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Tornado Damage Assessment; BP Settlement over Gulf Spill

Aired March 5, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Want to know who the next president`s going to be? Keep watching, because we have the answer in today`s edition of CNN Student News. I`m Carl Azuz. Let`s get started.

Officials and residents are starting to determine how bad the damage is after severe weather ripped across parts of the U.S. over the weekend. These storms spread from the Midwest across to the South. They included powerful tornadoes that left a path of destruction.


AZUZ (voice-over): The governor of Ohio said it looked like a bomb had gone off in a couple of the cities that he visited. Kentucky and Indiana seemed to get the worst of it. Sandra Endo reports on the larger impact of the severe weather and how survivors are picking up the pieces.

SANDRA ENDO, CNN REPORTER: The haunting sights and sounds of Friday are now just a memory. For towns like Henryville, Indiana, this is the new reality, homes wiped out, lives lost.

PERRY HUNTER, TORNADO VICTIM: The whole randomness of a tornado is amazing. They hit. One house is destroyed. One house isn`t. One person dies, one doesn`t. It`s I don`t think you can understand that.

ENDO (voice-over): Stairs leading to nowhere, evidence of the ferocious force that brought everyday life to a halt. A fierce severe weather outbreak barreled across much of the United States, from Texas to Indiana into Kentucky and Georgia. Some 17 million people were in the deadly path.

DAVID WILSON, TORNADO SURVIVOR: You could hear people praying, just please let us get through this, God, please let us get through this.

ENDO (voice-over): In the hours after the terror came stories of survival.

DR. GLENN RIGGS, HENRYVILLE ELEMENTARY PRINCIPAL: I had about 40 students and staff. We were in the core of the building when the tornado hit, and everyone was safe. No one was injured.

ENDO (voice-over): Something to be thankful for, despite the devastation. Entire neighborhoods are flattened. Schools are in ruins. But spirits are strong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Got a lot of good friends. We still got our family. What more can we ask for?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R) OHIO: The fact of the matter is, people that live here are resilient, God fearing. They`re tough and we`re knocked down but not we`re knocked out.

ENDO (voice-over): In West Liberty, Kentucky, X marks the spot where crews have combed the rubble in search of survivors. Equipment is already in place to clear away what the storms knocked down. Another town, small in population, but big in its determination to come back from this disaster.

ENDO: The rebuilding process will no doubt take a very long time and President Obama expressed his condolences to areas hard-hit and FEMA is dedicating resources to cities in need. Reporting from West Liberty, Kentucky, I`m Sandra Endo.


AZUZ: Next up today, a legal battle over the largest oil spill in U.S. history -- we`re talking about the spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This battle won`t be decided in a courtroom. Late last week, both sides agreed to a settlement. BP, the oil company, will have to pay around $7.8 billion.


AZUZ (voice-over): The explosion on this rig, the Deepwater Horizon, led to more than 200 million gallons of oil spilling out into the Gulf. A group of thousands of people, including fishermen and hotel owners, sued BP and other companies that were involved.

BP will pay for all of this settlement. Both sides have signed off on the agreement. But it won`t be final until a judge approves it.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this legit? Only one U.S. state is named after an American president.

Legit. Out of the 50 states, only Washington is named after a president.


AZUZ: The only state named after a president held its Republican presidential caucuses on Saturday. Former Governor Mitt Romney came away with the win. He also got some momentum heading into this week`s Super Tuesday contest. We`ll have more on those for you tomorrow.


AZUZ (voice-over): Tens of thousands of Washingtonians had been expected to take part in the caucus meetings this weekend. We`ve talked about candidates winning delegates in primaries and caucuses. Washington`s caucuses award those delegates proportionately. So since Governor Romney got the most votes, he also won the most delegates, but he didn`t win all of them.


AZUZ: The Republican candidate who wins his party`s nomination will face off in the general election against President Obama, the likely Democratic nominee. When he was elected in 2008, Obama had overwhelming support from one group of Americans. Suzanne Malveaux looks at whether history might repeat itself in this year`s election, and the possible reasons why or why not.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM (voice-over): Donnel Scott has a framed newspaper story on his wall about President Obama when he won the 2008 election.

DONNEL SCOTT, CONSULTANT: I wanted to capture this for my family, because, again, it was so historical.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): But this year, he`s not sure he wants to vote for Obama again.

SCOTT: These next few months are going to be the telltale sign of me making a decision.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): African-Americans have been hit hard by the economy, with black unemployment at 13.6 percent, almost double the rate of whites.

SCOTT: I`ve had times I`ve held almost three or four different jobs at one time. But when you have a family that you`re trying to support, you will do whatever it takes, no matter the odds.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): In 2008, African-Americans went to the polls in record numbers, 96 percent of African-Americans who voted voted for President Obama. But some people in the black community feeling a sense of disappointment now. The question is: can the president hold on to the black vote?

Former Obama policy adviser and now DNC head, Patrick Gaspard, believes he can.

PATRIC GASPARD, DNC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: African-Americans have been disproportionately affected by the recession. Over the course of the last 23 months, we`ve, of course, seen 3.7 millions jobs grown in the private sector alone. And there is a sense that we`re beginning to turn this around.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Representative Maxine Waters has been one of the president`s toughest critics for not doing enough for black unemployment. Even so, she says Republican attacks on President Obama will help energizing blacks to vote.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D) CALIFORNIA: Since the Republican candidates have taken to the air with these debates, they have tried to undermine the president in so many ways. They have strengthened the resolve of African- Americans to reelect this president.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we`ve got to decide what kind of country we want to be.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Last month, the Obama campaign launched African-Americans for Obama to generate support in black communities. At a barber shop in Atlanta, opinions were mixed on whether or not to vote for the president in November.

SHAQ DAVIS, BARBER: He`s going to have to become very convincing to minorities right now. Other than that, it`s going to sound like the same story over again. And they`re still waiting on change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he`s done a ton with the cards that he was dealt. I think four more years would do him and do us and do the country well.


AZUZ: Well, at the start of today`s show, we said we`d tell you who`s going to be the next president. Didn`t say of the United States, though. Russia held its presidential election yesterday, and as the votes came in, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared victory.


AZUZ (voice-over): This is Putin on the left here, with Russia`s current president. If these election results are confirmed, Putin will be going back to the job he held from 2000-2008. He had to step down because Russian presidents can`t serve more than two terms in a row.

Putin appeared to have a big lead at the polls, but there have been a lot of protests against him recently. One Russian lawmaker was demanding a runoff election because he didn`t think Sunday`s votes were counted fairly.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time for the Shoutout. Where is the annual Iditarod race held? If you think you know it, shout it out. Is it in Siberia, Wisconsin, Manitoba or Alaska? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Alaska`s Iditarod starts every year on the first Saturday of March. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ (voice-over): This year`s Iditarod is on. It`s the 40th year that the dogsled race has been run. Each team has a musher -- that`s the human the drives the sled -- an average of about 16 dogs. Teams will spend the next 10-15 days traveling more than 1,000 miles. The Iditarod commemorates an event from 1925, when dogsledders had to deliver emergency medical supplies to parts of Alaska.

The current race follows part of that same route, but organizers have altered part of this year`s course because of concerns about rough weather.


AZUZ: Well, before we go, you might be planning to bolt out of class when the bell rings.


AZUZ (voice-over): But these students are running out of their room for a different reason. You`ve about to see why.

There it is. A deer jumped through a window into class in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week. No one was seriously injured. It looks like the deer had some trouble navigating the freshly waxed hallway floor. You might think of these animals as peaceful or friendly --


AZUZ: -- but after the scare this one put into those students, I don`t think anyone`s going to call that creature endearing. Maybe he just wanted to help out in the classroom, you know, "doe-nate" its time. But if it thought that was the best way to do it, well, that was a "stag-gering" mistake.

It`s time for us to hoof it on out of here, not before I say hello to my friends from Seven Hills Academy in Tallahassee, Florida. Thank you for visiting CNN. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.