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'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' for Nov. 23rd

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Walter Sanborne, Jason Tarwater, Eddie Compass, James Barnazzini, John Nguyen, Kim Phan, Lenny Kravitz

ANNOUNCER:  LIVE AND DIRECT from New Orleans, here is Rita Cosby.

RITA COSBY, HOST:  And good evening, everybody.  I‘m Rita Cosby.  So glad you‘re with us.

We have an incredible special show tonight.  We are live in New Orleans, and what I have seen in the last few hours is truly staggering.  The damage is truly devastating.  Here it is, just three months later, and much of the city still looks like a war zone, still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating storms to ever hit the United States.


(voice-over):  The category 4 hurricane overpowered the city‘s levee system, creating a virtual hell on earth.  More than 1,000 people were killed, and those fortunate enough to survive had no idea what would happen next.  For days, residents begged to be saved from their homes, but many rescuers were overwhelmed by the challenge.  There were simply too many people to save, and it wasn‘t long before frustration turned to anger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Help us!  Help us!  Help us!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Help us!  Help us!  Help us!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Help us!  Help us!  Help us!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You got a 3-week-old infant out here.  How‘s a 3-week-old infant going to be able to survive out here with no milk, no water?

TONY ZUMBADO, NBC NEWS PHOTOGRAPHER:  These are the families who listened to the authorities, who followed directions, who  believed in the government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nobody‘s coming to get us!  Nobody‘s coming to get us!  For God‘s sakes, shut up and send in somebody!

COSBY:  Many blamed local, state and especially federal officials for the colossal failures, and soon Mike Brown, the head of FEMA, was forced to step down.

That was then, this is now.  Incredibly, more than 6,000 people are still unaccounted for, most believed to be displaced by the storm.  But of the hundreds killed, it‘s now thought that the majority were senior citizens unable or unwilling to escape from the deadly flood waters.  Some were even believed to have been left to die by their own caretakers.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS:  New Orleans is not asking for a hand out, we‘re asking for a hand up.

COSBY:  In the weeks following the storm, some residents were finally allowed to go home, but many faced a toxic wasteland of contaminated water and dangerous conditions.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.

COSBY:  So far, recovery has been anything but easy.  Only 60,000 people stay in New Orleans today.  Before the hurricane, the population was nearly half a million.  And there‘s still no official plan to rebuild.  More than a million people were left homeless by Katrina, and today, thousands still don‘t have temporary housing, and many question whether it‘s even worth rebuilding in the Crescent City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s hard to hold on when you don‘t know what you‘re holding onto anymore.

COSBY:  And the big question now, Will New Orleans ever be the same?


And of course, it is a mixed bag for the city of New Orleans.  There is some good news to report, some good news, by the way of FEMA, in fact.  FEMA just struck a deal place some Katrina families into 1,500 private homes—I believe it‘s just 15 private homes.  They will be rent-free for the next 18 months.

But the bad news—and unfortunately, there‘s a lot of it—the death toll continues to be rise as they‘re finding more bodies in those hard-hit areas.  And in some of those areas, virtually no progress has been made.  There‘s still piles of rubble in some places, no signs life, no residents able to come back in.

And joining me now to talk about all of this is Louisiana congressman Bobby Jindal.  It‘s good to see you in person, and nice to see you after a few months.

REP. BOBBY JINDAL ®, LOUISIANA:  Well, welcome back.

COSBY:  But you know, I‘m sad to see what the city looks like.  Look behind us.  You see lights, but this is one of the few lucky areas, right?

JINDAL:  Absolutely.  This is the driest part of New Orleans, the central business district.  The French Quarter over there did relatively well.  If you go north here, past the interstate, you see it‘s almost completely dark.  You‘re seeing some of the debris has been removed, but still, people, in the large part, have not come back.  Businesses are still not open.  There‘s a tremendous amount of work that remains to be done.

COSBY:  Someone told me that the energy company actually filed for bankruptcy?  They—what, it was 250 million bucks.  They didn‘t have it?

JINDAL:  Absolutely.  And their concern is, they want to get back as quickly as possible.  We want to make sure the people that are here don‘t have to pay astronomically high energy bills to come back because a lot of people won‘t be able to afford to come back.  And it‘s so important to get people‘s energy turned on, to get their water turned on, their gas turned on.  People are eager to come back, to reconstruct their lives, open their businesses, get back in their homes.  Without those basic services, they can‘t do that.

COSBY:  You know, Congressman, as we sit here, I am stunned.  I was really shocked.  Only 60,000 residents are here 24 hours a day.  Your population is more than 10 times that.  What‘s going on?  Why is it so slow?  Why is the response so slow?

JINDAL:  You know, the bureaucracy has been awful.  There‘s a severe housing shortage.  There‘s an incredible demand for jobs,for employees.  There are construction jobs, service jobs, and people are eager to come back and take those jobs.  There‘s nowhere for them to live.  You know, you talked about FEMA.  That is, indeed, good news about the 1,500 private homes, but the challenge...

COSBY:  But that‘s a drop in the bucket.

JINDAL:  Absolutely.  And the challenge is, many of our employers have had incredible frustration getting trailers, even permission to put their own trailers on their own property.  Every time we cut the one piece of red tape, fix one problem, 10 new ones arise.  And the frustrating thing is, people want to go back to work.  They want to come here and they want to rebuild their city.

COSBY:  You know, here we are, three months later.  We had this conversation, I feel it‘s Groundhog Day almost.

JINDAL:  That‘s right.

COSBY:  why has it taken so long for the federal government, for the money—you know, we all heard about these wonderful loans, wonderful things that were coming down, wonderful funds allocated by Congress.  Where is the money?

JINDAL:  Well, you know, and that‘s—what‘s frustrating to us is we allocate $62 billion, almost $30 billion to $40 billion still hasn‘t been spent.  SBA was telling businesses it would take them 30, 60, 90 days to approve a loan.  Well, in that time, the businesses will go bankrupt.  It took us weeks to convince them to use the private banks to help process these loans.

Now, at the state and federal level, we‘re still concerned.  There‘s not a sense of urgency.  There‘s not a sense—I don‘t think enough people have been here on the ground to see what people need.  They don‘t understand that people want to go back to work, but they need housing.  People want to open their businesses, but the banks may not be here.  People want to serve their customers.  Every day, we take a step forward, but every day, there‘s a new challenge, a new frustration.  It took us weeks to convince the SBA to use private banks, for example.  But even then, they capped the loans at $150,000.

So I think there‘s still a sense on the ground that we need to create a greater sense of urgency at the state and federal levels.

COSBY:  Congressman, I do hope a lot more people come down and see it because I think if they did, a lot of eyes would open.  Thank you very much.

JINDAL:  Absolutely.

COSBY:  You‘re doing a good job here and fighting a tough fight.

You know, and one of the hardest areas that, of course, the congressman‘s talking about is the 9th ward, particularly the lower 9th ward.  This is in the eastern part of New Orleans.  Boy, was this just hit absolutely hard.  And I went there and saw it firsthand just days after the hurricane hit.  I went in with the U.S. Navy, and we want to show you what I saw back then.


(voice-over):  More distressing than seeing the remnants of homes was seeing several bodies floating by us in this now virtual ghost town.

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

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

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

COSBY:  That died together.

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

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

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

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

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

you just wonder why or how or—and there‘s nothing you can do about it, but you just wonder why they didn‘t leave.


COSBY:  So what does that battered 9th ward look like today?  Well, sadly, not much better.  I just came back from touring the area, which you can do now by foot since it has all dried out.  But it really looked horrific.  Virtually every home in that area is destroyed and remains a pile of wood alongside the road.  It looks as if the hurricane hit there just a few days ago.  I was stunned at the lack of clean-up.

I also had a chance to talk to a few Louisiana residents who came to see the area firsthand, and I caught up with one family who is outraged at the lack of progress and the fact that one of their own relatives was just located in her 9th ward home.  They went back to that home with me today.


When both of you come here—this is the house you grew up in—what goes through your mind?

GWENDOLYN HOOVER, NEW ORLEANS NATIVE:  Well, this is—this is the neighborhood where we grow up, and I mean, it‘s just—it‘s unreal.  It‘s going to be three months now and...

COSBY:  Nothing‘s changed.

GWENDOLYN HOOVER:  And you know, it doesn‘t seem like as if anything‘s been done, you know?  I mean, it‘s like nothing‘s been done.

COSBY:  This is your aunt‘s house.

GWENDOLYN HOOVER:  This is where my aunt lived, that‘s right.

COSBY:  Now, your aunt‘s body was found, what, just a few days ago in this home.

GWENDOLYN HOOVER:  Yes, on November the 8th.  I mean, we got the call on November the 11th, and to be honest with you, I mean, we didn‘t believe that they had found the body house on November 8 because they—we‘d been told that they searched the house three times and they told us that there were no bodies in the house, that they searched the body three times.

COSBY:  Yes, you can see the marcations that we‘re looking it here.


COSBY:  Where was your aunt‘s body found in the home?

JONATHAN HOOVER, NEW ORLEANS NATIVE:  I believe in the back bedroom.

GWENDOLYN HOOVER:  They said in the back bedroom, on this side of the house, yes, so...

COSBY:  What emotions do you feel, you know, as you see the house?  You also find out your aunt‘s body was just found a few days ago in this home.

JONATHAN HOOVER:  Well, I guess I can‘t believe this would happen here in the United States, that it would take them literally three months to find an individual who‘s obviously been here since this hurricane happened.  It‘s truly unbelievable.

COSBY:  This looks like how I—when I looked at it in September.


JONATHAN HOOVER:  Yes.  We‘re very frustrated.


JONATHAN HOOVER:  And it just seems like another example of how maybe the government just don‘t care, you know?


JONATHAN HOOVER:  It‘s just another example of it.

COSBY:  As a New Orleans resident coming here now to the lower 9th ward, what goes through your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I knew it was this bad, but really getting out and just seeing it firsthand makes a big, big impression.  I mean, you know, you hear about how they‘re going to talk about bulldozing certain sections of the city, and I think this really makes you realize that this probably would have to be bulldozed.  I mean, it‘s—it‘s pretty unreal.

GLENDA SULLIVAN, BATON ROUGE RESIDENT:  There‘s no life.  There are no birds.  There‘s no sound of animals.  There‘s nothing living.  It‘s just—it‘s just total destruction.

COSBY:  You thought it was important to come here out of town, too?

SULLIVAN:  Yes, I wanted to see it for myself.  This is something that I hope will never happen again, especially in my lifetime.  And I wanted to see the severity of it, so that I could maybe make a contribution in helping things to get back to the way they need to be, back to normal.


COSBY:  And to keep this from ever happening again.  The government will have to rebuild those levees bigger and better than ever before.  Sadly, the government still has not planned or allocated enough money to make the levees secure for another massive storm.

I went to one of the worst levee breaches today with Colonel Richard Wagenaar of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  They are doing their best to help this community.


You know, it‘s amazing.  Here we are, months after Hurricane Katrina, and the damage from this levee breach here at the Industrial Canal is enormous.

COL. RICHARD WAGENAAR, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS:  Major damage in this area.  This is probably an immediate breach or immediate failure.  The water in this area rose a lot faster than at other breach sites.

COSBY:  Was this one of the most severe in terms of the damage?

WAGENAAR:  It was one of the causes of the some of the severest damage in the metropolitan area, this failure.

COSBY:  Where were the main breaches?

WAGENAAR:  This breach—about an 800-foot breach, started down at—where it was tied into the original flood wall down at this end, extended all the way to the north, towards Lake Pontchartrain.  And you can see where it ties into the other part of the original flood wall at this end.  Like I said, about 800-foot-long breach.

COSBY:  So we‘re talking about an 800-foot-long breach.  Basically, and 800-foot-long wall of water came through.

WAGENAAR:  Correct.  Continuous failure, correct.

We‘re moving towards a much higher level of protection, what we call pre-Katrina level of design by 1 June.

COSBY:  Are we ever going to be at the level where we‘re going to be able to handle a category 5?

WAGENAAR:  In the near term, no.  We‘ll be able to handle, like, category 3-type storms.  Depends on the characteristics of that storm.  Long-term goal is higher levels of protection.

COSBY:  How much is it going to cost for a level 5 protection?

WAGENAAR:  Tens of billions.

COSBY:  Tens of billions of dollars?

WAGENAAR:  Tens of billions.

COSBY:  I would imagine, Colonel, that rebuilding the levees is the key right now.

WAGENAAR:  It is the key.  There‘s a lot of factors that people cite on why they want to come back or why they would rebuild in New Orleans.  But clearly, the security of the levees and the protection they provide, so when they start rebuilding their homes inside the levee rings, is the critical factor right now, restoring that confidence to not only the people but to businessmen and businesspeople that are going to bring their businesses back so people have jobs.

COSBY:  Do you think this country has the will, now months have passed, to say, I‘m going to spend tens of billions of dollars to really do it right?

WAGENAAR:  I hope so.  I mean, it‘s—I don‘t believe that the process is as fast as people want it to be, and I think we have to be as deliberate as we are.  But I hope the national will is there to bring back the city of New Orleans because it‘s critical to the nation.  You don‘t want to lose a nugget, a golden nugget like New Orleans.

COSBY:  And the levees are the key.

WAGENAAR:  And the levees are the key.

COSBY:  So it doesn‘t happen again.

WAGENAAR:  So it won‘t happen again, right.


COSBY:  And still ahead, amazing pictures of a house filled with mud.  It was one of the most emotional moments that we captured right after Hurricane Katrina as a family tried go home.  Is there any way to clean up a mess of this magnitude?  We went back with them yesterday.  Find out what the house looks like now.

And we showed you amazing pictures of New Orleans covered in water. 

Next, we‘ll go back up in the air and see what was under all of that water.

And later, Arthel Neville joins me LIVE AND DIRECT with how she‘s helping the recovery in her home town.  She basically risked her own life to go back in.  It‘s coming up, as our special coverage of “New Orleans Then and Now” continues.


COSBY:  And we are live back in New Orleans, “New Orleans Then and Now,” as we continue our special coverage.  It‘s been three months after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the Gulf Coast, and there is still a massive amount of work to be done.  Many people tried to return home only to find their houses destroyed and their most prized possessions lost forever.

In September, I witnessed an incredible and very emotional moment.  I was with homeowners Joe and Paula Licciardi as they saw their home for the first time since the storm.


And this is incredible.  But how high was the water at one point when you were told?

JOE LICCIARDI, ST. BERNARD PARISH RESIDENT:  It was 12 feet deep.  I passed this house with a boat.

COSBY:  In your home?

JOE LICCIARDI:  In my home.

COSBY:  So this is the good news?

JOE LICCIARDI:  This is the good news.

COSBY:  That we‘re walking through.

JOE LICCIARDI:  The good news is my house is still standing, and there are other houses around here collapsed.  (INAUDIBLE) I don‘t know if they could ever rebuild.

COSBY:  Whose truck is that over there?

JOE LICCIARDI:  I don‘t know.

COSBY:  And then there‘s a boat, too?

JOE LICCIARDI:  A couple of boats (INAUDIBLE)

COSBY:  These are not your...


COSBY:  ... not your trucks and not your boats?


COSBY:  So somebody else‘s boats and trucks ended up in your home.



PAULA LICCIARDI:  This is the champagne glasses that was given to us as a gift.  And we toasted the year 2000 in the millennium.

COSBY:  And this was your dining room here.


COSBY:  Where were the chairs before?

PAULA LICCIARDI:  They were—this table was this way, and the chairs were, you know, up against the table.

COSBY:  Now here‘s one of your chairs right here.


COSBY:  It‘s incredible to see.

PAULA LICCIARDI:  Oh, yes.  You can see the water lines.  It‘s unbelievable.

COSBY:  Yes, the water came up, boy, about—up to the second floor.

PAULA LICCIARDI:  I‘ve never seen anything like this.

This was outside.  This was part of our patio set outside.

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

PAULA LICCIARDI:  Toughest thing I think is my children‘s graduation pictures that used to line that wall.  I had four graduation pictures, and now I have none.

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

PAULA LICCIARDI:  No.  But we‘ll just have to make more memories, you know, and we‘ll have the memories that we have, and we‘ll have to go on.   There‘s nothing else we can do.


COSBY:  And joining us now are Joe and Paula Licciardi.  Both of you, it‘s great to see you back.  You both look like you took a shower, got some clean clothes on...


COSBY:  ... since we last saw each other.  We also went back to the house, and I want to show some pictures of what your house looks like now.  How does it feel to go back?  It‘s completely empty.

PAULA LICCIARDI:  It‘s an empty feeling, and it‘s very emotional still to go back, especially to see the house with everything out of it and to still see all the debris in the driveway.  And it‘s very emotional still to go back to see that.

COSBY:  You know, Joe, how long is it going to take to rebuild?  And you‘re planning on going back there, right?

JOE LICCIARDI:  I‘m going back.

COSBY:  You both are determined.  I know you said that, but you‘re sticking to your guns.

JOE LICCIARDI:  It‘s going to be a while before we can get back. 

It‘ll probably be about another year or two.  But we‘re going to try.  We‘re trying hard to get back because—you know, it‘s just—it‘s tough on us right now.

COSBY:  You know, when I went in there with you, I know how tough it was, some of the wedding pictures, some of your kids‘ pictures...


COSBY:  Were you able to recover any of those items?


COSBY:  Those are all gone?

PAULA LICCIARDI:  Yes, yes.  We weren‘t able to salvage much from the house.  The water and just the surge and the mud on top of it all—just, we weren‘t really able to save anything, really, from the house.  But we just—you know, we want to redo our house.  We want to go back home.  And I‘m sure a lot of people from St. Bernard parish feel the same way.

But we need answers.  We need to find out, you know, are they going to reconstruct the levees strong enough to help protect us?  And we know that it was a natural disaster, that nobody probably really could have predicted to this degree, but we want to know if we‘re going to be protected.  If we take our insurance money, put it back into our homes, are we going to be safe there?  Are we going to have grocery stores?  Are we going to have businesses to go to, people to have jobs?  And we—you cannot go back at this point because we have nothing.  We have no housing.

COSBY:  Where are you living?

JOE LICCIARDI:  I‘m staying there in the St. Bernard part.  We‘re staying in a trailer.

COSBY:  You‘re staying in a trailer all this time?


COSBY:  And you‘re probably going to be there, what, another year?

JOE LICCIARDI:  At least two years.

COSBY:  Well, both you have been in my prayers, and I‘m glad you‘re both safe and sound.  I‘m glad your family‘s safe and sound because that‘s not replaceable, of course.  Thank you so much.

JOE LICCIARDI:  This is a time we can get with our families and—it‘ll be tomorrow, but...

COSBY:  Well, you guys know what Thanksgiving‘s all about!


COSBY:  Many blessings to both of you.

JOE LICCIARDI:  Well, thank you.


COSBY:  Thank you so much.

And of course, not just these folks but so many folks endured so, so much.  Also, journalists experienced some hardships firsthand.  But it was especially hard for the ones who were covering their own hometown.

The home of Arthel Neville that she grew up in was completely destroyed.  And tonight, we have some never before seen pictures of the damaged home where her mother will never live in again.

Arthel is the daughter and niece of the famed Neville brothers, the great singing sensation.  And she, of course, joins me live now.  Arthel, you know, how painful is it to see that house that obviously has so many memories for you personally?

ARTHEL NEVILLE, REPORTER, BORN IN New Orleans:  You know, Rita, earlier this morning, I e-mailed those photos to your producer, Nina (ph).  And honestly, she called me afterwards to make sure she had gotten the photos, to confirm that, and I couldn‘t talk to her.  I said, Nina, I‘m upset right now.  I‘ve got to go.

So it‘s just that you think that the tears are gone.  You think you

can‘t cry anymore, but you just can‘t help it.  I mean, look at that.  You

can‘t even really comprehend that that was—there‘s the kitchen right

there.  That used to be kitchen.  The cabinets are off the wall.  There‘s

my room at home that—you know, the walls that were lavender are now just

covered in mold.  Those walls were white.  It‘s all gray with mold.  And

it‘s just incomprehensible

I mean, all of the people you‘ve heard accounts from tonight, Rita, you know, I don‘t think any of us can really put into words how we feel.  And I‘m telling you, those of us from New Orleans, I mean, we have a really, really, really big place in our hearts for home.  And as I‘ve said before, no matter where I live, be it Los Angeles, New York or wherever, when I refer to home, I‘m talking about New Orleans.

COSBY:  You know, Arthel, those pictures really are stunning.  I mean, it‘s amazing, you know, to see those, and then we just saw the pictures of what the Licciardis went through.  It is so much of a loss.  How is your mom doing?  How‘s your family doing?

NEVILLE:  You know, first of all, we‘re all grateful and thankful to be alive.  So in that regard, we‘re doing fine.  And as I‘ve said before, I consider our family the lucky ones that we have been able to get shelter.  Relatively speaking, Rita, they‘re doing fine.  My family is scattered across the country, like so many families, you know?

But I just—my heart goes out for those families who are splintered, with no way of connecting, and in fact, are still living in hotels, knowing that in a couple of weeks, the FEMA money‘s going to run out.  That‘s where I‘m really—I‘m just really distraught about those situations.

COSBY:  You know, and Arthel, real quickly, I mean, how angry are you?  I will tell you, I was stunned.  You know, I‘ve been covering this for a long time, haven‘t...

NEVILLE:  Right.

COSBY:  You know, I‘ve been removed now for a few months, came back. 

Nothing has changed.

NEVILLE:  Exactly.

COSBY:  And it‘s frustrating to me to see that our country isn‘t putting enough economic support, enough emotional support to help these people.

NEVILLE:  And then when you watch the news or read the paper or whatever you‘re doing to get your information, you see all of these bipartisan arguments.  Over what?  You know what?  I‘d like every politician in Washington to go to New Orleans to see it firsthand because the pictures can never really drive home the drama that people are living and the nightmare that people are living.  If they would go down there and see it, they‘d have to scratch their heads and go, Whoa, what have we been doing?

And again, I don‘t want to say that everybody...


NEVILLE:  Rita, if I can add there?  I don‘t want to say that politicians across the board are not helping because I know for a fact that there are people down there going to New Orleans, various committees that have been formed, people trying to help rebuild New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast.  I do realize that.  But you know what?  Still at this point, it‘s not enough.

COSBY:  You‘re right, we got a long way to go, my friend.  Thank you, Arthel, so much.

And everybody, stick with us because still ahead, some of the most amazing stories from New Orleans came as countless people were rescued from their flooded homes by helicopters.  The captivating pictures that we gathered ourselves during those life-or-death moments, they are coming up.

And the last time we were here, there was violence in the streets, snipers and also looters.  Up next, we‘ll find out if law officers have managed to keep the peace in what is still a deserted city tonight.  Stay tuned.


COSBY:  And we‘re still here live in New Orleans looking at New Orleans then and now.  And unfortunately, not a lot of progress has been made. 

But some of the most memorable images, as we look back from Katrina‘s aftermath, were the dramatic helicopter rescues.  They were incredible, as the brave men and women pulled people to safety. 

I had the chance to ride along on one of those rescue missions just days after the hurricane hit.  It was incredible to see them working firsthand. 


COSBY (voice-over):  Only minutes into our flight, we received word that a dozen evacuees have been spotted near the convention center, after enduring many days at their flood-ravaged home.  They suddenly crammed into our chopper, some shivering and very scared, but grateful to be alive. 

(on-screen):  Where have you been the last few days? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve been at 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:  It‘s totally gone.  The water‘s covering the roof. 

I live in east of New Orleans, and it‘s totally gone.  Everything is gone. 

COSBY:  How does it feel to be rescued? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Great.  Great.  Great.  I am so glad to leave New Orleans.  Great. 

COSBY (voice-over):  After dropping them off to safety, our next step was to load up on necessities, for those who are still determined to stick by their homes. 

(on-screen):  This is normally a small parking lot attached to the New Orleans Saints football team training center.  But on this day, this is a main supply center, supplying food, water and also medical supplies. 

(voice-over):  Unfortunately, it was clear many did not need supplies.  We saw several bodies floating by their homes.  But we also saw signs of life.  People in the water on boats, even bicycles, and dogs still standing guard. 

And there are signs on rooftops vowing to rebuild and telling these military men where to drop off supplies. 

But touching down in an urban city can be a dangerous task.  These well-armed border patrol agents accompany rescue and relief missions, ever since some choppers were targeted by gun-toting criminals seeking to wreak havoc in this virtual ghost town.

(on-screen):  Are you surprised you got to carry this?  This is America. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In this setting after, it‘s almost upsetting, yes. 


COSBY:  And that‘s what New Orleans looked like just days after Hurricane Katrina hit and pummeled the city.  Well, let‘s take a look at what it looks like today from the air. 

Only a few hours ago, our crew took to the skies over the Crescent City with members of the Louisiana Army National Guard.  Here‘s how Captain Shane Devlin describes New Orleans then and now. 


CAPT. SHANE DEVLIN, LOUISIANA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD:  The first few days, we were (INAUDIBLE) and we were actively flying 12 to 14 hours a day, picking up as many people as possible as we could.  No one ever thought that this actually could take place until you actually saw it with your own eyes. 

We never knew the gravity of the situation until we actually hit the New Orleans area where the break in the levee was.  And we saw the water just rushing in as fast as possible.  It looked like white water rapids coming in and just not stopping, and it did this for days. 

Imagine all this was probably about 10 to 12 feet of water.  So as you‘re flying over it, all you see is roof tops. 

We were up at 8:00 in the morning that day and we flew until about 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning, went back to Baton Rouge, got sleep, was up at 6:30 and did it all over again the next day. 

It was nine days, that it was well over 2,000 people.  It was like a mass exodus.  It was like people trying to walk for survival.  There were people walking the interstate for miles just looking to either to get to the superdome or to find out where the helicopters were landing.

And as we were flying over, unfortunately, you‘d see people that just didn‘t make it.  For those nine, ten days, though, we were rescuing people.  I knew everything I had was lost. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But your home is OK now?

DEVLIN:  My home right now—I just hired a contractor, and I‘m starting to rebuild.  They started running new water yesterday, in fact.  So I am moving back to the city. 


COSBY:  And another big concern after Hurricane Katrina was safety.  When I arrived here into town, it was late in the middle of the night.  And it looked more like the wild west than New Orleans.  I rode along with the U.S. marshals as they tried to keep the peace. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But it appears somebody has been coming in here, possibly vandalizing.  Hopefully, we can be here next time they come or we‘ll be the welcoming committee. 

COSBY (voice-over):  They later combed the city streets and found this business broken into in a creative way. 

(on-screen):  What do you think happened here? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think people were trying to get into the building, made entry through—they broke through three doors to get into this office, couldn‘t get through the double-paned glass door in the office behind you.  So they improvised, and went up through the—went up into the roof area. 

COSBY (voice-over):  The marshals looked for criminals through their night-vision goggles, but on this night see only friendly forces.

(on-screen):  These night-vision goggles are critical to the U.S.  marshals to spot someone like me in the complete darkness of this virtually empty city. 

Some of the dead bodies will not be from the flooding.  Where will they be from? 

WALTER SANBORNE, U.S. MARSHAL:  Oh, yes.  I‘m imagining quite a few of them might have gunshot wounds in them, because who knows what these people were up to before we got here? 

COSBY:  Tough place? 

SANBORNE:  Oh, yes, definitely, definitely.  Lawless.  There was nobody to stop them. 

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

JASON TARWATER, U.S. MARSHAL:  It‘d still be in chaos.  We‘ve got homes that good people have gotten out and left and gone to other places.  And the people that are left here, they have no food, they have no water, other than what is being provided to them. 

It‘s not fair.  It‘s not fair that criminals can get out and go steal other people‘s possessions, when you have the predators that were preying on the weak that are still here. 

COSBY:  Are you proud of the hard work you guys have done? 

TARWATER:  Absolutely. 

COSBY:  You seeing a dent already? 

TARWATER:  Absolutely.  It‘s gotten quiet.  It‘s gotten real quiet in the last couple of days. 

COSBY:  Do you think it‘ll stay this way? 

TARWATER:  Hope so.  I hope so.  If it did, we did our job. 


COSBY:  And joining me now are two men who really saved the city from lawlessness at a very difficult time, FBI Special Agent James Bernazzani and also the former police chief here, a good friend to all of us here in area, Eddie Compass. 

Good to see you guys.  First of all, you look relaxed, now that you‘re out.  You know, so what are you doing now?

EDDIE COMPASS, FORMER NEW ORLEANS POLICE CHIEF:  Well, right now, I‘m working for Mr. Patrick Quinn—he‘s the owner of New Orleans‘ (INAUDIBLE) hotels—as a security consultant.  And I‘m really very fortunate to have a job where I‘m going to be part of the revitalization of the city. 

COSBY:  And I understand they‘re going to be swearing in the new chief, what, on Monday? 

COMPASS:  Yes, Chief Warren Riley.  You know, I‘m very blessed to have him as our new chief.  I‘m going to pin the badge on him.  He‘s a very good friend of mine.  He was my number two, and I think he‘s going to do a really great job for this city.

COSBY:  You know, as you look back at what‘s happening now, murder rates are down, but looting is still up. 

JAMES BERNAZZANI, FBI SPECIAL AGENT:  Well, the threat of violence has changed.  After the winds and the water, we went through the shootings with the recovery, and through a spike in looting.  And looting is not as high as it used to be. 

But now we‘re into the fraud arena.  And we‘re seeing three major areas where fraud is being perpetrated.  One is your basic misrepresentation, people lying on applications to get relief.  The second is in the cyber field, where individuals are setting up false websites that are designed to look like charities, but in actuality they‘re trying to steal the people‘s money or identities.

And the third—and the FBI‘s been very strong with the Department of Justice—that public officials, whether they‘re federal, state or local, whether elected, or they were appointed, or whether they‘re hired, if they misused their position for profit, they will be thoroughly investigated. 

COSBY:  Are you finding that that‘s happening, people of authority?

BERNAZZANI:  We‘ve already had one arrest and.. 

COSBY:  Who was that?  Can you say that?  Who was that?

BERNAZZANI:  He was a councilman north of the lake.  I can‘t really get into the specifics of that case, but rest assured that, if individuals in elected position are contemplating misusing their position for profit, they may get their money up front, but we‘ll go after them and we‘ll find them, no matter where they are or no matter how long it takes. 

COSBY:  You know, as we look now, there‘s some lights on behind us.  But I was in the Ninth Ward earlier today, where there is no power, there are no homes there.  Only 60,000 people are here 24 hours a day.  It‘s easier, I would imagine, to manage a smaller community.  But you want to have folks come back in.  But that‘s a double-edged for you.

BERNAZZANI:  Well, it‘s an opportunity for us to build an intelligence network design to sense who‘s coming back and, those who are problematic, to neutralize their efforts. 

The biggest concern right now is reestablishing the confidence of the business community.  And once the business community comes in, we‘re going to see—we‘ll probably see additional people returning, because there‘ll be an infrastructure, jobs, material, services and things of that nature. 

COSBY:  Are people afraid to come back, from what you‘re seeing from the security aspect? 

COMPASS:  You know, being in the private sector now, I see that people have a lack of confidence in the city and the revitalization.  And that‘s one reason I wanted to get involved from the ground floor.

And when I look at the people that‘s coming to the hotels right now, they‘re very happy at the progress, especially in the downtown area. 

COSBY:  Are they nervous, too?  Is there still a sort of sense of there‘s nobody around?  Are they still worried about a desolate city? 

COMPASS:  Well, I‘m not finding that, because in the areas where our hotels located, most of them are very highly populated.  And, you know, it‘s a lot of activity, you know, especially, like at the (INAUDIBLE) on Bourbon and Canal.  You know, it‘s always busy. 

And even the ones that out on the outskirts, you know, we have the security patrols that‘s in place.  And the New Orleans Police Department is doing a very good job patrolling those areas. 

COSBY:  Well, it‘s good to see both of you guys relaxed and happy. 

And nice to see a nice face sitting here.  Good work, both of you guys.

COMPASS:  Good to see you.

BERNAZZANI:  We appreciate it.  Take care.


COSBY:  Thank you, both.  Great to see both of you. 

And still ahead, everybody, stick with us.  We have a lot more ahead.  Interesting story of a boat that ended up in a most unusual place.  A couple thought they lost their boat forever.  Well, they got a surprise phone call.  Wait until you hear where it ended up.


COSBY:  And now a story here in New Orleans with a happy ending.  A couple who thought that they lost their boat forever, well, it suddenly turned up in a very surprising place because of a very surprising phone call. 

And joining us now to tell us all about it is the couple, John Nguyen and Kim Pham join me live from Houston. 

John, first of all, where was your boat?  I know our producer went by and saw it, what, suddenly in the middle of the street? 

JOHN NGUYEN, FISHING BOAT RECOVERED:  It was actually sitting in front of somebody‘s yard.  And originally it was...

COSBY:  Were you surprised that it came up, that it was suddenly found? 

NGUYEN:  Actually, he were ecstatic when we found it.  It was originally parked about three miles down the road at a seafood dock, actually.  And it‘s quite amazing what a 30-foot storm surge can do to push the boat three miles down the road.  And so, you know, when we found out that someone had found it, we were ecstatic. 

COSBY:  And when did the call come in? 

NGUYEN:  The call came in, actually, three days ago.  Somebody had been able to climb into the cabin of the boat and located a cell phone number that was sitting on a sheet of paper in the cabin.  And they called that cell phone number and, actually, the cell phone number belonged to Kim‘s father, who relayed the message to us. 

COSBY:  Well, you know what‘s so funny, because we‘re looking at a picture now, Kim.  There was a cell phone number listed on the outside of the boat.  Whose number is that? 

KIM PHAM, FISHING BOAT RECOVERED:  That‘s also mine, mine and John‘s.

COSBY:  Did you think that the number was going to get washed off? 

Why did you put it on there? 

PHAM:  I don‘t know.  It was my dad‘s—that‘s actually my dad‘s number.  The number that‘s on the boat is our number. 

NGUYEN:  Right.  The kids...


COSBY:  And how big is the boat?  How big is the size?  Give us some perspective. 

NGUYEN:  The boat is a commercial shrimping boat.  And so it‘s 60 feet in length and 20 feet wide. 

COSBY:  And, John, any plans to get back in the boat again?  What‘s ahead—what‘s the future of the boat? 

NGUYEN:  Well, actually, we‘re going back this weekend for Thanksgiving.  And we‘re going to try see if we can get help from the Coast Guard to get the boat off of land and back into water. 

COSBY:  Out of the neighbor‘s yard.  Thanks.  Good news, both of you. 

NGUYEN:  Exactly. 

COSBY:  John and Kim, thank you very much. 

And still ahead, everybody, stick with us, because New Orleans holds a very special place for a big superstar, Lenny Kravitz.  And he‘s chipping in to help the city rebuild.  He‘s going to be joining me, coming up.  You‘ve got to stick with us.


COSBY:  And Arthel Neville has set up a website for anybody who wants to help with Hurricane Katrina.  And it is  Be sure to take a look at that, and, of course, do whatever you can to help these folks in so much need. 

And, of course, Arthel isn‘t the only one who‘s helping out.  Singer Lenny Kravitz has some strong ties to this area and also wants to help out this lost city as much as he can.  It‘s because he is a New Orleans native, and he joins me now live on the phone. 

Lenny, it‘s great to have you with us.  Tell everybody about your ties to New Orleans. 

LENNY KRAVITZ, MUSICIAN:  It‘s a place that I just love so much.  And I bought a house there about 11 years ago.  And, through a very good friend of mine, named Cindy Torres (ph), who is a native from St. Bernard Parish, I got to meet Sheriff Jack Stevens, and Joe Lachardi (ph), and all these great people over there that have been like family to me.  So, you know, these are dear family friends of mine that live in this area. 

COSBY:  You know, it‘s got to be hard for you to hear some of the things.  Sheriff Jack Stevens, who was actually on my show last night, was telling me that there are only 500 people in St. Bernard Parish.  The average population there normally is 70,000.  There‘s no power, no place to live.  It‘s got to be heart-breaking, Lenny, when you hear this.

KRAVITZ:  Yes.  And unfortunately, you know, I‘m on the road right now.  I, in fact, just got off stage about 15 minutes ago in Philadelphia.  So I haven‘t had a chance to get down there yet, but the tour is going to end, the first leg of it, in a couple of weeks.  I‘m going to actually go down and visit my friends. 

And it‘s just heart-breaking.  And there‘s also a member in my van, named Trombone Shorty, who is a trombone and trumpet player, who‘s a native of New Orleans, 19 years old, and he lost everything, as well.  So I mean, you know, I‘m dealing with people that are in the midst of this problem.

And, you know, I don‘t know what kind of attention St. Bernard is getting at the moment, but there obviously needs to be more attention.  I mean, New Orleans is in a hole, but, you know, St. Bernard is having some severe, severe problems. 

COSBY:  You know, I understand you also want to help out big-time.  I‘m hearing that you might even want to announce that you‘re going to be a spokesman, is that right? 

KRAVITZ:  Definitely, definitely.  And, you know, I‘m in the midst of talking to some people now and just seeing, you know, just what we can do, and raising some funds, and getting these people taken care of. 

And you know, it‘s a great place, a great part of New Orleans.  And, you know, like I said, I have a deep connection there with these people. 

COSBY:  You know, Lenny, do you think the city‘s ever going to recover, go back to where it was? 

KRAVITZ:  I mean, it will never be what it was.  You know, that something can never, ever go back to exactly what it was.  But I believe it can be rebuilt.  I believe that the spirit of the place can come back. 

And the spirit of the place are the people.  I mean, the architecture is wonderful.  The food is wonderful.  The culture, the music, it‘s all part of New Orleans.  But it‘s the people that make it beautiful.  And many of these people live outside of the quarter. 

The people that live in all of these different areas, you know, and so many of them are gone, and, you know, it‘s kind of a trip.  You know, I played a benefit at Madison Square Garden for Katrina, which is coming out on DVD actually very soon, and, you know, all these musicians and people that I know that I played with are gone, you know?  I mean, they‘ve got to move somewhere else. 

And they‘ve gone to different places in Texas, and so forth.  And, you know, they have to survive.  They have to play.  And, at the same time, they don‘t have their instruments.  They don‘t have their homes.  They don‘t have anything.  And it‘s very difficult. 

But I believe, if the place gets the attention, and gets the funding, and people concentrate on rebuilding, it can be done in a way that will honor what the city was. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And, Lenny Kravitz, thank you so much for taking some time, leaving the stage there to call us in on this important, important place.  We will do whatever we can.

And, everybody, stick with us.  We‘ll be right back.


COSBY:  After the devastation that this city went through, we remember that Thanksgiving is a time of hope.  It‘s a blessing of life and an inspiration.  Also reminding all of us how appreciative we are that we‘re alive. 

We close tonight with some amazing pictures of Hurricane Katrina.


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