Katrina Disaster Blog: Sept. 6

Leonard Thomas, 23, cries after a SWAT team burst into the flooded home he and his family were living in on Monday, Sept. 5, 2005 in New Orleans, La. Neighbors had reported that they were squatting in the house in the wake of Hurricane Katrina but the authorities left after his family proved they owned the house. Some rescuers are not taking any more food and water to those who have decided to stay in an effort to force them out. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
This is a running list compiled by CBSNews.com staffers of the latest developments in the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

10:19 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) Internal documents show the government's disaster chief waited roughly five hours after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast before asking Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff to dispatch a thousand agency employees to the region. And the documents show they were given two days to arrive.

In a memo to Chertoff, Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims.

9:20 p.m.
St. Petersburg, Fla.(AP) — A reporter for the St. Petersburg Times newspaper was shot and wounded while covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Baton Rouge, La., the newspaper said Tuesday.

Marcus Franklin, 34, was shot on Monday night. He was released after being treated at the Baton Rouge General Hospital. Doctors decided that removing the bullet was too risky, the newspaper said.

Franklin had been reporting on evacuees returning to their homes in Jefferson Parish near New Orleans. He said he was on his way back to his motel in Baton Rouge at 11:30 p.m. when he stopped at a stop sign at a dimly lit intersection in a residential area when he was shot.

9:10 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Jackson has written a song to help raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and will soon record it.

Tentatively titled, "From the Bottom of My Heart," the singer plans to ask other musicians to join him in recording it, his spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain, said Tuesday.

Jackson hopes to record the song within two weeks in the style of "We Are the World," which he co-wrote and produced in 1985 to raise money for famine relief efforts in Africa.

9:04 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Four people may have died of a waterborne bacterial infection circulating in Hurricane Katrina's flood waters, and health officials took steps Tuesday to stem spread of a diarrhea-causing virus among refugees in Houston's Astrodome.

The deaths appear to have been caused by Vibrio vulnificus, a germ common in warm Gulf Coast waters that's usually spread by eating contaminated food but that can penetrate open wounds, too. The deaths — one a hurricane refugee evacuated to Texas, the other three in Mississippi — were attributed to wound infections, said Tom Skinner, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which received the reports from officials in the two states.

8:42 p.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CBS/AP) — A Hurricane Katrina refugee attempted suicide aboard a flight bound for Washington, D.C.

The United Express originated in Houston, Texas, and was diverted to Nashville.

A captain with the 118th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard says the flight had eight evacuees on board.

CBS News reports that Airport Police Captain Steve Heim confirmed the man was a Katrina evacuee, and used a razor blade to inflict wounds. The man is being hospitalized and charges are pending.

The passenger who attempted suicide was taken to a hospital. Officials say that at the pilot's request, all passengers underwent a second security screening before the flight was resumed.

7:18 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Doctors offered by Cuba to help attend Katrina's victims probably won't be needed because the supply of U.S. physicians is adequate, the State Department suggested Tuesday.

Officially, the U.S. is undecided about the offer by Cuban President Fidel Castro, with whom the United States lacks full diplomatic relations. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack held open the possibility that the offer could be acted on if the need grew.

About 12,000 U.S. medical professionals have volunteered for duty in the affected areas. An appeal for help from the Department of Health and Human Services "has seen a robust response from the American medical community," McCormack said.

5:29 p.m.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Coordination of hundreds of federal lawsuits over Merck & Co.'s withdrawn painkiller Vioxx is being moved to Houston from New Orleans, at least temporarily, because of the devastation there from Hurricane Katrina.

The judge overseeing the massive litigation, U.S. District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon, and a handful of his staff members have already moved into temporary quarters in the federal courthouse in Houston, a law clerk for Fallon told The Associated Press late Tuesday.

4:09 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the U.S. military can handle two formidable tasks at hand: fighting the war on terror and helping victims of Hurricane Katrina.

At a news conference today, Rumsfeld says there's no question that the U.S. has "the forces, the capability and the intention" to respond to needs at home and abroad. In his words, "We can and will do both."

Pentagon officials say more than 58,000 active duty and National Guard personnel are in the area affected by Katrina. Rumsfeld says there are also more than 300,000 Air and Army National Guard personnel available to help if needed.

3:05 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush intends to seek $40 billion to cover the next phase of relief and recovery operations from Hurricane Katrina, a congressional official said Tuesday as leading lawmakers and the White House pledged to investigate an initial federal response widely condemned as woefully inadequate.

One week after the storm spread death and destruction across a swath of the Gulf Coast, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the total tab for the federal government may top $150 billion.

Stung by the criticism, Bush invited congressional leaders to the White House for an afternoon meeting, their first since the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast and left much of New Orleans underwater.

2:42 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The mayor of New Orleans says 60 percent of the city is under water. And that's an improvement from last week, when the figure was 80 percent.

A break in a major levee has been plugged, and crews are starting to pump the water out.

Mayor Ray Nagin says he's seeing "significant progress." He says it will take three weeks to remove all the water.

1:13 p.m.
CAPITOL HILL (AP) — Congress is promising to hold hearings as it conducts its own investigation into the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. Sen. Susan Collins says "government at all levels failed." The Republican from Maine says it's difficult to understand the ineffective response to a disaster that had been warned about for years. Congress has formally returned today from a five-week summer break, with lawmakers signaling that hurricane relief efforts will be a top priority in the weeks ahead.

12:40 p.m.
NEW YORK (CBS) — The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that approximately 100,000 articles of children's, women's and men's clothing seized for counterfeiting violations of trademark laws are being donated to the hurricane evacuees sheltered at the Houston Astrodome. Included are polos, jeans, blouses, slacks and jackets, which are set to arrive at 2 p.m. in a convoy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection trucks. CBP spokespeople could not immediately find which brands or companies agreed to donate their seized clothing to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but CBP spokeswoman Paula Keicer told CBSNews.com that bulk seized items aren't usually donated; they are typically destroyed.

12:32 p.m.
WHITE HOUSE (AP) — President Bush says he'll lead an investigation into what went wrong — and why — as the federal government responded to Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Bush told reporters today he's also sending Vice President Dick Cheney to the Gulf Coast region on Thursday, to help find out if the government is doing all it can.

President Bush says the investigation is partly aimed at making sure the country could withstand more storms, or an attack. He said, "We still live in an unsettled world."

11:52 a.m.
(CBS) — Immediately after a White House Cabinet meeting Tuesday morning, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said approximately 200 FBI agents are working in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf region. He said the Department of Justice is "throwing every available body" into work there. The department will be "monitoring crime rates" and trying to figure out "how to help long-term," he said.

11:40 a.m.
(CBS) — The State Department has now received offers of assistance from 94 countries and international organizations, CBS News reports. Among the most recent international aid to arrive were three flights of ready-to-eat meals from Germany. Italy sent a plane loaded with MREs and medical supplies.

In addition, new pledges of aid include:

  • The Maldives — $25,000 to the Red Cross
  • Albania — $300,000 to the Red Cross
  • Ireland — $1 million to the Red Cross
  • Yemen — $ 100,000 to the Red Cross
  • Czech Republic — relief supplies and medical teams

    11:32 a.m.
    (CBS) — A State Department team has arrived in New Orleans hoping to gain access to the a high rise building on Canal Street. Meanwhile, there have been inquiries into about 700 to 800 missing foreigners. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged any foreigners in the disaster zone to contact their embassies or consulates or to check in with the American Red Cross.

    11:13 a.m.
    AUSTIN, Texas (CBS/AP) — The trip out of New Orleans has been no cruise for the evacuees, and they don't want it to be, either. Some Hurricane Katrina refugees in Texas have balked at the prospect of trading the Houston Astrodome for a cruise ship, forcing officials to postpone a plan to move them. Officials of the Hurricane Katrina Houston Response delayed the cruise ship plan, saying some people just want to stay where they are to concentrate on finding lost loved ones. Others indicated another move right now would just be too much.

    10:59 a.m.
    Watch for a special edition of CBS News' 48 Hours tonight at 8 p.m. The program, Disaster in the Delta, explores what went wrong and why it took so long to rescue tens of thousands of people. Reporting for this special will be CBS News correspondents John Roberts, Lee Cowan, Trish Regan, Peter Van Sant, Bill Whitaker and Richard Schlesinger.

    10:13 a.m.
    (CBS) — The BBC reports that a Web site is being used to unite families after missing children were separated from their parents by Hurricane Katrina. The U.S. Department of Justice asked the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to set up a process to find and reunite those caught up across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

    "Photos, names, and descriptions of missing adults, children, as well as relocated children, are being posted to the website," the BBC reports.

    9:26 a.m.
    (CBS) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this morning there will be plenty of time to focus on the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina but that now it is time to move forward with the relief effort. Rice also urged any foreigners who were in the area when Katrina hit to contact their embassies and consulates in the United States or to check in with the American Red Cross.

    9:14 a.m.
    (CBS/AP) — As thousands of Gulf State residents cope with destroyed houses and struggle to find food, people across the United States say one incident published in newspapers and online and seen on TV touched them. People everywhere are trying to help reunite a young New Orleans boy with his dog, Snowball. The story of the tearful boy torn from his dog by an official while being shuttled to safety last week prompted an outpouring from around the country.

    Volunteers have been scouring shelters, posting notes on the Internet and making phone calls. The head of the Louisiana SPCA says "Everyone wants to know about Snowball."

    8:45 a.m.
    (CBS) — Hurricane Katrina delivered fear and anxiety to many, but a particular vulnerability has hit noncitizens, many of whom are unsure if their legal status is in jeopardy. The New York Times reports that immigrants are worried about losing their visas by leaving the country temporarily and that other jobs will not accept them without citizenship. For example, the Times spoke with Bran Dize, a prep cook from Spanish Town, Jamaica, who said his guest-worker visa requires him to work at the Beau Rivage casino, which the hurricane might have destroyed.

    Another issue: "The Mexican government has opened two mobile consulates in the affected areas, one in Mobile, Ala., and the other in Baton Rouge, La., to begin looking for tens of thousands of their citizens reported missing," the Times writes.

    7:37 a.m.
    HOUSTON (AP) — Former first lady Barbara Bush is getting attention for some of the comments she made about New Orleans evacuees who are now in Houston. In an interview with the American Public Media program "Marketplace," she said the relocation is "working very well" for some of those forced out of New Orleans. She noted that many of the people at the Astrodome were "underprivileged anyway." Her comments came as former Presidents Bush and Clinton visited with hundreds of storm victims and announced the creation of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.

    7:21 a.m.
    NEW YORK (AP) — The families of 9/11 victims are reaching out to hurricane survivors, even as they prepare to mark the fourth anniversary of the attacks. The relatives of one firefighter say they plan to create the "Nine-Eleven Families for Katrina Relief Fund" this week. Another group may join forces with charitable institutions to start a relief drive.

    7:10 a.m.
    (CBS) — Two of the major relief effort charities for Hurricane Katrina have received pledges and donations totaling nearly a half-billion dollars. As of Monday evening, the American Red Cross has been given and pledged $409 million. The Salvation Army, as of Monday afternoon, received $47 million.

    12:05 a.m.
    COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — Habitat for Humanity is laying the groundwork for its largest construction project yet, a blitz build of thousands of homes along the Gulf Coast for people left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.

    "Operation Home Delivery" is expected to start later this month in Jackson, Miss., where volunteers will assemble housing frames and put them on trucks bound for Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. About 30 volunteers per house will then do a blitz build, constructing each house in about a week. More than $450,000 in donations have already poured in for the project, which will likely take years.

    "Hurricane Katrina may be second only to the Asian tsunami in the amount of devastation, destruction and human suffering," said former President Jimmy Carter, who has volunteered with Habitat for over 20 years. "And just as with the tsunami, unprecedented destruction and suffering calls for an outpouring of generous response."

    Read previous Katrina Disaster Blogs:
    Sept. 5, Sept. 4, Sept. 3, Sept. 2, Sept. 1, Aug. 31