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Flag Tour; East Coast Earthquake; Hurricane Irene

Aired August 25, 2011 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Today we`re taking you to the Bahamas, New Hampshire, Africa and Asia, from the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, I`m Carl Azuz, and this is CNN Student News.

First up, a major hurricane is plowing its way through the Caribbean, and it could be taking aim at the U.S. east coast. Irene has already hit Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Yesterday it was slamming the Bahamas, where locals boarded up their shops and tourists hunkered down in hotels. And they did that with good reason.

Check out these satellite images. Yesterday Irene strengthened into a category 3 hurricane. Its strongest winds were around 115 miles per hour. And the National Hurricane Center expects Irene to get even stronger in the next day or two. That`s why people up and down the U.S. east coast are stocking up on supplies. They`re getting ready for Irene.

Predictions say it could affect anywhere from the Carolinas up through New England. Some coastal areas have already declared a state of emergency. In Washington, there are plans for a dedication ceremony at the Martin Luther King Memorial on Sunday. But officials are looking at backup ideas, maybe even postponing the event. It`ll just depend on what path Irene takes.

East Coast residents are preparing for that extreme event. But they just lived through another one. Scientists know about the seismic zone in Virginia, where Tuesday`s earthquake was centered, but this tremor was so rare that many people wondered if the rumbling was caused by a helicopter or an explosion.

Brian Todd examines some of the ripple effects of this unusual quake.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There may be an aftershock, but you`re allowed to go back in the building at this time.

BRIAN TODD, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): To millions of people on the East Coast, this was the big one.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN REPORTER: Can you believe that you just witnessed an earthquake in Washington, D.C.?

TODD (voice-over): It`s the strongest quake to hit the Virginia area since 1897, a 5.8, rattling nerves and shaking buildings in the nation`s capital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really and truly thought it was some kind of bomb, because I never felt nothing like that before in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was on the bus, and the bus did a shimmy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I didn`t know what was happening. I thought the building was about to collapse.

TODD (voice-over): The quake was centered near Mineral, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond and 83 miles from D.C.

The quake could be felt all the way in Martha`s Vineyard, where the president is on vacation. Shaking was felt in more than a dozen states in all, even into Canada. NBC`s cameras, focused on the White House, caught the shaking as it happened.

Some of the masonry of the National Cathedral fell off, and the National Park Service says engineers found a crack near the top of the Washington Monument. It will be closed indefinitely to keep visitors safe.

Many government buildings, including the Pentagon, were evacuated, but no major damage was reported. Further north, in New York City, people ran from skyscrapers, down flights of stairs as they swayed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The building shook back and forth. It actually rocked.

TODD (voice-over): Near the epicenter of the quake, the North Anna Nuclear Power Station, the earthquake triggering an automatic shutdown there. Diesel generators kicked in to keep the reactor cores cool. I spoke to a plant executive, who wanted to make sure we knew everything was under control.

TODD: What do you want to say to the public, as far as right now?

DAN STODDARD, SENIOR V.P., DOMINION NUCLEAR SUPERVISION: Well, the power plant is safe. The operators responded well. Both units are shut down, maintained in a safe shutdown condition. There was no release of radioactivity.

TODD (voice-over): Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, power from the main grid was restored to the plant. That power fuels the cooling systems for the reactor and the spent fuel pools. But both reactors remain shutdown. Brian Todd, CNN, Mineral, Virginia.



MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN REPORTER: There`s a sense in which (ph) that we are not being allowed to leave. We want to leave. We feel we`re in danger. We feel we`re victims. Yes, it`s pretty grim. And we`ve got enough water and food for a couple of days.

We ran out of our food. We`re talking about snacks and, you know, chips and things like that, you know, fast food and some food. We`ve got some bottled water, we`ve got some soft drinks, things like that. But no more than for a couple of days. I mean -- I mean, after that, we`re going to be in real trouble.


AZUZ: That was the "before" report, from CNN`s Matthew Chance in Libya. He was one of three dozen journalists who were held inside a hotel for five days by forces loyal to long-time Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

What you`re about to see is the "after" report. Matthew Chance describes what it was like when he and the other journalists were released yesterday.


CHANCE (voice-over): We managed to negotiate the Red Cross to get in through the checkpoints of the Gadhafi loyalists, past the only -- in the Gadhafi loyalist checkpoint in Tripoli, if the reports that we`ve heard inside the hotel are to be believed. And we`ve got all the journalists into these four cars plus a civilian car.

And we`re now driving out of the Rixos. We`re driving through the deserted streets, perhaps to say, of Tripoli to, you know, to our freedom, essentially. It`s been an absolutely -- it`s been an absolute nightmare for all of us, you know.

There are -- there are, you know, journalists who have been, you know, as a result of this, emotional release, the fact that we`ve got out of the hotel, crying, emotions are running very high. We went through a rebel checkpoint.

The rebel checkpoint, all along, was just about, what, 150 meters down the road from the Rixos hotel. They hadn`t approached the hotel, presumably because they didn`t want a big gunfight to take place where all those international journalists had been holed up over the course of the past five days.


AZUZ: North Korea is reportedly ready to come back to the table. This means it`s reportedly ready to talk about its controversial nuclear program. These negotiations are often called the six-party talks, because they include six countries: North and South Korea, along with the U.S., Russia, China and Japan.

The last time that members from all six of these countries got together was back in 2008. But this week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il went to Russia, and talked with that country`s president, Dmitry Medvedev.

Russian officials said during that meeting North Korea said it would return to nuclear talks without any strings attached. There`s no immediate reaction to this news from either the United States or South Korea.



The stripes on the American flag represent the signers of the U.S. Constitution.

Nope, not true. Those 13 red and white stripes represent the 13 original American colonies.


AZUZ: One particular flag has been making its way around the country. It`s the national 9/11 flag, which was found at the site of the attacks in New York nearly 10 years ago.

On our blog, several of you, including Cassandra and Joseph (ph), say it`s important to remember 9/11 because it brought the country together. Organizers of this flag tour are hoping to inspire that same sense of unity.

Mike Garrity of affiliate WMUR was there for one of the flag`s recent stops.


MIKE GARRITY, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): A color guard of both Portsmouth police and firefighters officially welcomed the 9/11 flag to Portsmouth`s new fire station.

JACK MCMAMEE, NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: The flag was found dangling from a scaffolding on a building at 90 West Street, across the street from the World Trade Center.

GARRITY (voice-over): Here on its only New Hampshire stop, droves of people, seniors, veterans, parents and children turned out to see and help stitch the flag back together.

CHRISTINA GRAHAM, PARENT: We`re trying to teach them that there are some bad people out there in this world, and, you know, there are also good people in this world.

GARRITY (voice-over): Found 40 percent damaged after 9/11, the 20- foot by 30-foot flag is now on a 50-state tour. The flag is being stitched back together, using pieces of retired American flags from all over the U.S.

RUSSELL OSGOOD, PORTSMOUTH FIRE DEPARTMENT: There`s a -- there`s a 12 by 24 patch that came from New Hampshire, that came from three flags flows in Portsmouth, one from each of our firehouses. And all the people that were here today, that are from New Hampshire, put a stitch into that.

GARRITY (voice-over): Tornado survivors in Kansas began the stitching effort. Since then, some 13,000 people have joined in, from 9/11 victims` family members.

CHRISTOPHER LECLAIRE, CHIEF, PORTSMOUTH FIRE DEPARTMENT: The family of one of the pilots lost on the day were here, stitching the flag.

GARRITY (voice-over): . to relatives of Martin Luther King, and survivors of Columbine, Oklahoma City and the Tucson shooting. The flag will eventually be displayed at the National September 11th Memorial Museum, currently being built at Ground Zero.


AZUZ: Well, before we go today, your dog might be good at fetch, but Petey (ph) here has stepped up his game. His preferred sport is volleyball. In this YouTube video -- you see it right here -- it shows off his virtuoso volleyball skills.

We`re actually going to run out of time today before Petey (ph) runs out of energy. So we`ll just tell you, he and his owner volleyed back and forth 32 times, and the ball never hit the ground.

He`s got an impressive "dig" move. Now they just need to teach him how to "set." Oh, sure, it`s not that useful in the dog`s world, maybe, but when you need to entertain your friends, it can be a "volley-able" skill.

Man, we were reaching for that one. We hope you guys have a great day. And we`ll look forward to seeing you tomorrow as well. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.