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Midwest Battles Floods; Will Same-Sex Weddings be Short-Lived?; Allies Gear up for Afghanistan Offensive

Aired June 17, 2008 - 13:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Levees are going to overtop. But you know, they're not all going to break, and they're not all going to overtop. But that's going to happen during this flood, just like it did in 1993.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: So many levees, so much water, so little time. And so little certainty of which cities, towns, and farms will be spared. And which will be the next casualty of the worst Midwestern flooding in 15 years.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon right here at the severe weather center at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kyra Phillips in New York.

CNN's Sean Callebs, Ed Lavandera and Allan Chernoff watching the rivers for us. Meteorologist Chad Myers looking downstream and watching the skies with the CNN weather center.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Now in the southern corner of Iowa, storm-weary residents are busy shoring up a weak levee, trying to save their city.

CNN's Sean Callebs, we're going to start with you in Burlington. How is it going?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been a long, difficult day, kind of an odd set of situations here in southern Iowa. Because you see, the Mississippi River jump its banks. I'm standing, basically, on Second Street, so it's pushed all the way in. Usually, the river is well out there beyond that second tree line.

But the big problem right across that river, Kyra. That is where a levee has given way, and a muddy Mississippi is simply pouring into the Gulfport, Illinois, area, causing severe flooding, flooding probably hundreds of square miles.

We don't know exactly how much, because it's very difficult to get over there. All of the bridges in this area connecting Iowa and Illinois have been shut down, because the water is so steep. We have a couple of cameras in here. We want to show you just a little bit. John, if we can kind of move the camera over this way, show people just how bad the flooding is and how bad it was, actually. If you look at the water line on this wall here, it's actually come down just a couple of feet. And that's just been within the last several hours.

The bad news is, as soon as it stabilizes, the water level's off in Illinois. It's going to start moving back up here in this area.

You hear noise in the background. I want to go over and show you what that tremendous racket is. If you look up there, you can see a pump that is actually pumping water from a basement of a giant warehouse here in downtown Burlington.

That is pretty much what's going on in this city. Water is just flooding areas. This is actually a warehouse that has bedding products, mattresses, so certainly can't afford to get any water there.

They're also sandbagging just up that way a little bit. A lot of work going on in this area. But just to the north of us, it could get to a very, very critical point. There's seven miles of levee there that is actually swamped. The corps of engineers, emergency officials, say they're actually seeing boiling, meaning water is coming through parts of that levee. They're very concerned about that giving way, and that could flood a huge section of Iowa.

So really, Kyra, a very, very tense time here. You can't overstate how anxious people are in this area, because the bad flooding could get extremely worse if one of the levees on the Iowa side gives way the way it did on the Illinois side -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Yes. The pictures are astounding. Sean Callebs there, live for us in Burlington. We'll continue to check in with you. Thanks so much.

LEMON: Absolutely, Kyra and Sean.

Chad Myers, those flood waters aren't showing any mercy at all. The big question: who is still at risk in all of this?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the Army Corps of Engineers yesterday said 26 to 27 levees could go over the top of where they are now if we don't sandbag the top of them. And that's what they've been doing. They've been setting up the sandbags for volunteer and for the National Guard to get those sandbags. They sent out 10 million sandbags.

And here's what we have for you. Here's the Burlington story, and there are many more stories north and south here. But the Burlington story is that on the east side, the right bank of the Mississippi River, that's where the levee failure was in Gulfport.

Zooming in for here. This is actually some good news for Burlington, bad news for the people, obviously, on the Illinois side. Wherever that No. 1, wherever that arrow is, where we believe that the levee did break. It failed about 3:30 in the morning, and water rushed in from the Mississippi, and it rushed to the east. It rushed into Illinois.

And now we'll kind of take you what the other side looks like. It's actually on a bluff. The Burlington side, at least south side of town, is a small little bluff area. But then downtown Burlington is down there in through that river valley, and that's where the flooding is occurring right now. Obviously, not occurring on the bluff.

But let me show you what happened to the river level when the levee broke. Look at that. The blue line is what has happened so far. The green dots are what was supposed to happen. As soon as that levee broke, that river went down a foot and a half, because the water spilled into the Illinois side. So it relieved some of the pressure on the left bank, or the Iowa side.

So you know, what's good for some, terrible for others, but maybe if we lose a few of these levees, Don, in places that only have corn fields, we won't be so worried about those breaking where people are being protected by those levees.

LEMON: Oh, my gosh, Chad. Fair to say, this is quite a mess. Chad, we'll be checking back with you throughout the day. Thanks very much, our meteorologist, Chad.

Meantime, rivers are on the way down in parts of Iowa. But a lot of people still can't go home, not even to see whether they can salvage anything at all.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Cedar Rapids, where the flood waters have left more than a mess.

Right, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely. And people are discovering that firsthand here this afternoon, Don. And what the city of Cedar Rapids has done is essentially kind of begun to shrink the restricted area throughout the city as the flood waters have begun to recede, and that is really calming a lot of the tension here throughout the city, as more and more streets are opening up to residents being allowed back into their homes.

Of course, the concern here for several days has been the integrity of many of the homes that have been in these flood waters with these currents. Many people concerned about the foundation, whether or not the homes would still -- would still be standing properly. So there is that concern.

We've been following one family in particular, the Kiene family, Shawn and Julie family, who we met several days ago, were able to return to their home this afternoon. They got a glimpse of it yesterday afternoon, but they actually couldn't make it inside.

And what they saw in the backyard was mattresses, furniture, garbage, still some standing water in their backyard. Today they were able to get through the front door and see the amount of water that had gotten inside and the destruction that these flood waters had left behind. And they were actually, surprisingly, in rather decent spirits, considering what they had come across.


SHAWN KIENE, CEDAR RAPIDS HOMEOWNER: I got a submarine, I mean a camper out back that's for sale, too.

LAVANDERA: You haven't lost your sense of humor through all this?

S. KIENE: You -- if -- if you don't have a sense of humor, you wouldn't make it through this. There's -- you just -- the emotional stress of going through this would just tear you up.

JULIE KIENE, CEDAR RAPIDS HOMEOWNER: All the work I had -- work ahead still. So much work. It's hard just getting anything out of here it's so heavy.


LAVANDERA: And so we're seeing in these streets that were at the flood waters, that have kind of pushed back about a block away from where we are right now. The water actually -- is actually going down rather quickly.

So as soon as these teams can come through there and check the homes, make sure everything's OK, people are being allowed back in. And city officials here say that means that the restricted area here in Cedar Rapids is beginning to shrink, and more and more people are getting back inside their homes -- Don.

LEMON: Ed Lavandera in Cedar Rapids. Ed, thank you very much for that.

And, Kyra, we can only imagine the emotional toll this is taking on the people there.

PHILLIPS: Well, and at least one levee's breech in western Illinois and one bridge to Iowa's closed. CNN producer Bill Kirkos is actually trying to get into another part of Illinois.

Bill, I understand you are right there on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River, but this has been an absolute nightmare trying to get to your destination. Tell us what you're dealing with.

BILL KIRKOS, CNN PRODUCER: Kyra, it really has been. You know, we were actually -- we just recently finally crossed the river. We've been making our way south from Burlington. And it seems like every location we've been going to is -- the bridges are being closed or getting ready to deal with either surging levels or decreasing waterways, depending on where you are.

We just crossed from Keokuk, Iowa, into Hamilton, Illinois. The wait -- it's kind of a surreal feeling; all of these people trying to get between the two states are being forced to find an open bridge. And right now that bridge in this general area, in Keokuk, the waits are really long. People are...

PHILLIPS: How long? How long is the wait?

KIRKOS: Well, we were -- we made it over in about 45 minutes. And we were told it might be close to three hours. But once we were on the bridge, we came to a stop, had some time to get out and shoot a little bit of video that you'll be seeing here shortly in a little while, if not right now.

But it took about 45 minutes to actually cross over. And then, once you cross over, it's flowing -- traffic's moving pretty well into the Carthage area and up ahead. But it's been not amazing for everybody to see, the power of this river. But pretty interesting to see how people are being affected by all of this water that's eventually making its way down from the Iowa River basin and all the rains that are coming down, pushing into the Mississippi. They're having to deal with it now.

And the -- we're seeing the evidence of this in these communities right along here closed. Bridges are closed. The bridge spanning Burlington into Illinois, into Gulfport, Illinois, is a very impressive-looking, large bridge. And when I saw last night, it was still open and maybe had planned on crossing it today. But they shut it down this morning.

And now everybody is scrambling. You have roads that are normally two lanes each direction, small roads, but they are packed with cars. People are trying to cross at the one or two bridges that are open in this area, all the while not knowing what's going to -- what's going to happen in the area.

PHILLIPS: Well, Bill, I appreciate, too, the shot of you in the car there. Thank goodness for digital capability, sending us that through your BlackBerry.

Now, you're on the bridge, one lane, working your way to where the levee burst, right?

KIRKOS: That's correct. So...


KIRKOS: The levee, the area that burst was actually very close to where I was a few hours ago with our photographer, Kevin Myers. And -- but we could -- if that bridge was open, we would have been there in about six or seven minutes in our car.


KIRKOS: But we've had to come all the way down the Mississippi from Burlington on our way south toward Missouri and cross here. Fortunately, Keokuk was open, so we are in Illinois right now. And we're basically backtracking our way north again just on the opposite end of a Mississippi River that is as wide as I've ever seen it. It is -- it is impressive to sit up there on a bluff in Burlington where we were this morning, shooting some video. And it's staggering to see the width of the Mississippi right now, absorbing all of this water that has now left areas Ft. Worth further north. It was in Iowa City for two days, and it's great for those people, especially at the University of Iowa, so they can start getting close to cleaning up. But we're seeing the -- you know, affects of where all of that is ending up down here.

PHILLIPS: Well, now we -- now we know why they call it the great Mississippi, for a number of reasons.

Bill Kirkos there, our CNN producer, making his way to where that levee broke there in Carthage, Illinois. And everybody in Missouri will appreciate the fact that you pronounce it correctly, Bill, "Missour-ah."

We'll be talking to you again -- Don.

LEMON: Absolutely, Kyra. We'll have continuing coverage here in the CNN NEWSROOM throughout the day. Our Chad Myers, as well as the rest of our CNN weather team, working on continuing coverage of the misery in the Midwest.

Plus we'll have this: how long will the honeymoon last? We've seen same-sex couples celebrate their newfound legal matrimony. It's happening in California. But a few months from now the law might not be on their side.

PHILLIPS: Plus, an unspeakable disaster through the eyes of the people living it. IReporters from the flood zone.


MYERS: Welcome back. We take you to live pictures now of Grafton, Illinois, and these pictures with a lot of flooding now going on. Here you go, from KSDK, our affiliate in St. Louis. This is just a few miles north of St. Louis. Well, St. Louis you're not really in this flood, because your levees are going to hold. Clearly, all the little towns along and all the scenic highways up and down this Mississippi River are going to be flooding.

And from Grafton, Illinois, let's go to our Google Earth, what it's supposed to look like, from St. Louis. We'll zoom you right into the area. Here's St. Louis there on the bottom. Right there, the big turn of the river. That's what that is supposed to look like. Right now that town is quite inundated, and the water is only going to go up -- Don.

LEMON: All right, thank you very much.

MYERS: You bet.

LEMON: Thanks for that.

We have some nat sound here? Video that we want to put here? All right. Well, applause, kisses, smiling faces, just like any wedding. And for gay couples, tying the knot as soon as California allowed it, that was the point. Love and marriage and equality. And CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in San Francisco with more on that.

Hi, Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don, and everything else that goes along with marriage.

These same-sex couples are experiencing the latest round of the California marriage saga here in San Francisco. In fact, a lot of couples getting married today got married back in 2004. You remember that, when Gavin Newsom, the mayor here, sparked what became a national debate and then a state debate after he started issuing same- sex marriage licenses. That was struck down back then.

It's back, though, because the California Supreme Court gave the OK. And so today, not only in San Francisco, but statewide, hundreds of couples are taking their vows and receiving legal marriage licenses.

Now, looming in November, though, voters in the state of California will go to the polls and will be asked their opinion on a possible change to the state's constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. If voters in November say yes to that, vote over 50 percent -- that's all they need is a simple majority -- then these marriages most likely would be invalidated and would no longer have any standing in the state of California or anywhere else.

Also in the mix here, unlike Massachusetts, couples can come anywhere in the country, come to California and be recognized and leave the state with a certificate of marriage that they could then potentially go back and demand be recognized in their home state.

Opponents of same-sex marriage say they would have much rather that California waited until November before allowing these marriages to take place.


GLEN LAVY, ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND: For a couple that already had a domestic partnership in California, it really wouldn't make much difference. So that raises the question why should they go ahead and get a marriage license when they know that this issue is up for that vote in November?

That raises the issue for a lot of people of whether this whole push to have thousands of same-sex marriage licenses issued right away is simply manipulation of the Democratic process.


ROWLANDS: Now, Don, hundreds of couples getting married in San Francisco and across the state. And this is the beginning of what is expected to be weeks and months of people coming from across the country and getting married. Same-sex couples getting married. Where it will go after November, everybody in California and the country is waiting to see -- Don.

LEMON: Ted Rowlands in San Francisco. Ted, we appreciate your reporting.

And you know what? They may be lining up for marriage licenses, but the window could slam shut for guy and lesbian couples in California. In just a few minutes, our Jeffrey Toobin will join us to look at all the legal factors in play.

PHILLIPS: And we're going to take you overseas now. Preparing for battle: allied troops and Taliban militants are gearing up for a showdown in southern Afghanistan.

On the phone right now, journalist Farhad Peikar. He's right there in Kabul.

Farhad, could you just give us an idea for what it's like? I've been told that the Taliban and other insurgents have actually locked down on these villages, and they're not letting the villagers leave.

VOICE OF FARHAD PEIKAR, JOURNALIST: Hi. Yes, Kyra, hundreds of Taliban on Sunday night entered several villages in -- in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province.

And today we are hearing that they have destroyed several bridges, and also they have planted several mines on the roadside. And they have also asked -- in some places fooled the villagers to stay and fight along with them.

The reason, also, that they want the villagers to stay in that area, that will help them, so the allied forces will not bomb those areas in fear of civilian casualties -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Now, Farhad, do we know if these 870 prisoners that made out of this jail, this jailbreak near Kandahar, are they the ones involved with coming into these villages and basically taking these people for hostage and not letting them leave?

PEIKAR: Well, actually we cannot for sure that they are taking them hostages. They are just -- in some places they are asking them to stay, and some places they're forcing them to stay.

Of course, the -- these 850 or 900 prisoners, 400 of them were Taliban, and 400 Taliban officials or spokespeople. They already confirmed the day they have arrived in Taliban places (ph). And also, a Taliban spokesman told me that today that some of these prisoners (INAUDIBLE) also reached in Arghandab area, so they're also among the around 500 Talibans who have massed in this Arghandab district -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Now, Farhad, you say that aren't -- these villagers are not being taken hostage. So are you saying that some of these villagers want to work alongside with the Taliban and the insurgents that have come into these areas? Or is -- are members of the Taliban and these insurgents telling these villagers, "You either play ball with us or we're going to take your life"?

PEIKAR: I mean, there are -- there are different techniques (ph) on the ground. Of course, there are sympathizers of the Taliban. Of course, there are people in those areas that they give housing for the Taliban. And of course, you know, if these people do not -- some of the people in those areas do not cooperate with the Taliban, the Taliban would not be able to come to their areas.

But of course, the vast majority in those areas, they deny Taliban too. Many thousands of people, up to 4,000 people, already left those villages in fear of the fighting or being caught up in crossfire or the NATO's bombing. And many people have already left. And many people, they cannot leave because there is no good means of transportation for those people and they cannot leave everything behind.

And so -- so there are several (INAUDIBLE) on the ground. Some people do support them. And while others maybe want to leave. But there are situations in which many people cannot leave those areas.

PHILLIPS: All right. Farhad Peikar there in Kabul. We will follow this, of course, and see how NATO responds and see what exactly will happen with those residents, as a number of them are just trying to take cover.

Farhad, thanks.

LEMON: Think food prices are high now? Well, wait until the water goes down. We're live amid the saturated crops in Iowa. That's ahead on the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Well, we all know about gasoline and food prices. Now get ready for a surge in the cost of healthcare. Stephanie Elam at the New York Stock Exchange with a look at how much more employers could be spending to keep their workers healthy.

Hey, Steph.


Yes, I feel like I ought to tell you about all the happy news that goes in the business world right now, and I'm continuing the trend, looking at healthcare. But for a lot of people, this is a painful thing.

So this latest study that we're looking at says employer healthcare costs will rise almost 10 percent in 2008, plus an added 10 percent in 2009. That's almost double the rate of inflation. So that's a huge jump there.

Price Waterhouse Cooper survey of 500 employers and provider- based health plans covering 11 million people. They put all that data together from those surveys to get this. Now what's causing the prices to go up so quickly? Well, for one thing, there is a hospital building boom. Old facilities, they're being replaced. And they're adjusting to consumer demand, things like private rooms, and out-patient venues. I can see something about the private rooms. Sounds good.

Also, there's a cost shifting going on here: $1 in every $4 spent by private payers in 2009 will go to offset costs from Medicare, Medicaid, the uninsured, as well.

Now the report says the federal government is under-funding medical insurance programs, while the number of uninsured is increasing. Case in point: bankruptcy filings among elderly have actually skyrocketed because of higher medical costs. The AARP says in the last 15 years the number of people age 75 to 84 filing for bankruptcy actually quadrupled. So that's a really painful number, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, is anything being done to keep the cost from jumping so much?

ELAM: Well, obviously, employers have a vested interest in keeping their employees healthy. So they're responding with wellness programs. They're promoting prevention and disease management. And the side effects of these wellness programs? Obviously, increased productivity for companies.

The outcome of the elections could also have an impact, as well. If a Democratic president takes office and passes initiatives to expand coverage of the uninsured, cost shifting could actually be reduced.

All right, so moving from there to the health of Wall Street right now. We've got a weaker than expected wholesale inflation number, and that has investors a little worried about rising prices, especially related to food and energy. Those are the most volatile. And that's what really had those numbers up today.

So if we take a look at the big board right now, we are in the red. The Dow off 53 points, 12,214. And NASDAQ on the downside by three points at 2,470. So we are in the red, but you know, it could be worse.

But in the next hour of the NEWSROOM, well, up to three million acres of corn may be under water. We'll look at what that means for your fuel -- food bill. Easy for me to say. And Kyra, I can tell you, it is not a pretty picture, but I'm sure you can figure that out. I'm sure it's not good.

PHILLIPS: Oh, yes, we've been talking about it for a number of days, haven't we?

ELAM: Yes, seriously.

PHILLIPS: All right, Steph. See you again.

ELAM: All right. Thanks, Kyra.

LEMON: Let's talk now about lining up for marriage licenses. But the window could slam shut for gay and lesbian couples in California. In just a few months that could happen. Our Jeffrey Toobin, our legal analyst, he'll join us to look at all the legal factors in play here.


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

PHILLIPS: And I'm Kyra Phillips. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And it's 1:31 Eastern time. Here's some of the stories we're working on right now in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Sandbag after sandbag after sandbag. People along the Mississippi River are desperately trying to shore up levees and prevent more disastrous flooding. It's feared that more than two dozen levees in Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois could overflow if they're not bolstered now.

And an impending battle in southern Afghanistan where Taliban militants have seized several villages. Afghan and allied troops are apparently gearing up to take on those militants. NATO has already dropped hundreds of leaflets warning people to stay inside.

And tough questions about tough interrogations. Right now, a Senate panel is holding an emotionally charged hearing. It comes amid allegations the Pentagon pursued harsh interrogation techniques in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay despite objections by military lawyers.

LEMON: Let's talk about sandbagging as fast as they can, trying to save their cities. They live along the banks of the Mississippi, banks that are quickly filling with flood waters. Upstream, receding waters are leaving more -- more than a muddy mess. Officials are warning of sink holes and the mix of raw sewage, farm chemicals and fuel in the water left behind. In some places, including Cedar Rapids, some folks are trying -- are being allowed to go back into their homes to salvage what they can.

And President Bush just back from Europe wants to see how bad the flooding is in those areas. He plans to visit Iowa on Thursday and he's been talking with Iowa native Jim Nussle who heads the Office of Management and Budget about ways the government can help out here.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got what we call a Disaster Relief Fund. There's enough money in that fund to take care of this disaster. But what we're concerned about is future disasters this year. And therefore, we're going to work with the Congress, Jim Nussle's going to go up to work with Congress to get enough money in the upcoming supplemental to make sure that fund has got enough money to deal with the potential disaster, another disaster this year.


PHILLIPS: $1 billion worth of crop damage in Iowa alone, just part of the toll that the Midwest floods have taken on farmlands, and that means your already high grocery bill could go even higher no matter where you live.

Let's get right to senior correspondent Allen Chernoff, he's right there in Lone Tree, Iowa. Crunch the numbers for us, Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, let me just show you, this looks like a lake, but believe it or not, this is actually a corn field, all of it. The Iowa River has overflowed for miles around here turning corn and soybean into seaweed.


CHERNOFF (voice-over): Joe Mooney (ph) is boating where he usually plants, motoring seven feet above his corn and soybean field.

(on camera): Right now, we're on top of a corn field?

JOE MOONEY, FARMER: Yes, right now, we're on top of a corn field.

CHERNOFF: That's amazing.

MOONEY: Yes, it don't look much like a corn field. I'd say it's more of a bass field now.

CHERNOFF: Take out your fishing rod, right?

MOONEY: You bet. This would normally be all planted here and that would be planted over there. That's all corn field over on this side.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Joe's 43 acres along the Iowa River are now part of the waterway. And his home is an island.

MOONEY: We've pulled everything out of our basement. My motorcycle's sitting in my front living room.

CHERNOFF: It's been such a wet spring here that Joe never even got a chance to plant his crops. Some neighbors did and are facing a total loss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does keep you, I guess, in touch with mother nature. You know what the wrath of her can be.


CHERNOFF: Well, as you can see, the landscape of Iowa has been changed, as much as 15 percent of landscape here, the corn fields are actually under water right now. Astounding, and officials here are saying that as much as 20 percent of the corn and soybean crop may be lost.

That's going to hit all of us as consumers around the country, even people around the world, you can be sure that prices for items made from corn, made from soybean will be jumping up. We're talking about cereal, soybeans, so many products made from soybeans, such as -- even salad dressing. So, that is going to hit us as well as beef and milk prices because half of all of the corn in Iowa is fed to livestock -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So Allan, beef prices will actually shoot up because of this? What about any of those crops? Any chance to save any of them?

CHERNOFF: There is the possibility if we get more of this dry weather, if we get another seven, eight days of dry weather straight, and by the way, there is a little rain forecast for Thursday, but if it stays mostly dry, it is possible to plant fast maturing corn and soybean, corn until late next week, soybean until the July 4th weekend. Of course, there also is the risk there that those crops could be subject to frost because they'd be harvested in October.

PHILLIPS: Allan Chernoff live from Lone Tree, Iowa. Thanks, Allan.

LEMON: We want to get now to Gladstone, Illinois, and reporter Meredith Haley, she joins us now from our affiliate KWQC. And I understand you have been witnessing a lot there. Meredith, tell us what you're seeing.

VOICE OF MEREDITH HALEY, KWQC REPORTER: Yes, we've been down here for just about over six hours now. We are told around 6:00 this morning that a levee broke near Carthage Lake, Illinois and then in Henderson County, and the water we're told just gushed through that area as people tried to get out, people had to be rescued from the area. A guy was on the roof of his truck.

And most of the people that there were actually city workers that were watching the levee to make sure it was not going to break as we near what was supposed to be the river's crest tomorrow. They thought they were going to get more than half that point (ph).

Now, this is not far from Gulfport, Illinois where actually about 400 people were already evacuated for their safety. And we are in Gladstone because that is as far as you can get right now. Highway 34 is closed down from Gladstone, Illinois ...

LEMON: And Meredith?

HALEY: ...Highway 64 -- yes?

LEMON: And Meredith, I know that you're in the area and you've been reporting on this. And our focus here, a lot of it is what's going to happen next? And in your area, what are you hearing from down the road? Down the river in towns there? HALEY: Now from everything we're hearing, it's just that they're putting up a lot of levees now, more of the earthen ones, bringing in the dirt to make sure that the water as it expands doesn't take over anymore land, you know, right now it's covering acres of land in this area.

So right now, it's just a precautionary thing. The river is supposed to crest tomorrow. And they're hoping that the weather holding out the way it has been, it will crest tomorrow and then they won't have to ...


HALEY: ...worry as much about the situation right now.

So, precaution, you see the Illinois Department of Transportation trucks moving the dirt, building up the levees, trying to save what they can now as this water just kind of takes over.

LEMON: OK, all right, Meredith Haley from our affiliate KWQC. Thank you, Meredith -- Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Well, CNN is taking you all over the flood zone. But we can't be everywhere at once. That's how we need your i-Reports. They're important to us, and believe me, they've been pouring in.

Isn't that right, Jacqui Jeras?

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, Kyra. It's incredible how many we have to pick from. And I picked a town in Canton, Missouri, because we really haven't been able to focus in on them too much as we haven't seen any pictures out of there.

But thanks to Peggy and Steve East, we've got some incredible photos. She says that the flooding is just widespread across the area already. This is one of the highways that goes near town. And you can see it's completely covered with water in that area. Our next picture, we'll show you some grain bins. She said she took this photo on the Missouri side of the river, but those grain bins are on the other side in Illinois. And you can see water just wall to wall coming from here and there.

Peggy also tells us there's just been an incredible amount of community effort in terms of sandbagging. She tells us they have about two miles of sandbag levees built up and about one million of those sandbags were filled. She says she has a great sense of pride in terms of just the effort and how the community has pulled together. She said the town was spared in 1993 and they're hopeful with this volunteer effort that they'll be spared this time, as well.

And now, the river's still a couple of days away and look how bad it is already. We put a Google Earth animation together here to show you where Canton is. Now, this is south of Burlington, and we're going to zoom into this and show you the town of Canton, there you can see it right on the Mississippi River on the east side here and we're going to query the river gauge for you and show you where that's at. You can see this little bit of a dip there, that very well likely was due to the levee breech upstream. But you can see that the river is going back up 26.28 feet and getting very near that record stage in 1993, and that should happen sometime Wednesday night or on Thursday morning.

Now, we're going to take you a little farther downstream and take you into Quincy, Illinois from our i-Reporters there. This is from Carrie Veile and she sent us quite a few pictures here. The first one, this is of the river front area. And there, you can see that the pavilion is completely under water at this time. Then, we'll take you over to this area and this she says is the pier and the boat club. You can't access this whatsoever.

And there, you can see the bridge that connects both sides of the river, she said, it looks fine over here on her side in Illinois, but way in the background, if you can see it there, that is the Missouri side. And that is completely under water. So, you can't get from one side to the other.

We've got a lot more i-Reports. We want to say a big thank you to those of you who have brought them in. We'll bring more to you about an hour from now -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Jacqui, thanks so much.

And when weather becomes the news, remember to send us your i- Reports. You see how crucial they are to give us the inside look. Go to, click on i-Report or type i-Report at into your cell phone. Remember, stay safe while you're doing it.

LEMON: Weather's one of our big stories today, but this one as well. Lining up for marriage licenses, but the window could slam shut for gays and lesbians. The couples in California, in just a few months that could happen. Our Jeffrey Toobin will join us to look at all the legal factors in play.


PHILLIPS: Well, we've got some updated numbers in a pretty dramatic car bomb that happened in Baghdad. I can tell you right now that 51 people have been killed, 75 wounded in a car bomb attack that detonated actually in a crowded marketplace near a bus stop in Baghdad.

Apparently, this happened in Hurriyah, that's a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in northwestern Baghdad. And the attack I'm being told is coming along a number of suicide attacks in the latest -- or in the past couple of days targeting the Sons of Iraq. The Sons of Iraq are those Iraqi men that live in those villages that used to work alongside with al Qaeda and foreign fighters, but have decided to turn that around and work with U.S. forces to try and protect their areas. These attacks I'm seeing here focus on the Sons of Iraq.

We'll follow those as we get the latest numbers, 51 killed, 75 wounded in that attack in northwestern Baghdad -- Don? LEMON: And now news, Kyra, that also has some international repercussions. Forget in-laws, it's real laws that worry many gay spouses to be. They are thrilled that they can marry now in California, of course, but afraid of what November might bring. Opponents of same-sex marriage are pushing a state ballot initiative that would define marriage as a union of a man and a woman only. Now, where would that leave same-sex newlyweds ? And what other legalities are there in play here?

Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us now from New York, and Jeffrey, my first question is, many people think that just because these people are getting married in California that they will have all the same rights that heterosexual couples will have and that's not exactly true, is it?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: It's certainly not. Just for starters, federal law does not recognize same-sex marriage. So, you can't file a joint tax return in the IRS -- with the IRS. State law, things start to get more complicated. If this law is upheld, certainly married couples who live in California will be allowed to file joint tax returns, will have all the rights under state law that married couples do currently under California state law.

LEMON: So then -- so then, Jeffrey ...

TOOBIN: ...but what if they move back to their home state, that's where things start to get complicated.

LEMON: So then, what is the -- I don't know, the uproar about people saying you know, this is sort of special privileges, that people of same-sex marriages will get when it seems to me that you're saying, and that the law is saying, in fact, that it's not the same rights as a heterosexual couples'.

TOOBIN: Well, certainly the best case scenario for same-sex couples who get married in California, is that they are treated equally under state law.

LEMON: Right.

TOOBIN: They have no chance of being treated equally under federal law because President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act known as DOMA, D-O-M-A.

LEMON: Explain, Jeff, what that means, what the DOMA -- what DOMA is.

TOOBIN: Defense of Marriage Act, which basically outlawed any federal benefits for same-sex couples. It said that even if certain states recognize gay marriage, we the federal government will not. That was something that President -- that happened in the '90s under President Clinton.

So, even if gay marriage is upheld in California as it's been upheld in Massachusetts, the same-sex couples will not be allowed to file federal tax returns and get the federal law benefits of being married.

LEMON: And real quickly, Jeffrey, because I want -- there are a couple other points I want to make. So very quickly, I think in one state, couples who marry in California, if they go from other states, they can be prosecuted in -- is it Wisconsin?

TOOBIN: I'm not sure. You know, all of those laws are influx now because Massachusetts is the state that first had gay marriage, but they don't allow out-of-state couples to wed there. So, this is really the first time that out-of-state couples can marry anywhere but in the state that allows gay marriage.


TOOBIN: So, that's -- we're dealing with uncharted territories.

LEMON: Hey listen, we have to wrap here, but I want to real quickly, this is causing some legal concerns for churches, for wedding photographers, people who have services here. One woman and her spouse wanted to get a wedding photographer, and the wedding photographer said, you know what? We don't do same-sex couple marriages. She sued, she won. And it's happening in many other arenas, as well.

TOOBIN: Well, that's right. Certainly -- I mean, I think you have to draw a distinction between commercial arrangements and churches. You could certainly never force a church to perform a gay marriage. Churches operate under the protection of the Constitution. They don't have to marry anyone they don't want to marry.

When it comes to commercial situations like a photographer, like a hotel, under California law, they can't discriminate against gay people, so that's why you had the lawsuit.

LEMON: Yes, Jeffrey, and also churches, whether or not they give counseling, as well. That's causing concern.

But unfortunately, we're out of time. We could talk much more. Jeffrey Toobin, we appreciate you joining us. Thank you.


LEMON: Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, raw sewage, farm chemicals, manure, fuel, well, they're all mixed together in a toxic soup that you don't want to get on you, that's for sure. We're going to have more on the health concerns, another part of the headache and heart break that's in Iowa right now.


PHILLIPS: And leading our Political Ticker, Barack Obama defending his primary rival. Last night in big Obama rally in Detroit, some people booed when Hillary Clinton's name came up. Well, Obama jumped to her defense praising her work on healthcare and children's rights, adding, "she has been on the right side of just about every battle we have fought." Obama's campaigning in the Detroit area again today.

And John McCain in Texas today, oil country, campaigning against federal restrictions on offshore drilling. McCain says that roughly 21 billion barrels of oil are waiting to be tapped, but aren't because of federal law. The presumptive Republican nominee says that his plan would leave it up to the states to decide whether to drill.

And a new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll of registered voters nationwide shows Obama leading McCain 49 percent to 45 percent. That's the same margin John Kerry enjoyed over President Bush at this point in 2004. And the poll suggests that Independent voters are split between Obama and McCain. They favor McCain when it comes to fighting terrorism, but Obama on the economy.

LEMON: And our big story today here in the CNN NEWSROOM, flooding in the Midwest. The sheer volume of water is destructive enough, but what's in that water is enough to make anyone sick -- probably our correspondents that are out in the field. Our medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins us now to talk about all of that.

So Elizabeth, what things do residents need to worry about? Even the people who are out reporting, the emergency workers, as well, they all should all be concerned about what's in that water.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, these were questions that we all faced when we were out during Katrina. What is in the water? What do you need to watch out for?

So let's make a list of things that can be in water that has been standing still for a long time. Here is a list of what people need to think about: E. coli, salmonella, shigella, Hepatitis A, and tetanus can all be in water. And of course we've all seen the pictures of people walking through this water. Of course most of them are going to be perfectly fine, but there is a risk of contracting these diseases. And sometimes it can take weeks, depending upon the illness, before signs of illness would appear.

LEMON: So what should people -- there are people who are not exactly in the area right now, but their levees are teetering on the brink. What should they be doing to prepare for this?

COHEN: They need to have certain supplies in their home just in case disaster does strike.

Here's a list of things that people should keep in their homes if they live near a flood area. Always have five gallons of water per person ready at any time, a three to five day supply of non-perishable food, baby wipes, in case you can't bathe properly, at least you can use baby wipes, and insect repellent, because insects are a real danger. Insects get near standing water, West Nile virus is a concern.

And this list is actually a good one, really, for everyone to have because disaster of all sorts of types can strike. And these are things you ought to have in your home no matter what.

LEMON: Yes, I know. And people in that area should probably have some waders, as well, for the water.

COHEN: Yes, there you go. That would be another good thing to have.

LEMON: Right? Absolutely.

OK. So a lot of people, understandably, if you are in that area and your home has been flooded and you've been sent out, evacuations mandatory, you want to get back in, you want to see what's going on, but you have to prepare yourself before you do that.

COHEN: Oh, yes. There are certain precautions you have to take. You can't just waltz right back in. There are certain things that you need to be careful about.

First of all, you should stay away from any structures that look like they are teetering or unstable, wear protective gear, when you see contaminated food, throw it out, even if you're not sure if it's contaminated. If it's been sitting there, do not eat it. And wash your hands all the time -- all the time -- because you just never know what kind of guck (ph) is out there. And if you keep your hands washed, you're going to go a long way to preventing --

LEMON: Yes, it's interesting we're talking to some of the producers and people who work on our team in that area, and they say there's a whole mentality -- we kept a canoe, we kept a boat, we kept all these things on hand because we were just kind of used to that happening.

COHEN: Right, right. They know about it.

LEMON: Thank you, Elizabeth Cohen.

COHEN: OK, thanks.

LEMON: Kyra --

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, sandbagging can only do so much when the mighty Mississippi starts rising. A look at communities at risk from levee breaks straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.