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American Morning

Hurricane Dean; Virginia Tech Resumes Classes; Repeat Rally; Big Picture; Warning Texas

Aired August 20, 2007 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Picking up steam. Hurricane Dean barrels towards Mexico after leaving Jamaica in a state of emergency.
On a wing and a prayer.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was really tired at the time and she had just kind of given out.


CHETRY: Dramatic air rescues in Oklahoma after flood waters leave town under water.

Plus, walking away from disaster. The incredible pictures of a jumbo jet fire in Japan, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Those pictures are amazing. And we have more of them a little later. Thanks for being with us on this Monday. It's August 20th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rick Sanchez, sitting in for John Roberts.

Boy, a lot of stuff going on today. As a matter of fact, we're going to be taking you through the latest developments on these storms as they happen.

CHETRY: Yes, we start off with Hurricane Dean. It ripped trees from the roots, tore rooftops off homes and triggered mudslides on the island of Jamaica. Hurricane Dean passing through and is now on the move once again after brushing over Jamaica with intense winds and at least a foot of rain. Also a storm surge overnight that battered Jamaica's southern shores.

Dean is still a major category four storm. That means winds up to 145 miles per hour. You see it there on the radar. It's stronger than Katrina when it made landfall and Dean could become a category five, the most intense storm there, as it pushes towards one of the hottest tourist spots in the world. That's Cancun, Mexico.

SANCHEZ: You know it's interesting as you look at those pictures. What usually you find out about hurricanes and other storms is, you don't really see the damage until after it's passed. That's going to be the case there. We're going to be getting those reports this morning.

And we're also watching some of the reports of extreme weather right here in the United States. Dramatic flooding and rescues from Oklahoma. Take a look at this. This is a woman. She plunged back into the flood waters, bang, right there, after she falls from a rescue chopper.

All this the result of Tropical Storm Erin. That's right. You remember Erin from last week. This is really part of Erin's last stand. But this may be the worst damage thus far. Wasn't a perfect save, but it worked out in the end, at least for this woman.


MASON DUNN, KWTV HELICOPTER PILOT: They don't do this very often, so I'm sure it was a learning experience for them. But, you know, once they got the lady, the first person being rescued, up on the skid where she could sit on the skid, then that was the way to transport them.


SANCHEZ: We're going to be taking you through several scenes like that one. How's everybody doing today? Well, we will talk to the rescuers and the rescued as well. That's coming up in our next hour.


CHETRY: All right. Well, we have reporters covering every angle of this extreme weather. In fact, we have our Rob Marciano in Cancun. We're trying to get a shot from him. We're going to check in with him in a few minutes. We have Reynolds Wolf in the CNN Weather Center and Susan Roesgen is in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

And we want to remind everybody, CNN is your hurricane headquarters.

And we start with Reynolds and the path of Hurricane Dean.

Good morning, Reynolds.


Not exactly a great morning for people in the Caribbean. Dean is the most powerful storm on the planet as we speak. And I want you to take a look at the sheer size of the storm. It has passed just to the south of Jamaica. It is still surging its way west. We're expecting it to pass south of the Cayman Islands today, bringing heavy, heavy surf, heavy rainfall, incredibly strong winds. Again, we're talking about category four winds.

However, this storm is entering an area with a very minimal sheer environment, very warm water. And with that, we can anticipate the storm, at least over the next several hours, to increase in strength, possibly becoming a category five. In fact, as you take a look, as we look at the weather computer, you see the path right here.

The path is showing that the storm is forecast to come onshore south of Cancun, near the Belize coast, by 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, with winds sustained of 160 miles per hour. Then it crosses over the Yucatan, being away from its primary power source, that warm ocean water. It should weaken considerably to a category one, popping on the other side of the Yucatan by 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, then moving into the Bay of Campachi (ph) and then to the Gulf of Mexico, and then again it's going to gain a little bit of strength with winds at 105 by 2:00 a.m. Wednesday.

This is still a very powerful storm. You will get that cone of uncertainty. You need to keep in mind, don't follow that line. These storms tend to wobble. They don't move from point to point. So there is a chance, Kiran, this storm could deviate from that path, moving a bit more to the north, perhaps moving into the Gulf of Mexico. or even moving farther south into the Yucatan.

Back to you.

CHETRY: But, Reynolds, as its projected right now, it's not going to hit mainland USA?

WOLF: The way it looks right now, I don't want to get too optimistic about it, because, of course, there are many other people in the Yucatan that will be suffering from the full brunt of this. But, yes, for the time being, it does look like it's going to stay south of the United States.

CHETRY: That doesn't mean we're missing some severe weather. We certainly are here. And we'll check in with you in just a couple of minutes to get an update on that.

In the meantime, 10 inches of rain, entire towns underwater, and heart-stopping rescues all caught on tape. It's what's left of Tropical Storm Erin. Susan Roesgen is in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, an area hit very hard by the flooding.

Hi, Susan.


You know, Tropical Storm Erin just was not ready to let go. Way up here in Oklahoma, far from the Gulf of Mexico, the storm sort of regrouped, flooding streets and leading to those dramatic rescues. The local fire chief here is going to be up in the air in a helicopter again today just in case some submerged vehicles surface and they might find more victims.

One person has died in this area. Six people on all of Oklahoma. Extreme flooding. A lot of wind damage. Straight wind damage.

Local weather watchers here told me that they did not expect to see an eye on the radar, but they really think they saw what looked like a hurricane, Tropical Storm Erin, the formation of it, the remnants of it regrouping here and leading to some serious flooding. Those dramatic rescues, and, again, six people dead.


CHETRY: All right, Susan, thanks so much.

And people can't, you know, believe their eyes when they see those rescue pictures. The woman falling back from the chopper. We're going to be speaking with the rescuers and the two that were pulled out of the water a little later.

Thanks, Susan.

And right now we're going to go back to Reynolds Wolf. From Oklahoma to the upper plain states, we're still dealing with a lot of rain today and Reynolds is going to tell us how much we can expect and possibly the impact.

Hi, Reynolds.

WOLF: Kiran, we're talking about possible rainfall rates of one to two inches an hour. This is not going to mean that flooding is possible. It means that flooding is imminent.

In fact, as we go back to the weather computer, you're going to see the heaviest rain now leaving parts of the Midwest, or rather the upper Midwest from the plains. And look at these scattered showers that are popping up. Some of these very heavy.

Especially south of the twin cities where we have watches and warnings all across the landscape. South of the twin cities to Spencer, back over to LaCrosse, that will remain pretty much the big story today in terms of that weather. Even the Chicago land area, they're going to see those rainfall rates of one to two inches. That should continue through the morning commute.

From Fort Wayne to South Bend, the heavy rain continues to fall all along a stationary front. And as long as that boundary remains there, as long as that moisture continues to surge in from the Gulf of Mexico, that rain might continue. So it's going to be something we're going to have to keep a very, very sharp eye on. The Midwest as well as down in the Caribbean.

Back to you.

CHETRY: Areas that have already been devastated in the Midwest as well.

All right, Reynolds, we'll check in with you a little later. Thanks.


SANCHEZ: A lot of news that we're following this morning. There's a fire threat this morning. Fire crews say that there's a growing wildfire in the Los Padres National Forest. In fact, we've got some pictures of this. There it is. One of the largest in the state's recorded history. It started on the Fourth of July. It's now burning an area equivalent to all five boroughs of New York City. Wilderness wiped out at the rate of a thousand acres an hour, as a matter of fact. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is saying he's also declared a state of emergency for Ventura County as we follow this.

Also, no end in sight to the deadly heat wave in the southeast and Midwest. Two more heat related deaths in the Memphis area over the weekend. At least 49 people have been killed after 10 straight days of triple digit temperatures in the region.

Families of those trapped miners in Utah, they say they are outraged this morning. They accuse the mine's owners and the government officials of giving up on the rescue effort and leaving the men for dead. The mine owner told reporters yesterday that a fourth drilled hole showed that the air quality could not sustain life. Families are demanding, though, that rescuers drill another hole, one large enough to maybe be able to send some of the rescue capsules down there into the mine to see if they can get the men out. Although they even haven't found them yet. So, obviously, that would be a perilous task.

Underground tunneling was stopped after three rescuers were killed late last week.

Well, more human remains have been found two and a half weeks after the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis that we followed for you. Rescuer crews recovered a 12th body from the Mississippi River. Divers are still searching for one person. He was part of the construction team doing surface repairs on the bridge when it went down.

And this story. The nation seems to be somewhat captivated by it. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick could be facing even more charges in that brutal dogfighting case. The grand jury is scheduled to convene today. Two of his co-defendants have reached plea deals thus far. Now federal court documents say that the NFL start helped execute dogs that didn't fight well. Vick's attorneys were talking to federal prosecutors last week. They're trying to see if they can strike some kind of deal and thus far experts say it looks like it's headed in that direction.


CHETRY: Rick, thanks.

Well, it's time now to check in with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents for some of the other stories new this morning.

While students return to class at Virginia Tech today, several of them won't be. They're recovering from a carbon monoxide scare. CNN's Brianna Keilar is live in Blacksburg, Virginia, with more details for us.


Seventeen people staying in an off campus apartment complex here in Blacksburg, an apartment complex very popular with Virginia Tech students, were taken to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning treatment. Now some of them here at a regional medical center, others to the University of Virginia and Duke medical center in more serious condition. And, of course, this comes as students are back here in the Blacksburg area preparing for the beginning of the new academic year, which begins this morning.

And this comes about four months after that rampage here at the Virginia Tech campus by a senior, Seung Hui Cho, who by the end of the day on April 16th had killed 32 Virginia Tech students and taken his own life. Well, yesterday we saw thousands of Virginia Tech students, members of the faculty at the heart of the campus here at Virginia Tech, the drill field, not far from the bloodiest of those shootings at Norris Hall. They were gathered in really a sea of maroon and orange, the colors here at Virginia Tech. Really a show of unity.

And, of course, this was such a terrible tragedy that came upon this campus four months ago. But what we're seeing is this prevailing unity, this optimism for the new school year really summed up by President Charles Steger who said, our hearts have been broken, but our spirit has not been broken. And, Kiran, I should also add, that university officials say the number of students returning to Virginia Tech doesn't appear to have been negatively impacted by the events of last spring.


CHETRY: Yes, they call it the Hokie spirit and they say it lives on no matter what happens.

Brianna Keilar, thank you.

Well, investors are hoping for a repeat of Friday's big rally on Wall Street. Ali Velshi is here with that.

Hi, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, after the couple of weeks we've had, I think investors are hoping that it might just be a little bit easier today than it's been. On Friday morning we announcing a Fed rate change. They had cut the discount window, which is the rate at which they lend money to banks directly.

And that turn fortunes around for the market. Take a look at what happened. Last week we had a 230 point gain on the Dow. But for the week, all the major markets in the United States were still lower. The Dow down 1.21, the Nasdaq down 1.5, the S&P down half a percent.

But take a look at where we've been for the year. For the year, that turnaround on Friday really helped the markets. The Dow was still up almost 5 percent for the year, the Nasdaq almost 4 percent and the S&P almost 2 percent. So that's fairly significant for those of you out there who are investors.

You are not down over the year. In fact, over a 52 week period, the top 10 mutual funds in the United States are up pretty much more than 10 percent. So not altogether all that bleak. Let's see what this week holds.

We're still a few weeks away from when the Fed was actually supposed to cut rates. So we'll keep an eye on it for you this morning.


CHETRY: Sounds good. Ali Velshi, thank you so much.

Well, if you think you have a cool picture on your high def TV, Chris Lawrence has found the sharpest TV in the world. Of course it's not for watching football games, unfortunately, for you, Chris.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, not yet. It's 23 feet long, it's nine feet high and, get this, 100 times more powerful than any high def set on the market right now. Coming up later in the hour, we'll tell you how long it's going to be before your kids are watching their favorite Disney cartoons on a set like this and how scientists right now are using it for everything from medical advances to helping first responders after a disaster like a hurricane.


CHETRY: Wolf Blitzer just called. He wants it for "The Situation Room" as well.

Thanks, Chris.


SANCHEZ: Outrage and a lot of questions. Just three weeks until the 9/11 anniversary. Your "Quick Hits" right now. Investigators want to know why there was no water in the burning Deutsche Bank building near Ground Zero when firefighters went in over the weekend. Two firefighters were killed in this huge fire. A big story here in New York City. Seems to be in all the newscasts as well.

An illegal immigrant who took refuge in a Chicago church to avoid being separated from her eight-year-old son is now facing deportation to Mexico. Elvira Arellano was arrested yesterday in Los Angeles where she was campaigning for, interestingly enough, immigration reform, deported now. The church had been her sanctuary for more than a year.

Mopping up after Erin and bracing for something even worse. What FEMA's doing to try and help this time with Gulf states on alert for Hurricane Dean. Big preps. We're going to bring you to them.

Also, these amazing pictures. Take a look at this. This is a jet filled with passengers. It goes up in inflames. What's more incredible is something else that happened. How many people survived this disaster? When you look at the pictures, you wouldn't think many, right? Well, we're going to break this down for you. That's ahead right here on AMERICAN MORNING.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning. And, boy, do we have a lot of news this morning.

As a matter of fact, take a look at that. I mean just sit there and watch that thing. It's amazing to look at that and then realize some of the information that's come out of that fire. Because the information we're getting is, if you look at those incredible pictures of that jet that apparently caught on fire last night, there were 165 passengers and crew on board this China airlines jet, and yet all of them, all of them managed to escape. This as it burst into flames at an airport in Okinawa, Japan.

The Boeing 737 had just arrived on a flight from Taiwan. Officials say the plane was already being evacuated when suddenly the left engine exploded, making the fire even worse. Also, take a look at what things looked like after the flames were finally extinguished. You see that right there? The plane basically ended up as a pile of heap, all burned out, nothing more than twisted wreckage. Are they lucky or what?


CHETRY: Very lucky to say the least.

Thanks, Rick.

Well, CNN is your hurricane headquarters. We are tracking Hurricane Dean closely this morning as it makes its way toward Cancun, Mexico, as well as the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Texas, though, not taking any chances. Oil rig workers off of the Texas coast will remain offshore in Galveston until Dean passes. Delays and potential damage to the rigs could hit consumers in the pocketbooks with higher gas prices.

Well, the space shuttle Endeavour is set to return to earth tomorrow. That's a day ahead of schedule. NASA cut short the mission because of potential threat to flight operation because of Hurricane Dean.

And speaking of Hurricane Dean, this is what it looked like to the astronauts. It's actually what it looks like now to the astronauts. You can see in the lower part of the screen the big circular formation there of clouds and all of that wind and rain in there. This image with a captured from the external cameras on the International Space Station.

FEMA is warning south Texans to be ready to evacuate if Hurricane Dean makes a turn and heads their way. The government is trying to be better prepared then they were for Katrina two years ago, moving hundreds of buses, plains and helicopters into south Texas. CNN homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is live in Washington with more.

Good morning, Jeanne.


FEMA very definitely leaning forward, being what it calls prudent, coordinating planning for evacuation, shelter and emergency operations, with the states and with other agencies of the federal government. FEMA already has emergency water and food supplies in Texas. It is ready to move more, if needed. Some emergency teams have been deployed, others are on standby to help with damage assessment, communications, search and rescue and health care.

FEMA is advising people in south Texas to get ready for possible evacuations. So plan where they're going to go, how they're going to get there and what they're going to take with them. FEMA Director David Paulison says he's particularly concerned about the estimated 400,000 people living in substandard housing near the Mexican border. Many of them without any form of transportation.


CHETRY: So we have the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just weeks away and FEMA is trying to be more pro-active, it looks like, this time around. What are they doing?

MESERVE: Absolutely. I mean they have spent a lot of time and a lot of money trying to restructure the agency. They've hired people, they put new systems in place to move supplies, to do damage assessments, to take applications from people who need assistance. The next big storm will be the first real test if they've done enough and if they've done it right. It could be Dean, so they want to be absolutely right if they can be.

CHETRY: Jeanne Meserve in Washington for us this morning.


MESERVE: You bet.

SANCHEZ: Let's talk now about getting physical in your "Quick Hits." Elementary school kids in Florida are now going to have gym class every single day. Today is the first day of classes there. And a new state law is kicking in requiring kids to spend an average of 30 minutes a day doing some type of physical activity.

Good news. A Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakia is a politician keeping a promise. There he is. He told a local chapter of the American Cancer Society that he'd shave his head if they met their fund raising goal of $750,000. So, he shaved his head. And he kept this -- boy, he had a lot of locks, too, didn't he?

CHETRY: He looks like a tough guy now. Maybe he'll get more done, you know, in Congress. Maybe they'll be afraid of him.

SANCHEZ: Or they'll make a new "Cojack" show for him or something.

Revenge of the Nerds. "Superbad" does super good at the box office. That's right. Who are these geeks now having the last laugh. Our Lola . . .

CHETRY: Ogunnaike.

SANCHEZ: Thank you. Goes along for a ride on the -- thank you for coming through for me there again -- the "Superbad" bus. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Well, a murder plot involving rattlesnakes topping your "Quick Hits" now. The Colorado Bureau of Investigations is calling it one of the strangest case they've ever seen. They arrested two men who they say were trying to collect a $60,000 poker bet. Cops say they were going to build a wooden snake pit and leave the victim in there until the rattler killed him. Bail is now set at $500,000 for the duo.

And a possible shark attack near Miami. The victim says he was swimming when he was struck in the side. He managed to make it back to shore and drive to a nearby police station. He had a huge gash from under his arm, all the way to his waist.

SANCHEZ: You know what's amazing about that story is, you read that the guy would go swimming just about every evening around the same time.

CHETRY: Isn't that when they feed?

SANCHEZ: Exactly. They're called nocturnal eaters. And apparently it came up and bit him in the side. Now, you know, they're saying it's a shark. Maybe it wasn't. It could have been any other kind of critter down there. But, boy, not a good situation for him, huh?


And how about this one? News about John Mark Karr. He's the one who gained international attention when he claimed that he was involved in JonBenet Ramsey's murder. Well one year ago today he was arrested in Thailand, extradited back to the U.S. You remember all the buzz about that plane ride back.

Well, DNA evidence refuted his story and now he's in the headlines once again engaged to a 23-year-old who sent him letters after he made headlines. They now live together with the woman's three-year-old daughter.

SANCHEZ: You know, some guys just like to see themselves on camera. And I suspect that he's one of those. CHETRY: Yes, I cannot quite -- I just never understand these women that send letters to like the Menendez brothers and want to get married.

SANCHEZ: They fall in love with them in prison, as a matter of fact, don't they?

CHETRY: Well, here's a story coming up that you can't miss. We're talking about the perfect picture. The world's biggest TV. This has got to be a guy's dream during football season.

SANCHEZ: A gadget thing, right? This isn't for watching movies or sports, though. We're going to show you how this massive wall of television that you're seeing right there could even help cure some diseases.

CHETRY: How about that one?

All right. All that, plus all eyes on Hurricane Dean. We're tracking the storm for you when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


CHETRY: Well, welcome back. It's Monday, August 20th. Glad you're with us. I'm Kiran Chetry.

SANCHEZ: KC, as a matter of fact. I'm Rick Sanchez, in for John Roberts.

A lot of news going to be taking place this morning.

As a matter of fact, we're really going to get a sense today of what's going on with this Hurricane Dean that's whipping down through the Caribbean because you don't really get a chance to see the damage after it's gone.

CHETRY: Right. And we're talking about Jamaica. And, boy, they got a ton of rain there. Some very high winds. Landslides even. And we're expecting to get those pictures in any moment.

But meantime, Hurricane Dean could grow to a category five. And we are closely watching it. CNN is your hurricane center. It's a category four now and it's delivering a blow to the Grand Cayman Islands, on its way to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. As we said, it already hit Jamaica, leaving mudslides and flooding in its wake.

We're heading to meteorologist Reynolds Wolf, who has been tracking from the CNN Weather Center, the latest path of Hurricane Dean.

Good to see you this morning, Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good to see you too. I wish I had better news. But you're right. This storm is expected to strike. It's moving into very warm water and a minimal sheer environment, which means Dean will have every opportunity to grow, and that's what we're forecasting.

In fact, take a look at the storm right now. It's kind of hard to miss from high in space. Here's the satellite image. The storm now leaving Jamaica in its wake, where it caused widespread devastation. Now moving in the Cayman Islands. Right now in the Cayman Islands, they're receiving gusts of 49 miles an hour and heavy surf.

What we can anticipate with the storm, the latest path from the National Hurricane Center brings the storm to the west and coming to the south of Cancun and south of Cozumel. In fact, we should expect this storm to be making landfall around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday as a Category 5 storm. Again, a Category 5 storm. And then crossing over the Yucatan Peninsula, weakening considerably because it will be away from its chief supply of energy, the warm water. By the time it pops over the other side of the Yucatan, it should be downgraded to about a Category 1 with maximum sustained winds at 85 miles an hour, then back to the Gulf of Mexico where it should strengthen but not a great deal. Not going to have a whole lot of time to get back to Category 5 status, but at least a Cat 2 with winds of 105 miles an hour.

Rick, back to you.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Reynolds Wolf, following that for us. Thanks so much.

Kelly, put the loop back up. I want to see if we can talk about what's going on in Jamaica right now.

See the island of Jamaica? Watch the hurricane. You're going to hear a lot of people say, it kind of missed Jamaica. Not really. Here's why. See the hurricane as it twists? Look at the top bands. You see those bands? They're going from the right of your screen to the left of your screen. Right there from the right of your screen to the left of your screen. That means this hurricane is literally pushing a wall of water along with winds into Jamaica. In other words, if Jamaica was underneath this storm, it wound not have gotten this effect. But because it's on top of this storm, it's getting a lot of this effect. How much? We're going to know real soon here.

As a matter of fact, we might get some indications because Susan Candiotti is standing by. She's in Montego Bay. She's been following the storm and she can join us now to let us know what kind of damage and reports we're getting from the area.

Take it away, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: If you were in Kingston, for example, and maybe 50 miles north of the heart, the eye of the storm, we were getting descriptions, I did, from people who were there, who called it fierce and absolutely scary -- those people in the emergency operations center. They are experiencing mostly wind damage, more so than flooding, although there is both. A lot of roofs ripped off the top of businesses, as well as homes. We did hear about a home that collapsed. Fortunately, no serious injuries and they even have had some looting in a shopping center. No arrest, as far as we know.

There is a curfew that remains in effect on the island, just to be safe. Remember, they wisely cut off electricity throughout Jamaica, to cut the power supply, to save the power grid. So we still don't have any lights at all. We do know 3,000 people showed up in shelters across the island as well.

This morning, planners are getting together. They will be going out to assess damage once the sun comes up to see exactly how Jamaicans fared. Back to you Rick.

SANCHEZ: With these mudslides, when you think of the topography of Jamaica, it's got some areas that are probably going to be having a lot of this rain pushing down a lot of the mud. That will be a potential problem there. I'm not sure if you can hear me or not, Susan. Can you?

CANDIOTTI: Yes, I do. Yes, I do.

SANCHEZ: Oh, good, because I was told that we were having...

CANDIOTTI: Yes, I do hear you, Rick.

SANCHEZ: I was told that we might be having some problems with that. What can you tell us about the mudslides? How far inland is that? And what kind of effect might we see from it?

CANDIOTTI: We're trying to find that out from emergency disaster preparedness people, still having trouble getting a hold of them this morning. When I last spoke with them late, late last night, they said they were experiencing some of that but even they don't know for sure because it was far too dangerous to get out there and get first hand reports of what that is. Now that the sun is going to come up, they will start to do that. They again emphasize they think most of the damage is wind. Some flooding, yes, but we have to see as the day goes on.

SANCHEZ: You and I have covered these things in south Florida. What we think at the beginning changes, as was the case with Andrew, remember?

Susan Candiotti following things for us. This is amazing, from a Category 4 -- this thing could turn into a Category 5, Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes. It picks up steam as it makes its way through the open waters. And from Susan in Jamaica to Rob Marciano, in Cancun, Mexico. He is in Cancun, Mexico, the next area expected to take a big hit.

Actually, you already look wet.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm sorry, Kiran, what did you say?

CHETRY: Are you just sweating or are you getting rain on you? MARCIANO: A little bit of both. No, it's some sea spray right now. It's not raining just yet. It is warm and humid as part of the fuel for the fire with these storms. We're on the beach in Cancun, awaiting the arrival of this storm which, at the moment, looks like it's going to come to the south. That puts us on the dirty side or the stronger side of this storm and concerns a lot of folks.

If it does strengthen into a Cat 5, it wouldn't be the first time a Cat 5 has struck the Yucatan Peninsula. This is one of the few places in the world that has seen a Category 5 make landfall. The last time that happened was back in 1988, Hurricane Gilbert, at the time, the strongest pressure-wise hurricane ever. And then along came Wilma back in 2005, exploding off the coast here and raking this coastline for 26 hours straight. Over 90 percent of the tourism infrastructure damaged or completely destroyed. Miles of beaches ripped away. They spent millions upon millions of dollars trying to repair these beaches.

Right now, you can see, we're right at the high water mark as the tide rolls in here. This is all the beach you get. Typically, in a lot of Cancun, in some spots, it may be 20 to 30 yards, maybe 50 yards wide. But the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico has literally eaten away at this sand. And that's gong to be a huge concern when the storm comes in south of here.

Tourists, by the way, are leaving by the thousands. And we'll see you later on today. We'll check with the airlines, if they can get everybody out. Some people may have to drive inland to escape this storm -- Kiran?

CHETRY: We know Cancun is no stranger to storms and that they do seem to really rebound rather quickly. Are these areas prepared for a Category 5, Rob?

MARCIANO: I don't think anybody's truly prepared for a Category 5, as this water continues to encroach upon me. They're doing all the things you think happen in the states. They go to the stores. They strip the stores of water and canned goods, all the things you need to be prepared when the power goes off and you're cut off as far as supply lines go. And they're boarding up their windows. They're doing everything that you would see in the states. But as far as even a Cat 4 storm, I don't really think you can prepare for that. You just do the best you can and then duck your head as this thing comes in.

CHETRY: All right. That's what you will be doing. We'll be checking in with you throughout the day. Rob, take care and thanks for checking in with us.


SANCHEZ: You know what's amazing? As we follow the situation in the Caribbean, we're also following the remnants of a storm that just came through here. Remember Erin? It's a second effort by rescue teams in Oklahoma. We have some pictures we want to show you. They had to save the same couple twice from floodwaters after they fell out of a helicopter.

All of this was caught on tape and Susan Roesgen is live with us. She is in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. It's been in the news for several days now.

Bring us up to date, Susan. Tell us how this all went down.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing right in front of one of the flooded neighborhoods, Rick. We had power outages, strong dangerous winds, evacuations, floodings. You know that Oklahoma is in Tornado Alley, but this was not a tornado. This was what was left of a tropical storm.


ROESGEN (voice-over): They say no man is an island, but standing on a rooftop, surrounded by water, this man was. By Sunday afternoon, the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin were headed out of Oklahoma but the water just seemed to keep coming and coming and coming.

In the small town of Kingfisher, heavy rains caused the creek to rise 25 feet. The town got nine inches of rain in just a few hours.

In Oklahoma City itself, helicopters rushed in to rescue people, often having to hover inches above the choppy waters. Not easy.

JOE HOWARD, RESCUE PILOT: Oh, no. That's exactly what I did not want to see.

ROESGEN: Seconds after being plucked to safety, this woman fell right back in. They got her the second time around.

HOWARD: We were trying to give her the best -- you know, trying to get her to hold on the best she could. She was really tired at the time and she had just kind of given out, let her arms go.

ROESGEN: Another man managed to pull himself onto the chopper's skid but his pants almost didn't make it. Other people depended on boats to save them from rooftops. Even crews going out on jet skis.

Some rescue and relief workers just couldn't get where they needed to because the roads were impassable.

A.J. CLEMENS, RED CROSS: Highway 66 is flooded. There's a lake a mile wide, a mile east of 81. I-40 is shut down. We just can't get there to help the people that are in need.

ROESGEN: And one more problem. At the peek of the storm, about 25,000 people lost power. It's too early to estimate how much damage has been done.


ROESGEN: In fact, the fire chief in Kingfisher County plans to go up in a helicopter at daylight, Rick, to get a look at the damage. He's very concerned that with so many cars swept off the roads in the flooding that wasn't really expected here, there might be more fatalities. Six people killed in this state, one person in this county. And most fatalities were people swept off the road in their cars -- Rick?

SANCHEZ: You know what's amazing about this? You look at those pictures that Susan was just showing you. That's Erin. Erin was barely a tropical storm when it went through that region. And we're talking about a Cat 5 potentially hitting Cancun. That tells you the dramatic difference in those two storms. We'll be watching it closely for you.

Thanks so much, Susan.

And by the way, we're going to be talking to some of the rescued and some of the rescuers on that in just a little bit.

See that right there next to me? You see that little square? We're gong to keep that up for you because we're watching the storm diligently. It's leaving Jamaica, heading for the Caymans, eventually to Cancun. And, again, this thing could be a Category 5 hurricane before it's all said and done. Another coming your way at 8:00. We'll have it for you, Kiran.

CHETRY: Meanwhile, we take you to Utah where the families of the trapped miners are outraged this morning. They're accusing the mine's owner and government officials of giving up on the rescue effort and leaving the men for dead.

One mine owner told reporters yesterday that a fourth hole drilled showed that the air quality could not sustain life. Families are demanding rescuers drill a hole large enough to send a rescue capsule into the mine.

In fact, their attorney spoke out last night.


SONNY OLSEN, ATTORNEY FOR MINER FAMILIES: We continue to sit and wait. We are at the mercies of the officials in charge and their so- called experts. Precious time is being squandered here and we do not have time to spare. We must utilize the rescue capsule.

In the beginning, Bob Murray reassured the families with promises that he would get the miners out dead or alive. It's time to live up to that promise.


CHETRY: Underground tunneling was stopped after three rescuers were killed late last week.

And miner families are also furious in China. They're demanding answers after 181 men were trapped underground by a flood Friday. China's Work Safety Branch says it's pumping the water out but that there is no sign if the miners are dead or alive. Some pictures just coming into us here at CNN of a fire burning near a truck depot in Woodbridge, New Jersey right now. These pictures coming to us courtesy of our affiliate, WABC. We're getting reports a diesel truck may have blown up in the past few minutes. We have not heard yet if anyone is hurt. But there you see smoke rising up. Obviously some rescue crews on scene of that fire.

SANCHEZ: Are they talking about a tanker? Is that what they're saying is going on there? Was it carrying fuel when it blew up?

CHETRY: Not sure.

SANCHEZ: I covered a story once.

CHETRY: A diesel truck.

SANCHEZ: A diesel truck.

CHETRY: Not a tanker. This is a truck depot in Woodbridge, New Jersey. You see them lined up this morning.

SANCHEZ: Where they are on the left, exactly. It's hard to tell from the smoke how much damage was done. I know it depends how much fuel as well has blown. If it was enough, it does a lot of damage. There you go. Now, we're seeing flames. See it right there? Now, we're starting to see some of the flames in the area. We don't know exactly where this truck is, but obviously this is one we're going to be keeping an eye on. I see you diligently tapping away there.

Yes, our producers just got word this fire is under control. So we're seeing the last remnants of the flames being put out. They do have it under control but, as you know, when you're doing with gasoline or diesel, it's more difficult.

SANCHEZ: As I was looking at the pictures, you were looking for some research on it. It looked like it was far enough away from the building that it didn't do much that much damage.

CHETRY: We'll come back to that if we find out more details.

Meantime, one of the biggest, clearest pictures in the world. Chris Lawrence and the highest of high def and what researchers are learning from it.

Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, you love your big screen TV? Thinking about upgrading to high def? How big and clear do you want it? Coming up, we're going to tell you why this screen is not only making couch potatoes extremely jealous, but helping scientists save lives. All that and more coming up after the break on this "AMERICAN MORNING."


CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news of the morning. Many of us have not even bought a high def TV yet. But at the University of California, Irvine, they have already been watching something 100 times better than high def. "AMERICAN MORNING'S" Chris Lawrence is live in Irvine to explain.

Hi, Chris.

LAWRENCE: Hey, Kiran, not only can it make one image extremely big, you can look at a lot of different images in very good detail and with the naked eye. We have you in broad living color, life size, if not a little bit bigger, multiple monitors that scientists can look at. We'll tell you a little bit about how they're using this to get at some important medical discoveries.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Picture Disney's hit movie "Cars" on a screen 23 feet long and nine feet high, 200 million pixels, the images 100 times sharper than the best high def TV.

On a normal screen, zoom in, you lose the context. Zoom out, you lose detail.

STEPHEN JENKS, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE: The intent of the hyper wall was to show the big picture and the detail at the same time.

LAWRENCE: In the aftermath of Katrina, roads were flooded and blocked by debris and maps were useless. But hyper wall gives a detail down to the street look at the entire Gulf Coast.

JENKS: This could help first responders figure out where to go and where roads are impossible.

LAWRENCE: Scientists at U.C., Irvine, are using hyper wall to map earthquakes in South America and study patients suffering from depression.

DR. JIM FALLOW, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE: You really see different things. Patterns come out that you wouldn't see on a small scale in that one level of resolution.

LAWRENCE: Within minutes, they're discovering genes and brain patterns that took months to find.

FALLOW: This not only saves a lot time but it saves suffering of people.

LAWRENCE: And more good news.

JENKS: There's no reason this can't be in somebody's living room in 10 or 15 years.

LAWRENCE: New technology will eliminate the edges that split up the screens. Picture an unobstructed wall paper display that constantly changes your view. How about an aerial shot of the Empire State Building or if you live in landlocked middle American, an ocean view of Australia?

JENKS: We'll be able to make huge rolls of this stuff to put on your wall and have many tens or hundreds of megapixels at home.


LAWRENCE: Just what every wife sitting at home wants to hear, another possibility that her husband probably will never leave the den again -- Kiran?

CHETRY: That's right. It is really cool. I can see you behind you as well and then behind you again. Pretty neat.

LAWRENCE: The thing about this, it's too much of me. I liked it a lot better when it was you up there. I got to tell you, you're not getting the full effect. Obviously, it's getting shot through our normal cameras, a lot of this getting played on a normal TV set. If you can see it with the naked eye, once high def comes on line, you will really be able to see how mind blowing this picture is, even at the size it is.

CHETRY: Really cool. Chris Lawrence at the University of Irvine, California. Thanks.

SANCHEZ: And if his name was Figaro, you could sing it.

CHETRY: I tell you, Wolf Blitzer will be calling any minute. He wants that.

SANCHEZ: I want that.

There's a link between alcohol and strokes, did you know? It tops our "Quick Hits." A study out of China suggesting heavy drinkers, men who have at least 35 -- that's a lot -- 35 alcoholic drinks in a week -- that would be more than five a day -- increased their risk of stroke by more than 20 percent. You probably increased your risk of just about everything else as well.

Family, it turns out is the key to happiness for young people. A study by MTV and the Associated Press asked people 24 to 34, what makes you happy? The answer, spending time with family was the top answer. I hope my kids say that if they're ever asked. Followed by spending time with friends as well.

The little movie that could and did. The super geeks of "Superbad" ruled the box office. Meet the next generation of geeks on "AMERICAN MORNING."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. Those pants make is so sweet.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My brand new fake I.D.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. You changed your name to -- Mick Lovein?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't even have a first name. It just says McLovin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guys either going to think here's another kids with a fake I.D. or here's McLovin, the 25-year-old Hawaiian organ donor.



SANCHEZ: Move over "Napoleon Dynamite. There's a seen from "Superbad," this weekend's box office winner. It took the film community by storm. Over $31 million was made for a mere $20 million we understand. Question. Who are these chubby dorky geeky guys who seem to now be ruling Hollywood?

Our entertainment correspondent Lola Ogunnaike took a ride with the gang on the "Superbad" tour bus.


LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The film is really raunchy. There are a lot of words you can't say on our CNN network, on a lot of daytime networks.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was wearing tight white pants with this black g-string. You could see right through the pants. So sweet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just trying to accurately portray how teenagers talk to each other. Believe it or not, that's how kids actually talk to each other.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know when you hear girls saying, I was so gone last night, I shouldn't have slept with that guy, we could be that mistake.



SANCHEZ: Is this like a bunch of B actors? People we have never heard of before?

OGUNNAIKE: Totally a bunch of B actors. You've never heard of them before, but they have appeared everywhere. They're not household names yet but they soon will be. You've got Jonah Hill. You've got Seth Rogan, Judd Apatow. None of those names mean anything to you, right now, I know. But they are in two of the highest grossing films of the summer. They were in "Knocked Up" as well and now they're in this. And this is doing remarkably well, $30 million, made for $20 million.

SANCHEZ: Good them and good for all kids and kids with bad hair. We appreciate it, Lola. Thanks.

Wait, one more thing?

OGUNNAIKE: There's a lot more I wanted to talk about, but you're already done with me, Rick? I can't believe it.

SANCHEZ: It's not my fault. Don't put it on me. Kiran, back over to you.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks, guys.

Well, Hurricane Dean running wild in the Caribbean, picking up speed, closing in now on Mexico. There is a look at the track. You can see it is a big storm. In fact, it could grow to a Category 5, as we see it sweep underneath the Cayman Islands, on track to hit the Yucatan Peninsula.

We're going to be getting live reports from Jamaica, already hit with Hurricane Dean, and Cancun. Plus, Reynolds Wolf with the latest forecast, coming up on "AMERICAN MORNING."


CHETRY: Hurricane Dean's Caribbean nightmare, pounding Jamaica, barreling toward Mexico. And it could blow up into a Category 5, the strongest, today.

Hang on to dear life.


HOWARD: Oh, no. She was really tired at that time.