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Catastrophic Floods: View From Cedar Rapids; License to Wed: California Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ends Today; Toddler Beaten to Death

Aired June 16, 2008 - 14:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My whole entire life is gone. I don't know what we're going to do.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Flooding, fear and frustration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been compared to a 3,000-year flood, a 2,500-year flood.

LEMON: Deadly flooding moving downstream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just hope we don't get a bunch of rain up north, you know? If we did, we'd have another '93 deal.

LEMON: Warnings for people along the Mississippi River.

Where are the floods heading next? Will the levees hold? And how will this mess affect prices nationwide?

We're covering all the angles.


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And hello, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen, live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon, over here at the severe weather center.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: First up, let's get you the latest on an Amber Alert that has been issued for a 4-year-old boy. This taking place in Lexington, North Carolina.

That little boy -- we have his picture -- is Colin Nathaniel Custer. Three feet tall, weighs 35 pounds, has blonde hair and hazel eyes.

Now, this alert was issued after his mother, a Florida woman, escaped from her boyfriend while he was attempting to abduct both her and her 4-year-old child. And police are looking for the boy's father. We're going to give you a picture of him. His name is Robert William Custer II. He is 45 years old, is 5'8" tall, weighs about 200 pounds, and has grayish/blonde hair with blue eyes. And police say that he could be armed. They say that he is likely heading north in a Chevy Conversion van with Florida tag Q577ZE.

Again, an Amber Alert has been issued for a 4-year-old boy out of Lexington, South Carolina, and we are staying on top of that story for you.

LEMON: All right, Betty.

Well, no one in Iowa can remember floodwaters ever being this high, or this devastating, to say the least. More than 36,000 people in 26 communities have been forced out of their homes. At least six people have died in all of this. And while the water started to recede in places like Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, many rivers are still days away from cresting, and that means more sandbagging.

The president plans to inspect the damage starting on Thursday.

Our correspondents are right in the middle of this disaster. Jim Acosta is in Cedar Rapids. Allan Chernoff in Iowa City, and that's just to name two. And, of course, our meteorologist, Mr. Chad Myers, is manning our severe weather center.

But let's start now with CNN's Jim Acosta. He is in Cedar Rapids.

A lot of folks are wondering when they can go home. Jim, we're wondering if you've heard anything.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, not anything as of late. Cedar Rapids officials have decided to go ahead and suspend the checkpoints that were set up yesterday to allow residents to go back in their homes and check on their properties. The reason, as you can see behind me, many of these neighborhoods are still under water and are unsafe. But with all of these people waiting to get back home, that kind of measure is not going to go over well.


ACOSTA (voice-over): It was a flood of frustration as thousands of people stood in long lines at police checkpoints to reenter their neighborhoods. Men, women, even children were given wristbands to quickly go home and carry out whatever they could in plastic bags.

Carla Morford didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

VOICE OF CARLA MORFORD, FLOOD VICTIM: We're safe. We've got our kids. We got our pets.

ACOSTA: One detective admitted they are making it up as they go along.

DET. BRAD NOVAK, CEDAR RAPIDS POLICE: It's been compared to a 3,000-year flood, or a 2500-year flood. And so, something with that rarity of an event, there is no playbook to go by.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE AND FEMALE: That's our boat house.


ACOSTA: We gave the Murphy family a ride home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know safe it is to go in.

ACOSTA: That is, what's left of it.

MURPHY: My whole entire life is gone. I don't know what we're going to do.

ACOSTA: Holding back tears, Tracy frantically grabbed all the family photos she could find.

MURPHY: Everything could be replaced but your photos can't.

ACOSTA: Like scores of other homeowners here, she was told she didn't need flood insurance. Guess what the insurance company is telling her now?

MURPHY: And they said because it's a flood, they're not going to help us.

ACOSTA (on camera): What's going to happen to this town?

MURPHY: I don't know. Is the government going to come in and buy all these houses, knock them down?

ACOSTA (voice-over): There is going to be plenty to knock down and clean up from this grain silo that split open in the rising waters to this fuel tanker pinned under a highway. But for many of the people who live here, it's the smaller things that matter most.


ACOSTA: Everybody is out safe?

RIBBLE: Everybody is out safe now. Now they are.


ACOSTA: And engineers with the city of Cedar Rapids will be going back into these neighborhoods over the next 24 hours to assess just how soon residents can go back to their homes, and for good reason. We heard one anecdotal report yesterday, Don, of a city worker going into a house to check on the security of the foundation. He went through the floor and landed in six feet of water -- Don.

LEMON: Horrible stories like that. OK.

Jim Acosta reporting from Cedar Rapids.

Jim, we appreciate you reporting. And in Iowa City, though, we have a bit of encouraging news. The river crested early and lower than they expected there. Just how high did the water go?

Well, our Allan Chernoff, he joins us now from soggy University of Iowa campus.

Just how high did the water go? And you know what? That sign behind you says road closed. It looks like it should say river closed, or tributary, or something.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT: Have a look at that, Don. That was placed a few days ago. I think the stop sign beyond is a little more telling, because that sign shows the water is about eight feet high over here, and it is not just here in Iowa City where we've got incredible (AUDIO GAP).

We're a good football field away from the Iowa River, which is flowing very rapidly right behind that building. This situation is all over the state.

Yesterday when we (AUDIO GAP), and my goodness, you could see just river, lakes (AUDIO GAP). They weren't really lakes. They weren't really rivers. Farmland just covered for miles and miles and miles.

Sixteen (ph) percent of this state's farmland is now under water. And consider, Iowa is the nation's most important producer of corn and soybeans. Most essential crops.

Not only are the farmers getting hit, but also consumers, us. We are going to feel this at the supermarket. I can't tell you exactly how long. Maybe a few months. Maybe next year.

The prices will keep going up and up. They've already been soaring. So we're going to really feel this -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Allan. Thank you very much.

Allan Chernoff reporting for us. And of course we apologize for the sound and his microphone there. And you know, when you're dealing with water in situations like this it can always affect the technology there.


NGUYEN: Well, escalating tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan today to tell you about. NATO and Afghan troops are poised to strike at Taliban targets along the border. Hundreds of Taliban fighters have captured a handful of villages in southern Afghanistan near Kandahar.

Now, this area is near where about 400 Taliban militants made a daring prison break last week. And anticipating violence, residents are streaming out of that region. Meanwhile, Pakistan today is warning Afghanistan not to send troops across the border to chase down militants. Both nations are Washington's allies in the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda, but comments by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai are raising tensions between the two.

He said Afghan troops have the right to cross the border in pursuit of militants. Pakistan says you better think again. Pakistan's foreign minister lodged a strong protest with Afghanistan's ambassador today, vowing to defend his country's territory.

And President Bush is wrapping up his farewell tour of Europe, meeting with Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown, and north Ireland officials today. Mr. Bush and the prime minister presented a united front as Brown announced that European Union nations are freezing overseas assets of Iran's largest bank. This move is aimed at discouraging Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Brown also says Britain is sending more troops to Afghanistan.


GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have resolved, first of all, as we did some years ago, that it is in the British national interest to confront the Taliban in Afghanistan or Afghanistan would come to us. And so today Britain will announce additional troops for Afghanistan, bringing our numbers in Afghanistan to the highest level.


NGUYEN: Well, the majority of British troops in Afghanistan are in the southern province of Helmand, which is a stronghold of Taliban insurgents.

Back here in the U.S., in just a few hours, California will join Massachusetts in allowing same-sex marriages. Now, it's a day many gay couples thought might never come, and one that many opponents of same-sex marriage hoped never would.

So let's go live now to CNN's Ted Rowlands in San Francisco.

What's the situation there?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, 5:01, that's when counties can legally start issuing marriage licenses. A handful of counties are staying open late tonight, until 8:00 some of them. Here in San Francisco, they'll be performing one ceremony.

Over the next week it's going to be very reminiscent of 2004, especially here in San Francisco, where hundreds of couples lined up, received marriage licenses, and got married here in city hall. Six hundred and fifty people have already signed up just for San Francisco County alone.

They are changing the forms here. Instead of saying "bride and groom," it will now say "Party A and Party B," and these will be legally recognized same-sex marriages in the state of California. It's a little different in Massachusetts in that anybody can come here and have their union recognized legally in this state. Looming, of course, is a November ballot initiative which would change the state constitution and redefine marriage as between a man and a woman. That would throw a wrench into this entire thing and most likely render these unions illegal, if you will, and change the climate.

But for now, starting today, they will be legally recognized. Of course, a lot of religious groups and others are vehemently against this. Mayor Gavin Newsom says this should not be at all a religious question.


MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM (D), SAN FRANCISCO: This is about civil marriages, it's about state marriages. It's not about religious marriages. We're not telling our churches what to believe on abortion or what to belief on stem-cell research or what to believe on divorce, or, for that matter, birth control. We're not going to tell them what to do on the issue of marriage.

Forty-plus percent of marriages in this country are performed in places like this, San Francisco City Hall, and city halls around the United States. They're civil marriages, separation of church and state. We're not telling religious institutions what to do. They can continue to do what they have done.


ROWLANDS: Now, of course Newsom has been very involved in this as the mayor of San Francisco. And he will be conducting the first ceremony in this city. Dell Martin (ph) -- 87-year-old Dell Martin (ph) -- will be marrying longtime partner Phyllis Lion (ph), who is 83 years old. They were the first to get married back in 2004, and they will be the first to marry here in San Francisco tonight -- Betty.

NGUYEN: They are just hours away. We'll be watching.

Ted Rowlands joining us live. Thank you, Ted.

LEMON: Eighty-five million dollars worth of supplies packed up, stacked up and ready to help the Hurricane Katrina survivors. Guess what? Those folks didn't get any of it.

Make sense to you? Well, CNN's Special Investigations Unit looks into this one.

Plus, these city folks are their own grocery store, their own power company, their own gas station. Issue #1 not an issue for them.


LEMON: OK. Well, stomping, kicking, hitting. The roadside attack was brutal and the target was just a little boy. Horrified witnesses tried to help and call police to that scene. Officers, equally horrified, immediately swung into action. We have this report now from Sharokina Shams of our California affiliate KCRA.


SHAROKINA SHAMS, REPORTER, KCRA (voice-over): It was when passersby saw what was going on on rural Bradbury Road after 10:00 p.m. Saturday that authorities say the 911 calls started to come in. The first to arrive here, the Stanislaus County sheriff's helicopter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flight crew made the decision that they were first on scene. Responding ground officers were still several minutes away. They landed, intervened, and attempted to try to save a life.

SHAMS: The sheriff's spokesman says a Modesto police officer on board the chopper shot at a 27-year-old man, killing him after the suspect refused to comply with orders to stop beating a baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The manner in which the small child was being attacked, you know, punched, kicked, a 1-year-old or 2-year-old that can't defend themselves getting this type of abuse and assault, it's just -- you can't even imagine what they saw.

SHAMS (on camera): The sheriff's helicopter landed in this cow pasture on Bradbury Road. Authorities are saying they don't know why the expect chose this particular spot for his attack. It's miles away from his Turlock home.

VICTOR PALATO, NEIGHBOR: When somebody is shooting, you know...

SHAMS (voice-over): Neighbor Victor Palato works at a dairy across the street. He heard one gunshot, he says. He knew police had fatally shot a man. It was only later he learned that officers were trying to save a child's life.

PALATO: That's something terrible, you know, because I have my kids. I'd never do that to my kids, you know. Probably he's drunk or it's drugs. I don't know.


LEMON: That report from reporter Sharokina Shams of KCRA.

Still so many questions in this case. The beating was so bad, police said it might take a DNA test to confirm the little boy's identity. They haven't released the dead man's name or said if the two were related.

NGUYEN: Hard times in China. Ice in January, an earthquake in May, and now record flooding. Misery upon misery.




NGUYEN: Hello, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen, live at the CNN world headquarters here in Atlanta.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon over at our severe weather center.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: It's about 30 past the hour, and here are three of the stories that we are working on in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Under six hours to go before California officially becomes the second state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriages. Some county offices are staying open late to accommodate first-in-line couples.

President Bush heading back to the U.S. after wrapping up a farewell tour of Europe. In Britain today, he and Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomed plans for tougher European sanctions against Iran and its disputed nuclear program.

And an Amber Alert to tell you about. An urgent search going on right now for that little boy. Four-year-old Colin Custer and his mother were allegedly abducted in South Carolina by his father. The mother says she managed to escape.

LEMON: All right. We don't know if this had to do with the stress of being in the middle of all that floodwater. Who knows what's behind it? But apparently one man was arrested under some pretty bizarre circumstances as he was trying to go back into his home.

We get the very latest now. It is developing news from our Jim Acosta. He joins us now from Cedar Rapids.

What happened, Jim? We have got some pictures of this man being arrested. Quite a bizarre story here.

ACOSTA: That's right, Don. We told you earlier about how Cedar Rapids officials had suspended those checkpoints that were set up yesterday to let people go back into their neighborhoods. They suspended those checkpoints because they say some of these neighborhoods are just too unsafe.

Well, earlier this morning, about 10:00 this morning at one of those checkpoints here in Cedar Rapids, we can show you the picture. A gentleman by the name of Ricky Blazik (ph), a 53-year-old, drove up to one of these checkpoints, was denied entry into one of those neighborhoods, and was told that he could not enter that area. Apparently, this is according to Cedar Rapids police, at that point this gentleman then tried to drive his vehicle into the state trooper who was out of his vehicle. That led to an incident.

As you can see in the picture, guns were drawn by Cedar Rapids police and this gentleman, this 53-year-old Ricky Blazik, was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer. He's now in the Jones County Jail outside of Cedar Rapids. And we should note we have been here over the last 24 to 48 hours as these checkpoints have been going on and people have been going back to their homes. This is the only incident that we know of so far where this type of tension has erupted into some sort of violent situation, or apparent or alleged violent situation.

For the most part, from what we've been able to observe, people have been very patient with this process. But obviously, with these checkpoints being shut down, tensions are going to start running high, Don.

LEMON: Absolutely. Jim Acosta -- wow -- thank you very much for that story, Jim.

And our Chad Myers, right behind me working in the severe weather center, working on what towns will be hit next, what's going on there and how should they be preparing. He's working that out for us in the CNN severe weather center.

In the meantime, Betty, the cost of this and the threat of whatever is happening down river, man, it is going to be amazing to see what happens there. That's what's next.

NGUYEN: Amazing and frightening for at that lot of folks no doubt. IN fact, I want to get to Chad Myers, first up though, Don, because I understand there's some severe weather in New York.

What do you have, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Betty, I want to give this to you. For people of Syracuse, New York, a very populated area, Onondaga County, a tornado warning for you. A very impressive looking storm near Baldwinsville right now, which is to your west, moving to the east at about 35, 40 miles per hour. And we're going watch it for you as it gets closer to Syracuse. I want you to be taking cover, prepare for it now. Syracuse you're still about 20 minutes away. But that's enough time for you to get ready for a tornado that may be headed your way, Betty

NGUYEN: All right, Chad, we do appreciate that.

Let's tell you about southern China right now because they are trying to deal with record flooding that has forced more than a million people to leave their homes.

CNN's Hugh Riminton reports.


HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the earthquake zone of is he Sichuan Province, more misery. Some of the worst floods in decades have struck where nearly 90,000 people were killed, or remain officially missing, after the May 12 earthquake. The five million people left homeless from that disaster have a new challenge.

It's a further nightmare, too , for authorities already grappling with food, shelter and public health issues in Sichuan Province. That misery, though, is shared now across a huge area of southern China. More than a million people have been forced from their homes by the rising waters, scores are dead.

Nine provinces have been hit from high inland mountains, to the wide coastal plains that includes Guangdong, the manufacturing heartland of China. In the Pearl River Delta, which includes Guangdong and Hong Kong, the flooding is the worse in 50 years. More heavy rain is expected with more flooding inevitable in coastal areas as rivers flowing south disgorge their waters.

Chinese soldiers who have been busy in the earthquake zone, and who mobilized in their hundreds of thousands in January to deal with the record ice storm across the same region, are back at it. In an ancient and basic and sometimes apparently endless battle with the elements. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, no major break in the weather is expected for at least ten days.

Hugh Riminton, CNN, Hong Kong.


NGUYEN: Speaking of floodwaters, back here in the states the flood threat extends beyond the borders of Iowa. Mississippi River communities in Illinois and Missouri, they are raising flood walls and piling on the sand bags. On the phone with us right now is John Hark. He is a 61 year resident of Hannibal, Missouri and also happens to be the Emergency Management Chief of Marion County.

So John, let me ask you this, first off, as you watch the weather forecast, what are you doing to get ready?

VOICE OF JOHN HARK, MARION CO. EMERGENCY MGMT. CHIEF: Well, as we watch the weather forecast, which believe me we keep our eyes on, especially for any rainfall here for us and/or north, and if we see something that is, in fact, something that we think is going to have an effect on us, then we step up our pace to, make any corrections or anything that we feel we need to do.

NGUYEN: Well you're sand bagging, isn't the National Guard helping as well?

HARK: Yes. We have National Guard here that has been helping us. We raised our levee and flood wall around our community, around our city two feet.

NGUYEN: My goodness.

All right, I want to bring in our meteorologist, Chad Myers, because he has some questions for you as well, John.

MYERS: Mr. Hark, this flood is going to be the same level for you as the 1993 flood, which was considered a 500 year flood. Well it's only 15 years later, we're having a similar 500 flood.

Is your town ready for 31.9 feet? And what does that mean for your town? What do those numbers mean? HARK: Well, No. 1, you've got me a little off guard there because the last I heard from my local national weather out of St. Louis, Missouri, we were looking at a 31.5 feet. So, I don't know you got four tenths difference than what I'm getting from my local national weather.

MYERS: OK. So, that's three inches.

How does that -- does that three inches -- maybe it does say 31.5. How does that differ and what does 31.5 means?

HARK: 31.5 means a tremendous amount of water down around my central business district.

MYERS: Really, in downtown?

HARK: Yes. Being held back by our flood wall and levee.

MYERS: And the flood wall and those levees in the Mississippi didn't do very well in '93. Are you prepared that this levee is going to hold this year?

HARK: Sir, I held in 1993 and I fully intend to hold this time.

MYERS: Absolutely. Good job. I know -- it was up and down the river. It was touch and go for everybody there.

What else can you tell us about what happens to the people that aren't protected by this flood wall?

HARK: We do have some small businesses, industries, if you would, that's on the outside of the flood wall, farther west of town that is along what we call the Bear Creek Basin. This is a creek that dumps into the Mississippi River. And of course, the river is backing up and starting to cause some flooding for those small industries west of town.

This is -- when I say west of town, I'm talking two to three, four blocks.

We have some residents and I'm, again, going to estimate the number right now, of maybe 30 to 40, give or take, that is going to experience some flooding around their homes and on the streets and stuff and if this stays this close to the '93 flood we could be, in fact, looking at them having some minor flooding in homes. Which -- any kind of water that comes into your home is not minor.

NGUYEN: Got to expect the worse. I know in the flood of '93 there was a lot of government buyouts from the homes that were badly damaged. Hopefully that doesn't have to happen this time. But we'll be watching it closely.

I know you'll be doing your best to prepare for it. Thanks for joining us, John Hark with the Emergency Management of Marion County there -- on the phone for us -- Don. LEMON: OK. So Betty and Chad, we know that all this flooding is going to affect the economy. Let's talk more about the economy. Saudi Arabia says it will pump more oil, and in theory that should help reduce price. But, oil hit a fresh record high today.'s Poppy Harlow has our energy fix from New York.

Can we fix this? How can you fix it?

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Yes, we're going to try to fix it.

We want to let people know exactly what is going on right now. Oil prices falling just a bit. So let's start out with some good news. But, I have to say they did hit a record high in early trading this morning, almost $140 a barrel. Pretty astounding numbers.

Now, over the weekend, as you said, Don, Saudi Arabia reportedly said it plans to boost production by 200,000 barrels per day in July. That would raise the Saudi's production to 9.7 million barrels per day. That's an increase of just about 2 percent. But if you do the math and you compare that to the 86 million barrels that we consume each and every day around the world, we're talking about literally a drop in the bucket. Just about two tenths of a percent.

Now, the Saudis also boosted production, Don, by 300,000 barrels early last month. So that's what we're seeing right now. But still, surging gas prices just a little earlier today.

LEMON: Yes, we had a surge in gas prices. But you know, it's not a huge increase, as you said.

You think that these moves would calm oil prices, Poppy?

HARLOW: You would think they would, but that's not what we saw this morning. That's because a lot of people think the Saudis could have done more. There's ongoing debate, Don, about how much the Saudis can actually produce. Most analysts peg that number just around 11 million barrels per day. So, the current increase would take us pretty close to capacity, but from a strategic standpoint, we really don't want the Saudis to be at capacity in terms of production.

But also in focus today, what's driving these oil prices higher, a weak U.S. dollar coupled with a fire on the oil field off the Norwegian coast. That is causing these prices to rise. And by the way, Don, the reason the Saudis are really interested in boosting production is they are worried if the price gets too high, consumers are going to figure out a way to go on with their life without using so much oil.

LEMON: All right. Poppy Harlow in New York at our energy fix desk.

Poppy, we appreciate your reporting. Thank you very much.


NGUYEN: Well, a warehouse crammed with supplies that were supposed to help Hurricane Katrina victims. So why are they still sitting there two years later. It's the story that we brought you and we're going to be bringing you the latest on that, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


NGUYEN: So, you think you're doing your part to save the planet. Well, you will be green with envy to watch how one California family does it.

Here's CNN Thelma Gutierrez.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is quite possibly one of the few households in America where rising food prices are not an issue.

JULES DERVAES, URBAN HOMESTEADER: You just stay at home and grow your own food in the backyard.

GUTIERREZ: Where high energy costs are not a concern.

ANAIS DERVAES, URBAN HOMESTEADER: We try to cook outdoors using the sun and free energy.

GUTIERREZ: Where sky-high gas prices haven't hurt one bit.

JUSTIN DERVAES, URBAN HOMESTEADER: We'll take special oil heat (ph) and some chemicals and make biodiesel.

GUTIERREZ: Meet the Dervaes, a family of four who live off their land, every horizontal and vertical inch they can find. In their backyard, their front yard...

JULES DERVAES: In our driveway, we've got strawberries --

GUTIERREZ: ... even the driveway of their three bedroom in Pasadena, California.

JULES DERVAES: One of our biggest crops is edible flowers.

GUTIERREZ: That's right. Even their landscaping is edible. The Dervaes urban home is a working farm on a tenth of an acre. They sell to local chefs.

JULES DERVAES: They may call for three pounds of salad, we pick the three pounds of salad. No waste, no mess. That cuts down overhead.

GUTIERREZ: Anais Dervaes says her family has been living green way before green was in. Their home is paid for and they live on about $25,000 a year. What they don't sell they eat.

(on camera): So what can you actually cook in here?

A. DERVAES: Anything that can be cooked in a normal oven can be cooked in a solar oven. Here we have some home grown potatoes that we harvested and that we're cooking up for dinner tonight.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): The sun also powers their home and heats their water.

A. DERVAES: You're looking at our home-made, out door solar shower.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): This is the shower you use in summer?

A. DERVAES: Yes, and it's heated with a simple black garden hose and then the water percolates down and waters our edible landscaping.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): The Dervaes' pick pets like chickens, ducks and goats that contribute.

JULES DERVAES: Right now, they are just pets and eat they up our waste green. So they're -- we call them composters.

GUTIERREZ: Even their toilet gives back.

A. DERVAES: You wash your hands with the new water. That water will go in and fill your bowl.

GUTIERREZ: Just when you think you have seen it all...

A. DERVAES: Our bicycle powered blender.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Isn't there a side of you that ever just wants to get out of bed, go in, turn on the blender, make whatever you need to make --

A. DERVAES: I don't really know another way. In a sense, I've grown up like this.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Jordanna Dervaes says as a kid she was picked on for living green.

JORDANNA DERVAES, URBAN HOMESTEADER: Right when I began to accept being different and unusual, then I started becoming hip.

GUTIERREZ: In 10 years she says they went from the crazy family on the block, to the envy of their neighborhood.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Pasadena, California.


LEMON: A warehouse cramped with supplies that were supposed to help Katrina victims. So why were they sitting, just sitting there, two years later? It is a story we brought you and one FEMA is now reacting to as well. A live update from the CNN special investigations unit, straight ahead.


NGUYEN: We have some breaking news to tell you about. This just in, we understand that plane right there, a Southwest Airlines plane, there's been a tire fire. This is a Phoenix airport, Sky Harbor to be exact. Phoenix fire department is on the scene and here's what we know. The right rear wheel caught fire during landing. That fire obviously, you can tell right here, is under control. But passengers are being taken off of that plane and bussed to the terminal. And there are no injuries reported. That the good news. Southwest flight 2511 was scheduled to land at Sky Harbor. It was coming from Austin. It did land, but the right rear wheel was on fire.

The runway where it landed is closed right now, but two south runways are open for landings and takeoffs. So, that's the latest news.

Here's some more video of, not only passengers getting off the plane, but as well as some employees there. There were 127 passengers on board. Again, no injuries, but they are being taken off of that plane and bussed to the terminal.

LEMON: OK. So, listen up. We have some new developments to tell you about today in a story we first brought you about FEMA giving away tens of millions of dollars worth of brand new household supplies meant -- they were meant -- for Hurricane Katrina victims. Well, CNN special investigations unit correspondent, Abbie Boudreau, is back with us now and she has the very latest on this.

Abbie, this is unbelievable stuff.


The group in charge of the hurricane recovery effort in Louisiana issued a news release stating it wants all of the unused items back, and that's exactly what U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu wants as well. She wrote a letter to Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, the department that oversees FEMA, saying she wants the items that were meant for Katrina victims to be handed over.


BOUDREAU (voice-over): Brand new dinner ware, cleaning supplies, bath towels. CNN obtained these government photos that showed FEMA warehouses stock piled with household supplies that were supposed to go to Hurricane Katrina victims, but never did -- $85 million worth of brand new items paid for mostly by your tax dollars.

Yet for two years, these supplies just sat in warehouses. Boxes still wrapped, stacked to the ceiling, until FEMA decide Katrina victims no longer needed them and declared them surplus. After advertising to the state, FEMA gave it all away to different state and federal agencies, like prisons, the post office and the border patrol.

Now, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is fighting to get those items back.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: It's just a shame. We're going to try to salvage what we can out of this. I don't know all the of the circumstances. But, again it just continues to point to a system that's still in many ways broken.

BOUDREAU: Senator Landrieu and other groups say the timing couldn't be worse. With the thousands of victims being forced to leave their FEMA issued trailers, they say that $85 million worth of new items would have helped rebuild their lives.

LANDRIEU: Just another example of the failings of a federal bureaucracy that was not set up appropriately. We're still in the process of trying to fix it. It's going to take a lot more work.


BOUDREAU: FEMA director David Paulison said yesterday on "Late Edition" with Wolf Blitzer, that it was Louisiana's fault for passing on these surplus items, and said not all of those items were meant for Katrina victim. But documents we obtained tell a different story.

We'll have a lot more on this later today on "THE SITUATION ROOM."

LEMON: We look forward to that -- Abbie Boudreau of our special investigations unit.

Thank you, Abbie.

NGUYEN: And coming up, we're going to show you the latest on the flooding in Iowa and where it is going next.


NGUYEN: Even regular gas seems to cost a premium these days. But some people are still shelling out for higher octane. Do they really need to?

Well, our Rusty Dornin investigates.


ROD BUDDY, GAS CONSUMER: (INAUDIBLE) complete cheap, but I'm getting like $10 in a hurry, or --

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Like many car owners, Rod Buddy (ph) is conflicted. Premium or regular?

Mercedes says to use premium, his wallet cries otherwise. So today, he pumped a few gallons of the cheaper stuff.

BUDDY: I figure it can't hurt the car and it's a buck in my pocket.

DORNIN: As prices climb ever sky ward, the premium versus regular question nags more drivers. With 282 models of new cars from Chevrolets to Mercedes recommending or requiring premium, Adam Goldfein, host of the radio show "Auto Scoop" says, no wonder people are confused.

(on camera): So many people seem so adamant, I have to put premium in my car.

ADAM GOLDFEIN, AUTOSCOOP HOST: They don't know what it is. They don't the different. They are assuming or they're buying into the myth of the marketing. When you go the pump, the odds are you can get away with regular unleaded and you can save the money, keep the money in your wallet.

DORNIN (voice-over): What's the difference?

Premium has more octane than regular. Octane affects how gas burns during engine compression. High performance engines, like sports cars, have higher compression engines and require higher octane.

(on camera): Are there some cars that really absolutely do require premium?

GOLDFEIN: Sure. If you have a vehicle that's a turbo charged car like this Audi here, you will see this vehicle will definitely require premium fuel.

DORNIN: And it will operate differently if you try to put unleaded in?

GOLDFEIN: Absolutely. You won't be giving enough nutrients to your car, so to speak.

DORNIN: My car is not a turbo and it's not really a sports car, but it does say that I should be putting premium in the tank. I haven't been for the past seven years and I haven't had any problems, at least so far.

(voice-over): I told that to former auto mechanic, Dean Gerami (ph). He believes there could be wear and tear I just don't know about yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been working on all kinds of cars -- BMW, Mercedes, Corvettes, anything.

DORNIN (on camera): And you believe premium gas is going to be better --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the newer cars. That's how they build it, they build it for premium gas.

DORNIN (voice-over): Goldfein doesn't believe it.

GOLDFEIN: You won't harm the car, you won't hurt the car, won't void your warranty. There's nothing for the consumer to worry about, other than the fact that they have kept a little more money in their pockets instead of the oil company's pockets.

DORNIN: So if you wondering, can I do it? Check your manual carefully. If your car recommends premium, experts say you can probably get away with regular. If it's required, you may notice a slight difference. Or you can do what Buddy does and cheat a little. Rusty Dornin, CNN, Atlanta.


NGUYEN: Your gas bill, your food bill, electric bill -- the CNN economic team shows you how to keep all of them in check week days, 12:00 Eastern and all throughout the CNN NEWSROOM. It's your money and it's issue No. 1.

They called this no man's land, but Afghanistan calls it fair game in the hunt for the Taliban. It's the northwest frontier of Pakistan, whose leaders are warning Afghans to keep their war to themselves.

LEMON: The water is not all that's rising in parts of the Midwest. Frustration leads to anger, and then allegedly to assault with a deadly weapon in flood ravaged Iowa. We're live in Cedar Rapids with the very latest on that and much, much more.

Hello everyone, I'm Don Lemon, live at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.