Dr. Phil McGraw just returned from New Orleans, where he helped counsel some of the rescue workers, and to film a special episode of his talk show entitled "Rescuing The Rescuers."
"I was proud to have a shoulder for the chief to cry on," Dr. Phil told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith about his meeting with New Orleans Chief of Police Edwin Compass. "This is a powerful man, a powerful leader. He loves these people."
After touring New Orleans on a boat, Dr. Phil met with Compass and hugged him for close to five minutes. It was the chief of police and Red Cross officials who invited Dr. Phil to counsel rescue workers.
"It's worse than it looks," Dr. Phil says. "What you miss on television is the smell. You miss the heat. You miss the wilting humidity. And all of those things together make these rescue workers so tired. They're heroes, and my fear is that they're not getting the attention that they need to sustain themselves through this."
On his tour, Dr. Phil was taken to a very poor section of town where at least two feet of water/sludge still was present and there still were a number of people who wanted to stay in their homes. Dr. Phil walked up and knocked on doors, convincing a number of them to leave with rescue workers.
Explaining what rescue workers are facing every day, Dr. Phil says, "I went through in air boats, in some of the neighborhoods, and we're just going by bodies that have not been recovered yet, floating in the water. And these folks are traumatized by this."
Compounding that, Dr. Phil notes, 70 percent to 80 percent of police and fire department workers have lost their homes. "They've had to send their spouses and children away because the city is closed," he explains. "There are no schools; there is no safe place to be, no drinkable water or electricity to most of the neighborhoods. Most of the town is under water. So they're separated from their families. They have to pay for them to live somewhere else. They still have to pay their mortgages in New Orleans. And they're sleeping in cars.
"We went to one home where 25 officers were sleeping in a home that was dry because two officers, David and Becky, opened their home to these people. They're just stacked in there, side by side. Working 20-hour days."
As has been reported, two New Orleans cops committed suicide after the hurricane and hundreds have simply. These workers have been under a great deal of stress, says Dr. Phil, who had a group meeting in that house.
"They're absolutely hurting," he stresses. "I said, 'How many of you will just be sitting at a curb filling out something on a house, or sitting in a boat by yourself and you just look up and realize you're crying?' And they all kind of started looking at the ground. When an officer comes up, you start hiding it. They all said the same thing. I said what you've got to do is talk about this."
Help is available, Dr. Phil points out. The American Psychological Association has a disaster relief network that is ready to help everyone, not just the evacuees.
He says, "I think you'll see psychologists coast to coast and border to border stepping up and volunteering to go into New Orleans as well as to work with evacuees around the country. They were greatly heartened when NYPD shows up on the scene; LAPD shows up, Dallas P.D. shows up. They see their fellow officers saying we're here for you and will help you. Makes a huge difference to them."
And he is happy to report that he saw positive things happening during his tour.
"New Orleans is coming back," Dr. Phil says. "There are three hospitals down there that are open; they're running, full; they've got beds available; they're doing acute care."
And he says health workers asked him to tell the chief of police that the hospital is open for officers to stay overnight.
"'If they need a place to sleep with some air conditioning, some cold water, a hot shower, we've got an empty bed, all they got to do is show up here,'" is what Dr. Phil says he was told. "People are working together and pulling together down there. But they need help."
Dr. Phil will be on The Early Show again Tuesday to discuss how to begin rebuilding lives after Katrina, and on Wednesday he'll offer a sneak peek at the new season of his show.
"Dr. Phil" show and CBSNews.com have the same parent company, Viacom, Inc.