updated 9/9/2005 10:32:09 AM ET 2005-09-09T14:32:09

Guest: Betsy Saul, Brice Harris, Michael W. Smith, Franklin Graham, Julia

Reed, Mitch Landrieu, Ralph Peters

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  And there really is.  With the body bags going in, there are as many as 25,000 going into the Big Easy.  There is fear and loathing in New Orleans again tonight.  Death, disease, pestilence, it continues, descent into a terrible, terrible situation, some order being restored.  But, still, they don't know what they are going to find underneath all that water. 

Also, the vice president visits the Gulf Coast.  We also took a tour along some of the areas that America has forgotten, but we haven't. 

Plus, in Houston, they are waiting in long, long lines, so much still going on.  This is a fluid situation.  We are going to get you up to date with the very latest on what is going on, from New Orleans to Houston and all the way across the Gulf Coast, and keep hammering away and getting answers, because new answers are really being revealed tonight about what went wrong here. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed. 

ANNOUNCER:  From Biloxi, Mississippi, here's Joe Scarborough. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, again, there are ominous reports not only out of New Orleans, but Houston, also across the whole Gulf Coast.  We have been here in Biloxi, Mississippi, today.  And, actually, we have gone all the way across the Gulf Coast.  And we have been fanning our teams out, going to small little towns, like Waveland, also Pass Christian, Long Beach, areas, again, that apparently still haven't been touched by many relief workers. 

It is a terrible situation.  I am going to get you up to date with that later on. 

Also, NBC continues to dig, try to figure out what's gone wrong with FEMA, why they haven't responded quickly, why people have been suffering on the ground, why the poorest and the most disabled and those who can ill afford to be damaged by this storm, why they are the ones that have seemed to suffer predominantly, when the state, the local, the federal government, and big relief agencies failed to come in, in a timely manner. 

And I know you have heard about it.  Now they are all pointing fingers at each other.  But let's start tonight with our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY coverage in New Orleans, Louisiana, again, a city that is on the brink. 

We want to go tonight to Michelle Hofland.

And, once again, get us up to date with the latest.  Michelle, I understand order is being restored to the city.  But you have gone out today, as they are trying to force a mandatory evacuation, and what you saw out there was very troubling.  Tell us about it. 

MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  We haven't seen any mandatory, pulling people out of their homes and handcuffing. 

We have heard that they may do it.  The mayor says that they are going to do it.  But when I spoke with some National Guardsmen, they told me today that they will absolutely not pull anyone out of their house unless they see a signed order from the governor written in blood.  They say that they just will not do it.  That's just not the kind of thing that they do.  They are here to help and assist people.

But the types of things that I did see here today that were very troubling is the type of people that are still in their homes.  They are very exhausted, just wiped out, and really need food and help. 

This man that you are seeing right here, that's a 60-year-old man.  You see the coins that he is pulling up there?  That's all the money he has in the world, four quarters and some change.  When the National Guardsmen pulled up to his house today, there was a white flag and a sign outside that said, “Need water.”  They went in there.  This man, Andrew Dunbar (ph), had not eaten in—anything, except for maybe a cup of soup, in 10 days, Joe.

And all I saw on his table were two cans of orange pop.  He lived there in that area for 58 years.  He didn't know where to go, didn't know what to do.  He said he has arthritis, couldn't get there.  The National Guardsmen helped him back up, gently walked him out to the car, then took him to the Humvee, and then took him to the Convention Center, where they have a triage center set up. 

They told him that they were going to get him a FEMA debit card.  He tried to smile, but, frankly, Joe, he just was too exhausted, too tired to even smile.  The one thing that did make him feel good is, they had a fresh, cold bottle of water for him there. 

The other big concern...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Michelle...

HOFLAND:  ... the National Guardsmen today—go ahead. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I was just going to say, Michelle, when you were out with the National Guardsmen, obviously you were going all over the place.  There's still a great fear of the water.

And, also, everywhere you went, I understand that, like, in parts of Mississippi, there was just a terrible stench, a combination, obviously, of bodies, of chemicals, of so many other things going on there.  What are the great concerns that the National Guard have and that you have as a reporter on the ground in New Orleans tonight? 

HOFLAND:  The number one concern here, Joe, is water and this horrible, toxic soup water. 

It smells horribly, as you can imagine.  It smells like dead fish, like algae, decomposing bodies.  It really—oh, and feces.  It just—it really smells badly.  And then now we have a horrible mosquito problem here.  Those mosquitoes are breeding in that toxic soup.  My doctor was concerned.  Dr. Whitehead (ph) called me up today and said, go get a tetanus. 

And, Joe, a few minutes ago, I got my tetanus shot down here.  And the people from the—Scientology ministers are here giving free tetanus shots to people.  But it's so easy.  Everywhere you go, there's this water or the remains of the water on the grass, on the ground.  It's on our shoes.  It's on our hands.  We have cuts and things because we are scratched up next to people.  So, that's a very big concern for all of us down here. 

Another big concern, though, Joe is also natural—or gas leaks.  The mayor says that there are gas leaks all over this town.  And then, what is going to happen once the power grids start coming back on?  Because a lot of buildings have been knocked over, and there's a big concern about fires once that starts.  So, it's like a ticking time bomb down here.  And many of us are, frankly, concerned. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You need to be, Michelle.  Thank you so much for the report tonight.  And thank you for the reporting.  You truly are on the front lines in this hurricane coverage. 

And, friends, just think about it for a second.  Right after the storm hit, they had a mosquito problem.  They had a West Nile virus problem.  But think about the combination of everything that is still submerged under water.  You have got rotting corpses, maybe—again, the death count may end up being over 10,000.  And, as Doug Brinkley was telling us the other night, he was still seeing corpses lying in the streets. 

On top of that, obviously, you have got a chemical—a toxic chemical brew there.  On top of that, you have got algae.  You have got gas.  You have got oil.  You have got all of these different lethal combinations, and I cannot imagine the diseases that those mosquitoes may be carrying around tonight. 

You heard her talk about tetanus shots.  Last night, you heard me discuss with you about how so many people are frustrated about not being able to make a difference, not being able to take tetanus shots over to Louisiana or Mississippi, not being able to get FEMA to help them coordinate.  As Trent Lott said before, FEMA seems to be in the business of saying no, instead of being in the business of saying yes and saving lives and bringing comfort, again, to those who need comfort the most. 

Well, Lisa Myers has really done a remarkable job.  She has peeled away the onion layer after layer.  And she has figured out what—exactly what has gone wrong here.

So, now, I want you to listen to NBC's chief investigative correspondent, Lisa Myers, on what's gone wrong. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA MYERS, NBC CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  As the floodwaters rose last Tuesday, the civilian director of the New Orleans Port Police made a stunning decision.  She ordered all harbor officers to abandon their posts and flee to higher ground.  Angry eyewitnesses tell NBC News that only the police chief and two officers stayed on duty.  So, they say there were no harbor police rescue boats in the water for rescues for four days. 

CYNTHIA SWAIN, CIVILIAN DIRECTOR, PORT OF NEW ORLEANS:  I sent them to high ground because I did not want them to become victims of rising floodwater. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Those boats certainly could have made a difference in rescuing people. 

MYERS (on camera):  The decision was just one of many questionable calls at all levels of government which delayed or deprived victims of desperately needed help. 

(voice-over):  This medical assessment team, veterans of 31 disasters, can treat hundreds of patients a day.  But, for 11 days, it's been repeatedly redirected by FEMA, from Alabama to Biloxi to Dallas to Galveston.  So far, they have treated one small cut. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We joined the team to help people who need it. 

And we are not helping anybody. 

MYERS:  Today, FEMA told them to pack up again and move to Houston. 

For nine days, this mobile communications unit has been sitting in Germany, a chartered plane standing by, ready to provide desperately needed equipment for first-responders.  Company officials complain they have placed hundreds of calls and still no answer from FEMA. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is the most frustrating exercise in futility I have had in my entire professional life. 

MYERS:  Last Friday, Mississippi asked FEMA for 20,000 trailers for temporary housing.  On Monday, when nothing had happened, Senator Trent Lott asked the president to intervene personally.  The next day, he was told that 400 trailers were on the way. 

SEN. TRENT LOTT ®, MISSISSIPPI:  Just put it anywhere.  Just get them there.  We will put them in the right place. 

MYERS:  Today, NBC News found hundreds of trailers still sitting in a facility in Georgia. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I believe that this response has been chaotic, indecisive, and has caused the loss of lives that was unacceptable and unnecessary. 

MYERS:  Still, the overall situation has improved.  And FEMA says it's getting help to victims as fast as it can. 

Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let's go now to Colonel Ralph Peters.  He has a book out called “New Glory.”

Colonel, you look at those images of those trailers still sitting in Atlanta.  They remind me of the images of all the school buses, the 400 school buses, sitting in New Orleans, submerged, when they could have been getting—gotten the people out of New Orleans on time.  There seems to be so many mistakes on the local, on the state, and on the federal level, that it's impossible to tally them all up right now. 

Rate leadership, Colonel.  That's what you have done in the past. 

Rate leadership in this crisis on all levels.  How have they done? 

COL. RALPH PETERS, (RET.), U.S. ARMY:  On every single level, Joe, leadership gets an F for failure. 

And, with your background, you know that, when there's an emergency and things go wrong, it's usually a failure at one, maybe two levels.  This is the first time I have ever seen failure from top to bottom and bottom to top, from the mayor of New Orleans and the local officials, right up to the president of the United States. 

I mean, it's stunning to me.  And, you know, without being an alarmist, in all sobriety, we should all be very, very concerned that, four years after 9/11, with the formation of the Department of Homeland Security and that gobbling up FEMA, that this was the best they could do?  I mean, what were they doing for four years? 

So—so, I am really concerned.  And while I am very disappointed that politicians are casting blame on both sides, let's fix this first, but there is a military maxim that applies.  And that's that a leader is responsible for everything his subordinates do or fail to do.  And the leader, of course, is George W. Bush. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Colonel, that is surprising to a lot of people, hearing you say it, because you have been—like me, you have been a big supporter of George Bush.

But I have been on the ground down here, and I can't cut it any other way.  He has failed.  FEMA has failed.  The government of Mississippi has failed.  The governor of Louisiana has failed.  The governor—or the mayor of New Orleans has failed. 

I want to ask you a question.  This is what I don't understand.  Maybe you can help us out here.  In Florida, in my home state, got hit by four huge hurricanes last year.  The president performed remarkably well.  FEMA performed remarkably well.  I am wondering if the time of year that this storm hit may have had something to do with the slowness of their response, with everybody scattered across the U.S. on their summer vacation. 

PETERS:  Joe, you just hit it.

And this is a key issue that I haven't heard anybody raise.  Look, in August, Washington shuts down.  And the last weekend in August, it's a ghost town.  And I will tell you, you know, the B team was on duty, maybe the C team.  And friends of mine from Department of Homeland Security, from office of secretary of defense, all tell me exactly the same thing, no contradictions, that nobody would make a decision. 

You know, the lawyers were left to argue about liability and precedent.  And nobody was empowered or willing to make a decision.  Now, when you come into a crisis, when you know one is coming—and we knew this was coming.  You know, the National Weather Center saw this coming.  Plenty of people did.  We had certainly two, really three days, to get ready. 

And when you know a crisis is coming, there are three key components, resources, a plan, and leadership.  God knows, this country has resources.  We had fragmentary plans all over, but FEMA and Homeland Security never put them together.  It was clearly inadequate for a disaster of this magnitude, admittedly a huge disaster. 

But, Joe, you know, as you observed, I have been a supporter of President Bush, but I just got to come back with the fact that this is a failure of leadership.  And I will tell you, I am personally angry.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

PETERS:  And I don't want a president who is taking six-week vacations anywhere when Americans are dying, whether they are dying in Iraq or Louisiana. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Colonel, thank you so much.  Greatly appreciate it.  The buck stops at the White House.  You are exactly right. 

We will be right back with a lot of tough questions.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Fear and loathing in New Orleans.  We will take you inside that embattled city and get you up to date with the very latest when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think the progress we are making is significant.  I think the performance in general, at least in terms of the information I have received from locals, is definitely very impressive. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let's go to Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu of Louisiana. 

Lieutenant Governor, Vice President Dick Cheney said...

LT. GOV. MITCH LANDRIEU, LOUISIANA:  Joseph, how are you? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, doing all right. 

You heard the vice president talk about how he thought that the response has been impressive.  Would you agree? 

LANDRIEU:  Well, I think, in the last day-and-a-half to two days, it has been.  I think we finally got our act together.  Everybody got on the same page and quit worrying about organizational charts and got to the business of saving lives and staying focused, got off of the blame game and really got keyed in on what it is that we are trying to do down here.

So, I would agree with him.  We had a visit with him today.  He was very pleasant.  He was very knowledgeable.  And, of course, we are happy to have him and would welcome him back at any time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mitch, have you guys gotten to the point now where you have decided to go past the blame game, everybody locks arms together, they are on the same team, regardless of whether they are Republicans or Democrats or liberals or conservatives or from the federal government, the state government, or the local government?  Have you all put all that behind you and are now saying, we are all on the same team; let's make this work? 

LANDRIEU:  I think everybody has agreed that the blame game is useless right now.  But that's going to come later, when everybody is accountable for what it is that they did, so we can do it better next time. 

I do think everybody has locked arm.  And it appears as though we are moving in lockstep, very aggressively in the right direction now.  And all of us, obviously, are very happy about that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mitch, we understand 20,000 to 25,000 body bags have been sent into New Orleans.  Now, just—we remember also 10,000 body bags were sent to New York after 9/11. 

LANDRIEU:  Exactly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The death count, mercifully, was about a third of that.  Do you have any estimates right now?  I know we are hovering around 150, 160 deaths.  But, certainly, you would expect that number to go over 1,000, 2000, 5,000, don't you? 

LANDRIEU:  Well, you know, it's so hard to tell.  I will tell you, from the beginning, you know, we expected the worst.  Up to this point in time, what we know is it has not turned out to be the worst. 

So, as I have said many times, this is the second act of a very difficult and long tragedy.  And we are going to see this week the faces of some of our family members that just didn't make it.  It's going to be a very difficult week.  It would be really hard and probably inappropriate to speculate, when we really don't know.  We will know next week.  We will have a better sense of it.

And, probably, we should address that with more specificity then. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks so much, Lieutenant Governor.

LANDRIEU:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  We greatly appreciate you being with us again tonight. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to go to two other New Orleans residents right now.  You have got “Vogue” magazine Julia Reed.  And you also have historian Doug Brinkley. 

Let's start with you, Julia.

You wrote an article called “Hope in Ruins.”  If you can, reflect for us about the damage and the devastation that has really just decimated your hometown. 

JULIA REED, “VOGUE”:  Well, you know, after the first gruesome week, where we got just wave after wave of bad news, from the hurricane and then the flood and then the looting—and now I am sitting here terrified that my house is going to burn down, having dodged every other bullet. 

But, you know, instead of reflecting on the ruins, I think I have talked to so many people today that are more hopeful than I have heard them, you know, since all this happened.  I mean, you know, for all the gruesome, tragic nature of—and what we are going to—you know, of what we have seen and what we are going to unearth, there's still, you know—so much of the city is left standing, I mean, all the historic parts, the French Quarter, the Garden District, you know, where I live, where Doug lives—I hope, for Doug's sake.

You know, I am already getting e-mails from restaurateurs saying, yes, we can't wait to get back in.  Paul Prudhomme started cooking today for people.  Another chef I know has been running around on a boat—he's a Gulf War veteran—taking pinto beans to people still stranded in their houses. 

You know, I really do think that people are already getting gung-ho.  And the only way to look at this now—I mean, I am glad to hear Mitch Landrieu saying that they are going to cool the blame game.  Just for like a week would be refreshing.  The only way to look at this now is an opportunity to rebuild the city.  I mean, the city for a long time has been completely dysfunctional. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

REED:  You know, we are talking about a lack of a—breakdown in government services.  If you live in New Orleans, you don't have any government services. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

REED:  And if you live in New Orleans, you know that the social order could break down any minute.  So, those realities are always with you, hurricane or not.  You are just seeing them writ large now.  So, it's a good time to take some stock, I think. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Doug Brinkley, you are out in Houston right now.  Obviously, you have been reviewing the situation out there, also back in New Orleans.  Talk about what you saw in New Orleans and talk about the breakdown of the relief efforts on all levels. 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, NBC ANALYST:  Well, I have been spending quite a few days in New Orleans.

And I just want to say one thing that needs to be done is the—we were talking about historic districts, the Garden District, the French Quarter.  But the Port of New Orleans is what makes New Orleans so great, and the port needs to be opened in a very fulsome way.  The Mississippi River did not flood over in New Orleans.  The levee is there.  And it's a place to get people and goods into the city. 

When you shut the port off, you are kind of limiting access.  And I think one of the tragedies not focused on enough is why it took so long for so much relief to come to New Orleans.  And one of the answers is, from the south, people couldn't come because it's the Gulf of Mexico.  From the east, you had Mississippi and people couldn't get through.  So, a lot of goods were coming through from the west.

And a lot of them, when the trucks with supplies came, they ended up staying in Jefferson Parish and not making it to Orleans Parish.  I am ready for the new New Orleans that Julia is talking about, but I think we have got another week or two of the grim present, and...

REED:  Yes, I didn't mean...

(CROSSTALK)

REED:  ... happen tomorrow. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about that. 

BRINKLEY:  Yes. 

We have got to—I think that we are in a dire situation.  I think the public health crisis has yet to begin.  I think that you are going to get all sorts of illnesses which are just beginning, from cholera and other problems.  And I think that we don't have the stations there.  There's not the first aid set up.  You can't get them.

You can go into the water.  And just seeing today, if you just came into New Orleans, hopped in a boat, you can go find floating corpses.  I know it's hard to gather them, but the public health crisis is going to increase if we don't get more and more help in gathering the dead and saving the 10,000 or so people that are still in the city. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Doug, thanks so much. 

Julia, thank you. 

Julia is going to be back with us tomorrow.  She is going into the city.  And we certainly look forward to hearing her report.  And when Doug gets back and goes back in there, we want to hear again from him, too, remarkable, remarkable stories we are hearing from everybody that goes inside there, sad, but true. 

We will be right back in a minute, going to be talking to Franklin Graham about relief operations, and also asking the tough question:  Why does God allow things like this to happen? 

Also, I am going to take you inside our relief efforts and take you to a couple of places that most of America has already forgotten. 

That's when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY:  Well, I think across the board, very, very well.  That's what I would say.  I think we have seen a lot of the same footage over and over that isn't necessarily representative of what really happened in both—in a lot of ways.  And we know now that New Orleans is pretty much totally evacuated.  There was a huge number of people who were rescued, especially considering that a lot of people were rescued one at a time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  There's heartache on another level, as thousands of New Orleans residents mourn their loss—their lost or missing pets.  We will have that story.  Plus, I am going to be talking to Franklin Graham straight ahead. 

But, first, here's the latest news you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From Biloxi, Mississippi, once again, Joe Scarborough. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to this live edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, live from Biloxi, Mississippi. 

I want you to look behind me for a second.  This really does—this shot looks like a Hollywood horror set.  Now, let me tell you why this shot behind us here may not be completely indicative of what you see all around in this neighborhood.  The reason why is this, because you actually have a house standing that you can actually shoot. 

We have been—you go half-a-mile up the road here, you go to Biloxi Point, where so many, where thousands and thousands of Biloxi residents lived before this storm, and you just don't have anything standing.  Everything, all the wood is flattened.  It's like a pile of sticks.  It is a desperate situation. 

And, again, as I have been saying all along, the people who could afford to be hurt by this hurricane the least were the ones that ended up being hurt the most.  Just over my shoulder, you have got Beau Rivage in an opposite direction.  It's hardly even damaged.  In fact, some lights are on tonight, as that casino, still months and months away of coming back to life, but they have at least opened their doors and started to allow some people back in.  And they have power.  It's a very, very interesting dichotomy here that we are going to be examining for some time to come. 

Also in New Orleans, as you know, more disaster tonight.  It just—the crisis continues.  Order is being restored.  But you have now got health epidemics that could be sweeping that city.  I know every health official I have talked to very concerned. 

I want to go right now, though, to Alabama, go and talk to Reverend Franklin Graham.  And with him also is multi-Grammy winner Michael W.  Smith. 

I want to thank you, both of you gentlemen, for being with us tonight. 

Reverend, let me begin with you. 

What are you doing in Alabama tonight? 

FRANKLIN GRAHAM, SAMARITAN'S PURSE:  Well, we have got teams working here in Alabama and also there in Biloxi, Mississippi.  These are volunteers.  We are helping to put roofs back on homes.  The great story, I think, Joe, out of all of this, are the volunteers that have poured into Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. 

People have come all across the United States to give their time to serve and help these people down there.  And, also, the churches across the United States that have taken these displaced people and given them a home.  You know, there's about 360,000 churches in the United States.  And if every church, Joe, took one family, these shelters would be empty. 

Thank God for the shelters.  But the shelters are not the answer.  These people need a home.  And I am hoping and praying that the churches across the United States will empty those shelters and give these people a home, but also give them a job and a second chance at life. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Reverend Graham, you have been all across the world. 

You have been across the world.  You have seen a lot of natural disasters. 

How does this one rate with the others you have seen? 

GRAHAM:  This is probably one of the worst I think, Joe, I have seen. 

We are still working in Indonesia after the tsunami last year.  And when I saw what the tsunami did along the coast, for about the first mile, in some places, three miles, along the Indonesia coast, it's just devastated like a bomb.  This is exactly the same.  And here, this is the United States.

And, as you know, there in Biloxi, you go mile after mile down that beach, and every building has been destroyed.  And it's the homes that not just on the coast, but all the way up to the Tennessee border, there are houses that have been blown down, roofs that have been blown off.  It's going to take years.  And we are going to need these volunteers.  And we are going to need the support of the American people, not only with volunteers, but finances, for months to come.  This is a big need, and it's not going to be taken care of in a few weeks. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Reverend, I want to ask you this question.  Then I want to ask the same question of Michael, because it's important. 

I remember, when I was in college, I had a professor who was an avowed atheist and loved to kick Christian students around rhetorically.  He would say, if there's a God, then why does he allow them to die in tidal waves; why does he allow them to die in hurricanes; why does he allow famines? 

What do you say to Christians out there along the Gulf Coast who had their faith shaken this past week, when they, some of them, may have felt like their God abandoned them in their greatest time of need?

GRAHAM:  I haven't met one person that says God abandoned them.  If anything, they are thanking God that he saved their life. 

You know, Joe, we all have storms in life, whether it's a marriage storm, whether it's a financial storm, whatever.  All of us, we go through those trials in life.  And, if we are going to put our hope and faith in our materialism, that is going to fail us, just like here.  Some people were stripped of everything they owned, but they walked out of the storm with their life, and they were thanking God and praising God for it. 

Listen, all of this—this storm did not increase the death rate.  Wars don't increase the death rate.  Every one of is—has an appointment with death.  Every one of us one day is going to have to stand before an almighty God in heaven.  And if we put our faith and trust in his son, Jesus Christ, we can be assured that one day that we are going to stand before him, and he is going to welcome us into our heavenly home.

And for these people here down here, many along this Gulf Coast are just thanking God that they are alive and that their lives were spared as a result of the storm. 

MICHAEL W. SMITH, MUSICIAN:  And, Joe, I would just add that...

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael—yes, go ahead. 

SMITH:  No, I would just add, you know, it is a mystery.  There is so much that we don't understand.  And—but, you know, I do believe God can take something so horrible, and I think he turns it into good every time.  It's always—it's proven over the years, the decades of tragedy. 

Somehow, he turns it into good. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about why you are down there, Michael.  I understand that you are helping with the relief efforts, but, also, you plan to possibly put on some charity concerts? 

SMITH:  Well, I think there could be multiple charity concerts. 

I will tell you what. There's going to need to be a lot of money raised.  I obviously want to try to do my part, to use my gifts to help raise funds.  You know, I feel like I just kind of want to use my platform to inspire America to do something.  I mean, Franklin and I are both pretty overwhelmed and inspired by seeing groups of people literally coming as far as California and the state of Washington. 

They are coming from everywhere to try to come down here and help these people rebuild their lives.  And it truly is inspirational.  It just really takes your breath away.  So, we are going to be doing stuff like this for a long time.  I am in it for the long haul, and we are going to help them rebuild their lives. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Reverend Graham, I think one of the positive stories out of this terrible, terrible tragedy has been how faith-based organizations have been able to respond very quickly.  They have been on the ground.  I have been very critical of the federal government, the state government, the local government, the Red Cross.  They just didn't respond quickly.

And, yet, faith-based groups have just moved in very quickly, provided immediate relief.  People out there that are looking to—looking to help tonight, what would you have them do? 

GRAHAM:  Well, first of all, I want to thank all the organizations that are down here.  You have got not only the Red Cross, but you have got the Salvation Army, the Southern Baptist.  You have Methodist, Assemblies of God, organizations like Samaritan's Purse. 

You know, we don't have to ask anybody's permission.  We just come.  When you get government agencies, though, they have to work through a chain of command, and it's a little bit different.  But, listen, people that are knocking the government and trying to point their finger at George Bush or somebody like that, this is nuts. 

George Bush has done a fantastic job in opening up the United States government to respond to this thing.  Navy helicopters, Air Force is down here.  You have got the Marines.  You have got the Army.  So many people have come in such a short period of time.  If this had been anywhere else, if this had been some other country in the world, people would still be on their rooftops hollering for help. 

When you have a storm this big, you just can't mobilize the United States government in 24 hours.  It takes several days for the Army to get here, the Navy to get here, the Air Force, all of those things.  But they are here.  And we need to look at what can be done right now.  And we need to look at the survivors.  We need to focus on this and what we can do to rebuild it, and not say, well, this person was late or this one was later. 

I just thank God that we were able to get here on Wednesday, right after the storm. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

GRAHAM:  And we got here to Mobile, and we met with pastors and churches that started pointing us into the communities that really needed help.  And it's the churches that we are working with, and it's the churches that are really the backbone, I believe, of the recovery ministry right now that is taking place here in the Gulf Coast. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  They were the first ones on the ground.  I was over here the next day, and I saw it.

And, Reverend, while I disagree with you about the feds' response, I am also smart enough to know not to debate a guy named Reverend Graham. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  My mother would never cook me another Thanksgiving dinner. 

So, thanks.  Thanks to both of you for being here.  We look forward to seeing you as you continue—you continue your ministry along the Gulf Coast. 

GRAHAM:  Thank you. 

SMITH:  Thank you. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, when we come back, we are going to show you some remarkable images of what we saw across the Gulf Coast, talk about the spirit of giving, but also talk about the unbelievable red tape that FEMA makes people go through who just want to lend a hand. 

We are going to talk about that and a lot more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  I am going to school because it's going to make me learn more stuff. 

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:  I am happy to be able to go to school today.  And I like being in the Astrodome. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at images right now of those trailers that were left up in Atlanta, Georgia, that Trent Lott said the people of Mississippi desperately need.  They are still parked in Atlanta. 

Now, I know what the Reverend Graham said, said we shouldn't blame the federal government.  And I know what the president said.  He said that anybody that needed help just needed to go on the FEMA Web site.

But NBC's Kevin Corke did a little research on FEMA, and he is presenting us now with an investigation that would be funny, but for the fact that some of FEMA's bureaucratic screw-ups may have cost lives across the Gulf Coast. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEVIN CORKE, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  It's supposed to be easy.  If you are an evacuee displaced by Katrina, just click on FEMA.gov, the government's federal emergency Web site, to register for help. 

Of course, that assumes you are lucky enough to have Internet access to begin with. 

(on camera):  But, OK, let's say you can get online.  Then what?  We wanted to see how efficiently the system works.  It took us six tries just to get onto the home page.  And then, once we got there, we had to click here and here and here and here and here and here and here, seven pages in all before we even got to the application. 

(voice-over):  Of course, there's also a toll-free number for those who don't have Web access, but FEMA says the best time to call is between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.

Either way, applicants have to supply a current mailing address and phone number, so FEMA inspectors can arrange meetings at damaged properties.  You can see where that might be a problem.  With FEMA helping to assist millions of evacuees in hurricane-damaged areas, they say more than 400,000 have registered. 

Kevin Corke, NBC News, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  To follow up on the FEMA story, I want to talk to two volunteers that were with us today in our efforts with Christian Ministries to get people across the Gulf Coast in areas where I think the federal government and others have forgotten. 

We have got with us Brice Harris and Ron Beam (ph). 

Brice, I want to ask you a question.  When you were over here today, you were delivering to areas that were the hardest hit by the storm.  I want to ask you, did you see anybody from FEMA?  Did you see anybody from the Red Cross?  Did you see anybody from the state governments? 

BRICE HARRIS, VOLUNTEER:  Unfortunately, Joe, we didn't see anyone from the Red Cross.  We also didn't see anyone from FEMA. 

There were some National Guard members that were present that essentially were filtering folks into and out of the area.  But, for the rest of it, no.  The presence of authority was very sparse. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And that's what we saw when we were in the Biloxi for the first five, six days.  Where did you go into, what area? 

HARRIS:  We set out from Pensacola this morning over to Pearling (ph), Pearling, Mississippi, but there really isn't much left of it, so we ended up dropping our supplies in Waveland. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Waveland. 

And this really is—and I drove across today with Rich (ph) also. 

And what we found is, it seems to be the land that America forgot. 

Everybody is talking about New Orleans.  We are here talking about Biloxi.  But you go to all of these areas along the coastline, and, like you said, there is still a void of authority, isn't there? 

HARRIS:  There really is, Joe. 

I mean, the level of destruction that is around this area here in Biloxi and certainly in the surrounding area, it's difficult to contemplate, certainly difficult to put into words.  And, you know, as we drove in, you could see vehicles strewn about like toys, buildings that literally were picked up and moved into the streets by the flood surge.  Pretty bad. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pretty bad.  And, again, you guys both from Pensacola, Florida. 

HARRIS:  That's right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It was nothing like this last year with Ivan, was it? 

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS:  It certainly wasn't.  It was bad, but it certainly was nothing like this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And the operations were run very, very efficiently. 

HARRIS:  Very efficiently. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you. 

All right.  Thank you all so much. 

HARRIS:  Thank you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate it, Ron. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks for your hard work. 

Now, when we come back, we are going to be talking about another side of this story in New Orleans.  Thousands and thousands of pets are missing, and, for some, especially elderly people, that's the only family they have left.  We will have that story when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  For some, losing pets in this storm was a great tragedy

by itself. 

NBC's Ron Mott has that story. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RON MOTT, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Trapped in a searing attic. 

LLOYD BROWN, HUMANE SOCIETY DISASTER RESPONSE TEAM:  I know it's scary. 

MOTT:  Lloyd Brown just became this dog's best friend, a man and his ladder, the only thing standing between the pooch and almost certain death. 

BROWN:  These are parts of people's families.  These just happen to be parts of people's families that might have got left behind. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You be a good girl.

MOTT:  Seventy-year-old Donald Tice (ph) is heartbroken about leaving his 10 dogs behind for good, most of them strays, saying he can't care for them anymore. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I'm going to miss them. 

MOTT:  He signed them over for adoption.  The National Humane Society is sparing hundreds of strays along the Gulf Coast a life on the run.  Rescue officers endure debris, confined spaces and unknown situations. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  In Biloxi, a pack of German shepherds, and starting to chase people. 

MOTT:  Using any way they can to track them down, into the smallest nooks and crannies. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I hear you.  Where are you? 

MOTT:  They survived one storm, only to walk into another. 

DEE THOMPSON-PORRIER, HUMANE SOCIETY DISASTER RESPONSE TEAM:  They could die of starvation.  They could die of dehydration. 

MOTT:  Capturing the animals is just the beginning. 

(on camera):  Many of the rescued animals end up at this shelter, where efforts are made to reunite them with their owners.  Even for pets who are not separated, there's concern about the emotional toll Hurricane Katrina inflicted on animals. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It's just very overwhelming for them. 

MOTT (voice-over):  Vets like Kristin Jensen (ph) are treating the displaced pets, which include a number of horses. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Look up here.

MOTT:  Their pictures are taken and posted on the Web, hoping to reunite familiar faces.  Meanwhile, worries grow about the return of more antisocial natural instincts, especially among dogs. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The longer they are in a pack, the more wild they will revert to. 

MOTT:  And perhaps more lost, never to be found. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don't know. 

MOTT:  For SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Ron Mott, NBC News, Hattiesburg, Mississippi. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, earlier this week, I spoke with Betsy Saul of PetFinder.com. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BETSY SAUL, PRESIDENT, PETFINDER.COM:  There has been such an outpouring of support from all across the country. 

We have obviously had so many people log on to say that they have lost a pet or that they have been separated for some reason, they had to leave their pet behind.  But so many more people are writing in to show their support, to suggest that they can open their home to another pet, which makes me feel—you know, it just makes me feel so much like there's hope. 

When you think about these pets that are separated from their owners, and going into a temporary shelter situation and then a shelter situation after that for maybe three, four months while people get back on their feet, the idea that they could go into someone else's home and be treated like a member of the family, like they are used to, and receive great care, I just—I think that's very heartwarming. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Is there a story that sticks out in your mind that you have either seen on your Web site or that you have heard about regarding a family that has been disconnected from their pet and any possible happy stories about reunions?  Anything stick out in your mind? 

SAUL:  Actually, our friends at the ASPCA were present during the first known incidence of actually reuniting a pet that went all the way to Texas with a family that was evacuated to Texas.  And that was really excite. 

We hope to do a lot more of that.  If people log on to PetFinder.com and go to our Katrina Web site portal, you are going to see, starting tonight—and this is the first time that we will have this launch live—an opportunity for people to post that they can help foster, post that they can help with other resources.  They can post if they have been separated from their pet.

And we have a database that is actually a cooperative effort between every national animal welfare rescue organization in the country.  And all of that is being spooled into one—one centralized location, so the rescuers will know where to go and find these animals, so that we can reunite them. 

It's a collaborative effort like has never happened before in animal welfare.  And, certainly, in this disaster, it's—you know, it's inspiring to see that sort of collaboration, just like your piece yesterday. 

We are—we are thrilled.  I mean, the Humane Society of the United States, the American Humane Association, Maddie's Fund, groups all across the country are coming together and walking arm in arm and making sure that we get these pets back with their owners. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Betsy Saul of PetFinder.com, thank you so much. 

SAUL:  Thank you very much. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We greatly appreciate you being here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  We will be right back in a Bil—we'll be right back in Biloxi.  I was so choked up by that story on pets, I can hardly even talk. 

We'll be right back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at a frightening image of Hurricane

Ophelia, off the Florida coast, between Orlando and Jacksonville.  We will

be staying with that story throughout the night

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  That's all the time we have from Biloxi tonight.  Thanks for being with us.  Tucker Carlson is next. 

Hey, Tucker, what is “THE SITUATION” tonight? 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”:  Thank you, Joe. 

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

END   

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.'s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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