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'Hurricane Katrina: Crisis and Recovery' for September 4

Read the transcript to the 8 p.m. ET special

Guest: Mike Kellogg, Elaine Chao, Deuce McAllister

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  We‘re looking at images live from New Orleans.  Breaking news coming out of the Crescent City, another disaster.  This report from NBC that a U.S. Coast Guard Super Puma helicopter has crashed while going on a rescue mission.  Reports are—and this is what we‘re getting tonight from NBC News, the pilot is reporting that all got out safely. 
We‘re going to continue getting you up to date on that throughout the hour, throughout the evening.  But again, NBC News is reporting that a rescue helicopter, a U.S. Coast Guard Super Puma helicopter, crashed while attempting rescue efforts in New Orleans. 
Obviously you‘re looking at a picture of a helicopter that is actually behind the Puma helicopter.  We‘re obviously having to take a live feed from—for some reason the live feed has chosen to zoom in to the helicopter that actually is functioning.  But about probably 200 yards in front of this helicopter that you‘re seeing is the Coast Guard helicopter, the Super Puma helicopter that‘s lying on its side. 
As you know—and we are widening out now, you‘re getting a better picture of the debris, not from the helicopter but the debris obviously from Hurricane Katrina, six days and 13 hours later.  But there is a look at the helicopter turned over on the side. 
You‘re starting to see smoke coming out of there and again initial reports, and we just literally got this news in about two minutes ago, reports again, this helicopter crashed while attempting to make a rescue effort.  We want to bring in right now someone from the Coast Guard.  I believe—I‘m sorry.  It‘s Mike Kellogg from the U.S. Coast Guard. 
Lieutenant, I understand that while you don‘t know about this crash specifically...
LT. MIKE KELLOGG, U.S. COAST GUARD PILOT:  I know nothing of that right now. 
SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  I‘m sorry.  I‘ve got to break in here.  I‘m having people talking in my ear.  This is what we know right now.  We just got confirmation from NBC News that the two rescue helicopter pilots walked away from the scene.  They‘re doing fine. 
Again, the images that we‘re showing you from New Orleans tonight is of a crashed rescue helicopter.  There it is.  It crashes in New Orleans.  I want to bring the lieutenant in, though.  Right now, Lieutenant, obviously this is not a safe operation but the Coast Guard has been doing it day in and day out over the past four or five days.  I‘ve talked to several pilots, not only Coast Guard pilots but also Navy pilots who have been going back and forth and surveying the situation, and it has been a remarkable operation. 
Talk about what the Coast Guard has been doing over the past five days in rescuing these people and the dangers that are inherent in this type of rescue mission. 
KELLOGG:  Well, I think that we have a lot of rescues that have happened already.  I was out there today and we pulled out 17 personnel, survivors, and it appears to be relatively safe out there.  I didn‘t feel concerned at all.  And we‘re doing what the Coast Guard trains to do day in and day out.  This is the type of stuff we train for endlessly. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Lieutenant, obviously we don‘t know right now why this helo went down.  Sometimes the investigations can take months.  We did hear reports earlier in the week about a relief helicopter being shot at while they were trying to bring supplies to the people of New Orleans near the convention center, breaking news coming out of New Orleans, five to six people killed by police officers because they were shooting at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers workers that were trying to repair a bridge. 
What concerns, what warnings have you all been given when you go up in the helos?  Any concerns, any warnings about possible shooting from the ground? 
KELLOGG:  To be honest with you, I haven‘t experienced any of the violence out there.  I haven‘t seen it where I was working today.  And we‘re not—I don‘t have any concern about it and I‘m sure my fellow pilots don‘t at this time due to the fact that we haven‘t experienced it. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Haven‘t experienced it yet.  Lieutenant, have you been warned or any of your fellow pilots been warned about the possibility of being shot as you go in on rescue missions in New Orleans? 
KELLOGG:  We‘re—we are aware of what‘s going on out there with those reports, but as I told you before, these folks that we‘re rescuing are more than happy and glad to see us and they get right on board. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about the process of going down.  What are the dangers inherent in the process as you go down and again try to pick up these people?  Is it a relatively safe situation for you?  Any concerns as you go in the air and you come down over these homes? 
KELLOGG:  We don‘t have many concerns because it‘s something we train for all the time.  Some of the things we have to watch out for is obviously at night a lot of the stuff with the electricity out.  Towers are unlit, there are wires still out there, flying debris as you hover over these houses can be a little bit of a concern.  But as I said, I did 17 hoists today with no problems, so. 
SCARBOROUGH:  You did 17.  Where are you based? 
KELLOGG:  I am out of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, actually. 
SCARBOROUGH:  And so you did—but did you 17 rescue missions today.  Are you flying in from the New Orleans airport? 
KELLOGG:  Actually I flew in from Mobile Airport, went up to New Orleans, did some flying out there, rescues out there and then came back to Mobile. 
SCARBOROUGH:  So you fly from Mobile—which is right by where I am right now in Pensacola, you fly from Mobile to New Orleans, you airlift these people out, you say you did 17 today.  Where do you drop them off? 
KELLOGG:  We drop them off at national airport down there, Louis Armstrong. 
SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  So you drop them off at Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans and then you back to Mobile. 
KELLOGG:  Right. 
SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Tell me, how many rescue operations has the Coast Guard engaged in over the past five days or so?  Do you have any idea, any estimate? 
KELLOGG:  I believe it‘s—they‘ve rescued over 15,000 people to date over the past five days. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Let me ask you one final question.  This helicopter is turned over on its side.  I know you can‘t speculate, I don‘t know if you have a TV in front of you, if you can look at the live picture or not.  But any idea on what may have caused this crash? 
KELLOGG:  No, I have no idea about it.  And it obviously wouldn‘t be my place to comment on that because I don‘t know anything about it.  I haven‘t heard anything.  I just got done flying, so. 
SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Lieutenant Kellogg.  We greatly appreciate you being with us.  More importantly we really do appreciate not only the 17 missions that you‘ve conducted today but what you‘ve been doing over the past five days, bringing hope to some people who had some very, very hopeless hours over the past week.  Thanks again. 
I want to go right now though to New Orleans and Michelle Hofland. 
Michelle, you‘ve been going through a very difficult week yourself on a personal level, the first part of the week when there was anarchy in New Orleans, now of course we have reports of a helicopter shot down.  This news obviously just breaking.  I‘m sure you don‘t have any information on it right now.  But talk generally about the spate of lawlessness that‘s been going on in New Orleans and about the shooting that occurred early today that left five people, possibly six, dead. 
MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  The details from that, Chris (sic), are still sketchy.  This is what we know though, that there was a convoy, police escorting the contractors out to work on the levee out by Lake Pontchartrain.  And on their way out they were confronted by a group of gunmen.  The gunmen opened fire on the contractors, we believe bat that point that‘s when police opened fire on these gunmen.  Eight were hit, and we understand that between five and six were killed. 
This is on the bridge that connects Lake—a canal that connects Lake Pontchartrain with the Mississippi.  The details are still a bit sketchy but that‘s what we know so far.  But we‘ve also been hearing—down here looking around, you should see all the military people downtown in this area.  It has probably quadrupled just in one day alone. 
We just finished driving through the French Quarter.  Every single corner, there are handfuls of military people on the corner guarding the stores, making sure that nobody loots, making sure that nobody goes into the area.  It is much different. 
And being down here, frankly, with the military people and the people who are now coming out of their homes who live in the French Quarter, it really is of no concern, I don‘t feel frightened for my own safety in this area at all right now.  In fact, the past few days it has felt pretty safe. 
SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s interesting, Michelle.  Obviously we were talking to you the first part of this week and I could see—because our show comes on at 10:00 Eastern, 9:00 in New Orleans, I could see that the darkness surrounded you and I could see that you were nervous.  I certainly would be terrified in that situation.  And yet, as soon as the boots got on the ground over there, immediately the situation seemed to improve. 
I could even tell a difference in the way you looked, Martin Savidge, other people reporting out of that war zone.  Yet today still shooting going on.  We had the shooting again on the bridge, also the shooting at the relief helicopter earlier this week.  Would you say that order has been restored in New Orleans tonight for the most part? 
HOFLAND:  Down in this area, yes.  But you know what happened also, I think that turned the tide in this area, especially over the convention center, where you had thousands of people, we understand between 5,000 and 7,000 people at the convention center. 
Once they got the food, once they got the water, those people calmed down a lot.  They felt very relieved to have the supplies that they needed because they were so desperate to get that.  And that was causing some problems there. 
But once those people got the relief supplies that they needed, and now that they‘re out of there and out of those squalor conditions, this area is smutch calmer and things are much better down here right now. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Michelle, we‘re looking again at an image of this rescue helicopter that‘s turned on its side.  Smoke is coming out of it right now.  Just crashed, possibly 10, 15 minutes ago.  That‘s when we first got the word of it.  Before I let you go I‘ve got to ask you, reacquaint us with the facts of the situation where a relief helicopter was coming into the convention center and possibly got shot at. 
HOFLAND:  Actually, Chris, I‘m sorry, I don‘t have any information on that.  We really haven‘t heard any of that, I haven‘t heard any gunfire today at all.  So I haven‘t heard anything about that whatsoever.  What we‘ve been seeing down here are a lot of people being dropped off who have been rescued, and of course, are relieved to be rescued. 
And briefly if you don‘t mind I just want to tell you about one vet that we just heard about.  We‘ve been telling you all day and all day yesterday about some people who came up to us who said that they swam through water, they had been in a school taking care all of these children and elderly who were inside of a school, desperate to get out and couldn‘t get out and couldn‘t get anyone‘s attention. 
We brought them over to the National Guard, they told the National Guard where these people were.  Then late yesterday apparently what happened is that the National Guard...
SCARBOROUGH:  Michelle...
HOFLAND:  ... went out there because—go ahead.  I‘m sorry. 
SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m sorry, but.... 
HOFLAND:  But they were all rescued and they are all safe. 
SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you, Michelle.  I‘m sorry, I have going to have interrupt you again.  The camera has moved away now.  You can see helos flying over New Orleans, looks likes a scene out of Baghdad, a flooded Baghdad.  But there is a major fire burning out of control, again probably—again right now we‘re getting a look at the New Orleans sunset. 
But there is a major fire burning out of control and if I have my bearings there, it would be south, due south of where the camera is pointing right now.  But a major fire burning out of control.  Again, we‘ve got fires across New Orleans, we‘ve got this relief helicopter, again a U.S. Coast Guard Super Puma helicopter, that crashed just before the top of the hour. 
NBC reporting that the pilot walked out on his own, as did everybody else on board.  Apparently no injuries, apparently no deaths, but obviously this is still a very fluid situation in New Orleans.  And right now I want to go to Tom Costello, he is in Baton Rouge. 
Tom, a lot of news breaking in New Orleans right now.  But of course the center of the government‘s relief effort has to do with rescue operations.  Can you get us up to date with the latest on that? 
TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, yes, let me give you some new sobering numbers and some—tell you what‘s happening here at the emergency command center which is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  You hear the choppers here too.  Everything is coordinated out of the FEMA emergency command center here. 
Louisiana State University‘s Hurricane Research Center has been running some computer models, Joe, some computer models to try to get a handle on how many people may have died in New Orleans.  And the numbers are staggering. 
You‘ve been hearing of the government officials talking about thousands of people.  Well, LSU‘s researchers, based on computer modeling, believe more than 10,000 people may be dead in New Orleans alone. 
All of that as we see administration officials on the ground throughout the region trying to reassure the public and also try to get their hands around something that appears to be out of control for the administration in terms of public relations. 
COSTELLO (voice-over):  A levee broken in New Orleans, rescuers continue to pull victims off rooftops, in the pitch black of night and under a searing Louisiana sun.  With the death toll expected to climb into the thousands in New Orleans alone, a local politician said on “MEET THE PRESS” the federal government‘s slow response is partly to blame. 
AARON BROUSSARD, PRESIDENT, JEFFERSON PARISH, LOUISIANA:  Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial. 
COSTELLO:  But while the administration admits mistakes were made, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the focus must be on the ongoing emergency. 
TIM RUSSERT, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”:  So no heads will roll? 
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY:  Tim, in due course, if people want to go and chop heads off, there will be an opportunity to do it.  The question I would put to people is, what do you want to have us spend our time on now? 
COSTELLO:  Chertoff and other administration officials fanned out across the region today.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Alabama. 
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY:  You all are doing a great job. 
COSTELLO:  And Defense Secretary Rumsfeld reviewed the operations involving 54,000 troops on the ground. 
RUMSFELD:  It is a natural disaster of historic proportions.  No one can come up with anything that approximates it in the history of our country. 
COSTELLO:  Today National Guard‘s commanding general said he could not have pre-positioned equipment any closer. 
LT. GEN. RUSSELL HONORE, JOINT TASK FORCE:  We don‘t pre-position at the eye of the hurricane.  And as you recall, a week ago this time, we were looking at that hurricane coming right at New Orleans. 
COSTELLO:  The scope of the disaster so great today NAACP President Bruce Gordon called on the government to establish a victims relief fund, akin to the one established for the 9/11 victims. 
BRUCE GORDON, PRESIDENT, NAACP:  And this disaster here if the Southeast United States is no less significant, no less dramatic, and the people who are the victims of the lowest socioeconomic group in this country. 
COSTELLO:  The president there of the NAACP.  We can tell you this, NATO and the European Union say that the United States has now requested assistance in the form of 500,000 prepared meals as well as blankets, water tanks, and also other assistance as may be necessary down the road. 
As you know, we have this cooperative agreement with NATO that serves us both well in peacetime and in wartime.  And clearly right now we are at war with, it would appear anyway, the elements and with Mother Nature and just a massive emergency on the ground here in the Southeast. 
Joe, back to you. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Tom, certainly sobering numbers, 10,000 possibly dead by that computer model.  Obviously the LSU center had been talking about the possibility of this type of disaster for quite some time.  And I‘m afraid they‘ve been right more times than wrong. 
But let‘s turn—not from the flooding, but let‘s turn to the government‘s response.  They certainly still sound very defensive in the package of quotes you put together for us with the general saying you couldn‘t have been pre-positioned any closer.  For the most part, are government officials just taking the party line that we did everything we could have done and for the most part this has been an efficient, well-run operation? 
COSTELLO:  They believe that once they got firmly on the ground and this operation is in full swing, that it has been going very smoothly since Friday, especially.  As you know, the president conceded that in fact in mistakes were made early on, conceded that perhaps bureaucracy did get in the way and things were not as fast as they should have been. 
The FEMA executives insist we were in—they say, we were in as good of a position as we could be in given the magnitude and the unpredictability of the storm.  We didn‘t know exactly where it was going to hit.  They also point out, and we should say that as well, today Secretary Chertoff made the point, FEMA does not evacuate people.  They are a government agency that only is there to assist the locals. 
They say the locals should have gotten people out of New Orleans before the levee broke and certainly they think that FEMA—or rather the locals should have gotten people out of New Orleans when the hurricane warning came in and the mayor said, evacuate. 
That‘s all well and good.  The trouble is, of course, how do you do that with about 18 hours‘ notice, if that, when you are—when you—I would imagine you would have to get a bunch of school buses to come in and evacuate all the people of New Orleans on a Sunday when the school bus drivers clearly want to get out also? 
This clearly has—it would appear, the government on many levels failed the people of New Orleans and clearly there are going to be probably a lot of investigations into how this thing went down further down the road. 
At the moment of course we have an ongoing emergency, people still trapped on these roofs and people still trying to be evacuated, and they have a massive, a massive environmental disaster in New Orleans. 
SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  Tom Costello, thank you so much.  It sounds like the blame game is starting to heat up along the Gulf Coast.  Let‘s move now from Baton Rouge, well, actually, we started in New Orleans where, again, if you were with us at the top of the hour, breaking news out of New Orleans, a helicopter has crashed. 
It‘s a rescue helicopter, NBC News is reporting that it‘s a U.S. Coast Guard Super Puma helicopter that‘s been used in relief efforts throughout the week.  Thousands of people‘s lives have been saved by the heroism of these Coast Guard pilots. 
NBC is reporting even though the helicopter is smoking right now, turned over on its side, that the two pilots walked out, walked out safely.  There are, though—I‘m just being told in my ear that there are conflicting reports right now and as we get more information from NBC and other news agencies we will certainly pass them along to you. 
Again, there you see the helo that flipped over.  Any helicopter pilot that you‘ve talked to, and again, I‘m from Pensacola, Florida, when I represented this area in Congress, Navy helo pilots were trained, are still trained out at Whiting Field and anybody that has dealt with the Navy pilot knows—helicopter pilot knows that they‘re some of the best-trained helicopters in the world and can do things that few others can do. 
But even the best of the best helo pilot said that at times this is an unstable type of aircraft.  That it is certainly more volatile than a fixed-wing aircraft, that sometimes a wind gust can shove you into the ground unexpectedly. 
And again, we don‘t know whether this was taken down because of mechanical failure or whether it could possibly have been shot at.  Certainly we‘ve had reports of that type of activity throughout the week. 
Let‘s move now from New Orleans over to Biloxi, Mississippi, and talk to NBC‘s Ron Blome. 
SCARBOROUGH:  ... just a terrible situation over in Biloxi.  Bring us up to date with the very latest and what have you heard about the possibility of a rising death toll? 
BLOME:  Well, that‘s one of the things officials here were acknowledging even yesterday.  They said they are doing some new sweeps with the search and rescue teams.  We saw them beginning when we were here Tuesday and Wednesday.  They did it again this weekend and they said yesterday they did find some more remains. 
They‘re still being very closed mouthed about a total, I think 133 was the latest from the coroner, but I had an official with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency tell me the other day that they were—every time they found a body they were clicking a GPS positioner and that they were into the hundreds so they have not really gotten down to the bottom line yet on that.  I think because of the number of missing is why they were searching. 
You know, since we last met here, you and I were talking out here Wednesday night, I‘ve been up and down the coast at Waveland and Bay Saint Louis and Pass Christian and Delille (ph) and every place you go, people say, do you think this is the worst, and you have to agree with them, it‘s the worst up and down the coast. 
That is what‘s been surprising to me is to see the breadth of this storm, so massive compared to even Ivan which we know just took a terrible swath through Pensacola.  This is like lining up a half a dozen Ivans along the Mississippi coast and seeing that same kind of destruction we saw around the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Orange Beach. 
Relief efforts really a big difference here though when I was last in Biloxi on Wednesday, you see the military everywhere.  We even saw these big hovercraft coming in off the USS Iwo Jima, the kind of craft that they used when they moved into Iraq, the things we saw bringing U.S. relief efforts to Somalia. 
I remember those pictures vividly.  And yet we were seeing that same scene here on Biloxi Beach.  Who would have ever thought you‘d see that on Labor Day weekend on a place that‘s usually just a Mecca for tourists.  Of course, now it is a Mecca for relief workers, but still thousands of people still trapped in here, trapped by their poverty, trapped by their circumstances, or trapped by the fact that their cars were destroyed by the storm surge and they have no way out. 
We did run into quite a few people along the coast the last few days who have been trying to reach out and were counting on friends and relatives to come in from across the country and help add them to this growing refugee list from the Mississippi coast—Joe. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Ron, before I let you go, when I was over there I was talking to some officials who suggested that the death toll may rise to as much as possibly a thousand people.  Are you still hearing that possibility, that it may actually go that high or have they lowered their estimates? 
BLOME:  Well—and I know David Shuster heard that number about the same time I was hearing about half of that, 500 is a top line estimate.  But I don‘t think they have a full handle on it yet.  We were in Pass Christian yesterday, a city that had survived Camille and because of that, people didn‘t evacuate, and there was so much destruction there and so much just piled up rubble the way we saw here on Biloxi Point, the way we saw in Waveland, that I don‘t think they‘ve gotten through the search effort. 
In fact, I talked to a FEMA search and rescue team out of Boston, these guys were at the World Trade Center and they were shaking their heads and saying, this is biblical.  They were still trying to get into this debris with the dogs which were having trouble negotiating through all of the massive wreckage.  So they could be finding casualties, unfortunately, I think for weeks to come as they get in with the bulldozers. 
SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Ron Blome in Biloxi, Mississippi, for that report. 
BLOME:  Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH:  Certainly a terrible, tragic situation and one that I saw firsthand all last week.  Again, coming from an area that is constantly impacted by hurricanes, that went through Hurricane Ivan last year, a hurricane that was as bad as any that I had ever seen, I‘ve just got to tell you Ivan, as bad as it was, was absolutely nothing compared to Kristina (sic) and the devastation that she left. 
I want to go back and we‘re going to show you that helicopter again.  Things are, as I said, very fluid in New Orleans.  We are now getting reports in—we‘ve had conflicting reports as I was telling you before, now we‘re getting reports that this was a civilian helicopter.  That is the very latest on that situation.  Again, a very fluid situation in New Orleans and in this case, too, when we get more information on it we will pass it on to you. 
Now I want to go from Biloxi and New Orleans over to Houston because—actually, hold on one second.  I‘m being told to stand by.  All right.  Let‘s go back to Tom Costello in Baton Rouge. 
Tom, a lot happening right now in New Orleans.  A lot of conflicting reports coming out about this helicopter crash.  We‘ve been told repeatedly that it was a Coast Guard helicopter, even told the specific type.  Now we understand it may be a civilian aircraft.  What have you learned? 
BLOME:  Yes, in fact I just walked out having talked to some Coast Guard officers here at the emergency operation center.  This is not theirs, Joe.  Definitively this is not a Coast Guard helicopter.  They are saying it is a civilian helicopter.  They say it is a Puma, it had four blades that broke off.  You can see that already.  The tail broke off as well. 
A Coast Guard H-60 did arrive on scene to render assistance.  This is near the Danziger Bridge area of New Orleans.  We have no information on the cause.  We don‘t know if this was a mechanical or if this was a shooting. 
Now keep in mind there had been a shooting earlier near the Danziger Bridge.  I don‘t want to draw conclusions, I‘m just reminding you of that.  No injuries.  And we just have cuts and bruises they say according to the reports of the two crew members involved here. 
It was not involved in a rescue operation at this time and it‘s not clear exactly what the civilian chopper was doing.  But definitively they say—after having checked with the Coast Guard officers and command, they say it is not one of theirs.  It is bright orange but they say it‘s not one of theirs. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you so much, Tom Costello, greatly appreciate it.  And we‘ve got to put perspective in there.  And I‘ve got to tell you, I don‘t want to draw conclusions right now before we have all the information in. 
But, T.J., I do want you to put up a map of the Danziger Bridge.  This, of course, earlier today was the scene of a shooting.  You actually had U.S. Army Corps of Engineers workers going out to work on the bridge.  They were shot it, law enforcement officers returned fire, killing possibly five or six people who were engaging in the shooting. 
Now—and perhaps it is just a terrible coincidence, but now a helicopter has gone down in the same area, that according to Tom Costello, who spoke with U.S. Coast Guard pilots up in Baton Rouge who reported that they had sent a Coast Guard helicopter in to look at the situation on the scene. 
Again, a lot happening.  Pardon me, Matt, what are you saying?  OK.  Again, a civilian hobbit, as you‘re seeing on the screen.  And, Matt, if you can, have T.J. put up one more time, I want you all to see one more time the map.  Anybody that‘s ever come into New Orleans, and I‘ve done it and everybody from this area has done it a lot of times, that‘s an area obviously coming in off of I-10.  It‘s the entrance to the city.  It‘s a dangerous part of the town obviously made even more dangerous six days after Hurricane Katrina hit. 
We‘ll be back with much more in this special broadcast of a report on Hurricane Katrina, “Crisis and Recovery.” And we‘ll follow this story about a civilian helicopter crashing at the same site or at least near the same site where there was a shooting that left five to six people dead earlier this afternoon.  All that and more when we return. 
SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re looking at rescue/recovery operations, rescuing people from a roof.  This taken earlier in the day, obviously thousands of these missions have been conducted to save people‘s lives, their physical well-being.  And we‘re going to follow that story throughout the hour.  Obviously a lot of breaking news out of New Orleans. 
But right now I want to go to the secretary of the Department of Labor, Elaine Chao.  And Secretary Chao, we obviously, over the past five or six days, have been focusing on saving people‘s lives, saving their properties to whatever extent we can.  But there are a lot of people out there that are saying, what in the world can be done for low- and middle-income workers who, if they survive this storm, aren‘t getting a paycheck? 
ELAINE CHAO, LABOR SECRETARY:  Absolutely.  I have just signed off on about $160 million to create about 25,000 temporary jobs to give people a paycheck and to also help them participate in the cleanup and recovery of their communities. 
You know, as you mentioned, a lot of people now are without a paycheck.  Either they can‘t work because their place of establishment—of employment is under water or devastated, or if they‘re self-employed they used to be a taxi driver, they can no longer ply their livelihood.  So it‘s very important we take care of people and get some money into their pockets.  So we‘re doing...
SCARBOROUGH:  Secretary, I‘m so sorry.  I was just going to say, and tell us how you‘re doing it, because that‘s actually where I was going next, because obviously when you ever have a tragedy like this or 9/11, there is a lot of confusion there.  Obviously Tuesday is the first working day back.  Where do people go, why do they do—who do they contact to get these checks so they can buy groceries? 
CHAO:  I‘m so glad you asked because our greatest challenge is to let people know about the different programs that are available.  First of all, if they‘re out of work, because their place of employment is devastated, they have access to employment insurance. 
If they‘re self-employed or newly employed and they‘re not usually eligible for unemployment insurance, we have established a new program called Disaster Unemployment Assistance. 
Third of all, we‘ve created through these national emergency grants, well over $160 million, over 25,000 temporary jobs that will assist in the recovery and cleanup of their communities and also deliver humanitarian assistance. 
Now, we know that a lot of people don‘t have radios, they don‘t have televisions.  The cell phones are just coming back today.  And so if they have access to a telephone, I‘m going to give them a toll-free number.  It‘s 1-866-US4 -- I‘m sorry, 1-866-4USA-DOL. 
Now let me emphasize, they do not have to return to their home communities to access this assistance because the majority of people have left the devastated areas, they may be with their friends or their relatives.  If they can just find a phone, call that toll-free number.  And they‘ll able to get the unemployment insurance.  Now the other thing...
SCARBOROUGH:  Madam Secretary, let me stop you for one second.  T.J., I want you to put up that number.
CHAO:  Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH:  866-4USA-DOL.  We‘re going to put that up in a second, because that was the next question I was going to ask you.  Obviously Pensacola, Florida, we‘re three hours away from New Orleans, a couple of hours away from Biloxi.  A lot of people have evacuated to my area. 
And so if somebody right now is up the Molino (ph) Middle School and they have got kids up there and they need to get in touch with you, you‘re saying all they need to do is get to a phone, dial 866-4USA-DOL and they will be eligible to receive this check? 
CHAO:  This is 24/7.  We have compassionate, caring people who are answering these phones and who are able to help.  Now secondly, if you‘re able to get to a laptop or a computer and get on the Internet, go on our Web site,  And I hope that you‘ll also print that number—that address as well. 
Now if you don‘t have access to a telephone, you don‘t have access to the Internet, we‘ll find you.  We‘ve got teams of people basically walking neighborhood to neighborhood, we‘re having people canvass churches, nonprofit organizations, shelters of all kinds. 
I have people at the Astrodome basically signing people up for unemployment insurance and also for disaster unemployment assistance.  So we want to help.  And the great challenge is to get that news out. 
SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Well, I greatly appreciate it.  We‘ve got that number up. 
CHAO:  Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to put the Web site up throughout this hour.  Also, friends, you can go to my Web site, we‘ll have the information up.  Madam Secretary, thanks so much. 
CHAO:  Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH:  A lot of criticism obviously of the federal government‘s response, but let me tell you, this is efficient, this is the way to get it done.  We greatly appreciate your work. 
CHAO:  Thank you very much. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Now let‘s move from Washington down to Houston.  A lot of people obviously impacted, people that went from their rooftops to the Superdome to the convention center in New Orleans and then thousands of course of these victims bused out and relocated in Houston‘s Astrodome.  That‘s where NBC‘s Ron Allen is. 
Ron, what‘s the very latest there?  I would suspect there are a lot of people in the Astrodome that are going to need those unemployment checks. 
RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, they‘re going to need unemployment checks, they‘re going to need jobs, they‘re going to need housing, they‘re going to need a lot of things. 
I was talking to an American Red Cross official earlier today who estimated that there could be 1.5 million people who have been displaced by the hurricane in the several states that are affected.  And if in fact that is the number, even if it‘s not even that high, this is still going to be what some are describing as an unprecedented evacuee crisis that is going to affect many, many states across the country who are looking at accepting some of these evacuees. 
Here in Texas today the governor said that this state has reached its limit.  It can‘t take any more people.  It already has about a quarter of a million people who have been coming here during the past week or so.  Houston has been the epicenter of it.  This has been the place where people have been coming, the first arrivals. 
They‘ve been coming here, being processed, being registered, and then being sent out to other Texas cities.  The Astrodome behind me was supposed to be the place where people would come and they thought that they could handle the entire crowd.  They thought they could put about 25,000 people in there but they‘ve limited it and they‘ve had to turn people away to other facilities here in this area of Houston and in surrounding communities. 
They‘ve already been moving people out because the objective now is to try to ease the growing strain that‘s happening here. 
ALLEN (voice-over):  It‘s a city within the city of Houston.  The Astrodome‘s 16,000 new residents even have their own zip code.  Most plan to be here a while. 
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hoping to relocate, trying to just go on with my life, you know, get back on track and start all over again. 
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Glad to have you. 
ALLEN:  Houston opened its arms so wide it‘s been forced to redirect tens of thousands of evacuees to cities like Dallas and San Antonio.  Nationally at least a dozen states plan to shelter evacuees.  Some arrived this weekend in Florida, Arizona, and Colorado. 
Back in Houston, few evacuees are as fortunate as Tyra Meyers (ph), a single mother of three.  She was invited home to live with Anisa Londono (ph) and her family. 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think it‘s a blessing.  As far as my kids are concerned. 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And I think everyone needs to open their hearts and open their homes. 
ALLEN:  Two families this crisis has made one. 
ALLEN:  There have been a lot of stories like that to report.  No one here thinks it‘s wise to keep so many people in such huge shelters for a long period of time.  And here in Houston, city officials are working hard to find open housing, they‘re trying to find jobs for people, and they‘re also trying to find classrooms that are available to send kids to school.  There are some 6,000 kids who have already registered for school here in this particular area—Joe. 
SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks so much, Ron Allen, live from the Astrodome.  Sounds like some good coming out of a tragic situation.  We‘ll be back with a lot more of our latest coverage of aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and keep you up to date on those breaking stories out of New Orleans.  That coming up in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  Looking at images again, more rescue efforts, this time valuable, the most valuable of commodity after the storm hits, looks like water, cartons of water.  And I can tell you when we went up and down the Gulf Coast and my gosh, they have a pregnant woman.  Could you imagine being pregnant in 100-degree heat with no running water, with no rest room?  Just a terrible situation that these people have been going through. 
We saw it firsthand as we tried to deliver supplies this past week.  Water is so important and the relief shelter where we went, young people were actually bathing with water coming out of a leaky pipe.  The Associated Press reported this weekend that that same shelter had to send 20 people to the hospital because they got dysentery. 
It is a terrible, terrible tragic situation and one person who is trying to make a difference is the New Orleans Saints football star, because his team has been left homeless obviously by the hurricane and some of the players are helping out with relief efforts.  Were joined right now on the phone by Saints running back Deuce McAllister.  Also with us on the phone is Mark—oh, OK, well, let‘s just stay with Deuce. 
Deuce, thank you so much for being with us, greatly appreciate it.  Talk about, first of all, the thoughts about your hometown being wiped out by this hurricane. 
DEUCE MCALLISTER, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS RUNNING BACK:  Obviously, first of all, you know, your prayers and your thoughts go to the families that are basically homeless now.  And obviously for the families that didn‘t make it out, your hearts and prayers go to those guys. 
But our focus right now is trying to help them as much as possible, whether it‘s through playing football or financially or trying to help them restart their lives over. 
SCARBOROUGH:  So what are you doing specifically?  I know you‘re getting involved in this relief effort.  And obviously your other teammates also getting involved.  Why do you think the best thing that you can do right now that other people can do to alleviate the terrible suffering that your friends and loved ones in New Orleans are enduring right now? 
MCALLISTER:  Well, I started a foundation, my foundation, Catch-22, it was primarily to help the inner city youth probably three years ago but now it‘s definitely going to focus a lot on helping these families try to repair their lives.  I mean, that‘s the direct—that‘s the most important thing now. 
We‘ve got to try to assist families, whether it‘s with clothes or getting them into apartments, whether it‘s food and different things of that nature.  But our goal is now to assist families to try to rebuild their lives. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Deuce, can you explain to people that haven‘t been to New Orleans—obviously you‘ve lived there so you know it better than most, I‘ve visited there a great deal, can you take people inside of New Orleans even before Katrina hit and talk about how impoverished large swatches of that community are? 
MCALLISTER:  Oh, a lot of times when you visit New Orleans you only see main or certain areas of New Orleans.  You‘ll see uptown, you‘ll see the Garden District and you‘ll see obviously downtown, the city area.  I mean, but a lot of times you never really hit the outskirts of New Orleans.  I mean, there are so many different pockets as far as the West Bank and the East Bank and the different sides of New Orleans that a lot of people are seeing at a different angle. 
And obviously there is a lot of suffering and a lot of hurt that‘s going on right now because, you know, you still have people that are being rescued because of the hurricane. 
SCARBOROUGH:  Deuce, thank you so much for being with us.  Deuce McAllister, we greatly appreciate the work that you‘re doing and getting the word out on what needs to be done.  Obviously the poor in New Orleans have been affected adversely.  That usually happens in these type of storms. 
A lot of people talking about race, I don‘t think it has to do with any color other than the color green.  That is, just like in the Titanic, the people in the first class cabins get out safely, the people down below are the ones that have to endure the hardship and that‘s exactly what happened here. 
Now, in New Orleans tonight, violence and frustration continue to prevail but help is on the way even though it‘s been very slow to arrive.  NBC‘s Steve Handelsman is in New Orleans tonight with the latest. 
And, Steve, when I talked to you earlier this week obviously it was a city on the edge.  Some order has been restored there, though, despite the shootings today.  Can you get us up to date with the very latest? 
STEVE HANDELSMAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  I sure can, Joe.  I think the biggest problem here is not law and order.  The biggest problem is what remains of the people who had decided to stay in New Orleans. 
As the outrage builds across the country, and the big question is repeated, why did help take so long in coming, the residents that remain here in New Orleans are mostly muted and subdued.  They‘re just trying to survive. 
COSTELLO (voice-over):  Nearly a week after the levee broke in New Orleans, rescuers continue to pull victims off rooftops in the pitch black of night and under a searing Louisiana sun. 
With the death toll expected to climb into the thousands in New Orleans alone, a local politician said on “MEET THE PRESS” the federal government‘s slow response is partly to blame. 
AARON BROUSSARD, PRESIDENT, JEFFERSON PARISH, LOUISIANA:  Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial. 
COSTELLO:  But while the administration admits mistakes were made, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the focus must be on the ongoing emergency. 
TIM RUSSERT, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”:  So no heads will roll? 
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY:  Tim, in due course, if people want to go and chop heads off, there will be an opportunity to do it.  The question I would put to people is, what do you want to have us spend our time on now? 
COSTELLO:  Chertoff and other administration officials fanned out across the region today.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Alabama. 
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY:  You all are doing a great job. 
COSTELLO:  And Defense Secretary Rumsfeld reviewed the operations involving 54,000 troops on the ground. 
RUMSFELD:  It is a natural disaster of historic proportions.  No one can...
SCARBOROUGH:  So interesting seeing Secretary Rumsfeld there down in the affected areas.  For me personally it gives me more confidence already.  I want to thank Steve for delivering a great report tonight.  Always important.  We‘ll be right back with much more in this special look at Hurricane Katrina and the recovery efforts. 
SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re looking at images of breaking news, again, out of New Orleans, where we‘re hearing now a civilian helicopter has crashed, a civilian helicopter crashed in recovery efforts.  The Coast Guard notified NBC reporter Tom Costello in Baton Rouge and said that while they believe it was conducting rescue work that it was not one of their helicopters, but instead a civilian helicopter. 
Also earlier this afternoon shooting broke out in an area nearby from what Tom is reporting to us, the Danziger Bridge, which is nearby where that helicopter went down.  Now just so you get the very latest on this, word is coming out now, it looks like there were eight to 10 contractors who started taking fire, these contractors were from the Army Corps, they were going to work on a bridge.  And they started taking fire. 
They immediately contacted the Louisiana State Patrol by radio, the Louisiana State Patrol went out, returned fire, made sure that these contractors were taken to a safe place and then engaged in a gun battle which reports tonight have it, killed five to six of the alleged gunmen. 
We‘ll have much more as we continue to track the recovery of Katrina right after this break. 

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