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On Saturday night we flew to New Orleans for our third trip... this time to travel by Blackhawk helicopter with former President Bush on Sunday as he reviewed devastation in Louisiana.
I have posted many pictures from the trip — several need some explanation. For instance, in one picture you will see 12-year-old Tarun. Tarun's father owns a convenience store across from the live site and either our crew "adopted" Tarun or he "adopted" them. Bottom line is that he is helping out and everyone is quite fond of him. He now regularly wears a FOX News hat and can be heard racing to the satellite truck relaying messages from the live shot. Click on the links in the photo box above to check out Tarun's picture.
Because we arrived late, and because services in the city are limited, we had a hard time finding any place to eat. We walked a few blocks from our hotel to the French Quarter (search) looking for a place to eat and found a restaurant manager closing his restaurant. Feeling some sympathy for us — we were all starving and there was no other restaurant open in the immediate area that we could find — he reopened his kitchen and fed us. The restaurant is The Bourbon House (there are pictures of their sign, their Katrina menu, etc., posted.) I mention this since if you go to New Orleans (search), you must stop there to eat since they were so kind to us and have great food.
New Orleans sure looked different this third trip than it did shortly after the storm (our first trip.) There are streetlights and people around. Traffic can move. When we first were in New Orleans there after Katrina, there was water feet deep, downed wires and simply abandoned cars that blocked the traffic. New Orleans was pitch black at night and also so quiet that it was eerie and scary.
I did not go to the Ninth Ward or St. Bernard Parish this trip so I have no idea if those places still look as bad as they did when I first saw them. I suspect yes, but don't know. If you just rely on what you see in the area we were this weekend, you would have great hope the city of New Orleans will come back, will come back soon and also restore its great personality. New Orleans is a "one of a kind" city. I am mindful, however, that I was in a very small area (moving by foot) and that when you get out of the French Quarter things are probably dramatically different.
As we headed out of our hotel in search for food after checking in Saturday night, we ran into FOX News' Laura Ingle on the street. She was preparing to do a "hit" on the air so we waited for her to finish so that we could lure her to a late dinner with us. (There is a picture posted showing our FOX live site on the street.) Since she is the new Dallas bureau correspondent, this area will now be hers and she will probably be the main person reporting on the recovery of New Orleans and the Gulf States as time marches on. She moved to Dallas from Los Angeles recently but only insofar as to rent an apartment and give the movers her address. With Katrina and then Rita, she has not spent a night in her apartment but has been on the road — including a period of embed with the National Guard which meant sleeping in hangars, etc., and even sleeping one night at the New Orleans Airport in the baggage claim area. In short, never dull.
On Sunday morning we were up about 4:15 a.m. since we were to meet former President Bush 41 at 7 a.m. a short driving distance from New Orleans. He is prompt and of course we were not going to have him wait for us. We met him at a naval air base to take a helicopter ride to look at devastation in Louisiana. We rode for about an hour in the helicopter, landed, did a walk and talk interview as he checked out the area and a levee and then re-boarded to return. (Everyone asked me how former President Clinton looked and now some have asked me about former President Bush. I have one-word first impression thoughts when I saw them this time. I thought President Clinton looked tired — it was late in the day when I saw him — and my first thought about former President Bush was that he looked fit. Both were very nice and wanted to talk about their joint project to help restore the area.)
From the helicopter you could see much — still so much water and so much heartache. There were houses and boats on streets — obviously moved by Katrina and in places they simply do not belong. With all the destruction I could not help but be surprised at the death toll. It looks like the number would be worse since you see so many buildings destroyed.
It is now six weeks after the storm hit and much needs to be done — I realize this — but I am surprised at the visual progress. I am careful to say visual since a quick tour of a limited area of New Orleans does not tell it all. While it looked like progress, I did hear some grumbling. For instance I heard that some contractors say FEMA has not paid them yet. I have no idea if this is true or not... but if it is true, it suggests more problems ahead. The progress will stop.
The interview we did with former President Bush will air tonight at 10 p.m. ET. He talked about more than Katrina, which surprised me. I thought he would only want to talk about Katrina and he obviously had another thought or two on his mind. Going into the interview my intention was not to grill him about a huge array of topics but rather to discuss his current mission: to help the people hurt by Katrina. Of course I was interested in his other thoughts and I hope you will be, too.
I am glad that I took another trip to the area since I think it important that we do not forget that the people in the Gulf States need our help — all of our help. Likewise, many states have now opened their doors to the evacuees and I am sure it is not an easy transition for the evacuees. I hope we continue to help them. Imagine waking up one day and finding out everything you own — including your memories recorded in family pictures — destroyed and that you must suddenly start a new life over. It might be exciting for some but only when it is a matter of thought and choice — and not Mother Nature imposing it upon you.
Here is piece of information: FOX News contributor Susan Estrich has a new book out entitled, "The Case for Hilary Clinton." As I began reading it, I discovered that she has some fun with my colleague Laurie Dhue and me... we are unexpected "characters" in her book. If you are a political junkie and you are wondering how people are handicapping 2008 race, check this book out. This is not your ordinary political book and whether you support Senator Clinton or not, you will want to read this book.
Now for some of your e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
I think that there are too many young girls today who are very sexually appealing and dress provocatively and have too much freedom and money before they are old enough and responsible enough to handle these luxuries. Most probably, they give their parents a rough time. I can't help but feel that the mother of Taylor didn't approve of the affair she was having with a man 21 years her senior but a mother's hands become tied by a very attractive daughter who uses her physical attributes as her passport to anything she wants and the results of all this are often times sadly tragic as in this case and it'll probably and sadly continue.
E-mail No. 2
You are the most disgusting news person in the media. Don't worry about Adam, Shep, Bill or any of your other coworkers you just stay nice and cozy in your office and let everyone else put there life on the line for you to show "On the Record" go back and do what you do " it might be an attorney." Lord only knows that I would not pay you to defend me. You are a liability to the FOX News!
E-mail No. 3
We watched your show tonight and the pure gall of the Aruban prosecutor, if she may be called that, to say if the Holloway's don't like the manner in which the case has been handled they may make a complaint with the court of the country.
The complaint would be filed in the very venue that assisted three murderers to escape any charges in their daughter's death.
Please Greta, if Aruba wants to play hardball, let's boycott the island until it dries up and blows away. We are a nation of laws, we believe in the law and we trust the law. I'm tired of the Claudia Shiffer thumbing her nose at the U.S. and its legal system.
I think it's time to make a stand for the U.S. Lead the way, if I can help I will.
Thanks, and pass our love to the Holloways.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
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