updated 9/19/2005 11:49:08 AM ET 2005-09-19T15:49:08

Guest: Ann Duplessis, Marshall Truehill, Donald Ecklund, Dave Dellaire, Charles Foti, Glen Pitre, James Andrews, Troy Andrews

RITA COSBY, HOST:  We‘re here again live in New Orleans tonight.  We‘re in the heart of the French Quarter, but the focus is not on the French Quarter but on a stunning DVD that could have saved thousands of lives.  We obtained that DVD, and what it has to show is eye-opening to a lot of people.  It was no secret that New Orleans was vulnerable to flooding, but what many did not know was what they had to do in case of a disaster.  We have obtained a DVD made just a few weeks before Katrina warning of a doomsday scenario and telling people how to protect themselves.  But get this, they never delivered it to the residents as planned.

Now we‘re able to show you what the people of New Orleans never saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Don‘t wait on the city.  Don‘t wait on the state.  Don‘t wait on anybody, the Red Cross.  Don‘t wait on anybody.  Get a plan in hand, now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But the main thing is everyone needs to have their own plans.  Check with your neighbors.  Check with your relatives.  Car pool and make sure...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The city is asking all of its citizens to develop an evacuation plan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They need to have all their medications, all their equipment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I would encourage everyone to try to find other plans, other than just going to that last refuge shelter.  Talk to persons who live next to you who have transportation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Every family needs their own individual evacuation plan.  You shouldn‘t wait on the federal government, state government or local government.  Every family needs to have...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We hope you‘ve taken our message to heart and have your evacuation plan ready in advance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And joining us now is the man behind that DVD, Reverend Marshall Truehill of Total Community Action Network.  Again, that‘s the folks who actually put that DVD together.  And also Louisiana state senator Ann Duplessis.

Reverend, let me start with you.  First of all, how disappointed are you that folks in the community that actually needed this, particularly the poor folks in those low-lying areas, never got the DVD?

REV. MARSHALL TRUEHILL, TOTAL COMMUNITY ACTION:  Well, we‘re quite disappointed because we worked so hard, and we were working feverishly to get it prepared and sent out the families of New Orleans so that they could evacuate.

COSBY:  Now, Reverend, you predicted, sort of—and also, you‘re talking to meteorologists in your DVD—I was watching the whole thing—essentially saying that you saw a 15 to 20-foot wall of water coming down, that that was a realistic scenario.  How come you saw it and it seems that state and federal authorities didn‘t see it?

TRUEHILL:  Well, I think they did because, originally, three years ago, in 2002, when I first started working to help people in New Orleans get educated and to turn from that cultural mindset to ride out the storms, I learned from FEMA that we would have approximately 20 feet of water in the city of New Orleans.

COSBY:  So you learned from FEMA.  But FEMA didn‘t participate in this video, is that correct?

TRUEHILL:  No, they didn‘t because this started out as a grass-roots effort.  It grew to be partnership between Total Community Action, the Red Cross, the city of New Orleans and the University of New Orleans and PARC (ph), another, smaller faith-based institution.

COSBY:  And Reverend, hats off for you taking the initiative to do this.  But let me go to you, state senator, Senator Duplessis.  Why didn‘t the state actually participate in this?  Why wouldn‘t you even go to the effort of sending this out, even if it could have saved just one life?

ANN DUPLESSIS (D), LOUISIANA STATE SENATOR :  Well, it wasn‘t a matter that we didn‘t go to the effort to send it out.  It was all in the process of being delivered, copied and being distributed.  Unfortunately, Katrina got to us before we could complete the effort.

And the other piece of that, as Reverend Truehill indicated, this began as a grass-roots effort and a brain child of his and a way to continue to communicate the seriousness of this type of threat.  And so through his efforts and through the coordination and participation of other agencies, it began to grow.  We did, as a matter of fact, at the state level, in order to help begin the process with this—we were able to get some state appropriations that were given to Total Community Action in an aid to help finance the project.

COSBY:  No, indeed, but it came very late.  And in fact, it was planning to come out in September.  The hurricane season starts in June.  State Senator, let me show you, first of all—I went around your district today.  Let me first of all show some video.  I was astounded.  The damage is absolutely incredible in your district.  And let‘s first, though—these are the comments from your residents.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I feel the tape would have helped them to take the storm more seriously.  I feel after taking that storm more seriously, then they would actually take more of an aggressive measure toward coming up with some form of plan.

COSBY:  Are you disappointed that they didn‘t distribute it to everybody?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Disappointed (INAUDIBLE) that could help save some lives, even if it‘s just one life, yes, that‘s a disappointment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This information should have been out, you know, widely distributed.  And I‘m not sure that even that would have been enough, you know, to...

COSBY:  You think it could have...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... prevent this kind of situation.

COSBY:  You think it could have helped somebody?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, sure.  It could certainly help people (INAUDIBLE) understand (INAUDIBLE) talk about evacuation routes, and the people need to understand those better, the consequences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And Senator, you know, I was looking at just incredible damage in the 9th ward.  This is the lower 9th ward, just jaw-dropping, when you look at the damage there today.  When I was there about a week-and-a-half ago, the water was probably about 10 feet high.  Today it‘s just a pile of rubble.  Even if it could have helped somebody, why would you wait until September, four months into hurricane season, to distribute this?

DUPLESSIS:  Well, let me say that it wasn‘t a matter of us waiting four months to September.  And I understand that the—the disappointment in this particular means of communicating the seriousness of the storm, but let‘s put this in the right respect.  This is not the first type of—this is not the first time this type of storm has hit this city.  We‘ve had Camille.  We‘ve had Betsy.  We‘ve had a number—we‘ve had—we were spared with Ivan...

COSBY:  But State Senate, I got to interrupt you.  I got to interrupt you because that‘s another reason why you guys should have been prepared.  And in fact...

DUPLESSIS:  But may I...

COSBY:  ... in the videotape...

(CROSSTALK)

DUPLESSIS:  Absolutely, but...

COSBY:  ... perfect evacuation plan.  Where was it?

DUPLESSIS:  Absolutely.  But let me—let me continue.  What I‘m suggesting is that it‘s not as though that information and data was not communicated continuously for years on what—on the seriousness of a hurricane and evacuating.  This particular video was just one more means of communicating.  It wasn‘t the end-all.  It wasn‘t the begin-all and the end-all to letting people know how serious this type of hurricane could and would be.

So you know, you‘re—we are here pretending as though this video would have saved a billion lives or a million lives, and it‘s just not the case.  This video was just one more means, one more tool, in helping people understand how serious a hurricane can be.  It was not a video that could have saved lives because it—all it gave was repetitive information that has been given over and over and over and over again.

COSBY:  All right, Senator.  That can be the last word.  I can tell you some of the residents I talked to did see some new information, and they said, Look, even if it could have helped one person, it would have been worth it.  And I do...

DUPLESSIS:  And I agree with you...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Thank you.

DUPLESSIS:  Absolutely.  Thank you.

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And look, if you can help one person, you should be putting it out.  Both of you, thank you very much.

And of course, lots of chaos not just with videotapes, but what‘s going to happen in this community?  About 200,000 people are going to be coming back in the community in the next week-and-a-half to two weeks.  Starting tomorrow, some business owners are going to come back.  But it‘s going to be a juggling act, how to bring this all in.  And does that mean that life is going to be back to normal?  Probably not so soon.

Joining us to tell what‘s in store for us here in New Orleans is NBC‘s Kevin Tibbles.  Tell us, what did you see today?

KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, hi, Rita.  I mean, what‘s most important now, of course, is the fact that last night, a lot of people who were in the shelters here, a lot of people were going to the few restaurants that are open.  And what they were doing was essentially sitting down and trying to find out, perhaps for the first time, what their federal government was going to do for them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

coo:  Across Louisiana, where there was power, they watched the president.  From a sports bar in New Orleans...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he‘s doing the best he can now, but he got caught with his pants down.

TIBBLES:  ... to Petrie‘s diner in Weswego (ph), Louisiana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I do believe in the president and the government, that they will do as they promised.

TIBBLES:  Today, the streets of New Orleans slowly coming back to life, 82 percent of the city still without power, restoring it a monumental task.  But as it comes back, neighborhoods reemerge, like in St. Charles parish, where school is open and 1,800 displaced students will soon be welcomed.

ROCHELLE CANCIENNE, ST. CHARLES PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS:  We took it under our own wing, and our own adage was, Just make it happen.

TIBBLES (on camera):  But what makes New Orleans New Orleans is much more than just water and power and infrastructure.  This is a city built on spirit, and nothing defines that more than a Mardi Gras parade.

(voice-over):  The floats and statues survived the storm.  Organizers announced there will be Mardi Gras in February.  But first...

BRIAN KERN, BLAINE KERN‘S MARDI GRAS WORLD:  We will stage a parade in New Orleans, a grand parade with marching bands, floats, beads, doubloons (ph), the whole works.

TIBBLES:  But for now, the grueling work continues, the National Guard still going from house to flooded house, and environmental concerns, as clean-up crews battle at least six significant oil spills around the city.

CAPT. FRANK PASKEWICH, U.S. Coast Guard:  To date, we have recovered approximately 50,000 barrels of oil.  We believe that the initial amount could be as high as 160,000 barrels.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  But there‘s also some good news in the midst of all of this, Kevin.

TIBBLES:  Well, first off, I‘m hearing some Dixieland right behind me here.

COSBY:  For the first time, yes, we‘ve heard it...

(CROSSTALK)

TIBBLES:  And I‘ve never heard that before.  And here we are in the French Quarter area, so—I mean, that‘s a good thing.

But you know, I was in Algiers today, for example, on the other side of the river.  That is where the whole Mardi Gras warehouse is, with all the equipment for the Mardi Gras.  They were in there today fixing those things up.  They‘re fixing up the floats.  They‘re cleaning them up.  They‘re getting ready for this big parade that they say is going to be going through these streets in just a few weeks: time.

And not too far from here, in Mississippi, which we can‘t forget was also hit by this thing, in some small towns tonight, they‘ve got Friday night football.  In spite of the fact that their city might have been ravaged by this storm, the kids are out playing tonight.  People are going to the nth degree to make sure things get back to normal as soon as possible, and it‘s actually quite refreshing to watch.

COSBY:  (INAUDIBLE) I was hearing a little bit of music in the background.  We‘re also seeing a few lights in the area.  I mean, it‘s a sign that life is slowly (INAUDIBLE)

TIBBLES:  The power is on.  A lot of people are talking, including myself, about the fact that the president was here last night.  The power came on for a half hour.  It went out about a half hour after he left.  The bottom line, it was nighttime.  The power comes on.  There are a lot of poles down.  They don‘t want people stepping on that stuff.  You know, they‘re testing it.  They‘re testing the water.  They‘re telling people who are coming into places like Algiers not to drink it and not to wash in it.  But the bottom line is, they‘re working day and night to get this place back together.  You can hear the generators all over New Orleans tonight.

COSBY:  I think half of them are ours!

(LAUGHTER)

TIBBLES:  And now you can hear the Dixieland.

COSBY:  Kevin, thanks so much.

TIBBLES:  OK, Rita.

COSBY:  Good to have you with us.  We appreciate it.

And of course, bringing back all these people, bringing back all these signs of life also means how to juggle crime, potential crime that can come in the area.  More people, more crime.  Remember, the place has been basically a ghost town.  And bringing in right now is David Dellaire, who‘s with the U.S. Marshals Service.  David, you and I have been out and about.

DAVE DELLAIRE, U.S. MARSHAL:  Yes, we have.

COSBY:  And let‘s first talk about, if we could—it‘s been a ghost town.  First you had to control the city...

DELLAIRE:  Right.

COSBY:  ... for one...

DELLAIRE:  Right.

COSBY:  ... and then the next step is—now, how are you going to handle all of these people coming in, more people to keep track of?

DELLAIRE:  Yes.  What we‘re going to do is basically—our mission was to support the New Orleans Police Department.  And we‘re going to continue with that mission.  The tactical side, which is special operations group, with Commander Flood (ph), and we have another unit called investigative services division under John Clark (ph) and Tom Hessian (ph).  And they‘re going to work closely with us in support of the New Orleans Police Department.  In other words, we‘re going to be out front, in their face, armored vehicles, marking (ph), saying, Look, we‘re here to protect you, to help you get back into normal life.

COSBY:  Are you worried a lot of people are not going to abide by the curfew?  I mean, you‘re putting a curfew in for business owners, you know as well as I do, at 6:00 o‘clock, you‘re still going to see some stragglers.

DELLAIRE:  Right...

COSBY:  And maybe some troubleshooters, too.

DELLAIRE:  Right.  Right.  And we‘re fully equipped for that.  Like I said, we‘re going to take our lead from the New Orleans PD, and then we‘ll move from there and we‘ll support them with everything we have, and hopefully—hopefully, keeping our fingers crossed, people will come back and, hopefully, settle in.

COSBY:  One of the things your guys have mentioned to me is the concern—you know, I‘ve been back to some of these homes.  It is devastating.

DELLAIRE:  Yes.

COSBY:  I don‘t think people realize how tough it‘s going to be to walk in...

DELLAIRE:  Yes.

COSBY:  ... maybe find the body of a loved one inside.

DELLAIRE:  Yes.

COSBY:  And that could create some problems.

DELLAIRE:  Yes.  And also the fact that we are talking about a very hazardous situation, as far as what‘s happened with the water, the contamination, the sewage, the water, the electricity.  They‘re walking into a basic hazmat area.  And we‘re very concerned because I was concerned about my guys being in that situation and contracting what we call the silent killer, which is the disease.

COSBY:  Real quickly, sadly, you and I went out just a few days ago to a house.

DELLAIRE:  Yes, we did.

COSBY:  We interviewed a gentleman by the name of Willy McCrae (ph), an elderly gentlemen, him and his son.

DELLAIRE:  Yes, we did.

COSBY:  You were trying to talk him out.

DELLAIRE:  Yes.

COSBY:  You have some bad news.

DELLAIRE:  We checked on them very often, and when we went out there Tuesday with you, you actually got to talk with him, saw his house, saw the level of the water.

COSBY:  He was adamant to stay.

DELLAIRE:  Yes.  And we were there Wednesday, and he passed.

COSBY:  He passed away.

DELLAIRE:  So he survived the hurricane and he stayed, and then he just passed.

COSBY:  It‘s a lesson to a lot of folks.  Thank you, David, very much.

DELLAIRE:  Thanks for having us.

COSBY:  Sad to hear.  He was a good man, too.

DELLAIRE:  Yes, ma‘am.

COSBY:  (INAUDIBLE) to hear that.

DELLAIRE:  Yes, ma‘am.

COSBY:  And coming up: A movie showing how vulnerable New Orleans was wasn‘t even completed.  It was in the works from Imax, but it wasn‘t done.  And you‘re going to see just a monster of the storm, how it hit.  Now you‘re going to see the pictures and the wake-up call that came way too late.  Imax has some incredible pictures.  We‘re going to bring them to you.

And thousands of animals left to die in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  They have now been rescued, but what will happen to them now?  And next, when the owners of nursing home were rescued, but did not tell anyone about the patients they left behind—well, now they‘re facing homicide charges.  And their rescuer, the guy who rescued one of the owners, is telling his story.  What he will say will stun you.  That‘s next on LIVE AND DIRECT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD ECKLUND, SAVED ST. RITA‘S NURSING HOME PATIENTS:  There were bodies floating everywhere.  We were—we waded through bodies to get to people that were alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  That was 34-year-old Donald Ecklund, who helped rescue more than two dozen patients from the rooftop of St. Rita‘s nursing home.  That‘s the same nursing home where 34 people died when Katrina hit.  Now the owners of the nursing home are charged with negligent homicide.

And joining me now is Donald Ecklund to tell his heart-wrenching story.  Donald, first of all, what was it like when you arrived at St.  Rita‘s?

ECKLUND:  There were people standing on top of the roof, flagging us to come help.  It was nurse‘s aides.  They unfortunately left the people that couldn‘t walk and obese in the nursing home to drown.  We were in a boat.  We ran the boat through the door of the nursing home and got out as many people as possible and took them to safe shelter at an old courthouse.  We made several trips...

COSBY:  Now...

ECKLUND:  ... back and forth...

COSBY:  ... Salvador...

ECKLUND:  Excuse me?

COSBY:  Go ahead.  Continue.  I apologize.  Continue.  We just got a little delay on the satellite.  Continue, please.

ECKLUND:  We made several trips back and forth to the nursing home, bringing people to safe shelter.  I wasn‘t aware that there was a man about 150 yards away, on top of a roof.  We saved him eventually.  Come to find out, he was the owner of the nursing home.

When we finally got him back to safe shelter, my first question to him was, Why didn‘t you evacuate?  He gave me no response.  He looked at me with a snobby look, and he walked away.  Some time during the night, he vanished.  He took a boat, and no one has seen him again.

So that left me and a friend of mine, John Kenney (ph), to help these people.  So we had to go into stores and get food, water, adult diapers, different things they needed to survive.  No one knew where he was at for four days, so it took a lot of food and water to feed these people.  So we kept going back and forth to the store, getting supplies as we needed.  And again, no one knew where we were at for four days.  Once the water subsided...

COSBY:  Now, Donald, let me just ask you real quick—because had you known that this man—I think it‘s pretty interesting stuff, what you‘re telling us right here.  This man, Salvador Mangano—if we can show a picture of him—there he is.  He is one of the owners who‘s now being charged with negligent homicide.  You‘re saying he stood on the roof.  You asked him why didn‘t he evacuate, and he didn‘t say anything.  Then he leaves and left those people to die there for four days, while you were trying to save some of them.

If you knew now that he was the owner and you know now that he‘s charged with negligent homicide, along, I believe, with his wife, what would you do?  Would you have saved him?

ECKLUND:  He would still have been on that roof.

COSBY:  You would have left him?  Because—just because of what you saw...

ECKLUND:  I would have left him...

COSBY:  ... is that why you‘re saying that?

ECKLUND:  I would have left him in a heartbeat.  I made a conscious decision to stay.  Those elderly people didn‘t have a choice.  That‘s why they were in a nursing home.  That was his responsibility.  And again, if I knew that that was the owner, he would still be on that roof today.

COSBY:  How would you, just very briefly, Donald, describe just the conditions.  I mean, is there any doubt in your mind that these people literally left these people to die?  Because that‘s what they‘re being accused of.

ECKLUND:  Yes, they did.  They literally left them people there to die.  That is my opinion.

COSBY:  So...

ECKLUND:  The nurse‘s aides...

COSBY:  So disappointing.  If you could look at the owner—if you could look at the owner in the face right now, Donald, what would you say to him, if you could look at Salvador Mangano, who was on that roof, what would you say to him now?

ECKLUND:  I would probably go to jail.  I probably would have to punch him in the eye one time.

COSBY:  And I bet those families want to do a lot worse.  Donald, thank you.  And at least, we do applaud the efforts of you trying to save at least those dozen of folks who you did rescue.  I‘m sure their families...

ECKLUND:  May I say one more thing?

COSBY:  ... are very, very appreciative.  Yes.  Go ahead.  You got a couple seconds.

ECKLUND:  May I say...

COSBY:  Go ahead.

ECKLUND:  Yes, it is the owner‘s fault.  But the nurse‘s aides all went to safety and left them people—bedridden, obesity, life support system, all of the nurse‘s aides left them people and went to safe shelter on top of a roof.  That is deplorable.  It‘s sickening.  And I pray to God that what comes around, goes around.

COSBY:  Well, I think our next guest is going to have some answers for us on that.  Donald, again, thank you very much for what you did.

Let‘s bring in, if we could, Charles Foti.  He is the Louisiana attorney general.  Attorney General, let me get you to respond, first of all, to what he just said.  You—I‘ve seen you on a number of interviews where you talked about right now it being limited to the two owners.  What he just said, I thin, opened some new doors, saying that the nurse‘s aides also left those people to die, that they were just standing on the rooftop, they were getting food, That they left those people.  That certainly broadens your scope, I would imagine.

CHARLES FOTI, JR., LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Well, we had made a conscious decision after investigating this case to continue to look at all of the cases that we had, and we are looking at every hospital and nursing home in the affected area.  And we will be interviewing the parents.  We‘ll be interviewing witnesses and everybody to determine—because there are rumors about other things that happened, and we will track those rumors down.  We will take whatever action that has to be taken.

Legally, we can talk about civil actions or criminal actions.  We‘ll also, at the conclusion of this, write a report with recommendations to the legislature and our governor, how we should respond with hospitals and nursing homes and with evacuation plans in the future, whether it be a natural disaster or whether it be a terrorist attack.

COSBY:  Now, Mr. Attorney General, have you talked to this gentleman, or anybody on your team, this Donald Ecklund?  Because it sounds like he has some pretty strong firsthand accounts.

FOTI:  My investigators are talking to everybody.  And we—you know, what happened—after all this happened, people scattered all over the place.  We are talking with everybody.  Anybody that has any information, call the attorney general‘s office or get on the Web site and talk to us.

We—what I tried to say when we first started, and I‘m going to echo something this young man said.  These men and women were put in the care of medical professionals at a nursing home.  And they were in their care.  They were obligated to take care of them.  They were obligated to evacuate them when they should have known—anything a reasonable man should have did—that this storm was coming and it was going to severely affect this parish.  As a consequence, 34 people died.

Now, if what he said—and we‘re still follow this lead—that they left, that‘s another series (ph) to say, What was their intent and their motive?  They did not—it is possible, if that is true, that they did not care for the people.  And that‘s what this is all about.  And we want to make sure that the system responds adequately to whether it‘s your parent or my parent or my friend is in a nursing home or in a hospital, he or she gets the best care available.

COSBY:  You bet, Mr. Attorney General.  Real quickly, how outraged are you?  I‘ll tell you, you know, if my mother was in that nursing home, I would be livid to hear the story that the guy is on the roof, talking about food and leaves those people behind.  If this is true, how outraged are you?

FOTI:  Well, it just flies in the face—you all interviewed the attorney for the people that we‘ve charged with the crimes when he said they were heroes.  This gentleman portrays a different look at that same situation.  He portrays a look that we saw when we went and did the investigation, and the reason why, after we got our affidavits, we went to district court judge in St. Bernard parish, who said that we had probable cause to make the arrest.

We intend to bring these people to justice and leave it up to a judge and jury to decide the final answers.

COSBY:  Mr. Attorney General, thank you very much.  Please keep us posted.  We appreciate you being with us tonight, sir.

And coming up, everybody, some more images from Hurricane Katrina, this one taken by Imax.  They were actually in town to talk about a potential hurricane.  Of course, then it happened.  They filmed some incredible pictures of the aftermath and the recovery.

And also, we went inside the home—we‘re going to show you that incredible moment when we back in with some residents, back in their homes to see what it was like, to see what their homes looked like.

And you‘re also looking at a picture right now of an incredible reunion, a boy and a father reunited by a TV station.  We‘re glad when the media can do some good.  We‘re happy that they played a big role in this one.  Stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CROOK, RETIRED FIREFIGHTER:  There‘s living beings out there, that nobodies thinking about right now.  Some of the owners simply left, some of the owners had no choice but to leave and leave their animals behind.  And who‘s taking responsibility for that? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Is there any sign?  And in the middle of all the damage in New Orleans, there are still a lot of fires breaking out in this city.  Take a look at some of the video here.  An apartment complex caught fire last night, and firefighters rushed to the scene.  This is just one of the many tasks facing them during this difficult time. 

And now that most residents have evacuated from the destructed areas, rescuers are focusing on finding the thousands of animals that have been left behind.  We have with us an emergency services veterinarian Dr. Eve Ognibene.  You may recall she was with us, it was about a week or so ago.  You had the two most beautiful, gorgeous, little puppies with you.  And at the time, Eve, you were actually in our studios outside New York City.  They‘re the little puppies that were with you.  You went back to Louisiana. 

Tell us about why.

EVE OGNIBENE, EMERGENCY RESPONSE VETERINARIAN:  We went back, because there was more that could be done.  Certainly, the situation has changed.  If you remember last week, I said that the animals are looking pretty good, they‘re resilient, you know, they just need some food and water, but that‘s not the days this week.  These animals that are coming in are emaciated.  They‘re filthy, covered in mud, toxic mud.  The heat is unbearable.  It‘s about 100 degrees out there, and these animals are completely dehydrated.  With each passing day, I‘ve been here three days now, and the animals are looking in worse and worse condition. 

We have been in New Orleans in a parking lot, a Winn Dixie parking lot, where people are working to rescue the animals.  And we went on a short ride away from that parking lot, and you can find hundreds of animals in the street roaming.  They‘re in the buildings.  They‘re in the apartment building, they‘re in the houses, and the time is running out for these animals. 

COSBY:  Yes.  And, unfortunately, I can tell you I have been on the streets, and I have seen, unfortunately, some dead animals on the street too.  Just because, as you point out, you know, it‘s hard for them to get any sort of nutrition.  How are you going to connect the animals from their owners?  Is there any way to keep track of that? 

OGNIBENE:  Well, when they‘re rescued, if they make it to the Gonzales Shelter or the Hattiesburg Shelter, they are micro chipped.  A description is taken.  Any labelling that on them, like a rabies tag or some sort of collar, it is marked, and it‘s going to be put on PetFinders.com.  But it‘s a very difficult situation, because of the numbers that are coming in.  It‘s just hard to keep track of everything.  And a lot of the animals don‘t have any identifying marks.  They‘re just a rottweiler or shepherd mix.  It‘s going to be very difficult. 

COSBY:  You bet.  And some good news, in the midst of all this, if we can show our two good friends the little two adorable dogs that you brought in, when you were on the show about a week ago.  I hear after the show, you got tons of calls and what happened? 

OGNIBENE:  I know that one of them was supposed to be adopted by one of the people at MSNBC.  The other one was adopted almost immediately from the time he was put on the floor for adoption.

COSBY:  So that‘s some great news.  At least one of them was adopted, and I‘m sure the other one is so cute, I‘m sure he‘ll get an owner soon. 

OGNIBENE:  I‘m sure they‘re both adopted.  But in terms of the animals that are still in New Orleans, it‘s a rescue mission that people are struggling to do.  They don‘t have a lot of people helping them.  They don‘t have a lot of supplies.  And, certainly, they need help.  These animals only have a few days to maybe a week left to be saved.  So, you know, if people want to help, I know North Shore Animal League has a place on their Web site that they can donate, and certainly there‘s other places as well.  But we need help down there, as soon as possible to get the animals out. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And we‘re putting up that information right now.  We thank you very much.  It is heart breaking, and there‘s some beautiful pets out there.  Thank you very much. 

And now to an amazing reunion, a very emotional, beautiful reunion.  It‘s great to do some good stories in the midst of all the tough things that we‘ve seen the last few days.  Dan Farkus from WBIR is our NBC affiliate in Knoxville shows a father and son coming together. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN FARKUS, WBIR REPORTER:  Right now, the world‘s strongest man couldn‘t separate Arnold Learson II from Arnold Learson III.  But Hurricane Katrina did just that two weeks ago.  Arnold stayed behind in New Orleans.  He ended up in South Carolina, after a mandatory evacuation.  Neither knew how the other was doing. 

ARNOLD LEARSON II, SEPARATED FROM SON AFTER HURRICANE:  We were together 24/7.  That was first time we have been separated in the last two years. 

FARKUS:  Several phone calls, coupled with a donated plane brought Arnold Sr. here to Knoxville.  His son had no clue that Dad was on the way.  Dad tried to stay calm as his son was in the very next room.  Their story being told on TV. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mrs. Meyer‘s son, also Arnold‘s dad, helped get them to higher ground when the water started to swell in New Orleans.  They hadn‘t seen him since.

FARKUS:  A mix of pride and anticipation, swelling like the banks of the waters that separated them two weeks ago.  It‘s a separation that‘s just about ready to end. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have a surprise for you.  Thanks to one of our Gannett owned stations in Columbia, South Carolina and a company called Angel Flight, we have flown in your dad. 

FARKUS:  After some face time and some play time, their 15 minutes of fame ended.  Their new life together, just beginning.  Stronger now than ever before. 

LEARSON II:  I‘m going to let him describe it.  What word would you use, Knucklehead? 

ARNOLD LEARSON III, SEPARATED FROM FATHER AFTER HURRICANE:  Off the chain. 

LEARSON II:  Off the chain. 

FARKUS:  In Knoxville, Dan Farkus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Great story. 

And coming up, some new images of Hurricane Katrina and also some incredible pictures of the aftermath taken by Imax, which was in town to cover hurricanes, incidentally. 

And we also go inside back to the home with the couple from St.  Bernard Parish, one of the areas most hard hit.  It was very sad to see what their home looks like now.  We‘ll show you that after the break.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We‘ll just have to make more memories, you know? 

We‘ll have the memories that we have, and we‘ll have to go on. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Some new eye opening images of Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath.  That‘s coming up next on LIVE & DIRECT as we continue here live from New Orleans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And FEMA is reaching out to Hurricane Katrina survivors now in Biloxi, Mississippi.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency opened its doors for the very first time today at a local community center.  You can see some of the pictures there.  Their representatives assisted applicants in filling out paperwork that will help rebuild their lives.  Thousands of Mississippi residents lost their homes during the storm, of course.  Lots of folks here in Louisiana as well.  And a lot of those images were captured by Imax filmmaker Glen Pitre, who joins me now live. 

Glen, first of all, what was Imax doing in town?  I understand it had nothing to do with Katrina, right? 

GLEN PITRE, FILMED KATRINA DOCUMENTARY FOR IMAX:  Well, we were—it had everything to do with Katrina and nothing to do with Katrina.  We had filmed in April and May a film called “Hurricane Warning,” about the danger to New Orleans and the Louisiana coast from storms like Katrina, from the big one.  So we—we had actually been staging rescues off the roofs of flooded houses, we had been staging people returning to their homes that had been demolished, never dreaming that as early as September, we‘d be seeing the real thing. 

COSBY:  Yes, what was it like after staging it, and then all of a sudden here it hits?  And it‘s probably worse than you ever imagined, worse than even as a filmmaker, you can even dream. 

PITRE:  Certainly.  I saw things I had never hoped to see, never wanted to see, and really hope I never see again.  It was frightening.  It was a turmoil.  I‘m from that area, so there was the double problem of seeing places I knew when—in happier times. 

But I mean, the whole world knows now that New Orleans was vulnerable.  The real story is that that vulnerability had been increasing year after year, decade after decade.  It‘s the swamps and marshes south of the city.  They‘re great for swamp tours, but they were also like a kevlar jacket to protect New Orleans, and then we‘ve let them erode away.  We have let them wash away.  Hundreds of square miles of wetlands have disappeared into the ocean.  And that‘s a real problem we‘re trying to awaken the rest of America to. 

COSBY:  It sure is.  And what do you think the wake-up call and the lessons learned after Hurricane Katrina?  I mean, there is certainly a lot of questions of who dropped the ball, but what do you see as the biggest lesson learned and that we can also learn from your film? 

PITRE:  I think the biggest lesson is that we have to go to the root problems.  It‘s not enough to rebuild houses; we have to take care of the things that sheltered the city.  The things that kept the city as a much safer place for a couple of hundred years until we have let these problems come to a crisis point. 

I know the state of Louisiana and have been crying for federal help for decades to address this thing.  And we find out now just what a bargain it would have been to rebuild the wetlands 10 years ago instead of waiting for rebuilding after Katrina today. 

COSBY:  You‘re right.  Even financially, it certainly would have been a bargain had they done the right thing a long time ago.  Glen Pitre, thank you...

(CROSSTALK)

PITRE:  Not just dollars—yeah, not just dollars, but people‘s lives. 

COSBY:  Yes. 

PITRE:  You have seen it yourself. 

COSBY:  You bet, which is of course a heck of a lot more important than any money.  Thank you, Glen, very much.  We appreciate it.

And coming up, everybody, we‘re going to show you some of the amazing things that we experienced the last three weeks that we have been on the road, covering the hurricane.  We went on some of the rescues, we went on some of the choppers with the Texas National Guard.  It was one of the most breathtaking moments of my life, to see these people saying, I‘m saved, I‘m saved, right in front of me. 

We‘re going to take you there right after the break. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Over the past few weeks, I have seen and experienced so many wonderful acts of courage, and also unfortunately seen so much devastation.  In fact, today, we went to the 9th Ward, which is one of the poorest areas of the city.  You can see some video there, it is really just heart breaking to see the damage. 

During my stay here, I have met many memorable people, and I have also shared many of their experiences.  Tonight, I want to take a look at some of the amazing stories that we have shared along the way.  We begin with the Texas National Guard.  We followed them as they rescued those who survived the unimaginable. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Where have you been the last few days? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have been in my house trying to ride the storm out for the last three or four days, but I didn‘t have any food or water, so I had to come to the Convention Center, you know, to try to get out of here. 

COSBY:  How do you feel? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I feel good now that I‘m getting out of New Orleans. 

COSBY:  What did your house look like? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Totally gone.  The water‘s covering the roof.  I live in eastern New Orleans, and it‘s totally gone.  Everything is gone. 

COSBY:  How does it feel to be rescued? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Great.  Great.  Great.  Great.  I‘m so glad to leave New Orleans.  It‘s great. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Well, those people were thrilled to leave New Orleans and get out of their wet, soaked homes.  Their flooded homes, in many cases, where there was literally just water from the bottom to the rooftops.  There were a lot of amazing people who went in to actually rescue life, to try to make a difference.  And I went out with the good men and women of the USS Tortuga—that‘s a Navy ship that‘s docked over here—and what I also saw was that not even the rescuers could be spared from the agony of the experience. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

CHIEF TOM HENDERSON, U.S.S. TORTUGA:  It‘s very rewarding when we take out people like that, so when we sleep at night we think about the people we did take out.  It makes a big difference.

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

HENDERSON:  Yes.  We‘re starting to think about it now.  Yes, it is.  It‘s—you just wonder why or how, and there‘s nothing you can do about it, but you just wonder why they didn‘t leave.  I guess why they couldn‘t catch a bus, why they couldn‘t get in another car ride, or why they couldn‘t get out of town.  It was a major category, and—just kind of wish you could go back two days before hand and, you know, people know how bad it‘s going to be and then get them out of here. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Well, most of the city of New Orleans is empty, as you can see.  It‘s basically a black hole behind me tonight.  There are still some people who are out, throughout the wee hours of the morning trying to maintain peace, trying to keep things in control.  Including the U.S.  Marshals.  We went out patrolling with the guys at night.  Often, we just see the U.S. Marshals and we see the 82nd Airborne.  They are here to keep things under control and to keep law and order.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  If you of the U.S. Marshals did not come in and play big role in keeping the peace in the city, what could have happened to New Orleans? 

JASON TARWATER, U.S. MARSHAL:  I think it would still be in chaos.  You‘ve got homes that good people have gotten out and left, gone to other places, and the people that are left here, they have no food, they have no water, other than what‘s being provided to them.  It‘s an opportunity for criminals to get out and go in to steal people‘s possessions.  And you have the predators that are preying on the weak that are still here. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And just when New Orleans needs, is more rain.  Just when the city dried up, rain is starting to pour down right now.  And it‘s not also good news for those residents who went back into their homes.  We went back with a couple into St. Bernard Parish.  Take a look.  These images speak for themselves. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  What‘s the toughest thing to see here for you? 

PAULA LICCIARDI, ST. BERNARD PARISH RESIDENT:  The toughest thing I think is my children‘s graduation pictures that used to line that hall.  I had four graduation pictures.  Now I have none. 

COSBY:  You can‘t replace those.  No insurance replaces those. 

LICCIARDI:  No.  But we‘ll just have to make more memories, you know?  We‘ll have the memories that we have, and we‘ll have to go on, and there‘s nothing else we can do.  I can‘t imagine living anywhere else, especially since I have been in a hotel all this time.  You know, I really—I miss home.  I want to come home.  But it will be all right.  God will give us the strength. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And our thanks to that couple that let us go back into their homes.  The bad news is the rain is coming down here in New Orleans.  But the good news is the music is back here in New Orleans.  And we‘re going to talk to a brother team, these guys are terrific.  They are brothers.  They are from New Orleans, and they are making a difference.  There they are.  They‘re going to be coming up right after the break.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

COSBY:  All right, all right.  That‘s Troy and James Andrews.  Can I tell you how happy I am to see music back in this town? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes. 

COSBY:  You guys are legends in New Orleans. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s right.

COSBY:  These guys are not just any musicians, these guys are the best in the city. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s right. 

COSBY:  Why did you decide to come back?  You guys are the first sound of music we have heard.

JAMES ANDREWS, NEW ORLEANS MUSICIAN:  Well we had to come back to our home and see our home, since we been gone so long, and our family is scattered all over America, and so we had to come back to see it for ourselves. 

COSBY:  You‘re also doing some stuff for Hurricane Katrina relief. 

Tell us some of the things you‘re doing. 

TROY ANDREWS, NEW ORLEANS MUSICIAN:  I am doing a few concerts up in New York, at Madison Square Garden in a few days, and me and my brother, James, are planning on doing a record to benefit some of the local New Orleans musicians that‘s some of our friends, and help out with some money and whatever we can do to help out. 

COSBY:  What‘s the reaction you‘re getting from people on the streets?  You know the 82nd Airborne, they seem very happy to see you.  What is the reaction you‘re getting from folks on this dark night?  There‘s virtually no light here.  We got pouring rain now.  And yet you are playing. 

T. ANDREWS:  Yes, well, you know—

COSBY:  What does that say about the spirit of New Orleans? 

T. ANDREWS:  That‘s right.  We had to come back, because, you know, the soul, the spirits and everybody is calling us back. 

J. ANDREWS:  The real deal of New Orleans.  And also, we lost all our stuff, so we lost all our instruments and everything. 

COSBY:  You lost everything.  Where were you when the hurricane hit? 

J. ANDREWS:  I was in—we left after a gig, and we went to Monroe, Louisiana, with the rest of our family, and he brought my mom up to Monroe, Louisiana, to be with us, to join us. 

COSBY:  How important is it to bring music back and to bring what everybody loves?  Here we are in the French Quarter.  You know, you see musicians typically on every corner, but tonight, you guys are it. 

J. ANDREWS:  We the only thing—we the best show in town. 

COSBY:  And that‘s what I‘ve heard no matter what.  But tonight you definitely are the best show in town.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  How do you like that? 

COSBY:  Why is it important, too, to bring the spirit back? 

J. ANDREWS:  Well because this is our culture and our music, and also, my grandfather was Jesse Hill “Ooh Poo Pa Doo,” with a famous song.  So we grew up in New Orleans playing this kind of music, so it‘s important for us to carry on for generations to come. 

COSBY:  As we close out, we are going to have you play, but I want to make sure, before we close, everybody.  We have been here for three amazing weeks.  You got to show the guys that have been protecting us.  These are the men and women with the sheriff‘s department and 82nd Airborne.  We can‘t also forget Sydney Torres (ph), who‘s been helping us, local business owner.  But these two sheriff‘s deputies and the 82nd Airborne have been protecting us.  A lot of people don‘t see the what the things and the dangers that we experienced, but these guys have been watching us every single night.  And we want to thank them, and thank all of us with some beautiful music on the way out, everybody, to close our show live here from New Orleans.

(MUSIC)

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

END   

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