Harry Connick Jr., who grew up in New Orleans, pleaded with Americans to “be kind to these people” after touring the hurricane-ravaged city on Thursday.
In an interview Friday on NBC’s “Today” show, a visibly shaken Connick recounts the devastation he witnessed throughout the city, including the besieged convention center.
“This is sad, man. It's pathetic,” Connick said. “It feels as hopeless as it's going to get. ... Be kind to these people. Just be kind to these people.”
Connick said he witnessed babies suffering from dehydration and a man having a seizure at the convention center and wondered why it was taking so long for officials to get needed supplies to the city.
“How hard it is to take a helicopter or a truck ... it's easy to get to the convention center, we got there with no problem ... how hard is it to take a truck with water or food for these people. I don't understand,” Connick said in an interview ith “Today” host Katie Couric.
“They told these people to go to the convention center for help and it's been five days. It's unbearable,” Connick said. He said that while he was at the convention center on Thursday he saw no water or food being distributed to the victims.
Connick was born and raised in New Orleans, developing his music in jazz bands and at clubs in the French Quarter. His father, Harry Connick Sr., served as district attorney of New Orleans for 29 years before retiring in 2003.
“Everything that I have professionally, and so much of what I have personally, is because of this great, fair city,” Connick said. “And to see it being drowned like this is almost unbearable.”
He will join a televised fundraiser, “A Concert for Hurricane Relief,” Friday on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC (8 p.m. ET) that also will include performances by Wynton Marsalis, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Aaron Neville.
In a posting on his Web site, Connick said he knew his immediate family was safe, but hadn’t yet heard from other family and friends.
“It is hard to sit in silence, to watch one’s youth wash away,” the statement said. “New Orleans is my essence, my soul, my muse, and I can only dream that one day she will recapture her glory.”