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CNN NEWSROOM

Tornado Strikes: Oklahoma Farm Takes Direct Hit; China Earthquake Aftermath; Watching Out for Veterans: McCain Talks About His Plans; E-Drugs: Dangers Lurking Behind Internet Medicine

Aired May 26, 2008 - 14:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: A black cloud, a swirling tail, and another tornado takes shape in the southern plains. This hour, the aftermath of numerous twisters, the threat of more, and the helicopter pilot who wouldn't turn away from this one here.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And politics certainly never taking a holiday, not these days. Less than six months before the election, the candidates for president are united in their support of the troops. We'll see how their patriotism translates into policy.

Good afternoon to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Splintered trees, a few walls here and there, lumber and bricks everywhere. This is what Iowa's governor is seeing as he tours what's left of Parkersburg, a third of which is destroyed.

A tornado tore through Parkersburg and nearby New Hartford yesterday. It killed six people; it injured at least 70. Parkersburg mayor says it would have been worse if not for the sirens. And the governor has called on the National Guard to help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHET CULVER, IOWA: In addition, we've been in touch with the White House this morning. We have requested an expedited emergency response that will be granted, which means we'll get federal assistance, at least in this community right away, so we can start the cleanup effort.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Well, if you were anywhere near a television Saturday afternoon and you tuned into CNN, this is what you saw live, a tornado bearing down and tearing apart a hog farm in north-central Oklahoma. At least three barns were destroyed as this happened, but everybody who was there is OK.

HOLMES: OK. Now, that's amazing enough for you to watch it on TV. This is the same tornado that was forming as we were watching.

Now, it's incredible to watch these pictures, but can you imagine being the person in that helicopter, the pilot who was right next to this thing getting these amazing pictures? That is KWTV chopper pilot Mason Dunn. And he talked with our Tony Harris after he landed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Why, Mason -- maybe the obvious question -- look at -- the pictures are amazing, by the way. Why were you in the sky in the first place? I mean, were you in the sky to possibly catch and follow a tornado? Was that the assignment?

MASON DUNN, KWTV NEWS CHOPPER PILOT: Oh, yes. That's normal practice around here. We've been chasing storms, following tornadoes with the helicopter since like 1979, 1980.

HARRIS: Do you ever get nervous up there doing this kind of work?

DUNN: No. No, not really. You know, we have a job to do, and we know where to be and where not to be,. And you know, our focus is to, you know, film the tornadoes that you're seeing. And we can tell exactly which way they're moving, and I try to warn -- you know, advise the people ahead of it.

HARRIS: How far away were you from the particular funnel cloud that we're looking at now and the one that did so much damage to the pig farm?

DUNN: Basically those tornadoes, I was about two miles away from. You'll notice the helicopter turning a lot.

HARRIS: Yes.

DUNN: It starts kind of, you know, sucking you in, so to speak. And so you have to, you know, keep flying away from it, while you're trying to, you know, keep the picture on.

HARRIS: So it's actually -- you can actually at times feel it pulling you in?

DUNN: Oh, yes. That's common.

HARRIS: Whoa!

DUNN: You know, it's a common deal. They talk to me about it and tell me, you know, where I need to be and where not to be, and they send the best photographer with me. You know.

HARRIS: Well, here's what's interesting, Mason. Part of what you were doing is warning people to sort of stay away, but did you think that the view of the storm you were providing was actually drawing people to the event?

DUNN: What do you mean, like storm trackers out there? HARRIS: Yes. You're broadcasting the pictures, and I'm wondering, even as you're telling folks, you know, this is a serious storm, and you can see the damage it's doing, stay away, is there a part of you that wonders if you're drawing people to the event?

DUNN: Well, kind of.

HARRIS: Yes.

DUNN: But it's Memorial weekend, and we've chased storms before Memorial weekend. And there is just a ton of people out there driving around. The highways look like freight -- look like trains coming.

HARRIS: Really?

DUNN: You know, there's so many people out there. And I can't control that.

HARRIS: No, you certainly can't.

DUNN: You know?

HARRIS: Yes.

DUNN: So we try to tell them, you know, not to, but, you know, they want to go out there and see an historic event.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: That is just amazing. And Mason Dunn -- you recognize this video? Yes, this was him as well. That was a deer stuck on a frozen lake. This was happening last year.

Well, he was the pilot who flew low enough that the wind from the rotor could blow the deer back to shore. A lot of you all will remember this, but yes, that's Mason once again doing his thing, saving lives again, I guess, if you will, there, Mason Dunn.

(WEATHER REPORT)

KEILAR: Today the world's most populous nation announced a new exception to its one-child law. China said parents who lost only children in the earthquake may have one additional offspring.

And also today, the government warned of the danger of rising quake lakes.

Here's CNN's Hugh Riminton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is one of more than 30 so-called quake lakes that pose, according to the Chinese authorities, the most immediate, serious danger to people living in the earthquake zone. And behind me you can see some Chinese soldiers who have just boarded a yellow raft. They're beginning to make their way up this lake. It already goes more than five kilometers up river, where it is in the act of drowning as the lake rises, drowning various villagers and houses. There were 8,000 to 9,000 people living up behind here. Those who survived the earthquake itself have now been evacuated.

But to give you an idea of what this quake like is all about, there's been a massive landslide that's come down here, and it has cut across this river, the Charping (ph) River. It's an extremely unstable arrangement at the moment.

The lake is rising by two meters a day, and that's without any major rainfall. It's expected in the next five or six days, at the current rate of growth, this lake will rise up sufficiently. It will be about where I'm standing now, and it will start to spill over, potentially disastrously, down into the valley below where there are tens of thousands of people still living. There's an evacuation plan just on this river right now to move 50,000 people.

And all this rubble, this massive amount of material, has come from this mountain just up behind me. And when the earthquake struck on May the 12th, virtually an entire mountainside exploded down into this valley. And it is the weight of all of this that is causing a dam so immense, that it is blocking it up, creating this lake.

Now, in other quake lakes, they're looking at options to blow up, by controlled explosions, parts of these landslides in the hope that they can effect a measured release of the water. They've had geologists here and experts looking at it. They say there's just so much rubble and rock here, they can't use that option in this example.

They're going to try to bring up bulldozers and excavators up a very, very dangerous road, former road up here, and try to scour out a spillway so that as this lake rises, it can release bit by bit, and release some of that pressure without it having an explosive collapse that would just be almost beyond imagination, the damage that it could do. And the Chinese authorities say there are 34 or 35 quake lakes that are giving them real concern at the moment, as I say, with some 700,000 people downstream in danger.

Hugh Riminton, CNN, on the Charping (ph) River in China.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Well, America still at war, paying solemn tribute today to the troops who died for their country. A live look here at the nation's capital. And some of the people have been filing in all weekend really, past the Vietnam Memorial. And the walls there at the memorial bear the names of more than 58,000 Americans who died in that conflict in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, across the Potomac River, a somber afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery. You're taking a look here at Section 60. That section is designated for the most recent conflicts of war, the men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some 500 men and women buried in that particular section, those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Well, President Bush today, in his role as commander in chief, delivered remarks at Arlington National Cemetery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this Memorial Day, I stand before you as the commander in chief and try to tell you how proud I am of the sacrifice and service of the men and women who wear our uniform. They're an awesome bunch of people, and the United States is blessed to have such citizens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, every day at Arlington National Cemetery, there are about 30 funeral services that take place there. Again, that is five days a week throughout the year, every year at Arlington National Cemetery. Those are the fallen troops or veterans of earlier conflicts.

I spoke yesterday with the head chaplain who performs those emotional services.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COL. CHARLIE STUTTS, ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY CHAPLAIN: There is a lot of compassion fatigue, as you would call. We work at not letting that happen as we take time to reflect, then take time to renew for ourselves.

We do connect with families, which is so important that we do that. As we care for them, that way it doesn't become a routine. We know the individual, know how special they are, know the needs of the family. And that way when we talk to them on the phone about a week before the service happens, it gives us that point of connection.

And then on that day of committal, when we see them about 30 minutes before the service, we've already made that connection. We're able to talk with them, talk about the service, and then go through that service together. And that snippet of time is really important and makes really a big difference in their lives in this time of their most...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, again, that was Colonel Charlie Stutts. He's a senior chaplain at Arlington National Cemetery, one of the seven at Arlington National Cemetery responsible for conducting those 30 funerals every single day.

KEILAR: John McCain outlines his plans for veterans' health care as he marked Memorial Day, and he talks about a new G.I. bill in Congress that he did not support. We'll have a live report.

HOLMES: Also, prescription drugs can be just a mouse click away, prescribed by a doctor you have never met. We'll take a look at this illegal and sometimes deadly practice.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: John McCain says that it's a stain on America's honor when veterans don't get the treatment and benefits that they deserve. The presumptive Republican nominee talked about veteran's health care a short time ago in New Mexico, and he also mentioned the G.I. bill, an updated version of education benefits for veterans that passed the Senate last week without his support.

Our Mary Snow joining us now from Albuquerque.

Mary, he sort of explained where he was coming from, but of course some people will wonder if it's going to be enough for him to avoid criticism.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, and he's taken a lot of criticism, particularly from Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama.

Today, Senator McCain did not mention Obama by name, but he addressed the concerns about his opposition to the G.I. bill. Bottom line, Senator McCain says he opposes it because he fears that it would not provide enough incentives for people to stay in the military.

He has an alternative, he says. He wants to tie some of these educational benefits with length and service.

Here's a little bit of what he had to say earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At a time when the United States military is fighting in two wars and we're finally, finally beginning the long overdue and very urgent necessity of increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps, one study estimates that Senator Webb's bill will reduce retention rates by 16 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Now, there are some critics who are saying that they do not buy that argument, that the retention rate would really be hurt by this, saying rather that these education benefits would be big incentives for people to stay in the military. But Senator McCain said basically these incentives come after three years in the service, and they're pretty of the same for people who have reenlisted. So he wants to kind of even it out, in his terms, in order to tie it to length of service.

He's also, Brianna, really trying to hit hard about how much experience he has had in the military. And as we saw last week, took a target at Senator Obama, at one point mentioning the fact that he chose not to serve in the military.

This is John McCain trying to put out the message that, as he said, no one will ever second-guess him on military affairs. He has been trying to paint Obama as not being knowledgeable about military affairs. And of course that's something that Senator Obama has really come back hard at him, saying, you know, that argument really just doesn't make any sense -- Brianna.

Mary Snow following John McCain there in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Thanks so much.

And for all of the latest campaign news at your fingertips, go to CNNPolitics.com. We also have analysis there from the best political team on television. Again, that's CNNPolitics.com.

(BUSINESS REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Prescription drugs -- operative word, "prescription" there -- they are regulated for a good reason, because they can be dangerous, addictive, even deadly. But a CNN special investigation has uncovered a huge hole in the safety net. With a click of a mouse, almost anyone who wants to buy medications can on the Internet. It's so easy, it is shocking.

Here's CNN's Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nancy Fitzpatrick wanted to kill herself. She was facing eviction and had no money.

NANCY FITZPATRICK, ATTEMPTED SUICIDE: I wanted to end it. I wanted to die. And so, I took about 50 Somas. I took 80 amitriptyline. And that's all I remember.

GRIFFIN: She had been living a secret life away from her family, but she lived and lived to tell the story to her brother, David, a CNN investigative producer. It's a story about just how easy it is to buy dangerous drugs purchased online.

FITZPATRICK: I just typed in "Soma" and all these Web sites popped up. And I just picked one.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Did you ever speak with a doctor?

FITZPATRICK: No. No.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Then how did this woman in Ocean City, Washington, get this bottle of the prescription muscle relaxant Soma, prescribed by this doctor, Kareem Tannous, in Long Island, New York?

(on camera): Can I ask you, did you ever see this patient, Nancy Fitzpatrick? Can you let me know how these prescriptions are filled, sir?

(voice-over): That's what this story is all about, because prescription drugs are the new crack and heroin, and Internet sites that sell them, according to the National Pharmacy Board, are the new drug dealers.

CARMEN CATIZONE, NATIONAL ASSN. OF PHARMACY BOARDS: You can order virtually any drug in the world by simply clicking a mouse and going to the various Web sites that exist out there.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Don't believe him? Neither did I until I pulled up LinePharmacy.com. The site sent us an e-mail saying all orders made are still subjected to doctors' evaluation. But take a look at what happened when I ordered Prozac.

When I placed my order, the health survey on the site was already filled in. Within 24 hours, the package was sitting at my front door.

(on camera): And this is what is inside. It's Prozac in its generic form, prescribed to me by a doctor I never heard of somewhere in Tennessee.

Isn't this illegal? Of course it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is illegal in all of the states.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But individual states are hard-pressed to enforce their laws, says Catizone.

(on camera): Can you help me understand how this works, sir?

(voice-over): As for the doctors' names on the bottle...

(on camera): Can I show you this prescription bottle, sir? Excuse me. Dr. Tannous...

(voice-over): ... Dr. Kareem Tannous, whose name was on Nancy Fitzpatrick's prescription, lives in a $4 million home on four acres on Long Island.

FITZPATRICK: They need to be stopped. It's -- it just -- it boggles my mind that it's so simple.

GRIFFIN: It could be stopped right here in Washington, but when pharmacy regulators came to Capitol Hill asking lawmakers for a national law to stop Internet sales, the Boards of Pharmacy says it got a chilling response.

CATIZONE: And the response has always been, "Show us the dead bodies."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Well, when we come back, the tragic evidence that lawmakers said they wanted. Drew investigates a young man's death and follows the illegal prescription trail across the country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My brother, Byron Norwood, was a sergeant with the United States Marine Corps. He was so funny. He made all of us laugh. He had the greatest sense of humor. He loved America, his family and his Marines more than anything else in the world. He was killed in action in Fallujah on November 13, 2004 during a rescue mission to help save the lives of seven wounded Marines trapped in a house.

Byron, I love you and I miss you every moment of every day.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, bottom of the hour here in the CNN NEWSROOM, and here are three of the stories that we are working on.

In Parkersburg, Iowa about a third of that town gone after a tornado-filled weekend. Twisters killed six people in Iowa and a 2- year-old child in Minnesota. Dozens of people are hurt, hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed.

The thought of (ph) landslides and floods looming over central China. It's two weeks now after a devastating earthquake. People fled a village today fearing a potential landslide. The official death toll has now topped 65,000.

And no aliens so far, but we've got plenty of rocks to show you. We're getting the first pictures from NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander, which touched down near the Martian North Pole yesterday. A NASA official compares the soft landing to a hole in one with a golf ball from 10,000 miles away.

Good shot.

KEILAR: We're investigating a glaring loophole in prescription drug safety. Before the break, we told you about medicines sold illegally over the Internet with the help of corrupt doctors and fly by night pharmacies.

More now from CNN's special investigations unit, and correspondent, Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN (on camera): He was 38?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was 38.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): She doesn't want us to show you his face. She doesn't even want us to use his name or hers, for that matter. Her husband's family is still having a hard time with the accidental overdose that killed him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once you get a person addicted to something, which is what has happened, it takes more and more pills and more and more pills his body couldn't take it anymore. GRIFFIN: The coroner ruled his death an accidental overdose. Soma was the drug he used to go to sleep. Only he constantly needed more and more of it. By the end, his weekly addiction of 90 pills was costing more than $400 a month.

She thought it was legal and thought because a doctor's name was on that bottle somehow her husband was under a doctor's care. She now knows only too late none of the doctors ever saw her husband and one of them was actually in another country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These pharmacy people that are doing this and these doctors that are doing this, they don't give a daggone (ph) about people, it's just the almighty dollar. That's all it is.

GRIFFIN: She was unable to let it go, and she traced her husband's prescriptions to this tiny pharmacy in Lyon, Kansas. She filed a complaint with the Kansas State Board of Pharmacy. And this past March, the state ordered Hogan's out of business, saying it violated numerous state regulations. There's a criminal investigation as well.

(on camera): By the end, this little pharmacy was doing huge business. Two shipments a day leaving here -- 300 to 500 packages at noon, another 300 to 500 packages at the end of the day. One thousand prescriptions a day leaving Hogan's pharmacy here in little Lyons, Kansas.

(voice-over): But that is barely a dent in the Internet drug business. Remember the Soma Nancy Fitzpatrick used to try to kill herself? Well that came from a pharmacy operating out of this second- floor office in American Fork, Utah.

When we walked in the door at Roots pharmacy, we found boxes and boxes of empty FedEx envelopes waiting to be filled. And when we went upstairs -- (on camera): We want to ask you about selling these drugs over the Internet without prescriptions.

(voice-over): -- the staff inside wouldn't open the door. Minutes later, to our surprise, one of the employees decided to empty the trash.

(on camera): This is a whole big bag of empty pill bottles.

(voice-over): What kind of pills?

Carisoprodol -- known to you and me and the addicts of it around the world as the muscle relaxant, Soma. Big bottles, wholesale bottles, used to fill prescriptions sent around the world.

As for the boss? He slipped out of the pharmacy --

(on camera): Kyle (ph) can we talk to you?

(voice-over): -- and into his pickup truck.

(on camera): Kyle, we'd like to talk to you about the Internet drug business you're running out of this pharmacy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband was a victim of Internet use. That's exactly what he was.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Drew and his producer David Fitzpatrick blogged about their investigation, that included a behind the scenes account of where their research led them. You can link to it from our web page at CNN.com/360.

HOLMES: You are taking another live look at Arlington National Cemetery. You can see the flags in front of those tombstones -- flags in (ph). It happens every Memorial Day weekend where the troops from a certain company will actually go out and place those flags one foot in front of all the headstones of those buried at there at Arlington National Cemetery.

Specifically, you're looking at section 60 of that cemetery, which is designated for those who have fallen in the most recent U.S. conflicts, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. About 500 U.S. servicemen and women buried in that particular section.

The federal government, meanwhile, has designated 125 burial sites at national cemeteries. One of the newest just outside of Atlanta. A place where every day is Memorial Day.

Our Reynolds Wolf paid a visit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A world away, unto itself -- 775 rolling acres of manicured lawns and white marble brushing against the clouds. For thousands of American veterans this Memorial Day, it is their final home.

SUE LIPKO, WIDOW OF VIETNAM VETERAN: That's my darling right

WOLF: In the decades ahead, thousands more will likely join them.

BRION MOORE, DIR. GEORGIA NATL. CEMETERY: Each veteran is given the honor to have served our country and it is our honor, duty and responsibility to pay them that same honor in return.

WOLF: Each day, Monday through Friday, lines of cars slowly ascend the winding mountain road, a gentle climb towards heaven. At the top, honor guards stand vigil. Silently, they receive each fallen hero. They salute, and volley. Eternal thanks from a grateful nation. Even a sailor lost at sea is not forgotten. For the families, it is a place of indescribable peace and comfort.

LIPKO: You had a beautiful service, honey. It was absolutely gorgeous here. But it could be only the best for you, because you were the best.

WOLF: Sue Lipko said goodbye to the love of her life in January. This Memorial Day weekend, she has come back for the first time.

LIPKO: I just wish I could hold you again.

WOLF: For a few minutes on a warm but overcast day in late May, she pauses to reflect on retired Air Force Master Sergeant, and Vietnam veteran, Andrew Lipko Jr.

LIPKO: He was a security policeman. He started out as a dog trainer in the K-9 section. When he went to Vietnam it was a hard time for myself and my children. He was in Da Nang. And of course when the news would broadcast bombings in Da Nang, I was very concerned and hopeful and praying that he wasn't near that.

WOLF (on camera): Your son followed his dad into the Air Force?

LIPKO: Yes, he did. And this is a picture of Bill and Andy. After Bill received his commission when they came outside, Bill gave his father the Air Force salute, and then he gave him this coin, which represents the Air Force and the bond the two of them have together.

WOLF (voice-over): Hers is a story with countless variations. All repeating the same theme, wearing the uniform was important. It mattered. In this special place, this sacrifice is never forgotten.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And again, you're taking another live look at Arlington National Cemetery, specifically here section 60, which is designated for the men and women who have fallen in the U.S. most recent conflicts going on now in Afghanistan as well as Iraq.

And as we salute our servicemen and women this Memorial Day weekend, we also want to take the time to remember their families as well as those veterans who have returned home. Several organizations are dedicated to assisting them.

And to find out how you can lend your support, you can go to Impact Your World. That's one of our pages on our Web site. There you'll find links to many of the groups and details on what you can do to help. Again, CNN.com/impact.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In this picture is my little brother, Rich Henkes. Rich's greatest passions were of course his daughter, and he loved playing the guitar. Every time we saw him, he would give me a big bear hug.

Richie died doing something he absolutely loved. He loved the army. He loved serving his country. He was killed in action on September 3, 2006.

(END AUDIO CLIP) KEILAR: Leading our Political Ticker, Barack Obama's growing strength in superdelegates. He's picked up three more, all from Hawaii. Obama spent much of his childhood there, as you may recall. Only two of Hawaii's nine superdelegates support Hillary Clinton.

And Bill Clinton says his wife is the victim of a coverup, and some of his fellow Democrats are to blame. The former president says the party is more likely to lose in November if Hillary Clinton is not the nominee, and he claims some Democrats are trying to cover that up. He says superdelegates are being pressured to make up their minds prematurely.

HOLMES: Jimmy Carter says after June 3, Hillary Clinton should, "give it up." The final two Democratic primaries are that day in Montana and South Dakota. The former president is an uncommitted superdelegate.

Doesn't sound too uncommitted when you hear him telling Hillary Clinton to give it up. He hasn't really left much doubt that he does support Barack Obama.

Carter says a lot more superdelegates will make their choices known after the final two primaries.

And you can get all the latest campaign news, it's all at your fingertips, CNNPolitics.com. We also have analysis from the best political team on television. It's all there -- CNNPolitics.com.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BONNIE ROBERTS, 92-YEAR-OLD CHURCH MEMBER: Just a building, I know. But sure meant a lot to a lot of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: A church vanishes, but faith endures.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a picture of Tuc Church. Tuc was a wonderful guy. He was a great father. He loved the army. He loved his country. He loved to fly.

He was killed on Memorial Day. He died do he what he loved to do. He's greatly missed by his family and by his friends.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KEILAR: Memorial Day weekend is sure to be remembered for all of the devastating tornadoes, testing the resilience of communities and the faith of at least one congregation.

Here's reporter Jacqueline Sit of affiliate KWTV.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how to put words on it. All my memories are here.

JACQUELINE SIT, KWTV REPORTER (voice-over): Every parishioner has a memory, a story to share.

And for Bonnie Roberts, who's been here almost as long as the 103-year-old church, her memory serves her well.

ROBERTS: Thanks to these people, and (INAUDIBLE). They always kept this place going with the help of this minister and this one. Now, we're so grateful for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): I come to the garden...

SIT: At this Sunday service --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): ... while the dew ...

SIT: -- there are no pews or piano, only a makeshift mass with lawn chairs, that's because a tornado tore through their historic church Saturday evening.

SAM JEROME, PASTOR: It's just a building, it's nothing else. You are the church. You are the people.

SIT: Pastor Sam Jerome has ministered for 30 years.

JEROME: Put a lot of time, a lot of your life into it. Now it's gone, but we'll rebuild it.

SIT: For this man of faith, the parish and the people are his livelihood.

JEROME: We know the people here, their children, we know their birthdays, we know their anniversaries. And -- we're just really close.

SIT: A close-knit family, including this 92-year-old who used to play the piano.

ROBERTS: But I won't ever play the piano again.

SIT: But as volunteers sift through the debris --

ROBERTS: Is that the piano?

SIT: -- in the middle of the field is her 300-pound instrument.

ROBERTS: Oh, mercy. I won't ever play it again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you won't. SIT: Here is the last picture taken the day before the storm. Although the church is crumbled, their memories will carry on for generations.

ROBERTS: I'm thankful that -- since it had to go, why, no one lost any lives, and it was just a building, I know, but sure meant a lot to a lot of us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: All right. Take a look at another amazing picture we've seen weather wise over the last several days. It looks like a tornado, but it's a waterspout here. They are far weaker, for the most part, than funnel clouds over land. This one spotted yesterday my the LaFlairs on Leech Lake in Minnesota. A deadly tornado tore through the St. Paul suburb of Hugo that same day.

KEILAR: Firefighters in central California hope to have a six- day old wildfire fully contained by tomorrow. Twenty-nine homes have burned, along with 3,900 acres. And homeowners in the Santa Cruz mountains are being allowed to get a look now at what is left of an hour by hour basis. Hundreds of other families are spending this holiday in evacuation centers with their homes still threatened.

HOLMES: All right. No Martians just yet, but we're just getting started here. Next hour, we'll talk with CNN space guru, Miles O'Brien, and one of NASA's Mars experts about the new Mars Lander mission.

KEILAR: Now, that is getting your cheese face first.

What is this, you say?

Well, you thought the cheeseheads were just in Wisconsin. No, no, no. They're not. We're going to tell you where this rough and tumble competition is taking place.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: OK. It's cheese, people. It's cheese.

That's what they're doing. They're after a roll of cheese. And you can see, it's tough trying to get down there in one piece to grab this particular block of cheese. Check them out.

This is the competition that's happening. This is in western England today. They're sliding, they're somersaulting. They're going after an eight-pound double gloucester cheese.

That is just hard to watch.

That's a woman, isn't it?

The winner of one race was carried off on a backboard after tumbling head over heels. Nineteen people were injured in this thing. The winner gets the cheese -- and that's it. This is a competition that's been held for some 200 years, so it's just a tradition there. You don't really win anything much. But you --

KEILAR: You win cheese, and you lose your dignity.

HOLMES: Is that good cheese?

KEILAR: I sure hope so.

HOLMES: I'm going to get some of that cheese when we get off the air here.

KEILAR: Oh, my goodness.

All right. Well the next hour, much safer hour, of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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