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Live Coverage of the Devastation in Oklahoma; Schoolchildren Victim of Massive Tornado; Interview with Stormchasers; Interview with Tornado Survivor; Bill Nye: Tornadoes Like This Will Happen Again
Aired May 21, 2013 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to CNN's team coverage of what I can only describe as a nightmare in Oklahoma. It's midnight on the East Coast; it's 11:00 p.m. in Oklahoma.
And the breaking news tonight is absolutely tragic. The massive tornado has slammed into the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore this afternoon. It's claimed the lives of at least 51 people, 20 now confirmed to have been children; 145 others are in hospitals and the death toll is expected to rise.
Search and rescue mission is going on throughout the night, of course, and it's not been made any easier by showers and the chance of more thunderstorms in the area. The storm this afternoon, though, was sudden and incredibly violent. You can get a hint of its power from this cell phone video. I will talk to the man who shot it later tonight.
The tornado was estimated to be at least two miles wide at one point, a giant funnel cloud, stretching from the sky to the ground and destroying everything in its wake. And I will talk to witnesses and survivors and here with me in the studio is science educator Bill New Year's Eve.
I want to start, though, with CNN's Gary Tuchman, live in Moore, Oklahoma.
Gary, you're right near this school, which was flattened earlier, the Plaza Towers school. We now know that at least seven children have been killed. But the fear obviously is that there may be many more trapped in the rubble there.
What can you tell me?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Piers. I've been standing here for four hours. And what I'm sorry to say is for the four hours I've been standing right next to the school and watching these firemen and women, police officers, doctors and nurses, frantically searching for the victims, what I'm sorry to report is that nobody has been pulled out alive.
And at this point, we are being told there are at least 24 children still unaccounted for, 24 third graders. It is believed, and this is about the only good news I can tell you today, Piers, that some of them have been reported at nearby churches and shelters, and their parents just didn't know it. But we do know there are some parents who have been here with us for much of the night tonight.
One man sitting next to me for half an hour -- I talked with I'm a little bit, his 9-year old missing, a third grader, tears coming down his face. And you think of the father, that he'd want to run into that rubble, look for yourself. And obviously that would do no good. And this man, I just admire how calmly he was sitting here, waiting for any news.
At then at one point a doctor came over and prepared him, and said, listen, I think there's a very good chance you're going to have to accept the fact that your son's not going to come back. And then the man broke down in tears.
The fact is this is not what they call yet a search and recovery mission, which means they're not looking for survivors. They are still looking for survivors, Piers, but they have brought in machinery; they have brought in drills. They have been using axes now, trying to chop away, trying to get away some of the rubble to get in closer.
They're hoping for the possibility of a miracle. But I can tell you many of the doctors, nurses and ambulances have left because they don't anticipate right now. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but they don't anticipate finding any survivors, any miracle stories at this point. They know they're going to have more children who are reported dead here ultimately. Seven dead right now.
They know the number will get higher. Just how much higher, they don't know, but they're still at the scene, Piers. It's nighttime. They have floodlights. They're doing the best they can, they're doing heroic work.
But I will tell you this so reminds me of the tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in Haiti, being there and watching men and women work so hard to do their best to save life, the same kind of feeling right now here in Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb just south of the city of Oklahoma City, Piers.
MORGAN: Absolutely heartbreaking, Gary Tuchman, thank you very much indeed.
I want to go now to CNN's George Howell outside the pile of rubble that was once Plaza Towers Elementary School.
George, what can you tell me?
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Piers, we've been watching as sheriff's deputies, as firefighters, as police officials, as investigators, as they've lined right -- walked past us into in this area where crews continue to search for victims.
And I want to back up what Gary said. We're getting the same information from people, that this continues to be a search and rescue operation. Keep in mind, there are a lot of parents watching this broadcast, watching the affiliates here in Oklahoma City. And they are hanging on to every bit of news.
And that is news that we have, it is still a search and rescue. That means that these investigators, they are still going through, looking for victims.
I want to bring in James Dickens, who is one of the people who has spent time over there.
James, if you could tell us what's it like?
JAMES DICKENS, FIRST RESPONDER: It's nothing that your mind can really prepare you for. It's the -- as a father, it's humbling. It's heartbreaking to know that we've still got kids over there that's possibly alive, but we don't know.
HOWELL: Talk to me about your colleagues over there. Talk to me about all of these people. You were telling me 14 different departments. Explain that, please.
DICKENS: It's 14 different fire departments, search and rescue units over there, that are still actively doing the search and rescue.
HOWELL: Going through the night?
DICKENS: Yes, sir, going through the night. They'll continue.
HOWELL: What are the conditions like over there? I know you've spent time over there. We did get some rain earlier. I mean, it's not easy, I'm sure.
What are they dealing with?
DICKENS: Well, you know the same thing that everybody else is out here. It's hard to really see it. You know, what you see out here, what y'all have seen in the daylight is what we're dealing with at night except it's just not as lit up and not, and it's not as well for you to see. But they're pressing forward. Hopefully, you know, we'll hear just some glimpse and we can help some child or help some grownup.
HOWELL: James, you're not a sheriff's deputy or a firefighter. Tell people, you know, what your business is and you're still here.
DICKENS: Yes, I'm presently working on a job at Tonka (ph) City, Oklahoma, for Wilbrews Construction.
HOWELL: So oil and gas.
DICKENS: Yes, oil and gas. We do pipeline work and stuff. When the call came out for all the first responders to come help, I felt it was my duty to come help.
HOWELL: Your expertise, I'm sure, is quite helpful here in this situation.
DICKENS: I don't know if it is or not. It's kind of emotionally draining. It really is.
HOWELL: Thankful to have people like you out there tonight. Mr. Dickens, thank you for your time.
You know, and just keep this in mind. There are people who have certain skills and expertise who have been called into this situation. There are officials, public officials who are here, these firefighters, policemen.
But again, people here in the neighborhood are being told not to go into that scene. It is a controlled scene right now. These crews will continue to work through the night in the search and rescue operation, and we will continue to stay in touch with them to bring you the latest information, the latest numbers as we get more. Piers?
MORGAN: George Howell, for now, thank you very much indeed.
Joining me now with more on the massive search and rescue effort is An Dee Lee with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
Mr. Lee, thank you very much for joining me. What can you tell me?
ANN DEE LEE, ODEM: First off, it's Ms., but that's fine.
MORGAN: I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
LEE: That's all right, with my name you never know.
MORGAN: I'm sorry.
LEE: What can I tell you? I can tell you that we have search and rescue teams responding from all kinds of agencies across the state. We have an animal shelter that we're working with the Department of Agriculture to find lost animals.
We are -- there are shelters set up, numerous shelters set up across the area to house and feed people. There are power outages roughly about not quite 40,000 right now across the area.
And the whole day has been quite mind-blowing when you consider that right after the tornado hit the Moore area, we still had -- we were still having tornado warnings across the state from Kansas to Texas. So this -- this is not over yet. There are still some systems that are building back up as far as weather goes. So we're staying here through the night and we'll be here for the duration.
MORGAN: And in terms of potentially more casualties, we see the focus on the elementary school and obviously hoping and praying that more children may be found alive there, although it doesn't look good.
But in terms of the outlying areas, how confident are you that you've gotten to all the people who may have been either killed or seriously hurt here?
LEE: I can tell you that we will keep going all night long and, of course, all day tomorrow in a search and rescue mode and that we have a pretty strong network of people here in Oklahoma, who are -- I won't say used to this kind of weather, because you never get used to this type of destruction -- but we have lived with it and we know how to deal with it, and we know that we're not going to stop until we find every single person who's missing.
MORGAN: I mean, are you expecting the death toll to rise significantly from the current 51?
LEE: To be honest, I do expect it to go up. How much, I wouldn't venture a guess, to be honest. But I do expect the number to rise.
MORGAN: Well, Ann Dee Lee, I wish you and your team all the success in the world in trying to find people alive after this. I hope we can get as many out as we can. Thank you very much indeed for joining me.
With me on the phone is Scott Hines, reporter for KFOR in Oklahoma.
Scott, we talked earlier. And understandably you were very emotional about the scenes that you were seeing.
What's happened in the last few hours?
SCOTT HINES, KFOR: Piers, survivors and their families describing (inaudible) on CNN earlier, describing this as a nightmare, a bad dream, you know, just waiting to wake up, walking around like zombies, as if what has just unfolded, you know, isn't real.
First responders, rescuers working around the clock, hoping and praying for survivors, as we all are. They're still in that search and rescue mode, yes, that is very much the case, but they're also being realistic. And they know that the death toll will rise. It's expected to rise.
Right now, we've already confirmed 51 deaths, and that was several hours ago. We haven't even received the new numbers at this hour from the medical examiner's office or from first responders.
We confirmed at least seven children, as you mentioned. Those bodies, as we've been reporting all afternoon and evening, were submerged in water at one of those elementary schools.
And there were reports initially that there could be 20 to 30 more victims beneath the rubble, but we are hearing and we have confirmed within the past few hours that several of those children originally believed to have been beneath the rubble have been found safe and sound at area churches, at other locations and they have, if not already, they are being reunited with their families.
We have heard of a 5-year old. There was a daycare in the area that was also hit, and that 5-year old was missing for the most -- for a large portion of the evening, and we just received word that his family, his parents, have been reunited with him.
So there are these glimmers of hope, and you can bet that the folks here in Central Oklahoma are just holding onto those glimmers so tightly at this hour. We know of another man I heard of. He was running to a storm shelter when he was hit in the head by flying debris, and he later died of that head injury.
We've heard of a 7-month old. We've heard of another baby, both dead, being pulled from the rubble, their family members, the 7-month old's mother also pulled from the rubble, lifeless. And they were seeking to run from this horrendous twister and seek shelter in a large freezer. And time just was not their friend. It ran out, and there's nothing they could do.
So this was one of the storms as I told you earlier that this tornado, yes, we felt like we had plenty of warning, but I don't think any amount of warning ever, ever prepares you for something of this magnitude and this horrendous and this -- just devastating.
MORGAN: No, it's absolutely horrendous, as you say. Scott Hines, thank you very much for joining me again.
The speed and size of the storm were astounding. Let's go to Chad Myers now in the CNN Extreme Weather Center. He knows Oklahoma City very well.
Chad, this is a truly dreadful tornado today, but put it into some kind of historical context in the last, say, 20 years in terms of power and size.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I can do that. In fact, I even have a graphic of that. We have now over more three tornadoes at 200 miles per hour or greater in the past 14 years. I don't know how you even -- you put that together as to what have I done wrong to live in this area, to now experience three maxi tornadoes, three major tornadoes in the same city.
Things are calming down a little bit tonight. Just a little bit, Piers. Just a little bit. I do believe that the chance of any EF-3, -4, or -5 tornado is over for the night. But we have had some wind damage in Chicago, also down toward Peoria and St. Louis, not rotation, but just wind as the storms have blown on through.
Now let me get you to this graphic. Oklahoma City proper, this would be Edmond, I-40 out to the east and out to the west, I-35 South. The yellow right through here, today's tornado. The red, the 1999 EF-3, EF-4 and EF-5 tornado -- that was measured by a Doppler on wheels at 318 miles per hour.
And then here the May 8th, 2003, tornado. We'll zoom in here for you. Watch how these lines literally become parallel right through here, right through Newcastle, following the H.E. Bailey Turnpike, that's the I-44 right here, crisscrossing as you get right along I-35 and the Canadian River.
And then all of a sudden, the 2003 begins to show up and there one, two, three, four -- there are our schools, our medical center and the Plaza Tower Elementary and the Warren movie theater right here today, the same type of path three times in 14 years. Every storm at some point in its life had wind speeds right at 200 miles per hour, Piers.
MORGAN: Absolutely extraordinary and so shocking to the people there. Chad, thank you very much indeed. We'll come back after this short break with much more on this dramatic breaking story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN (voice-over): A family's shocking first look at the devastation shot as they climbed out of their shelter in Moore, Oklahoma. We're back live with all that is on the Oklahoma tornado and the big question: are storms growing more powerful and more deadly?
Joining me now is science educator Bill Nye.
Bill, truly awful scenes from Moore. The third time they've been hit by tornados in 14 years, as Chad Myers said. Many people are asking tonight on Twitter and Facebook and so on, is it getting worse? We're in New York here; Hurricane Sandy was obviously the worst it had here for hundreds of years.
Is it getting worse in terms of storm damage and power?
BILL NYE, SCIENCE EDUCATOR: It's not clear. First of all, you can't say from any one storm that this is a result of, let's say, climate change.
However, just looking at Chad Myers' graphic, it's the width of this tornado that I think, at least to me, just looking at the data that are available online, that this is a much more powerful storm than the one that everybody talks about, May 3rd, 1999, because it's just wider, cutting a wider swath.
So you've got figure of the has -- if it's twice as wide, you might figure it's got twice as much energy, but it might have four times as much energy. It might have 10 times an order of magnitude as much energy. And this can be estimated by looking at the destruction.
It sounds like -- it sounds almost unbelievable, but you can assess the speed of the wind by looking at this video and looking for a piece of recognizable debris. This is all very -- it's important going forward, but the destruction there tonight is really overwhelming.
And I just want to remind us all it's going to happen again. I mean, this is the 20th of May, and tornado season goes at least another month, and then hurricane season goes on all summer well into the fall.
MORGAN: The statistic I saw which put it into real context was that America gets at least 1,000 tornadoes every year. Last year in the whole of the year, 70 people were killed by tornadoes. It would seem like the death toll here may well rise to that level at least, which is an illustration of just how deadly it's been. NYE: In one event. Yes, and these houses -- you would think, as an engineer you would think you could design structures that could withstand this and that people would then be required by law to have access to them, but clearly it's more complicated.
MORGAN: Well, I think in Oklahoma, there's a particular problem, they were saying earlier, is that it's basically built on rock. And it's incredibly expensive for many of the homeowners to actually go down into the ground.
NYE: Oh, yes, well, it's expensive.
MORGAN: Because of the nature of the terrain there.
NYE: But then you can look at it another way, what does it cost to rebuild? And what does it cost in the loss of people don't have -- now not being able to make a living. They've lost their possessions and they're going to -- we're going to have to pitch in and help out.
But it's going to happen again. I mean, if you got three of them in 14 years, you got to figure --
MORGAN: Right. Bill, stay with me. (Inaudible) Dr. Roxie Albrecht is the Director of Trauma at Oklahoma University Medical Center. And they're treating 65 patients there.
Doctor, thank you for joining me, what can you tell me?
DR. ROXIE ALBRECHT, OU MEDICAL CENTER: It's been a busy couple nights. We had the tornado yesterday. Got several patients from that, as well as the massive tornado today. So I've been really impressed by the effort at our trauma center, both our adult and pediatric center, with the response of the staff.
We had a Code Yellow which means everybody stays that's here. And the additional staff that came in all rallied to take care of these injured patients.
MORGAN: And in terms of the number of patients you have, I understand as many as 40 may be children. Is that right?
ALBRECHT: We had 45 children that were taken to our children's hospital. We have two hospitals that are connected together by a walkway at Children's Hospital and an adult hospital. So 45 children went to various areas and the Children's Hospital and then 20 adults came here to the Adult Trauma Center.
What is the nature of the injuries and how serious are the wounded, would you say?
ALBRECHT: There's anywhere from minor injuries that were taken up to some of our clinics -- cuts, bruises, hypothermia because of the cold rain -- and then some severely injured people, from impalements of various parts after the anatomy and body to some crush injuries.
MORGAN: Doctor, I'm sure that you're extremely busy tonight. I'll let you get back to your very important work. Thank you for joining me.
ALBRECHT: Thank you very much.
MORGAN: Joining me now, a man who shot some incredible cell phone video the moment the tornado touched down, Michael Welch is on the phone live with me now.
Mr. Welch, thank you for joining me. Quite remarkable video that you shot. Tell me about it.
MICHAEL WELCH, IREPORTER: Well, man, I was at work and about an hour left to go on my shift. I didn't even know there was weather in the area, and I came and saw it lowering and it developed, looked like literally nothing to that in a period of about five minutes.
MORGAN: I mean, we're looking at the video again now. It really shows the size and power of this tornado, as you say, the speed with which it certainly went up. We know they had about 16 minutes" warning. But to watch it where you were, so close, describe what it feels like.
WELCH: Oh, it's definitely scary. It's just one of those things I'll remember my entire life. I mean, I don't think many people see it that close. So I feel very blessed to be alive, and I'd like to -- all my thoughts and prayers are with the people that got affected by this storm.
And from what you saw in terms of the devastation that it wrought, how far, how wide an area -- we're hearing as many as 20 miles, maybe further -- were affected here?
WELCH: I don't know; about 20 miles.
MORGAN: We may have lost you there, Michael. We'll try and get -- we'll take a break. We'll try and come back to you after the break. Thank you for now.
Coming next, two men who ran towards monster storms when most people run away. The storm chasers, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it was just unbearably loud, and you could see stuff flying everywhere, just about like on the movie "Twister."
MORGAN (voice-over): We're back live now with the latest news on the Oklahoma tornado. Well, most people take cover. Storm chasers race towards tornadoes. But even the most hard-core rarely have seen anything quite like this. Joining me now is storm chaser and extreme meteorologist, Reed Timer. And on the phone, meteorologist and storm chaser Jim Bishop, who was a mile away from today's twister.
Reed Timer, if I may start with you, tell me where you were and what happened.
REED TIMER, STORMCHASER: Southwest Oklahoma. There are also tornado warning storms out in there, but of course they didn't produce a 5 tornado. And we actually went right by the tower, the cumulonimbus cloud that became that monster supercell that produced the likely EF-5 tornado that went through Moore, Oklahoma.
And when I looked to my right, it looked high based. It looked relatively small and soft. And it went from basically a very weak little cumulonimbus cloud to a monster supercell in a very short amount of time.
And that happens and the ingredients for tornadoes and strong tornadoes come together in a very small location, and that just happened to be just west of Moore, Oklahoma, right near the Newcastle area. And that's what makes this different than the May 3rd, 1999 tornado, is that that was a very long track tornado that began in Chickasha, about 35 miles west of Norman.
And so there was a lot more warning. People in North Moore and South Oklahoma City knew that one was coming. And this one developed really quickly. It was also a wider tornado, which made it that much more damaging.
MORGAN: And, Jim Bishop, you were a mile away, I believe, from where the tornado struck today. Tell me about that.
JIM BISHOP, STORMCHASER: Oh, it was just a chilling experience. I mean, there isn't anything else like it, a major tornado developing, going right through a metropolitan area, through neighborhoods. I mean, it's something, as a storm chaser, you never want to see it. And it happened today.
I was actually chasing with a couple of people and we were driving south out of Kansas and driving into the Oklahoma City area as this tornado was on the ground. And I was listening to the local reports on the radio, and they were describing that it was just like May 3rd, '99.
I was just getting these chills on my body because I was getting closer and closer to it. But I couldn't see it yet because I was -- there was so much rain and there was traffic. And I was driving through the east side of Oklahoma City.
Well, finally we came up to about a mile and a half northeast of the tornado. And you could see this massive ledge. And it didn't look like a normal tornado because it was so large. It looked like just a big debris field. And I kept listening to the reports. I mean it was just going right through Moore. I mean, it's just devastating.
MORGAN: Absolutely shocking. Jim Bishop and Reed Timer, thank you very, very much.
I'm being joined now by Oklahoma's lieutenant governor Todd Lamb, who joins me on the phone.
Lt. Governor, we spoke earlier and it's clearly a catastrophe that's getting worse in terms of people we've discovered with terrible injuries and others who lost their lives. Tell me how we are at the moment in terms of numbers of casualties.
LT. GOV. TODD LAMB, OKLAHOMA (via telephone): Piers, I think you have the most up-to-date numbers and information as far as 51 confirmed deaths; 20 of those are children. Some information I have recently from one of the hospitals that have been treating individuals and victims from today, one of our trauma centers has roughly 85 trauma patients. Roughly 60 to 65 of those 85 are children or young people.
The rescue effort continues at the Plaza Elementary, and that's the elementary school that was absolutely flattened. Not one wall is remaining. Some good news in all the information that we're bringing in tonight, some of the parents that were looking for their children have not found them yet; did find some of the children at various churches sprinkled throughout the metro area in Moore.
So some parents have been reunited with their children, and the remaining parents just hope and pray that their children will be found safely tonight and alive.
MORGAN: And so, Governor, you've been through a few of these. We know that Moore itself has had three tornados in 14 years.
How does this rank in terms of scale and size?
LAMB: Piers, that's a really good question. 1999 was the most devastating tornado as far as property damage and the enormity and the wind speed, up until Joplin a few years ago.
The enormity of those 1999, 2003 Moore was struck again with another tornado and for the third time, as you mentioned the last 14 years, today. I say that to say this. We already have more loss of life today in Moore, Oklahoma, than we had with at the time with the most devastating tornado in the history of the planet in 1999.
So that gives you some idea of the enormity and the devastation that has struck Moore, Oklahoma, for the third time in just a decade and a half. It was more devastating than the 1999 tornado.
MORGAN: Absolutely heartbreaking for all the people there, and our thoughts and prayers are obviously with all of them, especially the families who are still waiting to hear if their loved ones, those poor little kids in that school, if any of them can be rescued at this late stage. Thank you, Governor. Thank you very much for joining me again.
LAMB: Piers, thank you.
MORGAN: I want to bring in Jennifer Ramieh now with the American Red Cross, who's with the rescue effort.
Thank you for joining me. What can you tell me about how the rescue effort is going? Is it still a rescue effort? Are you still finding people alive?
JENNIFER RAMIEH, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Well, we're actually involved with ensuring that people have a safe place to stay the night. So we have got a number of shelters open where displaced residents can go and put their head down on a cot tonight and have a hot meal.
We are also encouraging people to register with Safe and Well, and that's our website where you can search for a loved one to ensure that they're safe.
MORGAN: And in terms of the number of people who have been affected, would you say that it's hundreds, it's thousands? Do you have any idea of how many people have been displaced?
RAMIEH: You know, it is so early on with this just happening this afternoon. So I wouldn't want to predict how many people have actually been affected by this. I'm sure that that information will be coming forth in the next few days.
Well, I really appreciate what you and your team are doing, and I wish you all the very best with the efforts to try and find some kind of comfort and abode for these people who have lost their homes, some of them just seeing their homes absolutely flattened. Thank you for joining me.
RAMIEH: Thank you.
MORGAN: Next, more survivor stories from Oklahoma and the friends and neighbors who are finding a safe place for those who lost everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): There was a man's body pulled out, a woman's body pulled out and then a 7-month-old baby, that body pulled out and the baby's mother also pulled out. They believe that at some point they tried to get into a freezer, but I can tell you from being there and pulling the debris up, that that did not do any good.
MORGAN (voice-over): Amazing stories coming out of the devastation of Moore in Oklahoma.
There are also survivor stories. One of them is Mike Stephens. He joins me on the phone now.
Mr. Stephens, thank you for joining me. A remarkable story of survival involving you and your family. Tell me about that.
MIKE STEPHENS, TORNADO SURVIVOR: It was just -- what a crazy day we had about, oh, about a 30-45 minute before the tornado came. Our little girl was at school at the time. So we had to rush and get her out.
By the time that we got back to our house, the tornado was probably, oh, I would say three-quarters mile away from our house.
By the time we pretty much left, it was down the street. I have some pictures and videos of it, pretty much just destroying all the neighborhood and everything around there, the hospital, but just the destruction that that tornado would make, the size, it just -- you just can't wrap your mind around how just horrifying something like that can be.
MORGAN: And you've actually lived through a previous massive tornado in that area. Tell me.
STEPHENS: Yes, I actually survived through both the major May 3rd tornado and this tornado. So we consider ourselves lucky, me and my wife both have lived through both of those. So we consider ourselves lucky.
The 3rd tornado, I didn't leave at the time. I was young and just wanted to watch it. By the time it came by, I was lucky to be alive, that it just didn't take me on that one. So it's just amazing to see something so powerful. And the things that it can do, you just can't fathom the things that just the wind and power can do.
MORGAN: And in terms, Mr. Stephens, of the comparison between the two big tornadoes that you have survived, is this one to you, did it seem a lot bigger, a lot more powerful?
STEPHENS: This one seems way more powerful. I think the total difference between this one and the other one, this one was way more slower. It took its time and just sat there and just tore up everything in its path, and it just took its time and it just tore up more and it just destroyed everything in its wake.
The May 3rd tornado, it was kind of a fast tornado, not too fast, but it just was a little quicker. I mean, it tore up a lot, by no means. But this one just seems just way more horrible than the May 3rd one.
MORGAN: Mr. Stephens, a great escape for you and your family again. And I'm so grateful for that and for you for joining me. Thank you very much.
STEPHENS: You're welcome. Have a good day.
MORGAN: Now I'm joined by -- I'm just going to go to Bill Nye, actually, quickly, while we wait for our next guest.
Bill, you heard there really graphic testimony from someone who lived through the big one in 1999 and now this one. He said that really, it felt a lot more powerful.
NYE: Everybody has said that.
MORGAN: But is it significant, the reason that it sat there -- 40 minutes it was on the ground, sitting, bit by bit ripping everything apart as it went.
NYE: Well, it would mean to me right away that it had more energy. It was able to stay on the ground and stay twice as wide, or by some reports three times as wide, then it's going to have more energy, it can do more destruction. And the longer it sits in one place, the more stuff it picks up then the more projectiles it produces that hit other things.
And this thing looked to me, there were several reports that it went up pretty high, and there were reports earlier of this debris showing up many miles away.
So you've got to figure -- I mean, I would presume that it went up into the -- above the cloud or above what you can see from the ground and headed along the path. It's really serious business, because it's only the 20th of May now. I mean, there's another month of this, anyway.
MORGAN: As a scientist, when you hear about the size, scale, power and devastation of this tornado, what does it tell you about the ongoing debate about climate change?
NYE: Well, climate change, you just have to think of it. I mean, 10 of the last 12 years have been the warmest years recorded. So thunderstorms are driven by heat, and a tornado is a super thunderstorm, a result of a super thunderstorm. So you got to figure if there's more heat driving the storm, then there's going to be more tornadoes.
Now this is the kind of thing that's worth investigating, and by the way, there is a big concern about our weather satellites getting old and concern about replacing them. This is exactly the kind of thing you use space assets to assess.
And it's going to take quite awhile to sort out the storm, but these things are susceptible to analysis. You can look at the destruction and then figure how much energy was in the storm. You can measure the speed of the wind by looking at debris in a shot like this, and you can assemble the eyewitness accounts from where they all were.
And you can take Twitter, for example and network where the information was coming from.
MORGAN: From all you're hearing and seeing, Bill, tonight about this tornado, could it be the worst that America's had in recorded memory?
NYE: It sounds like it, doesn't it? Because as I say, I keep going back over this, not only did it go down the same path, but it went down the same path twice.
MORGAN: (Inaudible), Bill, we're getting very sad breaking news, 14 more people are now confirmed to be dead. So that would take the total of confirmed dead to 91 people, 91 people, including at least, we know, 20 children. And that figure is expected to rise higher than that through the night, a truly devastating day for Moore in Oklahoma.
We'll come back after the break with more live breaking news on this awful tragedy.
MORGAN: Breaking news, 40 more deceased en route to the medical examiner's office in Oklahoma. Churches are opening their doors to people in desperate need tonight.
Now on the phone is Senior Minister Ben Glover of the Oak Crest Church of Christ.
Welcome to you, sir. Thank you for joining me.
We just got this awful news that the death toll is rising very fast now. We believe another 40 bodies have been discovered, taking the death toll to potentially 91 people, of which at least 20 are children.
What is your reaction to what has happened in Moore today?
BEN GLOVER, SR. MINISTER, OAK CREST CHURCH OF CHRIST: It brings back some haunting memories of May of '99, when we had a similar event and our church family kind of was involved in the same way. We were the main center for the Red Cross back then.
We're not quite the main center today, but we're close enough to it that we've opened up as a shelter and we've watched people come in all day and probably 35-40 people who have been seeking a place to -- you know, their home is gone. And they're needing a place.
And it's just been devastating, but amazing to see the reaction of the community, to try to reach out and help. So been kind of a really tough, bittersweet day to see the loss.
And you talked about the children. I just walked down to where our folks are staying on the other side of the building and there's a grandmother in there. She's here because she needed a place to plug in her phone and she's desperately trying to find her granddaughter, who was at the Plaza Towers Elementary.
And you know, it's just -- your heart goes out to her. Here she is, searching, cannot find the child and I can't imagine the distress and the hurt and the struggle.
But it's also been great, too; we've literally had calls from all over the nation, folks wanting to come and help, offering funds, offering -- bringing trailers of water. We have disaster relief out of Tennessee, who is bringing a trailerload of refrigerators, stoves and mattresses and just from people around the neighborhood, just coming up and bringing bags of stuffed toys for children and water bottles and food.
It's been quite amazing to see the reaction.
MORGAN: It's great to see how people are responding there.
I've got to cut in now. Thank you so much for joining me, sir. I wish you all the very best with your community.
I'm now going to get on the phone to Amy Elliott, she's the chief of the medical examiner's office.
Amy Elliott, thank you for joining me. We've had a report in the last few minutes of 40 more bodies recovered, making it, we believe, a total now of 91 fatalities. Can you confirm that?
AMY ELLIOTT, OKLAHOMA MEDICAL EXAMINER'S OFFICE: I can confirm the 51. I have been told there are 40 more on their way here, but I can't confirm them until they get here.
MORGAN: And are you expecting the toll to rise significantly higher than that still?
ELLIOTT: Yes, sir, actually I am.
MORGAN: Have you any idea at the moment how many people in the end could have lost their lives?
ELLIOTT: I have no idea. I hope no more, but I'm sure they're coming.
MORGAN: But just to clarify, 51 have been confirmed dead and you believe 40 more bodies have been recovered?
ELLIOTT: Yes, sir.
MORGAN: Absolutely devastating.
MORGAN: What is your reaction to what has happened today, because obviously it's the third tornado to hit Moore in 14 years, a huge one in 1999. This one seems to be even bigger, even more devastating.
ELLIOTT: Yes, it's tragic. I wish that there wouldn't be any more.
MORGAN: In terms of the rescue operation at the Plaza Towers school, can you tell me anything about where you are with that?
ELLIOTT: Well, actually, we just become involved when the person passes away, so we're not involved in the rescue unit or the rescue effort.
MORGAN: Right. So you're only notified when people are confirmed as having lost their lives?
ELLIOTT: Yes, sir, that's correct.
MORGAN: And just for those viewers who are tuning in now, just to confirm -- because it's important we get this right -- 51 people have been confirmed dead including 20 children. And you're now telling us that 40 more bodies have been recovered?
ELLIOTT: Yes, sir.
MORGAN: I really appreciate you bringing us up to date. Thank you very much.
ELLIOTT: Thank you, sir.
MORGAN: Absolutely devastating update there. The number of dead almost doubling in the last few minutes from 51 to now, we believe, 91 people, including 20 children at least, probably more, given that new statistic. We'll be right back with the latest on the Oklahoma tornado.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going, I know, or not.
MORGAN (voice-over): Just check back in with CNN meteorologist Chad Myers, who has more on the tornado that devastated Oklahoma in the suburb.
Chad, very sad news just before that break there; the death toll, we believe, has now risen to at least 91 people, including 20 children. It really is a devastating incident.
MYERS: Yes, this was a very big storm. Not only that tornado but we've had severe weather in Chicago and Milwaukee and all the way down, even into Texas. So this was a big system itself, and one tornado really ran over a metropolitan area.
And just to add insult to injury, there is a brand new severe thunderstorm watch box right over the area that they're trying to get the recovery done in, and now there are more severe thunderstorms firing south of that area, moving on up toward the rescuers here south of Oklahoma City.
That would be Moore right there, north of that word Norman; and now a brand new severe thunderstorm watch box to the very early morning of tomorrow morning, like they need that just to keep them awake with thunder and lightning as they're trying to rescue some of these people that are still alive, Piers.
MORGAN: Absolutely horrendous. Chad, thank you very much.
That's all for me tonight. But stay with CNN all night long for live coverage of the devastating tornado in Oklahoma. Jon Mann and Suzanne Malveaux are coming next.