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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Florida Battered by Hurricane Wilma; Did FEMA Learn from Katrina?; Military Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 2,000
Aired October 25, 2005 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Heidi Collins. Anderson is off tonight.
In Florida, widespread damage from coast to coast. Hurricane Wilma may end up being one of the costliest storms in U.S. history.
360 starts now.
ANNOUNCER: What Hurricane Wilma left behind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in shock. I'm in a daze right now.
ANNOUNCER: Billions of dollars of damage. Six million people without power. Long lines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be significant relief. This is just the immediate relief. There's a lot more that needs to get done and it will get done.
ANNOUNCER: How bad is the damage? How long will it take to fix? From a secluded fishing village to downtown Miami, the cleanup begins. But where to start?
Everyone knew Wilma was coming, knew how destructive the hurricane might be. With days to get ready, did FEMA get it right this time?
Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is Anderson Cooper 360.
COLLINS: Across south Florida today, everywhere you looked, evidence of the powerful hurricane that blew through just over 24 hours ago. At this moment, Wilma now only a Category 1 hurricane, is about 200 miles south-southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The fast- moving storm is moving northeast at about 53 miles per hour and is not expected to make a second landfall in the U.S.
Once was enough. In Florida, at least five deaths are blamed on Wilma. Wilma battered the state from coast to coast. Damage estimates now as high as $10 billion.
In Cancun, where Wilma hit before reaching Florida, 20,000 tourists, including as many as 15,000 Americans, remain stranded in shelters. It could take more than a week for them to get home.
It will take days to fully assess the scope of the damage in Florida. Today, the top priorities for relief agencies were getting food, water and fuel to residents of south Florida. There were long lines at every turn. Across south Florida, it is clear everywhere you look that Wilma will not be forgotten.
We have had reporters in the field all day long. David Mattingly is in Hollywood, Karen Wynter is in Miami and Jeanne Meserve is in Naples. We'll get to all of them shortly.
As we said, it was a day of long lines across south Florida, where people spent hours waiting for food, water and fuel. We begin in Miami tonight, where CNN's Kareen Wynter is standing by -- Kareen.
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, good evening to you. Well, what a long, hard day it's been here. Outside the Orange Bowl Stadium in Miami, you're basically seeing the product of what the city is saying was very, successful. That's because this is one of three distribution centers where the city gave out ice and water to those in need. Now, it's empty right now because they're trying to adhere to a curfew that kicks in about an hour from now.
But as you mentioned around noon today, that's when people were let into these gates for those much-needed supplies following Hurricane Wilma. We have some numbers for you from all three locations. The city says it gave out about 120,000 bottles of water, 30,000 bags of ice, and that 20,000 people showed up. There were many people who had to be turned away today, that's the bad news. The good news is that they can line up again tomorrow, they can be allowed back into the gates at around noon.
There are other divisions on the ground here. Heidi, we have the American Red Cross, who gave out hot meals, as well as snacks to families. And also, FEMA. So, again, these efforts will restart again tomorrow at noon -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Kareen Wynter, thanks so much.
Just north of Miami in Broward county, the scene was much same. The storm now over, and the search for basic supplies and checking the damage to homes was primary on people's minds.
Here's CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Snowbirds Kit and Lillian Kern (ph) have been wintering in Florida's Broward County for 15 years and until Wilma had never seen a hurricane.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's terrible. Terrible. I can't imagine what the people in Louisiana went through. I can't.
MATTINGLY: Losing part of a roof and some siding, they feel lucky compared to some of their trailer park neighbors. Wilma left severe damage, extending more than 100 miles along Florida's east coast. High-rise windows shattered in cities and on beaches. Private and commercial airports closed down. Fishing and pleasure boats wiped out. More than a half million people without electricity in Broward County alone. Many areas are without municipal water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, all I know for a fact is ice and water.
MATTINGLY: Storm victims lined up waiting for distribution of ice and water, many surprised to find themselves suddenly in need of such daily essentials.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never thought it could happen. You can't never say never because it happens, you know?
MATTINGLY: At this distribution site in Hollywood, hundreds waited for hours. With almost all stores closed, many, including Stephanie Ladrieu (ph), say they had no choice but to wait.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a tree on my house at the moment. And my brother and I are handicapped both. I just got him out of the hospital Saturday, so there's no help. Nothing.
MATTINGLY: And patience is already being tested. A noon distribution time was announced in error, turning a three-hour wait for many into an all-day ordeal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're saying one thing and then the radio is saying something else, so I mean, what -- I mean, basically, do things decent and in order. You know, when you get people with directions, it can be followed properly. Otherwise, shut up.
MATTINGLY: An overnight curfew is now in effect for safety reasons. Officials say they don't want people on the streets tonight because there's still a lot of debris around and it's awfully hard to get around, even in the daytime, because all of the traffic lights are still down -- Heidi.
COLLINS: With the people that you talked with, David, it seemed like some of them had a pretty good attitude. Also noticed a lot of pictures of children. Any sense of how the kids are doing amongst all those people that you talked with today?
MATTINGLY: Well, often, with hurricanes coming up, you hear officials say make sure that you don't forget your kids, even though when school's going to be out, they're going to be at home. You need to make sure that they're occupied, they have the right kind of treats, the right kind of food that they may not normally have. Unexpected days off. So people tend to do that. This is just day one, however. The aftermath of this hurricane. We'll see how things go later in this week.
COLLINS: Boy, that's for sure. All right, David Mattingly, thank you. Hurricane Wilma came ashore on the West Coast of Florida, just south of Naples. And that's where we go next. Our Rob Marciano is standing by to tell us what it's like there. Hi, Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi.
Naples tonight, still much of it without power, much of it without water and that's a huge concern. This parking lot earlier today was a setup point to dispatch, distribute water from the National Guard. It was supposed to last all day long, it was gone in like three hours. At sunset tonight, 10:00 p.m. Once again, a curfew goes into effect here until 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.
How about the damage? You know, surprisingly, with 121-mile-an- hour wind gusts here in Naples, Lee in Collier counties didn't really see a whole lot of tremendous structural damage. Could it be that the building codes since Hurricane Andrew were more stiff? That's possible. Also maybe that the brunt of the storm went south of here.
Nonetheless, trees down everywhere. So, power lines obviously taken down with that. And some of those trees taking out some water mains, also. So that's one of the reasons that water is a huge issue.
Today, weatherwise, a sunny and comfortably cool day for the folks here to start to put the pieces back together. But from the looks of things, it's going to take more than one day, Heidi, for folks down here in Naples, Florida, to get their lives back on track.
COLLINS: Yes, and Rob, we should remind everybody, of course, you are a meteorologist as well. And it kind of struck me today in looking at these pictures -- and of course the reports now -- that we are calling this hurricane, you know, a fast-moving one. Whereas in the beginning, we were amazed at how slow it was moving. Tell us a little bit about that. Why is that happening?
MARCIANO: Well, you know, every storm has its story. Certainly storms that form later in October and November, they get a hold of that faster jet stream. That's why this one's rocketing. But Wilma really had a personality. It slowly headed towards the Yucatan. A personality, you know, that had some attitude, as well. Slow there and then fast through Florida. Good news for Florida is that it got out of here in a hurry. So they have that bright side of the story -- Heidi.
COLLINS: All right. Rob Marciano, thanks.
Help is on the way for the thousands of tourists stranded in the resort towns along Mexico's battered Yucatan peninsula. That's what the State Department is saying. U.S. councillor officials are scrambling to reach Americans marooned in hotels and shelters there. At least 1,900 tourists have now been bused from the coast to airport in the provincial capital Merida.
Many others are still waiting for help, though. Michael Attardi is one of them. We spoke with Michael last night. He is stranded with more than 100 other tourists in a hotel in Cozumel. Anderson said we'd check back, and so Michael is with us again tonight.
Michael, as we said, we spoke to you about 24 hours ago now. Update us on the situation. What's changed since we last talked to you?
MICHAEL ATTARDI, TOURIST STRANDED IN CANCUN: Well, we still do not have electric. It's been OK when, in terms the of the food and the water supply. They had opened up a few stores. But like I said, there's been just total devastation here still. They are still in the streets, trying to pick up concrete walls, rubble. It's just a mess.
COLLINS: Yes, we're looking at the pictures now, and it certainly does look like a huge mess. And you are with more than 100 other stranded Americans, including young children...
COLLINS: ... senior citizens. Are those people getting the care that they need?
ATTARDI: So far, yes. I've been -- actually, we have been pretty fortunate. There are some hotels that have been on the shore. The hotel Barracuda that was wiped out, there were quite a few Americans on that -- in that hotel. But as far as our hotel and the supplies here, we've been fortunate enough. The children are being taken care of. So are the senior citizens. But overall, we need this -- we need to get out of here. It's not -- it's not going to be the safest conditions if we just keep here.
COLLINS: There's no question about that. In fact, I want to ask you if you've had any contact with American or Mexican emergency officials.
ATTARDI: Well, that's a problem.
We have been trying to contact the U.S. embassy now for the last four days with no contact whatsoever.
I just want to just say that we need to get some sort of information. The only information that we did receive today is that the Mexican government did shut down the airport and that's why Continental had canceled all flights for tomorrow, Thursday and Friday. And they're not opening them up until Saturday.
COLLINS: All right.
Well, Michael, I think we have some updated information on that which I want to share with anybody.
Michael Attardi, thanks so much for talking with us again tonight.
Continental Airlines says it will fly two evacuation flights out of Cozumel tomorrow and also two flights from Cancun. Today, the airline flew seven flights out of Merida, the provincial capital there. We'll keep our eye on that situation for you.
Meanwhile, still tonight, ahead on A.C. 360, a peaceful small town feels the wrath of Wilma. Now (inaudible) Island, a place of fishermen and retirees, must find a way to recover.
And how did FEMA do? Its spotty record during Hurricanes Rita and Katrina -- how did they do this time around?
Also tonight, the further travels of Wilma. Where is the storm headed and what damage will it do when it arrives?
COLLINS: Erica Hill from Headline News joining us now with some of the other stories we're following tonight.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Hey, Heidi. Good to see you.
Some new efforts to tell you about that could help prevent you from waking up during surgery -- that's probably something we'd all like to avoid.
Today, a national group of anesthesiologists adopted new standards, including a checklist to make sure proper doses of anesthesia are being delivered. Comforting. Doctors say instances of a patient becoming conscious enough to feel pain but unable to say so are rare. But they do say, of course, they're very frightening.
We should point out the measures do not include any new technology which would help monitor patient brain function.
A death warrant in Los Angeles for former gang leader Tookie Williams, a co-founder of the Crips street gang. A judge signed the order today. Williams has been on death row since his conviction in the 1979 murders of four people. Since then, he has become a vocal anti-gang activist and a nominee for Nobel prizes in both peace and literature. His supporters say he has been rehabilitated and they're asking Governor Schwarzenegger for clemency.
And all he was saying was give peace a chance -- all right, actually, writing it on the back of a hotel envelope. It all happened when John Lennon penned the granddaddy of peace anthems in 1969 during a week-long bed-in. Well, now the London auction house Bonhams is selling the original lyrics and expecting to get up to 200,000 pounds for them, which a pretty penny be it in pounds or dollars, Heidi.
And we haven't seen a bed-in in a long time.
HILL: No. I don't know if we will for a while, either.
(LAUGHTER) COLLINS: It was his alone.
All right. Erica, thank you. See you again in about 30 minutes.
In your world in 360 tonight, a somber milestone in Iraq. Three new deaths were reported today, pushing the toll of American military fatalities to 2,000. Two were Marines killed in a roadside bomb in Anbar Province. Shortly afterwards, a staff sergeant from Texas died of injuries from an earlier bombing in Samarra.
Meanwhile, Iraqi officials announced the draft constitution had passed with the support of almost 79 percent of voters. That paves the way for a mid-December election to choose a new parliament.
And on Capitol Hill, senators pause for a moment of silence to honor all the fallen soldiers of the two and a half year old war. President Bush in a speech at Bolling Air Force Base warned there would be more casualties but said it was important to, quote, "complete the mission."
Hurricane Wilma still running wild, racing up the East Coast at almost 55 miles an hour now, packing 85 mile-per-hour winds. Wilma merged with Tropical Storm Alpha to provide fuel for a classic nor'easter, slamming beaches from New Jersey to Cape Cod with 20-foot waves, and bringing a taste of winter.
CNN's Chris Huntington reports.
CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It could have become the perfect storm, one of those historic nor'easters that makes for frightening tales in seaside taverns.
But this one became more bluster than bar tale. Weather watchers had feared Hurricane Wilma might combine with the developing nor'easter off the Carolina coast, a classic case of a low pressure system marrying hurricane winds to create a storm of terrific proportions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't get any bigger than that. If it stays like that, when high tide comes in, we're going to get a lot wetter if it stays like that.
HUNTINGTON: Instead, Wilma's 105 mile-per-hour winds sped swiftly northward and stayed off the Massachusetts coast, and the nor'easter delivered an early snowfall to parts of Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.
There were no stranded fishing boats nor devastated coastlines this time. But there were downed power lines and wind-swept streets and the jitters that come when another bad blow is predicted during a record storm season.
RAY BREWER, NEW CASTLE, NEW HAMPSHIRE RESIDENT: We didn't have any major flooding issues from that. Right now, the wind has been picking up with some pretty severe gusts. We expect to see some wires down during the day. We're just keeping an eye on that, seeing how the changing conditions are through the day.
HUNTINGTON: So locals were thankful that it was just another nasty day in New England.
KEN PATTERSON, NEW HAMPSHIRE RESIDENT: It's not really much you can do to make up for it, you know. You can't -- all our work's outside, equipment, so you can't maintain the equipment.
Really, it's a lost day.
HUNTINGTON: And a day to be wary, as more than a month remains in this record hurricane season.
HUNTINGTON: Now, here in Hove (ph), which is a beachfront community about 15 miles south of Boston, the waves are still crashing ashore. There are houses that are up and down this area where waves are breaking over the front porches.
I actually just got inundated a few moments ago. The wind has subsided slightly, Heidi, from what it was about an hour ago and the tide is receding, so good news.
A lot of people have been treating this event today as something of a spectacle and, frankly, in the estimation of the locals with a lot of experience with these kind of storms, this one has gone right up to the edge of something that could have been quite serious -- Heidi?
COLLINS: Chris Huntington.
Thanks a lot, Chris.
COLLINS: Still ahead tonight on AC 360, Miami, that city of plenty, is running short of supplies and people there are running out of patience.
Also tonight, did FEMA learn anything from this terrible hurricane season? Talk about that when we come back.
COLLINS: Hurricane Wilma hit the east coast of Florida harder than many expected.
Carlos Castillo is the director of Miami-Dade County Emergency Management. He's had quite a day. He's joining me now from Miami. Mr. Castillo, give us the latest. What's happening in Miami-Dade?
CARLOS CASTILLO, MIAMI-DADE CO. EMERGENCY MGMT: Well, you know, we're still -- our first priority is obviously, we're to assess the damages and get back out and be able to do the life-saving missions, police and fire. And that started yesterday. The main underlying problem for us is the lack of power. There's almost a million Florida Power and Light customers out of power in Miami-Dade county alone. That -- clearly it affects fueling, gas stations, and just power at homes.
COLLINS: Yes and we're looking at some video here of people standing in line for ice and things like that. Obviously, trying to get food as well. Are they getting what they need? Obviously, it's slow with no power.
CASTILLO: Well, yes, it is slow. And, you know, part of the -- I believe part of the issue in getting the supplies down here has been the fuel problem and the lack of availability, or the lack of being able to get it. I believe there's enough supplies, for the most part, right now. It's just being able to get it to the station.
And people -- you know, we've been through this drill several times this year and a few times last year. And people have been through a lot. And obviously, lack of potable water in some areas. There's a boil water order in for Miami Beach that there was, and just low pressure throughout and part related to the power, as well.
COLLINS: Is there any estimation of when that power could be turned back on?
CASTILLO: Well, unfortunately, you know it's not just Miami-Dade that's down. Several counties -- 20 counties have been declared for presidential declaration in Florida. So there's millions of customers out. We're -- they've got 50,000 customers back online already. Florida Power and Light did an excellent job during Katrina, but this is just that much more for them. They haven't told us yet what the estimate is, but they believe it could be weeks.
COLLINS: Right. What does that plane for hospitals in your area?
CASTILLO: Well, hospitals, you know, have backup generators. And they've been on -- several have been on generator power since the storm, because pretty much a lot of it is down. Florida Power and Light, one of their main priorities, obviously, is the life safety concerns. So they're looking to get grids that contain hospitals back online as soon as possible.
COLLINS: All right, that's good to hear. We certainly appreciate your time. And the best of luck to you. Carlos Castillo tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From a secluded fishing village to downtown Miami, the cleanup begins, but where to start?
And everyone knew Wilma was coming, knew how destructive the hurricane might be. With days to get ready, did FEMA get it right this time? 360 continues. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Wilma, the 12th hurricane of the season, a record- breaking storm. Took its time to reach Florida, but when it finally came ashore, it did its damage quickly. At this moment, Wilma is a Category 1 hurricane, churning about 200 miles south-southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It's moving northeast at about 53 miles per hour, and is not expected to make a second landfall in the U.S.
In Florida, at least five deaths are being blamed on Wilma. Wilma battered the state from coast to coast. Damage estimates are as high as $10 billion. Nearly three million homes and businesses, or about six million people, are still without power tonight.
In Cancun, where Wilma hit before reaching Florida, 20,000 tourists, including as many as 15,000 Americans, remain stranded tonight. It could take more than a week for them to get home.
The winds of Wilma, like Katrina and Rita, are now long gone but for some, FEMA is still in the eye of a different kind of storm and getting a lot of people pretty hot under the collar.
CNN's Jeanne Meserve reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're supposed to be more civilized.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But are we?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fury at FEMA again. These people have heard on the radio that FEMA will be at this distribution center with ice. It isn't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are we supposed to do? We're supposed to count on FEMA? You know, it's disgusting. It's disgusting.
MESERVE: FEMA said it was ready for Wilma.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's right about here right now. So the recon element is coming north...
MESERVE: FEMA personnel said they had prepared for the worst, prepositioning supplies and people. A FEMA representative was in the state emergency operations center, ready to respond to requests for assistance.
JUSTIN DEMELLO, FEMA COORDINATOR: If something comes up on your plate, don't say, oh, we've never done that before, oh, we can't do this. We're here to do one thing and that's makes it happen for you and the citizens of Florida.
MESERVE: And today the acting FEMA director indicated his agency's response was going well. R. DAVID PAULISON, ACTING FEMA DIRECTOR: We're able to get supplies and emergency equipment down there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's all they gave us. They didn't -- they were supposed to be here at 12:00.
MESERVE: But in Naples, they are waiting for ice and asking a question -- has FEMA learned from the bungled response to Katrina?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't commit if you can't deliver.
MESERVE: Experts say it really is too early to judge the quality of FEMA's response. They say the real test will be in the next 48 hours -- Heidi?
COLLINS: Jeanne, are there any issues of staffing right now? I mean, I'm thinking about a lot of FEMA staff still dealing with Katrina and Rita. Are they talking about that at all?
MESERVE: You know, I really don't know the answer to that one, Heidi. I know they were out here today distributing flyers to people, telling them what number to call to get information. But none of the people who we talked to here had tried to reach that number and get through to operators -- Heidi.
COLLINS: All right. Jeanne Meserve, thank you.
Florida is dotted with havens for people who want to get off the beaten track, and life there is generally very pleasant indeed. But when a hurricane roars through and even the beaten track is impassible, there's a cost to being out of the way.
COLLINS (voice-over): Chokoloskee Island is only 40 miles south of Naples, but it feels like a world away. The quiet fishing town, in the middle of Chokoloskee Bay, is home to fewer than a thousand people, mostly fishermen and retirees in search of a slower pace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chokoloskee's this deep.
COLLINS: Just yesterday, Chokoloskee was underwater, virtually inaccessible.
PAUL WILSON, FIRE CHIEF, OCHOPEE DISTRICT: They have no water, no sewer, no electric, no phones, nothing. Our estimate is about 300 to 400 people from that area stayed in that area.
DWAIN DANIELS, CHOKOLOSKEE RESIDENT: Everything's gone. The roof's gone, everything in the house is gone. It went up on our sofas and stuff, eight inches.
COLLINS: The Daniels family has lived in this home for generations. DANIELS: Whenever you lose everything you got, I mean, you're sad. Yes. Yes. Everything I got's here. And my whole family's here, you know? You stay with family.
COLLINS: The Daniels are lucky. They have a small generator. They're also determined to stay here despite the mess.
SUSAN DANIELS, CHOKOLOSKEE RESIDENT: A lot of mud. Mud, mud. Nothing inside is any good.
COLLINS: The mud is a challenge, but water is also a major concern.
KEVIN TITUS, RED CROSS SPOKESPERSON: Water damage is a challenge because, you know, it goes into the homes, it doesn't discriminate where the water goes. Many times, you know, there's a lot of damage, you know, that we can't see from the road.
COLLINS: A two-man red cross team is passing through Chokoloskee Island before heading south to Key West. Their main concerns -- food, water and putting residents in touch with FEMA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I also wrote the number for FEMA.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you want to make sure that you call that number.
COLLINS: Despite their losses, the Daniels are hopeful.
S. DANIELS: Not one life's lost. And, so that's great. Everybody will try to work together and there's some good people in this group that's already been here to offer help.
COLLINS: Still ahead tonight on "360," those who lost so much in New Orleans when the levees gave way want to know why it happened and how the government plans to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Also tonight, the American death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000. It is just a number, one death no more or less important than the other. We'll take stock of where we are at this somber milestone.
COLLINS: In Florida, nearly three million homes and businesses are still without electricity, leaving nearly six million people across more than 22,000 square miles waiting in darkness tonight.
The hardest-hit areas are on Florida's east coast, where the storm knocked out power to nearly 900,000 households in Miami-Dade alone. That's 92 percent of all the homes in that area.
And it gets worse farther north. Ninety-seven percent of the homes around Fort Lauderdale, in Broward County. Ninety-five percent of the households in the Palm Beach area, almost 650,000 in all. In Lee County, on the east coast where Wilma made landfall, 76 percent of the homes are without electricity. In central Florida, just west in Glades County, 2,500 homes without power, 71 percent of all homes in the county.
Florida Power and Light, the major electric utility in south Florida, said it has 6,000 utility workers in the affected region. They still have a task that is very huge. They say it could be a month before power is fully restored.
In Broward County, just north of Miami, there's no power and little gas. There are, however, long lines for water and ice. And there are 1.5 million people who all need those things.
We're joined tonight by Broward County mayor Kristin Jacobs. Mayor Jacobs, thanks for being with us tonight. Tell me what the latest is in your area. How is the recovery effort going?
MAYOR KRISTIN JACOBS, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, 24 hours into recovery, there is lots of unknowns. There are lots of unknowns out there right now. We are mostly working right now to bring water service. Many of our cities are without any water service at all. Other cities are on boil water orders. We also have an extreme amount of debris in the roadways. We have downed power lines strung across...
We have just an amazing scene here, and, in fact, this is the second night that I have declared a curfew that goes from 7:00 at night to 7:00 in the morning, just because the roads are so unsafe. The intersections -- there is virtually no signalization in any of the intersections throughout Broward County, and with 97 percent of our households without power, it is quite dark out there.
And so, our best advice is trying to keep everybody home and trying to keep a lid on things for the evening while we continue to address all the other issues facing us.
COLLINS: Dark and scary, I imagine, too. You talk about the roads being so impassable. I imagine that is of course making it really difficult to get the help to the people who need it.
JACOBS: The roads have proved to be very difficult. Many roads are closed, and police resources are stretched as we try to cover the myriad intersections that are out. Trying to get drivers to understand that all intersections must be treated as four-way stops is a bit challenging, but we are making our way through those issues right now.
Our biggest and most pressing issues are to clear the debris away from the roads, and with 31 cities in Broward County, we have multiple departments of public works that are out there furiously working, as well as a fantastic initiative by local residents to help clear the roads of debris.
So we're making some headway, and I'm pretty proud of the place the county has managed to find itself in for a mere 24 hours after the storm. I know there are other tougher days ahead as gas lines are getting quite long. I passed almost a two-mile line on the turnpike tonight. And it's just one instance of many throughout the county.
COLLINS: You bring up -- you bring up a good point. I think it's said that a lot more people seem to be hurt after a hurricane or a natural-type disaster goes through a city or a town. Can you give us a sense of how many people are injured?
JACOBS: We have been very blessed so far not to have any injuries post-hurricane. It has been a difficult environment, and we are in constant contact with our cities. So, so far, we have not heard of any fatalities as a result of the downed power lines or the intersections without illumination. So I think we're doing OK there. We continue to try to get the message out. The curfew is definitely helping.
COLLINS: OK. And Mayor Jacobs, before we let you go, you mentioned a lot about the city and local officials. What about FEMA? What is their role? Are you working in coordination with them?
JACOBS: FEMA, I just received word about 10 minutes ago that FEMA did designate Broward County as an area worthy of individual assistance. That is a declaration that FEMA is still denying us for Hurricane Katrina, which as you know, made landfall here as a Category 1, and we sustained significant damage from that storm. So it is wonderful to know that they have at least recognized individual claims for this hurricane, and that puts our residents in line to start calling and finding the assistance they need.
We are working also closely with the state in points of distribution for ice and water. Those are in there in beginning stages, and should be more refined by certainly tomorrow and in the days ahead.
COLLINS: All right, and in those days ahead, we certainly wish you the very best of luck as well. Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs tonight. Thank you.
Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joining us now with some of the day's other top stories. Hello once again, Erica.
HILL: Hi again, Heidi. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wants an end to quote, "apocalyptic language." That that request coming in response to a trade dispute between Canadian and U.S. lumber industries. Now, Rice defended the U.S., which recently imposed import duties on Canadian lumber. NAFTA has ruled against the U.S. levy, while the World Trade Organization has supported the decision. That's according to U.S. officials.
All right, we may not want to know the answer, but just how many calories in that Big Mac? Well, we'll all soon find out. McDonald's announcing plans today to include nutritional information for most of its menu items directly on the packaging. The information has been available on its Web site. The chain getting a little bit of criticism there, and so moving onto the packaging. You can look for it in 2006.
Meantime on Wall Street, stocks backing off of yesterday's rally. The Dow closed down 7 points, at 10,377. The tech-heavy Nasdaq falling 6, while the S&P fell 2.
And it turns out the IRS has $73 million just sitting around collecting dust, and some of it may be yours. Eighty-four thousand people never provided an address to send their refund checks to. So if you think you may be one of them, might be worth your phone call. The number, 1-800-829-4477, or you can log on to irs.gov. You can see those on the bottom of your screen there.
And Heidi, I would say definitely worth it. With $73 million at stake? I'll take five bucks.
COLLINS: Is it a crime, though, to make up an address and hope you get some of the money? Probably is.
HILL: I don't think they'd look too favorably upon it. Audit, maybe?
COLLINS: All right, Erica Hill, thank you.
Still tonight on 360, anger in New Orleans over levee failures and worry about how to keep disaster from happening again.
COLLINS: Want to show you some pictures now. It's probably pretty obvious, these pictures coming into WSVN, our affiliate there in Miami. People are loading up, waiting in long, long lines, though, for what you see there: Ice and water. Obviously, staples in a situation like that.
Some 6 million people without power tonight. Nearly 3 million homes and businesses in the dark. Lots of curfews in effect as well.
Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but its effects will be felt for a long times to come. The levees around New Orleans held back the waters for a long time, then disastrously gave way. Now, a lot of people whose hopes and dreams were washed away would like to know whether it really had to happen.
CNN's Daniel Sieberg reports.
JOE BOWLES, HOME OWNER: As the ground moved, it lifted.
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Artist Joe Bowles is on the front lines of the fight over the levee breaks, bordering the 17th Street Canal where water rushed in, his entire backyard was pushed up like a rug.
BOWLES: I was very angry, right. You pay your tax money, you figure the government knows what they're doing when they build levees, and obviously they don't, or they take the cheap route.
SIEBERG: Bowles is not alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since the government is not going to address the levee situation...
SIEBERG: At a recent meeting in Bowles' Lakeview neighborhood, outraged residents wanted some straight answers on how the Army Corps of Engineers will solve the levee problem.
At that gathering, the Corps only wanted to address debris removal. But Lakeview is one of many neighbors near the three locations in New Orleans where a major levee breached. Experts say before the levees can be upgraded, they must know why they failed. And the reasons differ.
At the Industrial Canal, the water flowed over the levee wall, then flooded down the other side, eroding the soil at the base. At the 17th Street and London Avenue locations, a different problem has emerged. The rising water apparently did not top the levee walls. But the type of soil at the base may have contributed to its collapse.
(on camera): Here at the 17th Street Canal, about 12 feet down is a five-foot layer of peat. It's soaking wet from the groundwater and it looks like this. Engineers say it would act as a poor anchor for levee support wall.
GORDON BOUTWELL, ENGINEER: Water will flow through the peat a lot faster than it will through the clay, and so that would allow water to go through and help weaken the soil.
SIEBERG (voice-over): Boutwell is one of the lead investigators of a report being prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
BOUTWELL: Water is pushing, but if the soil here is relatively weak, it slides out like that. It slides and then the whole wall kicks over.
SIEBERG: While engineers look at what happened and how to prepare for the future, residents like Joe Bowles have to figure out what to do now. He lived in his house for 58 years.
(on camera): What it's like to see all this stuff?
BOWLES: It hurts. It really does. Especially because it was unnecessary. You know? There's no reason for this. I mean, you live in an area like this where you know things like this could happen? You should have the best, the very best protection you can.
SIEBERG: The question is, will it be in time for the next disaster?
Daniel Sieberg, CNN, New Orleans.
COLLINS: Let's go ahead and find out what's coming up at the top of the hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW." Hi, Paula.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Heidi, how you doing tonight?
We are watching, as you did, the distribution problems all across southern Florida. We're going to have the very latest on some of those people who have been waiting some ten hours in lines for help that is only now starting to arrive. They are hungry, they are thirsty and they are very frustrated.
Also tonight, shocking details about the sex lives of the rich and famous. And they come from an even more shocking source: the U.S. government. Some newly declassified FBI files are very revealing. You'll see what I mean at the top of the hour, just about eight minutes from now -- Heidi.
COLLINS: All right, Paula, we'll be watching. Thank you.
Another look at the scene in North Miami tonight. Live pictures from our affiliate WSVN, actually shot just a little while ago. As you heard Paula say, some people waiting in line for ten hours for supplies like ice and water.
Still to come tonight on 360, the number the government has been dreading is now a fact: 2,000 Americans have died in Iraq. More on what that may mean when we come back.
COLLINS: So often numbers, big numbers, seem to tell the story. Millions of people without power, billions of dollars in damage. But probably the biggest number today is a much smaller number: 2,000. The military death toll in Iraq has now reached 2,000, and every single one someone's child in harm's way fighting for their country.
CNN's Chris Lawrence reports.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The night before J.P. Blecksmith deployed to Iraq, he said good-bye to his whole family -- mom and dad, sister, brother.
ALEX BLECKSMITH, BROTHER: I am not an emotional person, but I could not stop crying. And as I hugged him, I said, you know, take care of yourself and take care of your men and they'll take care of you. I just remembered him hugging me and I felt so guilty. But I could not think that that was maybe the last time I ever saw him.
LAWRENCE: As things turned out, it was.
PAM BLECKSMITH, MOTHER: Our story is, as we've said, no different from these others who've lost people.
LAWRENCE: Pam Blecksmith has a hard time describing her son in one word. Good surfer, great student, friend, marine, hero.
P. BLECKSMITH: If it weren't our son who was a statistic, it would be somebody else's child. So, it just -- those are the odds. And his odds, I guess, weren't good.
LAWRENCE: No state has lost more men than California, Blecksmith's home. He died in the deadliest month, last November, during the assault on Fallujah.
ED BLECKSMITH: When J.P. was hit, he was standing on the roof, we think barking orders down to the street. He had two squads in the street during the firefight and one squad in the building. They don't know if it were a sniper or a random round. A lot of lead was flying around. But he was hit one inch outside the protection of the ceramic plate in his flak jacket.
P. BLECKSMITH: I can say OK, a year ago today he was still alive. But after November 11, I can't say that anymore because I'll have to say, a year ago today he was dead.
LAWRENCE: That's when time just stopped for his sister.
CHRISTINA BLECKSMITH, SISTER: When I'm 75 and I should be watching my grandchildren and he's still 24.
LAWRENCE: The lieutenant's family doesn't know if it was the 980th man killed or number 1,400.
P. BLECKSMITH: I don't think there's any difference in the value of the death. You know, the 2,000 death is as heartbreaking as the first.
LAWRENCE: J.P. Blecksmith's family will always have his memory, but they'd rather have the man.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, San Marino, California.
COLLINS: And we here at CNN remember every single one of those 2,000 soldiers, along with those who are still there, fighting in Iraq.
Also, we want to let you know, stay with CNN throughout the rest of the night. We're going to keep you updated, as always, on the path of Hurricane Wilma. A reminder now, a Category 1 storm.
I'm Heidi Collins. CNN's primetime coverage continues now with Paula Zahn.
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