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Four Killed when Tornado Hits Scout Camp; Flooding Affects Midwest Farmers; Obama & McCain Hold Town Hall Meeting
Aired June 12, 2008 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight seconds, the tornado passed. That was, like, the longest eight seconds I've ever had.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It struck fast, and it struck hard.
BEN KARSCHNER, BOY SCOUT: Like a pounding sensation on your back. It wasn't like blowing around. It was just going straight on, not stopping.
LEMON: The terror of a twister. Four boys killed at a scout camp in Western Iowa. Dozens more are hurt. But many lives were saved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I grabbed the kid by the neck, threw him in a shelter, closed the door. Told everybody to get on their hands and knees, protect their heads.
LEMON: The winds passed, but the water stays. Midwestern rivers are still overflowing. And the rain keeps coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Brianna Keilar.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Soaked to saturation, pounded by storm after flood-making storm. And now shredded by twisters. What more can nature throw at the Midwest? From Minnesota and the Dakotas to Missouri, Kansas and Iowa, extreme severe weather, flooding, tornadoes and record rain.
And today, the worst news: an overnight death toll that may still climb.
LEMON: Yes, and the weather is the news, and CNN crews are covering it all for you. Our Sean Callebs is at the Little Sioux Boy Scout Ranch in Iowa. And Susan Roesgen is in non-sunny Sun Prairie in Wisconsin. And our meteorologist, Chad Myers, is working for us in the severe weather center today. Also here at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, we'll have a man who has considerable experience in natural disasters. We're talking about retired Army General Russel Honore. All of it covered for you, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Take a look at this. This is what's left of the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in northwest Iowa. Torn-up tents, pushed-down buildings, and tossed-about trees. The camp and 118 campers sat in the path of a late-night tornado that hit the ground and left very little standing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARSCHNER: It's like -- just -- like a pounding sensation on your back. It wasn't like blowing around. It was just going straight on, not stopping.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Our Sean Callebs joins us now, live from Blanco (ph), Iowa, with the very latest on this.
And it's amazing, Sean, they had four people who were killed in this. It could have been much worse. We're sad for the lives that were lost, though.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, without question, on a pretty grim day here. They were -- these are 93 Boy Scouts who came here for a week to enhance -- enrich their lives, certainly not thinking they would leave knowing some of their friends lost their lives.
We're in the town of Blanco (ph). It's about a 30-minute drive from Little Sioux and that Boy Scout camp. The reason we're here, Iowa's governor and homeland security chief Michael Chertoff are here right now, speaking to the media, even as we address you, Don. What they're focusing on here is just the horrific weather all throughout Iowa.
And certainly, nothing tugs the heart strings like the tornado that roared through here last night, claiming those four young lives. This is what Chertoff had to say about it just a short while ago. Simply devastating.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: This has been a remarkable onslaught of weather. Everything from flooding, unbelievable rain, and, of course, tornadoes all descending at once.
I think everybody had to be particularly touched by the thought of the finest young people from this region being caught up in a -- in a tornado which struck them like a bowling ball. And I guess which they had no chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CALLEBS: He went on to say that, in the spirit of the Boy Scouts, they really operated in a very upstanding tradition, doing what those who survived could to help those who had been injured.
We had a chance to speak to some of the young scouts this morning. There's no really way to really characterize other than a lot of these kids had the thousand-yard stare. Certainly went through a very traumatic experience.
They were inside a structure when the tornado hit about 6:35 last night. They said they got absolutely no warning. And if you listen to what they say, they conjure up some very graphic images.
We saw the pictures of the aftermath there. Listen to how these people describe it, these people who went -- who lived through the horrific tornado last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was getting knocked around. I had dirt flying everywhere. I had rain soaking me. And it was just pure white. And it was a just massive swirling thing, until the tornado passed. It was just basically howling wind. You couldn't hear nothing. You were getting pelted with dirt, rain, rocks, flying debris, pieces of the shelter that were twirling around. It was pretty bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CALLEBS: And the aftermath pretty bad, indeed.
The numbers are worth going over. Once again, Don, four teenagers losing their lives, 13-, 14-year-olds. More than 40 people injured. I spoke with a Red Cross nurse last night, Don. She said some of the injuries are very severe.
When the bricks fell down from a fireplace in that structure, it simply crushed a number of teenagers, including some who had pelvises that were broken, severe fractures, the kind of injuries that they say are going to take some time to fully heal.
But they're also worried about the emotional scars. Who knows how long it's going to take to cope with that -- Don.
LEMON: Yes, something they will never forget.
And I heard one of the boys say earlier in our program they were about to watch a movie, and they ended up in something much more horrific, a nightmare, themselves. Our Sean Callebs reporting from Blanco (ph), Iowa.
We appreciate your reporting, Sean. Thank you very much.
And we're getting more details about these four Boy Scouts. We want to take you over now to our Josh Levs. He's following it for us at our tornado desk. Josh, what are you finding out about these boys?
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hey there, Don. That's obviously one of the biggest things we've been looking for today. What can we learn about these four boys, these four young men who lost their lives in this tragedy?
We have some information now from Omaha.com. I'll tell you their names, first of all, as we've been reporting. We have Sam Thomsen, Josh Fennen, Aaron Eilerts, and Ben Petrzika. These kids were all 13 and 14 years old. Three of them were from Omaha.
Let's take you to Omaha.com. I want to show you, first of all, this first page that we have here, which will tell you the story of Sam Thomsen. It talked about him, from Omaha.com, again. The pastor -- his pastor calls him a great kid.
And he had his own FaceBook page, listing his interests as including Jesus, football, the Huskers and Xbox.
Now I'm going to try to scroll down on this Web site to the next picture, where we can see one of the other students who lost his life who was 14 years old. There you go, Josh Fennen. Rather, 13 years old. That's Josh Fennen, also of Omaha.
His principal called him a good student and a hard worker. He was known as adventurous, and he had a knack for exploring.
Now, we do not have photos of the two other boys, the two other young men, but we have learned about them. This is a page where they write about Aaron Eilerts, where they say that he was from Eagle Grove, Iowa. He had endless talents, a good sense of humor, and would go above and beyond whatever was asked of him.
Finally, the fourth boy over here, Ben Petrzika, who had just finished seventh grade. That's Mary R. Queen (ph) High School. Did not come up. Let's try that again. There you go.
And we're hearing his principal say, "I can tell you so many wonderful things about him. He always gave his best effort, whatever he was doing. And it was a very devastating loss to the school."
So guys, what we're going to be doing throughout this afternoon is updating our Web story here at CNN.com. We have the story throughout the day. We want to be able to share this with you. We're going to give all the details throughout the day, whenever we get the latest from the Boy Scouts, the latest that we have about who these young boys are.
And also the stories of heroism. If you take a look here at the story we have from CNN.com with the photos that are coming up throughout the day. We're going to keep updating this with the latest photos from the scene as people try to help each other through this difficult time.
And again, sharing the stories of rescue that went on and of heroism. Because amid this tragedy, part of what's amazing about this, these kids are so -- too young to ever have to be heroes, but a lot of them were. They were saving each other. Some of them were even saving the families of older people who worked in that area. They used all the skills that they had learned in the scouts to try to save each other.
We have this story going right here, along with the details of these Boy Scouts at CNN.com throughout the day.
LEMON: Josh Levs at our tornado desk. Josh, we appreciate that -- that.
And we want to remind our viewers, of course, we want you to stay out of harm's way, but send your pictures and your videos, if you have any pictures of videos from this tornado, to iReports.com or go to our Web site and click on the iReport logo.
KEILAR: A line of tornadoes slashed a diagonal line across Kansas. So far, we know of two people killed, both near Topeka. One victim was right here in the town of Chapman.
Emergency officials say at least 100 homes are badly damaged or just completely destroyed. And they're being searched for victims today.
The tornado struck about 10:30 local time last night. And also badly damaged, with blown-off roofs and broken windows, the campus of Kansas State University. That is in Manhattan, Kansas. Officials are especially concerned about potential damage to a nuclear reactor on campus.
And of course, some rain is necessary, but too much and fields turn into soggy messes like this one. This is a farmer's nightmare that you're looking at. And this affects every one of us.
CNN's Susan Roesgen is stuck in the mud, stuck in the rain, as well.
I understand it's raining behind you there, Susan. You're in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. I'm in front of a soybean field that is just about gone. Fifty acres of soybeans planted. Only two or three acres is going to be able to be salvaged. This is awful for the farmers. More rain, right now. They're expecting ever more later tonight. It's shaping up to be a disaster for the farmers and a pain in the wallet for the rest of us.
ROESGEN (voice-over): A gentle breeze blows across Jerry Bradley's farm in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. But what looks like a pond in the distance is really acres and acres of his crop under water.
JERRY BRADLEY, WISCONSIN FARMER: This is the worst. I had -- Dad and I were driving around the other day, this is the worst ever. ROESGEN: The Bradley family has farmed this land for 150 years, soybeans and corn. But this year they can't even get into the fields to spray the weeds. The ground is so soft from all the rain that the tractors would sink. And what's the point, when a quarter of his crop has already drowned?
BRADLEY: The ones in the water are dead. They're gone. That's -- anything that's under water that you see, if it's over 24 hours, it's dead. It will not survive.
ROESGEN: Across the Midwest, it's much the same. Flooded fields means a smaller harvest, which will mean even higher food prices for the rest of us. Who knows how much higher?
BRADLEY: Until you roll that harvester across the field, you don't have a clue. It is what it is. You can't control the weather. We've been trying to kill the other elements, but you can't control the weather.
ROESGEN: There is only one solution.
BRADLEY: Hot weather, no wind, sunshine, and stop raining.
ROESGEN: And unless it does stop raining, and soon, the farmers' troubles this summer may be yours before the year is out.
ROESGEN: There's a chance it could be worse, Brianna. That farmer, Jerry Bradley, lost half of his crop in 1988 to a drought.
It's never easy being a farmer. It's especially tough this year. High diesel fuel has made it almost too expensive to run the tractors in the field when they are able to get them out, again.
And we will pay more for those groceries. We'll pay more for the corn products, the corn flakes. We'll pay more for the soybean oil that's used in the biofuels and the soy milk in our lattes. It's going to be a tough year for everybody, I'm afraid -- Brianna.
KEILAR: It sure is. It definitely trickles down. Susan Roesgen for us in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Thanks.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Brianna and Susan.
You know, our Chad Myers was the first to report this last night. As a matter of fact, he was on pretty late last night, here pretty late. And he joins us now to update us.
What we want to know, Chad, what's happening in Iowa right now? Is the worst over? Seeing another line coming through? What can you tell us?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The worst for that side is over, for sure, Don. Now, there is going to be weather on the east side of Iowa and also across the quad cities and into Chicago. That's where the potential for tornadoes, again, will be today.
It's going to be another day where we could have maybe ten or 15 tornadoes. Yesterday there were 50. And it was a very brutal day. You walked in here about 5 p.m., nothing happening. Sat around until 6 p.m. They started to pop a little bit. And then all of a sudden, it all went at the same time. At one point, I had 17 -- 17 different tornado warnings...
MYERS: ... for 17 different storms, all at one time.
LEMON: OK, so today, better for them?
MYERS: Today not as bad. Nothing for the western part of Iowa or Nebraska or Kansas who got hit yesterday, but it's moved to the east a little bit. And that's what we'll be watching.
LEMON: Chad Myers, appreciate that. Thank you, sir.
KEILAR: Once again the Supreme Court sides with detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Does that mean, perhaps, that some will be released? How will this affect the war on terror? We'll get those questions answered from Washington.
And we'll look at the Midwestern weather disasters and the man who helped pull the Gulf Coast through the nightmare of Katrina. Lieutenant General Russel Honore joining us ahead in the NEWSROOM.
KEILAR: Happening now in the CNN NEWSROOM, Barack Obama addressing a town hall meeting in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.
Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... breathing room to refinance or sell their homes.
The third thing that I'll do as president is to keep our promise with America's seniors. Since the New Deal, we've had a basic understanding in this country. If you work hard and you pay into the system, you've earned the right to a secure retirement.
But even though seniors have held up their end of the bargain, many are still struggling to keep pace with rising costs, which can be a worry for the entire family. So I'm going to eliminate income taxes for all seniors making less than $50,000 a year. Eliminate them entirely.
As a -- as a practical matter, this will eliminate income taxes for about 7 million Americans at a savings of roughly $1,400 each year. Seniors in this country should retire with dignity and security. They have earned it. And it also is the reason why we're going to make sure that Social Security is solvent today, is solvent tomorrow, and solvent forever. We are going to stop raiding the Social Security fund, and we will not privatize Social Security.
Finally, it is time we cut through the complexity in our tax code. Deductions and exemptions are built into the system, but ordinary people don't have time to figure out how to maximize the benefits of these deductions and exemptions, at least not unless they're paying a tax preparer.
So when I'm president, we're going to put in place a system where 40 million Americans with a job and a bank account who take the standard deduction can do their taxes in less than five minutes. Less than five minutes. You will basically -- you'll get a form from the IRS that says, "Here's what we think you owe. And if you want to dispute it, you can. If not, just sign it and send it back," and you get your taxes taken care of.
Meanwhile, under John McCain -- now, listen to this. Under John McCain, you could end up having to fill out three tax forms, all using different tax rules, just to pay your taxes.
Under my plan, there's no more worry, no more wasted time and expense. Your pre-paid -- pre-prepared return will come to you in the mail. This will save Americans more than $2 billion in tax preparer fees and more than 200 million hours of work. Now...
LEMON: Barack Obama, talking about tax relief for the middle class. He's there in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, which has a history, really, of going Democratic in presidential elections. It went for Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004. And this is a place where Barack Obama has shown that he has some strength in the Midwest.
Also, want you to know we're keeping an eye on John McCain's whereabouts, as all -- as well right now. He is going to be addressing a town hall meeting of his own. That's going to be in Nashua, New Hampshire. Again, another place that has been trending Democrat in presidential elections. But you'll recall, back in 2000, he had a win there in the primary. And again, of course, this year. So he's going to try to reverse that trend, of course, come November.
We're going to bring you his comments as soon as he begins speaking.
And we want to show you, as well, some of the newest pictures coming into us regarding the -- some of damage there from that tornado we've been talking about all day. Right now we have some ground-level tours of the damage at both the Little Sioux Boy Scout Ranch in western Iowa, as well as tornado damage from Chapman, Kansas.
Want you to take a look at these pictures, starting first with Kansas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're seeing a lot of just roof damage, trees down everywhere. Just all kinds of debris in yards. Looking around, I mean, lots of wood, lots of siding torn off, and like I said, trees splintered everywhere.
Now this is -- these buildings are what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are -- these are the stables, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: You're taking a look here at that Boy Scout camp in Little Sioux, Iowa, where four young teenagers lost their life overnight in a tornado there.
You can just see some of the damage from the trees. You can see the tents before where some of the boys, as well as, obviously, their chaperones, were staying. And the shelter there collapsed, killing four boys, injuring many, many more.
We're continuing to follow this story in the CNN NEWSROOM. We're covering all of the angles of this.
We're also talking about taking charge after a disaster. Well, this man has been there. He has done something like this. Lieutenant General Russel Honore is in the NEWSROOM to weigh in on the tragedies in the Midwest. He'll talk to Don and Chad, next.
And a constitutional clash in the war on terror and a big legal defeat for the Bush administration.
LEMON: "All of a sudden, it was on top of us." A Boy Scout talks about the twister that tore through his Boy Scout camp, killing four people and injuring dozens more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They sounded the sirens, so I run up to the troop shelter. I trip and fall, rolled my ankle, and it was pretty bad. And I walked for a little bit, and then I seen the trees starting to curl back, and I heard the wind pick up. So then I just made an all-out dash for the door and dived in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I noticed the walls were starting to cave in and blowing around. The chimney collapsed. I didn't really know what to do except hunker down and hope for the best.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Well, a lot of those Boy Scouts, they sprang right into action, using some of their Boy Scout training that they had to help those first responders -- until emergency workers got there.
Now how many -- here people are trying to figure out exactly what to do in a disaster. We've been talking about two different disasters here.
Our very own weather expert Chad Myers, he joins us now. And retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore. You remember, he took charge in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He has plenty of experience in dealing with natural disasters.
We thank you for joining us. We have been learning a lot here, just sitting here talking to both of you. We want to talk first about that tornado.
I'm going to let Chad take the first question here. He is our meteorologist here. About?
MYERS: It's a question statement. Those kids, they did it right, General. They had a plan. They had a siren. They heard the sirens. They went to shelter. The shelters just couldn't withstand the force of an EF-2 or EF-3 tornado.
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, you know, the Boy Scouts, like the Army, is an outdoor sport. That's the way we do our business.
LEMON: So the first thing you said that they should do, because some of them were saying at first that they didn't -- they did not get a warning. And that's maybe because the antenna they had. We have the newer weather radio. Maybe it's because the -- their antenna couldn't reach or what have you?
HONORE: Look, the warning when you're outdoors in a risk assessment, you have to be looking at is one that says there's a thunderstorm coming. Are we going to decide to evacuate? Are we going to shelter in place?
And if the threat is a tornado, which a thunderstorm, any thunderstorm at this time of year in that region can offshoot a tornado. So you have to assume you have the worst-case scenario as we do -- did for 37 years in the Army. Then you need to look at, is that shelter on site? Is it underground?
LEMON: So the first warning is the thunderstorm.
HONORE: It is the...
LEMON: And you need to get to shelter.
LEMON: But you said you have to have that shelter in place. HONORE: Yes, if you're going to shelter in place or if you're going to move to a safer place. So for all those scouts that are out there this weekend, one of the things they want to do, I would say to stop these is start looking at, do you have adequate capacity or capability on site, with these thunderstorms and the floods that are happening, to evacuate? And when do you make that decision? Is it a thunderstorm warning or waiting until the tornado alert? That is that last 20 feet you move to shelter. And is this shelter under ground?
So for all the future scouts, because scouting is a very great experience. And we should continue these activities, but for future events, we need to look whether we're going to evacuate at thunderstorm warning.
LEMON: But that's anyone who's outdoors.
LEMON: Chad, it was a possible EF what? Do we know?
MYERS: They think it was an EF-2. They might upgrade it to an EF-3, 120, 130 miles per hour winds. But I don't think you want to be in a car evacuating a tornado.
HONORE: No. That's why the evacuation plan for a group needs to be a thunderstorm warning, not waiting until the tornado goes off.
We keep -- are very good, the response plan, man, you've got to take your hat off to those scouts and those leaders...
HONORE: ... and that local community. We have gotten the art of response down. We need to get to the left side of the disaster. Because the true leadership is to prevent crisis.
HONORE: So how do we prevent a crisis like this? Is go back and look at our plans, or when are we going to evacuate? And I say evacuate a thunderstorm warning.
HONORE: Not wait until the warning of a tornado to move to shelter.
LEMON: We want to get -- because we have -- because I said we have two different disasters.
LEMON: We've got the tornado. And we also have the flooding, as well. We've seen, you know, people whose homes have been washed away. What do you say to those people? How do those people prepare for anything like this? HONORE: Yes. The flooding -- the issue is, an observation is that, as Americans we are moving, with each census report, closer and closer to water. About 42 percent of America live within 20 miles of water.
MYERS: Seventeen miles.
HONORE: Yes. As that map will show, if you build a house in a floodplain, expect it to flood. So our ancestors had it right. The houses you go and look along the Mississippi River that are within a mile of the Mississippi River, they're jacked up eight, 10 feet off the ground.
LEMON: On stilts, right.
HONORE: You go to those new subdivisions all out in the Midwest and everywhere else and in the lower part of the Mississippi Valley, people want to sit on their back porch and throw rocks at the water. If you want to get that close to the water, you've got to expect it will flood.
LEMON: And real quickly, because we have to move on here. But it seems like we are blaming the victim when we're saying, don't move into a floodplain.
HONORE: Oh, absolutely not. I dare -- you move there with risk. You know, you get a once -- a 200-year flood, you might have three generations of people live in that home and it never floods. But that's why we have those markers, 100-, 200-, 300-year floods, is that the possibility of that place flooding, and when you ask, I can't get insurance, the reason you can't get insurance is the insurance company is not going to, probably, insure you if you're in an -- building a home in an existing floodplain.
LEMON: General Russel Honore, we appreciate you joining us. We know that you know how to deal with disasters. We saw that in Katrina. And Chad Myers...
HONORE: God bless this...
MYERS: You know, I'm just worried about this 300-year flood law (ph). Because now that we are paving most of America, a 300-year flood may happen every 50 years now, because it all runs off.
HONORE: Good point, because with the interstates and the road networks, they are not building the openings large enough underneath bridges to handle the expanding water that comes when the river crests.
LEMON: Like we see in Des Moines.
(AUDIO GAP) KEILAR: All right. We are having audio difficulties there. So let's bring in now Thomas White. Thomas White is a Scout supervisor. He was there at the Boy Scout camp in Little Sioux, he actually dug through the rubble where some of the victims were found.
Thomas, how are you hanging in there? How are the scouts hanging in there today?
THOMAS WHITE, BOY SCOUT LEADER: Well, you know, I'm surviving out here. Just still trying to realize what is going on, but I haven't been able to get in any contact with any of the other scouts I was with. So from what I can tell on the news, I hope everyone is doing good.
KEILAR: They have just gone home with their families to their respective towns and cities?
WHITE: Yes, I assume so. That is what the plan was, so.
KEILAR: Tell us what happened. You were in the middle of this. We heard from some of the scouts who said it was -- I mean, it obviously happened so fast for them, just the -- but the one thing I heard a lot of them describe was the toppling of this fireplace in the shelter. Describe the shelter for us, describe what happened.
WHITE: Well, OK, well, the shelters -- they are single-room shelters. And they -- you know, they are probably 20 feet by 30 feet. You know, and they were -- when the scouts were in there when the tornado hit that shelter, you know, they were full of steel bunk beds and sheets of plywood and there's a heater in there, and there are tables, and there is audio-visual equipment because they were about to watch a movie.
So all of those kids in there, there is all that stuff in there. And then when the tornado struck, it pretty much sucked all that stuff out, except for the fireplace. And what the fireplace ending up doing was falling. And that's when those kids got trapped underneath there. And the fireplace was one of the only things that was there.
KEILAR: Tell us about what you did after the tornado had cleared the area.
WHITE: Well, as soon as I got up out of the ditch when the tornado left, I went back to the cabin full of kids that were still OK, and I radioed the headquarters building to the doctor that's on the camp.
He said just run up here, get a first aid kid and run up to the North Valley because we have a lot of injuries up there. So that's what I did. I just -- I high-tailed it out of there and got a first aid kit and I ran and I was crawling over trees.
KEILAR: And the North Valley, is that where...
WHITE: North Valley, yes.
KEILAR: That's where these four boys died?
WHITE: That's where the four boys died. So -- you know, and there were others behind me, too. I was just running as fast as I could. You know, once I got up there, I really -- I didn't know what to expect. I got up there, you know, and it is leveled and there are people without shirts crawling around, there are people lying on the ground and you could smell propane because there is propane leaking out because the heater and everything just got ripped off.
So I went over and the first thing I thought of is, oh, great, you know, we'll have a propane explosion and we'll all die. So I shut off the propane tank. And then from there, you know, I think I just stood there for a little bit and just kind of like had to gain -- you know, get back to reality for a little bit and see -- and then from there then that's when we started clearing rubble and stuff like that.
KEILAR: So, at this point, how many adults were in that building? And were they at this point standing?
WHITE: Well, yes, when I got up there, they were already triaging people. You know, the scoutmaster up there, he was moving rubble. And he was really shook up. And all of the -- you know, there were maybe -- you know, staff-wise, who knows, there might have been -- I couldn't really tell you, maybe 10 up there, five up there, I mean -- but adult -- once I got up there, adult-wise, there was probably at least five of us adults up there or more.
KEILAR: And you had a troop out of Blair, Nebraska, is that right?
WHITE: Yes -- well, I actually go to -- I live in Blair, but I go to scouts in Omaha.
KEILAR: OK. And I know that you were -- I know that at this point all of the boys have gone home to be with their families, but no doubt you are going to be talking with them and meeting with them some time very soon. And I know it is going to be difficult for you guys. We are thinking of you. This is a terrible story, but thanks for taking the time, Thomas, to talk with us.
WHITE: Thank you.
KEILAR: Thomas White, a Scout supervisor there who was there at the Boy Scout camp in Little Sioux, Iowa -- Don.
LEMON: All right, Brianna. If you are watching all of this at home, thank God you were not in the middle of it. Incredible images from Iowa and Kansas after the storms.
KEILAR: And a constitutional clash in the war on terror and a big legal defeat for the Bush administration.
LEMON: Well, CNN has resources and affiliates all over the country, really all over the world. And some of our affiliates in the Midwest, they have been helping us share these pictures with you. Our Fredricka Whitfield joins us now at the tornado desk to share what they are telling her and talking to her about.
Fredricka, they are right in the middle of it. This where they live.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a deadly combination of high winds and high water. Well, it has resulted in a remarkable onslaught, as we heard Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff describe earlier.
Well, from Kansas to Iowa, they are still assessing the damage. But in some cases, very few words can describe at all. Instead, pictures speak volumes about this remarkable onslaught of nature's fury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I grabbed the two dogs and my wife and got them in the basement just in time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is a lot worse than what the ice (ph) storm was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was just debris everywhere. These roads, you couldn't even get through or anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot control Mother Nature. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow or the next day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Boy Scout motto is "be prepared," and last night the agencies and the scouts were prepared, and we are all proud of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a pounding sensation on your back. It wasn't like blowing around, it was just going straight on and not stopping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just basically howling wind. You couldn't hear nothing. You would get pelted with dirt, rain, rocks, flying debris.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember I grabbed a kid by the neck, threw him in the shelter, closed the door, told everybody to get on their hands and knees, protect their heads. That could have easily been me, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, the injured scouts and their families, the entire Boy Scout nation.
WHITFIELD: Now in Kansas at least two people killed. In Iowa, those four boy scouts, Brianna and Don. In the next hour, we'll have much more on those boy scouts -- Don. LEMON: Yes, Fred, it is just amazing. And again, those affiliates, it is exactly where they live and they know the markets. And they have been sharing some unbelievable stories with us. Thank you, Fredricka -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Well, Don, we are going to continue to bring you the very latest on the flooding and the tornadoes in the Midwest, but let's talk about politics for a little bit. Let's get you now to Nashua, New Hampshire, John McCain holding a town hall meeting there.
Let's listen in.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... National Guard for all that they have done, we are grateful.
MCCAIN: So this campaign is about reform. It is about prosperity. And it is about peace. First, I want to mention to you reform. My friends, the system, as we want it to work in Washington, is broken. We have too much influence of special interests, as we all know. We have a crisis in Medicare and Social Security. We are not doing what the American people sent us there to do. The system is broken and it has got to be reformed.
And my friends, there has got to be change in Washington. This campaign is about change. It has got to be the right kind of change, not going back to the failed policies of the '60s and the '70s. Not a second term of Jimmy Carter. So that is what we are going to have when I'm president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MCCAIN: I thought that was a pretty good line.
MCCAIN: Anyway, anyway, so we have got to start out, my friends, by reforming the pork barrel spending. We have got to stop this wasteful unnecessary earmark pork barrel spending that is mortgaging our children's future. We have got to clean up our act.
I will veto every big spending bill that crosses my desk. I will make them famous. You will know their names. We will not stand for another "bridge to nowhere." We will not stand for the millions and billions of dollars that have been wasted on pork barrel and earmarked spending. We will stop it. And we will stop the corruption that it spread. And we will reform government.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MCCAIN: I want you to know that these reforms are absolutely vital if we are going to hand off to another generation of Americans a system of Medicare, a system of Social Security that will be there for them as well as well as it is for present day retirees.
I want to talk to you for a moment about prosperity. We know Americans are hurting. We know that these are difficult economic times. These are tough times for Americans. These are difficult times. And there are Americans in New Hampshire and all over this country tonight who will be sitting around the kitchen table trying to figure out how they are going to stay in their homes.
There are people who are suddenly and recently lost their jobs. And so let's not -- let's not have anything -- let's have no approach to this issue except that it is a challenge and we can meet it. And there are many things we need to do immediately. We need to be able to keep people in their homes.
They need to be able to go down to the FHA and get a 30-year guaranteed loan at the new value of their home so that they can afford to stay in their homes. We need to have student loans available for students who will be entering educational institutions this fall, and we have got to make sure that they are available there.
MCCAIN: We have to address the issue that is uppermost on people's minds today. And of course that is not just health care, which I have a reform that will put the decisions in the hands of the families and not the federal government. If you like government-run health care which will result in Senator Obama's plan, please go to Canada and England and other countries were government runs the health care in America -- in those countries.
KEILAR: All right. You are listening to John McCain. He is holding a town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire. I said before, New Hampshire tends to go Democratic in the presidential elections, but John McCain does have some strengths there. People there tend to like him in terms of the Republican circles.
You'll recall that he won the Republican primary there in 2000, also of course here in 2008. And he is talking about the economy, as we just heard Barack Obama speaking. He said -- and i know that you've heard Barack Obama say that McCain, in terms of the economy and foreign policy, would just be like a third term for George W. Bush.
Well, McCain said -- and he sort of said, oh, I thought it was a good line, that Barack Obama would be like a second term of Jimmy -- a second Jimmy Carter term, basically saying that Barack Obama is a tax and spend Democrat.
We are going to continue to follow these events and the back and forth here. But we've got much more ahead here in the CNN NEWSROOM. A constitutional clash in the war on terror, it's considered a big legal defeat for the Bush administration.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: A bombshell ruling in the war on terror from the highest court in the land. A razor thin majority says detainees at Guantanamo Bay have constitutional rights, and among them, the right to challenge their detention in civilian courts. Tracking the big ruling from Washington, justice correspondent Kelli Arena.
Kelli, what happened today?
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it doesn't matter that they are being held overseas, it doesn't matter that they are not U.S. citizens, the Supreme Court ruled today that detainees being held at a U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay do have rights under the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, they can detest their contention and the system that was put in place by the Bush administration for trying them.
Now depending on who you talk to, Brianna, this is either the best or worst day for the U.S. Constitution. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive and remain in force in extraordinary times." But Justice Antonin Scalia said that today's decision "warps the U.S. Constitution." And he warns that the nation will live to regret what the court has done today.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applauded the decision. Here's what she had to say.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: I would say that the Supreme Court has upheld the Constitution of the United States. I have long been an advocate for closing Guantanamo, so I hope that this is in furtherance of taking that action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARENA: The Republican presidential candidate John McCain says that this decision is very worrisome.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: It, obviously, concerns me. These are unlawful combatants. They are not American citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARENA: To be clear, this ruling does not require the government to release the detainees being held at Gitmo. It simply allows them to challenge their detention in a civilian court, but it does cast doubt about those military tribunals that the government has planned.
Already the defense team for a man named Salim Hamdan who allegedly was a driver for Osama bin Laden has said that he's going to file to have the charges against Hamdan dismissed as a result of this ruling. So we are already seeing a very immediate impact -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Thanks, Kelli. Kelli Arena, our justice correspondent.
Well, let's talk now -- let's actually head over to Don -- Don.
LEMON: Yes, absolutely, Brianna. We are going to talk about that tornado, because it was a direct hit from a killer tornado. This Boy Scout camp, well, didn't stand a chance. We'll have details on that just ahead.
Water, water, everywhere, flooding the Midwest. Farms soaked, rivers blocked, we'll tell you, we'll take you there.
KEILAR: But first, the mistake lots of guys make detouring the doctor's office. And the top five symptoms men should not ignore.
KEILAR: With Father's Day coming up, the best gift for dad, well, it might be encouragement to go and get that medical checkup. As we all know, men often find ways to detour, shall we say, the doctor's office. And in today's "Empowered Patient," CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen looking at the top five symptoms that men ignore.
They do this, I don't mean to stereotype, but I'm going to.
KEILAR: It is true.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And it is true. And I asked some men's health experts, I said, is this just a stereotype? Is this just something we women like to complain about, that our husbands don't go to the doctor until we, you know, beat them up?
And they said, oh, no, it is true. And these -- when I said to these doctors, can you list for me some of the things that men ignore, some of the symptoms they ignore? And they laughed so hard. We had to kind of discontinue the interview a little bit until they could get their footing.
And they said, you don't have the time to hear all of the things that men ignore. But there are five of the big ones in my big column this week on CNN.com/health. And let's talk about three of them right now. Men ignore those big bellies. A big belly can be a sign of serious heart disease or diabetes. Fat around the belly, that is the worst place to have it.
Something else that men ignore sometimes is an unenthusiastic penis. Impotence or erectile dysfunction, if you want to use the fancy word, again, can be a sign of heart disease. And so it's something that a man shouldn't -- you don't just want to ignore that. You want to get checked out.
Also, chest pain. This one shocked me. But every doctor I talked to said that they had men who felt chest pain or tightness in their chest or shortness of breath, and just kind of blew it off, just kind of said, oh, well, I pulled a muscle at the gym or whatever. And they just said, oh, I'm not going to worry about it. And it was heart disease.
KEILAR: Well, you hear people talking about having heart attacks. And they sort of dismiss the symptoms at one point.
COHEN: Right, exactly.
KEILAR: But why do they ignore these symptoms?
COHEN: I asked these men's health experts that. And many of them said a lot of it is the way that men are raised, you know, coaches tell them if they're in pain that they should just, you know, get over it and keep going. And men are raised to be stoic.
And so it's a little bit of a macho thing. You know, you don't want to -- you know, doctors are for women. They want to be tough.
KEILAR: Well, let's now about -- we're going to talk about sex now.
COHEN: Oh, let's. Just you and me.
KEILAR: It seems like a lot of people kind of go to their doctors, they just want to maybe take a pill for something and kind of be on their way. So let's talk about sex and Viagra. And is there sense that sometimes men are going to the doctor just as if their doctor is a Viagra dispenser?
COHEN: Yes, absolutely. All of the doctors I (INAUDIBLE) to said that men too often treat doctors just like Brianna said, as Viagra dispensers. They show up, they're having problems with impotence.
If a man is having problems with impotence, you don't just want to get the Viagra or another drug and have that be the end of it. Your doctor needs to check you out for signs of heart disease and diabetes, because impotence can be a sign that there are other problems going on in your body, other circulatory problems that could affect your brain, could affect your heart, could put you in line to become a diabetic.
So you want to get those things checked out.
KEILAR: Yes, treat the cause, not the symptoms, right?
KEILAR: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much for that information.
And you can become a more "Empowered Patient" by visiting our Web site, cnn.com/health. It is packed with medical news and advise that you can live with.
LEMON: A direct hit from a killer tornado. This Boy Scout camp didn't stand a chance. We'll have details just ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.