updated 9/8/2005 10:55:31 AM ET 2005-09-08T14:55:31

Guest: David Benelli, Harold Zeliger, Willie Brown, Gary MacLaughlin, Brandon Loy, Terri Crisp

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Let‘s go now to Tucker Carlson to get THE SITUATION.  What is THE SITUATION tonight, Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thanks, Joe. 

MSNBC‘s live coverage of Hurricane Katrina‘s aftermath continues.  There‘s a lot to cover tonight.  All over the situation along the Gulf Coast. 

David Shuster standing by in New Orleans, as well as Ron Mott, who‘s live tonight in Biloxi, Mississippi.  We‘ll also hear frightening analysis of the potential crisis in the floodwaters there.  We‘ll have a live visit from a man offering safe haven for stranded New Orleans police officers, a pet rescuer, rescuing dogs and cats, and another heroic American who took it upon himself to aid people stranded by Hurricane Katrina. 

But first up, the news from Hurricane Katrina‘s wake as it stands tonight. 

Evacuation of the last 100,000 or so residents left in the city of New Orleans continued today.  Armed patrols went door to door, removing people from their home.  There‘s some controversy tonight over whether these evacuations have been forced or not.  We will answer those questions later in the show.

But there‘s no dispute over the condition of New Orleans right now, dangerously filthy.  Centers for Disease Control today advised people not even to touch the floodwaters in that city.  That‘s impossible for many, of course.

On the federal front, FEMA has prohibited the news media from taking pictures of dead bodies being recovered.

And a Gallup poll out today shows that while 42 percent of Americans think President Bush did a bad job responding to the hurricane, just 13 percent said think he‘s chiefly responsible for the bungled relief effort.

For more on what‘s happening on the ground, in Blessing, Mississippi, we go to NBC‘s Ron Mott, who‘s been there a long time.  Thanks a lot for joining us, Ron.  What‘s happening?

RON MOTT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, there, Tucker.  Good evening to you. 

Well, it‘s been nine days since I‘ve looked at the damage you see behind me.  And at this point of the day, it sort of blends into the background, but you come back here in the morning, and it‘s just amazing, how much devastation Hurricane Katrina caused here in Biloxi. 

We got some new video that was taken from city hall, which is on the block you se behind me.  And it‘s up the street some by about a block. 

That video was pointed down toward the water, which is off to my left here.  We‘re going to show that to you now, and I want you to listen at what 140-mile-an-hour winds sound like, and imagine yourself in your house or your building trying to survive this storm.  Take a listen. 

Rip roaring sounds of the wind.  You can see what the water did here. 

Folks here were told to expect storm surges in the range of 18 to 20 feet.

But what happened was Katrina arrived right on the heels of high tide, which is not the combination you want, a hurricane following high tide.  What that meant were storm surges in the 25- to 30-foot range, and that extra 10 feet did quite a bit of damage.

Because a lot of folks, perhaps, stayed here, made the decision to stay and ride out the storm, thinking that they were far enough away from the water to get away from it.  But that was not the case. 

What was left was about 20 percent of Biloxi destroyed, one out of every five structures in this city, gone.  No idea at this point just how much money, how many hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars were lost in this storm, a week ago Monday. 

They are beginning the clean-up process here, a long way to go.  They have a long way to go.  Lots behind me are not particular priorities.  They are focusing on Casino Row, which is Highway 90, the center of commerce in this area, want to get that area up and running so this community can get back on its feet again.

And some of the best news that we are hearing out of Biloxi is that a lot of the power companies that supply a lot of residential power here in the area say they believe that they can get 100 percent or close to 100 percent of the electricity restored to people who can accept it by Sunday night.  That was great news if it indeed happens.

Tucker, back to you.

CARLSON:  Ron, do we have any idea what the casualties are at this point, any reliable numbers or even a sense?  And also, who took those amazing pictures you just put up on the screen, and is the person who took them OK?

MOTT:  The person who took those pictures are OK—is OK, I should say.  A city hall employee, works for the city of Biloxi, apparently—I don‘t know why they weren‘t able to get out of city hall, but they rode out that storm in city hall, a beautiful limestone or granite structure here in downtown Biloxi. 

And you can see the damage that they were out on a patio, on the second floor of city hall, taking a look south there at the damage of the water coming in.  The wind-whipped rain flying through the air.  Homes being destroyed.  Materials being ripped off roofs.  It was quite a storm. 

And I am sure at some point of the video we saw the videographers taking a break, and they were ashen faced at what they were photographing. 

But the death toll, Tucker, in terms of the death toll here in the six-county area along the Gulf Coast, updated today to 148.  That was an increase of five. 

And around the state, we are nearing the 200 mark.  These are confirmed deaths in the state, right now, Mississippi by far with the most confirmed deaths. 

However, Louisiana, once that city, New Orleans in particular, is cleaned up, that number is expected to surge much beyond 200 -- Tucker. 

CARLSON:  All right.  NBC‘s Ron Mott.  Thanks for staying up for us, Ron.  Appreciate it. 

MOTT:  Sure thing. 

CARLSON:  For what‘s happening on the ground in New Orleans, we go to our man on the scene there, the ever reliable MSNBC‘s David Shuster—

David. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Tucker, the police chief of New Orleans said today that there‘s still at least a thousand people who want to be rescued and are still waiting to be picked up and evacuated, an astounding figure, and that underscores just how much the focus is still on trying to get people out alive. 

Apparently, some of the problems are that in many of these neighborhoods where the people want to get out and where they know that they want to get out, that the helicopters are blocked by trees and that, because of debris, it‘s difficult getting some of the boats in.

But the rescue teams continue to find and see more and more bodies in the water.  They are marking—they‘re removing the ones that they can and marking the places where the recovery teams need to go back. 

And here in New Orleans, the sign of death is an up side down triangle, spray painted in fluorescent orange on the side of the house or on some debris. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked the media not to photograph the dead, but in many cases, it has been very hard to avoid, given the number of bodies and corpses that are simply floating in the water in plain sight, especially in some of the areas that have water up to the second floor of the house. 

Recovery teams are increasingly concerned about the decomposition of many of the bodies, and say that in many cases, when the bodies are recovered, they are bloated to the point that they are simply no longer recognizable. 

There are some new grim details tonight about where some of the bodies have been found.  Apparently 100 people were killed in a New Orleans warehouse that collapsed during the storm, and another 30 people apparently died in a nursing home after the nursing home became submerged with water.  And the members of that nursing home were not able to climb up to the roof to escape. 

The main task on the engineering side tonight in New Orleans continues to be the pumping of the water out of the city.  Officials say that it‘s getting out at the city at the 17th Street Canal, for example, at a rate of 2,000 cubic feet per second. 

But to try to put it in perspective, as far as what New Orleans is usually capable of, across the city, there are 148 permanent pumps.  The number that are working today is 23. 

In other words, 125 pumps that usually help pump the water out of the city following a heavy rainstorm, those pumps have now become inoperable. 

Given the biohazard of the standing water in half the city, city officials are increasingly concerned about the danger to residents who try to stick around so they have said that everybody should leave.  And the mayor and the police chief are threatening to evacuate people by force if necessary. 

So far, that has only happened in one case that we know of.  Apparently, the police knocked on the door of a house where a woman was deranged.  She greeted the police holding onto a revolver and a knife.  They then tackled her, handcuffed her, led her away and evacuated her forcibly.  She apparently was not charged and was heard screaming, “At least let me look at my porch.” 

Officials say it will be several months before that woman or anybody else can look at their porch here in New Orleans. 

Tucker, back to you. 

CARLSON:  David Shuster in New Orleans. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A man in a difficult spot himself... 

CARLSON:  Covered the heck out of this hurricane. 

Well, dark days for New Orleans Police Department.  Katrina didn‘t spare the homes and families of cops.  And estimated 70 percent of them now homeless. 

But two dozen of them have found a home away from home, with a couple who opened their own doors to displaced police officers.  Lieutenant David Binelli is commander of New Orleans‘ sex crimes unit and the president of the police association of that city.  He joins us now by phone. 

Lieutenant Benelli thanks a lot for joining us.  Do you know where all the—where all your officers are, the New Orleans Police Department?

LT. DAVID BENELLI, PRESIDENT, NEW ORLEANS POLICE ASSOCIATION:  Well, right now, we know that the vast majority of the officers are working very hard to gain order within the city. 

And we‘re still in the rescue phase.  We‘re still rescuing hundreds of people every day from houses that are completely surrounded by water. 

And, you know, the officers have been working, you know, 20, 18 hours, 20 hours a day, trying to still save people that have been trapped since the storm passed last week. 

CARLSON:  The police superintendent, Eddie Compass, had said the other day that somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 to 500 officers, he didn‘t know where they were.  And he thought that some of them had left town.  Do we have any more clarification on that report?  Is that true?  What‘s the status?

BENELLI:  Well, I think what‘s—I think what we have here is because we had a breakdown in the communication system, because the electricity, we weren‘t able to charge our radios, and there was no phones.  The cell phones went out, and so there was actually no communication. 

Like I was at the Superdome.  That‘s where the sex crimes unit and the child abuse unit and various other units were assigned to control the 23,000 to 25,000 refugees there. 

And there was members of other units that happened to get trapped there with us.  And so it was hard to get communications that they were actually working. 

Now that we‘re able to restore communications, I‘m sure that number is actually going to be reduced. 

You know, one of the things that kind of bothered me is the fact that I think there was a picture painted that the majority of police officers left their post.  And that‘s so far from the truth. 

Only a very few.  And some of them left because of family emergencies.  Some left because they are just flat out cowards and decided to leave, but the bottom line is the vast majority of men and women in New Orleans Police Department just did extraordinary things to maintain order during an unprecedented crisis. 

We had a hurricane and a flood.  We had a hurricane and then the breach of the levee, which caused the city to flood.  We had people trapped.  We had—we had police officers going out there and diving into this muck of this unbelievably disgusting water to save people. 

And the stories, the heroic things that these officers did, should have been the focus of the national media.  But they chose to focus on the very few that happened to leave. 

CARLSON:  Well, just as a clarification again, again, it was Eddie Compass, the head of your police department, who told the national media. 

BENELLI:  Right.  I think what...

CARLSON:  ... that officers were missing, and he suggested that they - I think this is almost a quote, that they were so frightened by the storm they left.  That‘s what he said. 

BENELLI:   Well, I think what happened is, again, we had a communications problem.  And I really believe that what happened, you had 200 to 400 police officers that were unaccounted for and they were actually working but they were actually working for—in other units.  They just couldn‘t get back to their district or their unit and were working with the ones that they could.  And it was hard to notify one unit that police officers were working there. 

But I think that number is going to be greatly reduced.  But the bottom line is that we should focus on the vast majority of the officers stayed and just did unbelievable things. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I bet that‘s true.  I know that people we had interviewed who were at the Superdome and particularly at the convention center in New Orleans said that the police presence was really sparse and they wanted more cops on the scene, but there just weren‘t enough.  Do you think your force needs to be bigger than it is?

BENELLI:  Well, I‘ve been fighting to increase the number of police officers in New Orleans for years.  You know, for police officer per capita, we have always been way below the national average. 

But the bottom line is that you had a situation where you had the Superdome.  We had 25,000 refugees.  We had about 80 or 90 police officers that were there, plus 250 National Guardsmen.  In a normal set of circumstances that would have been enough. 

COLMES:  Yes. 

BENELLI:  The problem is that right after the storm, there was a six-feet wall of water completing surrounding the dome.  The dome was—lost electricity, lost water.  And so the conditions there were subhuman. 

And we were promised that, you know, that troops were on the way,

5,000 U.S. Army troops were going to be there to assist us.  And they came

you know, many days later. 

And the fact that those officers and the few National Guardsmen that

we had were able to maintain order in that subhuman condition, where there

was no mass loss of life.  There wasn‘t the rapes and the murders that was

that was rumored to have happened, because we were there, and I saw what happened. 

And that‘s a tribute to the people that were there, because Tucker, I can tell you, I was in Vietnam for a year.  And the six days I spent at the dome affected me and the men and women I was working with more than the year I spent in Vietnam. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

BENELLI:  It was horrible conditions.

CARLSON:  I absolutely believe that.  It sounds like a frightening scene that nobody ought to have been subjected to.  David Benelli, thanks a lot for joining us.  Appreciate it. 

BENELLI:  All right, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Thanks. 

Still ahead, the water being pumped from New Orleans is too dangerous to touch.  Gets on your skin, you could die.  It‘s being pumped now into Lake Pontchartrain and into the Gulf of Mexico.  And expert on the dangers of toxic water joins me next to explain how that disaster will affect all of America. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Coming up on THE SITUATION, details about what‘s in the New Orleans floodwaters that will make your skin crawl.  You think it‘s dirty?  It‘s so much worse than that.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIE GERBERDING, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL:  The water is full of sewage.  We know this is not safe.  We know that there are many common intestinal illnesses that can be transmitted by ingesting the sewage, and in some cases, by being in the water with these organisms, and without protective clothing, so for the evacuees who haven‘t left the city yet, you must do so. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  My next guest has some pretty frightening predictions of the scope of the environmental disaster in Katrina‘s wake.  Harold Zeliger is a chemical toxologist and independent consultant.  He joins me now live. 

Mr. Zeliger, how dirty is this water?

HAROLD ZELIGER, CHEMICAL TOXOLOGIST:  The water is really quite polluted.  The problem comes from several angles. 

No. 1, it is full of bacteria and viruses.  It‘s full of sewage, waste.  It‘s full of decaying organic matter.  And it‘s also got quite a bit of chemical in it because of all of the petrochemical plants and the refineries chemical manufacturing facilities in and around the New Orleans area that were breached during the storm. 

So what we have is a mixture of biological problems and chemical problems.  And even within the chemicals themselves, there are large numbers of chemicals—a lot of them are not identified—that can cause very serious effects.  These can be absorbed through the skin.  They can be inhaled.

Now another issue, here...

CARLSON:   I‘m sorry, Mr. Zeliger.  Tell me, what kind of effects?

ZELIGER:  Untold reaction.  When people are exposed to mixtures of chemicals, they very oftentimes get problems that cannot be associated with the individual components of the mixture. 

But the mixtures have a life unto themselves, and they attack different organs of the body.  They also have amplified effect when the people are exposed to them, so there‘s that toxicity as well to be considered. 

And then, of course, there is the marine toxicity once the water is pumped into lake Pontchartrain, where the marine life is being severely impacted. 

CARLSON:  I mean, that area, southern Louisiana, is one of the nation‘s largest seafood producers.  I mean, fishing is one of the main essential industries of the state.  How is this going to affect the shrimp industry, say?

ZELIGER:  I‘m sorry.  I didn‘t hear that.  Could you please repeat it?

CARLSON:  I am wondering how this is going to affect the shrimp industry, shrimp fishing industry in Louisiana.  Can you eat the shrimp? 

ZELIGER:  Oh, it‘s going to have a pronounced effect on the shrimp industry, particularly in the short term. 

This mix of soup, for lack of a better word, that‘s being pumped out, is going to have an enormous impact on the shrimp industry.  I would be surprised if there were any shrimp catchers of note in the next, say, year or so. 

I also think that one would be ill advised to eat any shrimp that were farmed under this environment. 

CARLSON:  So just to sum it up, there are terrible chemicals in this water.  We don‘t know what they are.  And we don‘t know what kind of effect they‘ll have on people.

But we do know they‘re going to kill a great large number of marine organisms, and basically destroy one of the biggest industries in the state, shrimping.  Is there anything we can do about it?

ZELIGER:  Is there anything we can do?  What we can do is, of course, I think it‘s paramount that the remaining people in the area be evacuated, and it‘s also that for people who are the responder offering help, also take protective measures. 

Not to inhale any of these airborne materials, and certainly some of them are airborne, and to be careful not to have contact with the water on any part of the skin. 

The chemicals can absorb through the skin as well as through cuts.  They can absorb through just normal skin that has not been injured in any way. 

CARLSON:  This water has been sitting on every surface in 80 percent of the city for eight days now.  So the water, once it goes away, will the city still be contaminated by the toxins in the water?

ZELIGER:  That is correct.  As the time goes on, the contamination gets worse. 

CARLSON:  Oh, that‘s a horrifying picture.  Thanks for joining us. 

Coming up, there are other great American cities at high risk for catastrophic natural disasters.  Have the leaders of those cities learned anything from the botched response to Hurricane Katrina?  One of them joins me next from San Francisco.  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We were on top of the roof, and got rescued by a helicopter.  I was just—I was crying when I was getting on the helicopter.  Because it was kind of scary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We passed through all of the other hurricanes in the same house.  If the three of us couldn‘t go together, I wasn‘t going.  He wanted to send me.  I told him, I wasn‘t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have the resources we need but once again, this is so catastrophic that I don‘t know that there are adequate means to take care of any of it.  It‘s just going to be a very slow process.  Months, even years. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

New Orleans isn‘t the only city that‘s lived with the specter of natural catastrophe.  A hundred years ago, San Francisco was destroyed and burned after an earthquake, 1906, wrecked the city.  They have been waiting ever since for a similar event to happen again. 

San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, a long-time mayor, ran that city. 

He joins us now. 

Mayor Willie Brown, thanks a lot for coming on. 

What sort of preparations did you make while you were mayor of San Francisco for a natural catastrophe?  Was it a big part of your job, thinking about what might happen?

WILLIE BROWN, FORMER MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO:  It was very much a part of the job of any mayor of San Francisco, or the Bay area, for that matter.  Maybe even the state of California, because of the threat of earthquakes. 

We did have an earthquake in 1989, in San Francisco, and in this region.  And it gave the mayor at that time an opportunity to really put in place a program which has been continuous to the present date, expanded upon and improved as technology and techniques that have been learned in other locations have been made available to us. 

CARLSON:  Your city, San Francisco and New Orleans, have a lot in common.  They are both surrounded by water, flooded with tourists almost all times.  They‘re both iconic American cities, and they both live under the constant threat of being destroyed. 

What lessons do you think we can take away from watching the city of New Orleans handle Hurricane Katrina?

BROWN:  I think for all of America, and in particular, for the mayors of America, it is very clear, there must be programs and practices in place, rehearsed probably every six months to ensure that every public worker knows exactly what they are supposed to do, where they‘re supposed to be, and how they‘re supposed to react. 

There are also obviously will be a need to have citizens participate, because when you give an evacuation order, you cannot be assured that everybody has moved out unless there‘s some program in place to, one, ensure you can check it; No. 2, methods and means by which to assist those who cannot assist themselves, and, No. 3, who will be left behind to protect the property and the lives that still may be there?

We‘ve learned, I suspect, from New Orleans that all of those things must be in place. 

I think we‘ve also learned that the federal government and the state government must execute instantly, which means they need to be a part of the original plan and the program that‘s been in place.  And they need to be a part of the ongoing rehearsals, not unlike what as little kids in school we learned about fire drills. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but tell me this.  Just as a mayor, I‘m having a little trouble understanding why the mayor of New Orleans apparently has ordered the forcible evacuation of the remaining people in his city. 

Could you see yourself ordering that?  I mean, if there are people in New Orleans on high, dry ground, who have water and food and want to stay, why would a mayor order them at gunpoint to leave?  What‘s the thinking behind that?  Do you have any insight?

BROWN:  Well, I don‘t know what his thinking is, but I can conceive of a situation in which total and complete law and order has broken down, total and complete disaster, and life risks are there.  That should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

For an example, the mayor of New York would have ordered people away from the Twin Towers for fear they would have crashed on those persons.  I can see our mayor saying, “If you don‘t move out from that spot, we‘re going to move you.”  But that‘s the extreme case. 

CARLSON:  But you‘d have to have an imminent and obvious threat in order to go as far as to remove people at gunpoint, you‘re saying then?

BROWN:  There‘s no question you must have.  And B, if you‘re the mayor of New Orleans, you and I are sitting here talking objectively about this.  He may very well be in a position where his perception is that of a threat of total destruction of all human beings in his jurisdiction.  And if that‘s the case, then he has a responsibility to ensure their safety, and that may include having them forcibly removed. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Former San Francisco mayor, Willie Brown.  You may not agree with his politics, but it‘s hard not to like him.  Mr. Mayor, thanks a lot for coming on.  Appreciate it.

BROWN:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Still ahead, thousands of displaced people have been separated from everything in their lives, including and especially their dogs and cats.  We‘re joined live from Slidell, Louisiana, by a person reuniting people with their pets when THE SITUATION continues.

CARLSON:  Willie Brown, you may not agree with his politics but it‘s hard not to like him.  Mr. Mayor, thanks a lot for coming on, I appreciate it.

BROWN:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Still ahead, thousands of displaced people have been separated from everything in their lives, including and especially their dogs and cats.  We‘re joined live from Slidell, Louisiana by a person reuniting people with their pets when THE SITUATION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve been through seven days of hell.  That‘s the only way to put it, hell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And all going through the rubble of their lives and it‘s just so depressing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They have to understand they have to get out.  The worst isn‘t over.  There‘s disease coming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  My family I don‘t know where none of them are right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  The suffering all along the Gulf Coast has brought out the very best in many Americans, who donated money and supplies and in some cases taken disaster relief into their own hands and thank God they did.

One of those selfless people is Gary MacLaughlin of Santa Cruz, California.  He joins us now on the telephone with his amazing story.  Mr. MacLaughlin, thanks for joining us. 

GARY MACLAUGHLIN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  What happened?  What moved you to act and what did you do?

MACLAUGHLIN:  Well, first I want to thank you, Tucker, for taking an interest in our story that we‘re doing down here.  I really do appreciate that.

CARLSON:  Of course.

MACLAUGHLIN:  Because there‘s a whole group down here of people just like me who took it on themselves to come down here and try to help and that‘s really an exciting story.

CARLSON:  Well, we spent a lot of time reporting on some of the lower moments where this storm brought out the worst in people and it‘s just really nice to be reminded that it had the opposite effect on people like you, so tell us what you did.

MACLAUGHLIN:  Well, it was for me too because that‘s exactly my experience down here.  What I‘ve seen is the absolute best in people every step of the way.  I got this idea back on Thursday morning watching CNN in my bathroom.  I‘m sorry (INAUDIBLE).

CARLSON:  Probably MSNBC you were watching, in any case.

MACLAUGHLIN:  MSNBC, I was watching them both and of course broken hearted like the rest of us, looking at the spectacle of humanity at the absolute limit of its tolerance to this miserable situation. 

And, I was frustrated just like anybody else and everyone else watching that.  Why can‘t they do something?  Why can‘t somebody get in there?  And, I tend to be an impulsive guy and sometimes that works for me and sometimes it doesn‘t.  In this case it worked (INAUDIBLE).

CARLSON:  What did it lead you to do this time?

MACLAUGHLIN:  I‘m sorry?

CARLSON:  What did it lead you to do this time your impulsiveness?

MACLAUGHLIN:  Well, my impulse was that I thought I might be able to contact some friends of mine who are in southern Tennessee and operate a non-profit governmental organization called Plenty.  It‘s a relief organization that‘s been in existence for about 25 years, almost 30 years now.

And they provided assistance to, you know, down in Central America in nutrition programs.  They did disaster relief back in the early ‘60s and ‘70s and I knew I could call them and find out what they were doing and what resources they had.

I knew that I could go to Nashville and I went on the Internet and found a bus company that was willing to sell me a bus and they were some of the finest people I‘ve ever met.  They told me they had a bus there for $1,500 that was running and would do the job for me.  They said they couldn‘t guarantee it but it was a good bus.

And, if I flew into Nashville, they would come and pick me up as if I was buying a fleet of them and they brought me up to their company and they fixed up this bus for me and made sure that it was all ready to go, serviced and out the door.  By Friday afternoon I was on the road towards the south.

CARLSON:  So, where did you go and what did you do?

MACLAUGHLIN:  Well, I stopped at the Plenty headquarters first down in Summertown, Tennessee and I met the folks down there.  They got excited about this idea.  I hadn‘t talked to them in almost 30 years.  I‘d left their situation and moved away and got involved in other things and hadn‘t been in contact but I knew I could contact them and I did.

And they said, “Yes, come on down.  That‘s a great idea.  We‘ll help you.”  And, so I showed up down there and they were ready and I stopped on my way down at Wal-Mart and the Wal-Mart folks were overwhelmed with people that were coming in  just like me and loading up vehicles, Mexican Merchants Association of Nashville.  There they were.  They had their U-Hauls that they went and rented.  They‘re just like me.

CARLSON:  So, you stopped at Wal-Mart and bought a huge amount of water and diapers and granola bars and all that and then where did you take them?

MACLAUGHLIN:  Well, I took it down, I put them in the bus and headed south to pick up whoever wanted to go with me.  I needed some help.  I wasn‘t going to go down there by myself and I stopped and we dealt with communications that we‘d already had for pleas for help and we talked with other community members there that were involved in the Plenty organization and we developed our game plan of taking the supplies to a location that had already contacted us.

My wife had done some phone arrangements when I left.  She was talking on the phone to the Red Cross and to relief organizations that were working in the area already and asking them what their needs were.

CARLSON:  That‘s amazing.  So, you brought...

MACLAUGHLIN:  It is amazing.  It was amazing cost and it was—it was something that just happened.  We were going about our lives trying to make it out in Santa Cruz, California and we had good lives but...

CARLSON:  But the beauty of it is, Gary that it didn‘t just happen.  You made it happen and when so many people didn‘t do that, by so many people I mean people who worked for the government, state, federal and local didn‘t do it you did.  You got off your duff, got on a plane, bought a bus, went to Wal-Mart, got the needed supplies and brought them to people who needed them and for that we are grateful and so is America.  Thanks for joining us.

MACLAUGHLIN:  Well, you know, and I want to say something about those folks down there because I am bonded with National Guard troops, with New York Police Department who showed up last night in the most beautiful convoy you‘ve ever seen and the other people who were down there, the New Orleans cops that are all working just as hard as they can.  They‘re pushed to their limits.

CARLSON:  Yes.

MACLAUGHLIN:  They‘re doing everything that they can and there‘s other groups in there that are helping them and we were able to get in there and even help more folks who were kind of at the bottom of the list or overlooked or whatever and we just drove around and we...

CARLSON:  Good for you.  Good for you.

MACLAUGHLIN:  Yes, gave people a cold drink of water.

CARLSON:  All right.

MACLAUGHLIN:  To see the look of gratitude in a man‘s eyes when you give him a cold drink of water in a situation like that has got to be the best experience of my life.

CARLSON:  Well, Gary MacLaughlin, thanks a lot for joining use.  I appreciate everything you‘ve done.

MACLAUGHLIN:  Thank you.  Thank you, Carlson, for your interest.  We really appreciate it.

CARLSON:  Thanks.

MACLAUGHLIN:  OK, bye-bye.

CARLSON:  Well, still ahead on THE SITUATION, another tropical storm swirls off the East Coast of Florida at this hour, if you can believe it.  Up next, we‘re joined by the self-described weather nerd who forecast the hurricane from his dorm room.  We‘ll discuss the disaster that was Katrina and the imminent danger potentially of Ophelia.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  A weather expert who predicted Katrina‘s devastation tells us if Hurricane Ophelia could bring the same amount of destruction. 

Plus, we‘ll talk to a heroic woman who has helped save over 400 pets stranded by this disaster.

THE SITUATION returns in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HELEN HARRIS:  This is Helen Harris (INAUDIBLE) and I‘m very concerned about my son that‘s been hospitalized at Charity Hospital.  His name is Gerald Harris and I really need to find out where he is.  I have no way of contacting anyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  MSNBC wants to help hurricane victims reconnect with their loved ones.  You can log onto msnbc.com and visit the reconnect page to look for a family member or a friend or to register yourself as safe.

Our next guest is one of the very few people in the world who predicted with some accuracy what Hurricane Katrina was going to do.  He‘s a self-proclaimed weather nerd.  He‘s a Notre Dame student.  He is Brandon Loy.  He has a website too, Irishtrojan.com. Brandon Loy thanks a lot for coming on.

BRANDON LOY:  Thanks for having me.

CARLSON:  How did you predict with the level of accuracy you did what Hurricane Katrina was going to do?

LOY:  Well, I didn‘t really predict it, Tucker.  I looked at what the National Hurricane Center was saying and their forecasts by Friday night were fairly clear that it was heading towards New Orleans and they said that it was a high confidence forecast.

The computer models were in very good agreement about where the storm was going to go.  They were pretty consistent and I just sounded the alarm.  I saw that and I felt that the mainstream media, no offense, and the local officials...

CARLSON:  We‘re not mainstream here, Brandon.

LOY:  Apologies.  But the media generally and the local officials weren‘t sounding the alarm quite as much as I thought that they should and so I tried to get the word out there that, hey, if you‘re in New Orleans and you‘re reading this you should get out tonight.  This storm might not hit you but it might and if it does it‘s going to be an absolute disaster.

CARLSON:  What kind of response did you get?

LOY:  Well, I actually know of at least one person who specifically told me that he evacuated on my advice, which felt really good to know that and there may have been others.  I don‘t know.  But the people really appreciated and they commented and said they really appreciated the information that I was putting out there.

CARLSON:  Now, I mean do you plan to be a weatherman when you get older?

LOY:  No, I‘m in law school actually.  Weather is just a hobby for me.  I‘m not a weather expert.  Like I said, I‘m a weather nerd.  I‘m a meteorology buff and I‘m just really interested in these storms.  I‘ve followed them since I was a little kid and so I know a little bit about them that I‘ve picked up from that but mostly I just look at the information that‘s publicly available.

And the real story here frankly it isn‘t that I called it.  It‘s that the local officials and federal officials all up and down the chain didn‘t seem to be taking it as seriously as they should have.

I don‘t think I said anything extraordinary.  What I was saying was pretty obvious.  This thing is headed towards New Orleans.  If the forecast comes true, and we‘ve always known that a storm heading towards New Orleans would be an absolute disaster and I frankly don‘t quite understand why more people weren‘t as alarmed as I was.

CARLSON:  That‘s something America collectively doesn‘t understand.  What do you think of Ophelia?

LOY:  Ophelia is different than Katrina because the computer models are absolutely not in any kind of a consensus.  They‘re all over the map.  If you look at the computer models there are some that have it heading west, some that have it heading east.

And so, the hurricane center really doesn‘t know what to do with it right now and they‘re just sort of going with it‘s going to sit and spin for a while but it‘s really hard to tell.

Katrina was actually a relatively easy storm to forecast by hurricane standards.  Once it crossed the Florida peninsula its track became pretty clear.  Ophelia it‘s anybody‘s guess right now.

CARLSON:  At what point do you think we‘ll know what kind of storm Ophelia will become?

LOY:  Well, I mean what guides hurricanes tracks are the upper level steering currents and right now the steering currents over Ophelia are quite weak, so if a dominant pattern emerges in the steering currents and something comes along to pick it up or push it around that will be when we‘ll start to get a better idea.

But right now there isn‘t much going on out there.  It‘s kind of like the doldrums in the upper atmosphere over Ophelia so it‘s really hard to say.

CARLSON:  Now, you said that you made your calculations based on information you found publicly available information on the Internet.  Most people I think get their weather from the little thing at the AOL home page.  People who are interested in weather should go to what sites?  Where is the real weather information out there on the Internet?

LOY:  The National Hurricane Center‘s website is www.nhc.noaa.gov and they have the official information, the public advisory, what they call “the discussion” which gives you the sort of meteorological insight if you want to get a little more technical and they have the forecast track.  They have all kinds of maps.

And, you can also, if you go to my site, not to put in a blatant plug but put in a blatant plug, if you go to brendanloy.com I put up links to the computer models and stuff like that to try to give people as much information as possible.

But, you know, it‘s all out there and it‘s really the National Hurricane Center.  I don‘t want the National Hurricane Center folks to think that I‘m stepping on their toes here because they‘re the ones who do the forecasting.

CARLSON:  Yes.

LOY:  You know I just try to—try to read what they‘re saying and figure out what‘s going to happen as best I can from that and then just get the information out to people.

And, Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit gave me a platform by linking to me on Friday night when the storm was approaching and that gave me an audience and I got to kind of tell people that I thought if they were in New Orleans they should get out and it was, you know, thanks to him that that happened.

CARLSON:  Brandon Loy, you‘ve earned your plug on this show I think. 

Thanks a lot for coming on.

LOY:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Still ahead on THE SITUATION, imagine the heartache, if you can, of fleeing your home without your dog or cat.  For reasons that aren‘t clear and may never be, hundreds of thousands along the Gulf Coast were forced by authorities last week to do just that.

Up next we‘re joined live from Slidell, Louisiana by a person working to reunite animals with their owners.  Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We‘re looking for Charles Bradford (ph).  This is Charmayne Bradford (ph).  Please if anybody have any information please give us a call.  We‘re also signed on nola.com.  Give us a call please someone respond if you know the whereabouts of Charles Bradford.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.

Some of the saddest pictures from the Gulf Coast this week have been of animals left behind.  There was one yesterday of four or five dogs huddled together on the hood of a car submerged in the water, all of them probably doomed heartbreaking.

Well, we‘re joined now by Terri Crisp.  She‘s the founder and director of Noah‘s Wish.  It‘s a non-profit organization that‘s rescued over 400 animals in Slidell, Louisiana, one of the towns hardest hit.  She‘s currently working to save more with the local animal control.

Terri Crisp, thanks a lot for joining us.  How did you first of all get from northern California, where you live, to Slidell, Louisiana?  What are you doing there?

TERRI CRISP:  Two of us flew in last Tuesday into Houston and then we drove down here on Wednesday.  We had an agreement with Slidell Animal Control before this ever happened to come and assist them in the event of a hurricane.

So, the plan was that we would just drive into Slidell, get as close to there as we could.  So, we arrived on Wednesday and were given permission from the mayor‘s office to use an empty warehouse, which is where we‘re now housing all the animals that have come from the community of Slidell.

CARLSON:  So, people who had to leave their pets behind come to your warehouse and are reunited with their pets is that how it works?

CRISP:  We‘ve been doing a lot of rescues just seeing animals running loose on the street in addition to animals that we just happen to spot in houses.  I can‘t tell you how many dogs we‘ve seen poking their head up against the windows almost waving us down asking to be rescued.

CARLSON:  Do you have any idea...

CRISP:  It‘s been heartbreaking.

CARLSON:  It sounds heartbreaking.  It‘s heartbreaking just watching it.

CRISP:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Do you have any idea why authorities in Louisiana anyway forced evacuees to leave their pets behind?  Have you see that before and what could possibly be the justification for that?

CRISP:  We‘ve seen it in disasters where people are not allowed to bring animals into any of the human shelters and it‘s understandable because they really are not set up to accommodate animals and that‘s why we are always trying to encourage people to have a disaster plan, not only for themselves but also for their animals.  If you don‘t have a way in which you can protect yourself, you‘re decreasing the chances you‘ll take care of your animals.

The two things we really want people to know is figure out ahead of time how you would get your animals out of the area, get them to safety and where it is that you would keep them if you were going to be displaced either short or long term. 

And unfortunately, in this disaster like we‘ve seen so many times in the past, many people didn‘t have a plan and that‘s the reason that these animals were left behind.  So for those people who have not thought this through I think this was a wake up call.  This is the time to ask yourself those questions.

CARLSON:  Make us feel better, Terry Crisp and tell us a story of pets reunited with their owners.

CRISP:  The reunions are always the highlight of our days.  We have almost 100 of our volunteers from all over the U.S. as far away as Canada and when those people come in and get reunited, especially when they think that they‘ve lost that animal, nothing could make us feel any better.

We have reunited a little girl with her hamster named Stewart Little and that little animal meant the world to her and nothing could have made us any happier than to hand that little guy over to her.

We‘ve had lots of reunions.  Unfortunately, a lot of the people though have no homes to go to right now, so what we‘re going to be providing is short and long term foster care so that people don‘t find themselves in a situation where they feel that their only choice is to give the animal up permanently.

CARLSON:  Yes.  But if the choice is between euthanizing the animal or giving the animal up for adoption, I bet a lot of people would like to give the animal up for adoption.  Is there someplace viewers can go, quickly, to find out if there are animals that need to be adopted?

CRISP:  We are going to be adopting and information will be on our website at noahswish.org and we‘ve had lots of requests.  These animals will all, those that don‘t get reclaimed, those that are surrendered, they will have the best homes and never find themselves in this kind of situation again.

CARLSON:  Good.  You are really doing great work.  Terri Crisp thanks a lot for joining us.

CRISP:  It‘s a team effort, thanks.

CARLSON:  Thanks.

Coming up next on THE SITUATION now that they‘re safe some angry hurricane evacuees turn their attention and their emotion toward President Bush.  Victims rally at the White House when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff looked to take some heat off the federal government today by announcing a plan to distribute $2,000 debit cards to families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  The cards will be handed out at major evacuation centers like the Houston Astrodome.

Meanwhile, a group of politically minded evacuees has flown to Washington, D.C. to hold a rally outside the White House tomorrow.  They say budget cuts and government interference led to the disaster on the Gulf Coast.

We spend a lot of time on this show and we‘ll continue to spend a lot of time discerning who did what and who did what wrong.  It‘s nice to take time out every once in a while to point out those who did something right.

When government failed other people stepped up.  They‘re out there rescuing dogs and handing out water to evacuees.  Thank you on behalf of MSNBC, this show and America.  We‘ll continue to bring you their stories night after night.

That‘s THE SITUATION for this night.  Thanks for watching.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

Watch The Situation with Tucker Carlson each weeknight at 11 p.m. ET

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