Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Missouri Storms; Walter Reed Fallout; Post-Katrina Check-Up

Aired March 1, 2007 - 14:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there, everybody. I'm T.J. Holmes, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

It is March madness for meteorologists as the month kicks off with vicious weather.

From the CNN severe weather to tempest-tossed towns, we're tracking a monster front as it heads east.

Are you in the path of destruction, perhaps? Take cover.

You're in the NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: March has roared in like the proverbial lion. A huge storm that could affect millions of us is working its way across the nation, bringing heavy snow to the north, tornadoes and other severe weather farther south. A suspected tornado destroyed a mobile home in Caulfield, Missouri, killing a 7-year-old girl.

Our Reynolds Wolf, as you see there, he's in our CNN weather center. He's going to tell us about the watches and warnings that are in effect for a wide area. Also watching reports from our affiliates so we can keep you up to the minute on where the storm has been, where the storm is now, and where that storm is going next.

It's pounding the Midwest. It's moving to the east.

Reynolds Wolf, standing by, kind of taking the baton now from some of the other fellows who have been here all morning working hard on this stuff.


WHITFIELD: A 7-year-old girl was killed in southern Missouri when a tornado hit her family's mobile home. Her father, mother and two brothers were hurt. The storm also destroyed a gas station.

Reporter Sara Sheffield of CNN affiliate KYTV reports from Caulfield, Missouri.


PEGGY JARVIS, JARVIS STATION: This was the garage part, and you can see that all of the blocked walls -- this was enclosed, had the enclosed door here. And it pretty well took all of the building, except the blocks that is on the main store.

SARA SHEFFIELD, REPORTER, KYTV (voice over): Peggy Jarvis built this business from the ground up. It's been in the family for three generations. And at 6:30 this morning, years of hard work were wiped out.

JARVIS: I never thought this building, I'd see it blown down, no. It has been here all these years, and when I heard it was flattened and blown away, I couldn't believe it.

SHEFFIELD: Mother Nature left the shelves untouched, but the walls and roofs lie in shambles. And the usual crowd is here, but today they are on a different mission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where everybody came, and everybody always went right here.


WHITFIELD: And that was Sara Sheffield of CNN affiliate KYTV.

Several other buildings near the gas station were also damaged.

HOLMES: And CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

And Jacqui, I would assume they've got some predicting to do.

Uh-oh. It looks like -- Jacqui, are you with me?

Well, if you can't...

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: T.J., I'm having a hard time hearing you.

HOLMES: All right. You go ahead. You just go right ahead.

JERAS: I'm having a hard time hearing you, so sorry about that.

But what I will tell you is one of the biggest concerns that we're dealing with right now at NOAA Storm Prediction Center is that situation that's going on across southern parts of Mississippi, into southern Alabama. The Florida Panhandle kind of clearing out right now, but still that threat could linger later on today.

Over here we have our lead forecaster. This is Jack Hales (ph). He's watching the situation. There you can see the radar returns. He's got his computer models over here, watching what we're expecting over the next couple of hours.

And what hasn't even happened yet is that we haven't reached the peak of daytime heating. It's 1:00 Central, 2:00 Eastern Time. As those temperatures continue to heat up into the afternoon hours, we could really see things explode, especially we'll be watching that threat move from eastern parts of Alabama and then on into Georgia.

So that's the biggest concern at this hour. Possibly more information coming in focusing on Georgia in the next couple of hours.

We're monitoring also the situation here. A tornado warning was just canceled right there, it looks like. Or part of the weather watch was just canceled.

Any time a warning comes in, any time a damage report comes in, any time a watch is issued, this will automatically update and retrieve that information to us. So, still, we are just getting maybe in the middle of this severe weather situation.

As we continue to get more information, we're going to pass that along to you guys. So, Alabama, also parts of Georgia, that will be the focus as we head into the rest of the afternoon hours.

Back to you.

HOLMES: All right, Jacqui. Thank you very much. And you said a lot of that focus is going to be on Alabama. We're going to focus on that right now, specifically Rucker, Alabama, where our Jamie McIntyre is on the road for us.

And Jamie, tell me what's happening there in Fort Rucker.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm at the U.S. Army Helicopter School in Ft. Rucker, Alabama. We're doing a story about helicopter pilot training, and you can probably hear the siren. It just picked up again in the background.


MCINTYRE: That's the tornado warning, that a tornado has been spotted, they say, about 15 miles from here, at a nearby Army base. So everybody on the base here is being instructed to take cover.

The helicopters are not flying today because of the weather. They have all been secured, chained down on the tarmac. But because of the dangerous weather conditions, people here at Ft. Rucker school are taking cover.

Again, as you can hear, the siren warning everybody that they are going to have to stay in a secure area until they get the all-clear.

HOLMES: All right. Jamie, thank you. And that is certainly something to hear those sirens going off like that.

And our Reynolds Wolf -- Reynolds, you hear the sirens going off like the rest of us. We're going to keep talking to Jamie, but let's bring you in for a second and let us know, how long should we expect those sirens to go off? How long are they going to be under the gun right there in Fort...

REYNOLDS WOLF, METEOROLOGIST: I would say they would be -- T.J., I would think they would be on and off through much of the afternoon and evening. And I'll tell you personally, that's music to my ears. I love hearing that, not because it's a great thing to hear, but to know that those things are working. HOLMES: It's working, yes.

WOLF: Absolutely. So, the sound is getting out.


HOLMES: We now want to head over to the Pentagon again, to our Kathleen Koch, where we are getting word about the fallout from the Walter Reed Medical Center and some of the horrible conditions there that some of the young men and women coming back from war are dealing with.

And Kathleen, you said to us earlier we knew heads were going to roll. And we're starting to see them roll.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We certainly are. The commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Major General George Weightman, has been relieved of command. That effective at 10:00 a.m. this morning.

The Army put out a press release on it saying that the decision has been under consideration for the last several days, but that the final decision was made yesterday. And I'll read from the press release.

It says that Weightman was informed this morning "... that the senior Army leadership had lost trust and confidence in the commander's leadership abilities to address needed solutions for soldier-patient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center." Now, it goes on to say that the current Army surgeon general, Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, will take over command temporarily.

Now, this obviously the apparently outrageous conditions at some -- at least one of the outpatient facilities there at Walter Reed, and then the administrative hurdles that so many of the outpatients were facing there. This really has caused quite a furor across the country, and certainly on Capitol Hill.

It came up in several hearings here in Washington today. Many lawmakers saying these kind of conditions and the -- just obstacles that seemed to exist before so many of these traumatized, very seriously injured soldiers, that this just -- this cannot stand, that this cannot be allowed to continue.

It's important to point out that some administrative actions have already been taken against lower-level officials involved at Walter Reed, but this is the first major action against a high-level official.

Back to you.

HOLMES: All right. Kathleen, we probably certainly have not seen the last of this.

KOCH: Certainly have not.

HOLMES: Thank you so much, Kathleen.

KOCH: You bet.

WHITFIELD: And really, we're just starting to see the beginning of some very severe weather that's sweeping across the southeast. We're keeping a close watch on it from the severe weather center. Our Reynolds Wolf is, and the rest of the team. We'll rejoin him when we come right back here in the NEWSROOM.

Meanwhile, returning to the scene of the crisis. President Bush checks in on the Gulf Coast for a status report on hurricane recovery.

Details straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: All right. We've got our -- our Reynolds Wolf is keeping an eye on all of this weather for us. We got warnings and watches happening all across the southeast.


HOLMES: Sirens we heard live here. Our Jamie McIntyre has been -- has been in Fort Rucker, actually, Alabama, where you can hear those sirens going off.

And reynolds, we'll check in with you now to talk about that area and what's happening where we heard our Jamie McIntyre.


HOLMES: All right, Reynolds. Thank you so much for keeping us up to date. Literally the moment you're getting the information, we get it out there to the viewers. So thank you so much for that.

We're going to have a whole lot more on that severe weather as it literally comes in moment by moment. And we're going to have that when we come back here at your severe weather headquarters.

Stay here.

CNN, the most trusted name in news.


HOLMES: Take a look here. This is what all eyes and our severe weather department are on right now. That huge blot in the middle of your screen there, that red area, that is Enterprise, Alabama, where we have literally just moments ago got word of a tornado on the ground.

People need to seek shelter right now. This is not one of those things where you just -- you don't need to stick around and figure out what's going on and if it's outside your window. You need to seek shelter right now.

A tornado being reported on the ground there. We have all of our eyes, all of our resources on the ground in the southeast, and also in our severe weather center here, keeping an eye on just really an outbreak of storms hitting the southeast, and many of them severe. But we will have the very latest, continue to bring you the updates about when and where this is happening and when you certainly need to seek shelter.

But Enterprise, Alabama, you need to do that right now. Stay here.

WHITFIELD: And tracking how all of our affiliates are able to capture some of the severe weather in the making, Veronica De La Cruz of is watching the Web feeds from many of our affiliates throughout the storm area. She joins us now.

It's pretty remarkable quickly a lot of our affiliates are able to either get to these areas that have been hit by the severe storms, or how they are able to cover it when these storms are taking place -- Veronica.


I want to go ahead and show you what's being fed into us live right now. This is a live picture from WSFA, Montgomery, Alabama. This is one hour away from Enterprise, where that tornado just touched down.

Now, skies there are pretty gray. It looks as though the roads there are slick, but the traffic is moving.

Take a look, though. This is WBMA. This is Anniston, Alabama, and look how ominous that sky is. Just huge clouds.

And speaking of clouds, this is WSB in Atlanta, Georgia. The cloud coverage there is so thick that you can't even make out the picture. It's -- it's absolutely amazing. Fifty-four counties there in Georgia under advisories, watches and warnings right now.

And this is WMC. This is Memphis, Tennessee, and pretty much the same story there, thunderstorms, tornado watches until 6:00 p.m., east of the Mississippi River.

Now, I want to kind of big-picture this for you and show you the map of the United States, and it looks as though the severe weather really taking place on this part of the country. The white represents all the snow. The green, well, that is flood watches.

And then you know what those red boxes are, Reynolds Wolf always telling us about these tornado watches that are in effect. And the blue, that is the high wind advisories. Those are high wind advisories.

Now, I want to show you a Web site. This is a really creative way to show people what's happening in their area.

This is our affiliate WKYT in Lexington, Kentucky. What they've done is they've posted 11 different Web cams so you can get an up-to-the- minute look of the weather in your area. This is a look at downtown Lexington, and this is a look at Richmond right now. And that's a pretty interesting way of showing people what's happening in their area.

Now, over to KCTV5, this is our affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri. This is video that was just posted to the Web. Reporter Heather Staggers, she just filed this report of the cleanup after the overnight storm there.


HEATHER STAGGERS, REPORTER, KCTV5: That's right, we are in Anderson County, just off of 59 highway, and they did get quite a bit of damage out here all in the south-central part of the county. Look at this metal right here, twisted like paper.

You see this all along the highway, from just outside of Garnett. A lot of strong-wind damage, tornado activities, uprooted trees. Like I said, just a lot of property damages.

We know that there were two houses in Anderson County that received quite a bit of damage there -- busted windows, a lot of farmhouses that are -- farm utility buildings that they use damaged. But these folks were lucky, they weren't hurt.

We talked to the sheriff out here. He said that a lot of the folks in the rural areas, they have a difficult time hearing the sirens, but they rely on those weather radios, they rely on weather reports on television to try to get them through this. And tonight -- yesterday -- last night they were lucky to find shelter and not be harmed.

Now, we're going to head east to Blumau (ph), where they received a lot of heavy damage. We're going to stay out here, talk to these folks, see how they are managing with all of the damage here in Anderson County.

We'll have that for you on our evening broadcast.

Reporting live, I'm Heather Staggers.

Back to you.


DE LA CRUZ: All right. So that was video just posted to the Web site, KCTV. Again, that's our affiliate there in Kansas City, Missouri.

Coming up, Fredricka, we're going to check in with our I-Reporters. They have been hard at work, covering all the severe weather for us. I'm going to share some of those I-Reports with you next.

WHITFIELD: Good. And we appreciate that our I-Reporters are out there getting these images and information, but we certainly are not encouraging anyone to put their life in jeopardy to get this information.

DE LA CRUZ: Right.

WHITFIELD: Veronica De La Cruz, thanks so much.

HOLMES: "There is hope." Those words from President Bush today as he tours the Gulf Coast, checking on hurricane recovery efforts. The president's sentiment not quite shared by everybody, especially in New Orleans. Much of the city still in shambles a year and a half after the storm.

And our Susan Rosegen is in New Orleans, where the president has just touched down.

Hello to you, Susan.


The president has landed in New Orleans now, and because of all the bad weather we've seen here on CNN this afternoon, the president flew in on Air Force One instead of Marine One, the helicopter that he had planned to take in from Mississippi. Air Force One, of course, is safer for the president in these kind of weather conditions.

When he was on the ground in Mississippi, this is what he got a look at out of his window in the presidential motorcade, miles and miles of beachfront property, some of it fixed up, some of it still damaged after that wall of water, the storm surge that came through in Hurricane Katrina. The president stopped to talk to some of the people in the area, and he talked to them about how they have been able to get federal money to rebuild their homes.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Part of the reason I've come down is to tell the people here in the Gulf Coast that we still think about them in Washington and that we listen to the governor when he speaks.

The other reason I've come down is I want the taxpayers of the United States to see first hand what their money has done to help revitalize a series of communities that were literally wiped out because of a major storm. This is a hopeful day. There's obviously a lot more work to be done. You can see vacant lots where there's going to be new building.


ROESGEN: The president also pointed out that it's the federal government's job to write the checks, but he says it's the responsibility of state and local officials to make sure that the federal money gets to the people who need it.

Right now, the president is having lunch in New Orleans. We haven't been told where, but I can tell you that it's not going to be at the restaurant right behind me here on St. Charles Avenue. That restaurant still has not reopened now 18 months after Hurricane Katrina.

Only one-third of the restaurants in New Orleans have reopened, which gives you a sense of the business climate here in New Orleans. And something else, T.J., that the president will not see today, is the line of people out at the local Army Corps of Engineers office. This is the last day, the deadline, for people here in New Orleans to sue the federal government, to join a lawsuit, against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, accusing the corps of negligence in the big levee break at the 17th Street Canal.

That was one of the huge levee breaks, one of three here in New Orleans, right after Hurricane Katrina. They have said all along that this is a manmade disaster, what happened in Katrina. It is not a natural disaster, and so they are suing the federal government. We'll have more later, T.J., from the president, when he talks at a local school.

HOLMES: All right, Susan Rosegen for us in New Orleans. Susan, thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

HOLMES: And I'm T.J. Holmes. Kyra and Don are off today.

It's 2:30 Eastern time, and 1:30 Central, and you know chicken little? He may have been right. The sky is falling, the sky is falling in a huge chunk of the country. We are tracking everything from blizzards to tornadoes in our Severe Weather Center. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: Well, after pounding the Midwest, the storm is moving east. CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf joins us from the Severe Weather Center. And we're still hearing a number of sirens in certain parts of Alabama, right?


HOLMES: All right, we've been talking about Enterprise and a tornado that was reportedly on the ground there. We want to get more from Walt Thornton who actually works at the Enterprise Municipal Airport, and Walt, thank you for giving us a couple of minutes here.

Tell me, are things still popping and the excitement kind of calmed down now? Or what did you see, or what just happened?

WALT THORNTON, SAW TORNADO (on phone): Well, right now, it's just cloudy and the clouds just moving. But, when the -- you know, we had a lot of warnings here. And I was -- I kept looking around, so I looked off to our south, I heard rumbling, actually. Looked off to our southwest, and then I saw a huge -- to me it was a very huge tornado going in the valley behind some of our hangars.

HOLMES: You saw this? Give us an idea how far away this was from the airport and your vantage point.

THORNTON: I would -- I would say it was not even a half a mile. It was probably a quarter mile from us, maybe. It's hard to judge, because there's a valley and trees there. HOLMES: All right.

THORNTON: But I saw it, the debris flying around and everything. So I don't know if there's any damage. To anybody around here, but it did not hit anything at the airport itself.

HOLMES: Nothing at the airport. And it sounds like you all, at least the airport, might have made it through OK. Reynolds Wolf has certainly been keeping an eye on this, our meteorologist, and we've been talking about Enterprise for the last half hour or so directly. So, have they -- are they OK now? I guess, can they breathe a sigh of relief, at least for right now?


HOLMES: All right, Reynolds, and Walt, you are still with us here. I want to ask you, you said you did get plenty of warning. Is that right? The sirens were going off and you got enough warning and where did you take shelter?

THORNTON: Yes, sir. The city has all the sirens all over the place, so if we get that, that's fine. The best place in our room is where we make the coffee, so I went ahead in there, and just took a couch pillow, but not a pillow, but part of the couch, just in case something started flying around. But it never did touch the airport here. It was just right behind me, behind the airport.

HOLMES: All right, and, Dave Henry is also in our Severe Weather Center, keeping an eye on this stuff, and, Dave, we are trying to get the best description as possible from Mr. Thornton there, of course, he doesn't have the trained eye like a lot of you guys.

But give us an idea, if he says he did see a tornado, how serious of an event, possibly, just judging from radars and what not, how severe of a storm or a funnel cloud or -- could this possibly have been?


HOLMES: Wow, it's amazing what you guys are able to pick up on some of that technology. Thank you, guys. I know you'll continue to keep an eye on this stuff, and we'll continue to check in with you.

But our Jamie McIntyre is in Fort Rucker, where there has been some activity as well. Jamie McIntyre is on the line with us. He was talking to you a little earlier, there was some sirens going off in the background. They're still going on. You were there to cover one story, and then weather became your beat all of the sudden. Jamie, update us on what's happening there.

MCINTYRE (on phone): Yes, well they aren't flying any helicopters today at the Fort Rucker helicopter training school here in southeastern Alabama.

This is right near Ozark, where the activity is reported. And in fact, we just heard, again I have to caution this is a secondhand report, but the talk at the base here is that one of the housing areas on the sprawling Fort Rucker facility did witness what appeared to be tornado activity.

Again, not a firsthand account. But it's one of the reasons that everyone here has taken shelter. Again, you can hear the siren there. Just -- they cycle on and off as they make announcements here at Fort Rucker. And, again, everybody's taking this very seriously because there are reports of tornadoes or tornado-like activity in the immediate vicinity.

HOLMES: And give us an idea, Jamie, as well, I'm not sure, what kind of a peek you've been able to get outside, how close you might be to a window.

I know you're not supposed to be close to one, but I'm sure you've been curious, as a reporter, taking a peek outside, just what it looks like outside.

MCINTYRE: You know, there aren't a lot of secure buildings where we are. We are in what is the most secured, it's a cinder block building, it does have a lot of windows outside. And what we're doing is we're keeping a close eye on what's going on outside.

We're going to head to the most secure part of the building, if we see anything that looks dangerous at all. But right now the sky is just it's very gray, it's very dark in some areas and you know, a light rain is falling. But it's, again, a very dangerous and treacherous situation, because you don't know what you don't know.

HOLMES: All right, Jamie McIntyre, thank you for letting us what you do know at least, and thank you very much. And again, you all take shelter, stay safe there.

WHITFIELD: Well that is Jamie McIntyre's account there in Fort Rucker, Alabama. Well, we are going to talk to another woman who had a very harrowing experience as well, as a tornado threatened her area. So much so, she had to hide in a cooler. She's going to join us in the NEWSROOM, when we come right back.


WHITFIELD: The equipment so sophisticated at the storm prediction center, they are able to forecast exactly what kind of tornadic activity is going to touch down where. Our CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is there. Jacqui, what are you learning? All right, I think we're still having some audio problems there.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The southern Alabama at this time, a very large tornado, very likely being on the ground, here at NOAA storm prediction center. They are monitoring. We're going to talk here with Jack again. And Jack, tell us, what's the latest with this tornado?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well the supercell developed within the last couple of hours and really has wrapped up as a tornado-producing supercell within the last hour, and we've had reports with tornadoes with it as across Coffey County and currently it's in Dale County, moving about 40 knots toward the east-northeast.

We'll cross the Georgia border here about 45 minutes. And as you can see on the reflectivity, that means there's a strong, well-defined hook, and if we look at the velocity image on it, you can see this couplet of inbound and outbound right next to each other, which is a very strong indicator of tornadic activity, and this definitely is the most favored region we've got going on right now for big tornadoes today.

JERAS: And you just issued also what we call those meso-scale discussions that we've been talking about earlier for this area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's on the screen right here, this outlined area, indicating probably the next hour or so where the greatest threat would be with this particular storm, based on our -- our observations of the data.

JERAS: And is this cell moving into Georgia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, within the hour.

JERAS: Within the hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will move into, it looks like, southern Clay County and possibly northern Early County.

JERAS: All right, so this is one we really need to take very seriously, people need to be taking shelter immediately, the lowest level of your home, away from doors and windows.

So a breaking, developing situation right now in southern Alabama, a very large tornado likely on the ground, moving to the north and east towards the state line and into Georgia. Back to you guys.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jacqui, thank you very much for keeping us post -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right Fredricka, meanwhile a seven-year-old girl was killed in southern Missouri when a tornado hit her family's mobile home. The girl's father, mother and her two brothers were hurt. A gas station was also destroyed. Reporter Sara Sheffield of CNN affiliate KYTV reports from Caulfield, Missouri.


SARA SHEFFIELD, KYTV REPORTER: Yes, just a tragic event, a 7- year-old little girl. She was about seven miles northeast of Caulfield. This is in Howell County, Missouri. She tragically died. Her two brothers were injured. Both of her mom and dad were also injured, and they are in critical condition.

Not just the lives but homes and businesses everywhere are destroyed. This was a gas station. Kind of a gathering hub. The roof has blown off, and all the merchandise is on the floor. And then outside, you can kind of get a glimpse of how strong the winds were. Right over here was a gas pump that has just been blown over, laying on its side here. This was actually temporarily a closed business, and they were kind of redoing the inside of it, reorganizing and getting ready to open back up.

This was a small garage on the side of the building, a car shop, if you will. And everything in here is also down. The shelves, actually, here against the walls are still standing, but everything else has blown over. Because three of the walls were taken down.

So just a devastating event here in Caulfield. Earlier in the day, a lot of people were gathering in here, trying to get everything cleaned up, back to normal. But once they heard of the fatality in this town, all of them now are with her. A very, very small community. It's actually -- on the population sign, it doesn't even read a number. That's how small this place is.

But everyone is really pulling together, just trying to get life back to normal.


WHITFIELD: All right, I think now we're going to -- come back into the NEWSROOM. More on the severe weather when we come back.


HOLMES: Well, it has been pounding the Midwest, the storm is now moving east and several other areas could get a pounding as well. CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf and the severe weather team have been keeping an eye on all this stuff. Reynolds, what is the latest? I know stuff is popping off every couple of minutes for you guys.


WOLF: In Enterprise, they have gotten the all clear and CNN's Jamie McIntyre is there. Jamie, what can you tell us? What is going on at this time?

MCINTYRE: Well, we just got the all-clear signal at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and at the army helicopter training school. You can see that the skies have cleared up a little bit. They just sounded a different siren, had a little announcement saying something like, the emergency is over, resume your regular activities.

So that's what we're doing, but we haven't had any reports of damage here yet, although we had a couple of secondhand reports that what appeared to be funnel clouds were spotted. But, again, it appears, as you said, to have moved out of this immediate area, and the base is going back to -- to activity as normal.

WOLF: Very good. Well, I'm so glad you guys are safe. Still, be on your guard. You got another line that's going to form out a little bit farther to the west later on this evening. We're seeing it now move through parts of Mississippi and through south Alabama, so you may hear a rumble of thunder and be dealing with a bit more before the afternoon is over.

MCINTYRE: We'll keep an eye out for it and we'll listen for those sirens.

WOLF: OK, indeed, good deal. That's the latest we have. Let's send it back to T.J. at the news desk.

HOLMES: All right guys, Reynolds and Jamie, thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: All right and T.J. and Reynolds, if I'm looking at the map properly behind you there Reynolds, just north of Fort Rucker and Enterprise is Ozark, Alabama, and Myron Williams is the deputy police chief of that town. He joins us on the phone right now and so chief, what are you seeing in your area?

MYRON WILLIAMS, POLICE CHIEF, OZARK (on phone): We've had a considerable amount of hail that just went through the city, dime- sized to nickel-size. A lot of wind, we've got some debris, and we've got several power lines down right now.

WHITFIELD: Wow, and so did you all have to activate those sirens, as well as the folks just south of you had to do?

WILLIAMS: Yes. The majority of our sirens were activated by our emergency management agency. And then the officers had to activate, too.

WHITFIELD: All right, so how concerned are you that perhaps you're not quite out of the woods yet?

WILLIAMS: Very. I think we're about to go through the worst part, within the next 10 minutes or so.

WHITFIELD: Really? In what way? How do you mean that?

WILLIAMS: Well, we've got some lines down, that means we're going to have a problem with traffic, and we also have debris down and we don't know all the damage that may be in some low-lying areas of the city.

WHITFIELD: So in a situation like this, are you finding that a lot of people are staying off the road? That they are staying inside, trying to look for those basement or lower-level, more confined, safe spaces?

WILLIAMS: At this time it has been that way. However, at 1:00 we released all the schools. So we had a lot of parents that were coming this way to try to pick the kids up. And our schools are 75 percent clear, but we still have some students, is in at least three schools.

WHITFIELD: OK, we wish you all the best. Deputy Chief Myron Williams, while trying to get to all needs of the children and the rest of the folks in your area of Ozark, Alabama. Thanks so much for your time.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Well CNN's Veronica de la Cruz takes a look at some of your severe weather iReports. That's coming up next. You're watching the CNN NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: Well, our Veronica de la Cruz, of checking out the iReports that are coming in from around the country, really on the storm that's hitting all over the place. She joins us now -- Veronica, what do you have for us?

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, T.J. We're going to get to the iReports in just a second. I want to show you what's happening online, first of all.

We're tracking our affiliate Web site, this is WYFF out of Greenville, South Carolina. It's an NBC affiliate, and they brought up a Web cam to give people an idea of what's happening on the ground there.

You see that traffic is moving. The road looks slick, but you can barely see what's going on. So, lots of cloud coverage. What's happening there in upstate South Carolina is most of that area is under tornado watch -- 21 counties there are under advisories, watches, and warnings. So that is the picture in South Carolina.

Over to WIVB, this is our affiliate out of Buffalo, New York, and this is video that was just posted to the Web. It talks about flooding. How you think about Buffalo, and you think about it being part of the snowbelt, but the temperatures there have risen and that could cause some flooding. So flooding an issue in Buffalo.

I also want to tell you what's happening in Omaha, Nebraska, and that is where we get some pictures from our iReporter Kyle Gottschalk, he sent in three different images of the blizzard that is happening there, and these pictures taken from his front doorstep, T.J..

Kyle has been saying that the high winds and drifting snow really are causing the majority of the problems there and that the snow that's falling has been wet snow. But looking at these pictures, you see that it's almost whiteout conditions and lots of snow is falling and it's falling fast. So we'd like to thank Kyle Gottschalk for sending in his iReports. If you'd like to do the same, you can always log on to T.J.?

HOLMES: All right, Veronica, thank you so much and thank you to our iReporters as well.

And please, stick around, right here with us. We are going to take a two-minute break. We're all over the breaking weather news stories today. We'll have the latest for you in two minutes. Stay here.



© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines