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Historical Flooding in England; Russians Proud of Winter Games in Sochi; Dam Building in Costa Rica May Block Important Passage for Jaguars

Aired February 11, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Headline in today`s show. Major winter storms, but not in the United States. Welcome to another international edition of commercial-free CNN STUDENT NEWS. We`re heading to Britain. In January, 2014, the country saw rain, like it hasn`t seen since the 1760s when King George was on the throne. The River Thames, which fits like a loose belt across southern England has been rising from a series of winter storms. It`s flooded towns, destroyed farms and left people scrambling to protect or evacuate whatever they can from their homes. The British government says extra money and man power on the way to help defend and repair homes, but in some areas resident were saying that`s too little, too late.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not a lake or a sea, but a disaster in the heart of the English countryside. They are no strangers to flooding here, but nothing like this, not since records began.

This has been the wettest month for 248 years in this part of Britain, and climbing up this hill overlooking this part of Somerset in the southwest of the country, you get a really amazing perspective on the impact that it`s had. Take a look over here. All of this land, the environment agency here says, 26 square miles of it, has been inundated with floodwater from the rainfalls. It`s having a huge economic consequence, and the local communities are really feeling the impact.

In (inaudible) to drain the fields and roads, thousands of gallons of rainwater are being pumped into already swollen rivers. For many residents, it`s a desperate race to safe their homes.

(on camera): All right, well, we`ve got access to one of the houses that has been severely affected by the flooding. You can see, the water is absolutely everywhere. The owner of the property, Dave Donson (ph) here, he`s been building up the flood defenses as best he can to try and protect the rest of his home from the flood water. But, you know, it`s a scene of real devastation.

(voice over): Outside, an army of volunteers is shoring up the flood defenses, including aid workers like Ravi Singh of the British-based (inaudible) aid agency, normally deployed in disaster zones overseas.

(on camera): How unusual is it for your agency to be called out to help people in Britain?

RAVINDER SINGH, KHLASA AID: Highly unusual. Actually, as a matter of fact, we`ve never done anything before in Britain. And we like other agencies psychologically switched off - they don`t need anything, they`ll be fine. And when I`ve heard some of the callers on the radio station a few days ago saying we`re the aid agencies that appeal to us for international aid, and that really stock (INAUDIBLE)

CHANCE: And forecasters predict more floods are, indeed, on the way. As Britain`s relentless rainstorms look set to continue. Matthew Chance, CNN, Somerset, England.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See, if you can I.D. me. You`ll find me between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. I`m a Central American nation that got its independence from Spain in 1821. I`m the only country that borders both Nicaragua and Panama.

I`m Costa Rica, a nation of almost 4.7 million people.

AZUZ: It`s no large country. Costa Rica is about the size of West Virginia with the population the size of Alabama. A little under 5 million people. Its poverty rate is lower than that of its Central American neighbors, though it still includes about a quarter of the Costa Rican population. A new dam could help the country economically in the years ahead, but it may come at a cost to Costa Rica`s coveted biodiversity.


NICK PARKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Buried in dense forest in Costa Rica, work on Central America`s largest hydroelectric dam is pressing ahead.

Construction on this project is now more than half complete. Next year, this entire area will be flooded to create a dam that will supply Costa Rica with ten percent of its electricity.

A key source of renewable energy for a country looking to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. But fears have been raised over the impact on the surrounding countryside.

Particularly, for jaguars like this one we filmed in captivity. The area around the (inaudible) River provides the animals with a corridor to cross between reserves.

SIMON MACARA, ANIMAL ACTIVIST: It`s the weakest link in the jaguar corridor through Central America. So, it`s (inaudible) the area quite as concerned.

PARKER: We visited the area with a government agency behind the dam project. Efforts are under way to improve conditions to encourage greater migration. That means, educating landowners and paying them to leave areas undeveloped. The hope is that many lives will be improved, and the safeguards are model for vital infrastructure. Nick Parker, CNN, Siqueiros, Costa Rica.


AZUZ: In The lead up to the Olympics, we talked about the U.S. government`s warnings about security. We talked about last minute preparations when some hotels and venues weren`t ready. Yesterday, we talked about a technical glitch in the opening ceremonies. But we haven`t yet talked about the pride that`s welling up in Sochi and spreading throughout the world`s largest size country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Winter Games in Sochi are now under way, and Russia is opening its arms to the rest of the world, sharing its culture and tradition.

The opening ceremony was a moment of Russian pride, and not only for Vladimir Putin. In a humble cafe, patrons and cooks stood side by side bursting with patriotism during a life performance of the Russian National Anthem.

Moscow is trying to put what was once a backwater Black Sea resort back on the map. For years, locals endured power outages while much of their city turned into a construction site. After all that, the Losevsky family says, the Olympic Games now feel like a holiday.

"From the new hotels to the big sports arenas, we love it," Victoria tells me. "I think the whole world will come here, see this and enjoy it.

These days, the people here look unmistakably happy. And sometimes it feels like the entire city is celebrating.

This is my very first Olympiad, and what I`m quickly realizing, is it`s about more than just the sports - this is an entire citywide festival that`s being enjoyed by Russians and by foreign visitors as well.

JOE DESIMONI, AMERICAN TOURIST: I feel very comfortable here, because there is so much security all over the place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to go through metal detectors, even to see ballet. No one is taking any chances. Russians are well aware that for the next few weeks, their country is on an international stage in an Olympic theater where even the audience members are performers.


AZUZ: Big challenge ahead for the National Football League and Michael Sam, he`s a former defensive end for Missouri, planning to enter the NFL draft this May.

In an interview Sunday, Sam announced that he`s gay. This could make him the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. But will the timing of Sam`s announcement affect his draft prospects? Eight executives and coaches, interviews by "Sports Illustrated" said this could hurt him in the draft for several reasons. One is that the NFL`s locker room culture might not welcome an openly gay player. Another is all the media attention that drafting him would bring. Some teams might not want that. And NFL statement says the league would welcome and support Michael Sam. And NFL player who spoke anonymously to "Bleacher Report" said "Half of the NFL`s locker rooms will accept him, half won`t."

Are the pirates ready for today`s "Roll Call?" Yes, they are. Shoutout to the Davis High Schools pirates. They are watching and putting up with our puns in Yakima, Washington. Next, to Joliet, Illinois. You don`t want to meddle with the steel men. They are online at Joliet Central High School. And good day to the Knights. We found them in Aurora, Indiana, the Knights of South Dearborn High School.

Before we go, one little kitty wants to nap, one little kitty wants to groom. Here`s what we mean. The description on this YouTube video says that Hazel, that`s the name of the toddler, likes to snuggle with the family cats, sometimes she gets groomed, too. Apparently, the cat doesn`t mind taking a break from its catnap to lap up a few minutes of quality time with the toddler. But have anyone ever asked the girl what the deal is with the calic (ph), and she has to explain it`s a cat lick, and someone says, you`ve got to be kitting me right meow. And she says nothing, because cats got her tongue - well, so goes a tale of two kitties. That laps up all our time for today. Just when you thought there were no more groom for puns. Sorry. I just get so cat up in these things. I`m Carl Azuz. For CNN STUDENT NEWS.