updated 9/14/2005 11:10:15 AM ET 2005-09-14T15:10:15

Guests: Bill Nye, Jan Crawford Greenburg, Robert Wexler, Marsha Blackburn,

Mark Sanford, Martin Lisius, Charles Foti

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, hurricane homicide; 34 nursing home patients and staff members died.  Now the owners of that nursing home are under arrest, in jail.  Authorities say those elderly people could have been evacuated, but they were not. 

Also, an entire community wiped out.  Nearly 30,000 homes are going to be torn down in one New Orleans parish alone.  And that is so damaged, that town is so damaged that those who can return, and there are just a few, are going to have to wait six full months.  We are going to have all the shocking details on that story, too. 

Then, Hurricane Ophelia is heading for the Carolinas.  But have officials there learned the deadly lessons of Katrina?  I am going to be talking to the governor of South Carolina, as his state braces tonight for landfall. 

Welcome to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Hurricane Katrina: Crisis and Recovery.”

Thanks so much for being with us tonight.  We have got a lot of ground to cover. 

After three visits to the region, today, President Bush said that he accepts responsibility for some of the mistakes in confronting Katrina.  But what about state and local officials?  Could they have helped save lives if they had handled their part of the responsibilities differently? 

Plus, amazing new video, Katrina‘s wrath as the storm slammed into the Gulf.  Was this storm a fluke or a killer preview of the future?  We are going to be asking the experts what we can all expect in the future.

But, first, as the floodwaters recede, New Orleans remains the scene of devastation and sadness.  Tonight, the attorney general there is charging the owners of a nursing home with 34 counts of negligent homicide, charging them with leaving helpless elderly residents behind to die.  We are going to be talking to the attorney general in just a minute.

But, right now, let‘s go live to New Orleans and talk to MSNBC‘s David Shuster. 

David, the death count rises.  Plus, we have our first charges, 34 counts of negligent homicide.  Get us up to date with the very latest there. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Joe, in Chalmette, which is where this nursing home was, it was—it‘s even worse news than it sounds, in part because this is a largely lower-income nursing home, the sort of people who didn‘t get a lot of breaks during their life and certainly didn‘t get any at the end. 

According to criminal indictment, 34 people were left in the nursing home, even though the owners, Salvador and Mable Mangano, were warned that the storm surge would likely put the first floor of that nursing home under water.  They ignored those warnings.  Then they were offered a bus to evacuate the occupants of the nursing home, and that offer was declined. 

According to the Louisiana attorney general‘s office, the 34 people all drowned.  There is one report that some of the people were essentially put in one room, given blankets and I.D. tags and essentially left to fend for themselves.  In any case, the owners of the nursing home, the staff, they abandoned the nursing home.  They let 34 people back in that nursing home; 34 drowned—Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That is just—I mean, it‘s an unspeakable horror, to think of these poor, helpless people at the end of their lives left with tags, I.D. tags, on to drown.  If these owners are, in fact—and they have already been arrested.  They are in jail.  If they are convicted of all these charges, could they spend the rest of their lives in jail? 

SHUSTER:  Yes, they could.

               

And I think, Joe, given the emotional nature of this—remember, this is a part of New Orleans, eastern New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish, where the people who did survive, the people who tried to ride it out, many of them did so only because they were able to get up on the second floor; they were able to crawl their way up to an attic or on top of a roof and hang on. 

The people who were least able to do it, they were the victims in this case.  And I think, given the circumstances and certainly given the high-profile nature of this, if these charges are true, I think you can surely bet that the owners of this nursing home will be put away for a long time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  David, let‘s talk about the death toll.  It shot up to over 400 today.  Any talk from authorities on the ground there how high they expect it to go? 

SHUSTER:  Well, Joe, it‘s not clear, but the reason that it‘s spiking up now is because, remember, about a week ago, they were finding bodies, but they were simply marking where the bodies were being found, with the idea that recovery teams would go back, circle around back later, and get them. 

That‘s why the numbers are going up now.  There are no more sort of rescue operations.  There are no more people that are essentially being lifted out of their homes.  But what they are doing is, they are going back to the areas where they identified bodies.  They are picking up those bodies now, and then they are processing them.  And, as the coroner is able to process and offer some sort of identification or put the bodies in the hands of the team that is handling this process, then they are added to the body count.

So, there‘s a little bit of a catchup here.  And that‘s why the numbers are spiking up. 

SCARBOROUGH:  David, what‘s the—if you could, describe to us in Middle America what is it like on the scene there.  You have been there for several days.  Is the scene improving?  Are we still finding hellish discoveries?  How does it smell there?  How does it look from block to block? 

Last night, Julia Reed said, on one block, you would see a restaurant, a fine restaurant, with all the silverware inside untouched, and, three blocks over, you would see animals eating corpses.  Is it really that surreal in New Orleans tonight? 

SHUSTER:  Yes.  Yes.  I mean, it‘s an armed camp here.  You see National Guard everywhere.  There‘s a curfew in place.  During the daytime, some parts of the French Quarter, downtown, they are doing a nice job of cleaning those areas up.  So, they look like they could be ready to go, if they could only get power and sewer in there, sewer systems in there.  But that‘s going to be a while. 

And then you go to other neighborhoods where the water has receded, and there‘s this foot-and-a-half of sort of sludge that has now dried out and sort of caked on mud on these homes.  And then there‘s the problem of the mold inside of these houses. 

Furthermore, Joe, on an emotional point, emotions are still running very high.  Today, I went to Slidell, which is about 30 miles east of New Orleans.  This is a town where 90 percent of the structures there suffered major damage; 50 percent of the structures in this town of perhaps 30,000 or 40,000 people completely wiped out. 

This morning, the residents of Slidell were told FEMA officials are going to meet with you.  Word spread through the community.  They spread through the areas where they are passing out water and ice.  People rushed to this meeting, and FEMA officials never showed up.  No reason, no explanation was given.  But you can bet, Joe, that the way people are infuriated and feel let down, this was just like salt on an open wound, at least in that particular community today. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, the changing of the guard at the top of FEMA obviously not doing a lot on the ground yet.  And, of course, nobody expect 24 hours to make a big difference, but, again, not a big change as far as residents are concerned there? 

SHUSTER:  That‘s right. 

I mean, their perception is that FEMA is a sort of do-nothing agency.  Remember, FEMA was also now responsible for trying to put these manufactured homes in some of these communities like Slidell.  They were telling me in Slidell that they are already way behind schedule as far as when the promises made as—regarding these homes being built. 

And, again, this is a region that got a lot of promises from the federal government, a lot of promises people that felt were not kept.  And to see that happening again has residents infuriated.  On the other hand, there is some acknowledgment today, some relief that at least the president is speaking out publicly, acknowledging that things did not go well.  And that puts a focus again on some of the other problems—Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  David Shuster, at least that‘s a bit of good news, people stepping up to the plate and admitting that the buck stops at their desk. 

David Shuster, live in New Orleans, thanks again tonight for that report. 

And, you know, I think everybody would agree that mistakes were made on all sides.  And I have said that from the very beginning.  Certainly, the feds dropped the ball.  You still have the mayor of New Orleans, though, acting enraged, as if he had nothing to do with the crisis that unfolded in his own city, as he fled to Dallas and where he has remained for the better part of the last week. 

You got the governor of Louisiana also acting like she was on top of things from the very beginning, when, in the middle of this crisis, she told a reporter she didn‘t even know what day it was.  Friends, I have said it from the very beginning.  Now is not the time to be partisan.  Democrats screwed up in this crisis.  Republicans fumbled the ball in this crisis.  People in the federal, the state and the local level all bear really all of the blame for this. 

They need to join together, though, work together, and admit, we made mistakes, but now we are on the same team. 

Now, as David told you, the owners of a Louisiana nursing home are under arrest tonight for negligence in the deaths of 34 senior citizens who died during Hurricane Katrina.  One resident‘s daughter said the elderly patients had been left, despite the fact that these people got warnings to evacuate, and the senior citizens had been told to hang onto the ceiling fans as the waters rapidly rose.  Unbelievable. 

Earlier, I talked to Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr.  And I asked if all the senior citizens inside drowned. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES FOTI, LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Absolutely. 

We believe that they died because they were not given the standard of care for which they deserved and which was appropriate under the circumstance. 

Each one of these nursing homes in the state has an evacuation plan.  They failed to heed a warning both from the parish officials and from the media and the Weather Channel to tell you that it was coming.  This was a killer hurricane.  They had no reason to be there.  And when people are on Walkers and wheelchairs and hospital beds, you owe them a high duty of care for their safety and their life. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What were the charges against them? 

FOTI:  Thirty-four counts of negligent homicide.  And each one of those counts could carry penalty to up to five years. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, I understand that these people were warned repeatedly that the waters would be rising, that their patients were endangered, and that they would be assisted in getting these poor souls out of the nursing home.  Is that your understanding also? 

FOTI:  Absolutely. 

St. Bernard Parish had a voluntary evacuation, and then a mandatory evacuation.  The coroner offered them two buses.  They had a contract with Acadian Ambulance to take care of their special needs patients.  We have testimony from these people that they never were called.  And so, therefore, 34 people needlessly lost their lives. 

I think the tragedy is, is that when you are in the type of business and entrusted with the health and lives and safety of patients, you have a duty of care.  We feel that they have bridged that duty of care that a reasonable man would do under the same or similar circumstances. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What happened yesterday at Memorial Medical Hospital in New Orleans, the grisly discoveries of the 40 dead corpses, the 40 corpses we found, are you looking into that case? 

FOTI:  Well, I don‘t want to categorize it.  We are looking into it to see whether there were violations civilly and/or criminally, and what happened to these patients. 

We had heard that there was a problem.  We were supposed to go in

Saturday.  But because of the bodies allegedly had been dead so long, they

we were going to send in a special team.  What we found out, that the hospital had contracted with a private concern to go in and remove the bodies. 

We are in the process of taking statements and reviewing records to find out exactly what happened.  We have pledged to the people of our state that we will investigate any deaths that were not natural that occurred during this time and at any other time in any nursing home or hospital or critical care center in our state. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, what is so heartbreaking, as you look at the scenes, at just the morbid scenes, inside the hospital and inside the nursing home, is the fact that all of these deaths were avoidable.  That‘s the thing about a hurricane.  When it comes onshore, you have plenty of warning. 

There have been state and federal officials who have been trying to tell us, oh, we had no idea.  This was a Category 1 storm.  We didn‘t know it was going to be huge, when everybody knew, at least for 48 hours before it made landfall, it was going to be a killer storm.  And all those people left in the nursing homes left to die, they could be saved.  They could be alive today if officials had acted more efficiently. 

The same thing with these people in the hospital, absolutely no reason they had to stay behind and die, a true tragedy, these people, again, the weakest among us, let down, not only by the government on the federal level, but by people in the state and the local level, and, unfortunately, some people who their families had put their lives‘ hands in.  So disgusting.

We got a lot more of our Katrina coverage coming up straight ahead.

But, next, here comes Hurricane Ophelia.  And the question is, have the Carolinas learned anything from Katrina‘s devastation?  We are going to get a live report with the very latest.  And we are going to talk to the governor of South Carolina to see if his state has learned the lessons from Hurricane Katrina. 

And, later, shocking new video of when Katrina slammed onto the coast.  You know, this is one of the worst seasons on record for hurricanes.  But we are not done yet.  What‘s going on?  Is it a fluke, or is it a warning of more to come? 

We are going to tackle that and much more as we continue on

SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at an image of Hurricane Ophelia as it spins around, preparing to slam into the Carolinas.  We will have the very latest on that storm when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking right now at Hurricane Ophelia, as it bears down on the Carolina coastline tonight. 

Welcome back. 

The key question tonight is, are we prepared for another disaster from Mother Nature or from terrorists?  Have we learned anything from Katrina? 

Well, President Bush was asked that question earlier today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm?  And that‘s a very important question.  And it‘s in our national interests that we find out exactly what went on and—so that we can better respond. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s go now to Atlantic beach, South Carolina, where NBC‘s Michelle Kosinski is tracking Hurricane Ophelia. 

Michelle, what‘s the latest tonight? 

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Joe.

The wind really is whipping up, and it‘s been for about the past three hours.  Now it‘s gusting at about 30 miles an hour.  It‘s only going to intensify through the morning. 

You know, earlier today, driving around, it was sunny.  It was beautiful, barely windy, and just a little rain.  You would never know that anything was coming.  But now people feel that Ophelia is out there, and, yes, this is going to happen.  If it makes landfall—and it is predicted to—it will pass right where we are standing now. 

You know, officials here, both the federal and local officials, are taking this seriously, no doubt in response to what happened after Hurricane Katrina.  We have National Guard troops, in fact, already stationed in this area, 280 of them.  They are staged in four different places on the east coast of North Carolina.  They are ready for what happens after this storm passes through. 

Also, for the first time, a Coast Guard admiral will be the one handling operations after the storm.  Usually, it‘s FEMA.  But, this time, the state called in the Coast Guard.  So, people are ready.  They are also enacting these evacuations, both mandatory and voluntary, up and down the coast of both South and North Carolina. 

And they are expecting flooding in this one.  You know, when you have a storm like this that just sits there, that hangs around and then moves over land more slowly than you can walk, you get the wind that pushes the water back into the sounds, back into the rivers in this area.  And that‘s where you get massive flooding, like we had in Hurricane Floyd. 

Now, keep in mind, this is a low-level Category 1 hurricane, so it‘s not going to be as intense as we have seen with storms in the past.  But, when you get rain and hurricane-force winds for possibly 24 hours straight, there‘s no telling what kind of flooding we are going to see in those low-lying areas—Joe, back to you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Michelle, I just wanted to confirm it.  And you are exactly right.  I remember, in the 1980s, there was a storm that hovered over Tampa for almost a week as a Category 1, and it caused massive flooding there.  So, it‘s a very dangerous situation tonight. 

I want to make sure I have the number right.  Did you tell me that there are already 280 National Guardsmen prepositioned up and down the coast? 

KOSINSKI:  Yes, that‘s what we are hearing, although, when we talked to the emergency operations centers in four different counties out here, they knew that they were coming.  They hadn‘t seen them.  They hadn‘t had contact with them.  They also hadn‘t had contact with the Coast Guard.

And, you know, the Pentagon has also sent these people called defense coordinating officers down here.  Nobody had talked to them, but we know they are out here in certain locations.  We will probably be seeing them once the storm passes through. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, NBC‘s Michelle Kosinski. 

Please be safe tonight. 

Now let me bring in the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford. 

Governor Sanford, I hear tonight 280 National Guardsmen prepositioned up and down the coast.  First of all, is that accurate?  And, secondly, are authorities responding a lot more seriously to this storm than Katrina because of it? 

GOV. MARK SANFORD ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  Obviously, there‘s a heightened sense of awareness, based on what‘s happened in Katrina, up and down the Carolinas.  And so, the answer is obviously yes. 

As to the 280 Guardsmen, that applies to North Carolina.  I am down here in South Carolina.  And we had, for instance, 125 law enforcement personnel in Beaufort County alone parked over the weekend, in addition to Guardsmen that were prepositioned in armories up and down the coast. 

It looks like South Carolina is going to skirt the better part of this storm, but the same thing that is now happening in North Carolina, frankly, has been happening in South Carolina over the last couple days. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And we got to explain to everybody, you—I think most everybody out there that follows these storms understands that, when it hits the Gulf Coast, if you are on the eastern side of it, you get the worst impact.  As it hits the east coast, if you are on the northern part of that storm, that eye wall, you are the one that gets the worst part of it, too. 

But, Governor, I wanted to ask you about your hurricane preparations.  Have—do you believe, because of what happened in Katrina, South Carolina and North Carolina is going to be paid more attention by the feds? 

SANFORD:  The answer is absolutely. 

And I have had conversations with Secretary Chertoff.  I have had conversations with Admiral Peterman (ph), who your last correspondent was referring to.  He is the Coast Guard admiral that has been assigned to the Carolinas in preparation for this storm.  We have had conversations with FEMA, through the EOCs, both at the local level.  If you talk to Randy Webster down in Horry County, if you talk to Ron Osborne (ph) in Columbia, both of the EOC directors have had direct conversations with their FEMA counterparts. 

The federal government has really stepped into play in looking at this storm, again, in reaction to the aftermath of Katrina.  I think that there‘s going to be a heightened awareness and a heightened sensitivity to storms like these going forward.  And I hope that the pendulum, frankly, doesn‘t swing too far, because I think that one of the real problems here, Joe, is, as important as federal response is, is to never miss the main point, which is, individuals need to take personal initiative in getting out of harm‘s way if a storm is headed their way. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s so important.  So many people in Florida have died because they were having hurricane parties when the storms crashed onshore.  Then they dialed 911 all night.  And it was just too late for them to be saved by authorities. 

I want to ask you about communications.  Last night, there was a mayor from I believe it was Myrtle Beach.  He came on this network, and he was critical of communication across the state of South Carolina.  How do you respond to that? 

SANFORD:  You don‘t.  And there‘s always politics that goes into so much of what goes on with this.  I mean, all I would say is that, again, Randy Webster, who is the EOC director down there in Horry County—and, in our state, we have a centrally organized emergency response plan, largely run through a state EOC that works in coordination with those local EOCs. 

There have been over 20 conference calls between our headquarters and, again, the Horry County headquarters.  So, there have been a whole lot of communications back and forth.  That he hasn‘t been a part of those has been his choice.  But that‘s local politics.  I think that the real issue is what South Carolina has done and, frankly, a lot of other states, whether Jeb Bush in Florida or whether it‘s folks in North Carolina, in preparing for these kinds of storms in the aftermath of Katrina. 

I mean, you can look not only in terms of law enforcement personnel that are prepositioned and provisions that are prepositioned and a review of emergency evacuation plans, but I would say you can look at some things that have been happening in our case in South Carolina for quite some time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

SANFORD:  We actually have sensors on the road, so that, in Columbia, we can get a real-time glimpse of how fast people are leaving the coast from four hours away, three hours away. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Wow, that‘s—that‘s—that‘s 21st century technology. 

Hey, Mark, thanks so much for being with us.  I loved serving with you in Congress, and I think you‘re one of the—well, just one of the most talented governors in America today.  But I got to tell you, if you get in a rough fix over the next 24 hours, I got three words for you. 

SANFORD:  What is it?

SCARBOROUGH:  Call Jeb Bush. 

SANFORD:  Deal.  He is the expert on this.  He has been through more than his share of storms.  We hope not to have his level of expertise in South Carolina. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  All right, Mark, thanks so much for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it. 

SANFORD:  Pleasure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Mark was talking about the importance of personal responsibility.  Some people refuse to leave.  Some people can‘t. 

Well, you are going to hear dramatic calls for help, 911 tapes from New Orleans.  They are frightening sounds you won‘t soon forget. 

Plus, chaos and confusion.  Who is to blame for mistakes made after Katrina?  Well, that depends on who you ask.  The battle between both sides of the aisle coming up next.

And Katrina was deadly and devastating, but, friends, we are not close to being done with hurricane season.  Could another devastating storm be heading your way?  Find out why nature is unleashing her fury once again this year. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  This year could be the most active hurricane season ever.  And are we doomed to more storms because of global warming?  That in a minute.

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

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  New video of Katrina as she crashes ashore.  We are going to be talking to the man who was stupid enough to shoot it.  Then, heartbreaking calls for help, the 911 tapes—boy, I have heard these before in Florida—as the water level rises and help is nowhere to be found. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories in just minutes.

But, first, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has been a display of incompetence by our leaders,, both elected and unelected, and on the federal, state and local levels.  Today, President Bush took some of the responsibility. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government.  And to the extent that the federal government didn‘t fully do its job right, I take responsibility. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Good for him. 

Earlier, I talked to Congressman Robert Wexler from Florida and Republican Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee.

And I started out by asking Congressman Wexler who is to blame and how to get to the bottom of this entire debacle. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA:  We need an independent commission, like the 9/11 Commission, which can objectively define what went wrong, what went right, and how we fix it.  And I think all Americans would appreciate that type of analysis. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Marsha, I am going to ask you the same question I asked Robert.  Do you agree with me that the Republican administration in Washington, D.C., as well as the Democratic administration in Louisiana, the Democratic mayor in New Orleans, and the Republican administration in Mississippi all share blame for this tragedy? 

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN ®, TENNESSEE:  I do disagree with my colleague.  He is calling for a 9/11-type commission. 

I will remind him, it‘s the 9/11 Commission that suggested putting FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security.  I think that we as members of Congress are elected by the people to address issues that affect them.  It is our job to find out what went wrong and then to correct it.  That is something that we should not shirk away from, we should not shy away from. 

We should accept that responsibility.  And on behalf of our constituents and every citizen in this great land, we need to make it our task to find out how we make certain that that partnership is responding appropriately at the local, at the state, and at the federal level. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Robert, respond to that. 

WEXLER:  FEMA needs to be its own agency.  The director of FEMA ought to report to one person and one person alone, the president of the United States. 

But why do I call for a 9/11-type commission?  Because we know that, if we have a congressional inquiry, there will not be that objectivity that I believe the American people so desperately want when we are talking about a national catastrophe of this sort. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Robert, this is something that I don‘t understand, Robert.  I still haven‘t really been able to figure it out.  All I can guess is that it‘s because of Jeb Bush.  And before Jeb, it was because of Lawton Chiles. 

But, you know, FEMA has run these hurricane operations fairly efficiently in the state of Florida over the past five, six, seven years.  And, last year alone in Florida, you had Director Brown running four very effective operations.  And yet, one year later, he botches the biggest storm ever.  What is the difference between 2004 and 2005? 

(CROSSTALK)

WEXLER:  I would disagree, Joe. 

I would agree that the state of Florida, with Jeb Bush at the helm, ran very effective hurricane recovery and operations.  There‘s no doubt about that.  Governor Bush worked well with the local officials.  I called for Mr. Brown‘s resignation in January of this year, when it was discovered that FEMA paid out more than $30 million to people in Miami-Dade, when there was no storm in Miami-Dade. 

There have been fraudulent payments to the tune of tens of millions of dollars going from FEMA to people in Florida.  What was most upsetting, when Mr. Brown was shown that there was, in fact, fraudulent payments, he denied it and refused to do anything.  There was then a Senate inquiry and report which showed and confirmed the same type of fraudulent payments.  The president did nothing. 

I then asked Mr. Chertoff to remove Mr. Brawn because FEMA was mismanaged in a very gross way, in terms of misabusing—or abusing taxpayer moneys.  Mr. Chertoff did nothing.  And here we have the result in New Orleans.  The unfortunate reality is that FEMA has been run by an individual and surrounded by others that have little or no experience in emergency management. 

The state of Florida, under Governor Jeb Bush, did an excellent job. 

That wasn‘t the case in the context of the leadership from FEMA. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Marsha, final question.  I want to ask you.  And I understand that, right now, we are all engaged.  We are all focused on helping the people of Mississippi and Louisiana recover, and some in Alabama. 

BLACKBURN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But let me ask you tonight, in your opinion, and in the opinion of most Republican members of Congress, who bears the greatest responsibility for the failures of this hurricane relief and recovery operation? 

BLACKBURN:  I will tell you, Joe, I think that you can look at the mayor of New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana, and at FEMA and the response that was there, and say something didn‘t flow the way it was supposed to flow. 

I think that what we have to do, as we say, there‘s going to be plenty of time for all of this to come out as to exactly where the blame lays for certain shortcomings.  Who didn‘t order school buses to get people out?  Who wouldn‘t turn over the National Guard to the president?  Who would not issue a mandatory evacuation?  Those are all questions that do need to be answered.  I agree completely with you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Well, I will tell you what.  We can all agree there are a lot of people suffering out there.  And, unfortunately, in many cases, it‘s the poorest and the oldest or the youngest.

BLACKBURN:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The people that can afford this type of disaster affecting their lives the least. 

Robert, thank you so much for being with us. 

WEXLER:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Marsha, thank you, too. 

BLACKBURN:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate it. 

Good seeing both of you again. 

BLACKBURN:  Good to see you.  Thank you.  

WEXLER:  Likewise. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now to another extremely important story, the hearings on the nomination of chief justice-designee John Roberts.  Today, he faced a full day of questioning. 

And “The Chicago Tribune”‘s Jan Crawford Greenburg is in Washington covering that confirmation process. 

Thanks, Jan, for being with us tonight. 

And let‘s start.  I will just ask you, how did—how did Roberts do today on the Hill? 

JAN CRAWFORD GREENBURG, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  Well, I think the consensus among reporters and certainly conservative advisers was that he really knocked it out of the park. 

The John Roberts that you saw today was very much the John Roberts who appeared before the Supreme Court 39 times in his career, who was prepared, who could talk about complex legal issues.  The qualities that we saw on display today are the very qualities, Joe, that made him considered one of the best lawyers ever to argue before the Supreme Court. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I remember—as you know, Jan, I was a geek back in college.  I remember watching...

GREENBURG:  No, I wouldn‘t say that. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Not that—I remember watching then chief justice-designee Rehnquist speak for hours without any notes.  Roberts was just as impressive today.  This guy looks like an intellectual heavyweight.  Forget about his ideology.  Forget about how he will rule on the court.  He is a very impressive man, isn‘t he? 

GREENBURG:  No notes at all today, just like yesterday.  During the first day of hearings, he gave an almost seven-minute opening statement.  I don‘t think he said “uh.”  And he didn‘t have a note in front of him.

So—you know, and what we saw today, we saw him draw on that opening statement his ability to kind of bring these complex things together.  Issues that he talked about yesterday, he referred to today.  Yesterday, when he said he wanted to protect the court‘s independence and integrity, he relied on that today, when he said, look, you know, you are asking me these questions about cases that might come before the court.  I can‘t answer those because I want to protect the independence and integrity of the court. 

SCARBOROUGH:  As you know, uh, Ruth—and I said “uh.”  I have got teleprompter notes, and I say “uh” every 15 seconds. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, what was it, back in ‘93, ‘94, when she was before the Senate, actually came out and said how she would rule on Roe v.  Wade.  Did we get any clues today from Justice Roberts? 

GREENBURG:  Well, she didn‘t go quite that far.

And everyone today, Republicans and Democrats, tried to say, like Justice Ginsburg said, or, like Justice Ginsburg didn‘t say.  People really looked to those hearings and to her answers to guide the responses that they wanted to hear from John Roberts.  We did not get any idea today of how John Roberts will rule on Roe vs. Wade.  And most of the hearing was devoted to that very question and that very issue of abortion. 

I talked to Senator Brownback during one of the breaks.  And he said, it‘s just amazing the raft of cases that the Supreme Court is going to decide, and yet here we are focused on this one decision.  He said he thought it was settled law, John Roberts said today, but it was subject to a legal principle, that courts could reopen it and examine it if situations changed. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t remember if you remember, but during the Clarence Thomas hearings back in 1991, “Saturday Night Live” just did a vicious skit, a vicious send-up of the senators on the Judiciary Committee. 

And since that time, I can‘t help looking at these people questioning these brilliant legal minds without trying to figure out who the winners and the losers on the other side of the microphone are.  Any senators come out today as winners or losers in your mind? 

GREENBURG:  You know, Joe, I think the senators all did pretty well today.  The Democrats were able to lay the groundwork for some of the points we are going to hear tomorrow in their follow-up questions.  They pressed him on the memos he wrote when he was in the Reagan administration when he was talking about women‘s rights and civil rights. 

We saw Senator Ted Kennedy really push on civil rights.  For example, Senator Feinstein talked about women‘s rights.  And we saw from the Republicans something that was really missing yesterday.  Yesterday, the first day of hearings, Democrats clearly articulated their view of the Supreme Court and how they believe it should protect rights and liberties of the people.  Republicans focused on process yesterday. 

But, today, the Republican senators articulated their own view of what the court should do, that it should defer to the legislature on social issues, that a court of nine unelected justices making these sweeping social decisions on policy actually takes power away from the people.  So, we saw that coming from the Republicans today.  So, I mean, I thought everybody did pretty well.

And, certainly, John Roberts did very well himself. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Everybody is a winner. 

All right, Jan Crawford Greenburg, thanks so much.  Greatly appreciate you being with us tonight.

Coming up next, heartbreaking calls for help.  Now, I don‘t know if you have heard these 911 calls before in the middle of hurricanes, but they really do break your heart.  They are calls for rescue.  And, unfortunately, in some cases, those rescues never came. 

And Katrina, the worst of what‘s been called the horrible hurricane season, and it‘s not even over yet.  What‘s going on?  We are going to get some answers coming up straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at the lucky ones in New Orleans who were saved off their roofs.  But, today, those desperate 911 calls were released from residents stuck in the rising waters of their cities following the levees‘ breach. 

NBC‘s Mark Mullen has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK MULLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Tuesday, August 30, many New Orleans residents who phoned 911 don‘t yet realize a levee has broken, and Lake Pontchartrain is severely flooding the city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m stuck in the attic and me and my little sister here and my mom, and we got water in the whole house.

MULLEN:  All they know is they must race upstairs for their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Is there any way that you can get to the roof, ma‘am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We don‘t have nothing to get out of our home, out the windows.

MULLEN:  Some residents stay remarkably calm.  This caller‘s home actually floated off the foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The house is floating?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right, it‘s floating, and from the top of it, we can always put a hole in the roof.  We can always break...

MULLEN:  The roof, the best place to be rescued, but not all families had that option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Nine-one-one, I need help in here.  I got a handicapped girl, and I got a baby that‘s on a pump machine.  And we on the bed, he‘s on a ventilator.  But he‘s in the bed, and the water is coming up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, there‘s an infant?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yeah, the baby‘s eight months.

MULLEN:  In the days following Katrina, search teams and civilians rescued more than 34,000 people.  What is still unclear, how many of those people who phoned 911 that fateful day are still here to tell the rest of their story.

Mark Mullen, NBC News, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you what.  We have some remarkable video coming up in a minute here, because we have somebody that went into the heart of Katrina, and to do it—he got this dramatic video.  We are going to talk to a storm chaser who saw Katrina firsthand.

Plus, we are going to get an expert opinion about why this hurricane season has been so devastating and whether global warming is the reason why we can look forward to a lot more where this came from. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at unbelievable exclusive video we are seeing tonight for the first time, this captured during the height of Hurricane Katrina as she made landfall in Mississippi. 

Katrina is the most devastating hurricane in American history, but, unfortunately, it won‘t be the last of its kind.  A lot of people are asking, why is it happening now, and why are we now feeling nature‘s wrath in such an extreme way? 

With me now to talk about it is Martin Lisius.  He‘s the man who shot that video.  And, also, Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” who is an expert on all things weather. 

Martin, let me begin with you.

Why—why did you chase a hurricane like Katrina?  I have done a lot of stupid things in my life.  But I would say that‘s—I mean, you are just asking for trouble. 

MARTIN LISIUS, STORM PHOTOGRAPHER:  Well, everything is subjective, isn‘t it? 

SCARBOROUGH:  I guess. 

LISIUS:  I am a storm chaser and—yes, well, that‘s what I do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about the...

LISIUS:  Katrina..

SCARBOROUGH:  ... intensity of this storm.  Was this storm, as well as Ivan last year, the most intense storms that you have ever tracked? 

LISIUS:  I would say Ivan and Katrina are the most intense storm I have tracked.  They are actually fairly similar hurricanes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  In what way? 

LISIUS:  They are both major hurricanes.  They both came into the Gulf.  They both impacted the region with significant, damaging storm surge, produced tornadoes, and had damaging winds. 

I think Ivan went a step further, producing quite a bit of catastrophic inland flooding as well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it. 

Bill Nye, we have obviously—I lived through Ivan, being a resident of Pensacola.  It‘s coming up on a year this week, when Ivan hit.  This storm, also, Katrina, one of the most devastating in U.S. history.  Why now?  Is it global warming, or is it what we heard a year ago, that this is just a cycle that the Gulf Coast goes through every 20 or 30 years? 

BILL NYE, THE SCIENCE GUY:  It might be 20 or 30.  It might be more like 50 years.

But, in my opinion, the answer is both, that, in recent years, we have been fortunate, in that hurricanes that are pretty big have missed Florida.  They have missed the interior Gulf of Mexico.  But, this year, a couple of them didn‘t. 

Like, our storm chaser friend, were you there for Andrew back in 1992?  That was a pretty devastating storm.  And there‘s still damage in Florida from Andrew, which is 13 years ago.  And so, as far as global climate change goes, I, as a—let‘s call this, in this context, a science journalist, I have been to the Ice Core Lab in Colorado.  I have interviewed many people of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

And, in my view, there is no question that global climate change will exacerbate the hurricane problem.  When you have more heat in the atmosphere, these big cyclonic storms, as they are called, storms that go in a big cycle, a big circle, they are going to get bigger, both in the mid-Atlantic and in the Pacific Ocean.  And this is consistent with every climate change model. 

Now, whether or not Greenland is going to get a little warmer, Norway colder, the Pacific Northwest dryer, these are details that are very important.  But, fundamentally, more heat energy in the atmosphere means more hurricanes and, in general, bigger ones. 

The thing that—the thing is, see, though, if we all got to work on it right now, we could, as the saying goes, have it all.  That is to say, we could have reduced energy use, less dependence on foreign oil.  We could have a much higher quality of life for our citizens, and we could have a future without catastrophic global climate change, if we got on it right now.

So, I am hoping that these storms, as miserable as they are, I am hoping that the death and destruction as a result of this will not, if you will, be in vain.  I am hoping we will take a cue that this is time to really address global climate change...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

NYE:  And, dare I say it, Joe, change the world. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Bill Nye, let‘s try to do that tonight. 

Thank you, Bill.

Thank you, Martin, for that incredible footage. 

We‘ll be right back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it‘s hard to believe, almost two-and-a-half weeks later, that, actually, ground zero of this storm was Mississippi.  That‘s right. 

And we just saw the storm tracker video.  There‘s amazing shots of the hell and fury the people of Mississippi felt.  Unfortunately, too much of Mississippi has been forgotten because the media glare has focused on New Orleans.  We are going to have that investigative story.  I am going to be live in Mississippi, in Biloxi, tomorrow night to bring it to you. 

Well, that‘s all the time we have for tonight. 

Now let‘s go to “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.” 

Tucker, what is the situation? 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”:  Thanks a lot, Joe.  Oh, many situations tonight. 

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

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