Shocking Sight

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Check out the pictures that I have posted today. They are pictures of some of the devastated areas of New Orleans.

I was stunned by what I saw on Thursday. We have been here many times before, but it is never anything but shocking when you see it in person. Yes, the city is celebrating Mardi Gras, but the pictures show the city is suffering immensely from Hurricane Katrina. I had expected to see much improvement in New Orleans since our most recent trip on Dec. 19. But, alas, the city is still a horrible mess. Houses are uninhabitable, power is still out, no water, etc. Words can't describe the extent of the suffering. And yes, New Orleans is NOT the only place with huge problems.

We planned a good show for you Friday night. Our day starts shortly with an interview with the DA at his makeshift office, which we will show you tonight. I am told, but have not yet seen it, that his office is now in a club. Apparently Katrina ruined the DA's office — along with everything else — and the DA and his assistant DAs had to move to the club. If there is a disco ball (and I heard there is), I will make sure the "shooter" videotapes it for you. There are not many DA offices with a disco ball. Stay tuned....

Thursday night we reported on a part of this catastrophe that is not getting any (or enough) attention. There are not enough public defenders here in New Orleans to appoint to each indigent person arrested and charged with a crime. The Constitution demands/requires each accused have a lawyer, as well as a "speedy trial." If there are no lawyers to appoint, the accused will have to be released. If people accused of murder are released, it is not the judges going soft on crime. It is the judges being forced to follow the law, which is their job. If they don't follow the law and Constitution, they are violating their oaths and being "activist" judges — making up their own rules. The federal government or state government can fix this. It is not complicated or difficult to fix. I hope they don't wait for the first death or serious crime to fix this problem. Fix this now.

E-mail No. 8 and E-mail No. 9 below show you how overwhelming the problems continue to be. I wish we could cover every problem down here, but that is impossible. And worse, I worry that we get hurricane fatigue — each story blends into another, so that the impact is lost. It is difficult to figure out how best to convey this continuing national problem.

We have much more for you tonight from New Orleans, including Dan Aykroyd.

And for a little bad luck: When we travel, we often get a bit sleep deprived and spend time in all sorts of time zones. It is a bit easy to get confused about time, etc. Some of our phones automatically change the time noted on it when we move from time zone to time zone. Some — including my BlackBerry — do not.

I always worry that I will oversleep, so I have one of my traveling colleagues call me and make sure I am awake and ready to go. Well, this morning — very, very early — my BlackBerry went off. Messages started pouring in and awakened me. I read them to make sure I did not miss anything important, noted the time on the face of the BlackBerry and got up and had coffee.

When my colleague did not call to awaken me, I finally called her to make sure she was up. Yes, I woke her. She was still sleeping, since she is in great need of sleep as we all are on the road. What was rather disturbing and where my bad luck — and more so hers! — set in is when she mumbled, "What time is it?" I looked not at my BlackBerry this time, but the clock in the room. Ugh! It was an hour earlier than my BlackBerry said. I am in Central Time, not Eastern. I quickly told her to go back to sleep. I drank more coffee, wrote this blog and tried to figure out how to get out of this embarrassment. In about 15 minutes I have to face her in the lobby of the hotel. I am tempted to say she dreamed it. Yes, I am a dope and I hope she has a good sense of humor or it will be a long day.

Now for some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

It may depend on how your computer works... it worked on mine. Here's a tip that's very useful when trying to read small print. If you hold down the Ctrl key on your key board, then turn the small wheel in the middle of your mouse away from you or towards you, the print size will change — it will either get larger or smaller — depending on which way you turn the wheel. Might help with some of that too small font we sometimes see.
Greta, I am sending this just in case you are not aware of this handy tip.
I really love the way you keep on the Natalee story, personally I would like to have a big bruiser type have a little talk alone with each one of these three boys.
A faithful fan in Oregon,

E-mail No. 2

Hi Greta,
Really enjoyed your show tonight from New Orleans. I agree with you and the panel regarding letting the prisoners in New Orleans go free. Since you will be there tomorrow, is there any way you can contact Governor Blanco's office or some state legislators to find out how the state plans to resolve this issue? What does the ABA think about this?
New York, NY

E-mail No. 3

I was backing up files and hit the wrong button.
Please accept my apology.

E-mail No. 4

Hi Greta,
I watched your show from New Orleans and a thought occurred to me regarding the lack of lawyers available to give the criminal elements their days in court. Perhaps a "Lawyers Without Boarders" type of program could be designed for this very serious problem. States could provide an incentive for legal participation with such a program, in partnership with the state of Louisiana. The program would be temporary and relieve the Hugh burden on New Orleans by obtaining quick remedies for the simplest cases. Many states have asked how they can help. Well, why not get creative so that these criminals don't move into unsuspecting communities and victimize the innocent? Thanks for the neat show tonight,
Cora Miller
E. Alton, IL

E-mail No. 5

I am a Republican, but I totally disagree with President Bush on our seaports. What is he thinking and why?
B. Sutton
Chandler, AZ

E-mail No. 6

If you want to go to Mardi Gras — fine, take a couple of days off. The noise in the background is the most irritating thing I've seen or heard all day!

E-mail No. 7

Thank you for being aware that we in Louisiana are not getting the help we need from the government. Also when senators and others visit Louisiana, they never come to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Slidell, which is about six or seven miles from the lake, had 8 feet of water in the middle of town. The south side of Slidell has almost been deserted because of flooding and wind damage.
How about coming to Slidell on your next visit to Louisiana?
Enjoy your news program,
Wesley M. Carroll

E-mail No. 8

I am a resident of Chalmette and I am writing to ask you to please visit St. Bernard while you are down in the New Orleans area. Our little parish needs as much media attention as possible. We had no media attention the whole time the storm was happening and our whole parish was underwater — 27,000 houses underwater. Competely underwater. My sister in law died on her rooftop waiting to be rescued. There are many more people that have this same story. Our parish is not moving fast enough in rebuilding and I am afraid that less and less people will come back. The more that time goes by, the more likely people will be to settle and start a new life someplace else. Our town needs more federal help and we need the publicity. Won't you help us get it in any way you can? Please come here and get a true feeling for St. Bernard. New Orleans is doing so much better and didn't get the "whole" town wiped out like we did, so New Orleans on a whole is coming along as if things are almost back to normal for the most part.
I know if anyone can do it, you can!
My house, on top of having seven feet of water in it, (and the water stayed in for two and a half weeks) we also got oil in the house from the Murphy oil spill. Just passing along two videos for you to see and just an example of what our parish went through. Please, please help us. This may be our change at getting some help through the media.
Kelly Theard

E-mail No. 9

I'm from right outside the New Orleans area — St. Bernard Parish. Why don't you go down there and see the devastation there. I am so sick and tired of the media only focusing on New Orleans. You have seen the 9th Ward in New Orleans. St. Bernard is just as bad or worse. There were 66,000 people living in St. Bernard before Katrina. The only person that I see who reports on St. Bernard is Anderson Cooper. I'm so glad that someone cares about us. Or why can't you do a program on FEMA and how they are not helping the people. It's been six longs months and I still have not got a grant to rebuild. There are so many people who are waiting on FEMA so that we can get our lives back together.
From the New Orleans area — St. Bernard Parish to be exact

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