Reporter's Notebook:The Search for Bodies

Adam Housley
Saturday, Sept. 10:

They tap the sidewalks with white canes. The sticks normally used by the visually-impaired, in this case sweep to the left and to the right looking for any obstacles that might reside under the coffee-colored two-foot waters. There are eight men total: one weilds an axe, another a crowbar, still another a sledgehamer. Their mission? To search each and every home and there are a lot.

At each door they first knock, then try to open it. If it fails to yield, the Los Angeles Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue Team then storms in.

At the green house on the corner of Paris Avenue, the team tries the door, but to no avail. The barred screen door also seems imposing. They instead take the sledge, break the glass, they pry the bars from the window with the crowbar. The axe helps knock a hole big enough for the first of two rescuers to climb through. Outside the others provide support, while a soldier with the 82nd Airborne, his red beret perfectly positioned atop his head, his gun ready to raise on a moment's notice.

In this home, no bodies. In fact, this California tactical team has found only two: An elderly couple trapped in the attic with their dog. On the outside of their home they had hung a help sign, but rescuers came too late.

Once found, each body is entered into a GPS database, then when this entire neighborhood is checked, a team will come in and conduct the grim task of removing the bodies. In these first days, the numbers appear much lower than the mayor's projection of 10,000.

Now that the green home on the same street that leads to the Jazzfest grounds has been checked, the soldiers climb back into reality. The waters have dropped nearly three feet here, but garbage, cars, boats and sludge smears the once tree-lined streets.

The final task is the X. Rescuers spray paint an orange X. In the left piece of the pie, the agency; at the top, the date. To the right, they list any obstacles as a warning to anyone who might eventually enter this home. Finally at the bottom the sign, they indicate the total number of dead. In this home, no DB's. But one D-K9. This is the reality.

Adam Housley joined FOX News Channel in 2001 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent. He is currently reporting on the Hurricane Katrina disaster from New Orleans.

Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.