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Hurricane Dean Hits Jamaica, Heads for Mexico; Families Angry Over Failure to Reach Trapped Miners; Virginia Tech Students Begin Fall Semester; Oklahoma Floods Receding; Minnesota Flooding; Painkiller Use Soars; Hurricane Dean; Leona Helmsley Dead; Deadly NYC Fire

Aired August 20, 2007 - 13:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CO-HOST: Hello. I'm Kyra Phillips, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
DON LEMON, CO-HOST: And I'm Don Lemon.

Happening right now, we're going to get you live to Emery County, Utah. This is where a press conference is expected to get underway at any moment to update us on the situation regarding those six miners, still missing now for more than two weeks.

Over the weekend they built a -- they drove a fourth hole. So far no signs of life. As soon as this gets underway, we'll bring it to you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

PHILLIPS: We're also following that killer hurricane in the Caribbean, deadly floods in the U.S. Extensive live coverage this hour in the NEWSROOM as Hurricane Dean turns toward the Yucatan Peninsula. A monstrous storm that's already the size of Texas and getting bigger and stronger by the hour.

It's already blamed for at least seven deaths across the Caribbean. A state of emergency in effect in Jamaica.

In the Midwest, flash floods, rooftop rescues, and evacuations. Remnants of last week's tropical storm.

First up, though, this week's incredible hurricane. CNN's correspondents are on the scene from Jamaica to the Yucatan Peninsula.

LEMON: And Kyra, this hour, Dean is making a beeline for Mexico's coastal resorts. Let's go straight to CNN's Gary Tuchman. He's in the Cancun for us -- Gary.


You know, the ancient Mayan civilization began 3,500 years ago. Behind me, some of the ancient Mayan buildings, including that tall one behind me. That's a temple. That's about 1,000 years old. It is in the city of Tuolumne, Mexico. This could be the bull's eye for this huge hurricane that's heading in this direction.

What will happen to these ruins that have been here for centuries? That is the big question right now. That is something that a lot of people here are very concerned about.

Mayan actually means footprint of water. They believe the civilization began from the water, ironically. And there's a lot of concern here.

But of course, there's more concern than that. You're talking about the residents who live here in the Yucatan Peninsula and the tourists. We're about 80 miles south of Cancun right now. That is the top tourist destination in Mexico.

Tens of thousands of tourists have gotten out before the hurricane, but many others can't leave. There are not enough airplanes. So here today, for example, this is a major day trip of Cancun. People come here to Tuolumne to look at these beautiful ruins.

Very empty. The parking lot, which is usually quite full on a day like today, has about eight cars in it right now as people are trying to get out of here.

But there's a lot of concern. These are hurricane-savvy people in Quintana Roo. That's the state we're in here in the Yucatan Peninsula. They've had some serious hurricanes before, including two years ago when Hurricane Wilma came and caused death, massive devastation.

And then in 1988, Hurricane Gilbert, Category 5 hurricane, also hit the area and changed life tremendously for so many people. Hotels were shut down for months. Some never reopened again. And now they're awaiting another monster hurricane.

Don, back to you.

LEMON: And Gary, I want to tell our viewers to mind the delay there. Because we want to ask you this question. It's a very beautiful backdrop that we're looking at. You're talking about the Mayan ruins.

Go into a little bit of an explanation for us, if you can. Kyra and I were just commenting, beautiful there now. But, you know, some issues.

TUCHMAN: Well, yes. We'll give you another look at the ruins here. Tuolumne is a very small city. It's not a place where tourists usually go, except to come to this one site.

There's another site that's one of the new seven wonders of the world. That's also not far from here, Chichen Itza. Many of our viewers have probably heard of it. That is west of Cancun.

This is south of Cancun. And these ruins, most of them, are from the year 1200 to the year 1450. They've been here ever since.

The people who work here are telling us there have been hurricanes before. There's been some damage. But that's what's amazing about these structures. They were built 1,000 years ago and they're so strong they survived all these natural calamities.

But now you're talking of a Category 5 hurricane that's expected to be very close to here with winds of 150 miles per hour. So people are keeping a very careful eye on what happens to these buildings that have been here for so many countless generations.

LEMON: As well they should. Keep a careful eye. CNN's Gary Tuchman near the -- in the Cancun area. Thank you so much for that report.

PHILLIPS: Well, as we mentioned, Hurricane Dean has already taken a punch at Jamaica, which remains under a state of emergency. CNN's Suzanne Candiotti is on the road, surveying the damage from Montego Bay to the capital of Kingston.

Susan, what are you seeing right now?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now in Montego Bay, things actually look fairly normal. But of course, they're not. That state of emergency that you mentioned remains in effect. That means there is a curfew, which also means that none of the stores are permitted to open, although you see individual venders and street venders and fruit markets, that kind of thing. Those are still open. But there's no -- here in Montego Bay.

And good news on this front, anyway. The airport in Montego Bay is open, although no flights are yet going out. Airport officials tell me it is possible that some commercial airlines will be flying out as early as this afternoon, once they get their operations back in gear.

Different story in Kingston, entirely. The airport there remains shut down as well as rescue teams. Not being deployed as yet, but they are sending out damage assessment teams to see how bad things are.

The roads -- several roads into Kingston remain blocked at this hour. They're out with heavy equipment to try to clear the streets, try to get things back to normal.

There was heavy wind damage there. A lot of folks lost their rooftops. Electricity remains cut off throughout the island. They did that on purpose to try to protect the integrity of the power grid. They don't know how long it will take to turn the electricity back on and water in some areas.

About 5,000 people found their way to shelters overnight. We don't know how many of those at this hour remain in those shelters.

Kyra, back to you.

PHILLIPS: OK, Susan Candiotti, thanks so much.

And as you know, Jacqui Jeras is tracking every move that Dean makes.

What do you have for us right now, Jacqui?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Still on that westwardly track. And unfortunately, nowhere between Dean and the Yucatan Peninsula is there anything that could really slow this thing down or weaken it, unfortunately.

This is just a huge storm, extremely powerful: 150 mile per hour winds. That's sustained. Gusts up to 180. So just incredible power. And we only need to go up six miles per hour for this to be the monster of all storms, a Category 5. And it's forecast to do that, because the water temperatures out here are so very warm, and there's really no wind sheer. The winds aloft are very light. This is venting very well. Allowing the storm to sustain itself and possibly grow even more.

And the cone of uncertainty, there you can see it covers much of the Yucatan Peninsula. Cancun is out of it. But something to keep in mind, though, is how big of a storm this is.

It goes -- 200 miles out from the center of the storm is how far out the tropical storm force winds go. So if you double that, right, because it goes on each side from the center, we're talking over 400 miles wide.

Here's Cancun. Here's Honduras: 360 miles estimated. So regardless if you get landfall or not, everybody here is going to be feeling the impacts of this storm.

We also have a lot going on, Kyra, in terms of flooding here in the U.S. mainland. We'll talk more about that at the bottom of the hour.

PHILLIPS: OK. We'll check in with you then. Thanks, Jacqui.

If you want to impact your world and help the victims of Hurricane Dean, you can log onto We can help connect you to the relief programs in that region.

LEMON: Well, don't give up. Well, that is a plea from families of six Utah miners two weeks after a collapse trapped them underground. The miners' loved ones quickly gathered to respond after mine company officials said the men may never be found.


SONNY OLSEN, SPOKESMAN FOR MINERS' FAMILIES: In the beginning, Bob Murray reassured the family with promises that he would get the miners out, dead or alive. It's time to live up to that promise and show the sort of resolve that this community is used to.


LEMON: And take a look now. These are live pictures here from the -- near the Crandall Canyon mine where we're awaiting a news conference, that news conference expected to start at any moment. As we wait for that, let's go on and talk more about this -- what's becoming an even sadder story as the minutes go on. Straight to Huntington now and CNN national correspondent, Keith Oppenheim.

Hi, Keith.


And one of the things that we're expecting to hear about at this news conference, which should start any minute now, is reaction from the officials here about the anger from the families.

Now, the anger was sparked yesterday when an executive said that the miners may not be found. And that came after federal officials said that underground tunneling was no longer safe in the mine and that a fourth bore hole indicated that oxygen levels at that point in the mine were too low for survival.

So at a church yesterday, the families gathered and, through a spokesman, they indicated that they felt that the federal government, as well as the mine operators, were not living up to their duty and were neglecting their responsibilities.


OLSEN: We feel that MSHA, Utah American Energy, Murray Energy and the IPA have failed the six trapped miners. They failed us and our community.


OPPENHEIM: Don, what the families are saying they want is for the mine operators to drill a hole that is large enough to put a rescue capsule down into the mine. Instead what's happening is a much smaller fifth bore hole is underway. It will probably be completed by sometime tomorrow.

And you know, we'll see what they say at this news conference. But likely, I would suspect that what they're going to say is they're not going to drill the larger hole if they don't know exactly where these miners are, because it's such a vast mine. But again, this is all something we're waiting to hear about in just moments from now.

LEMON: As soon as that happens, again, we'll bring it to our viewers live. Keith Oppenheim joining us from Huntington, Utah. Keith, thank you for that.

And again, we'll bring it to you live here in the CNN NEWSROOM as soon as it happens.

Smashing windows, venting their fury. Check that out. Relatives of some of the 181 coal miners trapped since Friday in Eastern China, well, they stormed a mining office, company office.

They're desperate for word on their loved ones. But they say the company has been tight-lipped about rescue efforts. The miners have been trapped since Friday, when two shafts became flooded. Crews are still trying to pump out the water, amid fading hopes that the men survived.

Disasters are all too common in Chinese mines, which are seen as the world's deadliest.

PHILLIPS: And we're just getting video in of Air Force One landing in Quebec. The president of the United States onboard there. He's coming in to meet with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to friendly neighbors, and obviously vital partners.

Actually, landing in Ottawa. I apologize for that.

We are told that the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, and also Mexican President Felipe Calderon will meet together with the president, talk about trading, of course.

It's a two-day North American leaders summit. It's bringing them all together there in the country. Not only talking about economic prosperity but also border security and competitiveness with India and China, specifically China, due to the product safety issues that have come up in the past couple of months.

We will take those conversations live as they hold their various news conferences.

LEMON: Absolutely do that. A new year and a fresh start, Kyra. But at Virginia Tech the shadow of last spring, well, it looms large. How are the students and faculty coping?

PHILLIPS: But this prescription painkiller use skyrockets. Do Americans have a major drug problem?

LEMON: And she inspired the snarky headline. Rhymes with rich. I won't say what it is. And eventually did some time for tax evasion. We're going to look back at the life of hotel billionaire Leona Helmsley.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


LEMON: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. And that's live pictures in Huntington, Utah, Emery County, where a news conference is expected at any moment to update us on the situation of those six trapped miners, trapped now for more than two weeks. An update shortly.

It is 15 past the hour. Three of the stories we're working on for you, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

He won't go willingly. One of the suspects in that brutal school yard shooting in Newark, New Jersey, says he'll fight extradition. Rudolfo Godinez was arrested in Maryland. He's one of six suspects in custody. Two charges have been dropped against the only officer among the dozen defendants in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan still faces other charges linked to the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Two charges were dropped after a judge learned he wasn't read his rights in an interview.

Jangled nerves right now in the southern Philippines after a strong earthquake struck right off the coast there. No immediate reports of injuries or damage and no tsunami warning has been issued.

PHILLIPS: Well, a new season of learning, a new chapter of hope today at Virginia Tech four months after a student gunman killed 32 people. Fall classes began this morning. A campus determined not to forget is nonetheless turning a page.

With story from Blacksburg, our Brianna Keilar.

Hi, Brianna.


And just as it was back in April, it is today, a lot of people looking forward to moving forward and going on, getting into the school year.

Of course, some people who are very affected, very close to the massacre that occurred here in April, in particular, one girl who told CNN that she is still suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder every day. She's having flashes and moments that she struggles to get through. She was one of a few people in a German class that senior gunman Seung-Hui Cho barged into. She was one of the few people there who was not shot.

But when you talk with a lot of people around the university and in the Blacksburg community, people like the captain of the Blacksburg police, Bruce Bradbery, it's amazing that people are really going into this new school year with a lot of optimism.


BRUCE BRADBERY, CAPTAIN, BLACKSBURG POLICE: Get to the point where you throw up your hands and say enough is enough. You know, it's got to stop. So we'll go from day to day. And hopefully, today will be bright and sunny and nothing significant will happen, and we'll get this year started on a good note.


KEILAR: And that optimism is also reflected in the numbers here. Officials here at the school saying they are expecting a record number of students in this year's freshman class -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, to make things even tougher, reports of a carbon monoxide leak with some of the students today?

KEILAR: That's exactly right. Now, yesterday at about noon a permanent memorial was unveiled. And about at that same time came in these reports of a carbon monoxide incident in an off-campus apartment.

Now at this point -- well, I should tell you that several people had to be treated because of carbon monoxide poisoning. And at this point five of them, all female students at Virginia Tech, are in either serious or critical condition at Duke and the University of Virginia medical centers.

And what's really quite a shame here, Kyra, is that the captain of the Blacksburg police tells me that it really came down to a malfunctioning 25-cent valve, as he put it, on a water heater. And that's what's to blame here.

PHILLIPS: All right. Brianna Keilar, we'll of course be covering -- checking in with you throughout the day as the memories -- or the honors continue. Thanks.

LEMON: Dangerous Dean. A hurricane cuts a deadly path through the Caribbean. Where the storm is headed next, well, we'll tell you. Moments away. Stay with CNN, your hurricane headquarters.


LEMON: It is plowing through the Caribbean, Hurricane Dean leaving death and destruction in its wake.

Just hours ago the storm left parts of Jamaica bruised and battered. A tourism official in the capital called the situation absolutely scary. A state of emergency is in places across the island.

In the Cayman Islands, there's a curfew. The hurricane roared south of it, as well, dumping a lot of rain and downing a lot of trees. No deaths reported there so far.

And across the Caribbean we've heard of at least seven deaths.

At this hour Dean is aiming for the Yucatan Peninsula, and it could be a monster Category 5 by the time it hits. No idea where that will be yet.

So tourists, well, they're packing into planes, and residents are boarding up and stocking up.

Raging floodwaters have killed at least six people in Oklahoma and forced dramatic rescues. The central part of the state is swamped, thanks to what's left of Tropical Storm Erin. Hardest hit: the town of Kingfisher. And that's where we find Tierney Koch of CNN affiliate KOCO, or Coco, as we call it.

Hi, Tierney. What's happening there?

TIERNEY KOCH, KOCO CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don, actually, some good news. I want to tell you the sign is the line. The high water that was here last night and this morning, as you can see, has receded. And if you look back here live, this is Highway 81. It's been shut down from overnight and into this morning. It is now reopened. They're actually waiting for us to get out of the lane, one of these lanes so they can open back up fully.

It's been a busy morning for the residents here in Kingfisher. They're getting their first look at the damage of their businesses and their homes. A lot of them spent the night at the Red Cross shelter here at the county fairgrounds.

Also, for the police officers and the firefighters, now that the water is receding, they can get a better idea of how much damage the city will have to clean up after the fact.

Just to give you some numbers that I just got in from a news conference that just took place a couple of minutes ago, 18 people stayed in the Red Cross shelter here in the county. Thirty-five homes just in Kingfisher alone have some damage. One hundred in Kingfisher County have some damage. Fifteen businesses have been affected.

Now, that may not seem like a lot to you, but this is a small knit community. So when you add those numbers together, this is a largely impacted area -- Don.

LEMON: Tierney, thank you so much for that report. And we certainly wish you guys well there at our affiliate, KOCO, as we say, Coco.

She did a nice job with that.

Thank you, Tierney.

When weather becomes the news, count on CNN to bring it to you first. And if you see severe weather happening in your area, make sure you send us an I-Report. Go to and click on "I-Report" or type into your cell phone and share your photos and your video with us.

PHILLIPS: Well, on Wall Street, investors had a calm morning. But things have taken a worse for the worse. Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange.

Bring us up to speed, Susan.


Well, we've had a lot extreme weather here on Wall Street, too.

Stocks were basically flat all morning. But shortly before noon, things went downhill. Leading the way, lower shares of major financial companies on more worries about the nation's credit markets.

Right now, the Dow Industrials close to session lows. These are not triple-digit losses, but we don't have any nice follow-through from Friday's big rally.

Dow is down 83 points or about 2/3 of a percent lower. Ditto for the NASDAQ. The broader S&P 500 is down about 1 percent.

We're also seeing shares of major energy companies slide, as oil prices dip more than $1.50. This is the latest forecast project Hurricane Dean will spare key oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.

The gulf, of course, home to half of U.S. refining capacity and pumps a third of its oil.

So no relief, perhaps, for tourists in the Mexican -- the Gulf of Mexico. But certainly for refinery operations there at this point -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, you mentioned that rally on Friday. But still, the nation's lenders are not out of the woods yet.

LISOVICZ: Far from it, Kyra. And that perhaps is one reason why investors are still on edge.

The latest fall out, mortgage lender First Magnus Financial, which says it's laid off nearly all of its 6,000 employees and shut the doors at all of its offices.

First Magnus did not sell those risky sub prime loans that are at the epicenter of the mortgage meltdown. But the company says it got caught in the credit crunch that followed and that is now battering the entire mortgage industry.

On a related note, troubled lender Countrywide Financial has reportedly started cutting jobs, as well. "The Wall Street Journal" said the company has laid off workers at its full spectrum lending unit, which handles home lanes rated between prime and sub prime. No word on how many people may have lost their jobs there.

And another lender, Thornburg Mortgage, says it was forced to sell more than $20 billion of assets just so it could start lending money again. A few weeks ago the company was forced to stop taking new applications for home loans.

Shares of Countrywide and Thornburg are each down at least 7 1/2 percent this afternoon.

In the next hour of NEWSROOM, I'll tell why you users of a popular online phone service were left on hold for two days. But they can hear us now, Kyra.

Back to you.

PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks so much, Susan. Talk to you in a little bit.

LISOVICZ: You've got it.

LEMON: Back now to Emery County, Utah, where we're still awaiting a press conference on the conditions of those six miners still trapped inside the mine. Haven't been heard from in two weeks. Very interesting as to what officials will say about the next move in a mountain they say is very unstable, and they're saying most likely now they may not be able to find these miners. An update coming up shortly.

PHILLIPS: And straight ahead, a storm system turns into deadly -- or turns deadly, rather, in Minnesota. Next in the CNN NEWSROOM an I-Report from the land of 10,000 lakes.

LEMON: And a plane lands and then this. Can you imagine? Find out what happened to the passengers. Straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

Special delivery, huh?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: There you go. Right for you.

And I'm Kyra Phillips. We had a hard time figuring out our names.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, right now we are waiting for that news conference out of Utah regarding that rescue effort for six miners. Family members coming forward more frustrated than ever because officials have said it may be too unstable and not safe enough to go into that cave and search for those miners. Family members feel that since their loved ones and family members have been trapped since August 6th, that officials now are just abandoning their loved ones. And it was hard when officials came forward to say they think those missing miners may never be able -- or they may now never be able to be found.

We're waiting for that news conference. It's just getting trickier and it's getting harder by the day. We'll take it live when it happens.

LEMON: We're also following other developing news, especially on the weather front, here today in the CNN NEWSROOM. Massive flooding in southeastern Minnesota has left at least six people dead. The National Weather Service says some areas got up to a foot of rain. Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate. And CNN i-Reporter Reed Welch, well he is a freelance photographer in Minnesota who woke up to a real mess this morning and he joins us now by phone.

And, Reed, I've been looking at some of your photographs here. Simply amazing. How soon after this flooding did you get out there and start taking these pictures?

REED WELCH, CNN I-REPORTER: Well it actually -- most of the flooding happened on Saturday night. So I believe yesterday morning, me and my family just decided to go see what was happening around the county and it was just devastation -- mudslides, floods.

LEMON: Can you see CNN from where you are now? Can you see the . . .

WELCH: Oh, I can.

LEMON: You can. Tell us -- describe those pictures and where you are as we roll through these pictures on the air.

WELCH: This is La Crescent, Minnesota. It's right by train tracks that were fallen down. The rapids were very severe.

LEMON: All right. My goodness. Look at this.

WELCH: Yes. And here is Hokah, Minnesota. This used to be Tri- State Auto. It was an auto sales place. And they got most of their cars out of the parking lot. But there were a few that were stuck.

LEMON: And then this is a camper. Was anyone in this camper or was it just sitting there on this property?

WELCH: This camper, actually nobody was in. So thankfully nobody in Brownsville (ph) that I've heard about has been injured or hurt.


And this, my goodness. These are huge trees. Looks like they've been there for a long time. Just pulled right out of the ground, Reed.

WELCH: Yes. This is also in Hokah, right across the street from the Tri-State Auto area.

LEMON: As you're doing this, as we keep rolling through these pictures, what were people doing as you were shooting this? I mean, this looks like a beautiful shot here. But, you know, obviously, as you were shooting this, the storm had just rolled through, at least the rains or the flooding from that.

WELCH: Yes, everybody was -- a lot of people were out taking pictures, checking out the damage, making sure that loved ones were all right. Other than that, everybody was keeping all the emergency crews away pretty well, letting them do their jobs.

LEMON: Was that -- is this is a bridge where this car was crushed? And was anyone in this car?

WELCH: This was a bridge. There was someone in the car. The owner is all right. My brother actually tried driving this way to get home because he was cut off from the area where we live. And it was just totally flooded. Took the car right up and dropped it right on the bridge.

LEMON: Right. And that's not your brother's car?

WELCH: No. No.

LEMON: Did your brother make it home safely?

WELCH: He did. He had -- they had to stay over in Wisconsin for the night before any roads could open.

LEMON: Well, good, I'm glad he's OK.

This is a train track or trestle here that has just been completely sort of shaken up and demolished here, right?

WELCH: Yes, there's a few tracks where trains derailed actually over in the Wisconsin area.

LEMON: Yes. Reed, these pictures are fantastic. I was just wondering what is -- is this a shelter?

WELCH: This right here?


WELCH: Yes. This is a shelter in my hometown of Caledonia. And we live on top of a bluff. So we weren't damaged barely at all. Nothing really happened up here. So a lot of people from smaller downs down by the river, lower areas, are coming up to Caledonia and over to Spring Grove, Minnesota.

LEMON: Did this place fill up that you're looking at now?

WELCH: They were expecting that there was going to be about 200 people yesterday. And I did believe that they did fill up.

LEMON: Well, Reed Welch, fantastic pictures. And we're glad you're safe and your family member's safe. And we thank you for joining us in the CNN NEWSROOM. If anything happens, are you going to be an i-reporter for us again?

WELCH: I sure will.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Reed. Have a great day. Good luck to you guys.

WELCH: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Jacqui Jeras, what a rainmaker that storm turned out to be. And what would we do without our i-Reporters that bring us the pictures and the experience firsthand?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I know. Wow, just very compelling pictures. And just gives you a great idea of just how powerful water can be.

You know, this is the area of Minnesota that he was talking about. Right here in the Hiawatha Valley. Extremely beautiful country. But the rain came through, very, very quickly. Anywhere between seven and 17 inches from a line from about Mankato to Owatonna, over towards Rochester and then in Winona. And that's where all the flooding occurred. And, of course, it did continue into Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, more rain showers moving through there today. We've got a very active jet stream pattern. So the entire week is going to be seeing a series of storms and additional rainfall. So we're concerned about renewed flooding in the area. There are the warnings which remain in effect. And there you see the watches for that latest batch that has come on through.

Now flooding has also been a problem in the last 12 to 24 hours. And northern Illinois and across the Ohio River Valley, there you can see all of the green. The light green are the watches. The dark green are the warnings. That includes the Cleveland area. So this is really going to be a very saturated area over the next couple of days.

There you can see the showers and thundershowers. Some of them are going to be severe. A new watch was just issued for Cincinnati to Columbus, on over towards the Pittsburgh area. Large hail and damaging winds will be the biggest threat outside of the flood.

I'm sure you've also seen all the video coming in out of Oklahoma from yesterday and the flood rescues occurring there from what's left of Tropical Storm Erin. That is still kind of holding a bit of an identity here across central parts of Missouri and bringing some heavy rain from Lebanon on up towards Rolla.

Now we're a little concerned about what's going to happen here with what's left from Erin. It's probably going to get swung on up into that system into the Ohio Valley and could really enhance the rainfall there again for tomorrow.

Now this map is our Google Earth animation. And I want to show you this because it gives you a good idea of the haves and have notes. This is from USGS. Every single one of those little dots, your legend up on the top. Red means dry. Black and blue means very wet. So here you can see all of this down here into the Oklahoma area, all of the blacks and the blues, meaning that those rivers are flowing very, very high and we're starting to see that well, as well across parts of the Midwest. Look at this around Milwaukee, down towards Chicago. And then the drought conditions across the southeast. These folks wish they could get in on a little bit of that rain action.


PHILLIPS: All right, Jacqui, we'll keep checking in on all the action with you. Appreciate it.

When weather becomes the news, you can count on CNN to bring it to you first. If you see severe weather happening in your area, just send us an i-Report. Go to Click on I-Report or type into your cell photo and share your photos or video with us.

Now seeing pictures like these, you may fear the worst. China Airlines plane taxis to a stop, then explodes in a ball of fire. But amazingly, all 165 people onboard survived. It happened on the Japanese island of Okinawa. And according to the airline, the plane skidded a bit on the landing starting that fire. Then everyone was ordered to evacuate on emergency slides. Now just as the last crew member slid down and the pilot jumped from the cockpit, the thing blew up. An investigation is underway and the airlines other 737s are grounded pending a through investigation.

LEMON: Flying frightening enough for most people. But can you imagine that happening.

Another live event happening today in the CNN NEWSROOM. You can see officials there getting ready for a press conference to update us on the condition of the search for those six missing miners. It grows dimmer and dimmer by the day, really by the hour. We're going to get an update for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

PHILLIPS: Haven't got time for the pain? Well, you're not alone. Americans are using prescription pain pills at an astonishing rate. And some say it's a big cause for concern. We'll have details straight ahead from the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Well, popping pills, increasing in popularity as the use of prescription painkillers soars. DEA stats crunched by the Associated Press shows some pretty scary numbers. An astonishing amount of prescription painkillers were bought over the past decade. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen here with all the details.

What did you find out?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, these increases are really incredible. I mean, you know that more and more people are taking painkillers. You sort of know it intuitively. But these numbers from the Associated Press, between 1997 and 2005, prescription drug used went up 90 percent. And we're talking about drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin, Morphine. OxyContin is actually responsible for most of this increase. The use of OxyContin went up sixfold between 1997 and 2005.

PHILLIPS: So what's the reaction, you know, for the various experts to the study?

COHEN: Well, we talked to experts. There was really a mixed bag of reaction. They said on the one hand, this is in some way as good thing. It used to be decades ago that doctors told patients to tough it out and so what if you're in pain. You know, you'll get through it. And they didn't want to help people with pain by and large. And so they were -- pain medications were under prescribed for a long time. And so now in some ways all that's happening is that things are being set right. Also, the population's aging. So more and more people are taking pain meds because more and more people are older and really do need it. But, of course, there is the flip side to that coin, which is that the experts say there are also people who are abusing the system. There are people who pressure doctors. They see ads on TV and they say to the doctor, I want that. I want that. And they pressure doctors.

PHILLIPS: But doctors abuse the system as well. We've seen a number of doctors over-prescribe or just give things as soon as the patient says that they want them, because there's money to be made on these drugs.

COHEN: Yes. The experts we talked to said that it's less sort of nefarious doctors out there sitting down and thinking, how can I make money off of this and running sort of these painkiller prescription mills in order to just become rich. That happens and you hear about it and people get arrested.

More of what it is, is two other things. The experts we talked to said more of what the issue is, is that doctors just are reacting to pressure from patients and hand out these pain meds without sort of thinking, are there other ways to handle this problem. And also the abuse comes when patients get these pain medications, they finish them off and they have more than they need and then they sell or give them to family or friends. So a lot of the people taking medicines without actually having a prescription, that's coming from getting it from the their friends.

PHILLIPS: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

LEMON: Hurricane Dean, you know, it roared through Jamaica, causing some major problems there. Let's head straight there now and John Irvine. He is in Kingston, Jamaica. He is with our affiliate ITN.

John, what's going on now?

JOHN IRVINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, they're clearing up after quite a long and scary night. Though I have to say, the damage is not quite as bad as many forecasters predicted. It seems the eye of Hurricane Dean passed about 50 miles south of Kingston.

There were some pretty scary gusts of wind, up to 150 miles an hour. We were filming late last night. We heard glass shattering around us in our hotel. We thought things were going to get pretty messy.

But thankfully those were only strong gusts of wind at 150 miles an hour. It never became sustained wind of 150 miles an hour. And I think that is what largely spared the island of Jamaica.

LEMON: John Irvine from ITN. Thank you for joining us today, from Kingston, Jamaica. We'll continue to update you on Hurricane Dean throughout our broadcast here. And if you want to impact your world and help the victims of Hurricane Dean, log on to and we can help connect you to the relief programs in the region.

PHILLIPS: And we're waiting for that news conference live out of Utah on the rescue effort for those miners. Not looking good as officials came forward over the weekend thinking they might have been buried alive down in that cave. We'll update you as soon as they bring you up -- or as soon as they step up to the mike.


LEMON: Still awaiting a live update from officials in Utah regarding the mine collapse that has trapped six miners. Still haven't been heard from in over two weeks now. An update expected at any moment.

PHILLIPS: Well, the 13th and final victim. Divers in the water right now at the Minneapolis bridge collapse, searching for the last person on the list of the missing. Meantime, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is calling for the massive I-35W bridge to be built by December of 2008. He tells CNN's AMERICAN MORNING that's a realistic, not hasty timeline.


GOV. TIM PAWLENTY, MINNESOTA: If you look at the new design build process and standards around the country and around the world, that is not an unreasonable or ridiculous timeline. We think that bridge can be built, first and foremost safely, and also appropriately and well within that time frame. We estimate that having that bridge down in direct and indirect cost to our economy and to other things in Minnesota is a half a million to a million dollars a day. And so getting the bridge built promptly is important. But, first and foremost, it will be done safely. And we can do it within that timeline.


PHILLIPS: Pawlenty is also asking for some federal money. He wants the government to designate a state of emergency there in the area because of the bridge collapse. Emergency response costs are in the millions of dollars and local businesses have been hurt because of traffic rerouting.

Well, admired, hated, feared, Leona Helmsley was all those things. A brilliant businesswoman or the queen of mean. Whatever she was called, she forever stamped her name into New York City. Helmsley died today at the age of 87 at her summer home in Greenwich, Connecticut. CNN's Gary Tuchman looks back on her life.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): It was her fourth marriage, but by all accounts Leona Helmsley had never been happier than when she married Harry Helmsley. She had built up a successful real estate career in her own right. But when she married Harry, they were one of the most powerful and wealthy couples in the world.

LEONA HELMSLEY: He's a great romancer and he's brilliant. And he's good looking. And he's rich. I've got everything with him.

TUCHMAN: Leona and Harry Helmsley were most well-known for their hotels. And for Leona's inclusion in advertisements as the self- appointed hotel queen. The author of a book on the Helmsley's says the couple had it all.

RICHARD HAMMER, AUTHOR, "THE HELMSLEY'S": It was a very successful marriage. And as a team, they worked well.

TUCHMAN: But things went downhill. The Helmsleys were indicted for not paying their taxes. And while Harry did not have to face charges because of his health, Leona did.

HELMSLEY: I am not going to jail. I've done nothing wrong. I have done nothing wrong. I'm innocent. My only crime is that I'm Leona Helmsley.

TUCHMAN: Newspaper headlines blared that she once told a maid, "only the little people pay taxes." Something she always denied she said.

HELMSLEY: We paid $344 million in taxes. Of course I didn't say it.

TUCHMAN: The U.S. Supreme Court turned down an appeal for Helmsley. And after a federal judge ordered her to serve a four-year prison sentence, Leona Helmsley collapsed and was rushed to the hospital where she was treated for heart irregularity and hypertension. Only a month later she was off to jail. The author of the Helmsley book believes that Leona forgot about the priorities of life.

HAMMER: We're not here just to make money. And we're not here just to accumulate power. And that's the way she acted. And that then becomes her -- the legacy is the perils of it.

TUCHMAN: For Leona Helmsley, a woman with a brilliant business mind, the downfall was painful. But to most observers, it was also preventible.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.


LEMON: Evangelist Billy Graham is reported in fair condition today, two days after being admitted to a North Carolina hospital for intestinal bleeding. Hospital officials say he had an excellent night. No word when the 88-year-old graham will be released. He is shown here at a funeral of his wife, Ruth, who died two months ago.

PHILLIPS: New York is a city in mourning today. A deadly blaze in an abandoned bank building near Ground Zero killed two firefighters over the weekend. Both were a firehouse that suffered big losses on 9/11. Our Deborah Feyerick has the story.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): They hung the purple bunting and stood at attention. A firehouse that lost 11 men on 9/11, once more united in grief.

CAPT. PATRICK MCNALLY, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT: We lost two of the finest men that you'd ever meet in your life.

FEYERICK: Fifty-three-year-old Robert Beddia and 33-year-old Joseph Graffagnino died fighting a seven-alarm blaze that tore through a crippled building at Ground Zero.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: The building is being abated for asbestos. And the materials that they used to encapsulate the asbestos, you know, are very flammable. So that's probably what happened -- why the fire spread so rapidly because, otherwise, the building is basically a shell.

FEYERICK: A shell because after five years of wrangling between developers, insurance companies and local residents, the building was finally in the process of being demolished one floor at a time. Early reports by the fire commissioner indicate water stand pipes in the building weren't working.

NICHOLAS SCOPPETTA, NYFD COMMISSIONER: We had to lift lines from the street with ropes in order to get it up to the 17th floor because that building being under demolition.

FEYERICK: New York's governor toured the floor where the fire seems to have started.

Everyone is grieving right now. But what about accountability? For a firefighters to be in a building that's that that dangerous, it was a death trap essentially.

GOV. ELLIOT SPITZER, (D) NEW YORK: This is a building that is in the process of being torn down. It was an incredibly complicated process with polyurethane trouds (ph). With separate rooms that had been created to remove and to cleanse people. So it made it that much more complicated from a firefighting perspective. These are questions that everybody is asking right now.

FEYERICK: Behind this fence is the site of the World Trade Center. And directly across the street is the Deutsche Bank. Now when the towers fell, the building was heavily damaged. There was a big controversy as to who should pay to have it demolished, the developers or the insurance companies. As that debate raged, toxic mold grew in a building that already was contaminated with asbestos. The construction finally proceed but then had to stop temporarily when human remains were found this past March.

Julie Menin is with the local community board.

JULIE MENIN, CHAIRWOMAN., NYC COMMUNITY BOARD #1: The building, obviously, has been very controversial in the neighborhood. We've wanted the building to come down. At the same time, the community wants it to come down safely.

FEYERICK: This is a building that you inherited. But it has been a source of great controversy. Many people think it should have come down long ago and that two firefighters to die is almost unconscionable.

SPITZER: Right. They're right. And the building should have been deconstructed, is the term they use, many years back.

FEYERICK: Firefighter Graffagnino leaves behind a wife and two small children. Firefighter Beddia leaves behind a family and a legacy having trained most of the men in this firehouse. A loss that's all too familiar.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


LEMON: New video now. The president in Canada on a summit meeting with the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, and also the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon. There he is. New pictures now of him on the ground there. They're going to be talking trade. The president flew in to Ottawa International Airport and then made his way to Montebello.

But this video is actually of him still in Ottawa. He's not in Montebello. He's going to chopper in to Montebello and he's expected to be there about 2:15 Eastern Time. So there he is, the president of the United States, on the ground, meeting with those folks. Also with him, according to the president, he said Laura and I will go to Quebec City, Canada, to attend the summit of the Americas. Details to come on this story right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

PHILLIPS: Well, should they be armed with knowledge and loaded with weapons? After the recent deadly attack at Virginia Tech, college students in Virginia argue over the right to carry guns on campus. We'll have that straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Well, Hurricane Dean, a killer storm that could get a promotion.

LEMON: Will the category four monster become a category five giant as some have warned?