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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Hurricane Katrina: Six Months Later; Mardi Gras 101; Coast Guard Raises Concerns Over Port Security Deal
Aired February 27, 2006 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Listen to the sounds there.
Well, I can tell you, the scene here in Saint Bernard Parish is very different. Forty-five thousand homes in this community before Katrina -- right now, there are only about 50 of them -- only about 50 -- which are habitable. I'm on a shrimp boat.
What is remarkable about this boat is, it's -- it's about 63 feet long, but it's actually not on the water. It's on the street. It's on a -- on -- in a community here in Saint Bernard Parish. You can see it on the wide shot. It was picked up by the storm, moved some -- some four, four-and-a-half miles, and just deposited right here.
They're not sure what they're going to do with this shrimp boat at this point. They're not sure how they're going to get it out of here, whether it can actually be picked up and put back in the water, because, surprisingly, it's in, actually, pretty good shape.
All -- all the mechanics are -- are still intact. The hull of the boat is still intact. And, in fact, if you look right over here, you can see the -- the shrimp nets are all still in place. But it is so surreal, that it -- this is on dry land right in the middle of a cul-de-sac, just one of the many strange images we're going to see over the next two hours or so.
In this next two hours, really going to bring you a sense of what life is like on the ground. This week, with Mardi Gras, it's not just parties and festivities. There is still a lot of pain in this community and all throughout the Gulf Coast. We are going to bring you that.
First, I want to show you some behind the scenes of what it's like here at Mardi Gras, the celebration, and what it all really means. Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): New Orleans has always been a complex city, gritty gumbo town, not quite here, not quite there. These days, it's working, but wounded.
Bourbon Street is busy, but there's still miles of mud, acres of ruin, no clear plan of when or how to rebuild.
(on camera): This warehouse was badly damaged during the storm. And it's where a lot of the Mardi Gras floats have been built over the years. It's really eerie, though, coming back here. They're all still just kind of sitting out, memories of -- of Mardi Gras past.
(voice-over): It's a strange time, perhaps, for a party, but New Orleans needs money, and its residents need hope.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things are really bad here. People think, just because we're having Mardi Gras, that everything is great and it has been six months, so things must be fine. Things are in a huge mess. Mardi Gras, we're just making believe everything is OK.
COOPER: Make-believe is what Mardi Gras has always been about. On Bourbon Street, crowds of college-age kids and those still wishing they were take part in a raunchy 'round-the-clock Carnival of chaos, reveling amid piles of trash.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I'm collecting donations.
COOPER (on camera): You're what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm collecting donations. It's beer. It's a beer fund.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
COOPER (voice-over): Bourbon Street is mostly tourists, of course, though locals do occasionally stop by.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm currently wearing a tarp that's usually used for a blue roof. And you can make a very nice outfit out of it, as long as you have strategically placed duct tape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And turn away from your sin, because the time is short. You see, God, Jesus, is coming back.
COOPER: To Bourbon Street, they come, some just to make a point. Others just want their kids to catch some beads.
Bourbon Street, however, is not what Mardi Gras is really about. At heart, it's a family affair. Sunday night, I ride in a parade with Endymion, one of the major Carnival organizations. It's Dan Aykroyd's float. And I arrive with a half-dozen first-responders, police officers and firefighters, heroes of the storm.
It's an experience almost impossible to describe. Tens of thousand of people line the parade route. Many haven't seen each other since the storm. In the crowd, you see young and old, black and white, thousands of faces, a sea of smiles. They're smiling.
(on camera): It's impossible not to keep smiling. You know, and you can kind of intellectually know (INAUDIBLE) when you're seeing all these people just smiling and screaming, and they're so happy, it's a -- it's a pretty amazing thing.
(voice-over): On the float, your job is to throw out beads, thousands of them, to those screaming out.
DAN AYKROYD, ACTOR: You want to throw them up high, so if -- if -- they have time to catch it, so it doesn't hit them in the face, the eye. And I love these baseball -- whoa! these baseball-like catches that people do.
COOPER: The only beads people really want are the ones they catch themselves. I find that really telling. The beads that fall on the ground are rarely picked up. They lack the connection. The bond has been broken.
After a while, the screaming disappears. So do the crowds. All you see are the faces. You make eye contact with someone, throw them a bead. They say "Thank you," and you roll on.
Riding on the float late into the night, I realize, Mardi Gras is not about the beads or about Bourbon Street. It's about making a connection, one person to another, the present to the past. Like catching the beads, Mardi Gras is an act of luck, a grab of faith, a fleeting moment that lets us all reach out and hope for a better day.
COOPER: Well, by the Christian calendar, tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, the world shrove from the old English word -- verb to -- to shrive, meaning to absolve.
In the Middle Ages, people would see a priest, who would hear their confession and absolve them of their sins for Lent. Elsewhere, tomorrow goes by Pancake Tuesday, for the feast before fasting. And in the French-speaking countries, or cities, as the case may be, tomorrow is Fat Tuesday. That is the scene very -- not too far from where I'm standing in Saint Bernard Parish, on Bourbon Street, the two sides of New Orleans during this Mardi Gras week.
Take a look.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER (voice-over): It is a celebration like no other, colorful and crazy, the street party of all street parties, the all-out revelry before the onset of a solemn religious season.
The phenomenon that is New Orleans' Mardi Gras is steeped in centuries of history. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is more than just a one-day event. It marks the end of the Carnival season that starts with Twelfth Night on January 6 and the beginning of Lent, a definite end to the debauchery before it's time to fast and pray.
TOM PIAZZA, AUTHOR, "WHY NEW ORLEANS MATTERS": What it really was, was a day when everybody in the city was, in a sense, tuned to the same frequency. In other words, everybody in the city kind of agrees for a day to just go with whatever happens.
COOPER: The party first came to Louisiana in 1699, brought here by two brothers fighting for France's claim to the territory. It started as a series of balls. But, soon, the partyers began parading through the streets, and the crowds grew bigger to bigger. To help bring order to the chaos, they called in the krewes.
PIAZZA: Most of those krewes are made up of the city's economic and social elite. They're business people. They're real estate people, lawyers, professional people, what have you.
COOPER: The Cowbellion de Rakin Society was first in 1830. They became the Mystic Krewe of Comus in 1857. And they were eventually joined by other krewes with equally interesting names, Momus, Proteus, Hermes, Endymion, the Krewe d'Etat, and the Krewe du Vieux, each holding its own parade in a different part of town.
And then there are the Indians.
PIAZZA: Mardi Gras Indians are working-class African-American who masquerade as Indians every year on Mardi Gras. And they spend months sewing these extraordinary, lavish and fanciful, beautiful costumes.
COOPER: There is at least one parade a day for the two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday, complete with colorful beads, marching jazz bands, and families lining the route.
The celebration has its own colors, purple, green and gold, and it even has an official song.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): If I ever I cease to love...
COOPER: There have been times when main Mardi Gras parades have been canceled because of weather or to protest laws that try to tone down the rowdy celebrations, but not this year, not in the year after Katrina crushed the city that care forgot.
This year, many New Orleanians say Mardi Gras must go on.
PIAZZA: For real New Orleanians, to cancel Mardi Gras, or to not to have Mardi Gras, would be inconceivable. It would be like not having New Year's or something.
COOPER: And that is a live picture on Bourbon Street, preparing for a parade -- or, actually, that's a parade that is just about getting -- that is really under way at this point. They happen all throughout the day. And it is -- it is quite something to behold.
As for how Mardi Gras ought to be celebrated this year, we have done some polling. Bear in mind, a lot of people living here still don't have phone service. And some have cell phones with out-of-state numbers, which makes polling complicated.
But, according to our CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, 49 percent of those surveyed tell us Mardi Gras should be the same as previous years. Twenty-six percent would rather prefer a low-key event. And 22 percent, nearly one in four, didn't want to celebrate at all.
But it is being celebrated here, celebrated, in -- in fact, very strongly.
We're going to have a lot more here from Saint Bernard Parish, six months -- nearly six months after Hurricane Katrina, the facts on the ground, "Keeping Them Honest." It's easy to overlook some of the good that has come in those last several months. We will take you to a place where the horrific storm that destroyed so many homes also wiped out a longstanding racial barrier.
Plus, Katrina is still killing people six months after the storm. Why are those who initially survived now dying?
And more on that controversial port deal -- why are we hearing now that strong security concerns were raised in December by the very people who guard the waters?
Across America and around the world, you're watching 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED HURRICANE VICTIMS: We want help! We want help! We want help! We want help! We want help!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, six months after Katrina, it is still hard to watch that and to hear dozens of people at the Convention Center, after the storm, chanting for help, help that didn't come for days.
It has become a symbol of government failure at all levels. Well, tonight, far away from here, in Washington, there are more accusations of government failure, this time relating to a deal that would put some U.S. shipping terminals under the control of a company owned by the United Arab Emirates. Lawmakers have disclosed a document that raises some serious concerns about that deal, written by the very people who guard those ports, the U.S. Coast Guard.
CNN's senior national correspondent, John Roberts, investigates.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the last thing administration officials wanted to see as they briefed senators on the new upcoming security review, a document from the Coast Guard warning of many intelligence gaps concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations that precludes the overall threat assessment of the merger.
For the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, it was a huge red flag.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: That it involves potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities, that language is very troubling to me.
ROBERTS: Officials, who had previously said no one raised objections about the deal, insisted that the extra security assurances Dubai Ports World gave put the Coast Guard's worries to rest.
CLAY LOWERY, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY: In this case, the concerns that you're citing were addressed and resolved.
ROBERTS: Even so, senators demanded a classified briefing to more fully understand what happened. The closed hour-and-a-half-long session seemed to assure them of one thing.
COLLINS: I am more convinced than ever that the process was truly flawed.
ROBERTS: The new 45-day investigation will begin almost immediately after D.P. World files a new application. Fourteen government agencies, led by Treasury and Homeland Security, will oversee the review.
The director of national intelligence will coordinate intelligence-gathering on the company to determine any further possible security concerns. When the investigation is complete, the president will have an additional 15 days to give a thumbs up or down in the deal. At the moment, only the president can make that decision, though Congress may introduce legislation to give it final approval.
PATRICK MULLOY, INTERNATIONAL TRADE LAW EXPERT, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: It has been a disaster for the president. And -- and it has been a disaster, I think, for the United States.
ROBERTS: International trade expert Patrick Mulloy helped write the original law and can't believe the government failed to do what he said should have been a mandatory security review before the original ports deal decision. He's urging the administration to get a fresh start.
MULLOY: I hope that they feel that, within -- within themselves, the strength to say, we should not be prejudging this; let's do the investigation, and see where it leads us.
ROBERTS: But will the administration do that? Listen to the president's national security adviser.
STEPHEN L. HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The president is very clear as to where he stands. He thinks there has been a good process. He thinks that the -- there are not outstanding national security concerns that need to be addressed, and that this -- this deal needs to go forward.
ROBERTS: The company, DPW, is confident of a positive outcome, in a statement, saying: "The review will confirm that D.P. World's acquisition does not pose any threat to America's safety and security. We hope that voluntarily agreeing to further scrutiny demonstrates our commitment to our longstanding relationship with the United States."
(on camera): While the deal could well go through, Congress is demanding to be kept in the loop on the investigation. And, in fact, the law provides for that.
Going forward, there's talk on Capitol Hill about changing the whole approval process to give more congressional oversight. And officials on the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States have been told to sharpen their political radar, so the next time a deal like this comes over the transom, they tell the White House about it.
John Roberts, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, minutes ago, the Coast Guard issued a statement concerning its report.
It says, what has been quoted today has been taken out of context and does not reflect the entire analysis. It says, the analysis concludes -- quote -- "that D.P. World's acquisition of P&O, in and of itself, does not pose a significant threat to U.S. assets in the continental United States ports."
Erica Hill from Headline News joins us right now with some of the other stories we are following -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.
We begin in Iran tonight. The country has apparently begun enriching uranium, but on a small scale -- this coming from a confidential report by the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog. That report was obtained by CNN. It finds they are enriching uranium in a 10- centrifuge cascade. Now, if Iran were to make a nuclear weapon, as the U.S. claims it is trying to do, it would need to have thousands of centrifuges in operation.
The report also expresses the group's frustration at not being able to verify the scope and the nature of Iran nuclear program.
On to London, England, now, with a case against "The Da Vinci Code" -- author Dan Brown appearing in a British court today to face accusations he copied the work of two historians to write the best- selling article. Now, if Brown is found guilty, the movie version of the book might be held up. The movie's distributor, Sony Pictures, says it plans to release it in May, though, as scheduled.
And, in a Los Angeles suburb, a mountain lion caught in someone's yard -- the lion was spotted first thing this morning. An elementary school was then placed on lockdown as a precaution. Fish & Game officials were able to quickly tranquilize the big cat, actually, rather easily, because it fell asleep in somebody's yard. Then they brought it back to the nearby national forest -- no idea on why it roamed to the suburbs.
Maybe it was ready for a snack, Anderson.
HILL: Somebody was cooking pancakes. Who knows.
COOPER: Well, I'm glad it ended well.
Ahead on 360, another deadline looms for victims of Hurricane Katrina, victims who can't even tell their rescuers their names, hundreds of abandoned pets now about to lose the shelter that has taken them in and cared for them. Where will they go next? Maybe you can help.
Plus, find out why these Mississippi kids feel that, even though Katrina struck their schools, today, they're all the better for it.
From the Gulf Coast, this is 360.
COOPER: Well, even a scrap of a silver lining is hard to find along the battered Gulf Coast, but, in Mississippi, children and the new friendships they have formed just might be it -- next on 360.
COOPER: You're looking at one of the most stark examples of the devastations here in Saint Bernard Parish. A shrimp boat, maybe 63 feet long, it was picked up by the storm, deposited some four miles from where it was docked in the water. It's now sitting on a street, a community right here in Saint Bernard Parish.
It's a stark, stark reminder of the devastation which lays all around. I mean, there were 45,000 homes in Saint Bernard Parish before Katrina. There's only about 50 homes that habitable right now, according to officials here.
Throughout the Gulf Coast, six months after Katrina, hundreds of schools are still closed. But, in nearby Mississippi, two schools have combined forces, leading to new friendships and a lesson on life they will likely never forget.
CNN's Randi Kaye reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If there was ever a bright spot in the darkness delivered Katrina, this may be it.
KERED GRAVES, 9 YEARS OLD: Hey. I love you (INAUDIBLE)
KAYE: Anna, Kered, and Christina, 9-year-olds from Pascagoula, Mississippi, this is their story.
(on camera): But do you think there is a chance that, if Katrina hadn't happened, any of you would have become friends with Kered?
ANNA DOMBROWSKI, 9 YEARS OLD: No, not really.
KAYE: Never would have met.
KAYE (voice-over): Not if Katrina hadn't so boldly introduced them. You see, six months ago, when the storm hit, Anna and Christina were third-graders at Resurrection School, a Roman Catholic school. Nearly all its students were white.
DOMBROWSKI: I didn't think it was very fair, because that's why Martin Luther King was here. But I kept hoping that other -- other colored kids were going to come here.
KAYE: Kered was a third-grader, too, a few miles away at Saint Peter the Apostle, an all-black school.
GRAVES: I didn't have much white -- white friends there at all. And I only had a white principal. That's all I had. There was a couple of white teachers. But there were, like, all white teachers and principals. There were a couple of black teachers, but that's all. And there was a whole black school. And I was like, that can't be right. I mean, I loved Saint Peters with my whole heart. It's just that, I want white friends. I couldn't take it.
KAYE: Katrina destroyed her school. Saint Peter the Apostle crumbled and, along with it, a century of racial separation.
(on camera): This pile of debris, including some old textbook pages, it's all that's left of Saint Peter the Apostle. The school stood on this ground for 100 years. It was designed initially to educate the children and grandchildren of freed slaves. That was back when blacks weren't welcome in most Mississippi schools. But, even when public schools and most Catholic schools desegregated, Saint Peter chose to remain all black to preserve the students' culture.
(voice-over): But, after Katrina, with nowhere for its students to turn, Saint Peter looked to Resurrection School.
Even though the massive tidal surge broke windows and blew down doors at Resurrection, two months later, it managed to reopen. So, the decision was made. The children would all go to school together.
And now, today, with two Catholic schools and two races in one place, some are thinking, this part of Katrina, anyway, is worth celebrating.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN (singing): Hey, Kered, are you ready? GRAVES (singing): For what?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN (singing): To jig.
GRAVES (singing): Jig what?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN (singing): To jigalo.
GRAVES (singing): I got my hands up high, my feet down low, and this the way I jigalo.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN (singing): Our hands up high, our feet down low, and this the way she jigalo.
KAYE: In the classroom, the lesson plan is the same.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Forty.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fives times three equals?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Fifteen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five times seven equals?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Thirty-five.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five...
KAYE: But the faces have changed. Of the more than 300 students now at Resurrection, 55 are black.
CHRISTINA CARDENAS, 9 YEARS OLD: I have new friends. Like, when only white people were here, I only had like five friends. And now I have more friends.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12.
KAYE (on camera): There's so much talk about how much people lost in this storm. What would you say your students have gained?
ELIZABETH BENEFIELD, PRINCIPAL, RESURRECTION CATHOLIC SCHOOL: Saint Peter's children were not any different than we were. They have a different skin color, but they share the same faith tradition, and their families have the same values. And the children have learned that -- that it doesn't make a difference, that we're all children of God.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good heart.
KAYE: Did the storm teach you anything about each other?
DOMBROWSKI: Like, taught us how to come together and just deal with what color you are. It doesn't matter. Just be friends. CARDENAS: Because I used to think black people were with really mean, and it taught me that they were really nice and kind.
KAYE (voice-over): When it was decided Saint Peter would not reopen again, it brought sister Bernadette McNamara to tear.
(on camera): What will you miss about your students?
SISTER BERNADETTE MCNAMARA, PRINCIPAL, SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE CATHOLIC SCHOOL: I miss them. I just love them. And I'm sorry about the tears. I just can't help it.
KAYE: It's OK.
(voice-over): At Resurrection, Sister McNamara prays, her students will rise up again after this terrible storm.
KAYE: Now, what will be most interesting after this experience is to see how all of this translates outside the schoolyard and off those grounds, because these -- these kids tell me that they haven't been to each other's homes, and they have never met each other's families.
I asked them if they have any plans to do that. And, Anderson, they said that, hopefully, they hope to do that some time this summer. But, again, they haven't met the families and the parents yet.
COOPER: So, what happens if they rebuild Saint Peters? Are they going to separate these two schools again?
KAYE: Actually, the word now is, is that they do not plan to ever rebuild Saint Peter the Apostle.
Right now, the pre-K is still over there, but they plan to move that over to Resurrection School as well, because this experience has gone so well, that they have decided to just keep these students together, because they are really bonding pendant. And it's working.
COOPER: Randi, thanks -- Randi Kaye.
KAYE: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, the water is long gone from this city, but the grief is -- it caused goes on, as do the deaths and calamity still it's causing all these months later.
Also ahead, an -- an animal shelter that is about to close -- the trouble is, the place is crammed with pets needing homes. What happens now?
Some answers when 360 continues.
COOPER (voice over): For many, the sign outside Bob Rue's New Orleans rug store defined the dark days after Katrina: chaos, courage and a little local humor. The sign is still there today, a reminder of those dark, desperate days.
BOB RUE, OWNER, RUG STORE: I've never seen people pulling a shopping cart with six cases of beer, an end table and a lawn mower with a 6-week-old baby over their shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
COOPER: Now out of harm's way, Bob Rue has a confession.
RUE: Well, there never was a dog. There never was a woman. I don't have any shotguns and I didn't stay here.
COOPER: He also has a message for the city of New Orleans.
RUE: You all pass a good time. Laissez les bon temps rouler.
COOPER: That is French for "let the good times roll," which is what New Orleans is trying to do during this first Mardi Gras since the place very nearly disappeared altogether.
Needless to say, there are still stray animals here. There isn't a city in the world, really, without them. That's just a sad fact of life.
But here in the Gulf region, it is different, of course. So many people left their pets behind, not allowed to bring their pets with them when they were told to evacuate in advance of the storm.
Luckily, there have been hundreds of volunteers over these last several months who have come here to help these animals. One shelter we found is about to close down and they still need some help.
Take a look.
COOPER: Cassie (ph) is one of Katrina's littlest victims. For the last several months she's lived in a makeshift shelter along with hundreds of other abandoned animals. Dogs and cats, birds, there's even a monitor lizard. On Tuesday, however, this shelter is closing, and the volunteers from Best Friends Animal Society who run it are desperate to find homes for all of the pets.
(on camera): Is it hard getting these animals adopted?
JULIETTE WATT, BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY: Sometimes. Sometimes it's hard with the Pit Bulls. Sometimes it's hard with the animals that don't look, you know, so pretty.
COOPER (voice over): Some animals are particularly difficult to find homes for. WATT: This is Red. And Red is really fabulous.
COOPER: Red was partially paralyzed when he was hit by a car while wandering the streets. He's now in a wheelchair but it doesn't slow him down. He still loves to play catch.
WATT: This guy is -- he's friendly to people. He's great with kids. He's great with other dogs. I mean, even with little dogs. This skin condition makes him look a little funny, and he got that from the water here in New Orleans and all the chemicals.
COOPER: Polluted floodwater, lack of food, Katrina was tough on so many of the animals here. Some are still scared from their experiences.
(on camera): So these two don't like to be separated?
WATT: No, they don't. This is Bobby and that's Bobby, and they were found on a construction site. And...
COOPER: So they're both Bobby?
WATT: They're both Bobby.
COOPER (voice over): Bobby the cat is blind and follows Bobby the dog by listening for the sound of her collar tags. Juliette, one of the managers of this shelter, believes they must have come from the same house. She's hoping to keep them together.
Juliette says the animals who aren't adopted will be taken in by other shelters across the country or brought back to Best Friends headquarter in Utah. She promises none of the animals here will be put to sleep.
As for Cassie (ph), she's already spoken for.
(on camera): What's going to happen to her?
WATT: You want her. Trust me.
COOPER: There are a lot of people who want her?
WATT: And she's with me. She's my little girl. And I got her after I had been down here for two days, and I took her off the truck myself. And she now basically runs my life, and I just pay for it.
And she's awesome. She has an incredible little spirit. And she is actually a Beagle-Dachshund mix, but we don't say that loudly.
WATT: Because she likes to be known as Pit Bull-Rottweiler.
COOPER (voice over): A happy ending for one little dog, an uncertain future for many others.
COOPER: And Juliette Watt from Best Friends Animal Shelter joins me with Red.
So there's a little good news for Red, right?
WATT: Indeed. Red has actually been taken by this marvelous foster group in Houston, Texas. And he's going to go over there and live with them. And they're going to work on him and work on his adoption, hopefully.
COOPER: He's so friendly. I mean, people -- you know, there's this perception of Pit Bulls...
COOPER: ... and they have obviously a bad reputation.
WATT: Yes, they do.
COOPER: But, I mean, this -- there's so many Pit Bulls here. It's particularly hard to place them, isn't it?
WATT: Indeed, yes, it is, because they -- you know, people have turned them into something that they're really not. They're very loving, very loving dogs.
They're great with people. They're great with kids. They're just strong guys.
And he is awesome. I mean, he loves everybody. You can put your hand in his mouth.
COOPER: And the problem with his skin, this comes from -- I mean, as we said in the piece, his hair has sort of come off. And you've seen this with a lot of dogs. This is from the water, right?
WATT: Yes. Yes, it's from being out in this water. It's called demodectic mange. And it's curable.
It comes on a lot by stress as well. It's exacerbated by stress. But he will -- it will grow back, and he will look perfectly normal. But right now, you know, he's -- he's a little bit bald.
COOPER: I've never seen a contraption like this. I mean, this is incredible.
WATT: Isn't this fabulous? Don't you love it?
COOPER: It's amazing.
WATT: Well, it's sort of his wheels. And we've decorated it, and we put flames on the side because he's a steam bullet. And he's got his name on it. And I think it's really... COOPER: And his legs basically hang in the back because...
COOPER: And he was hit by a car?
COOPER: How many dogs do you still have at the shelter?
WATT: Right now today I think we're whittled down to about 50, and they will be leaving to different groups in different places in the country that are taking them.
COOPER: Well, the work you guys have done has just been remarkable.
WATT: Thank you.
COOPER: And I really appreciate all of your -- all of your effort here.
WATT: Thank you. Thank you so much.
COOPER: A lot of volunteers. It's not just you. You've got some great people working there.
WATT: We have, indeed. And the volunteers have been awesome. And also, we really want to thank Southern Animal Foundation and Dr. Missy Jackson (ph) and Ann Bell (ph), who have been unbelievably helpful.
I know there are a lot of viewers out there who are interested in helping, we've got some Web site information for you.
If you want more information on the animal rescue effort, you can go to bestfriends.org. We feel -- bestfriends.org, that is their Web site up there. They have some information on how you can help if you're interested.
We feel for pets because they're entirely dependent on people. While we think that people can fend for themselves, Katrina taught us otherwise, and it's showing us something else. It's deadly touch still exists, claiming new victims nearly every day. Locals refer to it as the second wave of death. We'll explain.
Plus, the latest from Iraq, where there are concerning -- concerns a civil war could break out. Are Iraqi leaders stepping up to the challenge to avoid that possible fate?
Across the country and around the world, you're watching 360.
COOPER (voice over): Dr. Greg Henderson's (ph) instinct to help, to heal led him to the convention center just days after Katrina struck. Amid the thousands stranded, an ocean of need, he was the only doctor there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had thousands of voices saying, "Is there any help coming? Doctor, I need you. Doctor, doctor, doctor."
COOPER: Now back at Work at the New Orleans Oschner Clinic, Henderson (ph) is haunted by the voices of those he could not help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That event was so deeply traumatizing in what I witnessed in terms of human suffering.
COOPER: Suffering that still persists and questions that still linger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's a massive turning of a back on this city, and this city has to go it alone, then it's going to be a story of, that was the day that America began to fall apart.
COOPER: Well, in recent years, New Orleans has seen as many as two million visitors at Mardi Gras time. If you were one of them, maybe you connect more than others. Regardless, what's bewildering is that the dimensions of this tragedy are still expanding.
People are still dying. Some, perhaps, by broken hearts.
CNN's Chris Lawrence has more.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The levees break. The city floods. Thousands are rescued. But six months later, a lot of them who made it through the storm are dead.
DR. JAMES AIKENS, EMERGENCY MEDICINE: You find a lot of people who survived the -- the evacuation only to go to sleep in a hotel room and not wake up.
LAWRENCE: We hear it from doctors and funeral directors.
BILLY HENRY, BULTMAN FUNERAL HOME: The death rate is definitely up.
LAWRENCE: Katrina survivors caught up in a second wave of death.
FRANK MINYARD, NEW ORLEANS PARISH CORONER: Just this morning a friend of mine called me just out of the clear blue. He said, "Man, you know, there's a lot of people dying."
LAWRENCE: We went to the New Orleans Parish coroner to ask him.
(on camera): Indirectly, is Katrina still killing people today?
MINYARD: Exactly. And you pick up the newspaper every day and you see the pictures and names of people. And we had the same number now as we had when we had a half a million people. Now we have maybe 100,000 people at the most.
LAWRENCE (voice over): Before Katrina, Ronald Chisom's mother was 84 years old but healthy.
RONALD CHISOM, EVACUEE: She would go out. She would, you know, go visit a friend and she'd have her girlfriends over. You know.
LAWRENCE: When her home flooded, Evelyn was airlifted out by helicopter, then put on a bus to Austin, Texas. For 10 days she was alone in a shelter, then shuttled to Houston.
CHISOM: She's determined. You know, she believes in doing for herself. But something broke down during that period of time.
LAWRENCE: In a strange place, with family but no friends, Evelyn stopped taking her medicine. She got depressed. She died.
CHISOM: And so, you know, it definitely -- Katrina definitely played a role, and with my mother and with the stress. And we think it's a contributing factor in the death of my mother.
LAWRENCE: It's not an isolated case. Rosalyn Levanthal (ph) was evacuated all the way to Maryland. She was buried one week shy of the storm's six-month mark.
DR. JAMES BARBEE, LSU ANXIETY CLINIC: Stress changes the ability of the body to cope with infection and other physiologic processes.
LAWRENCE: Some of these victims are elderly, and there are fewer funeral homes open since the storm.
HENRY: This is wonderful.
LAWRENCE: But Billy Henry says that can't account for this kind of business. Thirty funerals a month before Katrina, 90 a month now.
(on camera): Officially, they say Katrina killed a little more than 1,300 people. But unofficially?
HENRY: It probably killed hundreds more than that. Hundreds more than that.
LAWRENCE (voice over): The coroner has asked the state health department to pull records of natural deaths from the past few years. He says those numbers will show a dramatic spike in the death rate and prove that Katrina-related stress is still killing the storm survivors.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, New Orleans.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, while much of New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras these days, and up until Tuesday night, Fat Tuesday, there are many places, of course, where there are not going to be any parades.
Here in St. Bernard Parish, it is virtually untouched since this storm. All around people's possessions still lay. You can find their shoes and their clothes and their books.
And it's strange. You come upon these scenes you kind of can't believe.
This is a fishing boat, a shrimp boat which was picked up by the floodwaters and deposited some four and a half miles from where it was docked. It's about 63 feet long and it is just sitting here in the middle of a community.
There are houses all around. All the houses are destroyed as well.
They're not even sure how they're going to get this boat out of here. It's actually in pretty good shape. The hull seems to be intact. It might be salvageable. But actually getting it back into the water, they're not quite sure how they're going to do that.
There's a lot more ahead, including the affect this storm had on Baton Rouge. A population in that city, relatively untouched by the storm waters.
And the convention center. We all remember what happened there some six months ago. Well, tonight, of all other things, there is a big fancy party happening there. We'll take you there live when we return.
COOPER: Well, the smiles and the joy we've seen along the parade route in New Orleans were unthinkable six months ago. Many people here, though not everyone, to be sure, see Mardi Gras as the way of showing the world that they aren't down for the count, that they're going to rebuild and get through this. Others simply think the city deserves a party after all it's been through.
That's a scene of the party right now that is happening on Bourbon Street, miles from where we are here in St. Bernard Parish. And, of course, the scene here very different indeed.
Mardi Gras is actually dozens of parties, not just one, and certainly not just Bourbon Street. That is a very small slice of all the things that are happening here.
Sean Callebs is standing by the convention center, the site of so much destruction and sorrow six months ago, a much different place tonight -- Sean.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Anderson. Now, behind me, you can hear some of the sounds from the band. Orpheus, one of the krewes, is right now making its way around the city. We know that they are coming in from Canal. They are more than two dozen floats.
The grand marshal this year, Steven Seagal. And Orpheus, the history of this, only goes back about a decade or so.
And one of the founders, Harry Connick, Jr. But he is not here this evening. He's actually performing on Broadway. But still, a lot of people still speak very highly of this native son, someone who did so much in the days, the weeks and months after Katrina to try to breathe life into this city.
But it is very odd to be here knowing that six months ago this facility was really the flash point for everything that went wrong in the days after Katrina. Clearly, tens of thousands of people here felt simply left alone by their city, by their state, by the federal government, had to fend for themselves with little water, virtually no facilities here. But it is a much different convention center now.
We are in Hall F. And really, this is the third night in a row they've had a black tie function in here. Somewhat surreal, I have to admit that, knowing that just several months ago, beginning to clean this area up, people had to wear hazmat suits and respirators, things of that nature, to come in here and do the cleaning up. And today, a much different facility.
I spoke with the congressman from this area, William Jefferson, last week, and he said perhaps this is not the best image of New Orleans, because the parade winds its way, Anderson, as you know, through about 20 percent of the city that did not flood. And really, with this big party going on, people aren't seeing as much of the devastation still in the outlying areas they probably should -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Sean, thanks very much.
We'll have more on Mardi Gras and beyond ahead on 360, but first, Erica Hill from "Headline News" has some of the business stories we're following.
COOPER: I want to thank our international viewers for watching.
Coming up, a Mardi Gras trip through the streets of New Orleans. Surreal, heartbreaking, inspiring, you name it. We saw it, and so will you tonight.
Also, held hostage in Iraq. Another deadline passes. So why is there new hope tonight for Jill Carroll's safe return?
And there's a saying, good writers borrow, great writers steal. Did the best-selling author of "The Da Vinci Code" do either? And is there anything illegal about it anyway?
All that and more next on 360.
COOPER: Good evening.
Tonight, American men and women are not in the middle of a civil war in Iraq. And a person they may have to thank is a cleric who has fought against them.
ANNOUNCER: How did this man, a religious leader and a guy with his own heavily armed fighters get to be the best hope for avoiding civil war in Iraq, while at the same time turning up the heat on President Bush?
MUQTADA AL-SADR, MILITIA LEADER (through translator): Cut off the head of the snake. That's how to end all evil.
ANNOUNCER: Muqtada al-Sadr, radical cleric, militia leader, and now Iraq's best hope? 360 investigates.
Thousands of Katrina victims found shelter after the storm -- hotels, trailers. The fortunate few rebuilt. But tonight, the unthinkable. What about those still stranded in their crumbling homes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't have no other place to go.
ANNOUNCER: 360 investigates Katrina's forgotten victims.
And, is it a new part of "The Da Vinci Code" mystery?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "THE DA VINCI CODE": Witness the biggest cover-up in human history.
ANNOUNCER: A blockbuster movie in the pipeline, 40 million copies in print, and now allegations that the author stole his ideas. 360 investigates.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360.
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