‘Where’s Walter Cronkite?’

A quote from Senator Mary Landrieu‘s speech yesterday regarding Hurricane Katrina and the failed response: “I want to say a special word of thanks personally to Ted Koppel for the beautiful piece he did last night, because I haven’t been able to watch much television myself, but I got to see his piece. And we need journalists like that. I kept thinking, where’s Walter Cronkite, and all I had was Geraldo Rivera.”

Koppel, if you remember, has been embedded with an Army unit this week. The Nightline email explaining the Wednesday broadcast is after the jump.

Holding Onto Their Homes

Sept. 7, 2005 —

The mayor of New Orleans issued an order for all remaining residents to evacuate the city. Last night, he gave authority to the military and police units on the ground to begin to remove people by force. It’s a tricky mission. Ted Koppel is on the ground with a Special Forces unit tasked with carrying out the order.

There’s this street in the French Quarter of New Orleans called Desire. It was the steamy, gritty setting for Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Well, today that street was a different kind of stage. It featured its residents refusing to leave their homes. The mayor ordered them out and Ted Koppel spent the day with a Special Forces unit charged with getting them out. They say they have enough food, water, even pinot noir (in one case.) They won’t leave because if they do, they fear what will happen to their homes.

And a story we were hoping to bring you Tuesday night: While the scale of the human catastrophe continues to overwhelm us every day, there is no story more heartbreaking than that of families torn apart during the evacuation. Parents separated from children, husbands separated from wives — all with the seemingly impossible task of tracking down each other. “Nightline” correspondent Michel Martin has spent the week at the Houston Astrodome, home to thousands of evacuees from the hurricane zone. Martin tracked some of the evacuees to see just how they went about finding a missing relative — although we live in the age of the Internet and cell phones, it’s been a remarkably difficult thing to do.

Gerry Holmes and the “Nightline” Staff
Senior Producer
ABC News Washington Bureau