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Deadly Tornado Hits Boy Scout Camp in Iowa; A Farming Nightmare From Weather Woes

Aired June 12, 2008 - 14:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Be prepared. Well, of course, that is the motto, but when a tornado makes a direct hit on a Boy Scout campground, preparation only help so much.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Four teens are dead, but the heroes outnumber the victims at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in remote western Iowa. We've got some remarkable stories of courage and survival this hour.

Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon at the severe weather.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Tornadoes hit the Midwest. It tends to rain a lot there in the Midwest, but this week what is it all about? It is relentless.

Immense, back-to-back thunderstorms really just overfilling lakes, cracking dams, and turning riverside towns into flood disaster scenes. And tornadoes random, unpredictable, they are unstoppable. Today, four families are mourning their teenage sons, Boy Scouts caught in a twister that ripped apart their campsite in Iowa.

We want to take you now to a bird's eye view of the Little Sioux Boy Scout Ranch that we've been telling you about. That's what's left of it, really. One hundred and 18 Boy Scouts and their leaders braced themselves for yesterday's tornado as best they could, but not everyone survived.

We have details now from CNN's Sean Callebs.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Our first graphic images of the disaster, the aftermath, if you will, of the tornado rolling through Little Sioux, are out now. You can see shredded tents, you can see cars that were tossed around as if they were toys, and also bricks and stone in the picture. The significance there, so many of the Boy Scouts and adults were in a structure that was hit squarely by the tornado, bringing a large stone, brick fireplace down on top of them, claiming four lives and injuring so many others.

Now, we're here in the town of Blencoe, Iowa. That's because Iowa's governor and homeland security chief Michael Chertoff were here talking to the media. Chertoff said that all the information he has, is that the Boy Scouts simply didn't have a chance as the tornado bore down on them.

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. And I think everybody had to be particularly touched by the thought of the finest young people from this region being caught up in a tornado which struck them like a bowling ball, and I guess which they had no chance.

CALLEBS: We've had a chance to speak to a number of the Boy Scouts who were at Little Sioux last night, and many of them say they feel extremely lucky to escape without severe injuries. They talked about watching the structures be splintered by the funnel cloud, and many of them say that it was simply luck that they weren't more severely injured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was inside it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was getting knocked around, I had dirt flying everywhere, I had rain soaking me. And it was just pure white (ph).

And it was just a 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.

CALLEBS: The image here in Blencoe very serene at this hour. You look at the picturesque church behind me, the rolling hills, the plush green of the grass and trees. Well, it means something very different to the people who went through the tornado last night, who lived through that horrifying experience. Many say they're going to be talking with grief counselors in the coming days, and parents are worried not only about the physical scars, but the emotional ones as well.

Sean Callebs, CNN, in Blencoe, Iowa.


LEMON: Of course, our thanks to Sean.

We want to talk now to some of the people who were first on the scene, and really one person who treated some of the Boy Scouts and people who came in after that tornado tore through.

We want to go now to Dr. Peter Daher. He is with the Burgess Health Center in Onawa, Iowa.

Thanks for joining us today, Doctor.


LEMON: Now, I understand that the first people to come in was a family that the Boy Scouts actually helped to rescue.

DAHER: Yes. Actually, it was a family of five. A mom, a dad, and a 10-week-old baby and two other boys. And they were fairly well injured, the mom and dad, anyway.

LEMON: And so what about the injuries, the injuries of the people? When you initially saw the people coming in, what were their injuries?

DAHER: They ranged from critical injuries to broken bones, bruises, abrasions, but some of them -- a couple of them were life- threatening.

LEMON: You were there in the hospital, and we're hearing from the Boy Scouts, some of them are saying they did get warning, there are others who are saying they did not get warning. Did you guys have any idea what you were dealing with when these people started to come in? Did you get any warning?

DAHER: We did get a warning that we were going to be inundated with a possible disaster, with about 90 kids, probably. And they ranged from three to six fatalities. So we were getting prepared for possibly the worst.

LEMON: Did you have to take any precautions, did you have to go for safety inside the hospital?

DAHER: They did have the tornado siren going off at that time, so the usual tornado disaster drill in any of the hospitals was taking place. But at that point in the emergency room, we were ignoring a lot of that, because we were getting prepared for the possible disaster that was already occurring.

LEMON: When you talk to us about normal procedures, what do you mean? Do you have to go to a fallout shelter, a tornado shelter? What happens in the hospital there where you were?

DAHER: There are certain areas designated for taking patients out of and putting in when there is a tornado warning.

LEMON: How many -- do you know how many of the Boy Scouts you got at your hospital?

DAHER: I estimate about 21.

LEMON: About 21. And those were the ones that were coming in with the injuries. So you got Boy Scouts as well as other people from the area?

DAHER: Yes, we got that family of five also.

LEMON: Just that family of five and the Boy Scouts.

And your -- have you been there for a while in this particular part of the country? Have you been in the Midwest?

DAHER: Sixteen years.

LEMON: Sixteen years. Anything like it?

DAHER: Oh, no, nothing like this before.

LEMON: Yes. What's your advice? What do you want people to know about what you experienced here?

DAHER: Well, I was a Boy Scout for about six months, and I think it would have gotten me out of a lot of trouble if I had kept on with it. These kids were very well composed. They were some of the most brave patients I've ever taken care of.

I never heard one person complain. They were really, really good kids. Even the critically injured ones were not even whimpering. It was -- and the fact that they saved that other family and they were saving each other, I think that's what should be taken out of this. It was just an amazing feat for the Boy Scouts.

LEMON: Well put, well said. We'll leave it at that.

Dr. Peter Daher from Burgess Health Center in Onawa, Iowa.

And we're glad that you're OK, and we appreciate all the work that you do. Thank you very much.

DAHER: Thank you.

LEMON: And we're going to go now to our Josh Levs.

Josh, you heard the doctor talk about the heroism of these Boy Scouts, how they helped to save that family. Sadly, four of them did die, and you have some more information on that.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're too young to be heroes. And this story is so heart-wrenching.

What we have now, as you were saying, some information on who these four kids are who lost their lives, these four children, young men. has put some information together. I want to tell you a little bit about them that we've gotten from this site,

First of all, I'll tell you the four names. As we know, Sam Thomsen, Josh Fennen, Aaron Eilerts and Ben Petrzilka.

And what I've done now is I've gone through to pick out some details to help give you a sense of how they're being described. Let's start with Sam Thomsen.

He's described -- he was 13 years old. His pastor calls him "A great kid." And he had a Facebook page that listed his interests as including Jesus, football, the Huskers, and Xbox. Let's go to Josh Fennen now. He's also of Omaha.

Thirteen years old. His principal calls him "A good student, a hard worker." He was described as adventurous and had a knack for exploring.

Now to Aaron Eilerts. He was from Eagle Grove, Iowa, the only one of the four who was from Iowa. He was 14 years old.

His principal calls him "The kindest kid you could ever meet." He was an aspiring chef, he played football, and he sang in his school's choir.

Finally, Ben Petrzilka, also 14 years old. He was of Omaha. And a family friend says, "He lived the scout law." He was also praised as being kind and caring.

Now, obviously, when you hear about these kids, you start to think, what can I do? I know a lot of people want to know what can be done. We're getting messages and calls like that here at CNN.

One thing I'm keeping an eye on closely is this Web site here from the Boy Scouts. It's from the Mid-America Council which oversees that region.

They're saying that they're setting up a victim's assistance fund and that donation information will be posted here when it becomes available. We literally have this site on all day; we keep refreshing it. So whenever that hits, you'll get it here at CNN.

I also want to show you We've got a story right now, you can read more about these four kids here.

You can also read, as you were just saying, these stories of heroism. And as I was pointing out, these kids are just too young to be heroes.

One quote I'll show you from earlier. One 15-year-old we talked to: "I was standing up, trying to pull bricks off the kids that were sitting there, and then I couldn't do anymore because my hip and leg were hurting so badly." This is a 15-year-old who spoke with CNN this morning.

Lots of stories like that, far too many. But that's what this story is largely about today as we piece through, you know, the wreckage there and start to find out more and more of the details of what happened.

So, Don, here at, we're going to keep an eye on all those throughout the day, and we'll be back later, this afternoon.

LEMON: Yes. And Josh, you're right. You know, the pictures are just coming in. We heard about, you know, this horrendous, horrendous tornado last night, but it takes time to get the pictures in, as it does after many of these natural disasters, especially a tornado.

Also, Josh, thank you very much for that.

Also, we want to tell you, we would appreciate your pictures and your video as well. Of course, we want you to stay out of harm's way, but go to or go the CNN Web site,, and click on the "iReport" logo and send us your stories as well -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Don, it's just what farmers in the upper Midwest do not need -- more rain. Fields are already so soaked that some crops, well, they don't even stand a chance.

CNN's Susan Roesgen is at a farm outside of Madison, Wisconsin.

It is such a mess behind you, Susan. And no doubt, this is really going to hit those growers right in the wallet.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely. And it will hit us in the wallet, too, when we come to buy the groceries.

It is a mess. It stopped raining, thank God, for a moment or two. But, I mean, look at it. I have wiped out here twice, and I didn't really understand what they were talking about earlier when the farmers talked to us about how they couldn't get their tractors in the field. That didn't really make sense to me, but they talked about how saturated the soil was.

Well, let me tell you, the reason I have wiped out twice is because it's like quicksand here now. The mud just grabs the boots, it sucks everything up.

Everything that happens in a farmer's field is cumulative. Last August, they had 20 inches of rain here in one month. Then over the winter months, they had 100 inches of snow, Brianna. And then, of course, they've had all the rain so far this month.

Now, this is a soybean field, and you can still find in neat little rows one or two little soybean plants that tried to make, that are still green, but obviously the crop is lost. They can't survive, even 24 hours under water.

Then as you look down in this direction, you see the water has evaporated, has run off, but you still have just these dry rows, these neat rows of basically nothing, because once the water does leave, then the tiny, stunted plants are exposed. And they're not going to make it. This is a 50-acre soybean field, and only two or three acres out of the entire 50 will be salvageable -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes. And next door, I'm sure -- I mean, this is one farm that you're on. But then there's another farm next door, another one next door to that, and so on.

What is this going to mean overall to Wisconsin's economy?

ROESGEN: Well, it's about a $51 billion boost to the economy here. That's what farming is in this state, about $51 billion.

It employs 12 percent of the workforce. So it's very important. Critical to this state's economy.

But you know, from year to year, they just never know what the weather's going to do. It is the one variable they cannot control -- well, I shouldn't say one -- that and the price of fuel, they can't control either. So it has become a very expensive year, and a lot of farmers are looking at a lot of losses.

KEILAR: Susan Roesgen for us in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.


LEMON: All right, Brianna and Susan. Of course, as you know, Susan said it's treacherous out there. And you have to be really careful. She has wiped out a couple of times.


KEILAR: Well, it's another blow to President Bush and his war on terror policies. The nation's high court sides with detainees at Guantanamo Bay in an important legal challenge. We'll find out what the ruling means from our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.

And the trauma of a tornado. What is the best way to treat the victims? We'll find out from our medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.


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.

White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano is traveling with the president in Rome.

And he just commented on the Supreme Court ruling. What did he say, Elaine?


That's right, President Bush is on a weeklong farewell tour, essentially, of Europe, but he did address two pressing domestic issues, including the legal setback that you mentioned during a news conference that just wrapped up a short time ago here in Rome with Italy's prime minister. The president saying, essentially, that this is a matter of national security.

This ruling, just a reminder, of course, that foreign detainees -- of course, the detainees at Guantanamo Bay -- do have rights under the United States Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. As he has done before on this issue, the president essentially tried to cast this as a matter of national security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, it's the Supreme Court's decision. We'll abide by the court's decision. That doesn't mean I have to agree with it. It was a deeply divided court, and I strongly agree with those who dissented, that -- and their dissent was based upon their serious concerns about U.S. national security.


QUIJANO: The president also addressing the issue of the extreme weather that hit the Midwest. The president saying that he has been briefed during his trip here in Europe, particularly on that tornado, that deadly tornado. He expressed sympathy, as well, for the victims and their families. He said that he had been in touch with the governors of the affected states, and once again, as we've heard him say many times before in these situations, said that the federal government does stand ready to help -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Elaine Quijano with the president in Rome.

Thanks for that.

And this is really the big story out of Washington today. This is the third consecutive slap of the Bush administration by the Supreme Court.

Let's get more now from CNN's senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, good to be with you. Thanks.


KEILAR: And were you surprised by this?

TOOBIN: Well, at the oral argument, it was pretty clear that Anthony Kennedy, who is so much the swing vote on these issues, was suspicious of the Bush administration's position. So it wasn't a total surprise, but as you said, this is a remarkable series of rebukes from the court to the Bush administration about Guantanamo and the treatment of the detainees.

KEILAR: Are we going to see an onslaught of cases now, now that these suspects have these rights to go before a court? Are we just going to see a whole bunch of cases coming out?

TOOBIN: Well, I think you are. There are about 275 detainees. Many of them have never seen the inside of a courtroom since they've been held, some of them for up to six years. And what the court has said is, these people are entitled to a hearing.

So I suspect, yes, many of these people will start filing lawsuits. Many already have filed lawsuits and they've been thrown out. Or they're on hold, pending this case. So, yes, there will be a lot more litigation coming out of this case. KEILAR: So if they've filed a lawsuit and it's been thrown out, they re-file another one now, because obviously their chances are so much better?

TOOBIN: That's right, although it is still not clear. One of the things Chief Justice Roberts said in the dissenting opinion is, you know, be careful what you ask for, because at least the Detainee Treatment Act, the law that was struck down, had a system of procedures in place. You may not have liked them, but at least there was a procedure.

Now it's sort of up to federal judges to make it up on the fly. That will take time. Appeals will take time.

So nobody's getting out anytime soon, that's for sure. But certainly, the detainees have the right to go to court now. And we'll see whether that leads anywhere for them.

KEILAR: So what happens next from here? Could there be additional challenges to this ruling?

TOOBIN: Not really. You know, there's a famous old saying about the Supreme Court -- they are not final because they are infallible. They are infallible because they are final. There's nowhere to...

KEILAR: There's no way Congress can interject itself in any way, even, you know, sort through some sort of loophole or something like that?

TOOBIN: Well, what the Supreme Court was evaluating was Congress' attempt to deal with an earlier Supreme Court opinion. Congress said, OK, we're going to try to comply by passing this law. The Supreme Court today said, not good enough.

So they could in theory try another law. But I think as a practical matter, what you're going to see is this issue is being kicked to the next president. The next president is really going to have to resolve this.

KEILAR: Yes, and it's not over. It's not over. This will continue.

TOOBIN: Not by a long shot.

KEILAR: Senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.


TOOBIN: OK, Brianna.

LEMON: Water, water everywhere, and it is flooding the Midwest. Farms soaked, rivers blocked. We will take you there.

Plus this -- four teenagers killed in Iowa. Dozens more hurt. We hear from Boy Scouts who survived the tornado's direct hit.


KEILAR: Just into the CNN NEWSROOM, this fire that you're looking at here, this is the Martin Fire. It's burning in northern California, in Santa Cruz County. And we have just learned -- this is the breaking news -- that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proclaiming a state of emergency there in Santa Cruz County due to this wildfire, this Martin Fire.

So in -- this is a press release coming from the governor's office. It says that yesterday the governor directed some additional resources to help fight California's early wildfires, as they get into the beginning of their wildfire season here, and basically activating some DC-10 and DC-7 retardant-dropping aircraft.

Basically, a state of emergency here. And the governor making more resources available so that fires can be fought in this upcoming fire season, and especially right now there in Santa Cruz County.

Again, you are looking at pictures coming to us from affiliate KGO. That was the Martin Fire in Santa Cruz County.

We'll continue to follow this. But again, just another way that weather is impacting places in the U.S. -- Don.

LEMON: Yes, absolutely. And it's just amazing.

I mean, what else are we going to get? We've got the flooding in the Midwest, we've got the heat wave out on the East Coast, and now those fires happening out West as well.

We're going to talk to you about how -- and a little bit later on, Susan will talk to you about really how this flooding might affect the economy.

But Susan joins us now from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. She's got some breaking news now on fuel charges, or surcharges for airlines.

Susan, take it away. What do you have?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: OK. CNN now confirming all the major airlines -- that is United, Delta, Continental, Northwest, US Airways, have now matched the latest fare increase that was re-instituted by American Airlines yesterday, $10 one way, $20 roundtrip. And United now the second major airline to charge $15 for your first checked bag -- Don.

LEMON: Oh, unbelievable. OK, this has to do -- obviously, it's with the charges, Susan, with the fuel, as well. And it's just getting more and more expensive to fly. They were charging about checked bags and all of this.

Is this all sort of just steamrolling, a domino effect here?

LISOVICZ: Well, I mean, you know, we're seeing oil right now, for instance, trading up 50 cents, $136.85. It's $2 off of the all- time highs. And that filters down to everything.

And you know, our major story today, the flooding in the Midwest. You can be sure that that's going to affect the food that we put on our table.

Why is that? Because just like oil, it's supply and demand. It's a commodity.

The supply is going to shrink. Let me just give you a few examples.

Tyson Foods is cutting back production at two meat processing plants. Deere & Company evacuating three work locations in Iowa. Cargill, the corn milling plant in Iowa, has shut down. That's in addition to many downtown centers.

So hundreds of millions of dollars, but we won't be able to total it for a few weeks yet to come -- Don.

LEMON: And the food prices at our table. I mean, when we go to the grocery store, are going to go higher, obviously.

LISOVICZ: Oh, yes, no question about it. In fact, you know, the Department of Agriculture said that corn production will fall 10 percent this year, and that was before the flooding. That was before the flooding. And you know that's only just going to make it a lot worse, Don.

LEMON: Hey Susan, real quick, you said that oil was almost at a record high. Tell us about the markets, real quick.

LISOVICZ: OK. We're bouncing back a little bit. The Dow is up 63 points, the NASDAQ is up 14. Oil is up slightly.

But I've got to talk about Bud. This Buds for you, Don.


LEMON: I need one.

LISOVICZ: Shares of Anheuser-Busch trading at an all-time high, up 5 percent after a $46 billion offer from the Belgium brewer, the maker of Stella Artois.


It's not a done deal, but there's a lot --


LISOVICZ: Bud and Stella.

LEMON: I was at a restaurant the other night, and the guy next to me -- one guy said, I want one of those Stella Artois. And I just kind of --

LISOVICZ: I've got to work on that.

LEMON: Same thing. He still gets to drink it, doesn't matter if he doesn't pronounce it correctly.

LISOVICZ: Just say the first name, they recognize it world wide.

LEMON: All right. Susan, we appreciate that. We'll check back with you. Thank you very much.

And we turn now to talk about a very serious story. We're talking about four teenagers killed in Iowa. Dozens more hurt. We hear from boy scouts who survived a tornado's direct hit.

KEILAR: Federal aid collected for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Tens of millions of dollars worth. Where did it go?


LEMON: You can only imagine what these families are going through. Four families in Iowa and Nebraska dealing with the devastating loss of their teenage loved ones. All of them were killed at that campsite in the forests of northwestern Iowa.

We go now to our Fredricka Whitfield. She joins us to tell us about these families, and also about the local news coverage.

These are our affiliates, they're on the ground, in the tornado zone. Fred, really harrowing stories here.


Don, these young boys, this boy scout group, we're talking about the elite of the Boy Scouts of America. Many of these young men were hand-picked by their scout masters to be a part of this Iowa camp. And then some of these kids describe that it all happened just in a matter of eight seconds.

They were at the camp, this tornado whipped through, turned their trip upside down, and also took with it four young lives. Here now are some of the scouts and how they remembered last night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was getting knocked around. I had dirt flying everywhere. I had rain soaking me and it was just pure white. And it was just massive swirling thing until the tornado passed. It was just basically howling winds. 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.

BEN KARSCHNER, BOY SCOUT: It was like -- like a pounding sensation on your back. It wasn't like blowing around. It was just going straight on and not stopping.

VOICE OF CODY VANZUIDEN, BOY SCOUT: Someone came in and told us there was a tornado, told us to get underneath the tables. 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.

VOICE OF BRADLEY SUNDSBOE, TROOP LEADER: I remember I grabbed the kid by a 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. I was up for -- in the last two years in that valley. It's just weird how stuff like that works out.

KARSCHNER: They were going to a play movie for us, but the scout master opened the door and he told us to all be quiet and then he told us to just get under the tables, and so we all got under the tables. Eight seconds, the tornado passed. That was like the longest eight seconds I've ever had.


WHITFIELD: A horrible eight seconds for these young kids.

So, Don, once again, now we're hearing from "The Associated Press," through their reporting, that at least one of the mothers of one of these boy scouts said that she had a bad feeling about this camping trip, simply because of the weather reports.

We understand now that Lisa Petry (ph) who was at Creighton University Medical Center where her 13-year-old son, Jose Olivo (ph) is being treated. She is glad, of course, that her son is being treated for these injuries. He made it through the storm. But our hearts go out to all of the families involved. This young boy, Jose, is being treated for a gash to his head, a broken rib and a broken shoulder bone. We're talking about pretty severe injuries among the many that did survive it.

LEMON: Unbelievable. And they are heroes.

And Fred, you heard that doctor who was one of the first doctors to treat these people -- these boys say, that they were heroes as well because they helped to save a family.

WHITFIELD: Yes, quick thinking.

LEMON: Absolutely.

All right, Fred, we love those stories. Thank you very much for that.

KEILAR: We just heard about those injuries that Fredricka was talking about. Dozens of survivors who were sent to the hospital with those injuries.

CNN medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, now here to tell us -- how do you treat these traumatic injuries? What do you see when something like this happens?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They are seeing a whole variety of illnesses and injuries, Brianna. Everything from minor injuries like scrapes and bruises, to broken pelvises and shattered vertebrae. In all, we're told, 48 injured people from these tornadoes, and about half were treated and released at the hospital. So that's good, that at least half of them were able to leave the hospital.

But of the other half, they were sent to several different area hospitals, some of them were actually helicoptered to the major trauma center in Sioux City.

KEILAR: All right. We're going to continue to follow this.


KEILAR: Elizabeth Cohen for us.

Thanks so much.

LEMON: Brianna and Elizabeth, we want to take you now, show you some new video just coming into the CNN NEWSROOM. This is some of the latest pictures we have. Right now, we have ground-level tours of the damage at both the Little Sioux boy scout ranch in western Iowa, as well as the tornado damage from Chapman, which is in Kansas. And we want you to take a look at these pictures.

We're going to start with Kansas first.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the stables, right?



LEMON: All right. Well that was a camp, a boy scout camp, that you just saw there.

And look at this. This is -- there it is, it's about to come up here. This is where they were when that tornado came through last night and where they tried to seek shelter and then sadly four of those boy scouts ended up dying. But then, many of them helped each other and they helped people in the area as well. And we heard from the doctor who treated some of the first injuries here. He's calling these boy scouts a hero and said they acted tremendously, and in ways he's never seen before, even from adults.

But can you imagine, as a child, being in the middle of this situation, and then as a parent, knowing that your child was in this situation and really there was nothing that they could do.

These pictures now coming into us from Kansas. An unbelievable -- and Iowa as well -- unbelievable exactly what these boy scouts had to deal with, as well as most of the people in that area. We're going to continue to follow this developing story as new pictures continue to come into the CNN NEWSROOM all day long. You don't want to miss it. We're getting pictures from our affiliates every minute, Brianna. KEILAR: Let's catch you up on the big story out of Washington now. The Supreme Court has ruled that terror suspects have the right to challenge their detention in civilian courts. Once again in the spotlight, the controversial military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. And we've looked at the legal angle.

For what the military thinks, though, we turn now to the Pentagon and CNN's Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.


A couple of questions here. One, of course, is what happens to the actual detainees now that they have been granted access to the court by the Supreme Court?

And, there are about 200 cases pending before the U.S. district court, federal court, here in Washington and now the justices there are going to review the cases, get together with some of the lawyers, and try to figure out how to proceed.

President Bush says he will abide by the decision, even though he says he doesn't have to necessarily agree with it. And some members of Congress, including Lindsey Graham, a senator who was instrumental in drafting the Military Commissions Act that was supposed to make this a constitutional process, is going to be looking at some new legislation as well.

The second question, really, is what happens to Guantanamo Bay, itself, the prison facility there?

This is just going to give more ammunition to critics who are calling for the closure of that facility and there are some sympathy for that in the administration, particularly here in the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has expressed interest in the past in closing Guantanamo, saying it is in effect tainted in giving the -- is tarnishing the U.S. reputation around the world.

The problem is, what do you do, especially with the number of hard-core terrorists that the U.S. believes it's going to have to hold for some time?

Secretary Gates recently said in congressional testimony that this was a serious, not in my backyard, kind of issue because there's just no good place to move them to. So while this decision is going to, again, give critics more ammunition, it's not necessarily going to result in the closure of Guantanamo at any time soon -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Very interesting.

Jamie McIntyre for us at the Pentagon -- thanks.

And coming up, Democratic deja vu. Another big name gets thrown in the mix as a possible running mate for Barack Obama. Would Al Gore want to be vice president again?


KEILAR: Leading our Political Ticker, a new push for Al Gore on the Democratic ticket. Democratic strategist James Carville tells CNN the former vice president would make a great running mate for Barack Obama. Gore, says Carville, could be Obama's energy czar to help the country reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

However, Carville also says Hillary Clinton, whom he supported for the nomination, is his first choice to be Obama's running mate.

A new poll suggests Obama is picking up support from one of Clinton's core groups of voters, older women. The Gallup survey shows Obama holds a six-point lead over John McCain among women over 50 -- 47 percent to 41 percent.

In a similar poll last week, McCain led Obama by three points.

Well, McCain will be the star of a new children's book. The senator's 23-year-old daughter, Meghan, is writing the book that's scheduled to hit stores the first week in September. That's the same time as the Republican national convention. Meghan McCain already has a reputation as a writer. You may recall that her blog drew a whole lot of attention during primary season.

A split decision from voters on whether John McCain or Barack Obama would do a better job on key issues. In a new CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll, 50 percent of registered voters say Obama would handle the economy better; 44 percent say McCain would. But then it's different for foreign policy -- 54 percent say that McCain would do a better job with foreign policy, only 43 percent say that Obama would.

Asked which is more important to their vote, 47 percent say leadership skills and vision; 46 percent say stands on the issue -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Brianna.

We've been following breaking news all day when it concerns flooding in the Midwest. Want to walk over now and talk to Chad Myers.

Chad, I know that in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I'm getting reports that 3,900 homes were evacuated in that area and there's substantial flooding and there is a possibility of a levee or something being breached or water going over the levee?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I don't know anything about that levee, I'll tell you -- I don't know anything except for you're now over record flood stage for Cedar Rapids.

You know when that record was set?


LEMON: Oh my gosh. MYERS: And then again in 1929.

This is a map here, everywhere you see purple major or record flood stage, red is a big flood, and yellow is just basically getting to action stage, where you have to get out of the way.

We'll go right into Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There's downtown, there's the river, right through downtown. Everybody, when they were settling the West, they always settled on a river because it was an easy place to get water. So there you go. This line right there, that's a 20-foot line. That's where it is on the bridges, 20 feet. It's already at 22 feet, going to 25 feet. So this is going to be five feet higher than the old record set back in 1929, 70-some years ago. Just an amazing record, and it's not even going to fall below record floods until Wednesday, next Wednesday, seven days from now.

Here's what happened in the last 24 hours. This is a map of what the rainfall -- this is not a current radar. This is the radar adding up all of the rainfall that already happened -- red, dark red. There's like light red. Come over here, that's 5.5 inches, 5.5 inches of rainfall just from last night.

LEMON: And it's not done yet you said. You said it's still -- it's going to crest a little bit later on, you showed that --

MYERS: Dave (ph) put it back over to reflectivity, if you would please.

And then -- this is where it's raining now, this is what you expect to see a current radar looking like. And Cedar Rapids only has a couple of rainshowers. But this is where -- this is where the water comes from. It comes from up here, runs through Cedar Rapids, and then down into the Mississippi. So most of the heavy rainfall has moved away.

But there are other places that are flooding too.

LEMON: Yes, we're hearing -- I heard you and Dave talking about 30 mile section of I-80 in that area apparently closed off because of flooding.

MYERS: They are going to close (AUDIO GAP) ... here we go, OK. Right through here. So, somewhere here along where the river passes through I-80 will not be passable.

Can you imagine what that's going to do to that trucking traffic?

That's a major thoroughfare, east or west.

LEMON: We're talking about that, people's lives, the economy as well, all that as we've been saying, issue No. 1. People are really feeling it in the Midwest today. This the latest from Cedar Rapids (VIDEO GAP)

Appreciate it, thank you sir.

KEILAR: Federal aid collected for victim's of Hurricane Katrina. Tens of millions of dollars worth. Where did it go?


KEILAR: A CNN investigation discovers the federal government gave away -- just gave away -- tens of millions of dollars worth of merchandise that was meant for victims of Hurricane Katrina. So where did it all end up?

Well, correspondent Abbie Boudreau, of our special investigations unit, here with a preview of our story.

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Well, when we told community groups in New Orleans about this hurricane giveaway, they were stunned that FEMA had been storing brand-new supplies for the past two years when it was so obvious that Katrina victims still needed help.


BOUDREAU (voice-over): Warehouses full of plates, cups, and dinnerware. Brand-new coffee makers, stoves, cleaning supplies. $85 million worth of household items. FEMA says some of it was donated, though most of it purchased by the federal government to help Katrina victims.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the kitchen.

BOUDREAU: Like Debora Reid, recover from one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unreal. Because we haven't received none of this. I know I haven't.


BOUDREAU: We'll uncover what happened to all that merchandise and what community groups and Katrina victims like Debora Reid, who you just saw there, are saying about this hurricane giveaway tonight on the "SITUATION ROOM" at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

KEILAR: It's really amazing when you look at these pictures of the things that were not given to these people. I mean, these are name brand items. These are quality goods. When you show these to people who could have benefited from them, what do they say?

BOUDREAU: I mean, people couldn't believe it. They were shocked when we showed them these pictures. And I mean, it only takes seconds, once you're in New Orleans, to actually see that there are people, there are Hurricane Katrina victims there who are still in need of supplies, just like this.

And here we are, we're standing in the middle of a major intersection in New Orleans and there are people living in tents and the majority of those people living in tents are Katrina victims. And some of the people that we visited in their apartments, these people are living on mattresses because they don't have any supplies. And these supplies would have helped these people.

And that's the point of this story. We'll have a lot more later tonight. And we'll let you know where all this stuff went.

KEILAR: Yes, and it's a whole warehouse full. Just amazing.

Abbie, going to be an amazing story. Thanks for joining us with a preview -- Don.

LEMON: And of course, Katrina, a big weather story. We're dealing with lots of weather issues here today in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A direct hit from a killer tornado. This Boy Scout camp didn't stand a chance. We'll have details straight ahead.

Plus, water, water everywhere. Flooding the Midwest, farms soaked, rivers blocked. We'll take you there.


LEMON: All right. So, as I get some new information here, our CNN correspondents really will go just about to any lengths to bring you the story. That's what we do here at CNN.

Now, we're going to show you this video and you might think it's funny, but it's not. Actually, it's to show you what conditions people are dealing with. This is our Susan Roesgen. And she told you she wiped out twice where she is in Sun Prerry, Wisconsin. This is what people are dealing with. Imagine the muck and the mess. And people all around that area trying to get to their belongings and what have you.

So Susan, stuck in the mud here. Again, you may think it's funny, it's not funny because people are having to deal with and really these are the conditions that reporters are dealing with and this is what people in the Midwest are dealing with, with all of this flooding.

The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.