IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' for September 6

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guest: Eddie Compass, David Vitter, Mark Sanders, Lawrence Riddles, Shonda Schilling, Ricky Dinon, Stephanie Dinon, Michael Appleton, Ed Koch, Richard Riordan, Frank Siller

RITA COSBY, HOST:  We continue, everybody, here live from New Orleans, which tonight looks more like a heavily fortified military compound.  The Pentagon is saying that there are more than 60,000 troops all along the Gulf Coast, of course, many of them right here in this city.
In fact, I just returned from the very disturbing sight.  I took a boat tour with the U.S. Navy all this afternoon, where, sadly, we saw very few signs of life.  The flood waters are still up to the rooftops in many areas.  And where the water is receding, there are too many bodies to count.  With the water so dirty and also no electricity and barely any food, it is hard to imagine why anyone would choose to stay.  A mandatory evacuation is still in effect for parts of the city, but some people are still refusing to leave.
Meantime, fires continue to break out around this city, most caused by deviants who are making it difficult for those trying to save lives.  And we‘re told—we talked to the deputy fire chief just a little bit ago.  He said that they are working around the clock, that they are exhausted, so many fires to put out.
And now tonight, some good news.  In just the last few minutes, we saw some lights go in this city.  Right behind me, there‘s a major hotel here, and we can see the lights on in the Hilton, also the Marriott up the street and a number of other hotels.  So finally, a sign that life is slowly, very, very slowly getting back to normal.
And some big developments today, and joining us all about that is our own MSNBC and NBC Martin Savidge.  Good to see you in person.  You and I have been talking through our satellite for a while.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Thank you, Rita.  You know, the lights really does mean a lot.  In the recovery scheme of things, it probably isn‘t that big, but in the morale of the city, it is huge.  Other good news, as you pointed out, they have fixed the breaches that were in the levees.  They‘ve filled the gaps, and the pumps are working.

(voice-over):  The water keeps gushing out of New Orleans.  It‘s down a foot or more in some neighborhoods, and the mayor says it will take three weeks to drain out the rest.
MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS:  There‘s still a significant amount of water, but instead of having 80 percent of the city under water, I would estimate we have 60 percent of the city under water.
SAVIDGE:  But what‘s in that water is a frightening question.  Health officials today confirmed it‘s full of E. coli, oil and gas and other flammable liquids.
MIKE MCDANIEL, SEC. LA DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY:  We have submerged waste treatment facilities, backed-up facilities.  And initial indications are—and I think others have seen this, too—that they‘re showing a large number of what we call biological contaminants, fecal indicators.
SAVIDGE:  Miami rescuers told us every time the water gets on their skin, they have to decontaminate themselves.
Where they need water tonight is in the Garden District and other points around the city where fires continue to burn.  Firefighters have had to treat these blazes like forest fires, dropping buckets of water from the air.  Meanwhile, as the water recedes, no one wants to talk about it much, but everyone‘s mindful that there are bodies in that water, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There were no victims that were alive in that structure.
SAVIDGE:  Reports of 30 found here, a dozen found there.  Still, no one knows just how many overall or how or where to start gathering them for proper burial.  The stench makes it all that much more difficult.
They are still saving people, the U.S. Marines using landing craft designed for storming beaches instead used them for search and rescue efforts in East New Orleans.
So the officials and the volunteers turned to a task more daunting but less emotional, the clean-up.  Like water, people also still drain from the city.  Once home to over half a million, officials say the population‘s now down to 10,000, equal to the number feared killed.  New Orleans has become a city balanced between the living and the dead.
Now, there are some environmental concerns, Rita, about the water that‘s being pumped out because of all the contaminants that are in it.  They are fearing that once it goes into the Gulf of Mexico or goes into Lake Pontchartrain, you could have environmental problems.  The city is saying at this point, Look, one problem at a time that we can deal with.
COSBY:  And the biggest problem—you know, what we just saw—I just actually finished a boat trip a few moments ago.  I was astounded and also horrified, to a degree—bodies just floating by in the water.  As the water is receding, I think it‘s going to get more grim.
SAVIDGE:  It will.  I will.  I mean, we already know that from the emergency people who have been in the areas.  They have found bodies.  What they did, they tied them to telephone poles so they wouldn‘t drift away.  The water is going down.  You can imagine the horrific sight you‘d have if you went back in that neighborhood.
COSBY:  Another thing I think very surprising, and people were coming here, just the military presence.  It is astounding!  I mean, it looked like Fort Knox.  When I drove in last night, deserted.  The only people I saw were a few reporters and, basically, wall-to-wall military people, particularly the 82nd Airborne, heavily fortified, marching down the street.
SAVIDGE:  Twenty-four hours a day.  You have every kind of federal branch that could possibly be here.  You also have the civilians that are here that are coming from a lot of the police departments from all across the nation.  It is an armed fortress, but it went a long way to giving people security, and that goes a long way to giving them peace of mind.
COSBY:  Absolutely.  They seem to have done a good job, too, at least so far.  It‘s a tough thing to get a handle on.
SAVIDGE:  It is.
COSBY:  Martin Savidge, thank you very much.  Good to see you, my friend.
SAVIDGE:  Thank you.
COSBY:  Appreciate it.
And of course, the person‘s job who it is to maintain control of this city, and it is a massive job, is the superintendent of New Orleans, also known as the chief of police to us, Eddie Compass, who joins us now live.  Chief, good to see you.
COSBY:  I‘m glad to see you smiling because you‘ve had a tough job.
COMPASS:  Yes, it has been tough.  But you know, I‘m just so proud of the men and women of this police department and those other agencies that came in and helped us.  I mean, it‘s incredible.
COSBY:  Talk about your police department.  Yesterday, you had some very, very disturbing news, particularly that, what, about 400 guys, 400 to 500 guys, you don‘t know where they are.
COMPASS:  Well, you know, some of those individuals, they may have been homes that couldn‘t get out.  You know, some of them even may have quit.  But you know, I‘ve really been focusing on the 1,200 that stayed here and held the city down.  I‘m so proud of those individuals.  It‘s incredible, the job that they did.
COSBY:  Do you—the ones that are missing, do you believe that they haven‘t reported to—that some of them may actually have lost their lives?  Do you think that they just—it‘s too scary, it‘s too much for them to handle?
COMPASS:  Well, some of them may have taken that route, you know, but I really don‘t know because we—that‘s an administrative thing.  And right now, we‘re still dealing with rescues.  We‘re dealing with patrols.  We‘re still saving human lives.  That‘s our paramount mission right now.  Those officers we‘re all concerned about, and we‘re going to find their whereabouts.  Commanders in the process of ascertaining where they are.  But you have to understand we have no computers.  We have no telephone.  We have no electricity.  So it‘s not something that‘s very easy, no central number where they can call in at.
COSBY:  If someone didn‘t show up to work and didn‘t call you, is there anything you can do?  is there any Repercussion?
COMPASS:  Well...
COSBY:  Or given the situation (INAUDIBLE)
COMPASS:  Well, you know, we‘re going to lay out all those things.  You know, that‘s—it‘s to soon to really see how we‘re going to deal with individuals who didn‘t show up.  But you know, one thing I can say, the individuals that did, they will go down in history as the greatest police department, the greatest police force in the whole—in the history of the world.
COSBY:  Now, they have been working really hard.  There‘s a story in “The New York Times” today that says that some of the guys are getting trips to Vegas, as a relief.  Is that happening now?  Because some people are saying, We need them, they can‘t be off in Vegas.
COMPASS:  Well, no, these guys have been working for six days, seven days without any sleep, no food, no water, no bathroom facilities.  I had the same pair of underwear on for five days in a row.  I mean, we had water waist-deep we were walking in.  We had no vehicles.  People understand the barrier we were—we were involved in firefighting and we did not lose one police officer because of our training.
COSBY:  But are they getting trips to Vegas and other things?  And are they taking it right away?
COMPASS:  Well, the mayor is setting it up.  You know, we have a great mayor.  You know, our mayor is getting psychological evaluations for everybody.  He‘s getting physicals for everybody.  He‘s getting everybody back with their family (INAUDIBLE) vacation.  They‘re going to Las Vegas, Atlanta.  So you know, the mayor really has the heart of the people that works for him at his—at their best interest.
COSBY:  But are they doing it right now?  Because people are saying...
COMPASS:  No, not right now...
COSBY:  ... oh, don‘t you dare go away right now.
COMPASS:  No, not right now.  Not right now.  We—we‘re—we‘re breaking officers (ph).  We have a number of officers that are still on the streets.  But you also understand we have a lot of help in now.  Before, it was just us.
COSBY:  Talk about the help that you‘re getting in.  Because we were able to capture some great pictures today, some still pictures.  And hopefully, we can put them on there.  Our producer, Nina Bradley (ph), was out there.
COMPASS:  Right.
COSBY:  Here you are, sitting in this city with just a lot to battle.
COMPASS:  Right.
COSBY:  And the head general...
COMPASS:  Yes.  Well, he recognized...
COSBY:  This is a picture—yes, this is a still picture.
COMPASS:  Yes, he...
COSBY:  He comes over to you, and I heard it was just an emotional moment when you saw General Honoree.
COMPASS:  Yes.  He said—you know, he said, Chief, you guys did a great job against insurmountable odds.  You know, he‘s very proud of us and, you know, proud of the response of the city.  I mean, it was a great moment.  It was a good moment.
COSBY:  Do you feel you‘re getting enough federal support?
COMPASS:  We‘re getting a lot of support in right now, and I think it‘s going to continue.  And I think we‘re going to get this city back.
COSBY:  Look, you were angry at first.  You feel that it was, like, you guys alone, fighting the biggest disaster?
COMPASS:  Well, we had support from our local sheriffs‘ agencies.  We had support from the federal agency that was assigned to the state of Louisiana.  We had support coming in from the people of Louisiana, but we didn‘t have any outside support.  But we still held ours.
You know, it was very frustrating for the superintendent of police to see my people hungry, to see them without bathroom facilities, see them without vehicles.  Also, actually, we ran out of ammunition during firefights.  But you know, that‘s all in the past.  I don‘t want to deal with that.  I want to deal with the building process.
You know, I‘m very happy that support is here now.  I‘m very happy the help is here now.  And I‘m very happy that my police department did something that‘s never been done in the history of the United States.
COSBY:  I‘ll tell you, it is incredible.  But you just said to me that they ran out of ammunition during firefights?
COMPASS:  Exactly.
COSBY:  How did that happen?
COMPASS:  Well, you—when you‘re getting fired upon, you‘re returning fire.  There‘s a limited amount of weapons that we carry with us.  The criminal element had raided all the gun stores, so they were better armed than we were.
COSBY:  Talk about also the criminal element.  Who are these folks?  Because, you know, we were out today.  We saw still a lot of fires being lit.  Are they some fugitives?  Are they gangsters?  Who is still wreaking havoc in this city?  And how many of them, do you believe?
COMPASS:  These are the same criminal elements that prey on every major city in the United States.  Most of the citizens I see are good, hard-working people, but there‘s a small percent that‘s responsible for most of the crime.  Well, this percent of the criminal in New Orleans have taken advantage of this catastrophic situations and have taken it to another level of violence.  But this police department dealt with that.  We‘ve made over 160 arrests.
COSBY:  Just in the last 24 hours, though, is that right?
COMPASS:  That‘s right.  We‘ve been involved in firefights, and not one of my police officers was killed.  One was shot in the head, but he‘s going to survive.  So we have a police force that‘s very well trained.  That‘s the difference with thugs with guns and well-trained police officers with guns.
And one thing I want to commend is the commanders in my department.  We commanded from the field.  We had no radio communications.  The command post was wherever I was at.  I want to thank my security force.  They tried take me hostage.  My security force, William Charbone (ph), Marlon Defilo (ph), Frank Gibbons (ph), along with a couple of other guys that I can‘t remember their names because I wasn‘t familiar with them, but about six other guys, they came and they really held off the crowd...
COSBY:  Who tried to take you hostage?  That‘s the first I heard.
COMPASS:  On Convention Center Boulevard, an individual in the crowd recognized me as the chief of police.  And he said that the buses were promised.  They were going to grab me until they get the buses.  And the crowd swelled around this individual, and they charged towards me.  And my security team forced them off, and I got in the vehicle and we were able to get out of there.
COSBY:  Thank goodness.  Thank goodness because we definitely need you here in the city.  Hang tight because I want to bring, if I could—this is the senator, Republican senator David Vitter.  Senator Vitter, what is your reaction...
COSBY:  ... because everything I‘m hearing—I mean, these guys are working their hearts out, as you just heard from the chief.  Do you think they‘re...
VITTER:  Well, these...
COSBY:  ... getting everything they need?
VITTER:  Well, they‘re getting a lot more than a few days ago, but I‘m sure they‘re not getting everything they need yet.  But Rita, the most important point are folks like this, including Chief Compass, are the heroes of this story.  They were there from the beginning, right after the storm hit, doing God‘s work, getting things done, banding together, banding with citizens on the ground, doing important relief when no one, certainly not FEMA, certainly not the governor‘s state bureaucracy were anywhere nearby.
And I‘ve seen that in New Orleans and OPD (ph) and others.  I‘ve seen that in communities all around the storm-stricken area, St. Bernard parish.  I was there on the ground.  I heard the same sort of stories.  The fire department there, as well as the sheriff‘s office, just unbelievable, and private citizens.  I‘ve seen it in lower Plaquemines, which was just devastated.  These are the heroes of this story.  They‘re definitely heroes.  There are a lot of screw-ups, but there are definitely heroes, and these are the heroes.
COSBY:  Oh, you bet.  I agree.  You know, you have said, Senator—you were quoted just a little bit ago saying people are dying because of incompetence.  Who‘s responsible for that, sir?  And will there be a price to pay?
VITTER:  Sure as heck there‘s going to be a price to pay.  I don‘t know everybody who‘s responsible.  My gut feeling is there unfortunately is going to be plenty of blame to go around.  We‘re trying to fix problems right now and not fix blame.  But there‘ll be a time for that and a lot of questions that need to be answered by a lot of folks here in Baton Rouge, as well as FEMA and the federal level.
COSBY:  And in fact, I want to show a comment, if I could.  President Bush was talking about sort of the blame game today, not wanting to point any fingers.  If we can show what he had to say?  This was just a few hours ago.
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think one of the things that people want us to do here is to play a blame game.  We got to solve problems.  We‘re problem solvers.  There‘ll be ample time for people to figure out what went right and what went wrong.  What I‘m interested, is helping save lives.  That‘s what I want to do.
COSBY:  Chief, when the post-mortem is done, who do you think the fingers are going to be pointed at?  Because these poor people—
(INAUDIBLE) just came out.  These people have been waiting out there for eight days, praying for help.
COMPASS:  Well, you know, I‘m a police officers and I‘m a soldier, and I really don‘t get involved in the politics.  What I do is take whatever‘s given to me and make it work.  And that‘s what we did.
COSBY:  Are you astounded, though, that it took eight days?  As an officer, you know how much that is—dehydration and water, scorching heat.
COMPASS:  Oh, yes, it was very surprising that we didn‘t get enough
help in an expeditious matter.  But I can‘t worry about that.  You know, my
officers wondered why I trained them so hard from the academy.  I‘d go in -
· I‘d go to the police academy, and I worked the crews to death.  They said, Why‘d the chief (INAUDIBLE) I said, When the time come.  Well, guess what?  The time is now.

COSBY:  Oh, good for you.  And Senator, what do you think‘s going to happen in Washington?  It sounds like they‘re working on getting lots of billions of dollars (INAUDIBLE).  I was hearing the latest, $40 billion.  Do you think it‘ll come?  And obviously, do you think it‘s even going to be enough?
VITTER:  Absolutely, it‘ll come, but that‘s only the next bill.  That‘s not going to be the end of it, by any means.  The total is almost certainly going to be over $100 billion.  We‘re not near to tallying all that up now.  I‘m certainly working hard on that legislative piece, but that‘s going to be rolled out and done over several months.  But the next bill only, probably within three weeks, is going to be $40 billion on top of the $10.5 billion that we already have.  That‘s a start, but it‘s going to take a lot because we will rebuild this region, the city and the surrounding communities.  We will do it, and we will do it right.
COSBY:  All right, Senator.  Well, thank you very much.  And I‘m glad you‘re supporting these fine men out here.
VITTER:  Thank you, Rita.
COSBY:  And Chief, great to see you.  Keep up the great work.  Thank you.
And Everybody, stick with us.  We‘ve got a lot more ahead tonight.  I‘m going to talk to a man who actually was in the throat (ph) of the storm, incredible experience.  Missing—he‘s also missing hundreds of his co-workers.  And we‘re going to show you more of this video.  This is amazing.  This is from hard-hit Mississippi, caught the nightmare on tape.  This man is going to tell us why he did it.  And also, an unbelievable act of kindness.  Baseball great Curt Schilling offers to care for a family of nine, has already accepted to do this, nine folks in desperate need.  Plus, we have an amazing story about the New Orleans International Airport.  I was out there yesterday.  It‘s now been transformed into a medical emergency room.  We‘re going to show you that coming up LIVE AND DIRECT.
COSBY:  Incredible damage, as you can see here today, over New Orleans from the sky, devastation from the ground and devastation clearly seen from the air.  And it‘s going to take a long time to rebuild.
And now the word is that so many people are still missing.  Among those missing, close to 2,000 employees of Marriott in the New Orleans area.  And joining us now is Mark Sanders (ph).  He‘s the manager of the New Orleans chain in this area.  Mr. Sanders, I understand, what, you have, is it 15 hotels in this area?  Is that correct?
COSBY:  This is an astounding number, 2,000 employees?  How many employees in total do you have?
SANDERS:  We have about 2,800 employees here in town, in New Orleans.  And to have that many unaccounted for is truly a heart-breaking experience right now.  And that‘s why we‘re trying to reach out to the local communities and anybody out there and share our hotline with everybody.  The phone number we want anyone to dial that has any knowledge of the Marriott staff‘s whereabouts is 866-211-4610.
COSBY:  You know, it must just be heart-breaking.  When did you realize that the total was so high?  When did you finally sort of get a grasp on the numbers?
SANDERS:  We started hearing from our staff members—for the folks that had already evacuated, we started hearing from them on Monday and Tuesday, and obviously, the phone calls are coming in, the e-mails are coming in from all over the country.  It‘s truly amazing how people found ways out of town.  But we haven‘t heard from nearly enough, and that‘s really the big story here.  And we‘re worried about our people.
COSBY:  Oh, you bet.  I‘m sure you‘re just terrified.  I mean, that‘s a lot of people.  How are you going back about the process of tracking them down?  You‘re putting out the 800 number.  But are you going to hotels?  Are you going to, when the neighborhoods dry up, just some of those types of searches, as well?
SANDERS:  We‘re doing everything you can imagine.  We‘re reaching out to community-based organizations.  We‘re putting banners on all our buildings.  We‘re reaching out to the different shelters and civic centers.  We‘re coming to people just like yourself and asking to you help us get the word out.  We took a full-page ad out, or a half-page ad out in “USA Today” just to get that phone number out.  We‘ll have people running around the country with T-shirts that number on it.  Again, it‘ll be amazing just how far we can reach with that information.
But we want to find our people.  That‘s what this whole experience now has turned into, as we focus on getting back on our feet here in New Orleans.
COSBY:  Absolutely.  And sir, I do hope you get some good news soon.  Please keep us posted.  And let just pray they were just disconnected with the storm, and so forth.  Hope things work out well for you and your employees.  Thank you, sir.
And many people missing, and also many people injured, as well.  Some good news that I did see yesterday at the New Orleans airport, just a few miles away from here.  It‘s the central picking (ph) point, but it‘s basically become an ER, a massive area of triage.  Basically, all the people are coming in, 20,000 people so far, have come in through there.  And then they get checked out to see what kind of medical conditions, if there‘s any injuries.  They get screened.  It‘s an amazing process.  Three concourses of New Orleans airport is now turned into a way station and a hospital room.
And I had the chance to talk to Colonel Larry Riddles, who‘s in charge of the operation.
(INAUDIBLE) probably about 15,000, 20,000 people have come through, both passengers and patients.
COSBY:  It‘s a massive amount.  Some heart-breaking stories that you‘ve even seen firsthand?
RIDDLES:  Well, unfortunately, just recently, we had a gentleman that was blind, and so he didn‘t know what was going on.  But he said—you know, the thing he said to me is, you know, I‘m really frightened of the weather.  So we spent a little time just talking.  It was sunny and clear out.  This is a real humanitarian or a human effort that‘s going on, so...
COSBY:  It‘s also a massive effort.  When you look at the idea of taking over three concourses of an airport, this requires just massive organization.
RIDDLES:  Yes, ma‘am.  Basically, this is a hospital, believe it or not, now.  We‘re converting at very little notice an airport into a hospital.  And the airport management and the FEMA group have been just tremendous in helping everybody to do that.  And our job‘s to come in and roll in and help the government support the state municipalities in trying to reclaim this disaster and get these people out of harm‘s way.
COSBY:  Once they come here, they get separated.  Where do they go?
RIDDLES:  OK.  Well, what they do is, we do what‘s called triage.  Those members that need medical care (INAUDIBLE) into the system here.  We bring them in, evaluate what kind of medical care they do and apply that medical care.  Once they‘re stable, we then move them into the air evacuation system.
COSBY:  So where do they go, to just various shelters?  Do they know where they‘re going?
RIDDLES:  They don‘t know right off the top of their head.  Many times, we have a city destination, and that‘s run by the National Disaster Medical Service.  And that‘s how we determine where they go.  And once they have determined that, then they tell the Department of Defense, Your flights need to go into here, and that can switch day to day, hour to hour.
COSBY:  So sometimes they‘re going to different cities.  Maybe they don‘t know anybody, but that‘s just the next flight that‘s available.
RIDDLES:  No, ma‘am.  The priority here is to get the people out of harm‘s way and into an area that can support them.  And right now, the area, it can‘t do that.  And that‘s the reason that we‘re moving them.  Now, we‘re working hard to keep them within the state of Louisiana, if we can, but that—you know, obviously, we do what we can.  The first priority is get them out of harm‘s way.
COSBY:  So get them wherever you can, at this point?
RIDDLES:  Yes, ma‘am.  And try to keep families together and try to keep the translocation to a minimum.  But again, the key is getting them out of harm‘s way.
COSBY:  And the Air Force doing some great work there.
Someone else who‘s doing some amazing things and trying to make a difference is the Schilling family, Shonda Schilling, and also her famous husband, Curt Schilling, of course, the pitcher of the Boston Red Sox.  And Shonda Schilling joins me now live from Fenway Park.
And Shonda, I love what you‘re doing.  Tell us what you‘re doing.  You‘re planning on adopting a family, or you‘ve already made plans to do that, right?
SHONDA SCHILLING, WIFE OF RED SOX PITCHER CURT SCHILLING:  Our family is already here, been here since Saturday.  And they‘re actually at the game tonight, their first major league baseball game tonight.
COSBY:  But what‘s their reaction?  What do they think?  This is their first game?  What do they think?
SCHILLING:  I think now, in about the eighth inning, they‘ve eaten everything that is fun to eat for kids, and they‘re starting to get restless, like any kid would after two-and-a-half hours in the same spot, so—but it‘s really a fun...
COSBY:  Why did you want to do this?
SCHILLING:  Well, I think, like most of us, we sat and we watched the devastation.  We couldn‘t grasp really what it was until a couple of days after.  And then when we started seeing that there were so many families in need, you know, sending money wasn‘t enough for us.  We wanted to make sure that there was a family that was taken care of.
And we went on to and found a family.  And we actually went on Friday night.  They called us Saturday morning and said they had a family with seven kids and two adults.  And we flew them out.  They‘d never been on a plane before, and we flew them out to Boston.  And they had no idea who it was that was doing this.  So that just shows you what kind of a situation a lot of these families are in.
I mean, they got on a plane, relying on the goodness of other people, hoping at the other end, you know, that there was a future and stability for them.  And they got on the plane and landed, and you know, right now, we‘re in the process of trying to find them a place to live and a job and try to get the kids in school.
COSBY:  I think that‘s terrific.  And you‘re right, that is a big testament to them that you had faith in them, but they clearly also had faith in you and faith in the system.
SCHILLING:  Faith in people.
COSBY:  Shonda, what about this family, in particular?  Yes, faith in people, you‘re right.  What about this family?  Tell us a little bit about, you know, sort of what they endured and just their—you know, everybody has had so many amazing stories of survival.
SCHILLING:  Right.  Well, they left their home on Sunday, when they realized it was going to get really bad.  And they packed an overnight bag.  They really thought they were going for just a day or two.  And they took off, and they drove and they drove for a day-and-a-half, and they ended up in Atlanta.  And by day three, they—you know, they realized that there was nowhere to go back to.
And so at that point, they went to the Red Cross to try and figure out what they were going to do.  And they got a voucher to go to Wal-Mart because you have seven kids with—and two adults, and you know, they had no food and no change of clothes.  And someone actually overheard them talking and said that they knew this organization,  And they went on, and we just happened to be the family that picked them.
COSBY:  What a great story.  Congratulations.  And they‘re lucky to have both and you Curt.  I think it‘s a terrific story, and I hope it also inspires other people to do the same.  Shonda, thanks so much.  Go back to your lovely family and the game.
SCHILLING:  Thank you.  Bye-bye.
COSBY:  Thank you so much.
And coming up, we‘ve got much more ahead here as we continue here live from New Orleans.  We‘re also going to take to you another city equally devastated.  We‘re going to take to you Mississippi, where Biloxi is buried.  So tons of damage there.  And also some dramatic pictures, a moment caught on tape.  A man was filming what was taking place during the hurricane.  And what you‘ll see here—you can see it highlighted.  A man is actually trying to save his boat in the middle of the high winds, the high seas.  It‘s an incredible moment caught on tape, had you‘re going to see it next.
And also, some stunning pictures that were taken by “The New York Daily News,” some heart-wrenching photos of people first and the devastation, the desperation.  And also, as you can see, there‘s a moment of hope when they finally were rescued.  We‘ll have all that when we come back.
COSBY:  And tonight, an incredible sight here from New Orleans.  As you can see from that picture right there, some of the lights are on right behind us at the Hilton Hotel.  An amazing sight, because, when we arrived here about 24 hours ago, we were basically the only lights on in this city.  Hopefully, a sign that life is slowly, slowly getting back to normal. 
Of course, it‘s going to take some time, not just here in New Orleans, but also in Biloxi, Mississippi.  And that‘s where our Ron Blome is reporting live to give us the latest from there—Ron?
Yes, we were surprised to look over our shoulder and see that power had reached City Hall, and City Hall had had 10 feet of water in it.  But they‘re doing this restoration much faster than they anticipated.  That‘s because they have more than 10,000 linemen here.
And amazingly, they said today, that, by Sunday afternoon, anybody who has a building standing should be able to have electricity restored.  That‘s pretty remarkable. 
Let me tell you what else has changed here in Biloxi.  It‘s beginning to look like an armed camp, a military camp.  Down on the beach this evening, the Navy Sea Bees were assembling.  The National Guard has been working this area. 
And they have these L-cats (ph), these huge hovercraft, that have been bringing in heavy construction supplies, and generators, and other equipment from the Navy supply ships that are positioned offshore. 
Very impressive to see them landing here.  You‘re more used to seeing them, perhaps, carrying out an aid mission to Somalia, where we once saw them, or bringing in troops to Iraq. 
Let me go through a few other numbers and things that are happening here.  You know, they have been doing this recovery operation now, looking for more human remains.  They netted four more corpses yesterday, so the number in the six county area here, along about 90 miles, is now 143.
There‘s another army at work here, too, the Salvation Army.  They‘re serving 60,000 hot meals a day to the some 2,000 or more in shelters and the many other thousands who are living out of their homes that have been drenched with water and still just getting that electricity back. 
And the management heading up the emergency operations here, Colonel Joe Spraggins, says that they couldn‘t have done this recovery as fast with or without the government help. 
COL. JOE SPRAGGINS, HARRISON COUNTY EOC DIRECTOR:  I think we‘re just miles ahead of where we ever dreamed we would be eight days ago.  And the reason for that is because everybody in America has come to help us. 
BLOME:  And there‘s evidence of everybody in America coming to help, from the linemen from New York, to the linemen from a neighbor, Canada, and to all of the various aid and church groups that are working up and down the streets and asking people, what can we do for you? 
The story tonight from Biloxi—Rita? 
COSBY:  All right, Ron, thank you very much.  Nice to see some good news all the way around, things growing there. 
Some people captured some amazing moments during the hurricane, some of them on their home video cameras, as they rode out the storm, some amazing pictures that we‘re going to show you in a moment. 
But I want to bring in the family first that shot these pictures.  We‘ve got Ricky Dinon.  We also have with him his wife, Stephanie, their daughter, Kimberly, and their gorgeous little granddaughter Caitlyn (ph), joining us live, safe and sound. 
Before we get to you guys, let me show a little clip of what you captured on tape. 
Apparently, we don‘t have it.  We should get it in a moment.  But as soon as we get it—oh, actually, we do have it now.  We‘re having a little technical problems, but we do have it now.  Let‘s watch the tape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They‘re trying to go get the boat.  That was stupid.  They‘ll never get back here.  The guy who owns the boat told him the keys are in the bottom in his car, on the floorboards of the car. 
COSBY:  And, Ricky, I know you guys are all in Tampa tonight safe and sound.  You were in Bay St. Louis when this video was shot.  That‘s where your home is. 
What was that moment like, when you were watching this guy get on an boat in the thick of all of this? 
RICKY DINON, MISSISSIPPI KATRINA SURVIVOR:  It was actually pretty crazy.  We were actually in a little town called Waveland, and Bay St.  Louis join one another.  And we were real surprised.  It was an 18-year-old young man that‘s about 6‘2” and played football. 
And he‘s actually trying to get the keys out of an automobile that the boat is attached to.  The keys are on the front floorboard, because we—the water is still rising, and he‘s worried about being able to get people out of the hotel.  And we don‘t know how high it‘s going to rise. 
COSBY:  Well, it must have been amazing.  And let me bring in your wife, Stephanie.
Stephanie, what did it feel like to ride out the storm?  Because the winds are just ferocious.  You guys were in a very difficult spot at the time.
STEPHANIE DINON, MISSISSIPPI KATRINA SURVIVOR: Yes, we were.  It was terrifying.  My main fear was for my 5-year-old granddaughter, just to keep her safe and sound, and see what we could do to help other people in our area. 
COSBY:  Yes, I bet.  And I don‘t know if Caitlyn can hear me, but, Stephanie, can you ask her what she thought of the storm, how she felt riding out the storm? 
S. DINON:  Caitlyn, what‘d you feel about riding the storm, watching the waves and the water?  How did you feel?  Were you afraid or...
S. DINON:  You were afraid?  She was afraid. 
COSBY:  I bet she was scared.  I bet she was so scared. 
Kimberly, you‘re her mom.  And you‘re holding her now.  It‘s so beautiful to see.  What did you guys stay? 
KIMBERLY, MISSISSIPPI KATRINA SURVIVOR:  Because the Hurricane Camille that had come through years ago, the hotel where we stayed had withstood the storm Camille.  Other people who went through Camille stayed there.  They didn‘t get water at all. 
It‘s supposedly about just about the highest spot on the coast.  And we felt safe there.  It was much better than trying to get out on the highway and run the risk of running out of gas or getting caught on the highway in the storm. 
COSBY:  No, absolutely. 
And, Ricky, tell me about what your home looks like and also your businesses? 
R. DINON:  Well, we‘ve had six feet of water in my home.  And everything is starting to get very moldy.  There‘s a very strong smell of death.  It‘s very upsetting to walk into. 
The first time I turned the corner, I thanked God that I had a home. 
And I‘ve been much more blessed than most people are. 
What I‘d like you to understand, Rita, in that these two small towns are virtually wiped off of the face of the Earth.  We had approximately four-mile-an-hour water stream going through the city, and what hit the beach was a 30-foot tidal wave. 
And we were four miles off the beach.  And in the videos, that was the water that was remaining by the time it hit five miles inland.  And people don‘t realize—I rescued six people.  A boat came up to the hotel that had nine people with two babies in it. 
I watched men in 140 mile-an-hour winds turn a boat—have trouble turning a boat into the wind to try and go back to save men, women and children, especially children, who were trapped on the highways, where the really raging water was.  And it‘s an accomplishment that people just would not imagine. 
COSBY:  I can‘t imagine it.  And, Ricky, most importantly, I am so glad that you and your beautiful family are safe and sound and could be with us tonight.  And thank you for sharing those amazing pictures and also some great stories of heroism, too, with us.  Thank you, all of you, very much. 
And speaking of pictures, also, there‘s some amazing still pictures that have been out there.  And I think probably someone who shot some of the best pictures out there is a guy by the name of Michael Appleton with the “New York Daily News.”  And he joins me now live.
COSBY:  Michael, your pictures are amazing.  First of all, your personal perspective.  You shot a lot of stuff.  But to be here and see it firsthand. 
I just got back from a boat tour.  My jaw dropped when I saw some of the dead bodies, some of the fires.  And you captured some of the fires right before your eyes.  What was this like to see? 
APPLETON:  Well, the last week, you know, every day, it just kind of escalated.  And each day, something new, so a turn of events.  Luckily, it‘s gotten better the last three days. 
COSBY:  Yes, we‘re looking at some of the rescues there.  In fact, you were there—you know, it‘s a great moment.  And it‘s hard to sort of relay.  But when you see these people who, for the first time, they see hope and see a human being, it‘s that look in their eyes.
APPLETON:  It‘s very emotional.  Some of the strongest emotions I felt were, you know, these scenes, watching people‘s joy, you know, riding a helicopter for the first time or, you know, just getting out of the city finally after spending, you know, six days on an overpass on, you know, I-10. 
COSBY:  Yes, some of their stories are amazing.  And some of the people—I mean, not everybody‘s in good health. 
APPLETON:  Right. 
COSBY:  Some of them, it‘s very hard to get to.  It‘s amazing some of these rescuers able to get to these remote locations to actually find these folks. 
APPLETON:  Right. 
COSBY:  Tell us about this picture here. 
APPLETON:  This is on I-10.  This is right by the Superdome, obviously. 
This is a very sad scene.  This is early in the morning.  This is the last day.  This is a few hours before they were rescued.
This woman was 90 years old.  And, you know, I said to myself when I saw her, and saw her condition, she‘s very frail.  And it was like one of those things where I said, “If this woman spends another four hours, eight hours, up here, she could possibly die.”
I mean, she was basically unconscious.  And that‘s her mother—I mean, her daughter standing over her.  So, you know, it was a very, very sad scene.  And luckily, these people were airlifted out about five hours after this picture was taken. 
COSBY:  Well, some amazing stories.  Thank you for sharing it. 
APPLETON:  No problem. 
COSBY:  And your pictures have been just fabulous.  Keep up the great work.  I know how hard it is. 
APPLETON:  Thank you.
COSBY:  As we‘re looking finally, I think this is a picture of you on some...
APPLETON:  A city bus.  People took refuge in an air-conditioned, idled city bus that ran for five days.  And they said it would run for seven days, so...
COSBY:  And we‘ve seen people sleeping on the streets.  It‘s incredible what you have to do to survive.
COSBY:  Michael, thank you very much. 
APPLETON:  Thank you. 
COSBY:  Thank you.
And stick with us, everybody.  We‘ve got a lot more ahead.  In fact, believe it or not, victims of 9/11, people who lost loved ones in 9/11, so traumatized, now they want to reach out.  This is incredible.  And talk about a gesture of kindness.  They want to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. 
And also, are other cities ready for a natural disaster?
MARTIN O‘MALLEY, MAYOR OF BALTIMORE:  What this emergency has pointed out is that that premise that all of us used to have in our emergency plans, that the federal government would be there within 48 hours, is a premise that sadly we have to revisit.  
COSBY:  And a lot of cities are now looking at their preparedness systems, saying, “Would we be ready if something like this would happen in our city?” 
Of course, big cities, particularly, say, New York or L.A., are very much concerned.  And joining us now to talk about that is the former mayor of New York and also the former mayor of Los Angeles. 
We have with us Ed Koch and also Richard Riordan. 
Mayor Koch, let me go to you first, if I could.  Would you be prepared, if a major, you know, if a major disaster struck?  Do you believe you, meaning New York, do you believe your city would be prepared, your former city? 
ED KOCH, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY:  Well, we have gone through a major catastrophe.  And what we had and what is missing in New Orleans, in that area, on the municipal level, the state level, and, regrettably, on the national level, from the president on down, was leadership. 
We went through a catastrophe.  And we had leadership.  And we came through.  And leadership is important because it gives the people who are the victims the hope that they will be protected. 
And I thought immediately, when the president decided he would simply view New Orleans from the air on Air Force One, instead of coming on the ground and doing it from day one, not day three, which he did, that he failed in his leadership. 
And I‘m a supporter of the president.  But I must say, the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, by not being there and running the transportation, and dealing with the problems of poor people, water, food, medicine, they failed this country. 
And there will be hell to pay.  And I think the payment will be in the next election.  And I‘m not political on this judgment, because I supported the president. 
COSBY:  Let me bring in Richard Riordan. 
No, (INAUDIBLE) let me bring in Mayor Riordan, former Mayor Riordan.  Do you believe that there‘s going to be hell to pay?  And do you think it was so poorly organized?  That seems to be the sense from a number of people here. 
RICHARD RIORDAN, FORMER MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES:  Well, I think we have to learn something.  How it‘s going to result politically, but clearly Mayor Koch is right.  There was no leadership. 
Bureaucracy ran the day.  They turned help back because they didn‘t have permits to do it.  They didn‘t bring the National Guard in for a couple of days.  And Washington is just a bureaucratic morass. 
It didn‘t start with President Bush, but I, and I think Mayor Koch and others had hoped, that President Bush would have stepped up, stood up to Congress and others, to change the bureaucracy and give people in government the power to make decisions on the spot.
COSBY:  So do you think they didn‘t have—they didn‘t feel they had the power that they had to go through the red tape? 
RIORDAN:  It wasn‘t that...
COSBY:  Is that what you think the hold up was, Mayor? 
RIORDAN:  They had to go through, you know, layers and layers of bureaucracy.  You‘ve seen that, Mayor Koch.
KOCH:  Yes, of course, but the thing that is so obvious, by way of failure, was, where were the buses?  They had school buses.  They had mass transit buses, to take the poor people. 
And this is not a question of racism.  It‘s a question of poor people, black or white, who had no transportation, and put them on the buses, and get them out of town, when they had...
RIORDAN:  They were turned back by the bureaucrats.  They weren‘t allowed in.  In L.A., we brought the private sector in early in the morning of the Northridge earthquake.  We got them to bring buses.  We got the homeless large tents.  We had corporations bring water or food to them immediately.  And it was the private sector who was set up to do this.
The public sector can only write checks.  They can‘t make these things happen.  They don‘t have...
KOCH:  But they should be.  And once they...
COSBY:  Mayor Koch?  Mayor Koch? 
KOCH:  Yes?
COSBY:  Do you believe that the private sector needs to get involved more?  Do you think...
KOCH:  Oh, I think government has a...
COSBY:  Because the wonderful thing we are seeing here, all of you, is the private sector is really coming through. 
KOCH:  I think the government has the responsibility that it cannot give to the private sector.  I believe that the president had an obligation to be on the ground, not in the air. 
I believe that the Army should have been sent in.  When the Army was sent in, with that wonderful general who said to the troops, “Don‘t point your guns at anybody.  This is not Iraq,” that he demonstrated the kind of leadership that had been lacking. 
RIORDAN:  Well, Mayor Koch, I disagree with you a little bit.  First of all, I think, from a point of view, spiritually...
COSBY:  Mayor Riordan, do me a favor.  Give me ten seconds for you. 
COSBY:  Mayor Riordan, go ahead, you got 10 seconds. 
RIORDAN:  OK.  What the president should have been doing is calling the CEOs of all of these major companies saying, “I‘d like you in there with buses, with food, with helicopters, with boats, et cetera,” starting the moment he heard about it.
KOCH:  But you know, Mayor, what‘s interesting is that, if this were Bangladesh and we were helping Bangladesh, we wouldn‘t be sending in the private sector.  The Army would be doing all of that with their helicopters, and their food, and their water.
COSBY:  And, guys...
KOCH:  But they don‘t have food and water. 
COSBY:  Guys, that‘s going to have to be the last word.  We can debate this for a long time, and I‘m sure that a lot of people are going to be on the platter and looked at, both of you. 
Thank you.  We‘re going to have both of you back.  We appreciate it, Mayor Koch and also Mayor Richard Riordan.  Thank you very much, both of you guys. 
And coming up, some 9/11 families, have suffered so much, as you just heard from Mayor Koch, well, now, they‘re chipping in.  They want to help folks who suffered so much during the hurricane.  Find out what they‘re doing, right after the break.
COSBY:  And joining us now is Frank Siller.  He lost his brother, who was a firefighter, during 9/11, but now he wants to give back. 
Frank, tell us what you plan to do.  I think this is really incredible.  You want to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  Why? 
FRANK SILLER, BROTHER OF 9/11 FIREFIGHTER:  Why?  Because America came together after 9/11 and helped my family and all of the families of 9/11 so much.  We know exactly how they feel down there and how much they‘re suffering, how one day their life seemed so normal, and the next day it was ripped apart.
And we want to reach out the hand of hope and let them know that we know exactly how they feel.  And we actually want to do some things that can help them right now, immediately. 
COSBY:  What are some of the things you‘d like to do?  And I know it‘s a number of families, Mr. Siller, which I think is great, that are joining forces.  What are some of the things, real briefly, that you think you could offer? 
SILLER:  Well, first of all, we have the coalition of 9/11 families, the September 11th Families Association.  We have a lot of different type of 9/11 foundations that are coming together, and we want to speak with one voice. 
We want to—we‘re sending down water immediately.  We know that they have to live today.  You know, we just collected money for—we‘ll be collecting money.  But we know that need—that they have needs right now.  We want to fill some of these needs.
And going forward, we want to see where we can fill in the blank spots, where maybe somebody else is not sending something that they need.  We‘re also going to watch every penny and where it goes, because we know how important it is that it gets to the people that are most in need. 
COSBY:  Well, I think that is beautiful, Mr. Siller.  Thank you very much. 
And as we leave, everybody, we‘re going to go to a quick break.  We want to show—this is the information and the phone number if you want to call, if you want to help out.  These are 9/11 families for Katrina relief.  Some amazing folks trying to make a difference, after what they suffered, is really incredible.  Stick with us, everybody.
COSBY:  And that does it for me tonight.  We‘ll be back here in New Orleans tomorrow night. 
And now let‘s go to my pal, Joe Scarborough, in Pensacola for the latest from there—Joe?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  Hey, thanks so much, Rita.  We got the Gulf Coast covered tonight.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2005 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Watch Rita Cosby Live & Direct each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET