updated 9/9/2005 10:29:49 AM ET 2005-09-09T14:29:49

Guest: Charles Parent, Eve Ognibene, Doug Winslow, Joe Mammana, Elaine


RITA COSBY, HOST:  We're again here LIVE AND DIRECT from New Orleans.  In fact, one of the Army officials just told me that the waters seem to be receding about half an inch an hour, so that's a good sign.  But the bad sign is there's still much more devastation, a lot more to come.  But the situation has also gotten so bad that even people who vowed to not leave are now beginning to change their minds.  And today, you can see him there, Vice President Dick Cheney visited the city, becoming the highest-ranking administration official to see the devastating city firsthand on the ground.  And as you can see there, I caught up with him.  We spoke briefly when he surprised everyone at the command center.





CHENEY:  ... more than anything else (INAUDIBLE) as well as here in Louisiana, New Orleans.  There's a very positive attitude out there, and they're doing a great job.

COSBY:  How tough is it to see just...


And I don't know if you could hear it, but basically, he was saying that he was happy with everybody on the ground and happy with the coordination that he was seeing with the different agencies—seemed to be in good spirits.

The vice president also toured the massive damage in Mississippi, and that's where we find MSNBC's Ron Blome.  He has the story from Biloxi, where he visited from there.  Ron, tell us about his visit.

RON BLOME, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, the vice president came here as part of this continuing trip to the Gulf Coast by administration officials.  You know, we had Condi Rice over here over the weekend.  We had the secretary of veterans affairs.  But of course, the president's been here twice.  All of this to kind of show the administration's flag.

The vice president in his visit to Gulfport met with FEMA and local OES (ph) officials.  He also toured a neighborhood.  He spoke to the press there, said he really wanted to give high praise to those people who were doing something right and getting it done.  And he was talking about the local officials, the 28 states that have fielded National Guard troops here, the communities from across America that have sent in relief workers and deputies.

The vice president also, in answering questions, said he was in favor of that Republican bipartisan suggestion to have a joint House-Senate investigation, the one the Democrats don't like.

But in addition to seeing the vice president, we also met another woman over in Gulfport who probably had just as important a role, a remarkable role.  We call her another one of our hurricane heroes.  Heather Wright weathered the storm in a two-story apartment building near the coast.  The waves were so high, they battered the plywood off the windows, broke through the glass.  She was terrified.  She had her children in life jackets.

When the storm cleared, she went a few blocks to the place she worked, Grace medical supply.  And around her, she saw something that really turned a light switch on.  She saw canisters of oxygen, and she knew, with the devastation on the coast, that there were people out there who would die without those supplies.  So she began getting to work to get those supplies out.  So listen to this.


HEATHER WRIGHT, GRACE HEALTH CARE:  We went around light poles.  We went over debris.  We had to walk sometimes, when we couldn't get up there.  We got them their oxygen.

BLOME:  Do you think you saved lives?

WRIGHT:  I know we did.  I know we did.

BLOME:  And even though you lost all of your possessions...

WRIGHT:  We're alive.


WRIGHT:  Yes.  We're alive, and that's all that matters.  That stuff can be replaced.  Everything in my house can be replaced, but my children and I can't.  And we made it.  And we saved lives, and those people couldn't have made it unless we made it out.


BLOME:  That—Heather Wright and the people at the Grace Health Care were still getting oxygen supplies out today, an amazing story that we found while we were waiting for the vice president.  Back to you, Rita.

COSBY:  Indeed, Ron.  Thank you very much.

And now, everybody, we want to just show you a quick shot.  We have two folks, to dogs, actually, who are coming up, and also the woman who's a veterinarian with one of the animal leagues, who is taking care of them.  These are two dogs, Jethro (ph) and Daisy (ph), who were rescued.  They were part of the flood waters, unfortunately, swept up in some of the flood waters in Mississippi, and they were rescued.  And we're going to talk to the veterinarian about them, how they're doing.  You can see they look pretty good, pretty happy.  But we're going to hear their story, their amazing rescue, in just a few minutes.

And of course, a lot of people continue to also get rescued, but there's still also a lot of people here in New Orleans who refuse to still leave their homes, and the military has to still go in and ask them to come out, ask them to please come out because time is running out, water's running out, food's running out.

And joining me how to talk about all of that and someone who went with the military today on some of the vehicles is our own David Shuster.  David, first of all, these military guys—scorching heat, boiling heat, they're heavy-equipped, but they're still trying to talk them out.

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, they're loaded to bear (ph).  I mean, that's the message.  They go knocking on these doors, and they say, Look, it's time for you guys to leave.  They also, of course, have their weaponry, just in case they find anybody who is erratic or crazy or whatnot, who points a gun.  It happened yesterday with one of the military guys.

But in any case, the unit that we went with, one of the biggest problems that they're finding is just sort of the chain of command.  For example, earlier today—again, these are guys that you would trust your life with.  They're trying so hard.  It is so tedious, though.  Some of them don't have the right equipment.  The vehicles that we went with today, they weren't amphibious vehicles, and yet they were trying to drive them into six, seven feet of water.

And then furthermore, there was a point at which the lieutenant colonel we were with said he wanted to try to get a convoy of military trucks to go with him.  But that was under another commander.  He couldn't find the commander.  So he finally just left.  Those are the kind of problems that they seem to be having with so many resources being thrown at it.  But certainly, they're trying hard.

COSBY:  What are they saying, David, in terms of—after the word gets out, after people don't want to surrender, what are they talking about?  The mayor of the city has said, We're going to force you out.  Have these military guys sort of gotten to the next stop what they're going to do?

SHUSTER:  No.  And in fact, it's not even clear to them what are the exact rules of engagement.  When do they actually forcibly have to pull people out of their homes?  In the meantime, they're simply trying to find people.  They believe that there are a lot of elderly, disabled people who are out there that they just haven't been able to reach yet.


THOMAS COLEMAN, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT:  The rescue people just, you know, coming by and asked if we wanted to leave.  And we refused to leave.  They've given us food, and we have water.  We had a lot of water, we just (INAUDIBLE) needing food, you know (INAUDIBLE)  And plus,  We had canned goods (INAUDIBLE) canned goods.


SHUSTER:  Now, that's a very interesting story right there.  That's Thomas Coleman, Rita.  He spent 11 days deciding that, you know, he was going—he was going to ride this out.  He had water.  He had supplies.  And then he finally—he'd been listening to the radio.  He finally heard about the evacuation order.  He went out of his house, saw that the water wasn't lowering that much.  He finally just walked up to the highway and flagged us down.  We were in this convoy and stopped.  And as you can see, he got medical treatment.  They checked him out.  They take him to the convention center, where he's processed.  But he said, I have no money.  I have no job.  I don't know where I'm going to go next.

COSBY:  Real quickly, any idea how many people are still holding out? 

Is there an estimation?

SHUSTER:  They believe that there are at least a couple thousand that are out there.

COSBY:  Couple thousand still.

SHUSTER:  Right.

COSBY:  All right, David.  Thank you very much.

Of course, not only are they knocking on doors, they're also keeping an eye on fires.  And there's a lot of fires that have been taking place in this city.  They continue to rage.  In fact, yesterday alone, there was a major fire that took place just about 10 blocks from here.  It was raging out of control.  We saw the helicopters coming down and dropping the water on it.  But that is certainly keeping firefighters very busy in this city.

And no one knows that better than Chief Charles Parent.  He is chief of the New Orleans Fire Department.  Good to see you, Chief.  First of all...

CHARLES PARENT, NEW ORLEANS FIRE CHIEF:  Nice to see you here, Rita.

COSBY:  ... nice to see you smiling, too, after I'm sure what's been very, very difficult, very crazy.  First of all, today—how many fires today?

PARENT:  Today was actually a quiet day.  We had just two working fires.  We made several rolls, but only two major working fires.  And it was just one house involved.

COSBY:  Oh, that's good.  And how many yesterday?

PARENT:  Yesterday, we had 15 fires.  Six of them we couldn't gain the access to.  We fought them strictly by helicopter drops.  And we had a major fire at Dillard University, where we lost three multi-story buildings.  But the helicopters were able to contain it to those three buildings.

COSBY:  And in fact, we're hearing some fire engines in the background.  I'm not sure what that is, if that's something major or not.  Seems like we hear them all the time in this city.

PARENT:  Well, we knew this would happen.  We have a lot of gas leaks.  We have a lot of people without electricity using candles for light and cooking in their house.  And it's just a terrible recipe for fires.  The guys are truly exhausted, but every day, they go out.  And we've made some of the biggest fires in the city in the last week, you know?  It's been more big fires in the last week than in the last three years.

COSBY:  Well, and I can tell you, that's impressive because I've been out here—scorching heat.  I mean, just...

PARENT:  Right.

COSBY:  ... enormous temperatures.  You got this heavy gear on...


COSBY:  ... and you're still fighting fires.  I can't imagine just what they're dealing with physically.

PARENT:  Well, the guys are pretty much exhausted.  We started rotating the guys out because they took a serious beating during the hurricane, and they started operating again right after the hurricane.  Then we started making fires right after that.

But we're lucky enough, we have firefighter brothers coming in from all across the country.  We have guys from New York, from Illinois, from Maryland, and they're giving us a hand right now.  And they're manning our pumps with our people and they're responding.  And it's really a terrific feeling.  If you go over to our compound, we have close to 800 guys over there.  They're getting along.  There's no organist (ph).  They're tight.  They're hot.  But everybody's got a good attitude.  And it's something to see.

COSBY:  Have you seen the reduction that—like the police department saw, 500 people missing, the New York—the New Orleans Police Department, rather.  how about in your department?

PARENT:  No, we didn't have anybody missing, but right after the storm, we realized that this is a psychological trauma to our guys.  So we started trying to rotate them out as quickly as possible.  You have to consider 80 percent of our guys lost their homes.

COSBY:  Eighty percent?

PARENT:  At least 80 percent.

COSBY:  What about your own home?

PARENT:  Well, I lost my home, but two days ago, I was able to go back and get my daughter's dog, so I'm happy.  My family's out of town.  I have my dog.  I can get another house.  But these guys, they lost their house.  Their families are displaced.  And we're constantly getting stories where their families are being put out of hotels because they ran out of money.  They only took what they had available at the time, and now they're being put out.

You know, these guys went above and beyond.  They've done things that no firefighter or no one has ever done before, and now they have to worry about their families looking for a place to stay.  It's hard for them to concentrate on their work and keep their emotions intact.

COSBY:  I can tell you, the guys that I've met out there have been so

pleasant and so professional.  Really quick, I was astounded at this.  I

just learned this right before you got out here—that the water pressure

·         you actually didn't have water pressure up until a few days ago?

PARENT:  Until two days ago.

COSBY:  What kind of water were you using to fight the fires we've seen, like, a week-and-a-half before that?

PARENT:  We used just about everything.  We fought a fire down the street on Canal Street, and we grabbed it right off the street because we were in a foot of water...

COSBY:  You physically used the water right out in the street?

PARENT:  Yes.  We ordered tank trucks, and we got tank trucks to come in.  We used the fireboats to supply our fire engine, and he tanked it to the fire and we used that.  We've come up with some creative methods.  I don't think you'll ever see helicopter drops in an urban environment like this again.  We came up with this plan.  We have communications with the National Guard and the fire copters from California, and it's really been a great help to us.

COSBY:  Well, you've been doing a heck of a great job.  It's so great to see you, sir.  Thank you so much.

PARENT:  All right.  Thank you, Rita.

COSBY:  Keep up the good work, too.

PARENT:  We will.

COSBY:  Thank you very much.

PARENT:  Bye-bye.

COSBY:  Chief Charles Parent with the New Orleans Fire Department, obviously, a very busy job.  And I can tell you that firsthand.  I've seen fires going on and off, trucks going everywhere, and these guys are working hard.

Still ahead, we're going to have an interview with Homeland Security's top dog who's overseeing the entire operation here, Lieutenant General Honore.  Plus, as the rescues continue, I will take you inside the makeshift command center where the leaders are working to help the people who are still trapped.  The conditions they're working under are incredible.  You will not imagine what where they're working out of.  It really is incredible.  And there are other rescues going on.  Thousands of pets—dogs and cats—are being rescued to safety.  But what do you do with all of them?  There are two adorable ones.  They're in our studio.  You can see them there live.  They're going to join us, and also the veterinarian who can tell us about all the pets that are being saved.

And we're also watching Hurricane Ophelia.  As you can hear, some more tanks going behind me, rumbling here.  It's the last thing that anyone needs, and it is sitting off the coast of Florida.  We're monitoring it very closely.  If it moves towards land, we'll let you know.  We'll keep you posted.  A lot more on LIVE AND DIRECT as we continue here live from New Orleans.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Using your eyes outside, the camera, as well, I'm cross-referencing between the two, trying to give you an idea of what these rescue workers are going through as far as trying to scan through these areas for people that are—that still need help.


COSBY:  And amazing when you still see it from the sky, and there's still a lot of water left.  I can tell you, I saw a lot of it firsthand today.

Well, two men who are in charge of this operation and really have an extremely difficult job during extremely difficult times are the chief of police here in New Orleans and also the FBI special agent in charge of the New Orleans field office.  Both of them have a tough job to begin with, but it's become even more difficult because both of their headquarters were wiped out.  Today, I toured the new sort of makeshift command center for the New Orleans Police Department, and what I saw is incredible.  I got to tour the place with both of these fine men.  Take a look.


This is your main operating base, right?

ED COMPASS, NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPERINTENDENT:  Well, this is police headquarters.  Right there is our Army intelligence counterparts.  They're basically liaison with us from this area right over here.  Any time we need anything from the Army, we bring them over here, and they're right next to us.  That really makes it very convenient.

COSBY:  And what are you operating?  This is a hotel, right?

COMPASS:  Well, this is a casino.  You know, when we came and we first started, (INAUDIBLE) as a perfect place.  They had generators (INAUDIBLE) provided some light when all light in the city went out.  Plus, it's very easily accessible because the areas around it didn't flood, so we were able to get vehicles in and out.  We set our gas up here so we can refuel the vehicles (INAUDIBLE)

COSBY:  Yes, it's right over there, you can see, with the white trucks.

COMPASS:  With the white trucks over there.  Then we have our water supply, where we...

COSBY:  Right over there.

COMPASS:  ... where we can get (INAUDIBLE) in and out, and we supply the troops.  We have the Coca-Cola machine (INAUDIBLE) truck...

COSBY:  Right.

COMPASS:  ... where we get the drinks and (INAUDIBLE) Plus, we have a continued 24-hour—big Roach!  Come on over here, Big Roach!

COSBY:  Who is this?

COMPASS:  That's one of my sons, Big Roach.  He worked for me (INAUDIBLE)

COSBY:  Hey, there!  How are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How are you doing?

COSBY:  How is it on the streets?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It's all right.  It's a lot better now.

COSBY:  Yes, what was it like at first?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It was chaos.  (INAUDIBLE) got it under control.

COSBY:  What do you have here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is an M-4.  We're issued this—I'm on the (INAUDIBLE) on the New Orleans SWAT team.

COSBY:  Is this enough to send a pretty strong warning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, this is a—yes, I believe so.

COSBY:  Have you had to use it yet or point it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  We have pointed it at a lot of people, a lot of looters and things like that, that we've taken—you know, that we've taken under arrest, but no, we haven't had to use it.

COSBY:  Keep up the great work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right.  Thank you.

COSBY:  Greet to see you.

COMPASS:  (INAUDIBLE) that I've trained.

COSBY:  Oh, this is—how many folks do you have like that on the force?

COMPASS:  Well, I've came—I've come up through the ranks, so it's 600 or 700 (INAUDIBLE) out of the 1,700 I've worked with sometime or another in my life, very close.

COSBY:  Now, what do you—what do you make of the armed presence? 

You guys, at the FBI, have a lot of armed presence here.  Is that working?

JAMES BERNAZZANI, FBI SPECIAL AGENT:  Yes, it definitely is working.  It has a deterrent effect.  But one of the unintended consequences, that we have a lot of nobly intended police departments coming into town, a lot of friendly guns.  And when you couple that with the military, there's a coordination challenge.  So the New Orleans Police Department, with the FBI and DHS, is setting up a JOC, a joint operations command designed to build transparencies between all the efforts, so we know what we're doing, so we can de-conflict, so we can become more efficient driving (ph) effectiveness.

COSBY:  Are you're also talking about being concerned about friendly fire, with so many sort of, quote, “friendly guns” on the street?

BERNAZZANI:  Absolutely.  We need this coordination piece, and we're working toward it right now.

COSBY:  And so it's a juggling act of dealing with the, what, NYPD coming in, so-and-so coming in, knowing where the right guns are and the bad guns are.

BERNAZZANI:  Exactly right.  While we are trying to put in this coordination piece, we're still prosecuting our efforts in trying to reduce violent crime by removing individuals who would engage in violence from the equation within the legal construct (ph).

COSBY:  What do both of you think of—I mean, this is basically the command central?

COMPASS:  Exactly.

COSBY:  And you're dealing out of the front of a hotel.  How tough is that?

COMPASS:  Well, it's not a hotel, it's a casino.  You know, one thing that maybe is very—not easy to do maybe (INAUDIBLE) our relationship.  We have a...

COSBY:  Yes, it seems the two of you...


COSBY:  ... great relationship, right?

COMPASS:  We have a great relationship.

COSBY:  That helps a lot.

BERNAZZANI:  (INAUDIBLE) works very well together.

COMPASS:  I mean, we work very closely together.  We have some of my officers assigned to the FBI.  Some of the FBI guys are assigned to my public integrity division.  So Jim and I talk at least three or four times a week.

COSBY:  Now, how do you communicate, by the way?  How are you talking,

by phone?  Are phone lines easy to get through?

BERNAZZANI:  Well, during the—it was strange.  During the aftermath of the storm, we lost all communications.  The FBI building was pretty much knocked out.  We took a direct hit.  Our phones didn't work.  Our cell phones didn't work.  We didn't have any communications.  The only thing that worked was my text messaging on my Nextel, and that was it.  That's how we communicated early on.

Now, as we begin to bring normalcy to this area, we are setting up commo—communications.  And now it's getting much more easier for us to discuss.  But early on, it was a challenge.

COMPASS:  And Jim and I, we're at the planning stages, at the beginning, to put together the joint operations to basically put everybody under one umbrella.  That was two days ago we had that meeting?


COMPASS:  And we brought someone from the military in and we had someone from the state in, so everybody was present.  Everybody was on one accord.  And you know, when we have people like this working with the local agencies, it makes our job a lot easier.

BERNAZZANI:  We understand our roles, too.  The role of the FBI here is to support NOPD.  NOPD is still the department here.

COSBY:  That's what I wanted to ask...

BERNAZZANI:  People have to understand...

COSBY:  ... who's running the show, the feds or you?

COMPASS:  We are still in charge of law enforcement for the city of New Orleans.

COSBY:  You agree?

BERNAZZANI:  Absolutely.

COSBY:  There's no—there's no...

BERNAZZANI:  There's absolutely...


COSBY:  So you're running it?

BERNAZZANI:  Chief Compass needs something from the FBI, he's going to get it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Agent White (ph), bouquet (ph)...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... two dozen roses.


COMPASS:  I sent my wife two dozen roses (INAUDIBLE) and this is the lady that made it for me.

COSBY:  Now, your wife, I hear through all of this...

COMPASS:  She's eight months pregnant.

COSBY:  ... is eight months pregnant?


COMPASS:  This is the commander of my SWAT team.


COSBY:  Rita Cosby.  Nice to meet you.



COSBY:  ... holding up out there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I'm still here.  I'm good to go.

COSBY:  How tough has it been out there for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It's been tough, but we're maintaining.

COSBY:  What was it like, especially right after the hurricane?  You guys, I know—we were just talking to the head of the FBI here in New Orleans—lots of targets of opportunity (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  Yes.  As a matter of fact, there were lots of bad guys.  But, you know, the guys rise to the occasion.  You know, I mean...

COSBY:  Where did you see most of the so-called criminals?  They were even taking pot shots...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All over the place.

COSBY:  ... at all of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We started off, we were—we did operations on the interstate, when we had millions of people fleeing to safety, operations over at the convention center.  We just have been non-stop (INAUDIBLE)  You name it, Algiers (ph) portion of the city, everywhere.  We've been everywhere.


COMPASS:  ... search and rescue took place.  This is a critical area in our—in our—in our plan (INAUDIBLE)

COSBY:  How are you doing?


COMPASS:  This is the man who coordinated all this.  This is the man who put...

COSBY:  Hi.  Rita Cosby, NBC.  How are you?


COMPASS:  This is the man who created the plan to put in place.  He saved thousands and thousands of lives.  Explain to them what you did.

COSBY:  What did you do here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, when we first started, we just—we rallied up right here and started putting boats in the water and all the areas, right, that we knew was going to be high.  We know where the water was going to come up.  We just started putting boats in the water.  Police, firemen, civilians, anybody who could put their boats in the water, that's what we did.

COSBY:  The chief said you're a big hero.  How do you feel working out

·         look, you're working outside a hotel casino.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  I wish I could win money when I go in there!



COSBY:  Well, you're winning lives instead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And we're doing a good job.  We really are.  We're doing a good job.


COSBY:  And of course, our thanks to Chief Compass and also Special Agent Bernazzani.  But we're also going to show some more stuff tomorrow night.

Well, the big general in charge of the entire operation is also speaking out today.  And he talked to our Tom Costello, who joins me now live from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, just about an hour away from here, but by car, Tom, you know, it takes about four hours, as you know, with all the traffic.  But you talked to the big general.  What did he have to say to you?

TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Rita, we had an extraordinary 24-hour session with the general.  I'm just back after having spent 24 hours, more or less, flying with him in his Blackhawk helicopter.  We started here in Baton Rouge.  We then flew up to Camp Shelby in Mississippi, outside of Hattiesburg, then down to Gulfport, Mississippi, where he met with the vice president, then back to New Orleans for further meetings with the vice president and those folks on the ground, and then back here to Baton Rouge.

We should tell that you General Russel Honore is quite an impressive man, a three-star general.  He is also the native son of Louisiana, and a favorite son at that.  He's one of 12 children who grew up here in Louisiana.  And today, that was him driving in the front seat of a Humvee with the vice president in the seat next to him, giving him a tour of his devastated and beloved city of New Orleans and his devastated and beloved state of Louisiana.

We talked to him afterwards.  What is it like to have to have that job, to give the vice president a tour of a city he loved so much?


LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, U.S. ARMY:  Deep in my heart, I wish I'd never done this or had to do it.  It's kind a sad irony to it.

COSTELLO:  It's painful.

HONORE:  Yes.  But we got to look to the future.  We're in the first quarter.  We got to show the people that we're here and determined, and they've got the best military in the world, theirs, working for them.  We're work for them.


COSTELLO:  General Russel Honore there.

Let me tell you a little bit about this man because he is quite an impressive guy.  Right now, he's in charge of Task Force Katrina, 18,000 regular troops are under his command, but he is in constant communication and constantly working with the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi and the generals in charge of the National Guards in both of these states.

He is normally in charge of the 1st Army, 10,000 men and women under his command.  And he has risen through the ranks, having grown up here in the South and now a three-star general based in Atlanta.  We—his tour is a rugged one during the day.  There is no time for this man to sleep or for his staff to sleep.  They get about four hours a night, if that.  They are constantly on the go.

You can see his Blackhawk helicopter in the air here in Louisiana, constantly hovering overhead, going from one spot to another, meeting with local fire chiefs, police chiefs, mayors, the governors, asking what do they need, how can he make their lives better?  How can he more quickly get help to them, whether it's power stations, water, whether it's a forklift here, whether they need more troops on the ground.  This is the guy who been running interference and making sure it happens.

He is a cigar-chomping Cajun from this area, who is very proud to be from Louisiana and absolutely heartbroken and devastated at what has happened to his community.

We hope to have much more of the general tomorrow evening.  We are just now back from this trip, and so we want to compile the best of this trip and give you a real sense of the man who is in charge of this operation, and who it means so much to him personally, as his roots run so deep here.  Back to you, Rita.

COSBY:  All right, Tom.  Well, I look forward to seeing more of that interview.  Thank you very much.  Great work.  And great to see a native son so much involved in the rebuilding.

And everybody, stick with us because coming up, we're going to take you on a firsthand tour of a very impressive U.S. Navy ship, the USS Tortuga.  We've gotten to spend a lot of time on the ship, meet some of the men and women that are right at the heart of the search and rescue operation.

And you're going to find out the stories behind these two adorable guys, two adorable little doggies—there's one of them—two cute little puppies.  That's Jethro, and I think that's little Daisy on the left.  Anyway, we're going to hear their stories.  What happened to them?  They are also victims of the flood but have been rescued, along with thousands of others.  Hear their story when we come back.


COSBY:  Some new pictures coming in of a rescue of a woman being taken there, you can see from her window, carried out by the U.S. military to the rescue, carried from her home.  And amazingly, there are still more people trapped in their home.  Some don't want to leave.  Some want to get out and are just waiting for help.  But we're told that still several thousand are in their home, even at this hour today. 

Well, this is really a joint military operation.  The Army is playing a role, but also is the Navy.  Thanks to a major and massive U.S. military ship that pulled into port here in New Orleans a few days ago is the USS Tortuga.  I got a tour of this beautiful ship and got to see the role that all the fine men and women on board are playing now.  Take a look. 


COSBY (voice-over):  The USS Tortuga is one of the Navy's finest, having been to Iraq and South America.  Within hours of getting the call, the Tortuga departed for New Orleans, seeing massive destruction along the way. 

CMDR. MARK SCOVILL, USS TORTUGA:  We saw life rafts had been lost in the storm off the ships.  We saw a lot of life jackets.  Some of these we had to investigate to make sure there was no people were in there. 

COSBY (on-screen):  This was still hundreds of miles away from here? 

SCOVILL:  Hundreds of miles away from here, about 50 miles off the coast. 

COSBY:  What did you think when you saw this damage so far out?  Is it something like you've never seen before? 

SCOVILL:  It really started to sink in about, you know, if there's that amount of stuff out at sea, it really hit there quite hard. 

COSBY (voice-over):  Once the 16,000-ton vessel arrived in New Orleans, its crew went right to work, often doing 18- to 20-hour days.  Some of those who've lost everything have been rescued by Tortuga's men and women and get medical care on board. 

(on-screen):  What kind of conditions are you seeing? 

LT. PATRICK BAROCO, USS TORTUGA:  Everything from people that are fairly healthy but have just been without their medications for the past week, their blood pressure is out of control, their blood sugar is out of control, but they'll be fine once they get—we've been providing them with meds. 

Other people have had wounds that they sustained right after the hurricane that have become festering infections.  By now, some of them fairly severe. 

COSBY:  To the point where they may lose their limbs? 

BAROCO:  It's a possibility, if they went much longer without treatment.  But with I.V. treatment and antibiotics and treatment of their diabetes, they should do OK. 

COSBY (voice-over):  Forty-eight-year-old Mary Marallo lived two blocks from one of the burst levies.  Now, she temporarily lives on the Tortuga after being rescued from her flooded home. 

(on-screen):  You were in the water for seven days?  How deep was the water in your house? 

MARY MARALLO, HURRICANE SURVIVOR:  It was 10 feet.  We had to climb out of the—we had to climb out of the air-conditioning window unit in order to go upstairs to a vacant apartment.  And I had to break into a vacant apartment in order to survive. 

COSBY:  Where is the rest of your family? 

MARALLO:  I can't find them. 

COSBY:  Who's missing? 

MARALLO:  I have two daughters that live in Slidell.  I have another daughter that lives in New Orleans East.  My mom was in the hospital, Lindy Boggs (ph).  And I have another daughter and my son-in-law that went to my moms to see about my mom the day of the hurricane, because the nurses said that they could evacuate over there. 

COSBY:  How worried are you now? 

MARALLO:  Very worried. 

COSBY (voice-over):  Mary desperately wanted to leave her home, but now thousands of others do not want to part with the very little that's left.  In those cases, the ship's captain himself personally visits the hold-outs. 

SCOVILL:  They're older folks, and they don't want to hear from my young sailors that they're going to be treated a certain way.  They want to hear it from someone older and more senior.  And, you know, when I go in there and talk with them, they seem more willing to come on out. 


COSBY:  And our hats off to the men and the women on the Tortuga.  And joining us now is First Class Petty Officer Doug Winslow, who's a big part of the Tortuga. 

In fact, I saw you a couple times out there yesterday. 


COSBY:  Incredible what you guys do.  We went on the Zodiac crafts, and I knew you were pulling in with another bunch of guys.  Long days going through the canals.  Just kind of explain what you see on a daily basis. 

WINSLOW:  On the daily basis, we see just destruction, trees down, power lines down, floodwaters, sewage.  Some oil is coming into the system.  Just things that aren't healthy and aren't a good place for anyone to be in. 

COSBY:  It's got to be heart-wrenching when you look at these homes. 

WINSLOW:  They've lost...

COSBY:  And out there, unfortunately, I saw some bodies. 

WINSLOW:  Yes, they've lost everything.  Most every home that I've seen is destroyed.  The two-story homes, their upstairs may be OK, but the first floor is gone. 

COSBY:  Very difficult to see, and very difficult conditions. 

Scorching heat, sometimes 18-hour days, from what I understand, as well. 

It's a tough job. 

WINSLOW:  Extremely. 

COSBY:  Talk about some of the folks you've rescued, because there's been great news coming out of it, too.  How many have you personally, sort of, been involved in? 

WINSLOW:  Probably 20 to 25 personally.  Our team on the ground over at the Ninth Ward has brought out between 80 and 90 personnel.

COSBY:  Wow, that's great, almost 100 personnel.  And that's a hard-hit area, too. 

WINSLOW:  Very hard hit. 

COSBY:  What is sort of the most moving moment, too, of the rescues that you've seen, you've experienced? 

WINSLOW:  The most moving moments are—when we first got in there, there were many of the residents that told us they weren't coming out.  And we befriended them.  We starting talking to them, finding out why they stayed, why they're still there, what they're doing, what their life has been like. 

And then we've been taking them food and water, because they're telling us they're not coming out, so we're trying to help them sustain whatever it is they're doing in there.  And over time, we've just developed friendships and trust. 

And then, one day, they just drive up or walk up to us while we're driving in the car and say, “I'm packed.  I'm ready to go.  Come and get me.”

COSBY:  In fact, one of the evacuees called you “Admiral,” I heard the other day.  They're promoting you, I think, out there. 

WINSLOW:  Yes, ma'am. 

COSBY:  Well, good job.  You guys are doing a fabulous job out there. 

WINSLOW:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Keep up the great work.  It's a pleasure getting to know all of you guys.  Bless you, Doug.

WINSLOW:  Thank you. 

COSBY:  Thank you very much. 

First Class Petty Officer Doug Winslow.  Thank you, the USS Tortuga.

And a lot of folks are doing tremendous work, of course, in just dire circumstances.  And we've been getting a lot of calls on the show here on LIVE & DIRECT about pets, about animals.  In fact, we saw a lot of them out there when I was touring with the first class petty officer's unit. 

And we want to show you now two very lucky, beautiful, gorgeous little dogs.  Actually, hopefully, they're going to be coming up in a second.  They're going to be two that are in our studio right now. 

We have Jethro and Daisy.  There they are.  They were rescued from Mississippi. 

And joining us to tell us all about it is Eve Ognibene.  She's a veterinarian with the North Shore Animal League. 

Eve, tell us, first of all—these dogs—I think they're the cutest guests we've ever had on our show.  There they are.  They're beautiful.  Tell us the stories behind them. 

DR. EVE OGNIBENE, EMERGENCY RESPONSE VETERINARIAN:  Well, these puppies, they were picked up on a rescue mission that North Shore Animal League did to Mississippi.  We actually went down to Birmingham, Alabama.  And then, out of there, we drove our rescue units into Jackson, Mississippi, where we picked up dogs that were saved from the Gulfport shelter, which is the Humane Society of South Mississippi. 

That shelter...

COSBY:  And what do you do once you find them?  What kind of condition are they in, Eve? 

OGNIBENE:  They were dirty, dehydrated, hungry.  But they were fed, and checked out, and given all the love they need.  And they turned around real fast, as you can see. 

COSBY:  Yes, I can see.  Daisy looks like she's having a good time there.  That's Daisy, right, with the ball right there? 

OGNIBENE:  Yes.  And that's Jethro biting her in the ear? 

COSBY:  Yes, she looks like—Daisy's—and Daisy's, what, a Labrador mix, right? 


COSBY:  And what is Jethro? 

OGNIBENE:  We think maybe terrier mix, maybe some Airedale. 

COSBY:  Now, do we know the stories behind them, exactly, like, where they were, who their owners are?  Do we have an idea?  And will we ever know? 

OGNIBENE:  These dogs were strays in a shelter.  We didn't bring up any dogs that were pets or owned by anyone that might be displaced by the hurricane.  These dogs were in a shelter that was destroyed by the hurricane, so half the dogs in that shelter died.  They drowned. 

And the rest were saved and brought up to Jackson, Mississippi, where we rescued them and brought them up here to New York. 

COSBY:  How are they reacting now to being in a new—are they adapting to the new conditions and new surroundings?  I'm sure the love you're showing them—I'm sure, it's probably refreshing for them to get out of the shelter.

OGNIBENE:  Oh, yes, I mean, they're used to people.  They've been playing here at the studio for about an hour, as well.  And you can see that they're just very well-adjusted. 

I think dogs that have been through a harrowing ordeal, they know when they've been saved.  And they know they got it good now. 

COSBY:  Yes, they do.  And I can tell you, the folks in our studio there in Secaucus have been having a great time.  I think they want to—every one of them wants to adopt them. 

Tell us about the other dogs, too, because the bad news is, Eve—you know, and I can tell you, I was going out there, it's so heart-wrenching, as you go on these tours. 

You see no owners.  And unfortunately, you just see a few pets sort of scattered about.  What's going to happen to most of those dogs?  Are some of them able, at least, to be rescued?  I know the Tortuga actually set up a makeshift kennel.  We just showed those, the fine Navymen, they actually set up a little bit of a kennel for some of the folks that they rescued who had dogs. 

But how difficult is it to retrieve them? 

OGNIBENE:  It seems to be very difficult, although there are people that are collecting the dogs down there.  There are 500 dogs in the Gonzales, Louisiana, shelter.  There's 600 in Louisiana State University, of which I think 400 are owned.  And then there's another 1,200 that have made it to the ASPCA of Texas. 

And once they're sorted through, which ones are owned and which ones aren't, we'll find homes for the ones that are un-owned, that were strays and left on their own in the hurricane. 

COSBY:  And I know there's also a concern for rabies, too, and disease.  That's got to be an issue.  They've got to be screened, I would imagine, too. 

OGNIBENE:  All the dogs will be examined by vets and treated, if they are sick.  Certainly, these guys weren't damaged or ill from their situation, so... 

COSBY:  And, Eve, as we're looking at these gorgeous pictures of Jethro and Daisy having the time of their lives—I think they're having the most fun on that floor of Secaucus of anything I've ever seen.  They're adorable. 

Tell us also how people can find out information, if they want to adopt beautiful pets like this? 

OGNIBENE:  These guys are up for adoption at the North Shore Animal League.  They can go to our web site at NSALAmerica.org, or they can call 883-7575.  That's 516 area code.  Or they can dial 877-4-SAVE-A-PET.  And they can come on down and adopt.  They'll be up for adoption tomorrow, although I'm not sure these guys are making it back to the shelter. 

COSBY:  Well, I hope absolutely that they get adopted.  They're both just absolutely gorgeous.  And everybody at home, too, Petfinder.com.  You can just—we're showing a shot of that on the Internet.  That's also another good location, if you want to adopt some beautiful pets, like my new best friends there, Jethro and Daisy.  They are absolutely adorable. 

Eve, thank you for bringing them in the studio. 

OGNIBENE:  Thanks for having us. 

COSBY:  Thanks so much. 

And as we bump out on a gorgeous shot of those two guys, we also when, we come back, want to talk to you about some other people who have big hearts.  One particular man who has played a big role in helping thousands of people, that's right, one man, thousands of people.  Find out what he's doing to bring food and water to those in need, people he's never met before. 

And what's going to happen to all of those people who are out of work?  There are so many people hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.  What's going to happen to them?  Is help on the way?  We're going to talk to the secretary of labor.  She's coming up next. 


COSBY:  And thousands of people waiting in line today in the Houston Astrodome.  Lots of people, though, accepting some benefits from the federal government, so help may be on the way.  But a lot of them still looking for jobs. 

And joining us now to talk about what's going to happen to all of these people is the secretary of labor, Elaine Chao. 

Secretary Chao, it's great to have you with us.  You know, I was just reading some numbers.  Ten thousand workers filed for unemployment benefits just last week.  These are folks hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.  I would imagine, just, you know, from your information, that number is going to rise significantly, right? 

ELAINE CHAO, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR:  Well, we're very focused on getting immediate income assistance to dislocated workers affected by Hurricane Katrina. 

In fact, today, I've just signed off on $30 million to help the states increase their capacity to receive the unemployment insurance claims.  We also have just signed—I've just, in the last six days, signed on off about $200 million in national emergency grants to create about 47,500 temporary jobs. 

Now, these jobs are going to go to people dislocated by Hurricane Katrina.  And they will help—these jobs will help in the distribution of humanitarian services, also in the cleanup and recovery of the community.  And it's going to put a paycheck in these workers' hands. 

In addition, we have two other important programs that will help people with income supplement.  One is the unemployment insurance, as you mentioned.  And the second is disaster unemployment assistance. 

Because, ordinarily, self-employed people or newly employed people are not eligible for unemployment insurance.  So we have set up a new program called Disaster Unemployment Assistance.  And we hope that people will get some kind of income in the interim.  And with money in their own pockets, they can decide what they want to do. 

Now, the majority of people have left the devastated areas.  So I want to make it very clear:  People do not have to return to their home communities to file for claims. 

And on your question about the jobs, I'm here in the garage—in the parking lot of the Astrodome.  We have a mobile unit that is signing people up, that's telling people about the job vacancies, the job opportunities.  And we're matching employers up with dislocated workers. 

COSBY:  That's terrific.  And, Secretary Chao, you know, there you are in Houston.  I was there a little over a week ago.  It seems like a year ago, because we've seen a lot since then. 

CHAO:  Yes.

COSBY:  But it is really heartbreaking.  I just want to ask you personally, you know, just your thoughts, when you see these people, what they went through.  And I'm sure you've heard some amazing stories, as I did.  What are your personal thoughts? 

CHAO:  You know, we're offering a great deal of assistance, but we also offer hope.  And that's the most important thing.  The courage and resiliency of people in this area has truly been inspiring.  And, again, we're trying to help them get back on their feet with immediate income assistance. 

And we say to people, you know, if you can get to a telephone, call us.  We have a toll-free number.  It's 1-866-US-4 -- I'm sorry, 1-866-4-USA-DOL. 

And we say, if you can get to a laptop, a computer, get on the Internet, come visit our web site.  It's www.dol.gov

And for those that are unable to get on a computer or get to a telephone, I want to tell them we're trying to find you, because we've got teams of people canvassing neighborhoods after neighborhoods, parishes, churches, nonprofit organizations, community organizations to register people.  We've got teams of people on laptops registering people. 

As I mentioned, we have a mobile unit here in Houston, in the Astrodome.  We've got job banks in Dallas today.  We've got job banks set up for Houston in the coming week. 

We have had more employers come in than we expected.  And we've had to, you know, shut down registration.  So we've also set up an Internet electronic bulletin board, where people can go and see what jobs are available in the devastated areas. 

COSBY:  That's great.  That is so great.  Well, Secretary Chao, we appreciate it.  And, of course, there's a lot of people who have tremendous needs.  I hope you guys could help them get those jobs, because it's the first thing that they're going to need to get back and resume their lives. 

Thank you so much, Secretary.  We appreciate you being with us. 

And coming up, somebody who is also helping trying to get some jobs for a number of people, thousands of people, believe it or not, for people he does not know.  This is a true story of how one man can make a difference.  And he is coming up next.  Stick with us, everybody.


COSBY:  And across the country, states are prepared for the onslaught of evacuees.  Iowa is willing to take 5,000 and is standing by if they are needed.  The city of Philadelphia could take on as many as 5,000, but, so far, only 38 people and one dog have shown up, but that could change anytime. 

Philanthropist Joe Mammana has been helping hundreds during this crisis, including coordinating efforts on the ground in Philly.  And he joins me now live. 

You know, Joe, it's got to be heartbreaking to hear that, what is it, 38 and the dog showed up? 

JOE MAMMANA, PHILANTHROPIST:  Yes, Rita, all dressed up and no place to go.  The city of Philadelphia...

COSBY:  Yes, what do you make of that?  What do you make of that, I mean, the fact that this outpouring of support and, obviously, generosity on your part and others?  What do you think people are afraid of?  Why do you think they're hesitant to move? 

MAMMANA:  Again, people are afraid to leave their area.  I think, as time goes on, and people realize how devastated it is down there, that they will move forward.  I think you're going to see an influx of people in the months coming. 

Right now, again, I think a lot of people are actually in shock.  They don't know what to do.  And, again, coming up to a new area that they're unfamiliar with, coming up to a climate they're obviously not going to be comfortable with, the change in temperatures and things like that, is a lot for somebody.

But the city of Philadelphia, Councilman Juan Ramos, Councilman Kelly, Councilman Mariano—I was with the police commissioner today.  The city was prepared with the mayor's office to take in 1,000 families, which would be up to 3,000 to 5,000 people.  We had beds.

You know, where there was No Child Left Behind, in the city of Philadelphia, there's no American left behind.  We are ready for everybody.  We will have our windows and doors open for anybody. 

I am personally involved in this, helping offering employment to people if they come up into the area and things like that.  And anything we can possibly do to help these people, we will.  And again, if these resources are not used to help these people down there, I hope the city of Philadelphia extends these resources to our homeless in the city, and to our veterans, and people like that, because it is an asset. 

The city of Philadelphia does lead the way in helping homeless across the nation.  And we need to step to the plate.  And I think we have so far. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And, Joe, really quickly, what are your personal thoughts when you see the damage that still continues to this day?  This city, I'll tell you, when I look at it, I get so sad.  I love New Orleans.  And to see the devastation, what's your reaction, real briefly? 

MAMMANA:  To be honest with you, it almost looks like a holocaust. 

It's something I never even thought a storm could do anything like this.  It's devastating.  It's so big.  It's so large.  And I don't think there's anybody to put blame on here right now.  I think everybody's got to get together, work together as a team, and put this behind us, and make sure we don't make these same mistakes again.  You learn by your mistakes, Rita. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And, Joe, keep up the great work.  You're always involved in some cause.  We appreciate you being with us.

MAMMANA:  Rita, one last thing.  I just want the people of Aruba to know, Natalee Holloway's mom, Beth Twitty, and Joe Mammana are coming back to Aruba.  Hell is coming with them.  We did not forget Natalee Holloway. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  I know, good for you.  And I know that that case has still not been solved.  And, of course, we keep her in our prayers, as well.  Thank you very much.

Incidentally, Dave Holloway's house was very much damaged by the hurricane.  That poor man had a lot to deal with.  Thank you very much, Joe.

And coming up, everybody, we're going to show everybody a new look at the convention center.  It's been a week later.  What a mess.  We're going to show you more, right after the break. 


COSBY:  And we just got some information coming in as we're looking at some pictures from the convention center, now many days since everybody evacuated.  What a mess it still is out there.

And unfortunately, some grim news coming from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, saying that the death toll—this is just the confirmed number—and, of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, everybody -- 118 people confirmed. 

Remember Louisiana, the new word today that they have 25,000 -- again, 25,000 -- body bags on hand.  And many people here expect the death toll to be in New Orleans alone somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000.  But the numbers are just starting.

And now let's go to Joe Scarborough, who's standing by in Biloxi, where also there is tremendous amount of damage—Joe?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  So much damage, Rita.  Thank you so much.



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