Return to Transcripts main page
Midwest Flood Disasters Continue
Aired June 19, 2008 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: During her tenure, she developed a reputation for fairness and a willingness to hear both sides of an issue. Former republican governor who worked closely with Diana Caulder (ph), cooperative and pragmatic.
The late Texas columnist Molly Ivins once called her almost disgustingly cheerful. I knew Molly. That's a high compliment. As a college president, Donna has demonstrated her commitment to education. And as co-chair of the Donna Shalala Commission on care for America's returning wounded warriors, she has worked to ensure that we provide the best possible care for America's veterans especially those who have borne the scars of battle.
I came to know Donna in the course of the Commission's work. She believes deeply that her nation has more important responsibility than to make sure that we provide our veterans with all the love and care and support that they deserve. Donna, you helped America moved closer to realizing that noble goal. Your country is deeply grateful. For her efforts to help more Americans live lives of purpose and dignity, I am proud to aware the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Donna Edna Shalala.
Few men have played roles in as many memorable moments in recent American history as Lawrence Silberman. He was a senior official in the Justice Department in the aftermath of Watergate and helped to restore America's confidence in the department.
As ambassador to Yugoslavia, he was a vigorous representative of America's values behind the Iron Curtain. He is a fierce advocate for the peace strength policies that helped win the Cold War. As a federal judge on the D.C. circuit, often called the second highest court in the land, Judge Silberman has been a passionate defender of judicial restraint.
He writes opinions that one colleague has described as always cutting to the heart of the matter, sometimes to the juggler. His questioning is crisp and incisive. And at least one lawyer who was subjected to his inquiries actually fainted.
Judge Silberman was a particularly important influence on two other members of that court, Anthony Scalia and Clarence Thomas. When he was nominated to the Supreme Court, Judge Silberman in typical fashion was not sad to see them go. That's because when Scalia left the court, Judge Silberman gained seniority and when Thomas left the court, Judge Silberman gained his furniture.
In a new and dangerous era for our country, Larry Silberman has continued to answer the call to service. He served with distinction on the foreign intelligence surveillance court of review. He took a year off from the federal bench to serve as co-chairman of a bi- partisan commission on intelligence reform.
In all his work, he has remained a clear-eyed guardian of the constitution. He continues to leave his distinctive mark in the opinions he issues and the generations of bright and talented lawyers he has trained. For his resolute service to the nation and his stalwart efforts to advance the cause of ordered liberty, I am proud to bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Lawrence H. Silberman.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And that is the conclusion, at least the portion of the ceremony where all of the recipients of the Medal of Freedom have been recognized by the President, their stories told. We appreciate their service so very much to the country and the world, quite frankly.
Right now, it is just a few minutes after 10:00 Eastern time. Good morning to you once again. I'm Heidi Collins.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: I want to get back to the story we've been telling you now for several days. Life along the Mississippi River, a live shot for you this morning. Look at that, the floodwaters and the disaster deepen. In the last hour, we learned this massive levee failure in Winfield, Missouri, has now doubled in size. A staggering 300 feet wide. Some 50,000 acres are now under water.
Floodwaters are swallowing homes and farmlands and racing toward a secondary levee now. Sandbagging efforts are under way. People to the east are being ordered out of low-lying areas. More than 20 levees have been swamped along the Mississippi River. In fact, more are at risk as the surging river heads south. And each day more communities brace for levels to crest.
Among the filthy polluted waters, pigs swept from their farms yesterday. Pretty tough decision for safety officials. They say they had no choice but to kill about a dozen pigs that were rutting around on a levee. The fear that pigs would have weakened the levee, very fragile, and put a town at risk. We're going to be talking with a family member of one of those farms, hog farms that is coming up in just a little while here in the NEWSROOM.
Meanwhile, President Bush will tour the flooded areas of Iowa later today. but for downstream communities, bracing for rising waters, all efforts are now focused on shoring up those levees. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Hannibal, Missouri, the hometown of author Mark Twain.
Ed, I imagine that there are quite a few historic sites there that they are really trying to protect.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are trying to do that, Heidi. To kind of give you a sense of how they're doing, I want to show you something that's kind of interesting that's been developing here on the ground. First of all this water coming out of the ground here, this is what they call a boil, this is actually water from the Mississippi River that's boiling out of the ground here, which is fascinating considering that we are obviously on the dry side of the levee.
That is the levee that you see right there. That's water that's seeping underneath the ground and trying to find a way out. That is how saturated the levee is at this point. And what they're doing -- that will continue to get larger. That's one of the things they're concerned about. So, what they do is they create these little pools, if you will, and the weight of the water here puts pressure down on the boil and it keeps it from getting larger. So, you see this in various spots where this water's been boiling out of the ground here.
Here's one. That's what all those sandbags over there are for. There's another one right over here and just one right here. So, that is what they're monitoring. We've seen fire officials coming by every hour or so checking on these situations. Making sure they're not getting any worse. And even though this might look a little bit dramatic, they say they're very comfortable with the way this looks.
On the other side of the levee is where the water levels continue to rise and they're continuing to monitor that as well. But people here in Hannibal are feeling very lucky and very confident that they'll be able to withstand the worst of this flooding, the river is expected to crest here sometime tomorrow -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Wow. So, Ed, I don't know how close that area is where you saw the water boiling, if we could see that again, that's pretty fascinating. Is that happening in several different pockets as you walk along where you are?
LAVANDERA: Right. Actually, yes. We started off in that little area that was boiling there on the ground. And I was trying to find it here. You can actually see -- of course, when we go on the air it stops boiling. But if you stand here a second, you can actually see the bubbles coming out of the water here. And you can see where the actual hole is.
So this has filled up in the last day or so. But they've surrounded it here. There you go. You see right there, Chris. Kind of in the middle where those bubbles just popped out. It's not happening, of course it's not happening as much as it was about ten minutes ago.
COLLINS: Yes. It's weird. We can see it, Ed.
LAVANDERA: OK. The pressure of this water keeps everything in there and keeps the hole from getting larger and the water for more water from spilling out. So, they're kind of just using nature back in on itself.
But the fascinating thing is that this is all water that's coming from the other side of the levee, and kind of the dynamics of the way these levees function is that there's so much water, and it's just looking for a way out, you know, a path of less resistance, if you will. And so even here on the roadway, here in downtown Hannibal it's just looking for a way out. And so, you know, like we'll come book to this little spot here. So, this is water coming from the Mississippi River right here.
COLLINS: Yes. Some sort of relief.
LAVANDERA: It's making its way out. And the one thing that they do say if it's clear like that, that it's actually a good sign. If it's muddy it means that it's a new hole. If it's clear like this, that's a situation that already existed. So, that's why they are not terribly concern about this one. But if it gets muddy like that other one, that's when they start getting nervous.
COLLINS: OK. Who knew. Thank you, Ed. Ed Lavandera giving us a little lesson on some of the release that the river is actually looking for in the roadways. Thanks so much, Ed, in Hannibal, Missouri. Thank you.
HARRIS: Farms and fields under water, the economic impact of the floods will reach far beyond the Midwest to your local grocery store. More on that now from Allan Chernoff live in Oakville, Iowa. And you know, Allan, there is certainly the economic impact of all of this -- wait a minute. Hang on just a second. Allan, what are you doing?
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Tony, what we're doing here is illustrating that it's not just at your grocery store. Have a look where I'm standing. I'm standing on a road, on a gravel road. Look at those waves. Look at the intensity of the current over here.
I've been standing here watching fish being just thrown back. They're trying to swim back. They just cannot do it. This is all the result of a levee having broken back on Saturday from the Iowa River, which is just a little ways down that direction. It flooded everything behind me. Behind me, normally these are corn and soybean fields.
As you can see, we now have basically a sea 10 feet deep, 10 feet deep -- here's another fish right there, it cannot swim against the current. That's how strong it is. Here's a little example of the damage. As you see, a mailbox knocked down. But to really get a great sense, let's show some of the aerial pictures that our photojournalist, Helen Sidky (ph) shot yesterday. For miles and miles around, you can see these massive lakes, massive rivers, where rivers had not even existed. This all the result of the floodwaters of levees breaking.
And in terms of the economic impact, it's simply astounding. I mean, think about the, first of all, the inconvenience for people. I spoke to the sheriff of this county earlier today. And he said people who normally drive 25 miles to work now they have to drive sometimes 150 miles. The man-hours put in.
We spoke with farmers who live on this land. They have been busy trying to fix levees, trying to protect levees, even farmers who have lost their land here, they are still volunteering to help along the Mississippi, miles down. So we're talking, it's really, frankly, just impossible to estimate the total damages here.
1993 was really the benchmark, and back then the estimate, just a year after, was losses of $1.5 billion in terms of infrastructure. Ten years later FEMA said that it was $7 billion in losses. Who really knows? In terms of the agriculture, well of course, we've lost so much corn. I mean, that is a major issue. That's the reason that the price of a bushel of corn is now well above $7. And, of course, it's going to hit us at the grocery store as we had mentioned earlier.
So many products, items such as soda, energy drinks, they're all made from corn syrup. So many items, corn chips, and soy, of course, soybean here, we're talking about a loss of 3.3 million acres, according to the state farm board. There's even soy in this Sneakers bar. I mean, soy is just used in a tremendous number of products, not only items that we eat, but ink, solvents, even carpet backing. Prices will be heading up -- Tony.
HARRIS: Yes and you know, I know that you were -- you came across from the hog farmers yesterday and fed back some incredible video. We're going to talk to one of those farmers in just a couple of minutes right here in the NEWSROOM.
Allan Chernoff for us this morning, boy, good to see you. Pretty dramatic stuff there, Allan. Thank you.
COLLINS: As you just saw, Midwest farmers hammered by the floods. And it's not just crops. We're going to talk to those two hog farmers about their losses and what it means.
HARRIS: The flooding in Iowa City destroyed Andrew Sherburne and his wife's home. They snuck back there to discover what little is left.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW SHERBURNE: You want me to read you the definition of "disaster"? Yes. Disaster -- any happening that causes great harm or damage, serious or sudden misfortune. I think it's a disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: OK. Veronica de la Cruz joins us now with this i- reporter's story. We've been saying it so often. It begins to sound like a broken record, but this is pretty dramatic stuff here, Veronica.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Tony. Andrew Sherbune, he's the one who sent us this i-report from Iowa City, he and his wife borrowed a canoe, Tony, from a neighbor, they jumped in to take a look. And unfortunately this is what they found, the home that he just purchased three weeks ago submerged in water.
You know, he and his wife are wading through that murky water, which at times were coming up above their knees. They hopped in, they snuck inside to see what, if anything, they could salvage. And they were able to save a little bit of artwork, a few pictures, you know, a couple of belongings. They were able to store all of that stuff up in the attic. I think they were even able to grab the dartboard.
And if you can take a look at the water there, you see how deep it is, the attic stairs disappearing down into the depths of it. Again, they took a walk through the living room, the kitchen, really no better there. The majority of their furniture was destroyed. So really, really tough. I mean, every part of their house completely destroyed, this brand new house really submerged. His wife said as the days went on, she though maybe an inch of water, I can handle that.
But then it became what two, three, a foot, two feet. And then suddenly, you realize that really nothing in the house can be saved. So, it's kind of heartbreaking.
HARRIS: And Veronica, did you mention that or maybe I mentioned it that they recently bought this home?
DE LA CRUZ: Yes. I mean they purchased this house three weeks ago. And what's worse here, Tony, is they bought flood insurance ten days before the floods, but the insurance takes three weeks to kick in. So their insurance policy is no good.
And on top of this, Tony, Andrew said he spent the days leading up to the floods, sandbagging with his neighbors so they can build a levee. But in retrospect, he really wishes he would have taken the time to save what was inside his house instead.
Again, what you were saying, a really heartbreaking story. And we're starting to hear a lot of them. You can actually logon to the web to watch the rest of Andrew's story. You can also share yours as well as you can post comments. All you have to do is log on to ireport.com.
HARRIS: Hang on just a second here. So, the family bought flood insurance ten days before the flooding? But it kicks in in three weeks.
DE LA CRUZ: In three weeks.
HARRIS: You know, that seems like something we can help fix. They certainly acted in good faith, bought the flood insurance. We may have to put a little call, a little CNN call, into that insurance company to see what we can do here for that family. What do you think about that, Veronica?
DE LA CRUZ: Sure. Sure. I'll leave that up to you, Tony. Have you got the phone right there?
HARRIS: OK. You know what. I'll reach out to, we'll get some information. Let's see if we can produce a better outcome for this family.
DE LA CRUZ: Yes. All right. Let's work on that.
HARRIS: All right, Veronica. Appreciate it. Thank you.
If it rains where you live, and well, your home could actually flood. What do you know and what can you do now to protect your life savings. Gerri Willis is up next in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Not even livestock have been spared from the Midwest floods. We have been pictures of hogs in Iowa just completely swept away by floodwaters. Just to let you know, Iowa is the nation's largest hog producing state. We're talking something about $3 billion every year.
Dave Lanz and his brother Dan Lanz are farmers. They're joining us this morning from Oakville, Iowa. And guys, I now that you also have crops that you tend to, obviously. You've got about 2,000 head of hog out there. What's the latest on the animals and on your crops? What's the situation, Dave? I'll start with you.
DAVE LANZ, HOG FARMER: All of our animals were gotten out we got them out of the buildings before the bottoms flooded down here. We have approximately 1,600 acres of mainly corn ground that is now under water. That's about two-thirds of our total acres which is now totally gone. But all of the livestock was removed before it flooded.
COLLINS: Well, when you're talking about your crops, this is obvious devastation. As you look forward, Dan, what does that mean when you talk about numbers that high, as far as the crops being destroyed?
DAN LANZ, HOG FARMER: It's devastation. We'll probably be spending a lot of our fall, which would normally be harvesting crop, doing repairs to irrigators and buildings. We had grain contractor that we thought we could be harvesting. The price has rose since then, and we'll probably have to buy those contracts back. So, it's pretty devastating.
COLLINS: Wow, I imagine that is obviously the case. When you look forward -- because I'm trying to look forward for you guys because if we continue to look at all these pictures, and obviously it is an incredibly difficult situation. I know your family is large, the Lanz family, and I know you've been there for generations. Have you seen anything like this in the time that you have been there in Iowa?
DAVE LANZ: We're not that old. No. I went through '93. I was 13 years old then. It did not flood. We held the levees that year. So the last flood that I know of was in 1946, and it was not near this extensive at all.
COLLINS: What about your parents and some of the older members of the family? What do you hear them talking about, Dan?
DAN LANZ: Me and Dave and our parents, our houses were not affected. We did have three aunts and uncles, cousins, grandma and grandpa, all their houses are under water right now. It's pretty somber. They don't know. There will be some tough decisions ahead, whether to fix them up or rebuild somewhere else. There's just lots of questions to answer yet.
COLLINS: Wow, I'm sure that there are. And our condolences go out to you for the loss certainly. We do wish you the very best of luck as things dry up, hopefully as quickly as possible in your area. Oakville, Iowa. We appreciate your time, guys, Dave and Dan Lanz for us. Thanks so much.
DAVE LANZ: Thank you.
DAN LANZ: Thank you.
HARRIS: Just about an hour into the trading day now. Let's get you a look at the big board now. New York Stock Exchange. And if you take a look at the numbers, well that's actually a bit of a rebound from session lows just a couple of moments ago the Dow was down 34, 35 points, rebounding just a bit. All right, getting better by the moment. Let's stay with it. The Dow down 19 points. But on the morning, all of the major indices are down. We will check the market with Stephanie Elam right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
You know, flooding isn't just a problem in the Midwest. It is one of the most common hazards in the United States. Personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here to tell us what you can do to protect your home. Gerri, good to see you this morning. I got to ask you, is flooding a real problem for most people?
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Oh, listen, Tony. You won't believe this but floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states. In fact, about one-third of flood claims come from outside high flood risk areas. Your home has a 26 percent chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of your 30-year mortgage compared to a 9 percent chance of fire, which is the other big hazard out there.
HARRIS: Well, how can people prepare their homes if a flash flooding is imminent?
WILLIS: Well, first off. You know, basic stuff, keep your gutters clean, free of leaves, dirts, sticks, clogged gutter will cause massive problems by concentrating roof run off at your house's corners close to the foundation. That's a disaster. This pooling of water will seep through your walls, causing flooding. I've had that happen to me. It's awful. The basement is another vulnerable area. Buy and install sump pumps with backup power.
Elevate the furnace, water heater, electric panel. If you think you're going to be vulnerable to flooding, get it out of flood waters, seal the walls and basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage. And then for drains, toilets and other sewer connectors, you want to install something like back-flow valves or plugs to prevent floodwaters from getting into your home. But you know, an ounce of prevention is a whole lot of cure. HARRIS: Absolutely. OK. Let's stay on that theme. Give us some advice if we find ourselves in a situation where we have to evacuate.
WILLIS: All right. Look, turn off all utilities at the main power switch. The main breaker panel is usually located on a wall or a basement. Make sure you close the main gas valve. That's usually located on the side door in the front of the building. And if you're told you need to leave the area, don't walk through moving water if you can help it.
Look, just six inches of moving water can make you fall down. If you happen to walk in water, walk where water is not moving. Use the stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you and don't drive into flooded areas. Just two feet of water can float a large vehicle, even a bus. And six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing them to lose control, Tony.
HARRIS: You know, Veronica de la Cruz just featured one of our i-reporters.
HARRIS: He and his wife are returning home to well a house that's been severely damaged by floodwaters. What's your advice if you find yourself in that position?
WILLIS: This is a dangerous time. You want to make sure you return to your home during the daytime so you're not tempted to flick on light switches. That could cause a problem. Use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns, rather than candles or gas lanterns or torches.
And if you smell or suspect a leak, a gas leak, turn off the main gas valve, open up all the windows, leave the house immediately and as I've been saying, avoid wading in standing water which also may contain glass or metal fragments. Look, contact your utility company about using electrical equipment including even power generators which I know people will want to be using.
HARRIS: You know we've been talking about so much about your work on the "ISSUE #1" show. Are you still working on the big "OPEN HOUSE" show?
WILLIS: The big "OPEN HOUSE" is going strong. 9:30 a.m. Eastern Saturday morning, join us. Hey, we've got great stuff on spotting hiding fees. You know how these just hit your wallet. And how to score a cheap airline ticket. We'll have all of it for you 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Join us, Tony.
HARRIS: Can't wait. And we'll see you at noon on "ISSUE #1." Good to see you, Gerri. Thanks for your time.
WILLIS: Thank you, Tony.
HARRIS: Great advice. COLLINS: Supplies for Hurricane Katrina victims finally going to those in need. Results from a CNN Special Investigation.
HARRIS: The swollen Mississippi River surging downstream this morning, flooding more towns and cities in its path. In Winfield, Missouri, officials say a levee breach has now doubled in size to 300 feet. Residents east of the town in low-lying areas were ordered to evacuate.
The Army Corps of Engineers says water may overflow another four or five levees in the St. Louis area today. More than 20 levees have been swamped along the Mississippi River. Across the Midwest, farms and fields are under water. President Bush visits the region today, bringing the promise of federal help.
COLLINS: From a flood of landscape to a flood of tears. CNN's Gary Tuchman charts the changes in one small Iowa town.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Betty and Mel Thompson have lived in the same modest house in Palo, Iowa their whole married life. That will now change.
BETTY THOMPSON, PALO RESIDENT: First thing you've got to do is cry. Just cry and get it all out. Then, you're able to go on.
TUCHMAN: But now, it's a much different place they have returned to after evacuating Palo along with every other one of the 900 residents because Palo was cut off from the outside world by the floodwaters. The water has now receded. And the people of Palo are checking out their houses in a town that now has checkpoints and is patrolled by military police.
(on camera): How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?
MEL THOMPSON, PALO RESIDENT: I'm 76.
TUCHMAN: Could you have ever imagined in your 76 years something like this happening to you?
M. THOMPSON: Guess not (ph). Worked all my life to get it and now, it's pretty much gone.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Their televisions, their computers, their memories. They moved everything out of the basement, but the first floors of almost all Palo's houses were flooded, too.
(on camera): Do you think you can stay in your home?
B. THOMPSON: I don't want to. I don't want to.
TUCHMAN: It's just not the same place that you knew and loved? B. THOMPSON: It's not going to be the same place, and I don't think we'll ever get the smell out of it no matter how much we disinfect, how much we power wash. That smell is always going to be there.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Downtown Palo looks like an abandoned movie set. The power is still out. The town is still largely uninhabitable. Jeff Beauregard is the town's mayor pro tem.
(on camera): If you had to put a percentage on it, how many of these town's homes and businesses have been damaged?
JEFF BEAUREGARD, PALO MAYOR PRO TEM: Ninety-eight, 99 percent.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Iowa's only nuclear plant is just outside Palo. It wasn't damaged and is still operating, but the town's infrastructure was damaged. This roadway was split in half by rushing floodwaters that haven't receded here yet.
JIM HOUSER, LINN COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: That's a road that goes between Palo, Iowa, and Center Point, Iowa, and it's also a connection to Interstate 380, which is ...
TUCHMAN (on camera): It's amazing what's happened.
HOUSER: It's just unbelievable. It's totally devastating for us as a county.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Nobody ever remembers this town flooding like this. Most Palo residents don't have flood insurance, even though for some here it would cost as little as $300 a year. The town's only day care center was heavily damaged. Deanna Garbers says she can't afford to rebuild it.
DEANNA GARBERS, PALO BUSINESS OWNER: If I could sit on the floor and play dolls with the girls or build lego buildings with the boys, everything was OK. And I don't have that anymore. I don't have it anymore.
TUCHMAN: In Palo, Iowa, the future is uncertain.
B. THOMPSON: We have each over and we have faith. I don't know why the Lord did this to us, but I still have faith in him.
TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Palo, Iowa.
COLLINS: Wow, that's tough to watch, isn't it?
HARRIS: Yes, it is.
COLLINS: Such a difficult time for the folks living in the Midwest.
Rob Marciano is in the severe weather center now keeping an eye on things. And really, Rob, looking forward, what's going to happen next? Who's in danger next? And the way that this thing is -- or these waters are traveling.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All the river gauges, guys, are showing us still major flooding, even where the rivers have already crested, namely up around Iowa. And then, along the way we're seeing these levees either being overtopped or breached, that releases some pressure and that affects the river forecast. So, it's not exactly an exact science.
Our latest breach as you have been talking about, just south of Winfield. Lock (ph) was 150 feet, now it's 300 feet, letting the Mississippi into the western side of these fields. And then spreading west, westward up a gentle slope. It hasn't quite hit the town of Winfield. There's a secondary levee on the east side of town. But the folks who live on the east side of town have been told, you know, voluntary evacuation, but not on the west side, which they think is OK.
Farther -- again, this is real close by the way to St. Louis itself. So, we're getting closer to St. Louis here, obviously we got problems as close as 100 miles, or less than 100 miles away from St. Louis. This is the next item that is going to be of great concern. Obviously, very populated on both sides of the river itself. Already have the river boat -- or river casino that is in jeopardy and shut down. And then, other spots along this way where the levees slightly weaker may be in jeopardy.
I want to toss it back to you. I understand that President Bush may be jumping on a plane.
COLLINS: All right, Rob, thanks.
Yes, that's right. We're looking at live pictures now. The president has just gotten out of Marine One and he will be heading on now as we've been telling you for the last couple of days for his tour of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Iowa. Obviously, heading to that region to get a look for himself of the devastation so widespread as we've been following here. He's getting up on Air Force One there to go and make that trip.
Once again, the president getting ready to go to Iowa where, Rob, obviously one of the hardest hit areas, getting a look at all of that, for the president, maybe might boost the feelings, you know, the morale of the people there.
MARCIANO: You guys -- I could tell you from other disasters, whenever the buzz is that he's showing up, people definitely get a little bit more jump in their step.
COLLINS: Well, that's good.
MARCIANO: So, yes, that is certainly one thing.
All right, let's talk more about where the river is going as far as the crest is concerned. On this map, shows that you have a timeline. Canton, Quincy tonight, although asterisks because even though the river is cresting, we've got the breaches -- the couple of breaches near those areas. That affects it. But generally speaking, Hannibal tomorrow, Clarksville Saturday, and then St. Louis on Monday.
These white air (ph) dots are where we've seen some major breaches already, and again, the latest one there in Winfield, just to the north of St. Louis. So, right now, St. Louis not expected to get above moderate flooding forecast. That's the good news there, but those levees are already beginning to weaken, so if you get a prolonged amount of time of that water putting pressure on those levees, you don't really need a record setting flood stage.
HARRIS: State officials call it bureaucratic bungling. Following up on a CNN "SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT" report last week, federal emergency supplies meant for victims of Hurricane Katrina head back to Louisiana.
Here's our Abbie Boudreau.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: This is so important. We've talked ...
ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a news conference, top Louisiana officials blasted FEMA for not telling them that $85 million worth of supplies meant for Katrina victims existed, sitting in warehouses for the last two years unused.
(on camera): When you found out that those items were just sitting in the warehouses for two years, what was your reaction?
JINDAL: Well obviously, this was another ridiculous example of the bureaucracy not working the way they were supposed to.
BOUDREAU (voice-over): U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu says her office took action right after seeing our investigation last week.
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Two truck loads are now on its way to Louisiana. I don't know what FEMA was thinking when it gave away $85 million of taxpayer items. They need to start thinking straighter about this.
BOUDREAU: Here are some of the items that are on the way as we speak, scheduled to arrive by Friday. They've been given to Texas, one of 16 states that got the supplies, but still had some sitting in a warehouse. Earlier this year, one Louisiana agency was asked if it wanted the supplies and said no. But that agency didn't share the offer with the other state officials. The head of Louisiana's recovery authority acknowledges a breakdown in communication.
PAUL RAINWATER, LOUISIANA RECOVERY AUTHORITY: There's enough blame to go around, but at the end of the day, it's about getting things down to the folks in Louisiana.
BOUDREAU: Senator Landrieu says with the flooding disaster in the Midwest, what happened in Louisiana is a wakeup call for FEMA.
LANDRIEU: It's another example of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security not being ready for primetime. Now, I hope they get ready because there are levees breaching all over America. There are cities now under water. I hope that this doesn't happen again.
BOUDREAU: Abbie Boudreau, CNN, Washington.
COLLINS: Gas is above $4 and airfares sky high, no pun intended. Many people are searching for an energy fix. Some are climbing aboard new bills in Congress that include dramatically more funding for Amtrak.
CNNmoney.com's Poppy Harlow has our "Energy Fix" from New York. Hi there, Poppy. Boy, back to the trains, huh?
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Yes, back to the trains, back to the old days, Heidi. Well, there's certainly some compelling reasons to want more rail travel here in America. In fact, the number of people traveling on Amtrak hit a record high last month as gas prices surge and air travel becomes a lot more expensive and even more of a hassle. Nearly 26 million people rode the rails in the U.S. last year.
And earlier this morning, I spoke with New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, he's a sponsor of the Senate version of a bill that is moving through Congress right now. It's calling for more than $11 billion in funding for Amtrak over the next few years. He says rail travel is a good energy fix.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D), NEW JERSEY: If we can make the system more efficient, make it better used, I think that it's fair to say that prices should come down. And that's something we're going to watch very carefully. We can't push people into a system that's going to cost them a lot more money to travel, but on balance, I must tell you this, it typically costs less than a reserve, thereby, it costs less than a single person or two traveling in a car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Now, Lautenberg also says it's a greener option. According to the Energy Department, Amtrak uses 17 percent less energy than domestic airline travel on a passenger per mount basis. It also uses 21 percent less energy than driving, Heidi. So, this may just be a good energy fix.
COLLINS: Yes, I mean, it's been around forever, though. I mean, I love to ride on the train, but not everybody agrees with that. You know, Amtrak has been criticized for a long time. A lot of people say it's really just a bloated bureaucracy that wastes tons of money and operates inefficiently. Is that what you're hearing?
HARLOW: Yes, you know, some people are saying that because you have to remember, Amtrak already has what some people are saying is a lot of government subsidies already. But Lautenberg thinks if we put more money into the rails and into Amtrak, we can turn things around, make it more like rail travel in Europe.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUTENBERG: People are begging to get an alternative to being in the car, stuck in the car or delayed flights. So, I think that we ought to try to replicate what we see in Europe. I don't know that we can come that close, but they've spent billions and billions more each and every year. We've been parsimonious in the way we treat rail, but we've spent plenty of money on aviation and highways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Now, the House version of that bill passed with an overwhelming majority, but President Bush is threatening a veto. As you'll recall just yesterday, he called for more domestic oil drilling. He feels also the funding for this bill is too high.
Now, the House and Senate versions of the bill both had enough votes to override a veto, but they call for different amounts of funding. And of course, as we see in Washington all the time, a compromise, Heidi, must still be worked out.
You can see the rest of my interview with the senator on our Web site, CNNmoney.com -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Did you say compromise in Washington?
HARLOW: I did, I went that far.
COLLINS: OK, all right, Poppy. We'll check out CNN.com for more of that interview. Thank you.
HARRIS: Oil prices high, where to go for relief? How about Iraq? Word of a new deal.
HARRIS: Is Iraq the next frontier for Western oil companies? The Iraqi government is close to signing service deals on its' biggest fields. The first major Western oil agreement since the 2003 invasion, the contracts will go before Iran's cabinet for approval.
A Justice Department investigation ends in hundreds of arrests. Stephanie Elam has the latest from the New York Stock Exchange. This feels like a big deal, Stephanie.
COLLINS: Mystery upon mystery. A sixth human foot found in a running shoe on the British Columbia coast.
COLLINS: This is getting to be a real mystery and it's happened again. A sixth human foot found yesterday in a shoe north of Vancouver, British Columbia. All six feet were in shoes. The first turned up in August. Investigators are attempting to determine if they are from four plane crash victims who disappeared in the region back in 2005. Still, though, that really wouldn't explain why there are five right feet that have been found in addition to a single left foot. We're going to keep our eye on this story for you.
Meanwhile, a real-life survivor story in the Alaskan wilderness. Two hikers back with their families now after getting lost last week in Denali National Park. Erica Nelson and Abby Flantz were rescued yesterday after one of them was able to call her mother. The pair tell a local TV station they walked 11 hours a day, drank melted snow and slept in tents.
HARRIS: Both mom and her son have learned lessons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep a better eye on them, you know. I mean, you know, which, like basically, putting my purse up where they can't get to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not going to make this mistake again, are you?
HUNTER LANCE, 9-YEAR-OLD DRIVER: Yes, I'm never going to do it again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: No more joyrides for a nine-year-old. He is grounded.
HARRIS: This is a little nutty. Taking the family car for a spin, not a good idea if you're nine-years-old. Hunter Lance says he wanted to test his driving skills -- Ricky Bobby, Ricky Bobby. So, he grabbed his five-year-old sister and the keys to his sleeping mother's van, and off they went. Hunter drove for about a mile before grazing a telephone pole and slamming into a fence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why were you driving the van? You're only nine-years-old.
LANCE: Well, I wanted to see how good I drive. OFC. DENNIS WALEND, LORAIN, OHIO POLICE: They could have hit another vehicle head-on when they went left to center. They could have hit that telephone pole worse than what they did, they just scraped against it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not going to make this mistake again, are you?
LANCE: Yes, I'm never going to do it again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Cute, huh? The children were not seriously hurt. Hunter is grounded and his mom promises to keep a closer eye on her kids and her keys. Good idea.
Good morning again, everyone. You are informed with CNN. I'm Tony Harris.
COLLINS: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. Developments keep coming into the CNN NEWSROOM on this Thursday, June 19th. Here's what's on the rundown.