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Tornadoes Strike Mississippi; Multiple Militants Reportedly Killed By U.S. Strikes In Syria; Biden And Trudeau Build On U.S.- Canada Ties; Trump Indictment Almost Certain In Documents Probe; Russian Attacks Repelled Across Eastern Front Lines; U.S. Stocks Recover From Earlier Losses; Kids And Social Media; Winter Of Rain Eases California's Drought; Lack Of Running Water In West Virginia Town. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 25, 2023 - 04:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And welcome to all be watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

We begin with breaking news out of the southeastern U.S. where a severe storm system spawning multiple tornadoes has killed at least 11 people in Mississippi. Officials reported least eight deaths in Sharkey County, which includes the town of Rolling Fork where homes and businesses were flattened and trees and power lines were knocked down.

In Humphreys County, at least three people were killed and at least two people are in critical condition. Search and rescue teams and first responders are on the scene in the area northwest of Jackson.

And we spoke with the resident of one of the towns that was hardhit, who was on the phone with her grandmother when the tornado went through. Listen to this.


BRANDY SHOWAH, ROLLING FORK RESIDENT: You could hear the tornado in the -- you could hear the roar in the background as she started screaming for help.

And she said that, she -- once it stopped roaring, her -- she said, it's raining through my roof. It's raining through my roof.

So we rushed down to evacuate her immediately.


BRUNHUBER: Officials in Morgan County, Alabama, say first responders freed up to seven people who were trapped in a group home. And as the storm system moves east, tornado and severe thunderstorm watches are now spread across parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and into North Carolina.

Right now, more than 100,000 homes and businesses and in the South are without power.

We're joined on the line now by storm chaser Aaron Rigsby, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, just south of Rolling Fork.

Thanks for being here with us. I understand you arrived at the town literally right after the tornado touched down. It must have been absolutely terrifying. Tell me about what you saw.

AARON RIGSBY, STORM CHASER: Absolutely, this tornado was one of those tornadoes that went 0 to 100 very, very quickly. It started out just outside of town and probably about a mile southwest of the town before it was impacted as just this cylinder cone tornado.

And it quickly grew with every lightning flash into a huge, at least quarter mile wide, wedge tornado. And I actually didn't realize how close we were to the town and the path of the tornado was taking until it was too late when, across the road in front of us, that's when I could see all the debris being lofted up into the air by all of the power flashes and the lightning.

And I arrived on scene literally as the tornado had just exited town. And there was -- there was just a constant scream for help while it was pouring down, the rain, thunder and lightning still around.

And we just went to the nearest homes that, you know, that we could find. And we were pulling people out of homes. There was debris that had rained down from where their houses had collapsed on them.

One of the ladies that we helped, she was an elderly lady. It looked like she was only able to get to her living room with her walker. And she was actually blown down in her living room with the wall partially collapsed on her.

We were able to remove her and get a stretcher there and get her out of the home. And the second woman we came across, she was in the centermost room of her house and the entire house collapsed on top of her.

And a good Samaritan near us was able to loan us a chainsaw and we were able to cut part of the roof that had fallen on her away from her and free her from the home.

And that was the scene across the entire town, about the 1.5 hours that we were there, helping as many people as we could.

BRUNHUBER: Unbelievable. I mean, it's just worth pointing out, I mean, you're not a first responder; you're a storm chaser.

Why did you decide to jump in and try and help?

RIGSBY: It's just the right thing to do. This is something that comes with the territory as a storm chaser. And when we get into these situations, the first thing that needs to be done is, you know, the chase is over; drop everything that we do, because these people are going to need help.

And the -- that -- the emergency responses are just too overwhelmed. And they -- we know that they need help and we're there before they even arrive.

BRUNHUBER: Sometimes, as you know, when tornadoes hit, they will affect one house and skip a bunch of others; hit another house. But the visuals we're seeing right now, I mean, it's of a town just obliterated.

How widespread is the damage there?

RIGSBY: Unfortunately, this tornado cut right through the center of that town. I didn't see a house in the entire town that was not at least damaged to some degree. And even on like the west central part of town, there were homes completely leveled in several cases of homes being completely slabbed from their foundation.

And I guarantee that the destruction is probably going to go on. I think I've heard unconfirmed reports that I was on the ground for over 70 miles. And it also, unfortunately, impacted towns upstream of that, including Smithville as well.


BRUNHUBER: Gosh, 70 miles. That's unbelievable.

You know, are people still trapped in the debris, do you think?

I understand the first responders are still responding on the scene there. Talk us through what's happening there right now.

RIGSBY: That is correct. They're doing their walkthroughs. We saw multiple instances of a large amount of first responders, walking street to street with flashlights, looking for survivors, looking for those that are serious injury -- seriously injured, knocking on door to door, seeing who's responding, who's not responding.

I do believe that there are people still trapped in some of those homes. But I believe that they're making a lot of progress to get those people out.

The problem, this town was in such a rural area that it took quite a substantial amount of time for first responders to get up there. I mean, we were there for probably 30 or 45 minutes before ambulances and police cars started to trickle in there.

Other than that the few cop cars that were there initially as the tornado came through, so it took a pretty substantial amount of time to get help up.

BRUNHUBER: I think we might have lost storm chaser Aaron Rigsby, who was talking to us on the phone there. But we appreciate hearing from him.



BRUNHUBER: U.S. forces in Syria have again come under attack from suspected Iranian proxies. It's the latest in a long cycle of drone and rocket attacks by the militants in recent years.

American troops were targeted twice on Friday in Deir ez-Zor and Green Village. One U.S. service member was reported wounded.

Earlier on Friday the U.S. retaliated for Thursday's deadly drone attack that killed an American contractor. Numerous militants were reported killed in those airstrikes. Here is what U.S. President Biden had to say afterward.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To make no mistake, the United States does not -- does not -- emphasize -- seek conflict with Iran. But be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people. That's exactly what happened last night.


BRUNHUBER: We've got the latest now from CNN's Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the speed of the United States' response to that drone strike will have been watched very carefully from Tehran.

They will likely infer from this, as it is intended by the United States, they should infer that, should things ratchet up the United States has a list of potential targets that could damage Iranian influence and assets inside Syria.

So this will be very clearly read as a warning signal. It's very hard to get clear and accurate information, who precisely was targeted on the ground. However, local media outlets in that area of Syria, in the east of Syria are saying that the targets included a Syrian Hezbollah group facility.

This -- they also say that two Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard corps officials, people were killed, as well as eight local Iranian proxies. These details are impossible for CNN to verify. We simply don't have the people on the ground there to find that out.

But this is what's being reported locally. But there are a lot of other things that are happening in the background here that we can understand. We know that right now the United States and Iran, through intermediaries, are trying to get the release of four Americans who are being illegally held in Iranian jails. And part of the discussions here would result in a benefit for Iran.

So this would be in the background, perhaps a mitigating circumstance, potentially against deeper escalation.

As well Iran will be looking at the situation in Syria right now and understanding that Bashar al Assad is having a rapprochement with his regional Arab neighbors.

That for Iran signals a potential diminution of their influence and interest inside Syria, because these Arab neighbors would likely come into Syria and help with the reconstruction of building and have influence as they once did.

Over the past decade or so the civil war, Iran has been able to take advantage of that inside Syria, so Iran will see the situation in Syria as perhaps over time tilting against this favor.

That wouldn't explain why it struck a U.S. base but these are the things, just a couple of the things that are happening in the background in Syria right now. But the message very clear to Tehran: escalate at your peril. The United States is ready -- Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


BRUNHUBER: President Biden is back in the U.S. after a whirlwind trip to Canada and meetings with prime minister Justin Trudeau. The president and first lady arrived in Delaware late Friday night. Before departing onward, the Bidens attended a gala hosted by the prime minister.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: To the shared history and shared hope, the shared prosperity and to the shared peace and security that binds Canada and the United States together as allies, as neighbors and, most importantly, as true friends.

BIDEN: (INAUDIBLE) the family, Canada and the United States, here.


BRUNHUBER: It was reportedly a friendly and productive visit that addressed a range of issues. On Ukraine, Mr. Trudeau said the U.S. and Canada are partners that Ukraine can count on.

President Biden signaled he's not overly concerned about the growing ties between Russia and China, saying it's the U.S. and Canada that are expanding alliances.

Trudeau also said they will work toward peace and stability in Haiti as gang violence rages on in Port-au-Prince. CNN's Phil Mattingly has details on Mr. Biden's visit to Ottawa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden's 24 hour whirlwind visit to Ottawa, Canada, didn't come with major expectations. Both U.S. officials and Canadian officials made clear in the leadup to the international visit that there were significant policy issues that they wanted to discuss.

And there weren't likely to be significant policy breakthroughs. And to some degree that was true. There was an immigration deal and a critical one at that the Canadian officials have been pushing for several months.

U.S. officials finally signed on. There were some efforts to speed up NORAD spending and development on the Canadian side.


MATTINGLY: Certainly discussions about the economic and trade issues that very much animate the relationship at this point, at least in terms of their disagreements.

But more than anything else, President Biden -- and to some degree president -- or Prime Minister Trudeau -- wanted to underscore that it is a very strong alliance. It is a bilateral relationship that is both steadfast, has great history and that history is only going to lead to more in the future.

And where there are disagreements -- and there certainly are -- they will resolve them. And if they don't, they will remain friends, as President Biden put it in his speech to parliament.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Together we have built a partnership that is an incredible advantage to both our nations. That doesn't mean we never disagree, as any two countries will do from time to time.

But when we disagree, we solve our differences in friendship and in goodwill because we both understand our interests are fundamentally aligned.


MATTINGLY: That speech for the president received several standing ovations, including taking a shot at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Keep in mind, his wife was from Philadelphia and as a Flyers fan, was part of a sprint of a day.

Lengthy bilateral meetings, also joint press conference with prime minister Trudeau and then a gala dinner later before taking off for Washington, all part of a packed schedule that was to some degree delayed.

It is supposed to be traditionally the president's first foreign visit when he takes office. This was not; it was delayed. They had a virtual visit instead because of COVID. But U.S. officials and Canadian officials alike feel like it was a

productive and substantive meeting. But more than anyone -- anything else, it underscored an alliance at a very critical and challenging geopolitical moment, an alliance that has been crucial to the Western alliance efforts to support Ukraine on the lines that will become more crucial.

Just as you look the world's events over the course of the last several weeks, whether it's China or Russia or Iran, certainly there are two countries and two leaders who have made clear they will stick together, whatever happens, going forward -- Phil Mattingly, CNN, Ottawa.


BRUNHUBER: New developments in the investigations into Donald Trump. A federal judge has ordered several Trump aides to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation into the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, including former Trump White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Now coming on the same day that a former Trump attorney was compelled to testify about the handling of classified documents, you might think Donald Trump would see this as a new blow. But he says he's not worried. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You know, they bring attorneys in as though they're you know witnesses to a case?

It wasn't supposed to be that way and I'm sure it's not supposed to be. But I don't mind if people testify because if they testify truthfully, they'll see I did nothing wrong. If you look at my statements and the statements that I've made during that day and during other times, it was -- they were peaceful statements actually, peaceful and patriotic statements.


BRUNHUBER: Our Evan Perez has more on these latest developments.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A federal judge is ordering former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and a number of other senior aides to the former president to testify before a grand jury in special counsel Jack Smith's investigation.

Judge Beryl Howell rejected Trump's claim that his former chief of staff and other close aides were protected by executive privilege, a claim that the former president keeps making and he keeps losing.

Also ordered to provide testimony are former White House aides Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino, former national security adviser Robert O'Brien and Ken Cuccinelli, a former Homeland Security official. Some of these witnesses have already provided some testimony but

declined to answer some questions because of the former president's executive privilege claims. Trump's lawyers are planning to appeal the judge's ruling.

And a Trump spokesperson accused the Justice Department of, quote, "continuously stepping far outside the standard norms" in attempting to destroy the long accepted long held constitutionally based standards of attorney-client privilege and executive privilege -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: All right.

So what does all this mean for the future of the investigations into Donald Trump?

Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe offered his take on it earlier on CNN. Here he is.


ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: What we learned in this effort to pierce the attorney-client privilege between Trump and Evan Corcoran is, according to Judge Howell, the Department of Justice presented enough evidence to convince her that Donald Trump had actually committed a crime or attempted to conceal a crime in his interactions with his attorney, Evan Corcoran.

So having made that sort of an evidentiary presentation to a district court judge and having had her decision approved by the Circuit Court, it is almost impossible to imagine that Jack Smith's team will not indict Donald Trump, at least on the documents case.

They've already presented compelling evidence in the course of this motion hearing. So we're definitely past I think, a critical stage in that investigation.


MCCABE: Now with the new folks, those eight close advisers who have been -- whose claims of executive privilege have been wiped aside, at least by the trial court level, the January 6 investigation is ready to get a surge of adrenaline as well.


BRUNHUBER: Ukraine senses opportunity after months of brutal Russian attacks in Bakhmut. Why they could be about to launch a counter offensive against Russia's weakened invasion force. That's ahead.

And later, Israelis at home and in the U.K. are taking to the streets. Some members of Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet want him to back off from a proposed judicial overhaul. A report from London coming up, stay with us. (MUSIC PLAYING)



BRUNHUBER: Ukraine says Russian forces keep hitting a wall in their attacks in the east.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): This is video of fighting in the city of Bakhmut, which Ukraine says is still under Russian military pressure. But Kyiv says the invaders are not gaining any new ground, despite more than three dozen attacks across the eastern front on Friday.



BRUNHUBER: Ukraine is suggesting that the time may be right to change its defensive strategy in Bakhmut and instead level a counter strike against the Russians. Ivan Watson has more.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russia's war machine appears to be losing momentum in Bakhmut where Ukrainian commanders now exhibit optimism.

After hurling themselves for months against Ukrainian defenders in this city on Ukraine's eastern front, Russian troops and mercenaries have made on the incremental gains and suffered staggering losses.

Russian forces in Bakhmut are depleted, says one of Kyiv's top generals and the Ukrainian counteroffensive could soon be launched.

Harder to judge, the enormous sacrifice Ukrainians have made in their costly defense of this embattled city. But while Russia's efforts have slowed, they haven't stalled. Ukraine claims the area has been hit with more than 200 strikes in the last day alone.

And Russia is sending in backup to compensate for the growing losses of Wagner private mercenaries, with Russian airborne troops now playing a greater role in the fighting around Bakhmut, according to the Ukrainian military.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to say that the situation in the south has not improved in such a way we can talk about some kind of victory or anything like that in the country. The enemy is applying even more pressure.

WATSON: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this week paid tribute to the defenders of Bakhmut, visiting Ukraine's eastern front to hand out awards. The deadly grudge match over Bakhmut is far from over. The Ukrainian military says it's using the front lines of Bakhmut to bleed and exhaust the Russian army. But how long can Ukraine afford to fight a bloody war of attrition against its much larger, stronger enemy? -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine.


BRUNHUBER: And Barbie Nadeau is keeping an eye on all developments in Ukraine. She joins us now from Rome.

So first, Barbie, what's the latest on the situation in the east?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, this has been very, very relentless attacks. They say 38 attacks in 24 hours that Ukraine was able to stave off. Of course, this speaks to the importance of continuing support in terms of tanks and ammunition and air defense system that Ukraine so desperately need them is still getting from the rest of the world, especially here in Europe, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: And then, Barbie, the U.N. has issued a new report, detailing the latest ongoing human rights abuses in the war in Ukraine.

So what more are we learning there?

NADEAU: Yes, you know, they say there are 700 offenses, 600 of these carried out by Russian troops against Ukrainian troops and 91 of those from Ukraine against Russian troops that are that -- have been held as prisoners.

Now we're talking about executions, horrific conditions as laid out by the United Nations. The evidence that they're gathering, of course, right now will be used for years to come when people start to investigate the overall effects, if and when this war ends.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much, Barbie Nadeau in Rome. Appreciate it.

Just ahead, garbage is piling up on the streets of Paris as workers strike over pension reform. Why it could create a public health problem if the mess isn't cleaned up soon.

And later, I'll talk with an expert about the impact social media apps like TikTok could be having on kids. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Updating our breaking news, at least 11 people were killed in Mississippi after tornadoes slammed across the state in the past few hours, flattening homes and buildings and knocking down trees and power lines.

Officials reported at least eight deaths in Sharkey County, which includes the hardhit town of Rolling Fork. In Humphreys County at least three people were killed and at least two people are in critical condition.

Now those storms have left more than 100,000 homes and businesses without power in Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama, according to

U.S. stocks closed the week on an up note, despite lingering fears among investors about the state of the banking sector. The Dow rose about 4.4 percent on Friday, while the Nasdaq picked up 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent.

The upswing came after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter percentage point this week. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond president Tom Barkin explained why.


THOMAS BARKIN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF RICHMOND: Inflation is high. Demand hadn't seemed to come down. And so the case for raising was pretty clear.

The one thing that I hear loud and clear from everybody is that they hate inflation or they find inflation to be unfair.


BRUNHUBER: Israel's attorney general accused prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of acting illegally after he announced that he would be directly involved in his government's moves to change the judicial system.

While the prime minister was in London, his attorney general published an open letter, accusing him of breaking the law.

She said, quote, "Last night you publicly announced that you intend to violate the ruling of the supreme court and act contrary to the opinion of the legal advisor to the government. That statement is illegal and contaminated by a conflict of interest."

Opposition to the planned overhaul of Israel's judicial system continues, as thousands of Israeli protesters have taken to the streets and some military reservists are refusing to train.

Great Britain's King Charles III was forced to postpone his state visit to France because of the ongoing protests against the French government's pension reform proposal. Charles and his wife, Camilla, were supposed to be in Paris and

Bordeaux for several days but the decision to postpone was made after violence broke out in many parts of France.

The Elysee Palace said the king's state visit, quote, "will be rescheduled as soon as possible."

Now France has a garbage problem. Sanitation workers in several French cities have been on strike for several weeks, protesting the government's pension reforms. Tons of trash has been accumulating on the streets of Paris and other cities amid the walkout.

And with garbage just sitting out in the open this long, rats and public health risks aren't far behind.

Hearings on Capitol Hill this week explore the possible security threat posed by TikTok. But social media apps can also impact mental health, especially among young people. I'll speak with an expert next, coming up. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The governor of Utah signed a controversial bill into law Thursday that limits access to social media platforms for those under the age of 18.

The Utah Social Media Regulation Act requires that platforms verify the age of all Utah residents, requires minors to get consent from a parent or guardian before signing up for social media platforms and imposes a curfew between the hours of 10:30 pm and 6:30 am for anyone under the age of 18.

The law also bans all advertisements for minors and gives parents access to their kids' accounts. Now all this comes as many in the U.S. government are taking a hard look at one of the world's most popular apps, TikTok.

The company's CEO, testified on Capitol Hill for hours this week amid security concerns about the platform. Some lawmakers are also worried about the ways social media can facilitate bullying and harassment and lead to mental health concerns for some young users.


REP. FRANK PALLONE (D-NJ): Children and teens are particularly vulnerable. Frequent online use of interactive media on digital devices is associated with increased levels of depression among middle and high school students.

Research has found that TikTok's addictive algorithms recommend videos to teen that create and exacerbate feelings of emotional distress, including videos promoting suicide, self harm and eating disorders.


BRUNHUBER: And to top it all off, artificial intelligence is now impacting the online space. ChatGPT has stunned users with its ability to provide lengthy and thorough, if sometimes inaccurate, answers to questions and prompts.


BRUNHUBER: For more on this. I'm joined by Judith Donath, a faculty fellow at Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University. She's also the author of "The Social Machine: Designs for Living Online."

Thanks so much for being here with us. So there have been plenty of studies about what some see as a growing mental health crisis among youth and teens.


BRUNHUBER: But is there any evidence that social media is to blame for it?

JUDITH DONATH, FACULTY FELLOW, BERKMAN KLEIN CENTER, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: There are certain cases where there is real concern about that. For instance, the groups of girls, who are into excessive dieting, who can egg them -- each other on online.

But it's not -- I don't think it's the case that you can blame all the issues with today's concerns or worries or depression among today's youth on social media.

BRUNHUBER: But the perception is that it certainly plays a big role and that's why lawmakers are increasingly trying to take this on. Utah, for instance, tightening controls on what teens can access, imposing penalties if they violate them and allowing parents to sue.

Obviously, there are plenty of legal hurdles about the constitutionality of these laws. But it points to the growing concern that lawmakers have in the efforts to regulate away some of these harms.

Do you think measures like these would actually help?

DONATH: I don't. I think there are several reasons for that. One is, I think there's a real concern that if it's difficult for kids to access popular and well known social media sites, there will be other sites that will just appear as much more underground sites that they will access.

So I think, even if it was a good idea, it's not really a practical one. There's a lot of demonization of social media. And they can also be a force for a lot of good for kids. There's a lot of kids who have really been helped by finding groups of peers that they don't have, face to face, that they have found online. They found support. They found their communities. That there's

certainly ways that they -- the existing sites we see now have been designed that's much more for the benefit of advertisers and for extracting data, for showing ads, for keeping people online as long as possible.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, I want to ask you about that, because, I mean, we're talking about this in the context of the move to ban TikTok, which I imagine you wouldn't be behind that ban, either.

But when you're talking about these algorithms and so on, is TikTok specifically worse in terms of the algorithms that it that it uses?

DONATH: TikTok is problematic because its algorithm is so effective in keeping people online for long periods of time. I wouldn't say it's the worst. And I think there's different dimensions to look at them.

One is how much time period are you spending online?

One is, is it taking you in a direction?

There's a number of infamous studies have shown that, for instance, YouTube has had a tendency to get -- send people to increasingly extreme videos the more they look at it. There's other issues with algorithms that are designed to get people to reveal information, extract data. So there's a number of problems here.

I'm not saying that the sites are totally without them. But trying to ban them isn't necessary -- or keep kids away from them, as opposed to both improving them and helping kids use them well.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. And I want to ask you about that because, you know, if there weren't enough to worry about with TikTok and all these other things, now we have AI chatbots. I mean, you can imagine how confusing it would be to a kid.

What advice, beyond sort of trying to just limit their screen time, what advice do you have for parents out there?

DONATH: I think -- I mean, there's two big pieces. One is I think we really need to focus on emphasizing the importance of real relationships with real people so that the social media side is a addition to that.

But having just, you know, one part of it is to say, you know, really encourage your kids to have face to face friends, that social media should not be their primary social outlet.

But also from the side of the issues with the AI chatbots in particular -- and this goes for both kids and adults -- that we really need a lot more literacy about understanding what is real online.

And one of the most important things is understanding to look to the source of your information. That's something that I think everyone has to be much more serious about now, because it's going to be so hard to tell. Is that human like you're speaking to you an actual human?

Where did their words come from?

You want to know, is there some source that is going to stand by its reputation if you're getting news?

Is it a known news source?

Do you know these people before you believe things?

And then everything else you have to take with a very big grain of salt.

BRUNHUBER: So many thorny issues.


BRUNHUBER: No easy answers. But we appreciate your insights. Judith Donath, thank you so much for joining us.

DONATH: Thank you.


BRUNHUBER: Running water is something many of us take for granted. But we'll take you to one town in America that relies on this decrepit pump to keep the clean water flowing. We'll have that troubling story still ahead, stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Updating our breaking news. At least 19 people were killed in Mississippi after tornadoes slammed across the state in the past few hours, flattening homes and buildings and knocking down trees and power lines.

Officials report most of those deaths in Sharkey County, which includes the hardhit town of Rolling Fork. Carroll County and Humphreys County are also reporting fatalities. We will have more, including a look at where the storms are heading in just a few minutes.

The unusually wet winter weather in California has had one positive impact. Most of the state's drought has been wiped out and now governor Gavin Newsom is lifting some drought restrictions, including a requirement to limit outdoor watering. He also lifted an order for residents and businesses to cut their water usage by 15 percent.


BRUNHUBER: The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the storage levels in California's 154 reservoirs is now at a normal level and that doesn't include a large snowpack which will be melting over the next few months.

A lack of running water is often thought of as a problem seen in developing countries but it also exists here in the United States, the richest nation on Earth. Sara Sidner reports from West Virginia.


RANDY WHITAKER, WV RESIDENT: You can see this ceiling, you know?

One good heavy snow and we're done. This building is gone.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It looks like it's been patched up and patched up and patched up.

SIDNER (voice-over): Inside this dilapidated building, where the roof is always threatening to cave in, sits one precious item.

SIDNER: What in the heck is this?

WHITAKER: That is an old turbine pump.

SIDNER (voice-over): That decades-old pump is the only source of reliable, clean water for roughly 300 residents. It sends water through the pipes into their homes. Randy Whitaker does his best to help maintain it.

WHITAKER: If you look at the facility, you think, no.

SIDNER: You think no, I'm not drinking any of that.

WHITAKER: Right. But it meets all regulatory standards.

SIDNER (voice-over): We were there when the head of the Environmental Protection Agency got a tour of the place in December. Michael Regan's first initiative is to bring reliable, clean water to historically neglected communities across America.

MICHAEL REGAN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: I walked into a building that's leaking, that has ancient technology. And people's livelihoods are dependent upon this antiquated system. This is not what we should be having in this country. But --

SIDNER (voice-over): It is reality. And the 300 residents serviced by this pump have it good compared to thousands of residents here who rely on rain or creek water for their water needs.

SIDNER: What is one thing you don't have in this house?

SONNY BARTON, WV RESIDENT: We don't have water.

SIDNER (voice-over): Sonny Barton has lived on this West Virginia ridge for 40 years. He says their mountain community was promised pipe water when he first got here. But it never happened.

BARTON: I pump it on my truck bed.

SIDNER: Out of the creek?


SIDNER: Just straight out of the creek?

BARTON: Yes, straight out of the creek.

SIDNER: So this is your water system.

BARTON: Yes, this is my water system right here.

SIDNER: I'm assuming it starts here.


SIDNER: You go fill those up --

BARTON: Fill them up.

SIDNER: -- creek, OK.

BARTON: And I drop it off here.

SIDNER (voice-over): This is life in McDowell County, West Virginia, population 18,393.

Down in the valley --

TAMMIE BAILEY, WV RESIDENT: I put my shiplap up over top of my cabinets. I've painted my cabinets.

SIDNER (voice-over): Tammie Bailey put some serious sweat equity into her home.

BAILEY: This mining hat right here was the last mining hat my dad wore in the coal mines.

SIDNER (voice-over): Coal helped the family make a living. But they were never hooked up to a city or county water line.

BAILEY: So one day I come home and I turned my tap on -- not this faucet, of course.


BAILEY: And when I turned my tap on, this is what I got. This was my water.

SIDNER: OK. That -- you can't even see through that.

What did it smell like?

BAILEY: Nasty, rotten eggs.

SIDNER (voice-over): What's worse, when Bailey had her water tested, she says 14 contaminants were found.

BAILEY: You couldn't even flush a toilet, no kicking.

SIDNER (voice-over): And none of the 1,200 or so homes around here are hooked up to a reliable water source.

BAILEY: We're supposed to be the best country in the world.

SIDNER: The richest.

BAILEY: The richest country in the world.

SIDNER (voice-over): Some 100 years ago, some residents here were among the richest people in the United States. The county's natural resources and the workers here powered America by mining coal.

ABBY BRADSHAW, DIG DEEP PROJECT ENGINEER: We know that, historically, these coal companies and other extractive industries were the ones who paid for, operated and maintained all of these town water systems. The communities then have to rely on infrastructure that is aging, failing.

SIDNER (voice-over): One hundred years later, coal still rules here but it's a shadow of itself. So is the tax base and infrastructure generations of families rely on.

EDDIE GEORGE, DIG DEEP WATER AND SANITATION TECHNICIAN: My grandmother, this is me and her, she didn't have running water until she was 70.

SIDNER: She didn't have running water until she was 70 years old?

GEORGE: Yes, ma'am.

I see our clients and my grandmaw in about every client that we have, it's -- what fuels me to do what we do.

SIDNER (voice-over): What Eddie George does is help people in his hometown get water piped to their homes. He works for a nonprofit organization called Dig Deep. Tammie Bailey says she would still be living without clean water if it weren't for Eddie and Dig Deep.

BAILEY: I'm a single woman, one income. So I went knocking on the doors to Dig Deep and, fortunately, they answered.

SIDNER (voice-over): The cost to fix everything that went wrong, about $10,000 bucks, she says. Statistically, that's about a third of a year's wages for most people in this county where the median income is a little over $30,000 a year.


SIDNER (voice-over): But George points out that the problem isn't just about how people get water but what's in it.

GEORGE: These are what we call straight piping. It's dumping raw sewage into the stream.

SIDNER (voice-over): This lovely stream runs right through Bailey's neighborhood but every house we see has a straight pipe straight into it. The people we heard from here desperately want to be hooked up to a water system but have little hope it will happen anytime soon.

GEORGE: In an area like this, you're, I think, 13 to 14 miles away from any main water source.

SIDNER (voice-over): But Eddie George does see a trickle of hope, because, for the first time ever, the head of the EPA came to McDowell County and pledged to help fix what has been broken for far too long.

GEORGE: If you come down some of these places, you would think you was in a third world country. You would never think you was in America. Nobody should have to live like this.

SIDNER (voice-over): Sara Sidner, CNN, McDowell County, West Virginia.


BRUNHUBER: Millions of people around the world are set to mark the 16th annual celebration of Earth Hour later today. It's a way to raise awareness about climate change by turning off the lights for just one hour, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm in your local time zone.

Iconic landmarks like New York's Empire State Building, Bangkok's Temple of Dawn and the Acropolis in Greece will all go dark for one hour.

All right. I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back after this quick break with the latest on the deadly storms sweeping through the U.S. South. Please do stay with us.