Guest: Bob Riley, David Vitter
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: The president drops in on Baton Rouge, Biloxi, and New Orleans. But many people are still asking, is it three days too late?
Meanwhile, the mayor of New Orleans bitterly attacks the president, asking where he and the federal support has been. And that‘s what a lot of refugees are saying. We are finally starting to get some support here. I saw it in the same shelters I have been visiting for the past two, three days. And they are saying supplies are starting to trickle in, but they are asking one question: What took so long?
ANNOUNCER: From Biloxi, Mississippi, here‘s Joe Scarborough.
Well, another day in the disaster zone, another sweltering night. Above, we are starting to hear the hums of helicopters bringing in relief supplies. On the ground, generators around Biloxi and the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast finally beginning to kick in, providing electricity and a little bit of relief to the people in this region. But the real political heat right now is on President George Bush.
Now, you will remember, back in 1992, his father took political heat for the way he handled Hurricane Andrew. For that political dynasty, it‘s got to seem like deja vu all over again. I told you yesterday that I had a lot of Republican friends bring relief packages over to these people affected in this area from Pensacola, Florida.
When they came over here and saw what was happening on the ground, they were outraged, very angry at the very president they voted for last November. You get on the ground, and people are filling betrayed in the shelters. They are wondering, where is the president? Where are the governors? And where are the relief agencies? It seems like everything is blocked up.
We have got a distribution center in Biloxi. It‘s about 10 miles away from the very people who need it the most. It‘s just disappointing. I can‘t tell you of any other time I have been more disappointed in the performance of the national, the state, and the local governments than right now.
I want to go to New Orleans. Obviously, there are a lot of people angry there. The mayor today lashed out at the lack of federal support that that city had been receiving.
But Don Teague is there tonight.
And, Don, I have got to ask you, what kind of difference has a day made over in New Orleans? Is some order finally being restored to the Crescent City?
DON TEAGUE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: In order, the answer is yes, and the difference has made a huge—or a day has made a huge difference, Joe.
I want to show you. Remember, I was here last night, and I told you that the buses were coming to take the people away. Well, at about 1:00 this morning, or a couple of hours after I spoke to you, nine buses showed up, certainly not enough to take away the 2,500 or so people who were here. And they waited throughout most of the day today to get here. But I can show you right now. You‘ll notice the numbers are a little bit thinner.
Some buses have come to take people away today. In fact, we are told five of those buses came from Jesse Jackson, who himself was supposed to have been here shaking hands. I say supposed to have, because several people told me, including the police, but I didn‘t see him myself, because word travels slowly around there. And I think we missed him.
But the point is, if you look to the back, you will see a Budget truck right now. They are unloading aid to these people. They have been unloading aid here—we are talking cots, water and food—for the last few days. So, as miserable as this is, this has been a place for the last couple of days where at least the people weren‘t in danger of starving to death or dying of dehydration.
And, again, buses, both privately from Jesse Jackson‘s group and also from the government, were here and are now finally beginning to take people out of here. So, progress is being made, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Don, I want to ask you about the mood over in New Orleans and the area tonight.
You know, when I came to Biloxi the first day, people were experiencing misery on an almost epic scale. By Wednesday, that misery had turned to anger. Thursday, people were enraged. But, today, in all the shelters and in the torn-up neighborhoods I visited on the Gulf Coast, I started to sense that people were finally getting hope, hope that somebody was finally hearing their cries for help.
Do you sense the same thing in New Orleans, or is there still a palpable sense of rage?
TEAGUE: No, I really believe that has been dispelled quite a bit.
The tipping point was this morning, when we saw that massive convoy of National Guard buses and other types of aid moving into the city. The shots from above were compelling, because you could see them fording through the rivers and the lakes that the city of New Orleans has become. And because they got in there, they sent so many troops in. They managed to establish some peace in the city, and they started by the hundreds taking buses into the Superdome and Convention Center and pulling people out and draining that, and, with it, draining the tension and the anger.
I want to tell you, though, an interesting incident happened here a couple of hours ago. I think we can show you the pictures. They are taking women and children first on the buses. There was a man wearing a woman‘s wig trying to get on the bus. The police spot that and threw the wig off of him.
TEAGUE: Which you just saw right there. He is holding a child, OK? The child apparently wasn‘t his. The police, as far as we could tell, gave the child to its rightful owner, and they got on the bus.
But that‘s a bit of the sense of desperation here in cases which we see this, you know, every-man-for-himself mentality—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Don, I will tell you what. That‘s outrageous. But thanks so much for the report. It looks like a little bit of hope is finally coming to the Crescent City and surrounding areas. Greatly appreciate the report.
I want to show you an image right now. This is a picture of President Bush just a short while ago, signing—he signed $10.5 billion relief legislation that the Senate passed that we were reporting on this time last night. The president has got to understand that so much of America is looking at him more closely tonight than ever before, wondering whether his administration is going to be able to turn things around.
Now, friends, like I said to you last night, I have been—you know, I was a congressman. And it ain‘t anything like being president of the United States. But I can tell you, when people are on the ground and when they are hurting, that‘s when your job as an elected official is more important than ever. And everywhere I went today, it didn‘t matter whether I was asking about the Republican president, the Republican mayor of—the Republican governor of Mississippi or the Democratic governor of Louisiana.
Everybody to a person said, we have been let down. They need to turn the corner.
Now, one of the areas where they were beginning to turn the corner today, as we just heard from Don Teague, was at the Convention Center. Now, remember, this Convention Center, believe it or not, this is where refugees went to seek shelter the first few days after the hurricane in New Orleans. And AP reported that people were getting raped and beaten up in restrooms in that Convention Center.
Of course, yesterday afternoon, the Associated Press reported at 4:15 that 88 police officers were turned back by an angry mob.
But, as Martin Savidge is reporting tonight, maybe things, even at the New Orleans Convention Center, may be beginning—and I say beginning—to look up—Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Joe, the first relief has arrived at the Convention Center tonight. That is food, water, and, above all, security.
But really, what the folks wanted to see most was a way out, and they still don‘t have that.
(voice-over): It‘s our second day outside the New Orleans Convention Center, and they just started distributing food and water late this afternoon. But there are no buses here, and there‘s no sign they‘re coming soon. A woman rakes the garbage, believing if she doesn‘t, the buses won‘t come.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) I haven‘t been taking nothing from nobody.
SAVIDGE: After four days of hell and no help, many believe the only explanation is they‘re being punished.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No buses no food, no water, no nothing.
SAVIDGE: This woman confesses she stole this fruit. So many here have chronic diseases, diabetes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I‘m scared because my insulin‘s been off ice now for a pretty long time. I‘m scared to take it. It might make me worse.
SAVIDGE: This man needs dialysis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need my treatment. I need to go to the hospital.
SAVIDGE: Even the healthy are breaking down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to know why they don‘t bring these buses on and take these people out of here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can‘t stand it here anymore. I can‘t stand
it! I don‘t ever want to go back
SAVIDGE: Not all of these people are destitute. Many have jobs, kids in college, a mortgage. But after five days in the heat, everyone here feels the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m hungry. I‘m dirty. Mosquito eating me up, though.
SAVIDGE: Down the street, another man who ran out of time. In his Bible, Larry Johns (ph) reads of ancient times of famine, to which he now relates.
(on camera): These are biblical times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s right. And you know, the only thing I can say, like, I‘ve been hearing about they‘re sending buses here and they‘re sending buses there. I stood up here. I seen about 50 buses yesterday. They could have sent 25 to the Superdome and 25 here and thinned this crowd out.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): And then the rumble of trucks. It‘s clear the rescuers feared the ones that came to help, at least initially.
(on camera): What took so long, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it‘s hard. How long did it take to you get here?
SAVIDGE: I‘ve been here, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You know the deal. It‘s hard to get here.
It‘s hard to get food for 20,000 people.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Help has come, for some, just in time, for most, nowhere near soon enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should have been here four days ago!
(on camera): This evening, it looked like the first evacuees from the Convention Center might, in fact, be able to leave. Those would be the desperate, the elderly and the very sick. They were pulled together for what was going to be a helicopter flight away. It was a painful process, but, once they were organized, frustration again, as the soldiers told them it had taken too long, and the helicopters couldn‘t fly after sunset. All of them were turned back and told to spend another night in the Convention Center—Joe, back to you.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks so much, Martin.
I just got to ask you, can you believe this is happening in our country? Can you believe this is happening in the wealthiest country not only around the Earth today, but the wealthiest country that‘s ever been? We are a nation of immeasurable riches, and we have people dying in the shadows of giant skyscrapers, and we can‘t do anything about it?
I hear politicians talking about how they didn‘t understand that this storm was going to be this large, when the president of the United States came on 48 hours before the storm hit New Orleans and Biloxi and warned people it was going to be a storm of historic proportions. I heard Haley Barbour say the same thing. It caught him by surprise. How could anybody say that?
And excuses for not saving these people in the Convention Center earlier. I heard that they were afraid to go up to the Convention Center, that they couldn‘t get access there. And yet NBC‘s Martin Savidge rolls up in a lone SUV a couple of days ago to talk to these people? If an NBC News reporter can roll up to this disaster zone, to this killing field, then why can‘t our federal government? Why can‘t our state officials? Why can‘t law enforcement officers?
This is a sad, sad day in this country. And it‘s now the responsibility of President Bush and local leaders in these affected areas to make sure that things turn around very quickly.
Let‘s take a listen to some of the remarkable meetings the president had with refugees earlier today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m trying to find my house. My house is in there. (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: House. I need (INAUDIBLE) I came to the house to get clothes for my son.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There‘s a Salvation Army center that I want you—we will tell you where it is. And we want you to know (INAUDIBLE) They will get you some help. I‘m sorry for you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t have anything.
BUSH: Well, they will help you. (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He‘s (INAUDIBLE) two months, Mr. President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Middle school and the high school.
BUSH: But isn‘t there a Salvation center down here?
BUSH: No, I mean the temporary center?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, they got (INAUDIBLE)
BUSH: That‘s what I‘m saying, for food and water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... food and water.
BUSH: How old are you? You‘re a young-looking 20.
BUSH: All right. Hang in there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, I know that guy. I have had a chance to talk to President Bush. I spent a couple hours alone with him on Air Force One, and I think I read the man. I know that he is suffering tonight. He is feeling a lot of the same feelings that you are feeling at home, wondering how this could be happening in his country, with his administration in charge.
I suspect heads are going to roll, but I will tell you what. You deserve answers. I deserve answers. And these millions of refugees across the Gulf Coast deserve answers for what happened the first four to five days after Katrina crashed onshore.
Now, coming up next, I am going to be talking to a Republican senator from Louisiana, the first in that state. And I am going to ask him whether he was convinced that the president was taking the steps required today when President Bush came to his hometown.
We will be right back in a second with much more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY live from, I will tell you what, what looks like a war zone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the food I had, I have gave. Now I am down to the last of mine. But I gave strictly to the elderly. I gave the cold drinks. I gave sandwiches. I gave chips. I gave candy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re looking at images of the waves that started it all. In fact, these are waves that would have engulfed me two, three blocks above Mississippi‘s Gulf Coast. We are going to show you more of these remarkable images and get you up to date with the very latest breaking news when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: As President Bush toured Mississippi‘s Gulf Coast in New Orleans, he was joined by political leaders from across this region. One of them was David Vitter. David, of course, is the Republican senator from the state of—state of Louisiana.
David, I want to ask you about the president in a minute, but, first, a lot of people talking about your statement that as many as 10,000 New Orleans citizens may have died in this storm. Tell us about that.
SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA: VITTER: Well, Joe, I certainly hope I am wrong. I certainly hope I am proven wrong, but the way things have been heading, particularly up to this morning, when I made that statement, that‘s where I thought we were going. And I pray to God and hope we have turned the corner and that figure will be lower.
We will have to see. It‘s going to take some time to know. I don‘t have any good counts. And I said it this morning, that that was not based on any counts from the field, but I feared that‘s the direction we were heading in.
Well, David, you know, nobody really knows what‘s going on in New Orleans right now, in parts of New Orleans, and they don‘t know how many people are dead. And, you know, we have talked before about how these hurricanes go in cycles—cycles. Right now, we are starting to get, I think, a break in some of the misery people have been enduring in your state, but we all know that, once police officers, law enforcement officers take back that city and start looking around, they are going to find a lot of dead people.
Isn‘t that the case?
VITTER: Could be, Joe. We really don‘t know. There are no precise figures out there at all, and there won‘t be for weeks. So, it‘s going to take some time to tell.
But I hope you are right about us possibly turning a corner today. I personally sense that, including being with the president all day and having a very frank and productive meeting with the governor and him and the mayor and others on Air Force One at the airport before we took a helicopter tour. So, I hope that part of your report, that suggestion, is proven out over the next few days as well.
SCARBOROUGH: Everything we are hearing from the field suggests that it is. And, of course, as you know, unfortunately, reporters have been more active in the city of New Orleans over the past couple of days in reporting out intel than law enforcement officers.
Let‘s go to Governor Bob Riley.
Governor, I obviously knew you as a friend in Congress. But, in the state of Florida, I get to see you up close and personal every time a hurricane comes along. You were on top of it from the very beginning. Do you understand why residents of Mississippi and Louisiana feel like their political leaders let them down?
GOV. BOB RILEY ®, ALABAMA: Well, Joe, you have been through these hurricanes. You know exactly what we have to contend with down here.
When we had Ivan come through last year, you lived through that, so you know exactly what we are having to deal with. You know, it‘s a tragic situation. But what I am trying to get all of the Southern states to do now is concentrate on, how are we going to alleviate some of this suffering? How are we going to get these people from Mississippi and your area, get them over here and get them out, and at least give them a place to go to sleep at night and get their kids back in school? So, essentially, that‘s where I—Alabama is concentrating on today.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, that‘s a good thing for Alabama to concentrate on. Obviously, I know you have been overwhelmed by the number of churches, faith organizations, that have stepped up and said, we are going to do whatever it takes.
RILEY: It is...
SCARBOROUGH: I want to ask you, though, about—give us your read on the president today.
VITTER: Well, the president came down here. He was focused. He was intent. He walked in and basically said, you know, we are going to take the situation. What do you need? What can we do to help?
Joe, you—on one of your programs the other night, you mentioned that, when Ivan came through, there was a different type of response. Well, we got the same similar type of response from FEMA and from all of the personnel this time. I mean, I can‘t think of a request that we had that wasn‘t answered. I think it was—Alabama‘s situation was much more similar to what you went through and Pensacola went through with Ivan.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I think—I think—and there have been spots of efficiency in this storm.
But, unfortunately, Senator Vitter, as you and I both know, New Orleans isn‘t one of those places. Senator, let me ask you what you think about FEMA director—the FEMA director saying that he wasn‘t aware that people in New Orleans at the Convention Center needed water, and other officials saying that they couldn‘t get to the Convention Center, while NBC News reporters were driving up in a lone SUV.
VITTER: Well, it‘s ludicrous. It‘s ludicrous from him. It‘s ludicrous. There are plenty of other folks at the federal and state level to blame. There‘s plenty of blame to go around, because the effectiveness of the response has gotten an F. so far. I hope that‘s turned around today, but up until this morning, it was just a failure.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Senator, a lot of people want to know tonight, what is the biggest problem? What does the federal government need to do to move forward to try to alleviate some of the suffering in your state and Mississippi?
VITTER: Well, it‘s three things. I will just speak to Louisiana, particularly the New Orleans area.
It‘s three big things. One is security. We need to get control back of the streets. I think that began to happen today, but we have further to go, and we have to be very aggressive, pushing that, including pushing up the number of uniformed personnel very, very aggressively. I have been pushing for that nonstop for two days, including use of active-duty military, which we talked about in our meetings today.
And so, to me, that‘s very important. Secondly is the evacuation effort. People still need to be gotten out of New Orleans. And there are thousands, and your video shows that. And third is relief, food, water supplies, all of that stuff.
So, the military is engaged as of today. Hopefully, those supply lines, military-style, are being set up, because it certainly wasn‘t happening through FEMA.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, it certainly wasn‘t, an absolute disgrace.
And, you know, we taxpayers obviously pay the employees of FEMA to do their jobs. And when you have the biggest hurricane in American history come onshore, you would hope that they would be more efficient.
Governor Riley, I want to ask you what—what happened in the hours leading up to this hurricane. When I was in Congress, my district got hit one year by three different hurricanes. We were on with FEMA Director James Lee Witt for three days before those hurricanes stormed ashore, and it was a coordinated effort. Have you seen that same coordination before the storm and after the storm?
RILEY: Joe, I really did.
You know, the president called me before—before the event. He has made two or three phone calls since that time. I talk to Mike Brown literally three and four and five times a day. I talk to the secretary, Chertoff, at least once a day.
We had—we didn‘t experience any of the problems that New Orleans is going through. You know, we didn‘t have the catastrophe that New Orleans had. But, on the other end—and I told the president that today—you know, even the day before, we were already pre-staging people to go over and help Haley, because we knew that governor Barbour was going to get hit harder than we were.
So, we had an opportunity to plan. And, you know, it‘s a tragic situation, but, again, I think let‘s don‘t focus right now on assessing blame. Let‘s see if we can‘t take care of the people in Biloxi, where you are, and Louisiana. And there‘s going to be ample time to do that later.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks so much, Bob. I greatly appreciate it.
David, thank you, and know again that our thoughts and prayers remain with the people in your fair state. We know they are going to turn it around and things are going to get better, and we are going to get on the right path.
And Bob Riley is right. At some point, we are all going to have to sit down and ask our politicians, who get paid good money, why they responded so miserably in Mississippi and Louisiana and why their inefficiency ended up costing lives.
When we come back, a lot more, reports out of New Orleans. We are going talking to David Shuster about what he has seen, the shocking things that he‘s seen in Biloxi, just like me, and also going to be telling you how you can make a difference, how you tonight, Middle America, can step forward and help alleviate suffering in Mississippi, in New Orleans, and across the Gulf Coast. SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are alive. We are talking to you all. What else do we want?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people are just whiners. Some people are just complaining. Nobody has any comprehension of what happened here. The federal government, the world governments can‘t get stuff in here quick enough because it‘s so bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Fear and loathing in New Orleans, as the city burst into flames this morning, but reports that things are beginning to get better in the Crescent City.
All that and much more when we return, but, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Breaking news from the White House.
Just minutes ago, President Bush signed the $10.5 billion relief package for Mississippi, for Louisiana, and other affected areas from Hurricane Katrina. Some people say maybe the president is moving a little bit too late. Others—and I got to tell you, I went into the—I went into the war zone today again, talked to a lot of people at a shelter.
Some people actually did feel like the president coming there, shaking their hands, putting their arms around them, made a difference. Others said no difference at all.
I want to bring in right now David Shuster, MSNBC correspondent.
David, you and I have been here three days now. We have gone to the same shelter today. I think, you went over to the same place I went to.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Right.
SCARBOROUGH: You asked a question of one of the workers there, said, who—have you seen any federal workers here, any assistants yet? What did she tell you?
SHUSTER: She said, I haven‘t seen one. She said that we are doing fine now as far as food and water, but that‘s because of the private groups, because of the church across the street that pooled their resources and helped feed people in the shelter, because the private organizations, like the group that you brought in from Pensacola the other day, she said that‘s all they are seeing, private groups, perhaps the Red Cross, the Salvation Army.
But she said part of the problem now is that now that people are getting their food and water, finally, after four days, now people are wandering around, thinking, well, what is next? There‘s nobody to talk to about disability benefits. There‘s nobody to talk to about, can I get money so I can get a bus ticket to see my sister who lives in Florida, none of that. And there‘s nobody there to answer those questions.
SCARBOROUGH: And, again, we reporters have been whining about how it‘s hot.
SCARBOROUGH: There‘s a stench here. You know, we haven‘t taken showers in days, nothing new for me, as my friends know.
But these people—I mean, explain to Americans out there who don‘t understand, these people are sitting in the same clothes, sleeping in the same clothes that they escaped floodwaters in, haven‘t taken a shower, haven‘t had food.
SHUSTER: Yes. I mean, they‘re...
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, describe the terrible situation.
SHUSTER: I mean, they are a prisoner of what happened to them four days ago, in the sense that the only clothes they have is what‘s on their back. Essentially, there‘s no running water, no electricity in these shelters. There are very sort of meager supplies.
So, never mind their own smell. Never mind the fact that none of them have had a cooked meal for five or six days. Now they are looking beyond and saying, OK, well, we had to tell them the president was here, because they have no radio. They have no way of hearing any news.
And they are waiting and wondering, when is somebody going to tell us what we are supposed to do, other than just try to eat on this—eat this granola bar and drink some of this water that somebody brought in?
David, you are an investigative reporter. I want you to try to connect the dots. I have my theories. I want to ask you, what happened? You have President Bush. He performed magnificently in my state last year with hurricane relief with his brother Jeb.
You got Haley Barbour, one of the most astute politicians in America -
· got a governor in Louisiana that—I will be honest with you—I think she is clueless. But what happened with all these people? Remember, we had these teams set up.
SCARBOROUGH: The FEMA director this year is the same FEMA director that helped us in my hometown of Pensacola last year.
Connect the dots for us. What happened here that took four or five days for the federal government to wake up?
SHUSTER: I think, first of all, the focus was on New Orleans. And, after the first day, they thought, oh, it missed New Orleans. It was fine. Nobody was really paying much attention to Mississippi to begin with.
And nobody, Joe, has ever really paid much attention to these people that live in Biloxi Point, the 4,000 impoverished people who go check to check. They have never really seen the economic benefit of the casinos that stood here. So, why should government officials pay attention to them now? And that‘s perhaps the saddest thing about it.
There are going to be perhaps, according to law enforcement officials, thousands of people that will simply vanish, disappear. Their bodies will never be found. And these are the people that nobody really paid much attention to anyway.
SCARBOROUGH: Didn‘t pay attention to them before the storm, and now, unfortunately, a lot of Americans are going to believe that the federal government was cynical, decided not to pay attention to them after the storm.
SHUSTER: That‘s right.
SCARBOROUGH: What a tragedy.
SHUSTER: That‘s right.
SCARBOROUGH: And this is our government. I mean, it‘s—this is a bipartisan issue. I know Republicans and Democrats alike are outraged. We will see what happens next year at the polls.
David Shuster, thanks so much.
SHUSTER: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Greatly appreciate all your work here.
SHUSTER: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Friends, as you know, I have been living on the Gulf Coast now for about 30 years.
And, as a resident, as a reporter and as a member of Congress, I have had a chance to get a close up-close look at hurricane relief on all levels, but nothing I have ever seen over the past three decades quite prepared me for the scale of human suffering that these people have been experiencing in Biloxi.
SCARBOROUGH (voice-over): Biloxi, as we knew it, is gone. A city that resurrected itself after the destruction of Hurricane Camille recently began to prosper, as tourism dollars poured in to this impoverished region.
But, Monday morning, that city died. Four days later, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott‘s office sent me this urgent cry for help from a nurse in a Biloxi hospital. It read: “The people in Biloxi are desperate. Babies are hungry and are wearing diapers three days‘ old. They are running out of food and medicine. And we are turning people away.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I try to be strong, man, because, you know, you break down and everybody around you starts to break down. But it‘s tough to see people like this.
SCARBOROUGH: But, as desperate as they may be, these Americans are tough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are valiant people in this part of the world, and we will endure. The important thing is that we are still alive.
SCARBOROUGH: Days after Katrina crashed onshore, rescue workers searched through rubble that used to be somebody‘s home, hoping that their efforts are not in vain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they‘re doing is, they are marking the X, saying it‘s been checked. And they have put the date it‘s checked, 9-1. And zeros are marked and crossed to—basically to say that nobody was found and nobody was recovered.
SCARBOROUGH (on camera): What do you want to tell America?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just come see about us as soon as you can, please.
SCARBOROUGH (voice-over): Now, help is beginning to trickle in, diapers, water, food, the barest of necessities, taken for granted by all of us, but essential lifelines for America‘s newest refugees.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m OK. I‘m alive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we all need help. And we appreciate anything anybody can do to help us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the American people will rally behind their own. We always have. It shows the true colors of our American people.
SCARBOROUGH: What a story.
You know, friends, I remember, after 9/11, watching the images of people walking out of the buildings. They had dust covered all over. You couldn‘t tell whether they were black or white or Hispanic or Asian. They were all Americans. And I always thought, that was one of the good things that came out of that terrible, terrible tragedy. It really did bring us together as a nation. I hope the same thing happens here.
I look at—I look at those images. You know, we have run across Hispanics. Our organization has helped Hispanics, helped Asian Americans, helped African-Americans, helped every type of American. And you look into the eyes of any of these children, and I will tell you what. I see one thing. That is, you know, I see into their hearts. I see into their souls, and I see my own children, and it breaks my heart in a way that I can‘t adequately express to you tonight.
But I will tell you this. The thing that makes me smile, the thing that makes me believe that we are going to turn the corner here is the charity that Americans have been giving, just an outpouring.
I want to give you an address right now. This is a group, this is an organization out of my hometown of Pensacola. A lot of my friends have been working here. We have been making caravans every day. This morning, at 4:00 a.m., the first caravan left Pensacola. My wife spent all day in Pensacola collecting just food, diapers, water, all these supplies. Couldn‘t make it over to Biloxi because there‘s been such a great outpouring across America.
I want you, if you can, you can send a donation to Christian ministries, P.O. Box 911, Pensacola, Florida, 32591. All of the money, 100 percent of your contributions, go directly to hurricane relief. And I will tell you what. Right now, we are trying to work with the military and try to get some transport planes over here next week, land them at Keesler Air Fore Base. Hopefully, the Air Force will say yes, the Navy will say yes, and together we can all make a great difference.
We will be right back in a second with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, when natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina strike, it‘s not people usually that look like me who are impacted, who lose their lives, who aren‘t able to, you know, find water or food. We usually can put our relatives on a plane or maybe drive to cities north of the Gulf Coast.
But the people that are most affected are usually children, specifically poor children. Take a look at some of these haunting images from New Orleans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just need some help out here. It is so pitiful, pitiful and shame, that all these people out here—they have over 3,000 people out here with no home, no shelter. What are they going to do? What are we going to do? Take a look at all of this. Now, what they going to do if the hurricane come again? All this is going to be flooded.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We slept right here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to sleep on cardboards to keep the roaches and things away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I miss everything, bed, electricity, water. This is just horrible out here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don‘t have nowhere to go, nothing to eat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We standing here, but I don‘t want to be here. I want to be somewhere with my family. I want food, drink, and a roof over our heads.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don‘t have no covers, no blankets, no nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s terrifying. And it‘s terrible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My grandmother is a diabetic. She is 76 years old. She out of her insulin. What she going to do? She don‘t know if she going to live or die. We all don‘t know what we going to do. So, we just need some help and support.
SCARBOROUGH: Sadness and some anger from children over in New Orleans.
Now, when we come back, I am going to wrap up this week, an incredible week in Biloxi, Mississippi, and show you some of the most haunting images. You will want to stay tuned and see that and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: I want you to look behind me.
Just almost five days ago, this was a functioning neighborhood, obviously, somebody‘s truck picked up and tossed. And, again, I know hurricanes. This thing was probably tossed from another part of Biloxi and thrown here.
But this was a vibrant neighborhood. We have a Gulf Medical Center here. About a half-a-mile to the left, we have got a place called Biloxi Point, a thriving neighborhood. Now thousands of people possibly dead, still lying in rubble.
I want to show you some haunting images of the past four or five days across the Gulf Coast, a region that really did descend into hell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These walls are going to start coming down.
You taping this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, it‘s coming up now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see, this is just incredibly dramatic.
This is Mother Nature at her worst right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, here we are, Jim Reed (ph) and myself (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the downtown Biloxi area. It looked like the storm surge came all the way through this area.
That was Highway 90. The integrity of the highway has been washed out from underneath, and it is pretty much destroyed. This is the back end of the Hard Rock Casino, which was still under construction, but you can see it has just fallen off into the water now.
You can see some of the barges from the port area were just washed inland, you know, a quarter-mile. All of the casinos that we saw along the coast that, as you know, were floating on the water were basically just picked up and deposited inland. The Holiday Inn, which was next to the Coliseum, one of the casinos was dropped literally on top of the Holiday Inn, just absolutely crushing it.
That‘s right in front of—I think it‘s formerly a Kmart right there. If you remember the aquarium, that‘s the aquarium right there that was in the port the Gulfport. It‘s been completely destroyed. I tell you, we really weren‘t prepared for all the damage just en route down to Gulfport.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Imagine families of young children reusing disposable diapers. Imagine grownups without bathrooms, without any chance of food or water.
Imagine that, at this late date this evening, rescues are still going on. Boats are still going up to the roofs of houses with axes, with saws, and knocking to see if there is any sign of human life. Imagine a thoroughly modern American city where the mayor today guessed that maybe they have hundreds, maybe thousands dead. And imagine that, while I am talking to you, there is a fire burning not far from us down the street, not a drop of water to fight it.
Everyone has the same fears here. I would say there is tension between the haves and the have-nots. But these days, in this region, all people fall into the have-not category. The president confirmed, this will take years to recover from. America has been hit very hard, what may be the most expensive, the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.
CROWD: Help. Help.
SAVIDGE: But there is no lifeline, and many honestly believe this is where they will die.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my mother. She needs heart medication.
And she needs to get to a hospital immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mother suffers from congestive heart failure.
Her eyes is so glossy now. I need to get her out of here.
SAVIDGE: This woman is over 100 years old, sitting in the heat, in the chaos. There are people here who barely seem alive, even children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look how hot he is! He‘s not waking up very easy.
SAVIDGE: Some have already died waiting to be saved, with just notes for next of kin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The National Guard, the police won‘t even stop and talk to nobody!
SAVIDGE: Looted alcohol, heat and frustration send tempers flaring. And with no police here, they have to settle disputes themselves. Finally, when an officer does appear, he only honks his horn to clear a path.
(on camera): Can you do anything to help these people?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have people coming to help them, sir.
SAVIDGE: Who‘s coming?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Orleans International Airport is now a huge triage center, the sick stacked on luggage conveyers. At baggage claim inside, it‘s a sea of misery and desperation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a nightmare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The medical staff is overwhelmed; 91-year-old Mark Judeau (ph) called out to me. All he wanted was something to eat and drink.
I‘m just going to do very little sips here for you here, OK? There.
Mark (ph), what you are eating, believe it or not, is the food that they give to the soldiers. Did you know that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You are just going to take a little bit. See that? Just a little bit. OK? How is that? Good?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not everyone survives. I slept in the airport next to the evacuated patients. I woke up next to those who didn‘t make it through the night.
BUSH: I am not going to forget what I have seen. I understand that the devastation requires more than one day‘s attention. It‘s going to require the attention of this country for a long period of time. I believe that the great city of New Orleans will rise again and be a greater city of New Orleans.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, that‘s all the time we have from Biloxi tonight. I ask that you remember these people tonight in your prayers and also with your support.
We will be back on Sunday night with more from SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
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