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CNN NEWSROOM

Tornado Devastates Greensburg, Kansas; Bad Weather in the Midwest; Kenya Airways Plane Missing; Storm Chasers

Aired May 5, 2007 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After it was over we just tried to get out as quick as possible and you know, the entire Bay Street area was wiped out.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Wiped out is the word. Death and devastation in the heartland after tornadoes tear through a small Kansas town.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we have been following this breaking news story all morning long here in the CNN NEWSROOM. If you're just waking up to it, boy, we have a lot to tell you about and more importantly a lot to show you this morning. Good morning, everybody. On this May 5th, Cinco de Mayo. It's been a very devastating day for a lot of folks in Kansas. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And I'm T.J. Holmes, busy morning, glad you could be here with us. And if you are just getting up, let us get you caught up on what is happening in Kansas.

NGUYEN: Well the entire town was pretty much wiped out, as you heard just a little bit earlier.

HOLMES: Yeah that was a description from a storm chaser who surveyed the destruction in Greensburg, Kansas after a deadly half- mile wide, at least, tornado. Take a good look at the picture here of the funnel. This is what's been described as a wedge tornado. Unusually broad and tall formation is what we're seeing here. But this is apparently that tornado that hit and struck that town of Greensburg.

NGUYEN: This thing is huge, and they say that it was pretty slow moving, and it was about a mile wide and what it did was, it destroyed Greensburg's business district, along with city hall, the high school, the junior high. The list goes on. There are seven confirmed deaths at this hour. At least 50 people were hurt in the western Kansas town, and 16 of them remain in critical condition. Those who were not hurt, well, they were still badly shaken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could hear it outside and your ears were popping and everything. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just saw the wind and the house falling in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing left over there at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only thing we could find, besides some clothes.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: There aren't many homes or businesses in Greensburg, Kansas, that escaped the twister, I have an aerial view now. It'll give you some idea of the destruction. Buildings crumbled, cars smashed. Authorities say Greensburg's 1600 residents are hurting this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very, very difficult to say until everybody's accounted for, you know. They'll keep looking, and the other thing is, in a lot of cases those people might already be someplace and be safe and we don't know it yet, until we can establish where they are and get them accounted for, that is a very, very difficult thing. Like we said, you know the cellular service right now, as you guys know, it's very sketchy at best. So you're not going to have that. The other thing is you have to keep in mind, most of these people lost everything that they had. They don't have a cellular phone that these people can call. So, they're just going to have to be patient, and, you know, that's the only thing that we can ask.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Well that's all you have. Much of the rest is just gone, and it's not going to be easy to clean up all the destruction in Greensburg. After the sun came up this morning, Megan Strader of CNN affiliate KWCH got a real good look at the damage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MEGAN STRADER, KWCH: Now just to show the sheer magnitude of this tornado, you can see this tree was completely uprooted and knocked over in the yard. The tree next to it, similar situation, only this person had the unfortunate experience of it landing right on his truck. Now the house next door, kind of an interesting situation. Winds took the entire front wall out but left that front door standing. Now in situations like this, there always seems to be that one building that's left standing after the tornado. In Greensburg, it's the courthouse. Seems to be a little roof damage on it, but it's still standing proud this morning.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Well what's left of it, yes. And there's a lot of folks that really, Reynolds, as we look at this, there is nothing left. I mean, it is flattened. REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I know. It's like wiped clean, isn't it? The problem that you have with the photography up there, is that in parts of the central plains, you don't have too many big mountain ranges. The ground is as flat as a tabletop, but when you have that moist air that comes in from the gulf, and then combines that cold air coming in from the north and the northwest, those two air masses come together and they clash and it's very unstable. But let me show you what's happening right now, we've got really some unstable activity happening over near Omaha, back here over near Lincoln. Mainly north of this big, red rectangular box. The reason why we have this box here is because -- not what's happening now, but what the National Weather Service and the storm prediction center believe will happen into the afternoon. This is a new tornado watch that will be in effect until 10:00 central time in what they are expecting with this, is a particularly dangerous situation. This is something that they release when they feel very confident there's going to be a good chance of strong storms. Some of these storms possibly producing hail, up to four inches in diameter. Very large hail, damaging winds and possibly long-track tornadoes. Again, kind of weird but you don't see a whole lot of activity taking place in this box.

They're expecting much of the activity to take place later on today. As we speak though, we do have some severe thunderstorms that are forming just to the south of Pine Ridge. Another one that we see is over south of Sioux City. But right here near Broken Bow, we also have a warning in effect here. Not a severe thunderstorm warning. Not a tornado warning but a flood warning, because this area, especially the western half of the county, areas west of Broken Bow, areas east of North Platte has just been inundated with a bunch of water over the last 12 to 24 hours. The rain continues to develop. So when you have the ground saturated, when you have more rainfall that is on the way, you're going to have a flooding situation. It's not that it might happen, it is happening as we speak. So if you happen to be in that part of the world that is an area you really want to be careful. As we take a look at the big picture. Again, your battleground is going to be right here in the central plains, right near this boundary. The moist air coming in from the gulf. The jet stream is going to kick in later this afternoon and that is going to give us a good chance of an outbreak of severe weather once again. Round one is down. Round two is on the way up and we're going to be here to follow it all. Back to you.

NGUYEN: Well we want to give you a closer look at round one, Reynolds, because we have some new video in that is really pretty amazing.

HOLMES: This is coming to us from another storm chaser, Reed Timmer. Now he saw video, he saw this storm. He was part of the same storm system that hit Greensburg but he saw it before it actually got to Greensburg. We're going to take a listen here, this is in Ellis County, Oklahoma. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(INAUDIBLE) UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Oh, my god. Hey, stop we're good -- oh, no. --

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Get in.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Shut your door. Shut your door. OK. Go. Back up. Back up!

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: We're OK. We're OK.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Calm down.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: We're good hold on.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Listen to the roar!

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Look at -- (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I got it. Hear that? Oh, no, those are structures. Oh, no. No. Wow! Can you hear that? Don't move!

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Oh, my goodness. I mean, we were just floored looking at this video. It is just so powerful just seeing the strength of that storm and how close Reed Timmer was able to get to it. And I think what is so ironic, we're going to talk to Reed in just a second. Was, as he's filming this, you could hear on the radio the announcer saying, do not be in this area right now. Do not go outside and try to look at this storm or get video of this storm and, yet, he was able to capture something of such enormous strength and power.

HOLMES: And that warning there is for the rest of us. I do want to let you know that Reed Timmer is a professional storm chaser. We got this video from him and word from him describing what he was seeing, but that is unbelievably scary close to a storm. Again, this was in Ellis County, Oklahoma. All part of the same storm system that eventually made its way to Greensburg where so much devastation happened and we've been getting a look at. But Reed Timmer, we have him on the phone now. Reed what in the world -- I assume you are not, that's great, I mean unbelievable video, but I assume, and it sounded like you all got nervous there for a second, but were you intending to get this close to this tornado?

REED TIMMER, STORM CHASER: Well we actually thought the tornado was moving more in a northeasterly direction. But it was such a slow moving tornado. We've been doing this for a really long time. We've gotten extremely close to over 150 tornadoes. I actually take full responsibility for getting close. Normally my storm chasing partner Joel Taylor drives, but here we had to switch there at the last second. And my cell phone actually fell out of my pocket and then we backed up and I think the tornado hit my cell phone. So my cell phone could be in the air, actually still. Yeah we didn't mean to get that close, but it was a perfect tornado to do that because it was moving so slow and it was small, but you could also see it's very violent. Ripping out the trees and luckily -- it's very lucky it didn't go through a populated area.

NGUYEN: Yes it was a slow-moving storm and we're watching it right now in detail. When you can see the debris just flying all around and when it gets close to this tree, it is just amazing how quickly it just picks it up and slings it. My question to you, though, it's kind of hard to tell in video, while this does look close with cameras and zoom lenses and all that, how close were you to this storm?

TIMMER: Well this is actually our wide angle camera. The video doesn't do it justice. We are probably within 50 to 100 yards of it easily.

NGUYEN: Oh, my goodness.

TIMMER: The left side of our car was sprayed with dirt and mud and everything while we were backing up, and, yeah. We were pretty close to it.

NGUYEN: Now, you're a storm chaser and you follow these and you have a pretty good idea of how powerful they are. Any idea how powerful this one might have been?

TIMMER: I mean you can see. The small circulation, just because it's small doesn't mean it's not violent. I mean you could see the winds and they were, I'd say at least 130, 150 miles-per-hour, probably stronger. To be able to rip trees out of the ground like that, but the sound was deafening. You can't really hear it that well in the video, but it was extremely loud, it sounded like a jet engine.

HOLMES: Reed, we heard you at some point it sounded like you were saying that possibly there were structures or something this thing was moving towards. We saw the tree it hit and we see the debris going around. Could you tell if this did get close to any structures that might have been out there?

TIMMER: Yeah we heard that it actually hit a barn, and the debris going around it was actually a barn. So luckily, it wasn't a residence. But if this went through a populated area, it could have been really, really bad. So we're thankful for that.

HOLMES: And you said you were close, Reed, you said that this angle really doesn't give it justice. You were only 50 to 100 yards. Do you normally, is this as close as you have gotten to one?

TIMMER: Yeah, this is by far the closest we've ever gotten, and probably a little closer -- to be a little more safe, you'd want to be about 50 to 100 yards farther back, but like I said, I was driving and just kept driving closer and closer. I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie as well as a scientist too, so --

NGUYEN: Well this was a well-formed tornado if you look at it. You know the swirling mechanism there is very distinct. I want to ask you, because this was part of the storm system that created that massive tornado that hit Greensburg and, in fact, I think you were able to see two different tornadoes. Were you able to get a glimpse of the one that plowed through Greensburg?

TIMMER: We weren't able to. This storm was actually one to the south of the Greensburg one, but some of our friends were storm chasing that one and they were reporting at times three to four tornadoes on the ground at the same time. Some rotating around each other, with the largest tornado being over a mile wide. And some of our friends -- one of our friends was actually in Greensburg in the damaged area and somebody came and ran up to his car and they gave them a ride to a safe place. I heard it was really bad. They had road blocks all around the town and supposedly -- I haven't seen it but I guess that the town sustained a direct hit, which is just terrible because that was a violent, violent tornado.

NGUYEN: And looking back, I mean yes, it's great video and it really shows the power of this storm, but you got awfully close, 50 to 100 yards. Is that something that you're going to do again?

TIMMER: We probably won't get that close again unless we run into an unfortunate circumstance. We like to get close because you can feel the power and it's just -- also we catch it on video. We hope to help advance the science and they can use it for research purposes.

HOLMES: And Reed what is your background?

TIMMER: I'm working on my Ph.D. right now in meteorology, but I'm actually a climatologist, but I study the relationships between sea surface temperatures and temperature in the U.S. And then I storm chase also on the side.

NGUYEN: Well it goes without saying, be careful out there. I know this is what you do and you guys are the professionals but that is awfully close to a storm with such power, and I could hear it in your voice, we could hear in what you were saying, that there were points that you even became a little fearful of what was happening there, but we appreciate the video and glad that you were able to get it to us safely, and as you go chasing, be careful. We do appreciate it.

HOLMES: We can't help but sound like his parents almost. Come on now baby, don't get too close to the storm, but that was --

NGUYEN: But 50 to 100 yards for something like that!

HOLMES: That's unreal.

NGUYEN: He said it was going up to 150 miles per hour on the ground. You see what it did to that tree? Can you imagine what it would do to a human in its way?

HOLMES: If it just made a turn here or there, who knows. But we appreciate you Reed Timmer and appreciate all of you guys for what you do out there, storm chasing and advancing the science as he said. But whew.

NGUYEN: Yeah, a little too close for comfort. We are though keeping our eyes on the breaking news out of Kansas this morning.

HOLMES: Yeah stay right here for updates. Of course, the numbers on the number of deaths has been changing. We're keeping an eye on that and also the damage and injury reports, mainly out of Greensburg, Kansas, that town that was hit hardest. Stay here, our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: This is happening now, authorities reporting seven deaths after last night's devastating tornado in Greensburg, Kansas. Twister was at least a half mile wide. Damage, up to 90 percent of that town. This is located in western Kansas, about 110 miles west of Wichita. Dozens of people were injured and 16 are said to be in critical condition.

NGUYEN: Well, it is time now to see what is available on the web regarding this Kansas tornado system that just rolled through. Nicole Lapin of CNN Pipeline is here. And you've been watching this play out on the web all morning long, getting some really valuable information.

NICOLE LAPIN: Right Betty. Actually, we've been hearing stories, we've been hearing color to this -- all the numbers that we're hearing. T.J. just briefed us on the latest death toll and injuries, but when you hear those numbers it doesn't make sense until you put a face to it. So let's talk about the George family specifically. We're getting this information from one of our affiliates KAKE and they have their story on the web. Let's listen in right now to Mr. George.

(BEGIN STREAMING VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just praying. Just continually praying, and praying that the good lord will just see us through it and he did. And you know dust falling through and the whole house shaking, you could feel it. I told my wife I said, this is a bad one, you know.

(END STREAMING VIDEO)

LAPIN: Yeah, it really was a bad one, and the reporter from that affiliate kept talking over that. But I want to show you something so interesting. They were really in the thick of it and what's amazing is that, they all survived. And not only that, but take a look at this. This is the daughter's wedding dress. It came out, nothing happened to it. It wasn't even dirty. Their grandmother's china even survived. So we're hearing stories about that. We're also hearing stories about those who unfortunately were not so lucky. All sorts of debris we're hearing, silos ripped apart, we're seeing semis turned over and we're hearing also stories of heroism. People helping other people out with generators and water and all sorts of things. So we see a lot of smiles. We see a lot of tears, all online. And once we find those stories we're going to bring that to you to color this, as best possible. Betty? NGUYEN: All right, thank you Nicole, we appreciate that. And you can find all of this information online at cnnpipeline.com as well.

HOLMES: As you know, we've been following this breaking news of that tornado in Kansas, specifically that hit Greensburg, Kansas. We're going to hear from a city administrator coming up about what's being done now to help the victims of that storm.

NGUYEN: And later we are going to hear from a man who took some amazing pictures of the storm's aftermath. Don't go anywhere, there's much more coming in to CNN, and you don't want to miss it. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: It's happening right now. A door-to-door search under way in Greensburg, Kansas, after a tornado came through that was about a half mile wide. At least seven people are dead, according to emergency management officials. It wiped out most of Greensburg's downtown, the city hall, the high school, the junior high school. Local hospital had to be evacuated when the ceiling there collapsed, we also know that the emergency management officials have been updating us all morning, and Sharon Watson specifically the spokesperson there, she is in a briefing. We're expecting her to get more information and to bring us that information and I hope to talk to her here live coming up.

NGUYEN: Let's take you on the ground now, because just a short time ago Josh Witsman of CNN affiliate KSNW spoke with Greensburg's city administrator.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH WITSMAN, KSNW: We are starting to get some light on this situation here in Greensburg where the search and rescue operation still continues. Joining me now is Steve Hewitt, the city administrator for Greensburg. Steve, what do we have going on here? Obviously the town has been evacuated and we are in the middle of that search and rescue.

STEVE HEWITT, GREENSBURG CITY ADMINISTRATOR: Yes, the search and rescue continues. We want to make sure that we can find everybody. It's an unsafe area right now so we evacuated everybody. We've sent people to Havilland and Mullen Ville, Kansas, just 10 miles away. The Red Cross is handling that situation at Havilland High School, Barkley College and Mullen Ville High School. Folks who are looking for individuals, family members, they can all 620-672-3651. They should be able to help you. We've had 50 different people have been sent to the hospital at this point in time. So we continue the search and rescue. We will not reopen the town until we know it's safe for the residents to come back. At this point in time we'll just continue that and hopefully not find any more folks out there, but we continue to search.

WITSMAN: Obviously, probably some panicked families out there that maybe haven't heard from loved ones. Probably the best advice is to go to the Red Cross. I mean everyone has been taken to shelter.

HEWITT: Absolutely, I would just call that number. You know they'll try to help you, folks that may have checked in, or were there. You know, you can also contact Pratt Regional Medical Center, that's what a lot of the folks at the hospital were sent and some other areas as well. You know, just call the Red Cross, and I think they'll help you a lot. We continue to search for folks that are still trapped. And it was quite a storm. So we continue to work hard today and hopefully the light will help us find folks.

WITSMAN: Talk about the damage, I mean obviously the town pretty devastated. What was your reaction to first seeing what had happened or what was left behind?

HEWITT: Well, I think it's, it was quite shocking, really, and heartbreaking, also. Our complete downtown is destroyed. City hall is destroyed. And then you start to worry about family and friends, and so you know, in a personal sense I was also very scared. My family, we made it through it. My house was destroyed as well, but we'll rebuild, we'll find a way to rebuild the city. It's going to take time right now, and we need to find folks that are still trapped and we'll assess the damage and begin to work as best we can to bring our community back.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: All the faces of tragedy. We'll hear from the man who took these pictures of that devastation in Kansas. Stay here for that.

NGUYEN: We're also going to get you an update on what you can find on the Internet this morning regarding the Kansas tornadoes. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Happening now, death and destruction in the nation's heartland. Tornadoes swept through southern Kansas killing at least seven people. One of those twisters nearly wiped out the town of Greensburg. Wiped it off the map. We understand 75 to 90 percent of that town has been heavily damaged. Hundreds of people are now homeless and in shelters and we do have some new video that is coming in to CNN, taking a look at this. Just the sheer devastation from this storm. You know, this is a farming town. You can see a silo here that has taken on some of the damage. Farm equipment just thrown all over the place. And look at that. Can you just imagine the force that it would take to move this kind of equipment around, and toss it every which way. Of course, this is a second tornado. This is not the same one that hit Greensburg. The one that hit Greensburg was a very large, what they call a wedge tornado, and it caused a lot of destruction. This one we don't have an idea of how big it was just yet. But as you can see, it did cause some extensive damage, but it was near the area in Greensburg. So a very large system blew through this area spawning several tornadoes and leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Now, we're also following another story for you this morning. A Kenyan airliner is missing along with more than 100 passengers and crew members. That took off from Cameroon and it was on its way to Nairobi. Now state radio says the plane crashed in Cameroon, but airline officials have not confirmed that as of yet. We'll stay on the story and bring you the latest.

HOLMES: And as we were hearing Betty mention there, Greensburg, Kansas, certainly what we've been talking about a lot this morning. They're actually searching door-to-door in that town now after a terrible night. At least seven people died in Kansas, that's according to emergency management officials in that western Kansas town of Greensburg, the one that suffered the most. Downtown area virtually gone. City hall, destroyed. Two schools, destroyed. Local hospital had to be evacuated when part of the roof collapsed. Many, or most, of the community's homes, damaged as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just saw the wind and the house falling in. I just couldn't believe it, really. We couldn't hardly get out, because there was a camper that blew up against the door, so we had to crawl under that.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Well, the pictures of that twister that hit Greensburg are just simply remarkable. I spoke with storm chaser Allan Detrich a little bit earlier this morning. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: What did you see when you were watching this massive tornado take effect?

ALLAN DETRICH, STORM CHASER: Unfortunately maybe we were a little too close to it that we couldn't see the shape and the lightning. So we just got to see a huge wall, basically, and then after the tornado had passed Greensburg, we belong to a storm chase group that has a lots of search and rescue people, firefighters, EMTs, and we were escorted into the disaster area to help the search and rescue, the fire chief.

NGUYEN: We're looking at pictures now of the survivors. So far no one has been reported dead, but just look at the damage. You have cars toppled --

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: All right, we're going to break away from this right now, because a news conference is underway outside of Greensburg, Kansas, where all of that damage occurred. Here's a member of the emergency response team.

: -- The nursing home was also moved last night. Probably the biggest problem we're having now, as you well know, is communicating, as far as talking to you or family members or outside resources. Cell coverage here is either non-existent or broke. Land lines are down, but I will tell you, AT&T is here and I told them that the most important thing that we needed was land line phones over at the command post. So they're diligently working on getting some land line phones set up for us. As the trooper told you, we've got plenty of help, we have lots of medical help. We've moved all the pharmaceuticals and everything from the hospital over to the clinic. We've got that open. We have some public health people coming in to take some of our rescuers. We had a few rescuers step on nails, some things such as that. So tetanus shots and some of those types of things, we're going to be able to take care of that. We're in the process, we've done search grids, we've divided the community into four areas. We've done search grids at least twice. We're going to feed all of the rescuers and if you've been down, you know the kind of damage we're talking about. So we're going to feed all the rescuers again, divide them all up and do an additional search grid to make sure that absolutely everybody's out. But at this point we think that most everybody's gone from the community, other than people wanting to come in and check their homes or what's left of their homes and their belongings. The injuries we've got them all taken care of and we're really in a -- in a pretty good shape as far as getting a grasp of what went on here, for the magnitude of the situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you telling folks that want to come in and check out their homes or come to check on a loved one? Because as we know, you said it, you can't get a hold of anyone on phones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've talked about that and we would encourage people to call that Red Cross number, that's out of Pratt since they've got good land lines there. The Red Cross people are here and they're in a process of sending information back and forth to Pratt to have that done. We talked about that at the briefing and the command staff is meeting on a regular basis and putting some planning process together, along with the city manager. And I will tell the city manager here, that's one of his concerns is he wanted to be able to get to a point he could get people back in to check their homes. I'll tell you, there are just so much debris that it's not safe yet to do that. And so on the recommendation of the highway patrol, we want to try to get the perimeter set, get everybody out of here that's not supposed to be here and then kind of do that, kind of gradually. It looks like we're probably going to have to move a great deal of debris before we even get to the point that we can allow the families to come in and actually start, you know, looking at what they have left. When I went through a while ago I did notice that there were people beginning to do that, remove clothing and things such as that, but if you've been down there you know there's just not a lot down there. It's a mess. So --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- third time through, when do you anticipate starting that and how long will it take to go through that kind of process?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Chris Wade from Labette County and I'm in charge of planning operations right now. And what we're doing right now is, we're making plans for what we call the next operational period, and what we're going to do about that, we really, as Mr. David said, we've done our primary and secondary searches. We feel very good about the point we're at. We're planning for the next part. We're also planning for the other threat of significant weather this afternoon. That's one of the reasons we've held off on allowing citizens in and we're going to hold off on having citizens come in. With the structural damage right now, there is no way we can allow people to come back in with the threat of more significant weather. So from the planning piece, in planning for the next part, as you've all asked about, it's really our goal to keep an eye on the weather, talk to our structural engineers in communicating with General Bunning and the National Guard. We've got them here assisting us and really keeping people that don't need to be in, keeping them out, and so our focus this afternoon is not setting a time, necessarily, to do what you were speaking of and planning a time, but it's to make sure we're doing it safely, we're making sure that we're ready to do that.

We're making sure we're at the point that we can really do that with all of the other factors we have to factor in. And as Mr. David said, the National Weather Service is on scene, has been providing us regular briefings about what to expect, but that certainly is going to be a part in this afternoon's planning. So I don't think that -- I think it's way too early to tell you that we're going to be completed with a part of the operation at a certain point. I also think it's too early to speculate on when we would be able to get people back in town, or make promises as to what part of the town would be accessible and what part wouldn't. We just don't have that in concrete yet, and I think it's too -- the message right now needs to be, as long as we can, it's to keep people out. It's to make sure that people are aware, this is a significant -- the most significant emergency the state of Kansas has faced in a long, long time, and we're dealing with it as best we can. But -- but know that, you know, as much as we are dealing with it and planning for it and planning for the next part, that we need the general public's cooperation as much as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about gas lines and electric line safety for your emergency responders?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have, again, planned for that. We really feel like we've got a safe situation. There is no electric to the town of Greensburg. We do not have an electric grid within several miles that is on right now. So that part's safe. We have not had -- the gas has been shut off to the city. So we do not have any potential like that. We are going to make sure that we do not turn the electricity back on or the gas lines back on, lessons learned from previous incidents we know that as soon as you start doing things then you have to deal with all sorts of different emergencies. Like structure fires, you know the potential for explosion, and we are still in the rescue/recovery phase, and until we get out of that phase, we are not going to be making plans to do anything like that.

TERRY DAVID, INCIDENT COMMANDER: We would anticipate probably starting to cut EMS and fire people loose by dark tonight. One of the things I really wanted to point out with you is that the amazing thing about living in the state of Kansas is that we had a huge amount of response here from people. We have -- we had a 30-foot disaster vehicle come from Miami County EMS. Chris is from Labette. The Wichita Fire Department brought in four, five technical rescue vehicles and helped us a great deal at 2:00 this morning over at the hospital. So the state has really come together, as General Bunning would tell you, we've been working at this with Homeland Security issues on a regional basis. And the thing that works about that is everybody knows each other before we ever get to a scene like this. I've dealt with the (INAUDIBLE) fire chief for over a year with Homeland Security issues. So the benefit of all that is that Kansas, the communities have all come together and people are coming from all over. Both from a state level and also local resources as far as providing help to us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In terms of these fatalities, do we know, are some, are they in one particular area where they, throughout the community? Is there any more information we can find out about them?

DAVID: We don't have any information about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about shelters? Do you have enough right now and are you concerned about having enough if we have more significant weather?

DAVID: Most of the people from the community went to Havilland. We still have room in the Havilland area, we still have room in the Bucklin area. So shelters, we're in good shape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do want to stress, we are not sheltering anybody --

HOLMES: And there you're hearing another update we're getting from emergency management officials. Those were actually folks from the emergency response team talking about the needs and what's happening there right now, and the number one need, the issue they're having, communication. Everything was wiped out. Certainly cell phone towers, land lines as well. But they say phone company there, AT&T, trying to get the land lines back up so they can communicate and coordinate their efforts.

NGUYEN: A lot of people just want to know if they're family members survived and there's no contact going in or out, via phone. Any kind of phone, cell or land line. So that is a big problem right there, but I think more importantly a lot of people will just want to get their lives back together, after the sheer devastation that has rocked this town. We're going to have much more on this. There's new video coming in. We are getting interviews with folks on the ground, and as soon as we get all of that we will bring it straight to you. You don't want to go anywhere because we have extensive coverage coming up of the tornado that ripped through Greensburg, Kansas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATRICK CONLON, DIR., OFFICE OF ENERGY MGMT.: The Palm Desert Energy Partnership's energy conservation program with a five-year goal to save 30 percent of our energy city-wide, 250 million kilowatt hour savings in electrical energy.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New residential and commercial buildings must consume 10 percent less energy than currently allowed by state law.

CONLON: Program entails incentives for people to invest in energy efficiency in their homes and businesses.

WILLIS: Some ideas, install solar panels, energy star appliances, high performance windows and high efficiency air conditioning. Palm Desert is also banning drive-through restaurants and declaring electric golf carts street legal in order to lower carbon dioxide emissions. That's this week's "Green House."

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: This is happening now. Tragic scene in southern Kansas, an entire town devastated by a killer tornado. The storm, one of several twisters, to sweep across that part of the state. At least seven people reported dead. Hundreds of people out of their homes now, because reports of 75 to 90 percent of that town has been touched in some way by this tornado. The place is either damaged or destroyed. We're getting a better look at it this morning as we have been getting -- these past couple of hours, new live -- not live pictures but video as the sunlight that town. And I mean it is just remarkable.

NGUYEN: It really is. And so far we understand, Reynolds, that seven people have been killed in this. But let's take a good look at where they were killed, because I think it could be very important here. Six of them were killed in Kiowa City, another one person was killed in Stafford County. These are about 30 miles apart. So does this mean that there were two tornadoes that ripped through that area?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Great question. We don't know at that point. There were definitely some different tornadoes in the area, but I mean at this time things are still very confused. I mean your guess is as good as mine. Excellent question, but I don't have an answer for you. What I can tell you right now is there are people that are scared to death. They've had a rough night. It looks like it may get rough later on today. Let's go farther west and I'll show you what I'm talking about. Here is where most of the activity took place earlier in the day. Farther to the north, but now you see a new red box that is popping up in parts of Kansas and in to Nebraska. This is the latest tornado watch that has been released by the storm prediction center. It will remain in effect until 10:00 this evening central time. At the same time we're also seeing some orange boxes through parts of Nebraska, indicating areas where we have severe thunderstorm warnings. Not watches but warnings. One of those would be right between North Platte and Broken Bow where we already have a flood warning in effect, with additional rainfall coming through, some of this very heavy. Flooding is going to happen. There's a chance of it, it is going to occur. Now the setup that we've been following is pretty simple. It's this area of low pressure, we've got a lot of moisture coming in from the gulf. This boundary is going to make its way from the Rockies across the central plains. We even have the dry line that is going to kick in. The dry line is just a barrier, an atmospheric barrier between really moist air coming in from the gulf and that drier air further out to the west. Jet stream with the daytime heating, you could get some storms right along that boundary. But with the jet stream kicking in this afternoon with that heat -- we're going to see more of these storms develop. Certainly a rough time in the plains and we'll keep you posted with the very latest. Back to you.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Reynolds.

WOLF: You bet.

NGUYEN: Well it was a big week for CNN'S "AMERICAN MORNING" and next you will hear what the Los Angeles police chief told viewers about his department's response to the immigration protests.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: We're taking a look at some of the top stories this week and Kiran Chetry has the highlights from "AMERICAN MORNING." Hi there.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, good to see you Betty. Yeah, it was quite a week. As you know, of course, May 1st, a lot of immigration rallies coast to coast. We had CNN reporters fanned out across the nation, everything was mostly peaceful, that is until the end of the rally in Los Angeles. We had a chance to talk to Chief Bratton on Thursday about what went wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE: The vast majority of people were peaceful, in our case in Los Angeles, and I can't speak for Chicago with 150,000, we had a group here, 50, 75 to 100 agitators. These are individuals that show up at all of these rallies, they seek to provoke the police and unfortunately in this instance, several squads of our officers responded to that provocation and our job now is to determine if that response, one, was it appropriate, and two, was the use of force used during it, was it excessive. And quite apparently looking at the videos, the force being used in many minds does appear to be excessive.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: So that was Chief Bratton of the LAPD. He was with us on Thursday and of course Betty we'll stay on top of that investigation.

NGUYEN: Also, there's a lot of talk this week about former CIA Director George Tenet and his new book?

CHETRY: That's right, he had a pretty explosive interview last Sunday night on "60 Minutes." Monday morning we talked with former CIA agent, whose recollections are directly at odds with what Tenet said in his book about the case for war in Iraq, but also about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The argument I think he was trying to make and he writes this in the book, is that there was intelligence but they didn't know if it would actually lead to a capture or a kill and that they felt there was too much at stake. His quote is that every one of the senior operations officers above Mike, he's speaking about you, recommended against undertaking the operation, they believed the chances of success were too low.

MICHAEL SCHEUER, AUTHOR, "IMPERIAL HUBRIS": That's a lie. Both of the committees within the Central Intelligence Agency that approved covert action operations approved it, including -- the director was out of town at the moment but his associate, General Gordon. The entire program was approved by everyone above me. It was canceled at the last moment for reasons unknown. But that's not the best chance we had, ma'am. We had not eight different chances for the U.S. military to kill Osama bin Laden between May of '98 and May of 1999.

CHETRY: So you're talking about both administrations, both the Clinton administration and the Bush administration and Tenet also talks about this at the time. Then who is to blame? It seems everyone's shifting it to someone else.

SCHEUER: It seems to me if Mr. Tenet didn't speak up for the nature of the intelligence that was available to the United States government, some blame has to fall on him.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: So what's your overall assessment with this whole book?

LARRY JOHNSON, FORMER CIA ANALYST: I think George Tenet owes the soldiers and their families who have died or have been killed or wounded in Iraq part of the proceeds of his book. Because now he could have stood up and spoke out when he had the chance when he had the job, he could have changed the course of American history. Instead he kept silent and now he wants to get a $4 million payday and $50,000 speaking engagements. The man's profiting from the blood of American soldiers and I think he owes Americans more than just an "I'm sorry."

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Some strong words there from former CIA agent, Larry Johnson. Betty that was last Monday on "AMERICAN MORNING."

NGUYEN: All right, so that was last Monday. What's coming up this Monday?

CHETRY: Well consumer reporter Greg Hunter, he's going to be taking a look at energy drinks. It's a huge business, but what does it do to your health and what about your kids? Some kids are chugging these all day long. Well Greg hooked himself up to an EKG machine after he drank one. We'll see what it did to his heart. You know Greg, he's already high energy, Betty. The last thing he needs is a Red Bull.

NGUYEN: That's why I don't do those things. I have no idea what it will do to me. All right Kiran, thank you. "AMERICAN MORNING's" Kiran Chetry, you can join her and John Roberts for "AMERICAN MORNING: that is at 6:00 a.m. eastern. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thinking about tying the knot this summer and changing your name? First you'll have to take care of some loose ends. All jokes aside, start with a new social security card at socialsecurity.gov. It's free. If a company tries to sell you one, don't buy it. And you should alert the SSA. Stop by the DMV to update your driver's license. While you're there, change the title on your car. Take some time to sit down and thoroughly go over important paperwork, like mortgages, leases, wills and insurance policies. And going somewhere? Don't forget to update your passport or you won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

(on camera): I'm Gerri Willis and that's your "tip of the day." For more ideas, strategies and tips to save you money and protect your house, watch "OPEN HOUSE" every Saturday, 9:30 a.m. eastern, right here on CNN.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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