Guest: Bobby Jindal, Stan Tiner, David Vitter
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: I‘ll tell you what, remarkable stories coming out of New Orleans. Obviously, we have been hearing a lot of bad news over the past week, also some great news coming forward today, as you‘ve seen on Rita‘s show and on other networks today, and throughout really this past weekend.
But, right now, tonight, in New Orleans, the mayor of that town, as well as Republican Senator Vitter, are saying that maybe as many as 10,000 people may have perished in the storm, that while some remarkable rescues continue in the Crescent City.
Meanwhile, over here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in Biloxi, in Gulfport, in Waveland, and other areas scattered across the shore, complete, utter devastation, like nothing I have ever seen. And I have been sitting through hurricanes since Hurricane Frederic in 1978.
Welcome to our show tonight. We have got so much to talk about.
A lot of people this weekend were suggesting possibly that Mississippi‘s Gulf Coast has been overlooked, ignored by the mainstream media. I can tell you right now, walking through the streets of Biloxi, the pace is starting to quicken. I came here, as you know, every morning this week, this past week, starting on Tuesday, have not seen an awful lot going here on here, unfortunately. But the pace is quickening. Relief is coming in. We‘re going to have a remarkable show tonight.
ANNOUNCER: From Biloxi, Mississippi, here‘s Joe Scarborough.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome again to our show, live from Biloxi.
Like I said, I was here last week, beginning really Tuesday, right after the storm came on shore. I have been very critical of the response from authorities. I can tell you, though, the pace is quickening for relief. There are still pockets of, unfortunately, people that still aren‘t getting supplies that they need, but for the most part this relief operation is kicking into overdrive.
Meanwhile, in New Orleans, just 85 miles southwest of here, we‘re hearing grim tales of people going in and recovering bodies, the mayor of New Orleans suggesting, again, that as many as 10,000 New Orleans residents may have perished when Katrina crashed on shore.
Let‘s go right now to New Orleans and get the very latest.
Tonight, we have Michelle Hofland there.
Michelle, thank you so much for being with us again. Get us up to date with what‘s happening in the Big Easy.
MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Joe.
Let‘s start with the good news tonight. Crews have just finished patching the biggest hole in the levee breach, the one responsible for the most damage, the most flooding in this area. Right now, a pump is pumping the water out of the levee and back into Lake Pontchartrain. Already tonight, we understand the water has dropped by two feet, but no word still on how long it will be before this town is dry.
Crews tonight begin to recover the bodies of those killed by Katrina and the floodwaters. The official death toll tonight stands at 71, but the New Orleans mayor fears that as many as 10,000 may be dead in his town alone, 10,000. We have already seen countless bodies floating in water, one body lying just down the street from here on Canal Street.
And late today, a couple blocks away from here, an NBC photographer was traveling with crews as they went home to home searching to see if they could find any bodies. And they did. In one home, they found nine bodies. And this is a home that was not flooded. Police tell us they fear that they will find many, many more, especially when they get into attics, and find people who may have been trapped by the rising waters.
Also tonight, the rescues continue throughout this area, as people are continuing to look for the bodies. Now, one of those volunteers who is helping look for these people who are still trapped after seven days in the water is actor Sean Penn. He arrived here yesterday. And Sean Penn told me that he is here working as a writer for a magazine, but he‘s also here trying to find one of his friends.
Last night, he said that he was not able to find that friend, but he found many new friends, about a total of 20 people that he has helped rescue so far.
One more thing, Joe. This town, as you can see behind me, New Orleans is pitch black, except on top of one high-rise in town. There is a big light shining. It‘s shining on top and pointing at an American flag that is flying at half-staff—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Michelle, the figures are staggering. You have the mayor of New Orleans suggesting, as you said, 10,000 people may have died in this storm. Senator Vitter has been suggesting the same for some time, the LSU computer model suggesting as many as 10,000 may have died.
What are you hearing from officials? What are you hearing about the possibility of these deaths? Did most of these deaths occur when the levees broke and the waters swept in and came in on these people too quickly for them to respond and get to high ground?
HOFLAND: It‘s not only just too quickly for them to respond, but, you know, you have a number of people here who are handicapped, who are elderly and just can‘t get out of their homes.
And talking to people around this area, they tell me that, you know, they‘ve heard of hurricanes coming before, but this is what their fathers did, their grandfathers did, is that, when the floodwaters come, you go from floor to floor. You go from the first floor to the second floor and up into the attic. And most of the time, up until now, that has been fine.
But they expect that they‘re going to and they fear that they‘re going to find just so many people up in the attics in these homes throughout this area.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, that‘s so hard for people that haven‘t been in the middle of a hurricane to understand. But in Ivan last year, we heard so many stories of desperate 911 calls of people that actually went into their attics. And the only way they survived would be to get an axe, knock through the roof, sit on top, and wait to be rescued. It sounds like the same thing happened there.
I want to ask you about New Orleans right now, because I have always been able to sort of gauge the situation over there by hearing you give us firsthand accounts of the anarchy and the chaos early in the week. But then the troops came on board and things have been solid since at least Friday night. Right now, is New Orleans, is the scene in New Orleans stable? Is it turning into a ghost town?
HOFLAND: What we understand is there are about 10,000 people left in the city of New Orleans. There are 240,000 of them alone in Texas. But you should see the streets. There‘s the 82nd Airborne, the guys who jump out of the helicopters. They‘re now marching the streets through this area.
The Navy is on the way here. We have the Marines, the National Guard. This place looks like a military base. They‘re on the corners. They‘re driving around in vehicles, in Humvees, and everything else. It is unlike any other American city. Just—you wouldn‘t believe it if you came here to see this. It is something that I have never seen before and I can tell you that anyone else who has been here, they‘ve never seen anything like this yet either.
SCARBOROUGH: Nobody‘s ever seen anything like this, I understand the first major U.S. city evacuated since the Civil War. Now, from—judging from what you‘re saying and others are saying, with all the military troops landing there, it‘s got to look like Britain, Great Britain, in the days before the D-Day invasion.
What is the spirit, though, of the civilians there? Are they—from what you have gauged, those that are still remaining, are they still in a desperate situation or are some just making the best of it in the French Quarter?
HOFLAND: You have a little bit of both. You have the people that I spoke with in the French Quarter.
And, you know, that area really isn‘t too bad at all. There‘s a little bit of flooding in one quarter of it, but there‘s some wind damage. But the folks there, they are hardy people. They have their water. They have some gas in their homes. Even some of the gas lights on those little beautiful buildings in that area, those are still shining tonight.
There was one bar, Joe, that stayed open through the hurricane. They say they haven‘t closed in 16 years and are not about to close now. And there are other people who are still trapped still inside their homes and they refuse to leave. They have food. They have water. Other people are delivering water and food to them by boat.
A lot of these are just hardy people who say: I‘m safe. I can stay here a little bit longer. And, really, I don‘t feel like leaving.
And the police tell me that they really cannot force these people to leave.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Michelle Hofland, live again in New Orleans tonight, thank you for covering a story the way you are, a story that none of us have seen before and we pray to God we won‘t have to see again.
Let‘s go now to Baton Rouge, just about 80 miles north of New Orleans, and talk to Senator David Vitter.
Senator, thanks again for being with us again tonight. We appreciate you keeping us up to date...
SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA: Thank you, Joe. Thanks for your coverage.
SCARBOROUGH: ... from the beginning of this storm.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to talk about—I want to talk about that number, 10,000.
We heard LSU professors talk about the possibility, the computer modeling showing that as many as 10,000 may have died. You also talked about that number, the mayor of New Orleans suggesting that there may be as many as 10,000 casualties. Tell me, what information is everybody basing those estimates on?
That‘s—you know, David, to put it in perspective...
SCARBOROUGH: ... that‘s over five times as many people that died at Pearl Harbor and three times as many people who died on 9/11. The number is staggering, 10,000 dead.
VITTER: Well, we don‘t have any number yet, and I think that‘s important to say. We‘re really guessing. It‘s going to take time to figure out. But I think we have to prepare for the worst and certainly work and hope and pray for the best.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to talk about the relief operations right now. Do you think things are finally kicking into gear? Are you pleased? When we talked on Friday, when you talked—we talked about the troops actually starting to come in. You said you felt like things were turning the corner. Do you still feel that way after the long weekend?
On—on Friday I think I said I hoped and prayed that they were turning the corner. I thought that day could be the day, but we really wouldn‘t know for a day or two after. And then, by Sunday, I decided, yes, that was the day we had turned the corner. It was getting a lot better every day starting Friday, because of the massive military operation. And that‘s making a difference under great military leadership.
SCARBOROUGH: Senator, we have been critical—I have been critical -
· I will speak for myself—very critical, not only of the federal response, but also the state response.
But it appears this that—unfortunately, this recovery debate is turning into a political grudge match. Senator, your colleague, Senator Mary Landrieu, said that she wanted to punch George Bush in the face for his lack of response. Do you think that any officials have any room to criticize any other officials, considering that politicians in both parties botched this relief effort?
VITTER: Yes, unfortunately, this is going to be a fully bipartisan shortcoming, I think, when all the facts are in.
Right now, we have to focus on fixing problems and not fixing blame. There will be time for a lot of questions to be asked. I will certainly be part of that. But, again, we need to work on fixing problems. And my prediction is, down the road, when it is time to figure out exactly what went wrong, there will be plenty of that to go around. And it will be fully bipartisan.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what, David? You‘re exactly right.
And I was suggesting earlier today that, if I were the mayor of New Orleans, I‘d keep my mouth shut and not try to point fingers, because I would guess, like you, that there‘s going to be enough blame to go around down the road.
Hillary Clinton suggested that we needed a 9/11-type commission to study what went wrong in the initial response to this killer storm. Would you endorse that type of commission?
VITTER: Well, again, Joe, I‘m focused like a laser beam on work on the ground and fixing it here, so we can make a difference. I think we should all be focused on that.
Down the road, we need to ask a lot of questions of a lot of people. I don‘t know exactly how that would best be structured. Certainly, there will be congressional and Senate hearings, and I will be very actively involved in that.
SCARBOROUGH: Senator, stay with me.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to ask you a quick question on the other side about what the people of your state need the most right now.
SCARBOROUGH: Millions and millions of Americans want to step forward and help. Unfortunately, we‘re not getting the answers we need on how we can best help. I want to ask you. You‘re on the ground. You know your state as well as anybody. Stay with us.
SCARBOROUGH: That and much more on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We‘re going to be talking to the editor of the Biloxi newspaper, who has been here, obviously, from the very beginning. And he‘s going to get us up to date on the emergency response in his state and the possible death toll here.
That and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns live from Biloxi in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: We have been talking about the human tragedy and human scale. A lot of stories out there about pets being rescued. We will talk about that later when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. Tens of thousands. We will have that story in a little bit.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re looking at sandbags being dropped in some levees in New Orleans. Great news. Earlier tonight, we‘re just hearing, again, the levees—the breach has been repaired. They are now pumping water out of that city. The water level already has dropped by two feet, what a great opportunity for the people of that city to begin on the road to recovery.
And I can tell you, again, being from an area that‘s always impacted by hurricanes, but nothing really that ever came close to this, it‘s going to be a long and torturous road to recovery. But you‘ve got to start somewhere and this is a great start tonight in New Orleans, good news out of a city that badly needs it.
I want to go back to Senator David Vitter.
And, Senator, I want to ask you the question that so many relief people from Northwest Florida, people I know, want to know. What can Americans do to help those that are so affected in your state by Hurricane Katrina? What do you need the most?
VITTER: Well, short term, of course, we can get supplies here.
What was most first—first most needed is food and water and ice and essentials and clothing. Now I think we‘re beginning to move to the stage. We need equipment, heavier equipment, clearing roads, generators, things like that. And, Joe, my observation is that what‘s really made an impact is community-based groups, religious-based groups just doing it on their own, partnering with communities.
My observation is that, the bigger the bureaucracy is, whether it‘s government or even private, that, sometimes, the less it gets through and the less effectively it gets through. And just community organization to community has really made the difference. And those have been the heroes on the ground here.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, David, it almost sounds sacrilegious. And I know I‘m going to upset some people out there, but I‘m just telling the truth. You‘ve seen it and you are alluding to it now. I have seen it.
You have huge governmental organizations. They don‘t move as quickly. Huge organizations like the Red Cross, who help millions. But, again, in that first week, a bigger type of bureaucracy, they can‘t move in and repair the breach as quickly as a lot of these community church groups.
SCARBOROUGH: They‘re really the people who have been the heroes this first week, haven‘t they?
VITTER: Absolutely. The heroes on the ground have been local leaders, private citizens, businesses banding doing whatever they have to do to survive and make it and begin to rebuild.
And then they partnered with people from around the state and around the country, who just started sending things individually through personal contacts and personal relationships, mayor to mayor, in another part of the state or church group to church group. Those are the heroes, particularly the first week, 10 days.
SCARBOROUGH: Senator, no doubt about it, and that‘s something we‘re all going to have to remember when the next storm comes on shore.
Senator David Vitter, thanks again for being with us again.
VITTER: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Know, as always, our thoughts and prayers are with you and the people of the great state of Louisiana.
VITTER: Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
SCARBOROUGH: And it really is. What David said is really the truth. So many faith-based organizations, local charities are making such a huge difference.
Everybody I know in Pensacola is involved. My church has something called the I-10 Challenge, where we‘re challenging every church on the I-10 Corridor, from Jacksonville, all the way over to Los Angeles, challenging them to give 10 -- either 10 hours of volunteer work, 10 hours of salary, or 10 hours of prayer, whatever they can do the best.
And all of that adds up to create a tidal wave of relief and support that really is making a difference, not only in New Orleans, but here in Biloxi and all across the Gulf Coast.
Speaking of being across the Gulf Coast, people were scattered obviously across the Gulf Coast and all across America, but some battered residents of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans are returning back home to see what may be saved and also what they may have lost forever.
NBC‘s Don Teague has that story.
DON TEAGUE, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jefferson Parish is home to some of the richest and poorest communities in greater New Orleans. But, as residents returned today, they discovered rich and poor had nothing to do with wet or dry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There really is a stench in there from the refrigerator.
TEAGUE: After snaking through side streets and water up to two feet deep, Dian Bourgeou (ph) expected the worst.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It don‘t look too bad.
TEAGUE: Then realized a week of prayers had been answered.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s just a blessing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, sir. You‘re going to have to make a U-turn right here.
TEAGUE: Only residents who could prove they lived in the parish were allowed back today. Many who finally made it in wished they hadn‘t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s going to take a lot of work, man.
TEAGUE: Most will follow the advice of officials and leave after seeing for themselves and salvaging what they can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had the roof cave in.
TEAGUE (on camera): Before returning today, residents in this area had no way of knowing if their home survived. This street is completely submerged for miles, but here, at this intersection, there‘s hardly any water.
(voice-over): Though, just across the Parish in neighborhoods, in neighborhoods of stately manors, Katrina‘s wake left a lasting watermark, buckled floors evidence of the physical damage. The emotional damage, harder to see, but it‘s there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is going to be harder than any work that we have ever had to do.
TEAGUE: The water is slowly retreating here, but not the people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s not right. This is not right. This is not right. This is not.
TEAGUE: There are tears today, but also resolve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will rebuild. We will do it again.
TEAGUE: To rebuild.
Don Teague, NBC News, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.
SCARBOROUGH: Tragic pictures, tragic images of New Orleans.
This weekend, “The New York Times” was talking about how New Orleans has gotten almost all of the attention, but the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which really was ground zero of this storm, has not gotten quite as much. We have been here for the past week. And, again, I can tell you the devastation I have seen here really is unprecedented in America.
“The Sun Herald,” which is Southern Mississippi‘s paper, had this as a headline: “Our Tsunami.” And it really—this really has been Mississippi‘s tsunami.
And I want to bring in right now Stan Tiner. He‘s the editor of the newspaper.
Thanks so much for being with us, Stan. Greatly appreciate it.
STAN TINER, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, “THE SUN HERALD”: Hey, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: First of all, I—one of the remarkable journalistic stories out of this disaster is the fact that you guys have been printing and women have been printing every single day. How do you print when a—a newspaper when a tsunami comes onshore?
TINER: Yes, we had a plan.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m glad somebody did around here.
TINER: Well, we knew this was going to be a big storm. We had been following it for—as everyone else had, and, as it got closer, we were aware of that. We published our Sunday edition or the Monday edition Sunday afternoon and dispatched a group of editors up to Columbus, Georgia, a sister paper for Knight Ridder, there.
TINER: And, as soon as the storm had passed, we came out of our various homes and wherever we were...
SCARBOROUGH: But some people—you talk about homes. Some of your reporters actually went out to report on the storm, had been in shelters.
SCARBOROUGH: And when they went out to report, they found out they no longer had homes, that their entire life savings, their homes, wiped away. How tough has that been for reporters?
TINER: Well, “The Sun Herald,” we live here. So, we have participated in the pain that south Mississippi has felt.
You‘re right. Our newsroom lost 10 homes, totally destroyed. The newspaper, our colleagues as pressmen and advertising salesmen, all of that, 40 homes at least were destroyed.
SCARBOROUGH: Right. Yes.
TINER: So, they went out and discovered that. They came back and we cried a little bit and hugged and went to work.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to talk about two things, First of all—and, again, I have been over here since early Tuesday morning. I have been disappointed in the response. I know you‘ve editorialized, had disappointment also in the response.
I want to talk—let‘s break it up. I want to first talk about what the federal and state government‘s done and then talk about local charities that I was just talking about before, faith-based and also just general secular charities.
Grade, because a lot of politicians in Washington, D.C., and bloggers in California and New York, who have absolutely no idea what they‘re talking about, have come to opinions. Either the president‘s great or the president‘s bumbled this or Haley Barbour is great. Again, it‘s all ideology. It has nothing to do with what has happened on the ground.
You‘ve been on the ground. Grade them for us. How have the feds and the state leaders done?
TINER: Well, I don‘t want to try to be ideological, because our focus has been on recovering this.
TINER: And I think there will be a time for that discussion later on, although we had a very vigorous conversation about what we thought was slowness in terms of the initial response.
Our people—we listened to the people that were out there and there was a palpable unhappiness with this. People were needing water. People were asking our reporters, asking me, please give me some water. Please give me something to eat. That wasn‘t being delivered in those early days.
SCARBOROUGH: What about private charities? How have they been doing?
TINER: Well, the story today is America getting it done.
TINER: I mean, we‘re so proud of you here in Biloxi. A story today, a fellow drives down from Virginia, a car dealer, in a big old rig full of generators.
He passes them out to people here that need it. He walks over to the fire station in Biloxi, hands the key to the chief and walks off into the sunset. We have firefighters from New York City, from Texas, from Florida coming here. We have groups setting up food and feeding people. And, you know, we just feel so much appreciation for what‘s going on. And it makes us know that Americans—and Canadians are saying, what can we do for you?
SCARBOROUGH: So—so—so, when we hear word in national papers that Mississippi‘s been forgotten, you say that‘s not the case.
The American—the government may have screwed up, but the American people have remembered you and are really coming through right now.
TINER: We sense that and appreciate it so much.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks a lot, Stan.
TINER: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: I greatly appreciate it. Look forward to talking to you again soon.
I‘ll tell you what. When we come back, we have got a lot more. We‘re going to go, coming up next, to Houston and talk to a reporter who is at the Astrodome. That city has been invaded by 250,000 -- you can call them refugees. You can call them victims. Whatever you want to call them, got a quarter-of-a-million people in Houston right now, and the governor of Texas is saying, no more. We can‘t handle any more people coming into our state.
We will have that story and a lot more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns live from Mississippi‘s Gulf Coast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, COMMANDER, FIRST U.S. ARMY: In common language, we are rifles down in our operation. I move in and around New Orleans and just dressed just like I am now, as most people are down there. This is not a city under siege, by no means. And we need to treat that incident as an isolated one, as tragic as it sounds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: All across New Orleans, people are out trying to rescue pets. In fact, it‘s a massive relief effort to save 10,000 pets. Personally, I‘m wondering why they‘re not trying to save human beings. We could use that, couldn‘t we? Well, we will have that story when we come back.
But, first, here‘s the latest news that you, your family, and your dog, Fido, need to know.
ANNOUNCER: From Biloxi, Mississippi, once again, Joe Scarborough.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to the show.
Not good news. We have got three hurricanes out in the Atlantic right now, all this while we‘re still trying to recover from what happened a week ago today. And because of Hurricane Katrina, you‘ve got the mayor of New Orleans coming forward, telling us that as many as 10,000 of his residents may be dead. In the coming weeks and months, a lot of people are going to be asking why the mayor of New Orleans didn‘t follow the president‘s advice and order the mandatory evacuation, when the Democratic governor of Louisiana was saying the president was begging them to get people out of there.
Also today, good news. Earlier this evening, one of the levees that had been breached by this storm repaired. They‘re now pumping water furiously out of that devastated city. Apparently, water levels in some sections have already dropped by two feet.
Meanwhile, we move west from New Orleans to Houston, Texas, where it is a city under siege by evacuees that are storming over from New Orleans, 250,000 evacuees—a quarter-of-a-million people, if you‘re a University of Alabama graduate—have gone out to the Houston Astrodome and surrounding areas. The governor of Texas has said, we can‘t handle any more.
Want to go out to Houston right now and get the very latest.
And we have Ron Allen at the Astrodome.
Ron, get us up to date with the situation. I know it‘s an orderly process. But, my gosh, a quarter-of-a-million evacuees, that would tax even the largest of states.
RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It is taxing, but I don‘t think anybody here has described it as a city under siege or as an invasion, which is—
I think those are—that‘s really not the situation here.
There have been, by contrast, some 20,000 Houstonians who have stepped forward and volunteered their time. Some have volunteered their homes and opened their hearts to these people and welcomed them to the city. They refer to them as their neighbors and their guests. And the situation here is, I think, one where everyone is trying to make the most of, the best of a very difficult situation for people who are victims of a natural disaster that was not of their own making, people whose lives were shattered and people whose lives didn‘t have much to..
SCARBOROUGH: Ron—if I could interrupt you here, Ron, for one second.
SCARBOROUGH: Ron, if I could interrupt you for a second and say, certainly, I was not implying anything negative by that. In fact, we have been seeing the stories that you‘ve been reporting for some time, talking about how the people of Houston have actually opened their hearts, opened their homes, opened their schools. They‘ve done—isn‘t that what one of the remarkable part of this story, really, that, despite the fact that the Texas governor, understandably, said a quarter-of-a-million people, I don‘t know that we can take any more, but isn‘t the remarkable story the fact that the people of Houston, Texas, have been so generous and openhearted about these people?
ALLEN: Yes, it is a remarkable part of the story, indeed.
And I think the reason that the governor is saying that he wants to airlift people out of here, one way of looking at it is, I think that they would explain it is that it is in everyone‘s best interest that there not be a huge congregation of evacuees in any one place. The objective is not to keep people in shelters. The objective is to get people into a position where they can restart their lives, where they can find jobs, find homes, get their kids in schools.
And it is better—easier to do that, I think, by most accounts, if people have the opportunity to do that in a community. And they certainly can‘t do it in this neighborhood of Houston. You‘re absolutely right. Houston has also sacrificed quite a bit to accommodate these people. One official was saying that it will cost them about $3 million a week to do what they‘re doing.
And they‘ve already lost about $10 million or more in convention money that they‘ve had to turn away because their exhibition halls are occupied. Yes, it‘s a strain. It‘s difficult—it‘s—at time. It‘s certainly not a perfect situation. And I think other communities are going to find the same thing, that, when these people come to their neighborhoods, it‘s difficult.
Many of these people are obviously very poor. It‘s going to be somewhat difficult to get them into these communities. But, again, I think most people here are trying to be as upbeat about this as possible. There have been very few problems in the streets around here. There is a heavy police presence. I think they learned well the lessons of the disaster that happened in New Orleans. And so many people here in the city of Houston have said that they‘re trying to not make those same mistakes.
They‘re trying to make this a positive situation. You know, the Astrodome behind me is a concrete, sterile-looking building from out here. But when you go inside, it‘s cramped. It‘s crowded. There are a lot of people wandering around who are still somewhat traumatized by what has happened to them.
People are getting restless. They‘re wondering, what‘s going to happen with my life now? There‘s not a lot for them to do. It‘s not an optimal situation for anyone, the hosts or the guests.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thanks so much, Ron Allen, at the Astrodome.
It may be a sterile-looking building on the outside, but, as Ron has described, the people of Houston, Texas, doing absolutely everything they can do to make it feel like home, a part-time home, but home all the same, for so many children. And, again, these are some of the most disadvantaged citizens we have in all of America. And I just—I just want to thank the people of Houston—I know you do, too—and the people of Texas, for opening their homes and opening their hearts to those evacuees from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Now, when we come back, much more straight ahead. We‘re going to be going back to New Orleans, get the latest on the situation, 10,000 feared dead, the levees broken, but now some of the breaches being repaired.
That and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And more heartbreaking is that people that we probably know are back home doing the things that we need to go rescue people from.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s worse than what they have seen in Baghdad and Afghanistan. And that‘s hard to believe, but it‘s real. It‘s happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Want to go back to the Houston Astrodome right now.
Out in front of the Astrodome, we have the president of the Red Cross.
She is Marty Evans.
Ms. Evans, thanks each for being with us.
SCARBOROUGH: A remarkable story unfolding in Houston. I was just alluding to it, 250,000 evacuees going into that city. I mean, that‘s certainly going to tax any city, any state, any community. And, yet, the people of Houston are bending over backwards doing everything they can help. I know the Red Cross is, too.
Talk about the situation out there and whether it‘s going smoothly or not.
MARTY EVANS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Well, it‘s going remarkably smoothly considering the challenge.
You know, this whole effort is much larger than just the Red Cross. This is the coming together of not only the Red Cross, but also countless numbers of community organizations, police, fire, the elected officials, business. It‘s just an amazing coalescence of community spirit. And, you know, we talk in the Red Cross about neighbors helping neighbors. And this is really, I think, the quintessential example.
We also have a number of shelters beyond just the Astrodome. And I visited one of those shelters today that was in the New Life Church. And I have to tell that you can go from the Astrodome, where there about 10,000 people that all are being very, very well cared for and supported, things being done to help them ease into this transition.
But then I went to the New Life Church, where they have about 130 rebuilders, they call them. They‘re not evacuees. They‘re not refugees. They‘re rebuilders. And, in that smaller community-based setting, Red Cross and the New Life—the group are working with these people to decide what‘s next and to help them get on that way.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, really, Marty, the heroes of this are the private charities. A lot of criticism directed towards the federal and state governments and the local governments and their response.
But—but, again, it‘s been private organizations like your own and a lot of faith-based organizations that have really made the difference. Is that the lesson here, that, in the first week, chances are good that we‘re going to get most of our recovery from private organizations and not public governmental agencies?
EVANS: Well, speaking from the perspective of the Red Cross, you know, we do disasters. We prepare for and respond to them.
And so, when we knew of the storm coming, we set up evacuation shelters. So, the Red Cross was on the job well before the storm actually struck. And we already knew that we were going to go to work. Now, I think we have all been quite amazed at the extent. I mean, it‘s unimaginable, the extent.
But, again, we‘re doing that activity that we have trained for, we have planned for, we have sent supplies in for. We have recruited volunteers and corporate support to accomplish it. We just happen to be doing it on a large scale. And, you know, we have shelters in 16 states today. And we have Red Cross chapters in 47 states that are actually supporting some of the people that have left New Orleans and moved to other parts of the country already.
SCARBOROUGH: And what a logistical challenge it‘s going to be for your organization and all organizations and the government out there to make sure that this does go smoothly.
Thank you so much for being with us. God bless you for your efforts.
EVANS: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: When we come back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, much more. We‘re going to be going back to Louisiana. I‘m going to ask the congressman there to shoot it to me straight. What does he think about Senator Mary Landrieu saying that, if she had a chance, she would punch the president of the United States in the face?
SCARBOROUGH: You are looking at images out of New Orleans. It‘s just remarkable footage, friends. Seven days later, we are finally getting into some parts of New Orleans that nobody has seen before. These are the images that are coming out, and just a tragic story. Every home there that is inundated is a life not ruined, but certainly a life that is set back, and, again, unfortunately, most of the people that sustained the greatest damage property-wise, the people who could afford it the least.
Welcome back to the show.
I want to talk right now to Louisiana Congressman Bobby Jindal.
Congressman, thank you so much for being with us again.
I must tell you, I was stunned that your senator, Mary Landrieu, said that she would punch George Bush in the face if she got the chance—or punch George—just generally punch him. I have been corrected, not in the face, just punch the president of the United States, generally, because of his response there.
Do you think any politician in the state of Louisiana has a right to point fingers at other politicians?
REP. BOBBY JINDAL ®, LOUISIANA: No. I...
SCARBOROUGH: ... in the end, that everybody is going to be sharing the blame?
JINDAL: I think there‘s enough blame to go all around. I think our focus should be on fixing the situation on the ground.
It was ironic. We did have a meeting today with the president, with the entire delegation. Everybody was very cordial, blunt. There was no need for Secret Service. They didn‘t break up any fights or anything.
JINDAL: But her emotions certainly are raw.
But my frustration is certainly not with the president, but it is with the bureaucracy. I can tell you stories that would make you either laugh or cry or something, because they are almost too ridiculous to believe, stories where one sheriff told me this yesterday. He said he was desperate for help. He was told—this is a sheriff in a parish that‘s underwater, without electricity. He was told, you are going to have to e-mail your request in for help.
He almost wanted to reach across the phone and strangle this person. He thought, how in the world is he supposed to find a computer? We—there is—Plaquemine Parish, as of yesterday, still didn‘t have tetanus shots for their first-responders, who have been in five feet of water or more of water on a daily basis. You just hear private pilots want to rescue people. They are being told that—they can‘t find anybody to give them permission to take off and go on these missions. It‘s just...
SCARBOROUGH: All right. All right, Congressman, let me stop you right there. Congressman, let me stop you, because you brought up tetanus shots. And this is what is so frustrating.
I got a friend who is a doctor who called me last night. He has 10,000 tetanus shots in Pensacola, Florida. He can‘t get them into your state because the bureaucracy won‘t allow him to get them over there, so people can get tetanus shots. The same can be said about water. The same can be said about food. My wife are over in Biloxi again.
People are not getting the supplies they need. There‘s a breakdown in the bureaucracy. How do we fix it, so Americans who want to help your people can step in and do it?
JINDAL: Well, you know, it‘s sad. You said something that was very true on your previous segment. Sometimes, the private sector just has to take over where the government doesn‘t work.
We literally have gone to private companies when we can‘t get the bureaucracy to work. We delivered 250,000 bottles of water today, all from the private sector. That all came through my staff, volunteers and others. We have turned to companies like Budweiser, like Ford, like Verizon, and said, when we can‘t get others to deliver vehicles, communications towers, food and water, just step in. We don‘t have time to navigate the bureaucracy.
Clearly, something is not working on the—now, has it gotten better since the military and the National Guard came on board? Absolutely. You know, the security has improved. They evacuated the Superdome. They evacuated the Convention Center.
But what is so mind-boggling and so frustrating is, there are stories like yours. There are stories like the people—we had a physicians group out of California that wanted to relieve the doctors that were in these hospitals under nightmarish conditions, with no medicines, no power, no relief, who were working around the clock, as some patients survived, others didn‘t.
What we need on the ground is somebody who can cut through the red tape, take authority and say, you know what? The rules just don‘t apply right now. We have to save lives. Sometimes, you ask for forgiveness, not permission. We need somebody who can just say, we are not going to tell people, send us an e-mail. We are not going to tell—there have literally...
JINDAL: ... been stories of relief trucks being turned away at the roadside, when they were trying to get to parishes that needed desperately this help.
We went to a community today. For a week after the hurricane, nobody had been there. No official had been there to bring them food or water. Just...
JINDAL: We were just plain, you know, private citizens in trucks driving there. And we found them before anybody else did. It‘s just—again...
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
JINDAL: We are the most powerful country in the world. We should be able to be better.
SCARBOROUGH: Congressman, you are right.
I got to get you back tomorrow night. We have got a lot more to talk about on this subject alone. And I think you are going to be leading the charge in the weeks and months coming forward.
Thank you, again, Congressman Jindal.
When we come back, we are going to be talking to you about pet rescues. There are thousands of them going on tonight, and throughout the week in New Orleans. That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back.
We aren‘t going to have time, I just heard. We aren‘t going to have time for the pet rescue segment. We will be talking about that tomorrow night. I know there are pet—a lot of pet lovers out there that want to get that information. We will give it to you tomorrow night.
I just want to follow up. I have been giving Senator Mary Landrieu a lot of problem tonight about her statements regarding George Bush. I have been critical about the president‘s response, Haley Barbour‘s response, and Governor Blanco‘s response.
But I guarantee you this, friends. As we move forward in the coming weeks and months, we are going to find out that people on every level screwed up. So, if I am a politician, I hold hands with the other person next to me and I worry about first things first. And that‘s taking care of the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Now I turn you over to a man who will take care of you for the next hour. He is Tucker Carlson. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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