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Large and Dangerous Tornadoes Wreak Havok in Ohio; Survivor Describes Tornado Ripping Apart His Home; Oklahoma, Arkansas Braces for Floods; Trump Praises Kim Jong-Un, Slams Former V.P. Biden; Trump Dismisses North Korean Rocket Launches as National Security Advisors Concerned; Dangerous Human Traffic Jam on Mount Everest Takes Another Life. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2019 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:16] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Baldwin. Thank you so much for joining me.

They are waking up to a nightmare in the Midwest this morning. Right now, in Ohio, search and rescue teams are digging through the devastation of a tornado outbreak. Several large and destructive twisters peeling off roofs, burying roads with trees, debris, power lines. Rescue teams resorting to using snowplows to clear some roads at this point.

Millions are now without power this morning after there were dozens of tornadoes reported over the past 24 hours.

And if that wasn't enough, Oklahoma and Arkansas are bracing for record breaking flooding at this moment. We're going to have more on that in just a second.

But first, I want to get to CNN's Ryan Young in Celina, Ohio, where the tornado outbreak was confirmed a short time ago.

Ryan, the pictures speak for themselves but what have you been seeing and hearing this morning.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really unreal. First, a lot of people were thanking God for being alive at this point. When you see their homes, you can understand why. Look across the street, and you can see the damage at this house here, and already people starting the cleanup process with the back loader already at work here.

The person who lives here was a firefighter. He was out with his crew last night trying to make sure other people were safe. His wife and kids were on the inside in the basement trying to make sure they could ride out the storm. The kitchen actually collapsed.

As my photographer, Jake, follows me here, one of the things as we try to navigate safely through here. That's a part of a roof that flew off from someone's house. That's sitting here. Look at the back of this home as we get closer here.

Watch the wires here, Jake. Look where the collapse is. You can tell people were scared. They

were terrified by this fast-moving powerful storm.

In fact, listen to this woman who tells about how terrifying this was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RENEE MANZ (ph), OHIO RESIDENT: I came out last night, and the first things I thought of was war zone because it just looked like somebody just took a bomb.

RICK EDISTOE (ph), OHIO RESIDENT: You know, how we say, like a freight train, I have heard it before, and when I heard that, I told my wife, in the basement now. Then we heard all kind of stuff hitting the house, and after it was over, we just couldn't believe it.

TOM VARNEY (ph), OHIO RESIDENT: Seeing this on TV, and I never thought it would hit home.

YOUNG: Could you feel the pressure of the storm?

VARNEY (ph): Oh, yes, you could do it. Scared, that's what it was.

RACHEL HARDSMITH (ph), OHIO RESIDENT: Heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. And it's not just here. It's out of town.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: As you can imagine, the pain in people's voices as they had to deal with this. Neighbors who have basically lost their neighborhood to a certain extent, but they're helping each other.

Look at that home over there. Look at the destruction this brought through.

Jake, I'm going to walk you this way a little bit. I want you to show that.

You can see another shed that's turned over on its side. This storm moved through here, we shot drone video, and we could see for more than a half mile, there's cars tossed over on their side. There's homes without their roofs.

And then you have this scene here. This firefighter who worked all night last night has to come home to the fact that most of the backside of his house is gone. And now some of his firefighter buddies have come through here to help him board up his house and get going. The wife and kids are fine. The dog survived the storm.

You can understand why people are so emotional and so upset about this. They have been great. In fact, the people that we talked to really kind of touch your heart because they have been all very happy that they made it through this.

You really see the spirit of America in the middle part of this country sometimes when they're talking about how to help each other through a storm like this.

BOLDUAN: That's amazing, what kind of perspective you can bring.

When you're talking about perspective, the drone video you were able to take earlier is amazing on the destruction that these tornadoes brought.

Ryan, thank you so much for reporting on the ground.

Now, about an hour south from where Ryan is, a tornado plowed through Brookville, Ohio, just outside of Dayton. And that's where my next guest lives, surviving what he says was a direct hit to his House while he was in it.

Michael Sussman is joining me on the phone.

Michael, can you hear me?

MICHAEL SUSSMAN, (via telephone): Yes, I can.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it.

You were hit by flying debris in the middle of all of this. How are you doing this morning?

SUSSMAN: Well, I'm doing fine. I got six staples in my scalp, and I've got some abrasions. I was standing in the front room, and something -- it was a miracle -- told me to get in the hallway. And as I moved into the hallway, the front room got completely blew off, the roof got took off.

My daughter and her boyfriend were smart enough to be in the bathroom, and they were buried in debris. And that was pretty devastating.

BOLDUAN: To say the least. Did you see the roof get ripped off?

[11:05:]07 SUSSMAN: So in the moment, you really don't know what's going on at that point when you do go in shock, so the last thing I was really remembering -- I stayed conscious -- was looking at the front window and thinking this is going to be bad. And I'm 59, and it was the worst thing I've ever seen, so at that point, I knew that if we survived, we were going to be lucky, and we were lucky, because we did survive.

BOLDUAN: In those moments, what did you -- what do you remember feeling?

SUSSMAN: Well, it was an ominous feeling looking at the weather. I didn't hear the train so much, the wind and the rain were blowing much harder than I had ever seen, and they had a hurricane actually believe it or not in Brookville, Ohio, and they were 70, 80 miles per hour winds. So I've seen strong winds.

But this was an ominous feeling. Something made my body move two foot to the left. Thank God because the entire front room I was standing in is no longer there. (CROSSTALK)

SUSSMAN: And there are many other hours back in the flat that are totally destroyed. Mine's not the only one.

BOLDUAN: Your neighborhood -- you were able to go back in to see what was left of the house and your neighborhood. How do you describe it?

SUSSMAN: Pretty emotional. You know, people walking around staring. I have been through a fire so I kind of knew some of the feelings. But when you're looking through rubble and walking over your roof and trying to find pictures of your family and the things that you can't replace, it's pretty rough, pretty rough to go through.

BOLDUAN: Your daughter and her boyfriend, they're OK, yes?

SUSSMAN: Yes, my daughter and her boyfriend survived. And my other daughter was with her mother around the corner. Their house also got destroyed and they both survived. So god was watching over all of us last night.

And fortunately, it's a small town and people come together. A friend of my sister's is going to start a GoFundMe page to help try to get things back together and try to find a normal life again.

BOLDUAN: Michael, thank you so much for speaking with me. I'm so sorry that this happened to you, but I'm so grateful that you're here.

Thank you.

SUSSMAN: OK. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

SUSSMAN: Bye.

BOLDUAN: Good luck.

Let's turn now to the other threat, the other devastation that we're seeing. Record breaking floods that I mentioned earlier in central United States.

Ed Lavandera he's in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, keeping an eye on that.

Ed, what are you seeing there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. There's a bit of a helplessness at this point as many residents are standing on the water's edge of these flood waters waiting for it to dissipate and waiting for the waters to go down.

We are in a neighborhood called Sand Springs, west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. And believe it or not, we are about a mile away from the banks of the Arkansas River. And as you take our drone shot, and you look over this area where there are dozens of homes that have been, you know, submerged in water. Many residents telling us the homes they have seen taking in two to six feet of water.

All of the water from the Keystone Dam, which was a few miles away upstream, the water from the lake being released there at 275,000 cubic feet of water per second. To give you an idea of how much water that is, it's a little more than three Olympic-sized swimming pools, rushing out of those flood gates every second. So all of this is just simply staggering when you consider how much water and the current in this river.

Kate, at this point, we were up close in a different area, close to the water's edge, and it's staggering just how fast moving this water is. And all of this is flowing downstream. There's a great deal of concern downstream in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where flood waters are expected to crest the next couple of days. Five to six feet there.

BOLDUAN: The danger is today. Then it goes to another part down the river tomorrow. It never gets easy to see pictures like you're showing us right now.

Ed, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Joining me now, John Kasich, former governor of Ohio, now a CNN political commentator.

Before we get to politics and policy, and there's a lot to discuss there, you're the former governor of Ohio. You're right now, I think you're about an hour and a half from Dayton where you are. What do you make of that devastation there overnight?

JOHN KASICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, Kate, over eight years we have had to deal with a lot of storms. This one sounds absolutely devastating. I think there's a loss of a life in Celina, which is a town of 10,000.

In the middle of this, first responders are in the middle of all of this. And they're the first ones on the scene. Now it will unfold the emergency management people here in Ohio will be there. They always do preparation, you know, when they see something coming. This one, I think, may have caught everyone a little bit by surprise.

You know, the National Guard will be involved, probably the highway patrol to some degree. And, you know, what will happen is they'll get into the cleanup, which will take a time.

[11:10:10] And you will see a great many great stories of people who, you know, contribute. They care about their neighbors.

I found it to be particularly interesting, the gentleman who was injured with his daughter and the boyfriend, who was in the bathroom, he said, God watched over us. You know, he didn't say God brought the storm. He said God watched over us. I thought that's kind of the middle of America. That's those values of hope and the future.

But these are really tough times. And for politicians. They just need to stay clear, because the last thing you need to do is rush in with your entourage and get in the way. We always took a pause before we went. And then it's entirely appropriate for elected officials to go and to figure out if there's some creative things that they can suggest to people who are involved in clean up. Very, very tough.

We were in our basement last night, here in Columbus. We had warnings, the sirens went off. And you have to take this stuff seriously. Even when you think it won't be you, you know, you just never know.

BOLDUAN: It's great to have your perspective on that.

We know the governor is up against a lot. Any governor is up against a lot when they face such a natural disaster like what they're looking at now. Thanks for that, Governor.

Let's talk about national politics because there's a lot going on. We have President Trump, he's on his way back from his trip to Japan. While he was there, Governor, the president sided with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un on his opinion of Joe Biden. Let me play what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kim Jong-Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low-I.Q. individual. He probably is, based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Echoing the words of a ruthless dictator about any American, let alone a former vice president of the United States. You saw that and you thought what?

KASICH: I thought it was just crazy. I mean, you know, you don't use those foreign trips to play domestic politics, particularly as you approach an election. It's just -- it's not an appropriate way to operate.

In addition to that, I don't think it was a good trip because Abe, the leader of Japan, wanted some concessions on trade. He didn't get them. And he's very worried about his agricultural segment, as we are here.

He was actually somebody that believed in the Pacific trade agreement, which Japan was a part of, which we walked away from. And they talked about the need for some sort of a bilateral agreement between us and Japan. It's really gotten nowhere.

And then at the same time, you have the president's advisers who were talking about the fact that they're very concerned about the activity of North Korea launching these --

BOLDUAN: Right.

KASICH: -- projectiles into the ocean and the president sort of dismisses it.

BOLDUAN: I hear you. KASICH: Now, perhaps, what's he's trying to do is to keep.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I hear you. You give me your perspective, but, I mean, that was no small thing. You've got the president also siding with Kim, contradicting the assessment of his national security team that North Korea fired ballistic missiles this month.

I mean, John Bolton said this weekend that there's no doubt that North Korea violated un Security Council resolutions with these moves.

I am left with, when there's such a direct conflict in the opinions of the national security adviser one day, the president the next day, basically. Who are Americans supposed to believe, the president or his national security adviser? Does it concern you they're not on the same page?

KASICH: No, you believe the president. Aides can say everything they want but, at the end, the buck stops with the leader of the country.

And it might be here in this case that Donald Trump is not trying to ratchet up the rhetoric and he's trying to figure out whether there's some way forward.

The problem has been that we have not seen the kind of progress we'd like to see. And we know that the leader of North Korea has been to Russia, he's in consultation with China, who we're kind of in the middle of a trade -- not kind of, we're in the middle of a trade war with.

BOLDUAN: We're officially.

KASICH: And I don't know where this leverage is.

Look, if his idea is let's not ratchet it up. Let's not go back to -- there weren't the ballistic missiles that we were concerned about being launched. I'm willing to say to the president, you lower that, that's fine with me. Bolton has always been very outspoken. But we can't ignore the fact that they continue to enrich uranium and it's an intractable situation.

I think the key is China. But when you're in a trade war, trying to get them to help you with North Korea, it's just not working.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: But we got nothing out of that trip, really. Nothing.

BOLDUAN: When you're in a fight with everybody, who are you going to find to be your friends. That might be what the United States is starting to look at.

Governor, thank you for coming in.

KASICH: He may have gotten a lesson -- he may have gotten a lesson in sumo wrestling. I don't know where that will be.

BOLDUAN: Let's see where that is helpful.

[11:15:04] KASICH: I don't know what he's going to do when he gets back to Washington, and sumo wrestles with who? I don't know, maybe the House Democrats. We'll see, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Let us see. You get a front row seat if that happens.

Governor, thank you. I really appreciate it.

KASICH: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you. Thank you so much. And thank you for your perspective on everything happening in Ohio.

A new death at the world's highest peak as experts warn overcrowding at Mount Everest is getting out of control. Is overcrowding to blame? What's it like to be up there now. We'll go live with a climber just back from the summit.

Plus, Joe Biden is on the campaign trail today. But as his opponents keep up full schedules in the early primary states, is the frontrunner losing ground? We'll to Iowa to see what voters there think about Biden's strategy.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:20:42] BOLDUAN: A tragic traffic jam on the top of the world. A second American climber has now died on Mount Everest. Nepal officials tell CNN 62-year-old Christopher Kulish, of Colorado, died Monday after reaching the summit. He's now the 11th death in just over a week.

That mountain has always been a dangerous and hostile place for climbers but with pictures now coming out with some of these we're showing you, one veteran climber is now calling it a death race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAZZA ALAS (ph), MOUNTAIN CLIMER: Loads of people died this year, everyone knows, and it's been a carnage. And I should say it has become a death race there. Because there was a massive traffic jam and people are pushing themselves, who are not even capable of doing it. They do it, they try to summit, and then, instead of summiting, they kill themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's Arwa Damon went to the Everest base camp and sent back this report. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have just arrived to Everest base camp. And I have to say, even at this altitude, even without being anywhere near to the summit, you really feel the impact of the decreased oxygen levels.

The scenery here is absolutely spectacular. You really understand what the draw and appeal is.

That's the ice fall that is so famous. It's what the climbers first have to go through to get to camp one. And then of course, as they move on up through the different camps and the different stops, trying to reach what is the one main goal that unites everybody here. And normally this entire area at the peak of the season is covered in tents.

What you have right now behind me is just a few tents that have been left. There are cleanup crews. There's still a handful of climbers that are down there, some of the last ones to come down from the summit on what has been an especially devastating hiking season for the summit of Everest because of the level of fatalities and because of the issues that arose from all of this backlog that took place.

The photographs of the long lines of people waiting inside the death zone call that because the levels of oxygen there are so low. Every breath you take in the death zone only gives you a third of the oxygen that you would get at sea level, so you have to be climbing with oxygen tanks. And so these long waiting hours may have contributed to the deaths that we did see, at least to most of them.

And a lot of these climbers aren't dying on the way up. You can make it to that goal, you can make it to that summit. It's when you come back down, that's when people's bodies tend to succumb to altitude sickness.

A lot of debate right now as to whether or not Nepal needs to be doing more to regulate the number of permits, to regulate who goes up, what level of experience they have.

There's been a lot of criticism about inexperienced climbers going up but there's also a burden of responsibility on the individual.

Yes, this is such a challenge. It is such a goal that is really going to push you mentally and physically to the limit. But all of the climbers we're talking to are saying you really need to know how to listen to your body.

And just being here right now, one really feels the effect of the lower levels of oxygen.

Arwa Damon, CNN, on the Nepalese side at Everest base camp.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Arwa sending us that report from Everest base camp. Arwa, thank you so much. Canadian filmmaker, Elia Saikaly, is working on a documentary called

"The Dream of Everest." He just completed his third climb to the summit.

And Elia Saikaly is joining me now from Katmandu.

Elia, thank you so much for being here.

You posted on Instagram the following just so our viewers know it, you posted this after -- about your latest climb: "I cannot believe what I saw there. Death, carnage, chaos, lineups."

Can you describe for us what was it like this time? What did you see?

[11:25:05] Elia, it's Kate Baldwin, can you hear me?

All right. We're going to try to reconnect with Elia.

We'll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:29:59] BOLDUAN: Before the break, we were telling you about the 11th death on Mount Everest in just over a week and the traffic jams that climbers are encountering up there right now.

Canadian filmmaker, Elia Saikaly, has just completed his third climb to the summit and he is joining me now from Katmandu.