Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says that the Bush administration is doing everything humanly possible to restore order, but that refugees outside the Superdome can't expect food and supplies when there are "feet of water" in the city -- they are limited by the "situation on the ground".
Then he turns around and says that the refugees in New Orleans should somehow make their way to official "distribution centers" and "designated staging areas" to get supplies.
NPR's John Burnett reports that the refugees at the New Orleans convention center are "living like animals" and relying on food and water distributed by looters.
UPDATE: Partial transcription via Think Progress
Robert Siegel: We are hearing from our reporter, heÂs on another line right now, thousands of people at the convention center in New Orleans with no food, zero.Maybe that is because the Homeland Security Secretary has spent the whole day in front of a micrdesperatelyparately trying to convince the American people that the Bush administration is "doing everything humanly possible", instead of actually managing the rescue and recovery of New Orleans.
Chertoff: As I said, IÂm telling you we are getting food and water to areas where people are staging. The one about an episode like this is if you talk to someone or you get a rumor or an anecdotal version of something I think itÂs dangerous to extrapolate it all over the place.
Robert Siegel: But Mr. Secretary when you say we shouldnÂt listen to rumors. These are things coming from reporters who have not only covered many many other hurricanes, theyÂve covered wars and refugee camps. These arenÂt rumors, they are saying there are thousands of people there.
Chertoff: I would beÂ I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who donÂt have food and water.