, over time, it sinks. 
Now, historically, that sinking, that subsidence of the land mass, was overcome and counterbalanced by new flooding, new sediment.  Well, we have taken one half of that equation off the table by channeling the river behind huge levees right out to the Gulf of Mexico into the deep water of the continental shelf. 
SCARBOROUGH:  When did that start? 
TIDWELL:  So we just get the sinking.
SCARBOROUGH:  When did that start? 
TIDWELL:  When the French first arrived 300 years ago and started to settle in the great crescent of the Mississippi River that later became known as New Orleans, one of the things they did—and it was a rational response to the river—was, they threw up crude levees, because they didn‘t want their children to drown, they didn‘t want their crops destroyed, they didn‘t want their homes ravaged by floods.
And it worked.  It worked for centuries.  It held back the river.  There were some breaches along the way, but, for the most part, we tamed the river in terms of flooding.  But you live by levees and you die by levees.  When you tame the river with levees, what you do—I mean, this gets back to the fact that everything in the natural world is connected to everything. 
If you profoundly disturb one aspect of a major natural system, like the mouth of the Mississippi River, you profoundly change every aspect of it.  So, when you levee that river and keep it from flooding, you actually trigger a massive land sinking, which is what we have seen. 
SCARBOROUGH:  So, who is to blame for this? 
TIDWELL:  Well, the levees were necessary, and they worked.
But beginning in the 20th century, and certainly by the middle of the century, it became abundantly clear that south Louisiana was disappearing.  When the French first settled 300 years ago, there was between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico vast hardwood forests, I mean, big mature forests.  There were freshwater marshes and swamps, and, after that, there were vast salt water marshes, completely intact.
And then , finally, you had this formidable network of barrier islands.  It‘s all gone.  If you look at the historic maps from Louisiana from 1800, 1850, 1900, 1950 and satellite maps from the mid-‘70s forward, you see an imploding, disappearing coastline. 
Now, by the mid...
(CROSSTALK)
SCARBOROUGH:  So, the government—so, the government has known about this, and they have done nothing. 
I want to go to you now, Mayor.  Let me bring you in here. 
Obviously, your situation is different over in Mississippi.  But, today, we have Trent Lott coming out saying that the government is not doing enough for Mississippi.  Do you agree with that? 
BRENT WARR, MAYOR OF GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI:  Well, certainly, I would never try to say that I know better than what Senator Lott understands.  He is right there in the mix of things.
But, you know, the truth of the matter is, is that we are responsible for helping ourselves as well here in Gulfport.  And rather than say that we are sitting in the bottom of a well waiting for a rope to be thrown to us, we are going to try to dig out.  We have got a great police force and a great fire department and great departments in this city.
And we are—I think we have some responsibility to try to help ourselves.  And if our big brothers in Washington can come down here and give us a hand, you know, we certainly need it.  And we are asking for it very loudly.  And we are getting help. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know...
WARR:  So, I don‘t know whether...
SCARBOROUGH:  I have been coming over there every day, and the thing that surprised me about—and I think you all got the National Guard in a couple of days ago.  FEMA just came in today.  But you can drive all through Biloxi. 
WARR:  Right. 
SCARBOROUGH:  And it took me three, four days before I saw my first National Guard person.  Didn‘t see anybody from the Red Cross.  Didn‘t see anybody from FEMA.  Didn‘t see any government agencies down there. 
Don‘t you think the response has been a bit slower than you expected, whether you want big brother to come in or not? 
WARR:  Yes, it‘s probably been a little bit slower than we would have liked.  But, keep in mind, this hurricane caught everybody off guard.  I wouldn‘t dare to say that the people with FEMA or Red Cross...
SCARBOROUGH:  How can you say—how can you say that?  I don‘t mean to interrupt you, but I am jumping on Haley Barbour here also by extension, because he talked about this being a Category 1 storm and surprising everybody. 
Friday night, I was over in Sandestin with my parents‘ 50th wedding anniversary.  I said, we got to go back. 
WARR:  Right. 
SCARBOROUGH:  This is going to be a historic storm.  That was, what, three days before it hit.  Who was caught by surprise by this storm? 
WARR:  Well, three days in the realm of the way that we have handled storms in the past is not necessarily a lot of time. 
And, certainly, you can‘t mobilize for a storm of this magnitude in three days.  This—this—if anyone were to try to be prepared for this kind of devastation, you know, they would have certainly started staging weeks and weeks ahead of time.
And down here, when we see a Category 1 or 2 storm churning around out there in the Gulf, unfortunately, for us—and that‘s the only way to say it—you know, we don‘t necessarily react as fast as we should have.  So, it‘s nobody‘s fault.  We just—man, we took a lick on the chin.  That‘s all there is to it. 
SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you, Mr. Mayor. 
Thank you, Mike Tidwell. 
Greatly appreciate both of you being with us. 
We will be back with much more, talking about areas surrounding New Orleans.  They are stretched to the limit.  Can they handle these new residents, who may be staying for a long time? 
Plus, going to tell you about a little town that has turned into a makeshift morgue.  You‘re not going to believe this story—that and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCARBOROUGH:  You know, over a half-a-million evacuees from Hurricane Katrina are on the move in what is possibly the biggest exodus in American history.  Things are getting so desperate that one evacuee tried to commit suicide aboard a flight to Washington. 
As thousands and thousands of evacuees land in cities throughout America, the big question is, can these cities provide adequate help?  Houston, Texas, has welcomed nearly half of these evacuees.  Some call them refugees.  Some call them evacuees.  And it‘s turned into a base camp of sorts.  In fact, the Astrodome has its own zip code and post office. 
With me now live from the Astrodome, where 15,000 evacuees are living on cots and bleacher seats, we have got NBC correspondent Janet Shamlian. 
Janet, bring us up to date with what is going on at the Astrodome. 
JANET SHAMLIAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Joe, Houston is the fourth largest city, but, as you said, it‘s grown much bigger in the last eight days. 
Some 200,000 evacuees from the hurricane are now here.  And that‘s a huge challenge for this city, as they try to absorb them into more permanent housing than the Astrodome here behind me.  As many as 50,000 of those are school-age children.  How will Houston schools absorb them?  They are trying to place them.  They are holding a huge registration here tomorrow in hopes of getting them into classes by next week. 
They are going to reopen a school that has previously been closed, and hopefully get some teachers who need work from Louisiana.  But, obviously, trying to absorb them in a small amount of time has been challenging. 
I want you to meet someone who is making the Astrodome their home right now. 
Her name is Pamela Barra. 
And what are conditions like for you in there? 
PAMELA BARRA, EVACUEE:  They are not too great.  They are really not. 
For the elderly and just for the kids all over, they are not comfortable. 
SHAMLIAN:  I have to ask you, you stayed in your New Orleans home during the storm.  Why did you do that? 
BARRA:  We don‘t—really didn‘t have a choice. 
SHAMLIAN:  You didn‘t...
(CROSSTALK)
BARRA:  We didn‘t have any way to get out, no transportation or anything.  They did have some young men come and help us at the end, when the water was really rising. 
SHAMLIAN:  Are you going to stay in Houston, make it your home?  What is going to happen to you? 
BARRA:  What I am really trying to do is just trying to get my mother and father.  They want to move to Atlanta, because we have family out there, but we really have no financial aid or anything, vouchers or anything to move right now. 
SHAMLIAN:  Are you getting help here? 
BARRA:  No, we are not.  They are not doing anything for us. 
SHAMLIAN:  You have gotten some FEMA assistance. 
BARRA:  Just FEMA, that‘s it. 
SHAMLIAN:  All right.  Pamela Barra, best of luck to you.  We hope you are able to travel with your mother and father, who are ill, and get back to Georgia, where you would like to go from New Orleans.  Good luck to you. 
BARRA:  Thank you very much. 
SHAMLIAN:  Joe, it‘s just heartbreaking, this kind of story. 
A lot of people are going to try to move to another city, but, as many as half, 100,000, will become permanent Houston residents, according to officials—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH:  And, Janet, are Houston officials, are Texas officials worried that they are just not going to be able to absorb all of these people into their school systems, into their emergency rooms, into their social fabric? 
SHAMLIAN:  They are concerned.  It‘s a large amount of people in a short amount of time.  This is a big city.  They want to roll out the welcome mat, but you have named the challenges right there.  And they will be facing them for months to come. 
SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Janet.  Greatly appreciate that report from the Astrodome. 
And, you know, we just heard the woman talking about how she had no way out of town, In fact, about 30 percent of New Orleans under the poverty rate.  The mayor is under great criticism, great criticism right now, of New Orleans, because he had 400 buses that he could have used to evacuate people like this woman to get them out before the storm hit.  He didn‘t do that.  He is facing a barrage of criticism. 
And a lot of people don‘t understand it.  We are going to be talking to you about a little town that has become a morgue.  Actually, can we—why don‘t we do that now?  This is a town in Louisiana that has become a morgue that‘s absorbing all of the grisly discoveries from New Orleans.  Take a look. 
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Saint Gabriel, named for the archangel, the Bible says, will one day trumpet the end of the word. 
Now some in this small town wonder if the end of the world is coming to them.  In truck after truck, Katrina‘s dead are arriving in Saint Gabriel, Louisiana, this cavernous warehouse now a makeshift morgue where federal teams are already working to identify the dead.  They have come from across the country, pathologists, coroners, experts in fingerprinting, DNA and dental identification, some with experience from 9/11. 
DR. LOUIS CATALDIE, LOUISIANA EMERGENCY RESPONSE MEDICAL DIRECTOR:  We
have a lot of professional folks here.  Worse comes to worst, they can process about 130 to 140 individuals for a 24-hour period. 
SANDERS:  In some cases, DNA matches will be impossible because Katrina swept away many victim‘s hairbrushes and toothbrushes, often used to make a DNA match.  Families will not be allowed into the morgue.  But identification teams say each body will be treated with care. 
DR. CORINNE STERN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST:  These are all individuals.  OK?  These are our patients.  And we treat them all with respect and dignity, just like any physician would treat their patients. 
SANDERS:  But some who live nearby are not happy Saint Gabriel was chosen for this task. 
LORRAINE LONGUERRERO, RESIDENT:  I don‘t think it‘s right.  It‘s not good for us health.  I don‘t know.  They should have asked—brought the community to a meeting or something and then, you know, talked it over. 
SANDERS:  Others here understand, this work has to be done somewhere. 
SUE BAKER, RESIDENT:  I‘m glad our community could come together and help these people.  You know, it‘s the least that we can do. 
SANDERS (on camera):  In the early 1900s, a leprosy colony was established here and the clinic remains open today.  This is not the first time this town has taken on a role other communities would shy away from. 
Kerry Sanders, NBC News, Saint Gabriel, Louisiana.
(END VIDEOTAPE)
SCARBOROUGH:  You know, unfortunately, other towns are going to probably have to engage in this, because there are going to be a lot more tractor-trailers full, unfortunately, of people who passed away in this storm in the coming days and weeks. 
We will be right back in a second with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCARBOROUGH:  You know, we are going to continue with the heartbreaking stories out of New Orleans, but also stories of hope.  We have been bombarded by letters.  I have got a photo from these kids that have raised money for storm victims. 
I will tell you that story on the other side of the break.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it‘s hard to believe all these images. 
I will tell you, though, what else for me is just—well, it‘s not so hard to believe, but it is so wonderful.  We have been flooded by letters from you all.  I told you the first day we went over there, my wife saw children in need.  We decided to make a difference.  We teamed up with a local ministry here, Christian Ministries.  
Go ahead and put that up on the screen. 
The reason we teamed up with these people, they agreed that 100 percent, 100 percent, of everything that we collected, 100 percent would go to water, to diapers, to medicine, to wipes, to food, to soap, to products that will help these people get through their toughest days. 
Now, friends, in a week or two, the Red Cross is going to be there.  The feds are going to be there in full action.  At that point, that‘s great.  But, right now, you all are making a difference.  You have written a lot of letters, raised a lot of money. 
I want to go—I want to show you a picture. 
Can you put this picture up on the screen?
These kids are from Virginia.  You are not going to believe this story.  These—these people from Virginia wrote me and said: “My kids collected $61.35 from having a beverage stand three times and from taking out their own piggy banks.  And their organization—their work and our contribution, we want to send it to you to make a difference.”
They sent us a check from this stand and other donations, $861.35.  That‘s from Mike (ph) and Janet Edwards (ph) and Travis (ph), Cole (ph), Jasmine (ph) and Sandy (ph). 
Plus, so many letters.  I am reading them all.  My wife is reading them all.  God bless you for everything you have done. 
I want you to now take a look at this. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MUSIC)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH:  I wanted you to look at it, because there are so many people out there putting their lives on the line, doing so much.  You have got the Coast Guard men and women.  You do have relief workers from across the country.  They are trying to make a difference.  They just need leadership. 
That‘s all the time we have for tonight. 
“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now. 
Tucker, what is the situation tonight? 
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”:  Thanks, Joe.
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