updated 9/8/2005 11:38:58 AM ET 2005-09-08T15:38:58

Guest: Paul Houston, Seyburn Rocker, Albert French, Jim Bernazzani, Thad

Allen, Marlon DeFillo, Tom Henderson, Ed Young, Lorraine Ward, Andrew Ward

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Everybody, we‘re once again coming to you LIVE AND DIRECT here from New Orleans, where there are a lot of incredible developments happening, particularly what‘s going to happen to all these people who are holding out, all these people who are staying in their homes.  Police are now not asking people to leave the battered city, tonight the mayor of the city says those who are holding out will soon be forced out.

And I just returned from patrolling the streets with some of the cops here, who tell me the last thing that they want to do is arrest people who are already in misery and put them in handcuffs.

Joining us now to get all the answers is FBI special agent James Bernazzani.  He‘s in Baton Rouge.  In just a few minutes, we‘re going to be joined by Marlon DeFillo.  He‘s the right-hand guy to the chief of police.  He‘ll be with us in a few seconds.

But agent Bernazzani, let me start with you.  What do you think of this move by the mayor of this city?  Does he confer with you guys and also the chief of police when he does something like this?

JIM BERNAZZANI, FBI SPECIAL-AGENT-IN-CHARGE, NEW ORLEANS:  Well, I was informed of what he was intending to do, but this is a state option, enforced by local police.  The FBI will not be participating in this type of activity.

COSBY:  What do you think, Jim, though, as a lawman—and you can imagine, I just came back from patrolling with the cops, and they said the last thing they want to do—a lot of these hold-outs are older people, just so used to their homes, don‘t want to abandon their homes, their pets.  The last thing you want to do is have a picture of an old lady in handcuffs being escorted out of her home of 30 years.

BERNAZZANI:  Well, it‘s my understanding that there‘s some dangerous elements within New Orleans, not just shooters who are still in town, but also, the water itself has become polluted with toxins which have escaped from damaged chemical plants, as well as petrochemical facilities.  So it is in the best interests of the people to leave now because it is quite dangerous for their health and wellbeing.

COSBY:  No, it absolutely is.  And I understand why the warning is coming down.  is your sense from patrolling the streets here—Jim, you know, you spent a lot of time here.  You were down here earlier today.  Do you think people are going to heed this warning?  Don‘t you think there are still going to be a few hold-outs that might even—it might even get violent.  Some of them are armed.

BERNAZZANI:  Well, it‘s our intention, eventually, as the waters recede, to go house to house to find these individuals who are trying to perpetrate crimes, looting, murder, rape and the like.  Again, as the waters recede, they‘re going to present targets of opportunity.  And we are committed, with our law partners, to support New Orleans Police Department, the Louisiana State Police and law enforcement elements of DOJ and DHS, which are operating in the area, to root these individuals out.  As we prosecute this effort, we‘re going to come across individuals who are innocent who have still yet to leave, and we will inform the proper authorities of their location.

COSBY:  Now, you talked about sort of the targets of opportunity as the waters recede.  Do you think you‘re going to find that there are more people holding out?  And you think you‘re going to make some of these targets of opportunity becoming more visible, at that point?

BERNAZZANI:  That‘s exactly the point.  Right now, the waters are such that they‘re containing the activities of these individuals.  And as long as our intelligence doesn‘t say they‘re preying on other individuals in those properties, we‘re going to wait it out until the waters recede and then use superiority of firepower and manpower to get in to get those individuals within the legal construct.

COSBY:  Now, we saw some pictures—actually, Dan Abrams, one of our other hosts, a couple hours ago had some pretty incredible pictures, Jim.  These are of looters.  These were guys who were being arrested, taken to a place here—it‘s called Fort Apache.  I‘m sure you probably know it well.  It‘s where they‘re taking sort of some of the deviants, some of the people that get caught in the act.  But when Dan was there, one of the guys was—two of the guys were arrested, they were also immediately released because they basically didn‘t know what to do with them.  Are you finding that‘s a problem of sort of taking control of these deviants?

BERNAZZANI:  This is one of the issues we have, Rita, with the collapse of communications.  There has been a temporary jail set up at the Amtrak station down by the Post Office in downtown.  And the majority of individuals, whether it‘s the New Orleans Police Department, the FBI, the Louisiana State Police and other law enforcement officials, know this.  But there are pockets of law enforcement officials who don‘t realize that there is now a place to take these individuals to begin the legal process, and we‘ve got get that word out, apparently, a little bit better.

COSBY:  Yes.  And finally, Jim, what‘s the worst you‘ve seen so far since you‘ve been here, in terms of where you really needed your guys to take action?

BERNAZZANI:  Rita, can you repeat that question?

COSBY:  Yes, sure.  What‘s the worst that you have seen where your men and women had to take action since you‘ve been here?

BERNAZZANI:  Well, absolutely, death and despair.  I mean, it‘s our intent right now return the quality of life to the people of New Orleans with the help of the various entities here.  And it‘s our intent to do this.  And we will do this, but we‘re going to be in this for the long haul.

COSBY:  Yes, absolutely.  Well, and Jim Bernazzani, thank you so much, special agent with the New Orleans FBI.  We really appreciate you being with us, Jim, and we‘re going to talk with you again soon.  Keep up the great work all of you are doing.

And someone who was just recently appointed to sort of the position sort of overseeing all the efforts is Vice Admiral Thad Allen.  He‘s with the U.S. Coast Guard, and he joins me now on the phone.  Admiral, who‘s calling the shots here in this operation?


FEDERAL RECOVERY EFFORTS:  Well, I‘m not sure what you mean by “calling the shots.”

COSBY:  Admiral...

ALLEN:  Yes.  Go ahead.  I‘m sorry.  I didn‘t hear you.

COSBY:  Yes.  No.  Who‘s calling the shots?  Is it you?  Is it Mike Brown?  Is it the local guys?

ALLEN:  My current assignment here is as the deputy principal federal officer for the response.  That is the deputy from Mike Brown‘s organization up in Baton Rouge.  I was asked to come down here by the secretary and add focus to the DHS and the federal principal office official effort in the New Orleans area and the parishes surrounding that.

COSBY:  What are your impressions from seeing things on the ground, sir?  I mean, the big criticism—and I‘ve seen some of it firsthand—seems very disorganized, and the feds were late coming in.

ALLEN:  Well, I‘ve been on the ground here for about 36 hours, and since I‘ve gone on board, our coordination with the city of New Orleans has been terrific.  I‘ve been dealing directly with the director of homeland security for the city, who is the supervisor of the fire department, the police department and emergency services.

I‘ve taken a flight over the area.  There is massive destruction, as has been documented extensively.  There‘s a lot of work to do.  We‘re concentrating on saving lives, recovering people, getting food, water and fuel to people and improving communications.  And hopefully, as the water recedes, we‘ll make a sweep through the city and be looking for survivors and addressing the needs as the water goes down.

COSBY:  It‘s a grim task.  I can tell you, I was on the water a few hours ago, and it‘s a grim task, sir, when you see it.  Don‘t you agree?

ALLEN:  I think it‘s unprecedented.  It‘s wide-scale destruction. 

It‘s a city and a state that most of us will never see in our lifetime.  And I think it‘s going to require a coordinated effort, and my job down here is to pull everybody together, see if we can take a forward-leaning posture on the needs of the people here.  And we‘re working very closely with the city of New Orleans.

COSBY:  And Admiral, are we making the best use of all of these local organizations and also multi-national organizations that are coming in?  But particularly, I saw folks from the NYPD today, I saw folks from South Carolina, all these different organizations.  You know what a lot of them were doing?  Directing traffic.  Is that the best use of all these other forces coming in?

ALLEN:  Well, when you have a lot of forces to send on a situation like this, you have a problem with accessing, queuing up the resources and putting them against the threats and the responses that you need out there.  I can tell you that the superb search-and-rescue response regarding hoisting the people off of roofs and everything was carried out by a multi-agency group out of the Saints football training facility that consisted of urban search-and-rescue responders from all over the United States, mixed helicopter fleets operating 24 hours a day.  I was out there talking to those folks yesterday, and I feel their performance is absolutely superb.

Sometimes, you don‘t get an absolute match of responders that are here versus the need that you have, but you always need people doing things to support the effort.  And they‘re doing the best they can here.

COSBY:  All right.  Well, Vice Admiral Thad Allen, thank you so much for being with us, sir.  We appreciate it.  I know how busy you are.  Thank you so much.

And joining us now is Marlon DeFillo.  He‘s the captain with the New Orleans Police Department, the right-hand guy to the chief.  First of all, I got to ask you about communications because he‘s talking about all these different agencies.  (INAUDIBLE) I saw a lot of the officers, you know, directing traffic.  You know, these are guys with submachine guns, and they‘re directing traffic.

CAPT. MARLON DEFILLO, NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT:  As the days progress, we‘re starting to have—we have a unified command now, where we‘re giving instructions to these multiple agencies that are currently in New Orleans, much of the work in terms of looking for potential volatile (ph) suspects.  We think we got a handle on that situation.

COSBY:  You do?

DEFILLO:  Yes, we do.  Yes.

COSBY:  There‘s still some lone wolves out there?

DEFILLO:  A few pockets of problems, but we think overall, we‘ve got the handle on the situation.  Our main concern now is to continue the rescue operation of those folks who remained trapped in their homes for the past eight to nine days.  And that‘s our priority.  The next part of our priority, of course, is to begin the recovery process of looking for bodies, making sure that we get these bodies out of the water and identify them.

COSBY:  You talked about getting these folks out, these hold-outs—

I‘ve talked to a lot of them.  They are determined.  A lot of them don‘t want to leave, it doesn‘t sound like, no matter what you say, no matter how you to try to talk them out.  What are you going to do now that the mayor is saying force them out?

DEFILLO:  Well, you know, New Orleanians are very smart, and you guys have to give them a lot of credit.  These are good, great people.  They want to protect their homes.  They want to take their pets with them.  But I believe once we go out and we explain to them that there are no other options, that it is unsafe, it is unhealthy to be in the city at this time, there is no water, no electricity, we have bodies floating in the water—and we can give you provisions for the next couple of days.  However, there is no guarantee we can come back next week to help you.  So it is imperative that you leave the city.  And once we tell them these types of situations and take their options away, we feel very confident that we can get these folks to leave their home.

COSBY:  Are you ruling out arresting someone if they get violent or if they say, No way, I‘m not leaving?

DEFILLO:  Well, we‘re going to cross that bridge when we get to it. 

We recognize that...

COSBY:  It‘s an option, though.

DEFILLO:  It‘s an option.  It‘s an option.

COSBY:  Does that scare you, as an officer, or bother you?  I‘ll tell you, some of the cops I‘ve talked to today said the last thing they want to do, particularly—these are old people.  They‘re not necessarily going to be the violent ones.  Say some old, you know, person, 80 years old—I‘m not going to leave.  The last thing a cop wants to do is have that picture...

DEFILLO:  You don‘t want to do that...

COSBY:  ... of her being carted off in cuffs.

DEFILLO:  Exactly.  And you don‘t want to do that.  We‘re going to appeal to their common sense.  And hopefully, by talking about what the dangers are, that we can convince them to leave.

COSBY:  What about communicating with your officers, finally?

DEFILLO:  Finally, we have some communication up and running.  We‘re getting more—we‘re locating more and more police officers as the days progress.  Many of the officers became displaced throughout the city.  They were trapped themselves.  So we‘re starting to bring the officers together to have a more organized police department.

COSBY:  All right.  Thank you very much, Marlon DeFillo.

DEFILLO:  My pleasure.

COSBY:  We appreciate it.

DEFILLO:  Thank you.

COSBY:  (INAUDIBLE) I have to tell you, I was out with your guys today.  They are doing really hard work.

DEFILLO:  Well, thank you very much.

COSBY:  And they‘re working so hard.

DEFILLO:  They‘re working hard.  They‘re working very hard.

COSBY:  I‘m going to showcase a couple of them tomorrow.

DEFILLO:  Thank you.  Thank you.

COSBY:  Thank you very much, Marlon.

And of course, as we heard from our earlier guest, James Bernazzani—he was talking about contamination.  A lot of issues happening in the city beefing (ph) up the death toll, beefing up bacteria.  Already, there are a few deaths.  And joining me now to talk about, unfortunately, some of the bad news, what‘s happening as time goes by, David Shuster.

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Rita, officials are now saying that the bacteria levels are 10 times what they should be and that under any circumstance, the water is dangerous, whether it splashes on you, whether it gets on an open wound.  They‘re noticing a lot of problems now with people who were swimming in the water who have got out last week.  And so experts are saying if—people should avoid the water at all costs.

We spoke earlier today with an epidemiologist from LSU, and here‘s what he told reporters earlier today.


DR. RAOULT RATARD, LOUISIANA STATE EPIDEMIOLOGIST:  That water is not safe to drink.  It‘s not a good idea to go and wade in the water for hours.  But the water is not also the toxic gumbo and the thing that‘s going to kill people.


SHUSTER:  Rita, one of the challenges that people have is for those people who are trying to survive or trying to stay out there, I mean, they‘ve been told to boil the water, if they can, but a lot of these people don‘t have any means of doing so.  And for anybody who‘s out there who—you know, these thousands of people who still want to stay in their homes, it‘s a particular problem for them because as they start to run out of the water that they may have stockpiled, if they see the water in front of their house and maybe in their particular front yard, it looks clear and they try drink it or bathe in it—I mean, we‘ve already seen horrible pictures of people bathing in the water.  And it‘s just—that‘s just a recipe for disaster.

COSBY:  You know what‘s stunning to me, too, is that a lot of people still have not necessarily gotten the word out.  I mean, here there‘s been a lot of, you know, education.  There‘s been TV sets.  But these folks don‘t have communication.

SHUSTER:  Right.

COSBY:  In, fact, a lot of people I talked to were saying, Oh, yes, they say it‘s bad.  But are you getting a sense that a lot of people still don‘t believe that it could be as severe?

SHUSTER:  And in fact, it‘s only when those people are told of the dangers, the toxicity of the water, the fact that it‘s a now a biohazard—when the police officers go on the front porch and say, Just because of that reason alone, you got to leave, a lot of people now are saying, OK, if that‘s the reason, I‘m leaving.  So be it.  I‘ll get out of here.

COSBY:  And hopefully, they will take that advice.

SHUSTER:  That‘s right.

COSBY:  David, thank you very much.

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Rita.

COSBY:  We appreciate it.

And still ahead, everybody, a lot more.  We‘re going to have a close-up look at what is left of the Crescent City.  I got a firsthand look, and it was shocking.  I went by boat to show you the damage and the scene that was extraordinarily grim, and the devastation was overwhelming, to say the least.

Plus, more amazing video as Katrina came ashore.  This is how Biloxi looked at landfall.  We‘ll take you there live, where the devastation is everywhere.

Also, rescuers are working to get people out of danger, but believe it or not, some people will not leave.  These people are actually living on a bridge.  I talked with them.  These are some of the folks that the cops are going to have to talk to, to get them off the bridge.  Stick with us.  A lot more on LIVE AND DIRECT coming up next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The (INAUDIBLE) was up here, and they say we‘re living better than they were living in the shelters.  (INAUDIBLE) diseases they would catch.  So we‘re living more better on the bridge.


COSBY:  So many people have been asking us about what happens to the pets during Hurricane Katrina.  Well, some of them are being rescued.  Some are staying at a few makeshift kennels.  In fact, we saw a couple of those by a boat that (INAUDIBLE) here.  But we also saw a lot of dogs in neighborhoods, looking for their owners.  It was pretty sad when we did a boat tour.

In fact, we saw a lot of things on an eye-opening boat tour that we took with some of the fine men and women of the USS Tortuga, which is a major Navy ship located not too far from here.  They took us on a firsthand tour of some of the very, very sad scenes of New Orleans, really, the very heavily flooded areas.  And I want to show you one experience that I had with them when a took a boat tour.  It was a Zodiac boat.  What we saw was a really dismal sight.


(voice-over):  My journey on this Zodiac craft took us to one of the poorest and now most devastated areas of New Orleans, the 9th ward.  This was a main road.  Now you can barely see the street signs or tops of cars.  Incredibly, here the water has receded several feet, but the smell is unbearable.  And the sight of so many homes and businesses destroyed was painful to see firsthand.

This was someone‘s house.  Before the hurricane, it was actually located across the street, but the wall of water forced it to come here, and eventually, it slammed into this telephone pole.  More distressing than seeing the remnants of homes was seeing several bodies floating by us in this now virtual ghost town.

Chief Tom Henderson of the USS Tortuga patrols this area about 14 hours a day, hoping to find someone.

(on camera):  When you see what you‘re seeing, like, today, do you think there‘s going to be few people left alive?

CHIEF TOM HENDERSON, USS TORTUGA:  In this, yes.  Yes, I do.  It‘s harder.  There‘s (INAUDIBLE)  Water came over these houses, these single-story houses.  When they go through these houses after the water recedes all the way, we‘re going to probably find families, people that were trapped and could not get through the roof, like you‘ve seen on TV.  They just didn‘t have the tools, didn‘t have the capability.  And you‘re going to find, I believe—in my opinion, you‘re going to find families up here and...

COSBY:  That died together.

HENDERSON:  That died together.  And it‘s pretty grim.  I don‘t know who‘s going to be doing that, but I know it‘s going to be done.  And I think the death toll will go up once the water starts declining.

SHUSTER:  How hard is it for to you work out here?  I mean, it smells horrific.  We floated by some dead bodies.  It was tough to see.

HENDERSON:  It‘s very rewarding when we take people out like that.  So when we sleep at night, we think about the people we did take out, and it makes a big difference.

COSBY:  Is it hard to be out here when you see the other stuff?

HENDERSON:  Yes.  You start to think about it now.  Yes, it is.  It‘s

you just wonder why or how or—and there‘s nothing you can do about it, but you just wonder why they didn‘t leave, I guess, why they couldn‘t catch a bus, why they couldn‘t get another car ride or why they couldn‘t get out of town.  It‘s a major category—just kind of wish you can go back two days beforehand and—you know, people know how bad it‘s going to be and then get them out of here.  So it‘s—it‘s pretty grim.  It‘s not what I like to see.  I wish everyone would have left, and then we wouldn‘t have to see all these people around here.  And so I am looking forward to -

I hope we‘re going to find some more live people.

COSBY:  I hope so, too.


And our thanks to the men and women on the Tortuga.  They‘re doing an amazing job out there, seeing some tough things.  Incidentally, the day before, Chief Henderson told me that they were able to rescue I think it was about 40 people from one particular area.  So some good news also coming out of there.

And also some good news by a lot of these churches who are doing a lot of good in different communities.  I want to bring in Ed Young.  He heads up the Second Baptist Church in Houston, an area where, of course, a lot of the refugees, a lot of those evacuees went to, of course, to the Astrodome, so many thousands upon thousands of families looking for hope.  And he‘s joined with two of his helpers, Andrew and Lorraine (ph) Ward.

Let me start with you, if I could, Pastor Young.  Tell us about some of the things you‘re doing to help some of those folks who have lost so much.

PASTOR ED YOUNG, SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH OF HOUSTON:  Well, Rita, the amazing thing about this, so many of the people who are survivors, our neighbors—and we remember here in Houston, if the hurricane had moved about two degrees, we would have been the victims.  And so now we‘ve taken these survivors, and we‘re loving them.  And they have come with great optimism.  They see this as a moment of new life for them, a fresh beginning.

And so all the religious entities in Houston have come together.  We are feeding, we‘re caring, we‘re loving, we‘re trying to do everything we can.  For example, they show how the ecumenical spirit is here.  I‘m on a feeding team.  The Baptists, the Muslims and the Roman Catholics are a part of one team.  And we have every religion, every denomination.  Everybody you can name have come together in absolutely a phenomenal way to make a difference in these lives.  And we‘re excited about the future here in Houston, about these neighbors who many of them will be a part of our city.

COSBY:  Oh, that‘s wonderful.  Andrew and Lorraine Ward—let me start with you first, Lorraine.  What are you doing to help?  And how do you get these people to sort of cope and move forward after they‘ve lost so much?

LORRAINE WARD, OPERATION COMPASSION:  I know.  It‘s been very difficult.  I was there yesterday helping, just cleaning tables and serving food and just cleaning the floor.  And by looking at their faces, it was amazing.  They were grateful.  And just the smiles on the kids‘ faces is something overwhelming.  They‘re really, really grateful.

COSBY:  Andrew, what are your reflections?  You know, I was over there.  I saw the Astrodome.  And it is stunning to see, you know, more than 20,000 people packed in a room, and people who literally left with the shirt on their backs.  What do you say to them?

ANDREW WARD, OPERATION COMPASSION:  Really, I—to be honest with you, Rita, I‘ve been running the logistics at the George R. Brown, which is another facility where we have several thousand.  And the interaction has been limited for me.  The logistics has been crazy.  After 12 hours...

COSBY:  Tell me about the logistics, then.  Tell me about the logistics then.

ANDREW WARD:  It‘s unbelievable.  In fact, just before we left here, literally about 45 minutes ago, I‘m on the way out the door, and we had a situation where we have a group of 150 that were identified today by the mayor‘s office that were in a hotel.  They were sick.  They had no food or anything.  We sent an assessment team out to figure out if we were going to extract them or mobilize a team to go out.  They—we found out they were coming in right before I left.  And so we found out some of them had a little bit of, you know, sickness.  And so we were setting up an isolation area for them for them, for them to (INAUDIBLE) different place.  So that was one—one of the emergency-type deals.

COSBY:  All right.  Well, all of you, thank you very much, and keep up the terrific work you‘re doing.  And I think we also have a number.  There it is underneath you.  Everybody, if you want any information, you want to help out with these terrific folks—I think all of you are really inspiring—the number there is 1-800-946-9255.  Again, 1-800-946-9255.  Keep up the great work.

And someone else who is doing something very incredible within her own family—and her family is a big family—is Seyburn Rocker.  She joins us now, and also with her brother, who is also involved, Albert French.  Albert, you moved in with Seyburn—and Seyburn, bless your heart, this is amazing—what, you have 19 family members joining you?  Is that right?



COSBY:  Twenty-two?  Wait a minute, 22?  Who are the other three?

FRENCH:  Well, we have a brother.  He left to go check on some things in Baton Rouge.  And it‘s him, his wife and his son.  So they‘re on their way back pretty soon.  So he‘s still on our count.

COSBY:  Wow.  That‘s a lot.  Now, Seyburn, tell me what it‘s like in your house, especially at breakfast and in the morning, when everyone is rushing to take showers.


ROCKER:  You really don‘t want to know.  It‘s total chaos.  But we‘re handling it very well.

COSBY:  Yes.  How are you organizing things?  Are you—you must be a great organizer.

ROCKER:  No, ma‘am.  I would not go that far at all.  It‘s just that we have to—you‘re drawing numbers here.  I mean, everyone who ever goes in, they get in, get out, and next person in line, get in and get out.


COSBY:  But now, you know, it‘s got to be crammed quarters, Seyburn.  I understand, what, you‘ve got only four bedrooms in your house, and you‘ve got,  what, 22 people?

ROCKER:  Yes, ma‘am.

COSBY:  Is there any room to breathe?  There must be a lot of love in that family.

ROCKER:  There is.  We all—somebody goes out in the garage every now and then and take a breather, come back in.

COSBY:  Now, Albert, let‘s talk about you because, first of all, you obviously left behind some rough places.  Tell us what your home looked like.  And where exactly was your home located?

FRENCH:  Well, my home was located in the 7th ward.  I honestly can‘t tell you how bad the damage was because we weren‘t able to get to the house and see it.  But speaking to a few people from that neighborhood and seeing on the news some surrounding neighborhoods that were real close, I doubt if there was anything much to salvage.  So...

COSBY:  And I hate to tell you the bad news.  I actually drove by the 7th ward today, Albert, and there‘s a lot of damage, unfortunately, there.  I‘m sad to tell you that.  Are you prepared to come back?


COSBY:  To not much, unfortunately.

FRENCH:  Well, I look at it this way.  I left a lot, but the journey that we took from the time we left New Orleans to get here, the way we were blessed, people—I mean, average people off the streets just pulled together.  You know, they saw Louisiana tags.  The two cars we were in, they weren‘t supposed to make it outside of Louisiana.  But we got together as a family and prayed, and we made it here with God as our co-pilot, you know?  So I‘m not regretting it.

COSBY:  I understand you—and I understand you went on a job interview today, so there‘s a lot of good news.  How‘d it go?

FRENCH:  Yes.  It actually went pretty well.  It went—I 99 percent have this job.  I‘m just waiting on a phone call in the morning or so, and everything is going to go from there.  So it‘s pretty much a done deal.

COSBY:  That‘s great.  Now, Seyburn, I don‘t know if you‘ve heard the news, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news.  Apparently, there is another storm brewing out there.  I think it‘s a tropical storm right now, Ophelia.  And there‘s word that she may be heading towards Jacksonville.  In fact, we‘re looking at a weather loop here, maybe heading to Jacksonville, Florida, where you are.  Are you ready for some more bad weather, hopefully, not to the degree what the other guys experienced in your family?

ROCKER:  Well, yes.  I don‘t—I think Jacksonville is a little more higher level than—you know, New Orleans is—New Orleans was low...

FRENCH:  Below sea level.

ROCKER:  Below sea level.

FRENCH:  A lot below sea level.

ROCKER:  Jacksonville is a little above the sea level, so I think we‘ll be pretty good.  I think we‘ll be all right.  I mean, my dad...


COSBY:  Yes, and I was going to say I think you guys are going to do better than all right.  I think with that love in that family and that support and that great attitude, you guys are going to do awesome.

FRENCH:  Oh, yes, ma‘am.

COSBY:  And I thank you both for being here, and keep us posted on how everybody is doing.  And 22 people—maybe we‘ll come visit you, maybe make it 23.  I‘ll come visit you.


ROCKER:  You‘re welcome to come.  Anybody‘s welcome to come.  Yes, ma‘am.

FRENCH:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Thank you, guys.  I had a feeling you‘d offer me that.  Thanks so much.


COSBY:  (INAUDIBLE) places to stay, I may take her up on it.

And everybody, stay tune because some people who don‘t have homes—some amazing stories.  We interviewed these guys.  They are on a bridge.  They are there because they want to be on there.  They don‘t want to leave.  You‘re going to find out how they got there, and you‘re going to find out why these people stick around when they‘ve lost so much, why they want to stay in town.  Plus, we‘re also going to talk to a man that we spoke to in the thick of it, in the thick of Hurricane Katrina.  He is in a hospital.  It‘s called Charity Hospital.  He is finally out, and we‘re going to get his perspective on what he saw.  Plus, neighbors from the north coming in.  The NYPD is here.  What are they doing?  We caught up with them today.  They‘re going to tell us what they‘re experiencing and what they plan to do in New Orleans.



CHIEF JAMES HALL, NYPD:  The New York City Police Department has a long history of helping other departments and other cities when they‘re in need.  We received that same help during 9/11.  And it should be noted that the New York City Police Department, after this disaster, we automatically had 2,000 officers that came forward from the get-go to volunteer and get down here. 


COSBY:  And the New York Police Department came to town today here in New Orleans in a show of force.  We caught with them.  Three-hundred New York cops arrived.  They‘re going to be assigned to the downtown area of New Orleans, including the French Quarter.  They tell us they‘re going to patrol by car and also by foot. 

And the group of 300 really includes some of the best-trained officers from New York and also some medics, which are desperately needed here, as well.  They told us they were glad to be here and say that they want to do all they can, because they know how it is during disasters.  They want to do all they can to help the people here in New Orleans. 

Of course, one of the biggest jobs for a lot of the officers here is getting those people who are just adamant to stay put in the house or in an area nearby, they‘ve got to get them out of town, especially now that the mayor says some of those people are going to be forced out if they don‘t leave.

Well, officers are saying that they need to get everybody out, including these people on this bridge.  We caught up with 20 people who are on this bridge.  It‘s the only area of the highway that‘s elevated.  The rest of it‘s actually underwater. 

Hear how these people got there.  You‘ve got to hear their amazing stories.  Take a listen at what two of them had to tell me. 


COSBY:  How long have you been living on this bridge? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  At least eight days. 

COSBY:  Eight days? 


COSBY:  How long have you been here? 


COSBY:  Eight days, as well?


COSBY:  How did you get here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  An 18-wheeler. 

COSBY:  An 18-wheeler truck? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We came in the night the storm hit. 

COSBY:  Where‘d you come up, from down this direction? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We came up from down this direction. 

COSBY:  Through the water? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Through the water, before the water even came.  We were up here before the water even—when the water first started tipping over the levee walls, his brother called us out of his truck.  He was already up here in another Ford pickup.  And he told us the water was coming over the levee walls, and we got out.  We got up on the bridge. 

COSBY:  What did it feel like to be in the middle of the hurricane? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Actually, it was terrifying to me.  I had to hang up in the tree for three days. 

COSBY:  You were in a tree for three days?


COSBY:  Were you able to eat anything, do anything?



COSBY:  Is that how you hurt your arm?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s how I hurt my arm, hugging onto the tree.

COSBY:  Where is your house now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right behind me, behind the barge. 

COSBY:  Can you show us? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right why the clearing is at. 

COSBY:  Right to the left of that red barge? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right, to the left of it. 

COSBY:  So your house is totally under water.  It‘s gone? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s totally gone.  It‘s not under water.  It‘s gone.  It got tore up.

COSBY:  Why are you guys still here on the bridge?  Why are you still here and not in the shelter? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The shelters are twilight zone.  The Air Force was up in here saying we‘re living better than they were living in the shelters.  You all escaped the (INAUDIBLE) we don‘t know what kind of diseases they will catch.  We said we‘re living more better on the bridge. 

COSBY:  How are you surviving? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, they‘re dropping us food from the helicopters, food and water from the helicopters. 

COSBY:  How are you taking showers?  Are you getting any rest? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re getting rest.  We‘re sleeping comfortable at night.  The water they‘re dropping us, we‘re heating it up by sunlight, and then we‘re taking hot showers at night. 

COSBY:  How are you taking showers?  With what? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  With the water that they‘re dropping from the helicopters. 

COSBY:  With the bottled water?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  With the bottled water.  Three bottles per person to take a shower with. 

COSBY:  Are you worried that both of you might die here on this bridge? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  We‘re not worried about that.  If the storm couldn‘t kill me, I‘m not worried about... 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Everything in the hands of the Lord right now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The man upstairs, he has our back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s taking care of us. 

COSBY:  What‘s going to happen when the food runs out, and they stop dropping food and water to you guys?  At some point, they can‘t keep doing it everyday. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s going to make a way.  He‘s going to make a way.  He‘s been making a way ever since, since we‘ve been here.  He‘s not going to turn his back us on now. 

COSBY:  So you think you‘re going to find a way out?


COSBY:  Will you stay here until the bitter end?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘ll stay here until the bitter end. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, yes.  We‘re not going anywhere. 


COSBY:  And we understand that they are still there to this day.  It‘s a wonder how that‘s happened.  And a lot of the officers, we‘re told, are planning to go to talk to them at some point tomorrow.  We‘ll keep you posted if those guys stay on the bridge along with the others. 

There are, of course, a lot of people who did get out, a lot of people who desperately wanted to even get out even sooner, including John, who‘s an administrator at Charity Hospital, which is one of the major hospitals here in New Orleans.  And he joins us now live from Baton Rouge. 

And, John, before we get started with you, you and I talked so much really in the thick of it during Hurricane Katrina and also right afterwards, when there was just massive flooding and, obviously, you know, the initial sights of devastation, all the winds whipping, the high rains.  I want to play a little bit of some of the interview that you and I did in the thick of it all.  Let‘s take a listen.


JOHN, STRANDED IN HOSPITAL:  We have patients in this hospital.  Everybody is doing everything they can.  And it‘s a very bad situation, you know?  We have absolutely no power, no generator, no nothing. 

This is a very bad situation.  And these people need to be evacuated. 

But it seems like we‘ve been forgotten about here. 

The situation here is bad.  I mean, it is—this is something where, you know, a lot of illnesses are going to be borne from the—gosh, you know, I‘m going to be—I can‘t describe it.  I‘m sorry. 

They don‘t tell about the four bodies that are being kept outside the building, so that—you know, on the landing, so that they don‘t stink up the hospital.  They don‘t tell you stuff like the morgue is underwater.  You know, this place is not safe for anybody anymore.  And I don‘t know why we haven‘t been taken out of here yet. 


COSBY:  You know, John, when I hear it, I remember when you and I were doing those interviews in the thick of it all.  How did you finally get out?  And by the way, I‘m so glad to see you safe and sound. 

JOHN:  Well, we got out Friday.  You know, they air-boated us out to Loyola Avenue, which is only a couple blocks away.  And from there, we took buses to Baton Rouge. 

And we ended up at Temple Baptist Church.  And yesterday, some very nice people, Ed and Phyllis Hood (ph), took me into their house.  So that‘s where I am today. 

COSBY:  So you‘re staying at someone‘s house?  Is it someone you know? 

JOHN:  No, I just met them yesterday.  They just took me in.  They adopted me, I guess. 

COSBY:  Oh no, that‘s great.  What about your own home? 

JOHN:  Well, there‘s nothing to go back there. 

COSBY:  Where exactly was your home in New Orleans, in what part of the city? 

JOHN:  It was uptown, right off of Claiborne about one block.  It has some water in it.  Maybe in a couple of months, I‘ll be able to go back. 

COSBY:  Now, John, you know, as I hear all of these things, I remember when you and I were talking—and it gets me so angry, I will tell you, when I hear it now.  It was like you guys were forgotten about.  Here you were on the news, here you were, you know, an international network, and you were on our show every night, saying, “Please come help us.  People are dying here.”  And it took so many days. 

As you look back, how do you feel about the federal response? 

JOHN:  Well, you know, it‘s like what‘s going on in the news now.  I‘ll leave that to the experts, but I would really like to thank you and the folks at MSNBC for covering us, because, otherwise, I don‘t know what would have happened. 

Also like to thank my...

COSBY:  Well, I‘m glad we did.  And I‘m also—go ahead?

JOHN:  My sister, Paula, she really helped me out, too. 

COSBY:  Yes, and I remember we did an interview with the two of you guys together when she found out you were at least alive in the hospital.  And that was a great moment for me, too, to be able to share that. 

And, John, we‘d love to have you back on again, too.  And I‘m glad a family adopted you.  You‘re adopted in our family.  And I‘m glad we could do whatever we could to help.  Thank you so much.

JOHN:  Thank you very much. 

COSBY:  Thank you very much. 

Nice to see a good news story and see that he got out safe and sound. 

Well, a lot of people also got out of Biloxi, Mississippi, where there was a lot of damage there, as well.  And people, of course, same thing as you just heard from John, he has basically nothing to go back to.  A lot of folks there don‘t have anything to go back to. 

In fact, we‘re looking at some new home video that came in not too long ago.  Just incredible scenes of what it was like at the height of it all during Hurricane Katrina, dramatic pictures coming out of Biloxi. 

And that‘s where our Ron Blome is standing by live for the very latest.  Ron, what is it like there tonight? 

RON BLOME, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Oh, it is getting better, but it‘s still a very desperate situation in some instances, especially for those people who are still out of their houses. 

As we look at this footage, remember, this was a week ago Monday.  And this footage, as you say, was shot by Vincent Creel, who‘s with the city of Biloxi.  He‘s the spokesman for the city.  He had a small digital camera. 

He was on the second floor of city hall, a building just back over here.  And it was this street over here where you‘re seeing all the debris wash up and down. 

Let me tell you something about what all that debris and that water did to this city.  They‘re now saying that 20 percent of the homes here and business buildings were destroyed by it, and it could go even higher.  That‘s 5,000 to 25,000.  There could be another 1,000 or 2,000 that have to be bulldozed, as well, because of the damage that took place inside. 

One thing that is happening here is the Navy Construction Battalion, the Sea Bees, every Sea Bee on the continental United States has poured into the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  They‘re going to be surveying governmental buildings.  They‘ve already been into the public schools, and they‘re trying to get those public schools done.

Again, these shots, just right here around the corner—and this street level here is probably about 10 feet above sea level, so you‘re seeing five more feet on that.  And what we were told today is that there was one big 10-foot kind of rogue wave that came across the top.  And that reached up and helped smash the third story of the casinos that were built right on the water. 

Post offices are a problem here.  Eleven of them were destroyed or put out of commission.  Two sorting stations, as well.  People are dependent on that for their Social Security checks, so they‘re trying to work out a system where people can come to a couple of centers and collect the Social Security checks.  But, of course, the problem there is a lot of people don‘t have cars because that wave that came in destroyed all of that. 

And the grim task of resifting the wreckage continues.  Five more bodies found yesterday.  The total on the Mississippi Gulf Coast now 148, Rita. 

COSBY:  All right, Ron.  Thank you very much.  Ron Blome there in Mississippi. 

And we also want to thank the city of Biloxi, because they were able to give us those incredible pictures.  Just amazing that almost anyone survived, when you look at those ferocious winds.  That was a city official on his own home video camera shooting it.  Pretty incredible.

And coming up, we‘re going to talk about some more incredible things.  Those kids who were displaced, what are they doing in terms of going to school?  Well, some folks are coming into the rescue, chipping in, putting them in different school systems.  Find out the amazing steps that are being taken.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I would like to make new friends.  And I hope my teacher is very nice and they might be kind to me. 


COSBY:  Lots of kids trying to find a place to go.  And joining us now are two folks who know about all of this.  Paul Houston, he‘s the executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, and also, Rick Schneider joins us.  He‘s the superintendent of Pasadena Independent School District in Pasadena, Texas. 

Mr. Houston, let me start with you, because this has to be a massive task.  You‘ve got so many kids in so many schools to put them in.  How do you decide where they go? 


ADMINISTRATORS:  Well, there‘s a good news situation here, as far—in the midst of all the bad news you‘re having to report—and that is that so many people have stepped forward to take these kids in.  I‘ve been getting calls all week from superintendents all over the country volunteering to take the kids.

Communities are taking the families.  And what‘s happening is, as the families are being relocated, the school districts are taking them in, and making plans for them, and making space for them, and making them part of their school family, until there‘s such a time that those kids could go back home. 

And trying to make them welcome, and give the parents a sense of relief that somebody‘s taking care of their kids.  So the public school people all over this country and superintendents, I‘m so proud of them and what they‘ve done all over this country, in terms of stepping up to the plate and volunteering to help. 

COSBY:  And speaking of sticking up, you know, Rick Schneider, you really stepped up to the plate.  I understand your school district in Pasadena, Texas, what, you have about 300 students from a couple of different locations? 

That‘s a lot.  How are you managing it?  And who‘s picking up the tab? 


Rita, that‘s correct.  We have 374 students as of today.  Of course, our schools are very eager and enthusiastic to receive these students.  We know that they‘ve certainly been through a very catastrophic event.  So we are ready, willing, and able, and very excited about meeting a diversity of needs. 

When you speak about picking up the tabs, currently our school district will be picking up the bill for serving these students.  We are carefully documenting the costs associated with serving these students.  And then our distinct hope is, is that the state of Texas and FEMA will assist us in making us good, in terms of the expenditures that we‘ve made. 

COSBY:  And, Mr. Schneider, real quick, what is the cost of these 374? 

Is there any estimated costs how much it‘s going to be? 

SCHNEIDER:  Well, assuming that the students would stay with us for the entire school year, it would run about $6,000 per student per year.

COSBY:  Wow.  That‘s a lot. 

Mr. Houston, is there any talk of the federal government doing something?  Because, when districts like Mr. Schneider‘s are doing such wonderful things, is there something—real quick, if you could—that the federal government will do?  Is there some thing, a co-share type deal? 

HOUSTON:  Well, they‘re certainly looking into it.  I have people talking to the Senate tomorrow about that.  You‘ve got the homeless bill that‘s already in effect.  It could be more fully funded and provide relief to the school districts that are taking these kids in. 

And at some point, that‘s going to have to happen, because goodwill could only go so far.  And as Rick said, you know, the districts are going to be impacted financially.  And it‘s really hard for the local or the states to step in and do all of that. 

So I think they‘re looking for ultimate relief, but right now, they‘re just trying to take care of the kids.  And then we‘ll sort out the cost as we go along and try to work with the federal government to do something about this.

COSBY:  Well, I hope so.  I hope that everybody gets help.  And also, hats off to both of you for trying to help these kids and make sure that they continue their education. 

And, everybody, stick with us.  We‘re going to show you now some more incredible pictures from Hurricane Katrina.


COSBY:  Well, a lot of people during 9/11 lost so much.  And they can relate to what those who have suffered so much during Hurricane Katrina have endured. 

One of those folks is Howard Lutnick.  He‘s the CEO and chairman of Cantor Fitzgerald, a company that lost hundreds of employees during 9/11.  He joins us now live.

And Howard, of course, your brother was among those who perished sadly during all of this.  You know, I think it‘s so beautiful, Howard, that you‘re setting up a fund and now you want to help the folks here.  Why did you think that was so important to do? 

HOWARD LUTNICK, CANTOR FITZGERALD:  Well, right after 9/11, on September the 14th, we set up the Cantor Fitzgerald relief fund, because we knew we needed to take care of the families of those we lost, 658 families we lost. 

And we knew they needed our help, so we pledged 25 percent of our profits.  And to date, that‘s over $150 million that we‘ve given to these families.  And now it‘s time to give to others, as well, and to help those in Katrina, as well. 

COSBY:  I think, unfortunately, Howard, you can relate to what they‘re enduring.  You know, a lot of the people that I‘ve talked to, that I‘ve talked to firsthand, just look so shell-shocked, because I don‘t know how you understand and how you can comprehend. 

I think 9/11 is almost the only thing that‘s close to just the devastation and just the gut-wrenching feeling these people have.  Did you sort of feel that lump in your throat again this time? 

LUTNICK:  Well, you see what these people are going through.  And it just sends you back to that feeling of just incomprehension.  I mean, how could it be that a city like New Orleans is just completely under water, and all these people have lost their jobs, they‘ve lost their homes? 

It‘s almost, you know—it‘s just unthinkable.  And I think it just sends us back to that time when New York felt the same.  And that‘s why I think there‘s such a big connection around the country to helping the people from Katrina. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  Well, I commend you on what you‘re doing, and I want to put up the hotline number for everybody watching at home because, of course, if you want to help out these folks, who amazingly—and good folks like Howard have lost so much—now want to help others.  It‘s truly an inspiration.  The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, 212-829-4770.  And we‘ll have a lot more, right after the break.


COSBY:  And tomorrow night, be sure, everybody, to watch our show.  We‘re going to have the chief of the fire department in New Orleans.  And we‘re also going to give you a firsthand look at the USS Tortuga.  It is an amazing Navy ship, beautiful ship, brought into New Orleans all the way from Virginia.  These guys are on the front line of search-and-rescue, and we‘re going to show what they‘re doing.

But now, let‘s turn it over to Joe Scarborough, who‘s in Pensacola—


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  Hey, thanks a lot, Rita.



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