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Louisiana Sheriff Accuses City Official of Racism

Aired September 16, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Kitty, thanks very much. We are live in New Orleans. A Louisiana sheriff accuses a city official of racism saying he is not helping Katrina victims in need.
It's 7:00 p.m. on the East Coast, 4:00 p.m. in the West, and of course, 6:00 p.m. right here in New Orleans. 360 starts now.

ANNOUNCER: Eruption in Louisiana. A city manager gets into a brawl with the chief of police over the response to Hurricane Katrina.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's the housing for these people?


ANNOUNCER: And it was all caught on tape. We'll tell you what caused this outrage. How race may have played a part.

A Mississippi town blasted by Hurricane Katrina. More than half its population gone. So when relief finally arrived in so many places, why did this place get left out? Where are the Red Cross shelters? Where's the promised FEMA aid? Our continuing look at the forgotten.

A five-day-old baby, born in New Orleans and only five days old when Katrina hit. They had to leave him at the hospital and lost him. A story with an incredible twist. Tonight, their story. Plus other families hoping for the same happy ending.

So many pets stranded by Katrina. Rescuers have their hands full.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over 5,000 animals have been rescued and sheltered to date.


ANNOUNCER: But animal shelters have become so crowded they can't take anymore. So what now? Will pets simply have to fend for themselves? This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "State of Emergency."

COOPER: And welcome again. We are live in New Orleans. I'm coming to you tonight from a Wal-Mart Supercenter. They're actually calling it Ft. Wal-Mart. It is a makeshift police precinct now in District 6. The actual precinct building is flooded and destroyed. The police have been sleeping here in the parking lot since the storm. And we're going to take you inside there. A Wal-Mart that was looted and where the destruction is still all around. But first here are some of the stories making news at this moment.

First Lady Laura Bush is asking parents to prepare their kids in the event of a disaster, giving them vital information as soon as they're able to speak. During a visit to the National Center for Missing and Exploited children Mrs. Bush said it is important that kids know their full names, addresses, and their parents' names in case they're separated from their family by a disaster like Hurricane Katrina.

The Houston Astrodome no longer a shelter tonight. The 779 hurricane survivors who remained there yesterday have either been moved to Houston's Reliant Arena or relocated to more permanent housing.

The U.S. Coast Guard in southeast Louisiana is working to contain 44 oil spills caused by Katrina. Federal officials say the largest spills dumped more than 6 1/2 million gallons of oil. About 2 million gallons of that have been recovered.

And the Army Corps of Engineers says it is halfway through draining New Orleans. The city is now 40 percent flooded, down from 80 percent after the storm and levee break. Now, if all goes as planned, the city could be completely pumped out by early next month. We'll be watching.

Raw nerve endings were exposed today in the City of Kenner not far from her when a Kenner city official and its police chief got into a disagreement so passionate they just about had to be pried apart. Chief Nick Congemi and city manager Cedric Floyd were talking about what to do for Kenner's minorities. They evidently had different minorities in mind. Listen.


CHIEF NICK CONGEMI, KENNER P.D.: The truth is that you all don't want these people here and you're trying to run them off. That's what this is really about.

CEDRIC FLOYD, KENNER CITY MANAGER: Chief, guess what? I'm a minority. And you discriminate. You discriminate.

CONGEMI: You're a rich minority. You're a rich minority.

FLOYD: Guess what? You too. Oh, that's all right.

CONGEMI: You're not like the rest of these people -- if you're a minority, come and live with these people. If you're a minority, come and live with these people.

FLOYD: Let me just tell you this. The chief ... CONGEMI: You're the one that has the $70,000 job ...


COOPER: Well, frustrations are running high here. No doubt about it. The argument was over Hispanic people who are living in Kenner, returning, and have no place to stay. The chief of police is angry that they have don't have a place to stay. We're going to talk to him later on. Also a representative from the city to explain their side of the story.

We're going to have a lot more on that later on. But first we want to talk about how people are trying to get things back to normal as soon as possible where we are here in New Orleans. As we told you yesterday, Mayor Ray Nagin planning to reopen the French Quarter soon, allowing about 182,000 residents back home within a few weeks. But now there's some concern that when New Orleans does come back its residents will not. Listen.


MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: I know New Orleaneans. Once, you know, the beniets (ph) start cooking up again and, you know, the gumbos in the pots and the red beans and rice are being served on Monday in New Orleans and not where they are, they're going to be back.

COOPER (voice-over): Mayor Ray Nagin says he's ready to make New Orleans New Orleans again. Yesterday he announced that more than 180,000 of those displaced by Katrina can come home. The question is do they want to?

More than 1.3 million people lived in Greater New Orleans before Katrina hit, and according to a survey in the "Washington Post," 44 percent of them say they don't plan to return anytime soon. Joey Fray (ph) is one of them. He was evacuated from New Orleans, from its hot weather and hotter nightlife, to Salt Lake City, Utah, a cooler climate and the seat of the Mormon Church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably got a job already. I just filled out, I don't know, 15, 20 applications from all kind of companies. Everyone wants to help us. You know, why should I come back?

COOPER: But 43 percent say they can't wait for the word that it's time to come back. Like Valerie Thomas (ph), taken from New Orleans to Utah, a state where the African American population stands at less than one percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's home. That's home. I don't think I could ever make this home. You know, I could make the best of a bad situation, but this will never be home for us.

COOPER: Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from New Orleans, forced from their homes, their loved ones, and familiar surroundings by the storm. Moved in a matter of days to unknown places across the country. From Texas to Maine to Oregon, different climates, different cultures. And there are other telling facts in the survey that offer some hint as to why so many say they won't come home again.

Fifty-five percent of the respondents said they know their homes were destroyed. Sixty-four percent say they rented rather than owned their homes. Still, there are some in New Orleans, some of the diehards who refused to leave at all who say the lure of the Big Easy will eventually draw the others back home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People might be away from home, but you know, when they start thinking about gumbo cooking on the stove and red beans and rice on Monday and beniets (ph) and cafe au lait in the quarter, they'll come back. There's nowhere else they're going to find that.


COOPER (on camera): Some gumbo does sound good about now. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a lot of the spotlight has been focused on New Orleans understandably. It's a big city, big reputation, that suffered big damage. But there are a lot of other places all along the Gulf Coast they were also overwhelmed. Last week we were in -- or two weeks ago we were in Waveland and Gulf Shores, all those towns, Bay St. Louis. D'Iberville, Mississippi is one such town that we didn't go to but Erica Hill did. More than half of its 7500 residents have been displaced and nowhere to go. CNN's Erica Hill reports.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Angela Elsy's (ph) family still sleeps in the shed behind their house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's our bathroom and our little toilet paper. That's how we do it. It's sad. I mean, we're not as bad as New Orleans, but we need help just as bad as New Orleans.

HILL: This is their living room. A dirt floor, a blue tarp for a roof. Over here, plastic bags in place of a sewer system. Of course, no one expected damage like this and then afterwards. And perhaps even more surprising, no one thought they'd be living like this three weeks later. But the Elsys say this is their only option. In fact, six out of 10 homes here in D'Iberville were destroyed, according to the mayor. And that left some 4,000 people homeless, and they still are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And for the last two weeks FEMA has promised me trailers or tents. Just give me a pop-up tent for my people to live in. That's the most important thing in this community.

HILL: This neighborhood is basically gone. Some folks like Dolores and Tom Moore have friends to stay with. But not everyone is so lucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have a shelter in D'Iberville for any of these people, quite frankly. They want to be near their homes. That's why the people are not going to these shelters outside of the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to see a family of five living in a car. It's hard to see them living under overpasses, walking the streets.

HILL: Daily life for people up and down the gulf coast and the reality of the limits of a system never tested to this degree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm getting angry. I was upset, but now I'm getting angry.

HILL: Yesterday the mayor met with FEMA officials and was told help is on the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was promised tents yesterday for my people, and when I got over there they said it would be 13 days. I can't wait 13 days. I need tents now for these people to get some type of satisfaction and some kind of -- some kind of end to this terrible tragedy.


HILL (on camera): Now, CNN spoke with FEMA today, and we were told that the agency is working with the governor of Mississippi to help better serve those people in need here in the state and that it's also working to streamline its response system to a system that is severely overtaxed. We also spoke with the Red Cross. The Red Cross told us it is opening a shelter in D'Iberville tomorrow. And Anderson, in case you're wondering what activity is behind us, we are now in Downtown Gulfport where there is obviously some cleanup going on.

COOPER: That's certainly some good news. That's the kind of noise we like to hear. Erica Hill, thanks very much.

We want to keep focusing on these small towns that have not gotten the attention as much as some of the bigger places, and we're going to continue to do that over the weeks and months. As you know, we've been working hard to really get at the bottom of what went wrong with the relief efforts immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit.

Now, a lot of blame has been pinned on the former FEMA Director Michael Brown. Brown himself has blamed the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana. A few minutes ago I got an inside perspective from a man named Leo Bosner. He is a 26-year-old veteran of FEMA. He still works there. And he's head of its employee union in Washington. Listen to what he has to say.


COOPER: Leo, you have said that a lot of FEMA workers were ready to help, eager to help, and felt basically helpless because management really wasn't capable of dealing with this storm. What happened?

LEO BOSNER, FEMA UNION OFFICIAL: We had put out several reports in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina emphasizing what a serious hurricane this was. We published copies of the weather maps from the National Weather service showing this hurricane was going directly at the heart of New Orleans. And from Hurricane Dennis, which had come close to New Orleans in the month previous, everyone was very much aware of the high risk there was going to be of a lot of people, thousands of people would be stranded there in a catastrophic hurricane.

In my view, and I'm speaking personally, by the way, I'm not representing FEMA. I'm a long-time employee there and the union president. We had expected that there would be some major, major preparations being done, buses to move the evacuees out, National Guards from around the surrounding states maybe, something like that. And instead the level of preparedness we saw was about the same as what you're seeing right now in the past few days I think for Tropical Storm Ophelia which as you know just hit the Carolinas. And of course Tropical Storm Ophelia ...

COOPER: But was it just a question, then, of Mike Brown or was it the upper management? In your opinion who is at fault? Does it just reside with one person?

BOSNER: No. In my opinion under the current -- unfortunately, under the current administration the whole top layer of FEMA, and I don't know, as far as I can tell the top layers of Homeland Security really don't have any emergency management experience.

COOPER: As early as December of 2004 you publicly said that Michael Brown wasn't up for the job. So it's not just a question of you now piling on this guy like a lot of other people seem to be doing now. What was it that you knew then? What do you think made him unqualified? What did you see back then in December?

BOSNER: I feel badly -- look, I have nothing personal against Mike Brown. I feel badly about the guy. But he took a job he was never trained for. The man was a lawyer.

COOPER: I want to read you something. You said all the way back in 1992, you said, "FEMA's biggest problem is that too few people in the agency are trained to help in emergencies. You have a small number of people doing disaster work while the rest of us go back to our desks. We have good soldiers but crummy generals. No more than 30 percent of nearly 1,000 employees are trained in disaster relief services and those who are trained are underused." That was in 1992 and it sounds like what you're saying it sounds like nothing much has changed.

BOSNER: Actually, it's sort of deja vu all over again. A lot changed. That entire situation did change from 1993 to 1999 or the year 2000 under Mr. Witt's administration there. That situation was addressed. We did establish emergency support teams and emergency response teams. We did get some training for our people. But what's actually happened is since the year 2000 and even since 9/11 of 2001 we have actually at FEMA in my view, personal view, we have actually slid backwards, we've given up and lost a lot of that staff training and expertise we developed in the '90s, and we have actually slid backward to the 1980s again. COOPER: Do you get in trouble, though for speaking out like this?

BOSNER: Actually, most of my colleagues think it's a great thing that I'm doing, and a number of unnamed FEMA senior executives have very quietly thanked me for it because the executives, the career executives and the career staff at FEMA, want to do a good job. Let us do our job, and we'll do it.


COOPER: Well, 360" next -- the question is is FEMA and the Department of Homeland security stretched too thin right now? What if another disaster or, god forbid, a terrorist attack struck? We're going to take a look at that ahead.

Also tonight -- the abandoned animals not left by choice. An update on what is being done to help them and how you at home may be able to help.

Plus listen to this ...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would go to work, and on my way from work I would just cry. I mean cry from the time I leave work all the way home. And it was just something I guess I had to go through. You know. Not knowing.


COOPER: A family reunion. Katrina survivors. They couldn't afford a bus ticket. So some strangers with a plane came to the rescue. We'll show you the reunion.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a beautiful ride. And we're just so happy to be here, and things can start finally happening for us again because we lost everything.

Mama's so glad to see you all.

So my house and my car still has water in it. So I don't know when we'll ever be able to go back and see it and how it will be.


COOPER: After nearly three weeks of waiting and wondering, a grandmother smiling tonight. A few hours ago this joyful family reunion. Thanks to Angel Flight America. The non-profit organization has flown more than 1,000 flights since Katrina, helping reunite families and relocate people left homeless. Kelly Marden (ph) and her four children got out of New Orleans and were living in a shelter in a hotel in Louisiana. They didn't have money for a bus ticket to Georgia to go see Kelly's mother. That's when Angel Flight America offered today's free flight.

We are pretty sure the Marden will never forget today any more than hundreds of thousand of others are ever going to forget what happened to them in New Orleans in the days following the 29th of august. But then there are few who won't remember any of it, nothing at all, not a single detail.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has the story of one survivor that will never recall the awful jeopardy he was in. He was just days old when it all began.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it's our pleasure.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Baby Zachary. This is our boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The kid that we were looking for, right?


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Zachary Breaux (ph), meet the people your mother and father describe as angels. Michael and Karen Rosen (ph), strangers who never met your family until Katrina hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all right. Everything's okay now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it's our pleasure.


COHEN: The Rosens received this e-mail that the Breauxs, evacuees from New Orleans, need help. The Rosens didn't just gave help. They gave a house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is right. You know, because we were trying to sell it. But this is a much better use.

COHEN: The Rosens said they didn't think twice about taking their house off the market.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was our den. Okay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. I see where the TV and everything ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your den. I'm sorry. Not our den. COHEN: The Breauxs have the house for as long as they want at no cost. It's been a long three weeks for the Breaux family. Two days Tad and Laney had no idea where Zachary was. They'd evacuated with their six-year-old son but had to leave five-day-old Zachary in the hospital. It wasn't safe to take him. Tests showed he needed special care to make sure he didn't have SIDS. The Breauxs figured they'd be back in a few days to get him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've called every place else in the south. So now we're just going to continue to move further north. We'll call Ft. Worth next.

COHEN: But conditions were so bad no one could get into New Orleans and phones were out. Tad and Laney and countless friends and family frantically searched hospitals in four states.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to check my badge?


COHEN: They finally found that baby Zachary had been evacuated to a hospital in Ft. Worth, Texas and flew in to get him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had the whole nursery ready and the diaper bag ready and everything. We left it there because we were going to come back in two days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, we didn't think we'd be taking him home from the hospital in an airplane.

COHEN: Tad and Laney have their new house thanks to dad's third cousin, Karen Crane (ph). Karen was reunited with them after she saw them on CNN. She sent out the email asking for help and hundreds responded.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And there's no way that my husband and I could have done this without so many friends and our synagogue. It's just been -- it's been beautiful.

COHEN: And all from an email.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So much stuff here. I kept opening stuff and stuff and stuff. It was like a baby shower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, no, honey, this is like a baby flood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't get it at first.

COHEN: The Breauxs say every time their situation looked dark, when they couldn't find their baby ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally found him. COHEN: They had nowhere to live. Someone, usually someone they didn't know ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are angels.

COHEN: ... reached out and fixed it. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Dallas.


COOPER: What an amazing story.

Tonight the best example of why we keep bringing you information on all these missing kids -- 2,000 children are still missing according to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. CNN's Brian Todd has their story tonight. He joins us from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids in Alexandria, Virginia. Brian, what's going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we do have some breaking news. Very good news to report. As a result of what's been done here at the center and a result of what we have put on CNN's air earlier today.

We're going to put this young man's picture up. Ace Martinez. He is nine months old. We have aired his picture on CNN earlier today. He had been missing. Last known to be with his caretakers in Covington, Louisiana. We can report tonight that he has been recovered.

A social worker saw his picture on CNN and identified him in that area of Covington, Louisiana. Now, he was with his caretakers when he was found. His caretakers had gone missing with him. He is said to be in good condition. He is with his caretakers. Not sure if they're his birth parents or extended family or what. But Ace Martinez, 9 months old, is safe tonight, recovered. That is one resolved case.

This is why it's important to watch these broadcasts, watch the pictures that we're putting up, because we do -- you know, we're getting calls in here every time we go on the air they have a spike in calls in this call center.

So we're going to put up a couple more names that are still outstanding. From Mississippi, Sherry McRae. She is still missing. She is four years old. Last known to be with her mother and brother in Gulfport, Mississippi. She has not been seen since Hurricane Katrina hit. They are looking for information about Sherry McRae.

Also, back to Louisiana, a three-year-old boy named Dialo Devan, last known to be with his mother and grandmother in New Orleans. Dialo again, not seen since hurricane Katrina hit nearly three weeks ago now.

For more information, and if you have any information on Sherry McRae, Dialo Devan or any of the other 2,000 children still listed as missing by the center you're asked to call 1-888-544-5472. Go to for more information on these cases. But we do have good news for the young man, Ace Martinez, nine months old, we can report tonight that his case has been resolved. Anderson?

COOPER: Brian, thanks very much for that. You know, it's easy to hear these news reports night after night and week after week and get used to it all. But you cannot get used to the reality that 2,000 children are unaccounted for or are missing from their parents or need to be reunited with their families; 2,000 children.

That is just something that needs to get resolved and can get resolved. All this weekend on CNN we're going to be focusing on missing children of Hurricane Katrina. We'll be putting the pictures of more than 2,000 missing kids on the screen all weekend long in hopes that you out there maybe have some information and more families can be reunited. Let's bring this number down. There is no reason for this high 2,000 number. It is just - it is a tragedy that this long after the storm these kids are still separated.

Still to come on 360 -- an explosive mix. Take a look.


CONGEMI: ... for the starvation of these people.

FLOYD: Do something about it. Guess what? Do something about it, then, chief.

CONGEMI: Do something about it?

Guess what? You're a rich minority. You're a rich minority.

FLOYD: That's all right.


COOPER: Raw nerves and perhaps racial tension. More on the eruption today in Kenner, Louisiana. We're going to speak to the chief of police from there.

Also tonight -- pets left alone in the storm. Now there is no more room in the shelters. We're going to show you what is happening to them. First, before we go to break, a look at some children we hope will be reunited with their families sometime soon.


COOPER: Taking a look at the interior of a Wal-Mart here in District Six. The Wal-Mart was looted in the aftermath of Katrina. It's now being used as a base of operations. They're now calling it Ft. Wal-Mart. The police from this district are actually sleeping in the parking lot. They have been, a lot of them, for the last couple of weeks. They hope to get their station up and running sometime soon, but for now this is their headquarters of operations.

Of course, you know, one of the things that baffled us all after Hurricane Katrina struck was the haphazard federal response to the storm. Also of course the local and the state. Many of us had believed that after 9/11 the government was putting the necessary plans in place so that it could respond appropriately to a disaster like this or a terrorist attack even as it fights wars overseas.

But as President Bush admitted last night, those plans did not work. Now of course we're left to wonder what happens the next time. Are we stretched too thin? Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What if another hurricane, another earthquake, a massive fire, string of tornadoes or terrorist strike came right now?

For almost three years the Department of Homeland security has been preparing for multiple simultaneous disasters. But now ...

MICHALE GREENBERGER, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Our vulnerabilities are out there. The thought was that the federal government was planning to protect us, and New Orleans shows that they've written the plans but they have no idea how to implement them.

FOREMAN: Homeland Security has drawn up a depressingly long list of possible disasters, and the department has repeatedly said relief organizations should always consider the need to respond to multiple incidents.

Yet when Katrina struck Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff defended the slow federal response by saying the storm and the flood it caused were multiple events.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: This is really one which I think was breathtaking in its surprise.

FOREMAN: Nonetheless, with the horse long gone, he's now closing the barn.

CHERTOFF: As important as it is to continue to do what we're doing with Katrina and with the survivors of Katrina, we still have to continue to look forward to what might happen next.

FOREMAN: The Katrina relief effort is taking a tremendous amount of resources, both public and private. Sixty-eight thousand active duty and reserve military troops. More than a dozen ships. Hundreds of helicopters and airplanes. Engineers, environmentalists, health experts, housing, transportation and communication specialists. It goes on and on.

Supplies? Consider this: Of the 58 million prepackaged meals the government has on hand mainly for the military, two-thirds have been committed to Katrina. But resources can be replaced.

(on camera): Were we lulled into a sense that the federal government could do this kind of thing?


FOREMAN (voice-over): It may be more important to understand the limits of government help.

FALKENRATH: People thought with all this attention to first responders and to incident management at the federal level that the federal government was really going to be able to respond instantaneously, or very rapidly to a disaster. And that's just not the case.

FOREMAN: So the new leader of FEMA is saying get ready, have water, food, blankets, radios, flashlights, medicine. He says it's not paranoia to be prepared, it's simple prudence. Others put it more bluntly, for cities and their citizens.

RANDALL LARSEN, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: In the first 72 to 96 hours after a big disaster, you're probably going to be on your own.

FOREMAN: Just like so many in Katrina's terrible wake. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Tempers are flaring here. Still to come on 360 -- take a look.


CONGEMI: You provided it. It was almost 2:00 o'clock when you provided after we fed these people. But I'm glad you're talking about it. You're talking about the meals. Where's the housing for these people?


COOPER: Anger boiling over. A fight right in front of the cameras over relief efforts. We'll speak to the people involved.

Plus too many animals, not enough shelter. What happens now to the pets stranded by Katrina? And is there something you can do to help? Stick with us. We'll show you how.


COOPER: You know, we continue to focus on the plight not just of humans here but also of animals. Nearly three weeks ago when search and rescue teams were plucking people in the Gulf coast from their homes and their rooftops, most were not allowed to bring their pets. A lot of people stayed for that very reason.

The Humane Society says that about 50,000 animals were left behind in New Orleans alone, 50,000 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We decided to look at what is happening now with those abandoned animals. Here's what we found.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER (voice-over): In New Orleans you stumble on heartbreaking scenes, this one in the Garden District. A dog dead, decaying on the sidewalk. A scene Humane Society volunteer Lee Bergeron can't put into words.

LEE BERGERON, ANIMAL RESCUE VOLUNTEER: It's hard for me not to cry when I look at it.

COOPER: Cruising the streets for stranded pets, Lee finds two dogs, hungry, exhausted, but for them it's not too late.

BERGERON: Come here.

COOPER: Lee radios for help. This is exactly why he made the trip all the way from San Diego, to save animals' lives. It's not always possible, however. In the next house Lee finds dogs barking wildly inside, too scared to even show themselves. With no place to put dogs who come peacefully, there's nothing Lee can do but leave food and some water.

BERGERON: Sorry, dog.

COOPER: It's been like this for weeks now. The first days after Katrina we found dogs stranded in trees, dogs on walls, pacing, surrounded by water. This is what helpless feels like. Motoring in a boat, we found animals everywhere, adrift, abandoned by their owners, alive or dead.

(on camera): There are so many dogs which you find that are just starving. And you try to feed them as much as you can. But there's too many of them roaming around. It's going to become a health hazard.

(voice-over): Since then teams of animal rescuers from all over the country have waded into dirty, diseased water trying to coax stranded pets into crates and onto boats. The Humane Society says the operation has led to the rescue of some 5,000 abandoned animals.

Little Chip here is lucky. Cradled in the arms of an Army flight surgeon, rescued with his owner and airlifted to safety. This Shih Tzu taking shelter at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where some 1,000 rescued animals remain.

New Orleans now struggles with the staggering numbers of animals rescued in shelters, how to house them, how to feed them, what to do with them. The Agriculture Department's animal health inspection service says of the 5,000 animals rescued, fewer than 700 have been reunited with their owners.

For those animals that didn't make it to safety, left in houses without air-conditioning, left roaming or chained, there's not a lot rescue workers can do for them now. They just leave them some food and some water, trying to alleviate a few moments' suffering.

BERGERON: Two weeks without food and water a lot of these guys went. We're just trying to get as many of them fed as we can so we can buy time and rescue them later or maybe they'll open up the city and let the owners come back in and take care of the pets.


COOPER: Bottom line is right now there's not enough room at these shelters for all the animals that need to be helped at that. And there are so many of you out there who have e-mailed us saying look, you'd like to help, you want to come here.

We're honored to be joined by two volunteers right now who came on their own dime to come here, Lee Bergeron and Lexy Montgomery (ph). You were in New York. Lee, you were in San Diego. You were watching on TV, you wanted to come.


COOPER: But when you called up the humane societies, they said don't come.

BERGERON: Right. Exactly.

COOPER: What -- why?

BERGERON: They said they had enough, they were fine, they didn't need any help.

COOPER: Is that true?


COOPER: So you just came here on your own. What did you do?

BERGERON: I found a place where I could be used and went to the shelter in Gonzales, realized that things weren't being done like I'd like to do them. So we came into the city on our own.

COOPER: What's the problem, Lexy, at the shelter? I mean, you know, there are good people working there but they're just overwhelmed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Totally overwhelmed. And if everybody could help on different levels wherever they can, we just found within area where we could be useful on a different level.

COOPER: So basically, what you've done is you picked an area of New Orleans. You didn't really know New Orleans. You just came here, you have your own car, you picked it, and you just -- you're not trying to pick up the animals anymore. Only the ones who are really hurt you're picking up.


COOPER: What are you doing with the rest of them?

BERGERON: Feed and water. We go to each house, we listen down the street. We see them on the road. We put food and water on the side of the road and we come back. We get to know the dogs. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep them alive. Buy some time, keep them alive.

BERGERON: We stay in a certain area. That way we learn the dogs in the area, we learn where they are.

COOPER: Because the official policy is pick up ones, drive them to the shelter, get them registered and all that. You're saying it's overwhelming. You're saying there's thousands of animals you're seeing.

BERGERON: Every other day they shut you down, they don't let you deliver animals to them. So the best thing to do is just staying alive.

COOPER: They don't let you deliver animals to the shelter?

BERGERON: Three days now they've turned us back.



COOPER: So you set up your own little shelter. You put them on because you want people to find them but you're trying to keep feed them where they are.


BERGERON: They're better off in their neighborhood or in their home and being fed than being shipped around and using all these resources to process these dogs.

COOPER: I appreciate you guys coming down here. You're doing it on your own and you're doing a great job. Thank you very much.

A lot ahead on 360. a very heated confrontation. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You discriminate. You discriminate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are a rich minority. You're a rich minority. You are a rich minority (INAUDIBLE).


COOPER: Police chief and the city manager of Kenner, Louisiana almost come to -- well, almost come to blows as frustration takes its toll. We'll explain what the argument's about.

Also tonight, the story of the frighteningly accurate forecast by a team of meteorologists who have every right to say I told you so but who are not happy about being right at all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: If you're asking yourselves how all of these people here who are hard pressed and have had such a tough time are always able to keep their cool through impossibly difficult circumstances, the answer is that, well, it's not always possible. Today there was an argument in the town of Kenner, Louisiana between Nick Congemi, the chief of police, and a man named Cedric Floyd, the city manager. Here's some of what we saw.


CONGEMI: Well where did all that food just go to then? Where'd all that food just go to then? What is this truck doing here, if you just pulled up provided it -- it's almost 2:00 and you provide it after we fed these people?

FLOYD: I'm glad you ...

CONGEMI: I'm glad you're talking about it. You're talking about the meals. Where's the housing for these people? That's what you're supposed to be providing. The meals are easy. You can do that --

FLOYD: Guess what. All you're doing is making a political scene.

CONGEMI: No. I'm not making a political scene.

FLOYD: Don't get in my face. I've been feeding them every day.

CONGEMI: You ain't feeding nothing.

FLOYD: Guess what, Rafael, have we been feeding the people every day?

CONGEMI: But tell the truth. The truth is that you all don't want these people here and you're trying to run them off.

FLOYD: Chief, Guess what. I'm a minority. And you discriminate. You discriminate. Guess what.

CONGEMI: You're a rich minority. You're a rich minority.

FLOYD: That's all right. Guess what.

CONGEMI: You act like this rest of these people. Take care of these people. You try to switch gears on them. Just provide for these people. You have not provided --

FLOYD: All I'm saying is this. Every day -- every day the city government --

CONGEMI: You run off your mouth about how much you care about these people, and you don't give them anything.

FLOYD: Go, chief.

CONGEMI: As a matter of fact, you've got 500 families displaced, and you all are happy with the 500 families that have been displaced. Otherwise, you would have done like you've done for your minorities, and put these people in gymnasiums where they have air-conditioning.

FLOYD: We don't have any shelters.

CONGEMI: What are those buildings? What are those buildings?

FLOYD: Chief --

CONGEMI: You all said that FEMA would be here first thing this morning. They were not here first thing this morning. We had to come and load these people up and get them registered, because you did not have the vision to have them registered for FEMA. If we didn't take them to the police station and have them registered for FEMA, they would've --

FLOYD: But that's part of city government.

CONGEMI: That's right. That's what you're supposed to be doing.

FLOYD: Guess what.


COOPER: Well joining us live is one of the men you just saw passionately discussing things. The chief of police -- I'm being polite -- is Nick Congemi of the Kenner Police Department. We are pleased he joins us. Also joining us is Phil Ramone, Chief of Staff of the Kenner City Administration with the mayor's office. Gentleman, appreciate you both being with us. First of all, chief, what was the argument from your perspective about? You were concerned about housing for some Hispanic residents in your community.

CONGEMI: Yes. I felt that they were being discriminated against. I felt they were being forgotten. This was a group of people whose homes had been destroyed, whose apartments had been destroyed. And the city was taking a position that they were providing food. Well, food and water and ice is very simple. I was asking that the city provide these people with shelter. It makes no difference how much water, ice, and food you bring to them, they're still out on the street. They need a roof over their head. And I think the city has the capability --

COOPER: You're representing the city. Why don't they have a roof over their head?

PHIL RAMONE, CHIEF OF STAFF, KENNER CITY ADMIN.: The city has been providing transportation and shelter needs for our entire community. We haven't discriminated against anyone.

COOPER: What about these people, though? Are they --

RAMONE: Chief Congemi has worked with this administration. We talked about it. And he adamantly opposed opening shelters in the city of Kenner. And Mayor Capitano opened a shelter and worked with Jefferson Parish to maintain two shelters. This community here that was hit, and very unfortunately lost most of their homes and roofs, we have been accommodating them to the best of our need, to the best of our ability.

COOPER: What does that mean? Because they're sleeping where they were living.

RAMONE: Providing food, water, and ice. We are looking --

COOPER: So they don't have a shelter.

RAMONE: There is no shelter being operated right now in the city of Kenner. And one of the problems we had in dealing with the shelter is that we did not get adequate police protection. That's not a derogatory remark against the chief. He doesn't have the manpower to provide us --

COOPER: But it sounds like, frankly, FEMA didn't even discover Kenner exists until last week sometime --

CONGEMI: That's ridiculous about the police protection. We have plenty of police protection. We have the 175th military police from Missouri that's stationed next to us. There's plenty of police protection. There's a lot of people -- you know, there's a misconception about these Hispanic people. The fire department decided to come over today, and they wanted to help dispense the meals, and they were calling us to provide protection. Well, these are law-abiding citizens. They've never created any problems. They have never created any crimes. They're good people.

COOPER: Well how many people are in need of shelter in Kenner right now? You know, I don't get why, almost three weeks after the storm, there's not a shelter for these people or any other people that want it.

RAMONE: We have been meeting with FEMA trying to get a disaster center opened in the city of Kenner, and we have not been able to do so.

COOPER: Do you buy that, that --

CONGEMI: It's all bull. We have people -- now, look. If you were standing here right now, and someone told you I'm going to give you food, water, and ice for the next 72 hours but you have to stand out in the elements for the next 30 to 90 days waiting for FEMA or anybody else to put a shelter over you, your family, and your children, I think it's absolutely ridiculous and it's sinful. And this city government should, at least, put these people inside of a gymnasium until they decide where they can go from there. These people do not even speak the language. They're totally lost.

COOPER: But the man in the argument was just saying that the sheriff has political ambitions. Do you believe politics is what's going on here?

RAMONE: I believe this is probably the worst type of politics I've ever witnessed. Chief Congemi and his office has done a fair job. Did a better than average job. But to say that the administration has turned a blind eye to any resident of that community is fact less and it's really irresponsible. I'm ashamed.

COOPER: Final thought to you.

CONGEMI: Well he's ashamed of everything. The truth of the matter is it has nothing to do with politics. Every time something comes up where there's a deficiency in city government they try to cast it off in some other area, calling it politics or something else. The true fact is, and you know it, is that they do not have shelter for these people. And it has absolutely nothing to do with politics.

COOPER: Well, I tell you what. We'd love to come out next week and drive around with both of you.

RAMONE: The chief ran unsuccessfully against the mayor last year and lost his bid for mayor and he's done --

COOPER: You say it's politics.

RAMONE: It's politics.

COOPER: I want to come out next week and visit both of you. Is that all right?

CONGEMI: Sure. Absolutely. Looking forward to it.

COOPER: We'll go around Kenner. Appreciate that.

360 next. One of the things that went right before Katrina hit. The weather forecast. How meteorologists scrambled when they knew massive destruction was on the way. You had meteorologists personally calling politicians warning them you've got to take this thing seriously.

Plus, my reporter's notebook. What life has been like in New Orleans. Truly unlike any story we've ever covered before. I'll take you on the journey.


COOPER: Well, there's a photo on the White House Web site that caught our eye today. Take a look. This is President Bush back on August 28th, a day before Katrina hit, watching a television briefing on the storm by Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center.

Weather forecasters get flak when they're wrong, but this time when it came to predicting the devastation of Hurricane Katrina they got it so right. CNN's Gary Tuchman takes a look back.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the computer mouse that launched millions of people. Robert Ricks from the National Weather Service office in Slidell, Louisiana pushed it. ROBERT RICKS, METEOROLOGIST, NATL. WEATHER CTR.: OK, well, the headline I put in, Hurricane Katrina most powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength rivaling the intensity of Hurricane Camille of 1969.

TUCHMAN: Fewer than 24 hours before Katrina hit the meteorologists at this office decided the most dire warning had to be sent out to the media and the general public.

RICKS: Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. At least one half of the well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. And all gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed.

TUCHMAN: Ricks and his comrades were precisely and, sadly, correct.

MICHAEL KOZIARA, METEOROLOGIST, NATL. WEATHER CTR.: Those words are very chilling. There's no question about it. And we realize the dire consequences that our region faced.

TUCHMAN: By sending this most dramatic of hurricane messages to the region, the country, and the world, the meteorologists had acknowledged it was inevitable lives were going to be changed forever, including among their own. Meteorologist Francida Moore lost her home.

FRANCIDA MOORE, METEOROLOGIST, NATL. WEATHER CTR.: It's the first time I've been in a predicament where I don't know what to do. I mean, it's just -- I don't know.

TUCHMAN: The people here say it's not their jobs to second-guess if politicians did enough with these warnings. They just know they certainly did enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So everyone's a team, and we all were pulling together to try to get through this event.


TUCHMAN: These meteorologists are very proud of their work, but they live here too. So they very much wish their words would have merely been melodramatic. Anderson?

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, thanks.

Coming up next on 360 -- my "Reporter's Notebook." The sights and the sounds of New Orleans these past few weeks.


COOPER: Welcome back. We are live in New Orleans from Fort Wal- Mart. That's what they're calling it, the place where police officers have been sleeping and working out of in District 6 because their precinct is flooded. The Wal-Mart was looted behind me during the -- after the storm. The police have now taken over the parking lot, and they're living here in their cars, sleeping in their cars. And hopefully that won't last much longer.

You know, reporters aren't supposed to make themselves the story, nor are we supposed to make what we do the story. On the other hand, if we hide the fact that a particular story touches us in very deep ways, that it makes us hear our hearts beating hard all time, as it were, for very intimate reasons, if we fail even to mention that, well that's not honest reporting either. I hope that what the following "Reporter's Notebook" is, is this -- not too personal but honest. The records are mine. The pictures from Getty Images' Veronica Chalasani (ph).


COOPER (voice-over): I've been coming to New Orleans since I was a kid. My dad used to live here, and his heart always did. This gritty gumbo city, its hot humid streets, seeing it like this, well, it's hard to explain. Blink and you're in Baghdad. Black water, guys with guns, rubble-strewn streets, Black Hawks in the sky.

That sound, that sound, crushing and comforting, the cavalry's come, help has arrived, urgent seconds ticking by. Street signs are down, new signs are up. Hand-drawn, heartfelt, be thankful God loves you. Looters will be shot. This one's my favorite. "Don't try. I'm sleeping inside with a big dog, an ugly woman, two shotguns, and a claw hammer."

working here, it's unlike any story I've ever been on. I've never been prouder of the people I stand by. You shoot and you edit. You do live shots and shows. You're always in motion, slamming sodas and candy. It just doesn't stop.

Last week we were living in trailers packed tight, poorly stocked. No one complained. There was no need to explain. Compared to everyone else, we had it good. The phones didn't work. We still clinged to our BlackBerries, our heads always down. Now we've got an office set up with food and supplies, at night a hotel where we disinfect our feet.

We're all taking something -- Cipro, a whole bunch of shots. Some have conjunctivitis and cuts. You have to be careful. What's happened here has been a story about failure, of governments and officials and systems and place. But it's also a story about kindness, of strangers helping strangers and neighbors in need.

There have been moments, I think for a lot of us working here where we all feel very much alone. We're surrounded by ruin and rubble. You feel like you're on the edge of the world. I guess in a way you get used to seeing all this destruction, but you never get used to seeing the people it's affected.

In the shelters it really hits you. The babies are oblivious, thank God, their parents' arms the only home they have. The young and the old have little but doubts and questions. What will I do? How can I rebuild? What will happen tomorrow?

Governments can help, but they can't do this. Holding, hugging, human connections were strengthened by the storm. I know sometime soon viewers are going to move on from this story. The water level is falling. The tide is ebbing and so will the interest. I know it's going to happen. I just don't know when. I don't think we should forget what we've seen. I know those of us who were here never will.


COOPER: Well, that's what we've been seeing these last few weeks here. We wanted you to see kind of a behind-the-scenes look at what we've been doing. And we all feel honored to be here.

I just want to take you inside that Wal-Mart once again. This is -- the police now call it Fort Wal-Mart because this is where they are stationed. This is the headquarters for Division 6 in New Orleans. But as you can see inside, you know, the devastation remains. It was flooded, it was looted. The smell in there is quite intense, as you can imagine. This weeks on all that food rotting and just sitting there in the heat.

But the police have been parked outside of the parking lot here. They sleep here in cars. There's even an old limousine, if you can believe it -- a stretch limousine that one officer from the New Orleans Police Department has been sleeping in for these last couple of nights. And some of them have been able to move to a ship called the Ecstasy, where the chief of police has a place to sleep.

But let's hope they get back to their homes. A number of them have had their homes destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

We are going to be right back with more coverage from New Orleans and around the country.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: And welcome back. I'm Anderson Cooper live in New Orleans, a place they now call Fort Wal-Mart. It's a Wal-Mart that was looted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is now a base of operations for police in Division Six here in New Orleans.

We tonight are going to talk about the price tag for all the reconstruction. Some have put the estimates at about $200 million -- or $200 billion even. All -- it is certainly going to be a high price. All along the Gulf Coast tonight, however, people are grateful for the president's determination to rebuild and for his promise of help.

But, as Sean Callebs discovered today, many people are not waiting for details or the federal government to give them handouts. Take a look.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It will be a long time before the pleasure craft are back on Lake Pontchartrain looking for Louisiana redfish. And Abe Guilford (ph) of Marine Recovery and Salvage has his hands full getting some of the boats ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it looks pretty bad. It does look pretty bad.

CALLEBS: As in much of the Gulf Coast region, talk here is of rebuilding. But unlike many in New Orleans, Guilford has electricity. He was able to watch the president's speech and proposals for bringing New Orleans back to life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's important to know that all the help is coming and I don't think it can be overstated how much the help is appreciated.

CALLEBS: Marine Salvage employee Casey Collum (ph) says the people of New Orleans are ready to roll up their sleeves and go to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the way it ought to be. Just, you know, if the feds can give us the help, we can take care of the job.

CALLEBS: To everyone we spoke to, the president's comment that it's impossible to imagine the U.S. without New Orleans played well here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was probably what I liked hearing more than anything else, because that's exactly how I feel. And I really don't know how you could imagine America without -- without a New Orleans.


CALLEBS: Indeed, welcome news to all of those people who were out here today working to salvage some of these boats.

Louisiana bills itself as a sportsman's paradise. And it may not seem like much, scores of pleasure craft damaged, compared to the houses, the apartments, the human suffering that we have been seeing over the past couple of weeks. But the salvage crews point out that all of these boats are loaded with fuel, oil and many of them have septic tanks, so there is the hazard there.

And, also, as the mayor prepares to open New Orleans back up, there's some concern that people are going to immediately come here to take a look at their boats, as well as everything else. And salvage crews don't want any hazards. The last thing, Anderson, anybody wants at this point, more casualties that could be related to this storm.

COOPER: That is certainly the case.

Sean Callebs, thanks.

Yes, so many questions remain to be answered. There are no schools, so people who are moving back to New Orleans, if they have children, where are those kids going to go to school? There isn't even a hospital in downtown New Orleans that is functioning. Charity Hospital was the one a lot of people who did not have the money could go to. That is still closed down. There are 50 bodies in the basement and they're still pumping out the morgue.

President Bush today declared, the federal government must cut spending to pay for reconstruction work. The rebuilding of New Orleans and other communities could cost more than $200 billion.

Dana Bash investigates.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not only did the president take responsibility for inadequate government response to Katrina; he conceded he failed his own test.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Four years after the frightening experience of September the 11th, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency. When the federal government fails to meet such an obligation I, as president, am responsible for the problem and for the solution.

BASH: That stunning statement in a relatively pristine French Quarter of an otherwise devastated New Orleans part of his first formal address, an attempt to regain Americans' confidence. He learned a lesson from the ill-coordinated government response.

BUSH: It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces.

BASH: Mr. Bush struck a hopeful tone, promising the government will pay for what he called one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen.

BUSH: We will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.

BASH: No new price tag, but the president asked Congress to pass several new initiatives, including a Gulf opportunity zone, tax relief for small business, worker recovery accounts, up to $5,000 for training, education and child care for Katrina victims looking for jobs, an urban homesteading act to help lower income victims rebuild.

The chief White House goal of the speech, to turn around the perception the president was initially detached from the tragedy. He delivered his own instructions for families trying to reunite.

BUSH: Please call this number, 1-877-568-3317. That's 1-877- 568-3317. And we will work to bring your family back together.

BASH: And tried to move past allegations from some that race played a role in the slow response.

BUSH: Poverty has roots in the history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action.

BASH (on camera): The president set a goal of mid-October to get evacuees out of shelters and ordered the Department of Homeland Security to review emergency plans for all major American cities.

Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: I will be back for a special edition of "NEWSNIGHT" tonight at 10:00 Eastern with Aaron Brown. I hope you will join me for that.

Right now, let's turn it over to Paula Zahn in New York -- Paula.


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