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New Day Sunday

Police Arrest Man Suspected In Series Of Killings; Biden To Focus On Abortion Rights In Speech 3 Weeks Before Election Day; Biden: Case Made By Jan. 6 Committee "Fairly Overwhelming"; Sky-High Prices Causing More Americans To Turn To Food Pantries; Four Bodies Pulled From Oklahoma River Amid Search For Missing Men; NYC To Open Center For Migrants By End Of The Month; Two Schools In Zaporizhzhia Region Hit By Russian Missiles; Russian Military Training Center, 11 People Killed and 15 Injured. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired October 16, 2022 - 07:00   ET



COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: So down come the goalposts and the fans take these things on a journey. They go through the tunnel out of the stadium into the streets of Knoxville and eventually into the Tennessee River for the best victory back ever again. How about this, Syracuse Orange now, Boris, beating number 15 N.C. State Coach Babers has their Orange 6 and 0 for the first time in 35 years. You were like --


WIRE: -- one-year-old at the time, bro.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Coy, you are trolling me right now. I was hoping we will get some Syracuse Orange highlights. We got the wrong orange. We got the Tennessee Volunteers in there.

WIRE: This is like the longest tease ever next week.

SANCHEZ: Next week against Clemson.

WIRE: You got it, baby.

SANCHEZ: We got to win, though. I don't want highlights of a loss.

Coy Wire, thank you so much. The next hour of New Day starts right now.

Buenos dias. Good morning and welcome to your New Day. I'm Boris Sanchez.

WALKER: Good morning, Boris. I'm Amara Walker. This morning, an alleged serial killer is off the streets.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suspect's reign of terror in our community has come to an end. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: How police were able to track him down as they say he was on the hunt for his next victim.

SANCHEZ: Plus, the rising cost of inflation. How the skyrocketing price of all the essentials is pushing more people to seek help and how the organizations tasked with helping them are now straining.

WALKER: New York City has seen a surge of migrants in recent months. How the city is handling the influx and how they're hoping the federal government will step in.

SANCHEZ: And the Mighty Mississippi running dry as water levels plunge to their lowest level in two decades. New Day starts right now.

Sunday, October 16th, we're grateful you're starting this week with us. Thanks so much for being with us. Good morning, Amara.

WALKER: Hi, Boris. It's good to be with you.

SANCHEZ: Yes. We begin this morning with relief for some neighbors in Stockton, California after police arrested a man, they say, was on a mission to kill.

WALKER: Yes. Six men were killed and a woman injured in a series of shootings over the past year that left Stockton on edge. Investigators believe this arrest prevented what could have been another killing. CNN is Camila Bernal with more.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amara, Boris, we have been following this story for days and now authorities say they believe they have their suspect. This is 43-year-old Wesley Brownlee of Stockton. And what authorities are saying is that they were able to arrest this man, thanks to two things, the first being the tips and the help from the community. And the second being old fashioned police work.

They say they were able to zero in on one possible suspect. Thanks to all of these tips. And they began following this man trying to figure out exactly where he was going, trying to see if there were any patterns to all of this. And the chief of police in Stockton saying this man was on a mission to kill. Saturday at around 2:00 in the morning, they were following him. They say he left his house. He was in dark areas. Going to parks, stopping, looking around then moving again and they decided to arrest him.

They say that he was wearing all black, that he had a mask around his neck, and also that they found a gun. He was carrying a gun. Here is now what the mayor of Stockton, Kevin Lincoln is saying about all of this.


MAYOR KEVIN LINCOLN, STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA: We will use every resource at our disposal to make sure the people of our city are protected, it feels safe. And that no parent has to worry about taking their kids to a park, that nobody would have to worry about looking over their shoulder when they go to the grocery store. And that our unhoused population here in the city of Stockton will be able to rest a little bit easier tonight as we take the next steps towards getting them help in healing in their life.


BERNAL: And authorities say they will announce the charges on Tuesday when this man is first set to appear in court. In terms of the motive, the chief of police still saying they do not know and do not have a motive. Amara, Boris?

WALKER: Camila, thank you.

Now Stockton's mayor says hundreds of tips have poured in from members of the public and that information was crucial in making his arrest. Last hour, I spoke with Tom Verni, a former NYPD detective, about the importance of getting help from the community.



TOM VERNI, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: This was a case that was brought together by literally old school police tactics, right? You know, today's day where we have, you know, all sorts of electronic means and DNA and all those types of things, which may also play a part in this case, at some point. It's the, you know, piecing together critical pieces of information, getting feedback from the community, which in many, many ways in all parts of the country, that's how crimes are solved is when, you know, something happens.

The police put information out there, and they put out a, basically, a help, you know, lifeline, and then the community responds. Based on the tips that are given by the public, days that people see someone like this, you know, the way that they're acting, what they're wearing, and so forth, you know, these little crumbs of information, by themselves don't necessarily mean all that much hype (ph).

But when you start to connect the dots, it starts to add up to areas that they can concentrate on. Descriptions of people that they're given that they can look at, based on what they look like or based on what they're wearing. And that's exactly what happened here.


SANCHEZ: So, the midterm elections are a bit over three weeks away and all over the map, candidates are hitting the campaign trail, trying to energize their supporters. And Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman received an energetic welcome at a rally in Wallingford. Fetterman is running against Mehmet Oz for the U.S. Senate.

WALKER: And in the high stakes U.S. Senate race in Georgia, Herschel Walker was back on the campaign trail yesterday after his debate with Senator Raphael Warnock. Georgia is one of the key races that could determine who gets control of Congress. Democrats are bringing out the heavy hitters as they tried to hang on to control. Former President Barack Obama plans to campaign in Georgia and Michigan in the final weeks before Election Day.

And first on CNN, President Joe Biden plans to keep the focus on abortion rights in a speech just three weeks before Election Day.

SANCHEZ: The President said to speak at a Democratic National Committee event on Tuesday. He's hoping the abortion issue will galvanize voters ahead of the midterms. Let's take you now to Wilmington, Delaware where President Biden is spending the day. And CNN White House Reporter Jasmine Wright, who joins us now live. Jasmine, the President focusing on the issue of abortion rights. But poll after poll indicates that the top issue for voters in this election cycle is the economy and inflation.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Boris. And those two things, the economy and inflation, are going to be what the President has to confront this week. A busy week for him that is dedicated in part to campaigning for Democrats before the midterm elections. On Thursday, we'll see -- we will see him at Pennsylvania for finance event for John Fetterman. We just talked about that Senate candidate.

But on Tuesday, of course, it's going to be that big speech and this will be the fourth or fifth big speech on abortion the President has given since Roe v. Wade was overturned over the summer. Of course, he and the White House are hoping that it brings Democrats to the table, to the voter booths trying to get them energized for the Democratic Party ahead of the midterm election. But, of course, that doesn't exactly jive with what we are seeing that Americans truly, truly care about on the ground.

A recent CNN poll showed that the economy remains a central focus for voters with 90 percent of registered voters, as you can see on the screen here, saying it was extremely or very important to their vote. Fewer than 72 percent -- fewer, excuse me, fewer than 72 percent said abortion was as important, but, of course, there's a lot of the place where this administration is putting their eggs in the basket.

Now, asked about the U.S. dollar and the strength of the U.S. dollar on Saturday in Portland, the President said that he wasn't concerned about it and said he was concerned about foreign countries and their economic policies. But, of course, it's not exactly sure how that sentiment jives with American voters as they feel really that tightness in their wallets. Boris, Amara?

WALKER: And Jasmine, the President also spoke about the January 6 committee recently, what is he saying about that?

WRIGHT: Yes, and it was his most definitive comments on the January 6 hearing so far. The President and the White House has tried to maintain some distance from it saying that they don't want to look like they're interfering with the Department of Justice with their own separate inquiry into it, saying they want to be distinct from their predecessors. But, of course, the President sounded off yesterday at an ice cream shop in Portland and he had to say this. Take special attention to what he says when he says about whether or not the case was made.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The testimony and the video are actually devastating. And I've been going out of my way not to comment, we'll see what happens. But it's -- I think it's been devastating. I mean, the case have been, it seems to me, fairly overwhelming.



WRIGHT: So there you heard the President using that devastating word to talk about it. Now he declined to go any further, but he also mentioned to reporters there that he had not had any conversations with Attorney General Merrick Garland about this at all. Boris, Amara?

WALKER: All right, Jasmine Wright, thank you so much.

SANCHEZ: Some new data this morning is showing just how bad inflation is getting. According to the consumer price index, food prices in the United States are up more than 11 percent compared to September of last year.

WALKER: Oh wow. And with prices rising at a historic rate, more and more Americans are turning to food pantries to feed their families. CNN's Nadia Romero visited one Atlanta church that has served more than 1 million people in need since the early days of the pandemic.


NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of families lined up for help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you doing?


ROMERO (voice-over): Some of them, four hours before this drive-thru food pantry started at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in a suburb of Atlanta over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, take care, babe.

DR. JAMAL BRYANT, SR. PASTOR, NEW BIRTH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH: You have absolutely no idea how many people are suffering in silent, having no clue as to how they're going to feed and take care of their families.

ROMERO (voice-over): Every Saturday since January 2020, back then, just 30 cars per week, but now up to 3,000 cars a week.


ROMERO (voice-over): The pandemic and rising inflation providing a one-two punch on people's wallets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the pandemic and and everything is going up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Double and triple. I paid 85 cents a dozen at Lidl for eggs and now they're $3. It's crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Real ridiculous, you know. We go in the supermarket and things get too expensive.

ROMERO (voice-over): Food prices more than alarming especially for families living paycheck to paycheck. Last month, the bureau of labor statistics showing just how much staple goods will cost you this year compared to 2021. Bread jumped 16 percent, milk of 17 percent, flour 23 percent more expensive, and egg prices with the most dramatic increase of nearly 40 percent. Inflation, a big talking point on the campaign trail as we near the midterm elections.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How to budget in a way that doesn't run away to create runaway inflation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The out-of-control inflation.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Inflation is a global problem.

ROMERO (voice-over): Off the campaign trail and back to the food line. Priscilla Ward and her sister Brenda Billings getting the surprise of a lifetime. The sisters are the 1 million family who came through the drive-thru pantry at this church since January 2020. Ward and her sister will take home healthy produce, small appliances and a $1,000 cash prize for helping the church hit this mark Ward says she has several growing grandchildren she helps feed.

PRISCILLA WARD, FOOD PANTRY RECIPIENT: And they walk in the door, grandma, I'm hungry. So I said, let me see what grandma will got. They always say, grandma, you always have something.

ROMERO (voice-over): For her sister, it's been a rough last few years.

BRENDA BILLINGS, FOOD PANTRY RECIPIENT: I had cancer twice, colon cancer, breast cancer. I'm a cancer survivor. And right now, God brought me through a whole lot.

ROMERO (voice-over): Tears and cheers as these two special recipient and others in line get the help they need from this church and partners like World Vision.

BRYANT: My grandmother taught me a principle that when it's family, it's not charity.

ROMERO (voice-over): Nadia Romero, CNN, Lithonia, Georgia.


WALKER: Just heartbreaking hearing the stories. And look, there's more bad news because the cost of heat is likely to soar this winter, and that is according to a forecast from the Energy Information Administration, the EIA. Based on current estimates, heating a home with natural gas will cost about $200 more on average during the coming months, with electric heating expected to jump 10 percent this year or around $123.

Here with me now to discuss this further is Mark Wolfe, he is the Executive Director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association. Mark, a pleasure to have you on. Good Morning. What is behind the rise in heating prices this year?

MARK WOLFE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ENERGY ASSISTANCE DIRECTORS' ASSOCIATION: There are a number of reasons that are causing heating prices go up this year, especially for natural gas. You know, one, we export. There's a war in the Ukraine. And Russia is threatening to shut off sales of natural gas to Germany. So they're looking for every possible way to buy natural gas and second, at a very hot summer. Electric companies use natural gas to produce electricity. They drew down their reserves. So we're going into the winter with very tight markets and very high prices.


WALKER: I mean, this is going to be a very tough winter for so many families especially those who are already struggling day to day as you heard there from a report from Nadia Romero. I mean, they're struggling to get basic needs like eggs and milk in the fridge. And now we're seeing the natural gas heating cost, the estimate is a 28 percent increase. I mean, this is going to hit American families really hard.

WOLFE: This is going to hit not just families with natural gas, we have higher electric prices, much higher heating oil prices. Across the board, you know, an average is about 17 percent more, so it's about $200 a family. But that depends where you live. In the northeast, it'll be more. In the west, it will be high. So we're looking at very high costs.

And remember, there are two factors to the costs. There's the amount you use and the temperature. And all signs right now pointing to a much colder winter. So it's going to be very tough for families, not just the poorest families in the country, but low and middle income families. You know, that about 20 million households, right now they're behind on their energy bills. So going into the winter, already behind on their bills, facing much higher bills. So it's going to be very tough.

WALKER: Is there any help out there then for these 20 million families who are struggling to pay their bills?

WOLFE: Yes, the Federal Home -- the Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides help for families to pay their heating and cooling bills. It helps about 6 million families a year. And Congress added $1 billion to the program as part of the last continuing resolution. And they'll revisit them in December. So, I'm hoping Congress adds more funding because families aren't getting hit just by high energy bills, but it's on top of high food bills.

I mean, we haven't seen basic expenses go up this much --


WOLFE: -- in a long time. I mean, these are the highest prices we've seen in 10, maybe 15 years. Because you have to remember about just two years ago, the cost to heat a home with natural gas was only about $500. The summer -- I'm sorry, this winter could be as much as $1,000. And that'll go even higher if it's colder.

So we're entering a period where prices just might not be affordable. That's also being driven by the war in the Ukraine. So, there are lots of different factors going on that will make this winter very expensive for all families across the country.

WALKER: Are there any tips you can give on how people can, in the short term, you know, try to bring down the costs during the cold winter months?

WOLFE: Yes, that's a good question. I mean, in the short run, what you can do is think of every possible way to use less energy, when we can't do anything about the price. These prices are set, either nationally or globally. The kinds of things that I would do right now is, first, have your furnace tuned up. Change the furnace filter. Then secondly, install a programmable thermostat, if you already have one, and turn it down at night.

Now, if you can turn your thermostat down by even 5 degrees, that can save 10 percent of your heating costs. But the most important thing is that, if you don't think you can afford the cost of energy this winter, apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. I mean, together with the extra billion dollars Congress provided, we'll have about $5 billion to help families this winter. So, it's very important to apply for funds if you need them, because this is going to be a very tough winter.

WALKER: And it makes me worry for, you know, so many of the vulnerable people, including the elderly, but some good advice there. Mark Wolfe, thank you for joining us this morning.

WOLFE: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead on New Day, police are working to identify the bodies of four men pulled from a river in Oklahoma. What we know about the case and what led officers there in the first place. And New York is dealing with a surge of migrants bused in from the southern states. Up next, we'll tell you how the city is dealing with the influx.

New Day returns in a moment.



SANCHEZ: Officials in Oklahoma are working to identify the remains of four adult men who were found submerged in a river outside the city of Okmulgee. WALKER: Investigators are trying to confirm whether these are the remains of four close friends who went missing a week ago after reportedly going for a bike ride. CNN's Camila Bernal with more.

BERNAL: Amara, Boris, we are still waiting for the medical examiner's office in Tulsa to officially confirm the identities of these bodies that were found in the river. And according to authorities, they began those autopsies on Saturday at around 8:30 in the morning, but it was going to be a difficult process, which is why it is taking some time.

Now, authorities were led to that river because someone reported seeing something suspicious in the river. So when officers went there, they were able to find and recover these bodies. Here is how the police chief described it.


CHIEF JOE PRENTICE, OKMULGEE POLICE: All four bodies were submerged in water for what appears to be an extended period of time. And therefore, identification will be a little bit of a challenge. I don't know that the four bodies that we've recovered are those men. I do suspect foul play in the discovery of the four bodies, what led to them being there.


BERNAL: And until we get official confirmation from the medical examiner's office, authorities treating this as two separate cases. The case of the bodies that were found in the river and then the other case, which is the four missing. These were four friends all between the ages of 29 and 32. They were hanging out together Sunday night. They all had their bikes, bikes that, by the way, have not been found. And at least two of them had cell phones.

So, police officers track the cell phone data, that led them to two different junkyards. We know that at least one of them was about 5 miles away from the river where these bodies were found. So officers were not planning on searching the area near the river. This was not in the path of that cell phone data. But, look, whether they treat it as one case, two cases or they eventually connect the dots, there are still a lot of questions.


We want to know what happened on Sunday night. How did these bodies end up in the river. Is there other people involved in all of this? So, of course, questions that we continue to ask authorities. Amara, Boris?

WALKER: Yes, so many suspicious circumstances there. Camila, thank you.

Now officials in New York are taking steps to deal with an influx of migrants, as you may know, including the opening of a new migrant center by the end of this month. SANCHEZ: It is intended to be a temporary solution to a problem that is likely not going away anytime soon. CNN's Gloria Pazmino has a closer look for us at the facility.

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amara, Boris, Randalls Island is a place that New York City has resorted to in order to put up these tent structures and we have been watching the progress unfold over the last several days. We were here earlier this week watching the tents first go up.

Now, we can see that there's been a lot of work done and we saw several workers putting in the cots and beds and pillows and blankets that migrants who come through here will be able to have when they arrive. There's also several mobile bathrooms and showers and laundry units that are here on the site.

Now this place is designed to only house 500 single adults. And it's supposed to be a temporary solution for what the mayor has described as a crisis. Over the last several months, the city has process 19,400 migrants through its Department of Homeless Services. And the mayor says that the city is running out of space.

So this is supposed to be a temporary solution. Will house 500 single adults for what is supposed to be only a couple of days. Now when it comes to families, they will be housed at a hotel in Midtown. Up to 200 families will be housed there as they get connected to services and legal resources and figure out what they're doing as they go through this asylum process.

Some of them will stay here in New York, others may want to go elsewhere. But as I said, the mayor has described this as a crisis. He has asked for a federal help and there is no clear indication that that's going to happen so far. He says he expects the numbers to continue to increase and migrants do continue to come into the city. So this is just one of the temporary solutions that the city has come up with as they continue to grapple with the influx of migrants into the city. Amara, Boris?

WALKER: All right, thank you for that report.

Shelling continues in Ukraine with several areas, including the Russian occupied city of Donetsk, becoming a target. So what we're learning about those ongoing attacks is up next.



WALKER: A Ukrainian official says at least 10 civilians have been killed in Russian attacks in the past day. A wave of missiles, rockets and drones have struck dozens of locations across Ukraine over the past week.

SANCHEZ: The attacks have knocked out power and water in several major cities. Some of them hundreds of miles from the front lines. CNN's Scott McLean has been following Ukraine's developments closely and joins us now.

Scott, Ukrainian officials have been quick to point out that many of the targets in these Russian attacks don't have any military value.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This has been a familiar theme, Boris, throughout the course of this war when it comes to Russian targeting. Lately, you've seen the Ukrainians really making huge efforts to retake land in the east and southern parts of the country. And the Russians have been largely responding by air, through missile attacks and through drone attacks.

The most recent missile attacks, according to the Ukrainians, was in -- on two schools in the Zaporizhzhia region -- two schools and two villages in the Zaporizhzhia region. Now, nobody was hurt, but pictures from the scene shows parts of those buildings are absolutely flattened, completely to the ground. The city of Zaporizhzhia has been absolutely pounded as of late by Russian strikes, by drones, and by missiles. The most recent was just yesterday's kamikaze drone attack, that according to the mayor, damaged local infrastructure. Those kamikaze drones, by the way, are particularly lethal because they can sort of loiter, for lack of a better term, in the sky before picking out their precise target.

Now, in the Russian occupied city of Donetsk, though, the Ukrainians have done some damage, it seems. The Russian city officials there say that Ukrainian shelling damaged the city administration building. You can see pictures there. Black smoke rising from the site of that building. They say that four people were killed. The reason that people were even inside that building at the time was because, as they say, people are working in that city around the clock, given the war effort.

WALKER: And Scott, Russia is also reporting an attack on its military training center where they say 11 recruits were killed. What more do we know?

MCLEAN: Yes, so, this is Russian territory, Belgorod region, just northeast of the Kharkiv region of Ukraine. This is a pretty big military town. Obviously, soldiers are being trained up there in order to head to the frontlines in Ukraine.

And as we understand from local officials and also from Russian media, at the time, these were Russian troops who were doing an exercise involving shooting. So, you can imagine the chaos here, Russian troops doing what's essentially target practice and then being fired upon by two gunmen.

Now, we don't have a whole lot of detail beyond this, but the Russian media reports said those two shooters were shot and killed. They say that they were nationals of ex-Soviet states, though they do not say exactly why they were there or what connection they had to those exercises or whether they were soldiers taking part themselves. Still a lot of unanswered questions, so the Russians say that they've opened an investigation. Boris, Amara.

SANCHEZ: Scott McLean, thank you so much for those details. [07:35:00]

The mighty Mississippi River is looking like a desert in some spots as severe drought pushes the river to near-record low water levels. A closer look at these conditions when we come back.


WALKER: As severe drought spreads across the Midwest, the Mississippi River continues to see record low water levels near Memphis, Tennessee.

SANCHEZ: It's also causing major disruptions to the U.S. agriculture industry. It's a crucial time of year to transport crops from the nation's heartland using that river.


Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is in the CNN weather center for us, tracking the latest forecast. Is there rain coming soon to the Mississippi, Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, unfortunately, the short answer to that is no. There really isn't any significant rain in the forecast and that's a problem, not only for the people that live along the Mississippi, but a lot of the industry surrounding by it.

This is a look at one location along the Mississippi River. Look at all the barges that are out there, but they're really having to deal with, really, very limited areas along the Mississippi where those barges can go through. Because look at this, you can see the bottom along long stretches of the Mississippi River. That was just one spot. Look at all of these brown dots, they indicate certain points along the Mississippi River Basin where that water has now met low water thresholds.

And some of them, you're talking extreme low levels. These three spots on the left-hand side here have broken new records, all-time low levels. These two spots here on the right, including the one in Memphis, are within their top five lowest and those numbers are going to keep coming down as we go through the rest of the week.

This is a look at Tower Rock. This is normally what's looks like, surrounded by water. The only way you could normally access Tower Rock is by boat. This is now what it looks like. Look at all of that water that's just receded. In fact, now, you can now go to Tower Rock by just jumping from one of these smaller stones and rocks and make it all the way over with completely dry feet.

And part of that problem is just that expanding drought that we've seen across much of the central portion of the country. 133 million people live in these drought-stricken areas across the U.S. 99 percent of Oklahoma is even under severe drought. Now, we're starting to see more of that begin to spread off to the east and that includes that Mississippi River Basin. One thing to note, we've got a little bit of rain in the forecast, but not really around that target point that we've been looking at. And when you look at the long-term forecast, Boris and Amara, we're actually expecting below average rainfall.

WALKER: The pictures just say it all. Just terrible.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Allison Chinchar from the weather center, thank you so much.

Extreme weather caused by climate change is also disrupting school systems nationwide. In Lee County, Florida, three badly damaged school districts are still closed weeks after Hurricane Ian hit the state.

WALKER: As you might recall, Lee County was one of the hardest hit areas by that monster storm. And as CNN's Rene Marsh explains, this is just one example of how the climate crisis is impacting education.



RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Melissa Wright sees the destruction at her 10-year-old son, Zain's (ph), school for the first time.

WRIGHT: That's the sign he stands under for the first day of school each year.

MARSH (voiceover): Fort Myers Beach Elementary is one block from the ocean, Hurricane Ian's powerful winds tore down walls and its storm surge approached the top of the school doors, destroying nearly everything inside.

WRIGHT: Losing that school is -- it's probably what I've cried about the most.

MARSH (voiceover): It's been more than two weeks and the entire Lee County school district remains shut down.

DR. CHRISTOPHER BERNIE, LEE COUNTY SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: We do have schools that remain in a high needs category suffering significant damage.

WRIGHT: He already said this year was tougher for him than most. So, I am worried for him falling behind.

MARSH (voiceover): Lee County schools are emblematic of a growing trend. The climate crisis disrupting schools' systems nationwide for months, and in some cases years.

In California, wildfires have been the leading cause of school closures. From 2018 to 2019, a record 2,295 schools closed. Last year, in Louisiana, Hurricane Ida, a devastating category 4 storm, ripped off roofs and destroyed schools. More than a year later, two schools foreclosed to 900 students are still inoperable. And in Tennessee, 17 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. Flooding Waverly Elementary and junior high school. More than a year later, some students are using an auditorium with partitions for classrooms.

A government study found that since 2017, more than 300 presidentially declared major disasters have occurred across all 50 States in U.S. territories with devastating effects on K through 12 schools, including trauma and mental health issues, loss of instructional time and financial strain. Something Waverly Tennessee schools know well. After the flood there, students test scores lagged behind the rest of the State.

RICHARD RYE, WAVERLY SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: Some of our staff and teachers lost their homes, they lost their loved ones, they lost -- you know, and their classrooms. So, mentally-wise, that has put a toll on them.

MARSH (voiceover): As schools struggle to recuperate from extreme weather, experts say they must better understand their future risk and rebuild more resilient structures.

LAURA SCHIFTER, ASPEN INSTITUTE: Our public schools right now, they received a D-plus on America's infrastructure report card.



MARSH (voiceover): until then, when extreme weather strikes, all that is lost will undoubtedly also include quality instructional time in school.


MARSH (on camera): Extreme weather has already had a multifaceted impact on America's schools. Several school systems tell me the mental health of students and teachers who are coping with personal losses as they try to resume learning is a major issue. And supply chain issues have made rebuilding schools a drawn-out process. So, students are in temporary learning environments for extremely long stretches of time. Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.

WALKER: So many compounded problems there, Rene. Thank you.

Still ahead this morning, a Baltimore firefighter jump into action after she herself was involved in a multicar crash, turning the focus to saving others, all the while she is -- get this, nine months pregnant. We're going to talk to her next.



SANCHEZ: This is really incredible. A Maryland firefighter has quite the story to tell about the birth of her new baby girl. Megan Warfield was nine months pregnant when she was involved in a car crash earlier this month. But instead of worrying about herself or her baby, she jumped into action to help the other victims.

WALKER: Yes, the details are really incredible, and that was just the start of her day. When she went to get checked out at the hospital, well, she was in labor, and the crash had actually repositioned her baby in the womb. Joining us now is Megan Warfield.

A pleasure to see you. First of all, congratulations, because you have since had your baby, less than two weeks ago. First off, how are you and baby doing?


SANCHEZ: And, if you could, walk us through what was going through your mind when all of this was happening. Because you're, you know, a volunteer firefighter. You're obviously juggling a lot at nine months pregnant, and then suddenly this happens. What's going through your mind?

WARFIELD: Honestly, it was just first instinct of what to do when you see something like that happen. I've been on administrative duty my entire pregnancy down at the fire rescue academy. So, I guess it also looks like a little bit of wanting to get back out there.

WALKER: You know, I'm just watching that picture of you where you're, kind of, crouched down there. I mean, I remember when I was nine months pregnant, I could barely even touch the floor. So, that was pretty amazing in itself. But did you -- while you were help attending to this person -- first of all, how was that person doing and were you feeling anything going on inside of you?

WARFIELD: I didn't feel anything at that time. I think the adrenaline, kind of, was taking over everything. As far as she goes, I was just -- you know, hold her in place and reassuring her the entire time until different apparatuses showed up, like, our volunteer company Bowleys Quarters, they got there pretty quickly and took over.

WALKER: But there's a point that you were going into labor, right, when you were on that scene?

WARFIELD: Well -- so, after everything was said and done, I was standing, kind of, standing there with my boyfriend and started to feel some cramping and started to get, like -- you know, real shaky. And he was like, you need to go get checked out.

We got down to the hospital, a couple hours and then basically all the contractions started and I had them all throughout the night. And then, that next morning they said we're going take you back and you're going to meet your daughter a couple weeks early.

SANCHEZ: This was no fender-bender either. I want to point out in those pictures, that car is completely flipped over in case somehow you hadn't noticed. What did your fellow firefighters say when all this was happening? Did anybody try to stop you?

WARFIELD: So, nobody was there yet. I was first on scene because I was involved in the crash.


WARFIELD: So, when I got out of my vehicle, I kind of just had to figure out what to do to get everybody there. So, I had somebody call 911. Then the police showed up, kind of, asked them, like -- you know, if they could do a couple things and they helped out with, like, traffic and everything. And then when the additional resources got there, the fire department and all that, they kind of just took over and I, like, removed myself from everything.

WALKER: And when your daughter -- by the way, her name is Charlotte. Great name choice.

WARFIELD: Thank you.

WALKER: When she's a little older, what do you -- what kind of stories are you going to tell her --


WALKER: -- about that day?

WARFIELD: Well, I'm just going to show her everything online and, kind of, let her just watch. I mean, she's now been on TV, so, it'll be neat for her.

WALKER: She is so cute. Look at these beautiful pictures. So, she's what, two weeks old now?

WARFIELD: Yes, just about.

WALKER: Well, what an amazing story that you have to tell. And just incredible that you -- your instincts just kicked in and you were ready to help despite, you know, you being the one who was so pregnant. Just an incredible ending and so glad to see you and baby are healthy. And appreciate you joining us, Megan. Megan Warfield.

WARFIELD: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Megan.

OK. Before we let you go this morning, we have a quick programming note. Don't forget to tune into the CNN original series, "The Murdochs: Empire of Influence". Here's a preview.


SARAH ELLISON, STAFF WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: The kind of control over what people were consuming and watching and believing, that was really important to him. And also $1.6 billion in profit, that was significant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sky, in lots of ways is James Murdoch's baby at this point.


EMILY BELL, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE GUARDIAN WEBSITE: If he can pull off the deal, that means it's a just smooth transition, really, into his father's chair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And James then is very much acting as if he's going to be the one. Word starts circulating that he's even building his own shadow executive team that he can install at the top of the company.


SANCHEZ: "The Murdochs: Empire of Influence" airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

WALKER: Well, thanks for having us this morning and being with us this weekend.

SANCHEZ: Always good to be with you, Amara. "Inside Politics Sunday with Abby Phillip" starts after a quick break. We'll see you next week.