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 » Rebuilding  |  Landmarks  | Storm & Flood  |  Special report

National Guard treats thousands at Superdome

Editor's Note: CNN correspondents report back on what they are seeing in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities hit by Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Phil McGraw and Deepak Chopra discuss healing after Katrina, "Larry King Live," 9 p.m. ET.

Military personnel moved by suffering

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CNN's Soledad O'Brien reporting from New Orleans.

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Posted: 4:55 p.m. ET
CNN's Soledad O'Brien in New Orleans, Louisiana

We spent the day with the Texas Air National Guard in New Orleans. One thing that struck me is how deeply affected the members of the military are by what they're seeing.

We talked to men and women, some of whom have been in the military for decades, some who are new. All expressed how horrific it is. We sat down and talked to a medic who, with two colleagues, treated literally thousands of people today as they filed out of the Superdome.

This medic has been to Baghdad and seen people decapitated. But he said this is so much worse because it is so disorganized and because it is on American soil. His official orders said to prepare for 20 percent of the people he treats to not make it. They didn't lose anyone today. They showed true heroism.

In order to leave the Superdome, the evacuees were marched by the thousands through an area that is actually a mall. It was a jarring scene. You are witnessing an evacuation and people living in sewage and filth and the stench of urine in the air, and the backdrop is the Gap, it is the food court, it is the Macy's.

Mississippi picking up the pieces

Posted: 12:14 p.m. ET
CNN's Ted Rowlands in Gulfport, Mississippi

There is not much left of St. Mark's church. About 100 church members joined the bishop of Mississippi for about an hour long service here. There were a lot of tears and even the reverend broke down at one point talking about the church that had been lost.

This is being played out across the Mississippi Gulf Coast today. For a lot of people, this is the first time to come together with neighbors and in this case church members they hadn't seen since the disaster and sharing stories of survival. Some of these people evacuated, some rode out the storm here and survived.

There's been property loss but also a lot of lives lost in this region. That's the theme the church has gone with, the people are still here, the church is gone and the mood in the Mississippi area is still down.

Mississippi Gulf Coast is a few steps beyond where New Orleans is, but they're still picking up bodies and they still haven't started the real reconstruction. It will take months possibly years before these people have homes to go back to and until life goes back to normal and churches like St. Mark's have normal Sunday services.

'The priority is the living'

Posted: 12:09 ET
CNN's Jeff Koinange, Canal Street, New Orleans

It is filthy. It is dirty. There is garbage everywhere. It's probably mixed with sewage at some point. This is a recipe for every water-borne disease you can think of. This is what will make people sick. The authorities were smart in getting people out of here. They don't want people to get sick from this. This water, I cannot tell you how dirty and filthy and smelly it is and there's mounds of garbage everywhere, so when you combine the water with the garbage and this baking sun, this is not good at all.

There are quite a few people. In fact, the authorities keep going around and looking for people on their horns, on their megaphones asking people to come out of the apartments, those who can but a lot of them are holed out. They think they can hold out and hopefully the water will recede and the authorities will drain the water out. It won't happen for awhile. They've been living without food, electricity. I don't know how they're doing it but they're adamant about staying in their city rather than being sustain to another state because they don't know when they'll be able to come back. I haven't seen bodies but I can smell the putrid smell of dead bodies. I know that from everywhere. From the convention center to this morning when you were walking about you can smell the dead bodies. You know they are there. We've ask several authorities why aren't they taking care of body bags and getting them out of here to avoid disease. They said the priority is the living and that's what they want to take care of first.

'It's fascinating'

Posted: 9:37 a.m. ET
CNN's Ed Lavandera at the New Orleans Airport

It's amazing after for days of seeing helicopters buzzing and swirling over the city, things have really slowed down. And overnight, the thousands of people who were still here at New Orleans Airport waiting for flights out, have disappeared. The cleanup process is now underway at the airport. There were thousands and thousands of people who were being dropped off here every day, some getting medical attention, others making long lines camped out all over the airport grounds here. It turned into an amazing site here at the airport. Virtually overnight, the officials here have moved everyone out. It's fascinating.

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