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CNN Sunday Morning

Red River Water Levels Slowly Ease; Mother Nature Pounds Central Plains, South; Obama Invites Major Economies to Energy Forum; World Lights Go Out for Earth Hour; Interview With T.I.

Aired March 29, 2009 - 06:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. Happy Sunday. From the CNN Center right here in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. Six a.m. in the East, 3 a.m. in Sacramento. Good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. So glad, as always, you all could be here with us.

We got more weather to tell you about. It's causing some nasty scenes and some -- woah, look at this.


HOLMES: We'll tell you where this is. From the Plains to the Gulf Coast, really, a lot of areas to cover. This is what heavy floodwaters did to one street in Alabama.

NGUYEN: Plus, President Obama is preparing for his overseas trip as commander-in-chief. It is the first one overseas, and we are going to run down what he hopes to accomplish.

HOLMES: Also, on one hand, he's a Grammy winner. On the other hand, he's a convicted felon. T.I., one of the biggest stars in music, sits down with me right before a judge sentences him to prison.

And we're asking you this morning: Was his sentence fair, from facing 30 years to only getting one year because of a plea deal? We're asking you that question today. You can respond to us at Twitter, and also on Facebook. Having you be a part of our conversation this morning.

NGUYEN: But first, let's start with this: It is truly a matter of inches that has Fargo, North Dakota, still on edge. The Red River was expected to crest today, but it crested lower than expected yesterday. And in 90 seconds, we are going to go live to Fargo.

HOLMES: Also, lights out across the globe. Millions of people in 88 countries turned off the power to mark the third annual Earth Hour. It's a global initiative sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund. You know, they're trying to highlight the threat of climate change.

Now most major cities in the U.S., Asia, Europe and the Middle East either dimmed non-essential lights or powered down completely by 8:30 p.m. local time on Saturday. NGUYEN: The Obama administration plans a summit on the climate and our energy needs next month, and leaders from more than a dozen nations are invited to the event. This comes before the U.N. summit on climate change in December, and the White House says it's just trying to set the stage for that U.N. meeting.

HOLMES: All right. We're going to be talking to our Reynolds Wolf, our guy. He is not with us; he is actually out along the Red River. We're going to talk to him just a second.

But first, we have a look at the latest that's happening there. The river has leveled off. That's certainly a good thing.

Now, eight hours ago, it was at 40 -- feet -- 40 point -- 40.44 feet. That's a little lower than it had been earlier in the day. The river is expected to stay now below 41 feet, and slowly drop over the next three to seven days. The city's dikes reach 43 feet.

NGUYEN: But there is a word of caution. Forecasters warn of what they call "relative uncertainty," saying the river will continue to -- quoting here -- "behave in ways never seen before."

So snow, it's melting, and that is going to affect the river and what it does.

HOLMES: And right now, we're hearing it's supposed to snow in the Fargo-Moorhead area tomorrow. That could be a bit of a problem.

Our Reynolds Wolf -- we've seen you here, we've been watching you here in our preset monitor, Reynolds. We could tell it's pretty -- yes, it's pretty cold there.

So it -- it's good news to hear that this thing is leveling off. But how could the weather complicate things now?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, the -- the thing that you mentioned, T.J., and certainly Betty mentioned moments ago, the word "uncertainty." And I can't tell you how dead-on Betty is with that word, because "uncertain" is the best way to describe what could happen with this river.

Plain and simple, they really don't know. It has shown a sign of leveling off. That certainly is true. But with the possibility of more melting up -- farther upstream, and as the river flows to the north, we could see those water levels rise up a little bit again.

So the -- the thing is, the city of Fargo, the city of Moorhead, they -- they want people to remain vigilant. They have to really stay on their toes. That means starting up with the sandbags again. In fact, the city of Fargo -- over at the Fargo Dome across the river, they're going to start, again, another 24 hours of sandbagging. They're going to get right back to it again this morning. They know that the situation is still very desperate. Certainly a scary thing.

You know, you're talking about Fargo, you're talking about Moorhead -- you know, two cities that share many bridges. They share this river. And of course, at the same time, they share this crisis.

Now, just a few miles from this very spot, farther upriver, on the Moorhead side of the river, we -- we talked to a family just yesterday that's battling not only the floodwaters, but also their town.


WOLF (voice-over): It's a soggy Saturday drive in this north Moorhead neighborhood, where some homes are protected from the Red River, and others are not.

CONNIE HANSEN, MOORHEAD, MINN. RESIDENT: They don't care about us. We're -- we can -- we're the sacrificial lamb.

WOLF: The Hansens' home is on the other side of this dividing black line, a contingency dike constructed by the city in case the Red River burst throw the first line of defense.

(on camera): This is the side the city deems not able to protect. And on this side, you're kind of left to your own.

C. HANSEN: (INAUDIBLE) water-collection (INAUDIBLE).

WOLF (voice-over): The Hansens' home sits at 41.5 feet. And when earlier predictions yielded a crest of 43 feet, the Hansens knew they had to take action, and called on the city for help, hoping to build a barrier to protect their house.

C. HANSEN: And then I said, 'Well, we need -- we want to put up a dike.' She said, 'You can, but you have to get your own sandbags.' I said, 'What?' She said, 'No, you're not riverfront property, so we can't give you sandbags.'

WOLF (on camera): So they decided to take matters into their hands, filling sandbags as fast as they could, some of them weighing anywhere from 30 to 70 pounds. They stacked up this wall as fast as they could, all alone.

And then something amazing happened.

(voice-over): Family, close friends and people they had never met showed up to lend a hand.

C. HANSEN: Just about -- a couple of times, I had to walk away, cause you get very emotional. These people don't know you. My brother said, 'Who are these people?' I don't know. Some of them are old neighbors.

GARY HANSEN, MOORHEAD, MINN. RESIDENT: It was real heart-warming to see that. And I recognized a few faces; a lot of them are strangers. It's -- it makes you feel good, that's for damn sure.

WOLF: Though thankful for the help, the Hansens hope the city will take action in the future. C. HANSEN: I can't thank those people enough, not just for me, but for my whole neighborhood. That's amazing. And it made us, as neighbors, much stronger. And Moorhead should be ashamed of themselves for not trying to protect us, for putting us in this situation.

WOLF: The city of Moorhead says they're protecting all properties as best they can, and the decision on where to place dikes is based on the recommendation of the city engineer. They also say that only a small number of homes have been lost, while most are safe.


WOLF: Yes, no two shakes about it, it's a hell of a mess for everybody. And I'll tell you, as long as this river, which is relatively young geologically speaking -- some 12,000 years old -- in comparison to the Ohio or Mississippi River that's hundreds of millions of years old -- as long as this river continues to flood and flow, we're going to have this problem. And of course, this issue will come up again and again.

Let's send it back to you in the studio.

NGUYEN: Yes, but you know, the situation could have been so much worse. So I think people are...

WOLF: Absolutely.

NGUYEN: ...breathing a little bit of a sigh of relief today. Even though it's cold and they do have a lot of work on their hands still, don't they?

WOLF: Oh, no, there's no question about it.

And I mean, as I mentioned, they're going to be working around the clock. People, when they are working around the clock, filling those sandbags, really need to be careful. One bit of news that came out recently: There have been two deaths associated with this flood, both due to cardiac arrest while moving sandbags. And also 50 injuries.

They want people to really take it easy. I mean, you got to keep working, no question, but certainly know your limits.

Back to you.

NGUYEN: Well, we got video of them putting you to work out there.


WOLF: Yes, they -- they certainly did, and I was happy to do it.

But, I mean, it is absolutely amazing; you don't get tired when you're out there and you see the -- the urgency, but also the good spirit they have. You know, I mean, these -- these are -- are not folks that are down in the dumps. They know this is a struggle. NGUYEN: Right.

WOLF: They're up to the fight. And they're -- it's just -- it's really a heart-warming thing to see.

NGUYEN: Well, it's a good thing you're doing out there, not only keeping us informed, but helping the good folks out who are trying their best to -- to save what they can.

Thank you, Reynolds.

HOLMES: All right. Thanks, Reynolds.

WOLF: Anytime.

HOLMES: And Reynolds just mentioned there, there were a couple of deaths associated...


HOLMES: ...with the floods. Nothing to do with -- you know, sometimes, often, you hear about flooding and the water, sometimes people drowning.

NGUYEN: Right.

HOLMES: Sometimes even electrocution because of...

NGUYEN: The power lines.

HOLMES: ...the power lines coming down in the water. But no, like he said, this had to do with heart attacks from overexertion.

Also, some injuries reported -- 50 flood-related injuries ranging from wrist, ankle injuries to auto accidents on washed-out roads.

NGUYEN: Well, fierce storms, they just barreled across the South this weekend, slamming several states with tornadoes, blizzards and some heavy flooding.

Want to give you a look at this map, some of the states that were hardest hit. We have some heavy rain that hammered Mobile, Alabama, overnight, triggering flash floods. Look at that. That washed away a section of a road, swallowed two cars and stranded drivers. Officials also evacuated several homes across the state.

Want to take you to Kansas now, where kids enjoyed a lot of that snow, playing in it. But it was definitely no fun for the drivers there. A blizzard dumped more than two feet, causing blackouts and tornado warnings.

Governors for Kansas and Oklahoma issued disaster declarations because of all this.

And in Tennessee, strong winds tore off winds and blew out windows in several buildings. A few people were treated for minor injuries after being hit by flying debris.

HOLMES: All right. Let's turn back to what they're dealing with there in North Dakota.

Karen Maginnis in the Weather Center for us, sitting in while Reynolds, of course, is out in Moorhead, Minnesota.

All right. Tell us, Karen, how is the weather situation going to -- to help or hurt? What are you seeing and what can they expect over the next couple days?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This is going to be very tricky, to be honest with you, T.J. and Betty.

Want to show you what the river level is at, the Red River at Fargo that we've been talking about for the past week. Here is the crest -- as we have seen, the highest crest in the past week or so. Also a record, but not that 42 or 43 feet; 40.82 feet.

It is currently now just a little bit above 40 feet. Over the next several days, you can see there's a steady decline. But still, it's going to remain at fairly high levels.

However, here is the troublesome spot. This is a forecast of how it looks like for the snowfall accumulation in the next 48 hours. Take a look at this: kind of the bulls-eye right here along the North Carolina -- the North Dakota and South Dakota border, somewhere between 10 and 15 inches of snowfall, just to the south of Interstate 94.

But remember, this watershed kind of feeds into the Red River. So when the temperatures rise above that freezing mark and start to melt, we could see another potential for that river to rise back up again.

I'll have more and incredible video of Grand Forks and the river rising there over the past week.

Back to you.

NGUYEN: All right. Thank you.

HOLMES: All right. Well, the president, he's responding to the severe weather with quick declarations. Actually, this is just one of about several natural disasters he's had to deal with in his first 100 days in office.

NGUYEN: It's been busy, hasn't it? And we are going to go live to D.C. with a look at another weekend for the president, one that he is working through. He's going to get a few stamps on his passport of what's being billed as his first major overseas trip.

HOLMES: Also, a little music for you this morning. Do you know this song?




HOLMES: It was another No. 1 hit for that chart topper and platinum-seller and Forbes richest-list person there. That rapper, T.I.

Well, all those accolades -- he's going to prison. He was just convicted. He was just sentenced.

My sitdown with the rapper before going to his sentencing date. Stay with us.





ANNOUNCER: This is CNN, trusted by more Americans than any other news channel. Now, back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

HOLMES: Well, President Obama getting ready for his first overseas trip as president. But before that, he'll announce his plan to help save the auto industry. We're expecting that on Monday.

Then Tuesday, he will be heading out to London ahead of the Group of 20 Summit, the G20 Summit, as its know. There, the president and other leaders from the world's 20 biggest economies will talk about, of course, the global economic crisis.

When that's over, the president off to France for a NATO summit. That happens on Friday.

NGUYEN: Well, this week will be one of the busiest in office for President Obama. But nature has a way of getting a push to the top of the agenda.

HOLMES: And CNN's Kate Bolduan explains how the president is now adding a natural disaster to his to-do list.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the eve of his first international trip, and while continuing to grapple with the stalled economy, President Obama is also facing a potential natural disaster: Midwest flooding.

Mr. Obama has signed federal disaster declarations for Minnesota and North Dakota, using his weekly radio and Internet address to pledge the full support of federal emergency aid.

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'll continue to monitor the situation carefully. We will do what must be done to help, in concert with state and local agencies, and non-profit organizations, and volunteers, who are doing so much to aid the response effort.

BOLDUAN: President Obama is no doubt aware of how the response to a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina can badly tarnish a presidency. So wanting to avoid repeating past mistakes, Obama has his acting administrator of FEMA on the ground, and has personally reached out to local officials in the threatened flood zone.

DENNIS WALAKER, MAYOR OF FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA: What he wanted to convey to the people that are fighting this flood on the Red River, that we had everything that was humanly possible. And we do.

BOLDUAN: Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano calls it "at least a 500-year flood." And despite a well-coordinated effort, says it's too soon to declare victory.

JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We're all working together. We're supporting the people of North Dakota, the people of Minnesota. And we're supporting them through this very serious flood.

BOLDUAN (on camera): The White House says the president is monitoring the situation from Camp David. I'm told he's being briefed throughout the day by senior aides who are in close communication with Secretary Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Ward, along with state and local officials in the region.

Kate Bolduan, CNN, the White House.


NGUYEN: And we are also keeping a very close eye on the weather across the Midwest and the Southeast.

Want you to check out some damage from Kentucky. Look at that. I mean, wouldn't you just be that upset...


NGUYEN: ...if you came back to what used to be your home and saw that? Residents there swear it was a tornado. They describe the amazing site just ahead.

HOLMES: Also, one of the biggest music stars on the planet learned that he is going to prison for at least a year. This is just one of the latest of a strong of arrests in his lifetime. So this time, has he learned his lesson?


HOLMES: Now what can you say to people to -- to let them know that, OK, he's learned his lesson?

T.I., RAPPER: I can't say any words to make you -- to convince you, you know, that I have changed, that I have learned a lesson. That comes with time.




NGUYEN: There he is, rapper T.I. Well, he is going to spending a year and one day in prison on a federal weapons violation.

HOLMES: Yes, this huge rap star was sentenced on Friday after he pleaded guilty to buying machine guns and silencers in a sting operation. That is a no-no, especially if you're a convicted felon already.

He apologized in court on Friday for disappointing those people who see him as a role model.


T.I.: Apologies to my family, to the young -- the young men, young women that I mentor. And I just will hope everyone can learn from my situation, and I hope that I can keep one -- at least one, if not a million or more from going down a similar path as mine.


HOLMES: All right. Again, that was T.I. outside of the federal courthouse on Friday.

Now, in addition to the year and a day he's getting in prison, he also has to pay a $100,000 fine. Again, this was an extraordinary plea agreement that he made with the judge. Also a part of it, he has to do some more home confinement. He's already served more than 1,000 hours of community service, will have to do a little more.

I sat down and talked to this rapper not too long after he had been to the Grammys and performed. We talked about his influence as a role model, his history of arrests and whether this time, he is truly a changed man.



HOLMES (voice-over): This is Clifford Harris as a free man. Better known as rapper T.I., he's been at the top of the music world for years now. His sixth album, "Paper Trail," was one of the top- selling albums of 2008, and his fourth straight to go platinum.

He picked up his most recent Grammy award in February, and he's also on Forbes' list of highest-paid hip-hop stars.

So what's next for T.I.?

Prison. (on camera): How many times have you been arrested?


HOLMES: Do you have a good count?

T.I.: You know what? I -- I don't have a -- a -- an actual...


T.I.: ...factual number.


T.I.: So I won't -- you know, I won't give -- I won't just throw speculative ...


T.I.: know, speculative numbers out.

HOLMES: I will throw one out there...

T.I.: OK.

HOLMES: ...that I read, that somebody decided to do a count.

T.I.: OK.

HOLMES: And they said 32. Would you -- would you argue with that too much one way or another?

T.I.: I -- I cannot confirm nor deny.


HOLMES: All right. But it's been more than once or twice.

(voice-over): But his latest arrest, in 2007, threatened to end his career and put him in jail for up to 30 years. He was busted in his hometown of Atlanta trying to buy machine guns and silencers hours before he was set to perform at the BET Awards.

(on camera): Are you ever going to feel a sense of safety that you don't feel like you need to protect yourself or carry a gun?

T.I.: I've made it through some very extreme circumstances, and I didn't always have firearms to protect me. And I'm still here. So if I was supposed to be gone, I'd have been gone then.

HOLMES: So you're telling me you've come to a place of peace, and that paranoia has subsided...

T.I.: Absolutely.

HOLMES: ...and that you don't feel the need for it anymore? T.I.: Absolutely.

HOLMES: To be carrying guns?

T.I.: Absolutely.

HOLMES (voice-over): He pleaded guilty to weapons charges in March of last year. His plea deal allowed him to delay his jail sentence for 12 months. But he's been far from a free man.


HOLMES (on camera): That you?

T.I.: Yes.


T.I.: I'm actually doing an interview with CNN. As soon as I'm finished, I'll change the battery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good deal. My name is Monica (INAUDIBLE)

HOLMES (voice-over): Our conversation was interrupted by his ankle monitor, telling him he had five minutes to change the battery.

Also part of his plea deal: a thousand hours of community service. Much of that community service: talking to kids around the country about his success and failures.

(on camera): A lot of young people you know, of course, idolize you, look up to you in a lot of ways.

Should they? Do -- is it -- should they look up to you?

T.I.: You shouldn't take the things that I've gone through and the negative parts of my life and, you know, and -- and admire me for that, you know? If anything, admire me for how I've accepted responsibility for the part I played in placing myself in these situations, and what I've done to recover from it.

HOLMES: What assurance can you give that over time, once you get out of jail, you can prove to people that you have changed, and this is totally different?

T.I.: Well...

HOLMES: But right now what can you see to people to -- to let them know that, OK, he's learned his lesson?

T.I.: I can't say any words to make you -- to convince you, you know, that I have changed, that I have learned a lesson. That comes with time.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: All right. And again, if people don't remember that back in the day, when he was -- it was October 2007, a long time ago, when that arrest happened. People are like, 'What in the world are you thinking? Why are trying to buy guns, silencers, machine guns?'

NGUYEN: Right.

HOLMES: 'Why do you need this stuff?'

Several years back, his best friend, they were leaving show, I believe it was Cincinnati. They were -- got into it with some guys. Shot at that vehicle; his friend died. T.I. was not injured. Friend died in his arms, quite literally.

From that moment, he always felt he needed to have guns, felt this need -- this paranoia, as he calls it -- to protect himself. And that is why -- and you can't justify it, and it's wrong, no doubt about it. And he took that responsibility. But that is how he explains why he did that.

NGUYEN: But he's used what has happened, and he is speaking to kids and...


NGUYEN: And he's trying to make a difference with it, which led to the sentence that he got.

HOLMES: Part of the plea deal, part of that sentencing, a year and a day after he was facing 30 years. And again, a lot of scrutiny for the judge, a lot for...

NGUYEN: Right.

HOLMES: ..the prosecutors for even allowing a deal like that. A lot of people saying...

NGUYEN: Called it "an experiment."

HOLMES: An experiment, to not just throw a guy in jail, to see if some good could come out of it. A lot -- let him show some redemption and rehabilitate. And we're both getting some -- some feedback here.


HOLMES: A lot of folks have something to say about this, wondering, in fact, was justice served here?

NGUYEN: Yes, was it fair to go from possibly spending 30 years in prison to getting a year and one day?

Well, on my Facebook page, Frank says, "I don't think that was fair at all. Just because the man has a lot of money, what makes it right for him to get only a year? They should have treated him like they would have done to me." HOLMES: Yes. And another one here, this comes from -- from my Twitter. I got a message here from -- Kieran is her name, says, "I think it's justice. He seemed to take his hours of community service very seriously.

But another here from Rebecca, just like -- on my Facebook page now, just from the one you just read, Betty, saying, "T.I. should get whatever the law requires. I can't help but believe" -- sorry about that. Who is -- who is, John? Come on, John! Why you trying to IM me, John, while I'm trying to...

NGUYEN: We're live on the air, John. Come on!

HOLMES: Come on, John. I'm trying to work here.

NGUYEN: So what did it say?

HOLMES: But here she is. She does say that, "I can't help but believe that he had -- if he had just been an average guy, he would have gotten a lot stiffer sentence."

So we appreciate -- and you know, (INAUDIBLE)

NGUYEN: Well, keep them coming. Yes, we want to know what you think about it. And we've got that book on our Facebook pages, our Twitter pages. You can e-mail us: It's all out there for you. We want you to be involved in the show. So go on, log on, and tell us what you think.

HOLMES: And please, no instant messaging while we're trying to read the messages.

NGUYEN: John, you hear us?


NGUYEN: All right. In the meantime, though, homes under water. You got to check this out. People are trying to salvage what they have.

And a road that buckled. Oh my goodness. Can you imagine pulling up to that? More on this compelling video coming up.


HOLMES: Hey, there, everybody. Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I am T. J. Holmes.

NGUYEN: Yes, good morning everybody. Thanks for watching. I am Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: All right. Some of the things we're keeping an eye on today. Well, we're keeping on this, at least since last night. Millions of people, in 88 countries, turned off the lights. Turned their power off yesterday.

NGUYEN: Look at that, the Vegas strip dark?

HOLMES: Even the strip. And that's New York's Times Square, there. This is the Third Annual Earth Hour. This is a global initiative sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund to highlight the threat of climate change. Most cities in the U.S., Asia and Europe and the Middle East, either dimmed non-essential lights or powered down completely by 8:30 local time. Among those cities participating, Atlanta. But Atlanta, for the second year in a row the weather didn't seem to cooperate with the power. (ph)

NGUYEN: Yeah, I know. That has been the problem. That was the problem last year. And this year we went to an Earth Hour event last night.

HOLMES: The World of Coke.

NGUYEN: And the great thing about it is -- I don't know how it was in your city, but here in Atlanta they had this giant light switch, that, with the countdown, they just flipped it off. And then the lights went off. It's almost like a New Year's countdown.

HOLMES: Yeah, and the switch that was hooked to absolutely nothing.

NGUYEN: I kept trying to turn it back on to see if the lights would go back on. It did not work at all.

HOLMES: She is not kidding, folks.

NGUYEN: But, Earth Hour, hopefully you celebrated it in some way. It's really all about awareness. We talked to Edward Norton and Carter yesterday, who heads up the World Widelife -- Wildlife -- say that three times -- World Wildlife Fund. And the point of it is just really symbolic, to get you thinking about it.

HOLMES: So, not -- a lot of people think, well, you are not really saving any energy for an hour.

NGUYEN: You're not, yeah.

HOLMES: That's not the point of it. It's just to raise that awareness. And get us talking about it and show those pictures of lights out.

NGUYEN: And a lot of people did it. Can you imagine being on the Vegas trip, though?

HOLMES: I can't.

NGUYEN: You are at the casino, you're at the table, and all of a sudden the lights go out. Give me my chips!

HOLMES: I think it is just the outside lights. They know better.

NGUYEN: The non-essential lights. All right. We move on. You know it was lights out in New Orleans, too, but not on purpose.

HOLMES: Right.

NGUYEN: An underground electrical fire, on Friday night, knocked out power in parts in the French Quarter for more than 24 hours. Some restaurants had to be evacuated, but no one was hurt. Crews did get that power back on.

HOLMES: Where do we just want to start with this? This maze, this puzzle of severe weather in the South and the Midwest. Mobile, Alabama, what you're seeing in the upper left of your corner. A mess there, that road buckling because of those heavy rains. Also, heavy flooding in south Mississippi. That's the upper right corner. Look at that, see how that flag is blowing there.

And in Oklahoma, they are battling a blizzard; 18 to 26 inches of snow fell in parts of Oklahoma. Lots of traffic accidents there. It is where two traffic deaths are blamed on the weather. Blizzard conditions blamed for two deaths in Kansas, as well. Junction City, Kansas is a place we will talk about, and spotty power outages being reported there. Also, in the lower right of your corner, what you are seeing there is in Tennessee. Murfreesboro to be precise, three people were injured in weather-related incidents there.

NGUYEN: Yes, well, there is nervous uncertainty -- that is definitely one way to describe the mood in Fargo, North Dakota, and neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, this morning. The entire area is waiting and watching the swollen Red River.

HOLMES: Yes, the river was expected to crest today, but the National Weather Service says it crested lower than expected. The officials say in past floods they thought the river crested and then it came back, so we could still flood. Reynolds Wolf is there.

Reynolds, there has been a lot of debate about exactly to call it. Has it crested, has it not crested? Is it going up, is it going down? What is this thing doing? Where are we now?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: OK, I think the terminology that we will use this morning is that it has temporarily leveled off. How about that one for size?

The thing about rivers, man, they are really, really weird. It's kind of like, think about an hour glass. Instead of like an hour glass having a finite amount of sand, that's going right through the middle of the hour glass into the bottom, you can tell all of it begins to lower and lower and gets to the lower part of the bulb.

With a river like this, you have kind of like the hour glass, but there is a chance we could get some additional sand that is thrown in the top, in this case additional water. Now, the water levels, right now, are at 40.31, still way above flood stage. We are still talking about a major flood, big issues, people still being very vigilant. The big catch of this is, there is the chance that we may have some additional melting of snowfall farther to the south. This is a north-flowing river, so that additional moisture, that water may get into the river over the next couple days. And that can actually cause the river levels, again, to spike up.

So, again, so far so good; people are very optimistic, the mayor certainly is. And at the same time, we have to be prepared. And because of it, the mayor of Fargo, by the way, has decided to go ahead and start, once again, the sandbagging that is going to begin at the Fargo Dome, across the river. Twenty-four hours straight people are going to go and pitch in, getting those bags, filling them up with sand and putting them where ever they are need.

Also, the National Guard is still up to the same thing they were doing yesterday. Going by and visiting a lot of these earthen dams, a lot of these places where there is a little bit of -- well, some are a little bit suspect. So they are keeping a sharp eye on them. Making sure they are still strong.

And speaking of the National Guard, this is a side note for you guys this morning, we actually set up -- we're in, right now of course, we are in Minnesota. We actually started off on the other side of the river. We had to move -- the National Guard made us move over into this area. They are actually doing some work over there. And, of course, they are very busy. There are a great many men and women are doing a wonderful job. When they tell us to move, we listen, believe me. Let's send it back to you guys.

HOLMES: All right. I'm glad you listened. And again, the word we are going with, we are going to be consistent this morning, is temporarily leveled off.

WOLF: Temporarily leveled off.


WOLF: When we come back we will show you some of the waters and how the rising behind us that don't seem to be leveling off. But as soon as it lights up, we are going to start walking around and showing you a lot more.


WOLF: Plenty to see.

HOLMES: All right. Look forward to seeing you here shortly, buddy. Thank you as always, Reynolds.

WOLF: You bet.

HOLMES: Another note here, North Dakota officials -health officials -they are saying that two deaths have been reported related to the flooding. These deaths were from heart attacks, from over exertion according to health officials. Also 50 flood-related injuries being reported, ranging from anything wrist and ankle injuries to auto accidents on washed out roads.

Well, also thunderstorms to tell you about; pretty powerful stuff swept across western Kentucky and producing a possible tornado in Corydon, Kentucky. Storm tore the roofs off several homes, downed trees and power lines. And one survivor is certainly happy to be being called a survivor today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was going through my mind? Lord, help us! I'm a minister. I was praying, Jesus just protect everybody in the community, protect my family, just keep everybody safe. You know, these houses can go, but make sure that the people are safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, amazingly the people that I talked to that have major damage to their homes are really pretty calm right now. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) It's pretty amazing, really.


HOLMES: Officials will not be able to determine if it was actually a tornado until possibly later today. Red Cross has set up a shelter at the old Corydon school to help the people those people affected by the storm.


NGUYEN: Well, CNN iReporter Mark Ellis captured this video --you have to check it out -of hail produced when those thunderstorms rumbled across western Kentucky yesterday. Just listen to that. Ellis says he shot the video standing on the front porch of his home in Hopkinsville.

Now we do invite you to send us your video and pictures to And here is another one for you, iReporter Mark Raimi (ph) of Alba (ph), Oklahoma. And actually, we are going to try to get those up for you shortly. But in the meantime, while we are working on that, we want to get you back to the weather in the Dakotas, because Karen Maginnis is here. We are in the Weather Center.

And, Karen, I understand it's not good news when it comes to folks trying to keep the river levels, you know, at a stage that is not going to cause major problems, but another storm headed that way?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, there is a developing storm system that is moving across the northern Rockies and is expected to move across the Dakotas. The bulk of that snow, we think, is going to occur in South Dakota. And it is a north-flowing river, so once that moisture, that snow melts, when those temperatures get above the freezing mark. That's going to head right into the Red River.

NGUYEN: Yeah, and they only have like a foot or two to work with here.

MAGINNIS: Wiggle room, exactly. There is not much wiggle room. So, as Reynolds said it's kind of leveled off for now, but there are going to be fluctuations.

Let's move over to the big board. I'll show you some of the rain gauges that we have. This is thanks to Google Earth. Where you see these purple-shaded areas, that's where we have major flooding. However, I want to point out, some of the surrounding areas, like Long Prairie, also Stratford, they are orange shaded river gauges. And essentially we are looking at minor to moderate flooding on these particular rivers.

And let's go ahead and zoom in and kind of fly around Fargo. Now, Fargo has kept our interest, but Fargo is not the only place that has seen considerable flooding. They set a 112-year-old record. They have never seen the river this high. But it did not go as high as they thought it would. So, that's the good news.

Also, in Moorhead, Minnesota, a city of about 30,000 folks, they are saying about a third of the folks had to evacuate.

But let's move on down the road just a little bit -or up the road, which is which way the Red River flows, Grand Forks, we have some time-lapse pictures. And take a look at this. I'll point out a couple of things. You can watch the riverbank, but look at the little obelisk, if you will, just about in the third to the right of your screen. You will gradually see that entirely covered. This is coming from the And you can see just how that river has been rising. Now, what happens for Grand Forks, at the Red River? Well, their levees are built to withstand about a 58-foot river rise. It looks like the river is going to probably max out at or crest at probably Thursday, at just about 52 feet or so. At least that's what we are anticipating. And then start to drop down. So we still have a ways.

Look at these temperatures. In the teens and 20s, but the winds are going to be blowing, snow is going to occur. It looks like most of that just to the south of Interstate 94, but considerable snow there. We will have more just at the top of the hour. Back to you.

NGUYEN: All right. We will be watching. Thank you for that, Karen.

You know, of course, I'm going to have live reports from the flood zones throughout the morning, so you don't want to miss that.

HOLMES: Also, we are live in Washington with a look at the president's first major overseas trip this week.


HOLMES: All right, the president is getting ready for his first overseas trip as president. It will be a big one. It is going to be a busy one. So where is he headed exactly? He is heading over to London for that G20. But first, he's going to tomorrow at least, he's going to be talking about the auto industry. Going to be trying to help them out a little more, expecting to hear his plans on that tomorrow. And then, like I said, on Tuesday he will be traveling over to London. He will be meeting there with a group of 20 leaders, the G20 summit. They are going to be, of course, talking about the global economic crisis. The G20 made up of the biggest economies, really, in the world really. Twenty countries, these 20 leaders represent about 85 percent of all of the -- uh, the all the product out there, all the money out there, essentially, in the world and the world economy.

When that's all over the president will then head over to France for a NATO summit. That is then happening on Friday.

Now, we just mentioned there, president kicking off a busy week with the focus on the auto industry. He has also got a lot of other things on his plate, including a big budget battle.

Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser joins us now live from Washington.

Paul, a friend of our show here on CNN SATURDAY & SUNDAY MORNING. Always good to see you, my man. So, tell us, what first? First thing on the agenda is the auto industry. What are we expecting to hear? We got a lot of details yet about what he's going to say about that tomorrow?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, you are right, he's got a large to-do list, I guess, before he goes to Europe. So tomorrow, auto industry; the White House says he will make a major announcement on the auto industry. We are hearing, T.J., is that he will announce -- and his working group, that has been dealing with this -- is going to announce more aid GM and for Chrysler, in return for some tough cost-cutting measures that will ensure that those companies can survive. Both are threatening to go bankrupt.

The Auto Industry Task Force was expected to opt (ph) for the additional aid to those two companies while setting firm deadlines for the companies to get concessions from stakeholders. Now, GM and Chrysler, they employ about 140,000 workers in the U.S. They have already received almost $18 billion, T.J., in government loans to survive this economic downturn.

So, they are asking for more money, but the government is saying we will give it to you only if you do some really, really, tough cust cotting -- tough cost cutting -- I can't speak English this morning.

HOLMES: Yeah, it's cost cutting.

STEINHAUSER: Thank you, thank you very much.

Now, one of the things he's doing before that tomorrow, as well, he is going to meet with House Democrats. They have been talking about the budget T.J., and they are going to talk about other legislative agenda. Remember, his budget is going through Congress, right now. It is past committee, but it still has some major votes to go. Last week he met with Senate Democrats, this week House Democrats. Republicans are not showing this budget any love, T.J.

HOLMES: All right. And back to the auto industry, here, for second. Americans are kind of getting tired of hearing about the government giving money to help out all of these industries. So anytime you hear money is going, you will hear the word bailout. So, how are Americans starting to feel about bailing out the auto industry, sounds like, yet again?

STEINHAUSER: Yeah, you are absolutely right. And they don't like really like it do they?


STEINHAUSER: We don't like the bailout for Wall Street and for the banks. Take a look at this recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. And we asked, how do you like President Obama? What he is doing? How he is handling the auto industry? And you can see right here, while he gets high marks in most things, when it comes to the problems facing the auto industry, Americans are split. A light more, 49 percent disapproved of what he's doing. Only 46 approve.

So, you can see right there. Here's a guy, President Obama, T.J., he's got about a 63 percent approval rating, but when it comes to the auto industry, Americans are split on what he is doing.

HOLMES: All right. Last thing here, quickly, on the Treasury Department. Timothy Geithner, I mean, no matter what kind of criticisms is out there for him, the guy is working. He's working hard. He's been working a lot. He's been working almost alone. A lot of his top deputies and assistants, a lot of those positions have not been filled. Where are we now? I know we probably don't have a -- I know at least 17 positions he needs to have filled are all empty, at least, the past couple of weeks, at least, up to the past couple of weeks. So, are we starting to see any of those positions being filled?

STEINHAUSER: Yeah, and the White House yesterday announcing three more nominations for top spots in Treasury. That all has to be confirmed by the Senate, though, T.J.

HARRIS: All right. We will talk to you more next hour about some more cost-cutting measures. We'll let you practice that until you can get that right next hour.


HOLMES: Appreciate you as always, Paul. And of course, our John King, he starts up today at 9 a.m., "State of the Union". Today a rare joint interview. We get the military and diplomatic perspectives on President Obama's foreign policy agenda. Again, that is "State of the Union" today at 9:00 a.m. with our John King.

NGUYEN: And speaking of the president, he's going to be attending the G20 summit this week. And there are already protests.




NGUYEN: The crowd, much bigger than police expected. But how much bigger?


NGUYEN: OK, so yesterday we showed you the video of a Dallas police officer pulling over a man who was rushing to the hospital to say good bye to a dying relative. Take a listen to what happened.



RYAN MOATS, NFL FOOTBALL PLAYER: I don't know where it's at, I don't have insurance.

POWELL: You don't have insurance?

MOATS: Give me a ticket, or whatever.

POWELL: If can't --listen, if I can't verify you have insurance --

MOATS: My mother-in-law is dying!

POWELL: Listen to me.

MOATS: Right now!

POWELL: Listen.

MOATS: You're wasting my time.

POWELL: If I can't verify you have insurance, I'm going to tow the car. You either find it, or I'm going to tow the car.


NGUYEN: We have an overwhelming response to this. People definitely have their opinions about it. Some people think the cop was just trying to do his job. But there are others that think, obviously, very different on the subject matter.

I want to take you to my Twitter page. And we have here, it says, "Bottom line, if the driver were bringing his pregnant life to the hospital, the officer would have acted differently."

Do you think that would have been the case? I mean, it's an interesting thing to think about. If his wife would have stepped out of the car and she was obviously pregnant, and they were rushing to the hospital, would the cop have taken so much time to write the ticket?

HOLMES: And then the guy, I mean, he wouldn't have had -- the guy wouldn't have been in the position to have in the position to have to explain his medical situation. The officer would have obviously have seen.

NGUYEN: Seen it, yeah.

HOLMES: But this was a little different trying to explain it. Go back here, go to my Twitter page as well, here.

One thing, some one is saying, actually, "the Dallas story is so unfortunate. I lost my mother a year ago, I don't think I could forgive if I were so delayed."

Another, just go two spaces down from that. Someone saying, "My outrage stems from the officer's lack of compassion. The car was in a hospital parking lot, the driver clearly was not going anywhere."

NGUYEN: Yes, and this one right here, "Running a red light can kill some one. No one has the right to place me in danger. This guy is too full of himself."

I don't know about that. But a lot of people who are supporting the officer here will say that he ran a red light and he was speeding, and that could have put other people in danger.

HOLMES: Officer has a job to do. So it's been absolutely split pretty much, 50/50.

NGUYEN: Absolutely, yes.

HOLMES: A ton of responses. Appreciate you hitting us on Twitter, hitting us up on Facebook. You can sound off on this story or any other story this morning you would like to sound off on this morning. We always appreciate getting you involved in our newscast.

He spent the few days helping out with the sandbagging efforts in Fargo.

NGUYEN: He did.

HOLMES: And Reynolds is still working is he not?

NGUYEN: Absolutely. This man worked hard for his money. He's up early once again with us.

Good morning, Reynolds.

WOLF: Good morning, guys. All eyes are fixed like laser beams on the Red River. Hoping it's going to continue to level off and possibly go down in the coming days.

Regardless, sandbagging efforts will start up once again, with a 24-hour blitz of filling those things up. Coming up, we will give you the latest on the story. You are watching CNN SUNDAY MORNING.


NGUYEN: Because of all of the rumbling on Alaska's Mt. Redoubt - I mean, just look at this -officials have ground all planes in and out of Anchorage International Airport. It looks like snow on the ground, but that is ash, folks, from the volcano eruptions. Operations manager says a thin layer of ash, in some places a lot thicker than that, blew into Anchorage late yesterday, enough to force the closure. Mt. Redoubt is about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage. The 10,000-foot high volcano has been erupting all week. And some eruptions blew smoke and ash several thousand feet high.

HOLMES: And the president facing big test on the international scene when he goes to London on Tuesday to face world leaders at the G20 summit.

NGUYEN: Yes, thousands of protesters just outraged about issues from climate change to the economic crisis. They are planning to demonstrate. CNN's Phil Black describes what the president can expect.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The crowd that sits out along the Thames was almost twice as big as predicted. The police estimated 35,000 people You could see the many colors of the many groups taking part. Around 150 organizations joined the coalition to put people first. Unions played a big part.

(On camera): Why are you here today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the reality is, these bankers have been holding the country for ransom for decades. It's about time we got a grip on them.

BLACK (voice over): Environmental campaigners also marched, along with anti-war groups, charities, churches, and the Bananas for Justice.

(On camera): What justice do bananas seek exactly?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice seek justice for those poor farmers, in places like the Windward Islands, that slave away to grow us and then they don't get a fair price.

BLACK: A very diverse line up of protesters who had lots of different things to chat about.


BLACK: Despite their many differences, the groups marched on common ground. Outraged by the economic crisis, they wanted to send the message to the group of 20 world leaders meeting in London on Thursday, jobs, justice, climate.

(On camera): Of all the G20 protest events planned for the week ahead, the organizers believe this one, with it's broad alliance of groups involved, is the most representative of the anger and frustration being felt across mainstream Britain.

(Voice over): The march often felt like a street party. Only one person was arrested, that's because he was drunk. But the police clearly had concerns about these guys.


BLACK: Most faces covered marching with red and black flags. These are the anarchists. And the police did not leave their side.

(On camera): Why do you think they are nervous?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we want to void the state, and the state therefore protects itself with massive amounts of police.

BLACK: This march was always promoted as a family day out. Police are far more worried about the protests still to come in the lead up to the G20. Phil Black, CNN, London.


HOLMES: We will be talking a whole lot more about that meeting and the president's travel plans. Coming up in about 12 minutes we will be joined by our Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser, from Washington.

NGUYEN: From the CNN Center in Atlanta this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. Hello, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And that would make me T.J. Holmes. It's 7 o'clock here in Atlanta, Georgia. It is 20 -what time is it?

NGUYEN: Or, on the West Coast? It's so early we can't keep straight.


NGUYEN: I don't know.

HOLMES: Let's go with Portland.

NGUYEN: OK, yes.

HOLMES: And how they are doing in Portland this morning.

All right. Glad you can start your day with us no matter where you are out there.

NGUYEN: Yes. Well, we'll start with this.

President Barack Obama's first major international trip will take him to Europe. And we are going to tell you what he hopes to accomplish during that.

HOLMES: Also, we'll talk about modern technology. Maybe that's what we need to help watch the U.S. border with Mexico. Do you know what you're looking at here? That is a live webcam picture. A lot of people are patrolling the border using their mouse on the computer.

NGUYEN: And the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery back safe on the ground this morning. They've touched down yesterday at Kennedy Space Center. I always love to see a landing there. Their mission to the International Space Station lasted almost two weeks. The crew finished installing a new power system that will allow more people to live up there.

HOLMES: All right. And some severe weather to tell you about this morning.

Some heavy rains caused this road in Mobile, Alabama, to break up. And some people, as you see there, did not see it in time. About 100 roads actually in Mississippi were closed due to flooding as well. Mobile is among several cities hit by heavy rains. Parts of Mississippi and Alabama got as much as 17 inches in the past three days.

NGUYEN: Talk about power. Look at these thunderstorms that swept across western Kentucky, producing a possible tornado in Corydon, Kentucky. That storm tore off several homes, brought down trees and power lines. One survivor says, look, I am just happy to be alive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was going through my mind, "Lord, help us." I am a minister and I was praying, Jesus just protect everybody, the community, and protect my family, just keep everybody safe. You know, these houses can go but make sure that the people are safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, amazingly, the people I talked to who have major damage to their homes are really pretty calm about it right now. It's like (INAUDIBLE); it's pretty amazing, really.


NGUYEN: Officials won't be able to determine if it was indeed a tornado until later today.

HOLMES: And let's go back to talk about what's happening with the Red River up in the North Dakota area there. Cautious optimism is what we are going with now. That's one way to describe the mood there in Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota.

NGUYEN: Yes. The National Weather Service says it crested lower than expected yesterday -- talking about the Red River -- but it can still fluctuate.

And our Reynolds Wolf joins us now live from Moorhead.

You've been watching the river as it's risen, and I guess, at this point, it tapered off to, at least, a level that they can live with at this point because they were worried about some disastrous flooding?

WOLF: Absolutely. I mean, Betty, last time what we saw was 40.31 inches. But see, the thing is, you go further to the south and if there is widespread melting, you get those temperatures above normal and you still have decent snow pack there, if that goes into the river, then we could see those numbers spike up once again. So, it is a really, really careful thing we need to watch.

Anytime we mention that those river levels are dropping, you know, it's a little bit of a scary thing because the thing we do not want is we don't want people to get this false sense of security that they can relax. We can't do that. This is still a major flood. It's still in the process of flooding many neighborhoods and many communities.

So the sandbagging efforts are not only undergoing, they're going to continue. In fact, there's going to be a 24-hour non-stop actually over in the Fargo Dome across the river. We're currently coming to you from Moorhead, Minnesota. But over in the Fargo Dome, they're going to start off later this morning. They have 24-hour straight filling up those sandbags. A lot of people are coming together and pitching in.

We've got some video, filling up some sandbags, yours truly, helping out one family, the Fisher family that lives just in a community right near Fargo. And they were in an area that got flooded a little bit back in the record flood of 1997, but men now, they say it's certainly -- it's much scarier for them. It's going within a few feet of their homes. And we are actually building up a dam right behind their house.

So, again, this is still a scene that's been playing out not just here but for hundreds of miles up and down this river, this north- flowing river. One thing that's interesting about the river itself guys is, unlike the Ohio River, if you ever happen to be in Cincinnati and you are driving right through there, you'll notice the city of Cincinnati is almost like in a big valley, and you have a lot of population that is up on the sides of the hills near the river.

This is something different. This is actually formed by a giant glacier back 12,000 years ago, and then it, of course, just, you know, just a river that flows to the north. It isn't like there's a huge valley that's been created. It's a relatively flat area. So, when you do have flooding, all the water just spreads out all over the place.

And that's been the situation here, certainly the situation that you see right behind me, that's a parking deck you see out there in the distance. You see some lights too that's actually part of that parking lot. And it is several feet deep in that location. A little bit closer to the river itself, well over 20 feet deep. Higher than what it should be at this time.

Let's send it back to you in the studio, guys.

NGUYEN: All right, Reynolds. And we'll be watching it very closely from here as well. Thank you for that.

You know, iReporter Mike Pagan shot some really interesting video of the sandbagging yesterday in Moorhead, Minnesota. It just shows how many people have come out to help. He is right along the Red River. And he volunteered with about, what, 300 people to help sandbag. But one of the dikes they were working on actually cracked. He said the National Guard then took over the project due to safety issues.

Now, he also took these pictures as he left the work site to go back to his home in west Fargo. He says you can see from the interstate how high the river is and that they built that dike on the road itself.

HOLMES: And we'll turn to the south now. We'll turn to Arkansas. A video being sent to us here from Barbara, she is in Rogers, that's in the northwest corner of the state.

She says the snow -- you're seeing here -- fell on her garden. She didn't appreciate that. She just planted those flowers.

Sorry about that, Barbara.


HOLMES: Well, you can send us your iReports, whether they are about weather or whatever else. We appreciate your help as always in telling these stories. You can go to

NGUYEN: All right. We want to take you back to North Dakota, and Karen Maginnis, she is monitoring the situation there.

And, Karen, like we mentioned a little bit earlier, just a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to the Red River?

MAGINNIS: Absolutely. And, you know, a half foot here and a foot there, and that makes a big difference.

We've got a big difference coming up in the forecast. What I am showing you here -- here's Montana, here's Wyoming, and we are looking at the Dakotas, where we see this orange. That's where we got winter storm watches.

Yes, there is a storm system that is going to move across the Rockies and into the northern plains, produce significant snowfall in some areas. Is it going to affect Fargo? It will. Will they see snowfall? They will.

They'll also see some gusty winds. And so that will create some washing up of the water. That's not going to be good for some of these fragile areas.

Well, I want to show you what we have tentatively identified as the crest. It's a -- Betty and I talked about earlier -- there is about this much wiggle room for the folks there that have battled it so hard. Here's the current reading. This is what we anticipated, slowly diving down over the next five days. The temperatures are expected to remain right around the freezing mark, it's awfully cold at night, single digits, some teens.

Here's is the bulls-eye. In our forecast snowfall, some of these areas, especially in South Dakota, we think, if the area of low pressure keeps its track, could see more than a foot of snowfall. What does that mean for Fargo? Well, we think the bulk of this snowfall can be below that I-94 corridor and southward.

However, if there is any wiggle room with the storm system, then that's going to be problematic. Look at these temperatures. They will probably climb above freezing by Thursday.

We'll be back just about the bottom of the hour -- T.J. and Betty?

NGUYEN: All right. We are looking forward to it. Thank you.

You know, we do have some compelling stories of what people say they saw and heard when the storms rolled through their area. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lightning crashed right at the end of the house. And the wind was just swirling the trees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw strange colors in the sky. The sky turned into really strange colors.


NGUYEN: Well, tornado warnings were issued and several were spotted in Tennessee. We're going to show you all of the damage.

HOLMES: And also, the president is taking his first trip overseas as the president. We're going to take a look at what's at stake. A big trip is coming up on Tuesday.


HOLMES: President Obama is getting ready for his first overseas trip in office, but before that, he's going to be announcing his plan to help save the auto industry. That's happening tomorrow.

Then Tuesday, he will be heading out to London for the Group of 20 Summit. There, the president and other leaders from the world's 20 biggest economies will talk about the global economic crisis. When that's over, the president is not done yet, he's off to France for a NATO summit that will be happening on Friday.

So, he needs to pack and pack a lot. It's going to be a busy trip.

CNN deputy political director, Paul Steinhauser, joins us now from Washington.

Good morning to you again, as always, sir. Big trip -- he is just jam-packed on this one. So, what is it, I suppose, should we be focused on? What is that one thing? What is the priority, if you will, for this trip? STEINHAUSER: I guess -- there are a lot of priorities for this trip, no doubt about it. Eight days, this is his first major overseas trip. Remember, he went to Canada for one day, but this is the first biggie.

But, I guess, T.J., since the economy is the top story, the biggest thing for President Obama will be that G20 summit of world leaders later this week in London, because it's all about the economy and it's all about getting out of the recession. So, when the president gets to London, he's going to meet with some top world leaders -- he's going to meet with the Russian president, he's going to meet with the Chinese leader, he's going to meet with the king of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah.

But -- and then, the G20 summit, you could already see protest under way in London in advance of the arrival there of the president and the other world leaders.

For President Obama, T.J., it's going to be interesting because President Obama and some of these European and other world leaders don't see eye-to-eye on how to get out of the recession. You know, the president is in favor of the stimulus package we've seen here in this country. Some of the other world leaders are not in favor of such government spending, and I don't think President Obama wants to become seen as trying to push his agenda too much on them.

As you mentioned, later, he goes to France. He goes to Germany. He also goes to the Czech Republic, a big speech on NATO; and then finally, Turkey, at the end of that trip.

So, this is a busy eight-day trip, T.J.

HOLMES: OK. And as we know, the president, popular in a lot of ways around the world, and with world leaders, but still, guess how much swagger can the U.S. have? How much clout, how much capital -- I know we can't go over there and tell everybody what the U.S. is going to do -- but still, is everyone -- a lot of these countries are still looking for the U.S. to lead or are they in a position where, "Hey, you all got us in this economic mess, we need to take the reins here"?

STEINHAUSER: Yes. I think that you're absolutely right. I think it's a little of both.

Yes, and you're right. First of all, he is very popular overseas, and we've seen that in public opinion polls overseas. The president is popular here in the U.S., but he is still very, very popular in Europe and elsewhere around the world. But there is some resentment by some world leaders that -- they say that this economic crisis, this global recession was started here in the U.S. with the home foreclosure crisis.

So, his clout may be a little diminished compared to what it would be for an American president in years past. But then again, he is much more popular than the man he replaced in the White House, George W. Bush, when it comes to people overseas. That will help him during this trip, T.J. HOLMES: All right. Big trip.

All right, we appreciate you as always. CNN deputy political director and a friend of our show here on CNN SATURDAY and SUNDAY MORNING, Paul Steinhauser, we're not done with you yet, we're going to be talking to you again next hour. See you soon, buddy.


HOLMES: And we'll also be seeing real soon, John King. He is starting at 9:00 a.m.; his show, "STATE OF THE UNION." A rare joint interview this morning, we're going to be getting the military and diplomatic perspectives on President Obama's foreign policy agenda. Again, "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING," 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here.

NGUYEN: Well, you know, it's not just the Midwest that's been affected by the severe weather. We want you to check this out. Some people in the southeast, well, they barely escaped their homes when powerful storms blew through.

The damage in Tennessee -- right after this break.


NGUYEN: All right. You know, we have been doing a lot of talking about the subject.


NGUYEN: So, do you want to see for yourself what is really going on at the Mexican border? Well, if so, you better get ready to do some walking all the way to your computer.

HOLMES: OK, that's not far. There's a series of live webcams online that will give you a front row seat to all of the action taking place at the very moment, a live look as you are seeing right here.

And our Josh Levs have been checking in to it. He joins us to tell us how you can do the same.


JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Listen, more and more Americans start looking at that border with Mexico and paying more and more attention to it. There are some Web sites that are getting a lot of attention.

Let me show something. This is a story here at that we wrote about, that focuses on the border, and we link you to this Web site called And they have several video cameras that follow the border, that anyone is able to sign up and follow it anytime.

In fact, here's one list here. Let's just open this up. Now, a lot of the time, you are not going to be seeing major activity in any given moment.

But if we go back to that list for a second, I want to show you something interesting here. On this Web site,, they specifically say repeatedly, if you see activity in the area, please report it. If you see activity here, please let authorities know.

And we are told that this Web site and others are getting more and more attention from people who are concerned about what's going on at the border.

Now, we ourselves here at have interesting feature on this map. Let's zoom in here, I want you to see a couple of things. First of all, you are able to zoom in within this border area, and learn more about it.

You can also see images from different sections of the border. For example, over here, near El Paso, let's take a look at that, at any given time, there's some images there. And we also have several video cameras that we can hookup to right here.

You can see this one for example. And we're going to take this post (ph). Let's take a look at this right now. These are some images, not live right now, but some images that have been captured on one of these videos that we post right here at You can check those out at any given time.

We also have some video from our affiliate here that shows you some of the many cameras that are set up along there. Now, as more and more attention goes to that border area, we certainly expect more and more people are going to checking this out. Can you find a link to this at, just search Mexico, you find that as well. The other Web site is called


NGUYEN: All right. And this just in: Bishop Earl Paulk, the controversial founder of one of the largest churches in the south, has died. A nephew of Paulk says the bishop died at Atlanta Medical Center around midnight after losing a battle with cancer.

Now, Paulk was the founder of the Chapel Hill Harvester megachurch in Metro Atlanta. And at one point, you may remember this, Paulk became the focus of sexual misconduct charges that were later settled or dismissed. Earl Paulk was 82.

HOLMES: Now, just a little bit ago, we were telling you about a tornado touching down in Cleveland, Texas, 45 miles north of Houston. Take a look at this. This iReport photo is coming from Richard Crysel, he lives in Cleveland. He says it was hail the size of baseballs.


HOLMES: That sounds -- yes, dangerous stuff there. He said it pelted his home and put about 15 fist-size holes in his carport roof. But we can -- I don't know if we can get back to that first picture, but it shows some of the holes, I guess, in the back of that truck.

NGUYEN: Yes. In fact, window of that car is blown out. Look at that. Wow.

HOLMES: That is some serious stuff.

NGUYEN: That could really injure somebody too if they were in that vehicle at that time. I mean, boy, baseball-sized hail?

HOLMES: Those are projectiles coming at you from the sky. So, we appreciate you sending us your iReports. Please keep them coming in, as always at

NGUYEN: Yes, and the bad weather, unfortunately, it did not stop there.

HOLMES: (INAUDIBLE) Tennessee will turn to now, will be cleaning up from a severe storm there. Not far from Nashville, town of Murfreesboro. People describe in their own words to our affiliate WKRN what they saw when that storm rolled in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just got in from having dinner, the lightning crashed right at the end of the house, and the wind was just swirling the trees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw strange colors in the sky. The sky turned into really strange colors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son called and said the Goo-goo car wash right up the street from you all has been really damaged. And we walked around the corner and it's really been damaged. It was very frightening when it happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All this happened in maybe 10, 15 minutes time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The rain was so intense. You could hardly even see across the street. It was so heavy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's scary. You know, in times like these, when mother nature will rear her head and show you just exactly who's in charge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We appreciate this car wash but it's going to be a while I'm sure before it will be back online because the damage is pretty severe.

Trees were swirling like this instead of just waving back and forth.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When the power goes back on, what's your plan for the rest of the evening?



NGUYEN: Yes. I bet they haven't had much sleep as of late because of all that.

HOLMES: Yes, it sounds like they can take it in stride.


HOLMES: A lot of folks just put things in perspective. I am standing here, I'm alive, you know, and we can fix the damage.

NGUYEN: That's all that matters, that you made it out alive.

HOLMES: All right. Some people are trying to make it out of Kansas City. Most flights seem to be running on time this morning however at the Kansas City Airport. However, here's what it looks like there, a little over 12 hours ago.

NGUYEN: Freezing ice, snow. You're going to show you that video. It made it just too risky for planes to take off and land, forcing the airport to shut down for a couple hours.


NGUYEN: Now, drivers from Missouri to Kansas contended with their own set of problems. Search and rescue crews spent several hours helping them.

Look at this, heavy snow with a bittersweet experience for people out in Junction City as they watched temperatures plummet from 80 degrees to 26. Boy, that's a drop.


NGUYEN: Kids enjoyed though. They brought out the sledge and hit the snow for a fun-filled day. But others hit the stores and shovels, and gotten some plows as well, because Junction City got hit with about six inches, creating a very messy commute. Most drivers though did stay off the road to avoid all the ice.

HOLMES: Also, a lot of weather stories, a lot of severe weather stories to bring you. We will continue to bring you the updates from all around the country and that severe weather. Also, keeping an eye on the weather situation up in Fargo, North Dakota, and how that's going to affect that Red River. Stay with us.


HOLMES: All right. It was lights out last night. This was good stuff. Earth Hour, millions of people, 88 countries, they turned out the power to mark -- this was the third annual now -- Earth Hour.

NGUYEN: Yes, more than 2,000 cities in the U.S., Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. That's Vegas. Can you imagine the Strip with no lights on? Well there it is. And get a good look because you may not see it too often.

You know, they either dimmed their non-essential lights or just powered down completely at 8:30 p.m. local time last night. It's a global initiative sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund to highlight the threat of climate change. Now, Sydney became the first place of the Earth Hour campaign back in 2007.

Now, 2 million people participated, igniting a movement that is now a global phenomenon. And I think it's really fascinating that this thing has moved so quickly because it started only, you know, in Australia in 2007, but it went worldwide last year.

HOLMES: Late last year.

NGUYEN: And then, this year is really the only second year that we've all done this. And you get 88 countries, more than 2,000 cities around the world participating. We took a little part in it in last night here in Atlanta.

HOLMES: Yes. In Atlanta, our second year participating in this thing, we have an event here, the one last night they had at the World of Coke here, just across away from the CNN Center. And it's unfortunate, last year, the weather didn't cooperate, it was foggy. So we were kind of high up last year, had beautiful views of the city, but you can't see much.

NGUYEN: Right.

HOLMES: Then last night, it was raining.

NGUYEN: Rain again.

HOLMES: It was a mess and you couldn't see much either.

But a lot -- 400 buildings, the mayor, Mayor Franklin, in the streets last night, said 400 buildings were taking part. I think she said the overwhelming majority of those were owned by the city of Atlanta. She wanted to make sure she got credit for that.


NGUYEN: Absolutely. And what so cute about the whole event last night is that, I don't know how it was in your city, but we had a gigantic light switch that they just turned off.


NGUYEN: And, obviously, it doesn't, you know, hold the power to all of the buildings of the city, but it was really -- we keep trying to turn that thing back on to see if it worked.

HOLMES: It didn't work.

NGUYEN: But, unfortunately, we do have something to admit here. HOLMES: Go ahead.

NGUYEN: The lights at CNN didn't go off immediately, but we made a few phone calls and it happened. We are participating, in fact, the Time Warner Center in New York ...


NGUYEN: ... and another one of our properties as well, Turner Broadcasting participated. And CNN did as well. But it just took a little bit of time.

HOLMES: It was interesting moment, and it was something that Betty and I, to be in there, as CNN representatives, if you will, and to look out and everybody say, "Hey, guys, your lights aren't off."


NGUYEN: Turn your lights off.

HOLMES: Yes. But Betty got on the phone, and we made a few phone calls, and I didn't know you had that kind of power but ...

NGUYEN: Yes. Well, I didn't know I did either, but the power went off.


HOLMES: All right. Earth Hour -- that was good time. I hope you participated, but to get the message out, not just save power for the hour last night, but just to spread the word.

NGUYEN: Yes, it's all about awareness. And we have much more to tell you about, speaking of awareness, because we are going to be back at the top of the hour with more news today. We got a lot to tell you about.

HOLMES: Meanwhile, "HOUSE CALL" starts right now. Elizabeth Cohen is sitting in for Dr. Sanjay Gupta. We'll see you back here in a second.