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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Katrina Survivors Still Returning Home to Find Bodies of Loved Ones; Wildfires Scorch Heartland; Sleeping Life Away
Aired December 29, 2005 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone.
You know, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse in New Orleans, tonight, a terrible discovery. Four months after Hurricane Katrina, why on earth on people still returning home and finding the bodies of their loved ones, forgotten and abandoned?
ANNOUNCER: A heartbreaking decision -- one man forced to abandon his dead mother on a rooftop looked to the government for help.
ROBERT GREEN, SON OF HURRICANE KATRINA VICTIM: I figured, if I gave her the exact address, they would actually come back and pick up her body.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, on the fourth-month anniversary of Katrina's wrath, a shocking discovery.
Wildfires continue in the heartland. Flames rip across nearly 20,000 acres, killing five people, burning hundreds of homes -- tonight, why things could get worse this holiday weekend.
And a mysterious sleep disorder keeping people in bed for days, missing school, missing holidays. What is its cause, and why can't doctors figure it out?
ANNOUNCER: From across the U.S. and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.
Live from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: We are going to get to New Orleans shortly, but, first, the other headlines at this moment.
Wildfires continue to burn through the Southern Plains tonight. Dozens of homes in Oklahoma are now in ashes, more than 15,000 acres burnt. Seven major fires in Texas have destroyed 226 homes. And forecasters say dry and windy conditions will continue this weekend. We are going to have more on this later tonight.
Sharper scrutiny ahead for the Red Cross -- Republican Senator Charles Grassley wants to review internal documents that show how the charity has been managed in recent years. Its president recently resigned, following criticism of the organization's response to low- income victims of Katrina.
Police in Milwaukee tonight are continuing their search for as many as 15 teenagers involved in the city's sixth gang attack in recent years. Five juveniles are under arrest. The victim, who was dragged from his car and was virtually in a coma, has improved and is talking.
Internal forensic experts are -- or, I should say, international forensic experts are being called in to identify the remains of Katrina victims. Louisiana reported today that 170 bodies are yet to be identified. Bosnian DNA experts who worked with the bone fragments from mass graves during the Balkan conflicts will try assist Louisiana authorities.
I have said this before, but it bears repeating. On a battlefield, an American soldier or Marines will do whatever it takes to bring back the body of a fallen comrade. They're going to -- they will risk their own life, so that the dead have dignity and return home. Well, there are battlefields here in this country as well.
And New Orleans is certainly one of them. And, tonight, more evidence that our fellow citizens, our neighbors, our countrymen have been abandoned there. It's exactly four months since Katrina hit. And, today, another storm victim was found.
Take a look at her picture. Her name is Joyce Green. She was 73 years old. She had Parkinson's. And she was found just today. But she wasn't found by the National Guard, because they stopped searching back in October. No, today, Joyce Green, a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, was found by her own two sons when they returned home.
CNN's Sean Callebs has the story.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert Green's brother, David, had enough. Two days ago, he decided it was time to leave Nashville to look for a his mother's remains somewhere in the decimated Ninth Ward.
ROBERT GREEN, SON OF HURRICANE KATRINA VICTIM: And he just said, to hell with it. He just decided to come down here. And we stopped at a Wal-Mart and bought shovels, hammers, picks, and everything else. We're going to dig to find my mother's body.
CALLEBS: Robert was with his mother when floodwaters washed their home away at the height of the storm. Joyce Green had Parkinson's and was severely debilitated.
The night Katrina blew in, Robert's family couldn't save her. And she drowned. Four months, the family waited, constantly calling the coroner's office, hoping recovery teams and efforts led by Governor Kathleen Blanco would turn up his mother's remains.
R. GREEN: But we had to come out here, because they didn't do their job. We had to come out here because Blanco didn't do her job. We had to come out here and find my mother's body.
CALLEBS: Finally, today, four months to the day since Katrina hit, Robert, not police or recovery crews, but Robert and other family members, found Joyce Green's remains in the splintered wreckage of the house where they left her.
R. GREEN: Even as far as how I found my mother's body, I politely and eagerly walked to where her body lay. I didn't have to climb anywhere. I didn't have to move anything.
CALLEBS: He had looked in this area before, but with no luck. This time, he noticed a landmark he remembered from the night of the storm and, within minutes, he found what had eluded authorities for such a long time.
R. GREEN: All that's left of my mother is her clothes, her stove, and her skeleton. Now, they could have come and did the same thing, just as easily as I did.
CALLEBS: It has been a cheerless four months since the storm tore this section of New Orleans to pieces. Robert's granddaughter, Chenae (ph), drowned the night the hurricane hit. The 3-year-old was buried November 19. Authorities haven't officially confirmed the remains are his mother's, but he's convinced. Robert has been told identification could take up to two weeks.
He's not bitter. He's not angry, but there is a huge sense of loss.
R. GREEN: I don't see my baby no more. I don't see my mother no more. I don't see my neighbors no more. All I can do is just be happy that she is going to be buried. That's all I can do, is be happy.
CALLEBS: Sean Callebs, CNN, New Orleans.
COOPER: Robert and David Green join us from New Orleans tonight.
Robert and David, thank you for being with us. I'm so sorry for -- for your loss and what you have been through these last terrible four months.
R. GREEN: Thank you.
DAVID GREEN, SON OF HURRICANE KATRINA VICTIM: Thank you.
COOPER: Robert, when you went to the house today, how long did it take you before you saw your mother's remains?
R. GREEN: No less than two minutes.
COOPER: And -- and -- I mean, David, you didn't have to dig through tons of debris. You didn't have to have a cadaver dog with you. You just went. You looked around back. And, after two minutes, you saw your mom; you even saw the clothes she still had on, correct?
D. GREEN: Absolutely. We didn't have to look very hard.
COOPER: Does -- does it make any sense to you why she wasn't found by the authorities? I mean, Kenyon, the company that was paid to find these victims with taxpayer dollars, told us they searched for -- for your mom with a dog and couldn't find her. Does that make any sense to you?
D. GREEN: It doesn't make any sense. They -- they couldn't have.
It's my understand that cadaver dogs have the ability to -- to sniff out dead bodies some six feet under the ground. She wasn't under the ground. She was in plain view, plain view. So, it doesn't make any sense.
COOPER: And, I mean, Robert, I know, for months, you have been saying to any authority who would listen. It wasn't just like today, you decided to search. You have been searching for months, trying to get authorities to do their job. And you have been telling authorities for months, literally saying, my mom's body is at 1617 Tennessee Street.
How many officials, how many agencies, state, federal, local, do you think you guys have called in the last four months?
R. GREEN: The last four months, say, maybe 10 different people.
I told every policeman I saw. I told every National Guard I saw. I told the Red Cross in Nashville. I told FEMA. I told Red Cross countless times. I even went as far as getting the satellite pictures and showing them the exact house, which I put in their hands, showing 1617 Tennessee. This is where my mother's body is.
And this where is we found my mother's body.
COOPER: So, you guys weren't even saying like, oh, please find my mom; we think she's here or we are not sure where she is. You were giving them the -- the address, the street address of the house where today you found your mom; is that correct?
R. GREEN: Yes. We gave them a satellite picture, satellite picture from of off Google, which FEMA actually pulled up for us in Nashville.
And the satellite picture had the address, 1617 Tennessee Street.
R. GREEN: I gave this to them countless times.
Every time I talked to them, every time I called FEMA about my claim. I said, my mother is at 1617 Tennessee Street. So, there was no way they couldn't say they weren't notified. I used a Google satellite picture to show them exactly where she was. COOPER: And -- and, David, I mean, house-to-house searches were called off back in October. We are still trying to figure out why that decision was made. More than 100 bodies have been found since then, a lot of them by family members like yourself.
I mean, do you -- does it make sense to you that house-to-house searches were called off by the state October 3?
D. GREEN: No, it doesn't make sense.
And I guess that is the part that disturbs me more than anything else, because, see, we -- we counted on the system to help us. And, prior us to coming to New Orleans today to do exactly what we have done, I -- I put my trust in the system. I put my trust in the system. We made the phone calls. We -- we sat around and waited until today. And you -- you just get to a point where, it's enough. The system's not in place. It's not working.
COOPER: Well, I -- I will show you another example how things aren't working.
I -- I talked to the governor a couple weeks about -- I don't know -- a couple weeks ago, probably almost a month-and-a-half ago now, and I asked her point blank about who made the decision to stop these house-to-house searches and why that decision was made. I want to play you the exchange, some of the exchange, that we had.
Let's -- let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NOVEMBER 16, 2005)
COOPER: Formal searches, massive searches, house-to-house did stop October 3. I know they have resumed in some areas because they keep finding these bodies in the homes. Do you know what the thought process was or who made the decision to stop those searches on October 3?
GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO (D), LOUISIANA: Well, I'm not sure who made the decisions or how the decisions were made specifically about that date, Anderson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, I -- I -- it -- it stuns me that the governor doesn't know who made the decision and why the decision was made. And, still, no one can explain it.
What do you want -- what do you want people to know out there who -- who haven't been to New Orleans about what is going on out down there, about what you are seeing and have seen with your own eyes, about what you have experienced, David or Robert?
D. GREEN: It's a question for us.
COOPER: Yes, sorry.
David or Robert, what do you want people to know?
R. GREEN: Do it yourself. Don't depend on the system.
If you have relatives, family, go find them yourself, because, if you depend on Red Cross, if you depend on FEMA, if you depend on finding a family, they are not going to help you. We sat around and waited, and I called. I got to know everybody personally. And, personally, don't wait for them. Go back and find your own family, because, if you don't do it yourself, they're not doing it for you.
COOPER: Well, you know, we have heard so many horror stories, Robert, David -- Robert and David...
COOPER: ... as well about, you know, about just the identification process, how long that takes.
I know they -- they told you, I think, two weeks. We would like to keep following your story as well, just to make sure that you get your mom back as quickly as possible.
I think I interrupted you, David. Did you want to say something?
D. GREEN: Yes.
I -- I also think it's important that -- and -- and this is some of the things that I found out through the process, because, again, I -- I did put my trust and faith in the system. And after you talk to someone, so many people, so many different times, if -- if you're not comfortable with the answer, you almost have to do something yourself.
And just a little -- taking -- taking that, we had to get to the point where we had to come and find our mom, after trusting that the system would.
COOPER: Well, I'm sorry the system let you down. I'm sorry so many people let you down.
And -- and I appreciate you talking with us tonight. And -- and, again, I'm so sorry for the loss, both of your mom and -- and your neighbors, and, also, your granddaughter as well.
Thank -- thank you so much for being with us.
D. GREEN: Thank you.
R. GREEN: Thank you.
COOPER: I want to bring in now New Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas.
He's with us on the phone tonight from Baton Rouge.
Council President Thomas, I mean, are you surprised at what you just heard from David and Robert Green?
OLIVER THOMAS, NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Yes, I really am.
And you -- you have to know David and Robert and Ms. Joyce. I mean, that's probably one of the more prominent, hardworking families ever to come out of the Lower Ninth Ward. They're friends with -- my mother and father know Ms. Joyce.
Gosh, -- oh, gosh, Robert, man, helps everybody in the neighborhood. We grew up playing ball on the park together. And it's just really sad, because, here, someone like Ms. Joyce, who was, gosh, one of the foundations of that community, and Robert's been telling these people for a long time that she was there, and nobody went.
And, you know, we -- we -- they're still finding bodies in the Lower Ninth Ward. And it's all of our friends. It's our family members. It's people that we grew up with. First of all, the searches should have never stopped. When you have that much debris and that much devastation, they should still be there looking.
COOPER: Do you know who made that decision? Because we asked the governor. She didn't seem to know.
THOMAS: Well, all I know is that I checked with the police department and a couple other levels of city government.
And they said that it -- it wasn't their responsibility. I know, myself or Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis and others, we asked that question a few weeks ago, especially after they found the two bodies that were in Gentilly, when the family member went in, after they marked on the house that nobody was there. I mean, when is this going to end? How much more tragedy? How much more Katrina do families like the Greens have to bear with, especially when they said, you know, Jonathan (ph) and David (INAUDIBLE) they know that area like the back of their neighborhood -- like the back of their hand.
I mean, if they said that's where their mother was, because they knew, and they sent all the information, you know, this is -- I -- I'm just trying to hold back my feelings right now, because, you know, this isn't somebody that -- this is somebody that I know. So, these -- these are -- these are people that I grew up with.
COOPER: Well, you know what?
THOMAS: This is just another -- another sad day in the life of Katrina.
And, Anderson, thank you for keeping this alive...
COOPER: Well, you know, I mean, I'm just doing -- we're just doing what we can.
But, I mean, I don't know, you know, the Greens at all. But they are -- they are fellow countrymen and -- and they're fellow citizens.
COOPER: And it's just incredible to me that, at four months on, they have to do this on -- on their own.
I mean, we -- we don't leave soldiers behind on the battlefield, and, yet, we -- there are still thousands of people unaccounted for from Hurricane Katrina.
THOMAS: Anderson, you -- Anderson, you just said it's fellow countrymen.
I will never forget the conversation I had with my brother, who is 101st Airborne, and my dad, post-German occupation, World War II veteran. And they told me with tears in their eyes one day that they were trained that, if their comrades were left on the battlefield dead, that they risk their lives to go back to retrieve them.
We're still on the battlefield in New Orleans. We're still on the battlefield in this region. And it seems like we're going to be there a long time. I -- I don't understand this. We are Americans. We should not have our dead -- our dead should not be behind rubble and underneath rubble.
We shouldn't still have a barge in the middle of our neighborhood on top of houses. We still -- you know, we shouldn't still have a mound of debris piled on top of stuff that we can't get in to search. You know, this is the United States. This isn't Iraq. This isn't Japan. This isn't Hiroshima.
COOPER: And it's four months. And let's hope we're not still doing this story four months from now.
But, you know what? You know what I fear? I fear we're going to. I fear this thing is just going on and on -- on.
Council President Thomas, appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you.
THOMAS: God bless you. Thank you. And God bless the Greens.
COOPER: Well, now, how about this, a liquor store in Georgia getting money earmarked for victims of 9/11, or a golf course in Texas? How about a dog grooming shop? If you don't trim the poodle, the terrorists win, is that the idea? Is your government -- it's your government. It's your money. And, tonight, we're trying to keep them honest.
Also, the latest on those wildfires in Oklahoma and Texas, more fields in flames, more homes in ashes, more bad days to come -- details when 360 continues.
COOPER: In the Southern Plains tonight, a week that started bad just keeps getting worse.
Wildfires, after easing yesterday, are again devouring homes in Oklahoma and Texas. At this hour, firefighters are battling four major blazes in Eastern Oklahoma. And, in Texas, more than 15,000 acres have been scorched. Five deaths are blamed on the fires so far. And everything seems to hinge on the weather forecast.
CNN severe weather expert, meteorologist Chad Myers, has more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. Now there's horses on the other side of that fence, running.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Just east of Oklahoma City, frightened animals run from the flames that are once again flaring up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quite a -- quite a sight to see a Chinook out here dropping water pretty much in the metro.
MYERS: These raging blazes have ripped through Texas and Oklahoma for more than two days, destroying about 35,000 acres, taking at least five lives.
PATRICIA COOK, RESIDENT OF CROSS PLAINS, TEXAS: We're strong in our faith, strong in God, strong in each other.
MYERS: Perhaps the hardest hit of all, the tiny town of Cross Plains, Texas, population, around 1,000. More than 150 homes have been lost there. The town's 120-year-old Baptist Church reduced to ash and broken bits, stained glass.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Cross Plains is -- is as devastated as any of those communities, when you look at the number of people that live here and the percentage of homes that have been lost.
MYERS: Texas Governor Rick Perry compared the damage done there to what some communities suffered from Hurricane Katrina. He has declared a state a disaster and asked for federal aid. But some people here have lost everything, things no amount of money will ever replace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's taken all the memories, memories of my grandkids. The antiques that we had in the house, really, that's nothing. It was the sentimental value of the house.
MYERS: No matter how hard National Guard helicopters work to douse the fires, wind gusts, some as high as 30 miles per hour, only work to fan the flames. And some keep the fires burning out of control.
(END VIDEOTAPE) MYERS: Tuesday was the worst. The winds were 40 miles per hour, caused by that storm. That has just moved through New York City -- the one that caused the wind today, right here -- the one that will cause the wind New Year's Day, right there, making an awful lot of wind in 30- to 40-mile-per-hour ranges, from Kansas, through Oklahoma City, and also into Texas.
Wind speeds right there, about 10 miles per hour -- here's the next storm, bringing wind into California, more wind and rain into Portland, in into Eugene, Salem and Oregon, the entire area there under flood watches. Or, if you're above 5,000 to 6,000 feet, you're under snow advisories, winter storm watches, or, later on tonight, it will be winter storm warnings, as this moisture source just plows right into Washington, Oregon, and into California.
There's the rain from the storm today. My -- Anderson, I know that you are going to be outside most of New Year's Eve. The rain comes from the nasty one right behind me, I'm afraid.
COOPER: Oh, no, Chad.
MYERS: Take that -- take that red coat that says CNN...
COOPER: All right.
MYERS: That's your well-used hurricane jacket.
COOPER: All right, Chad, thanks very much.
MYERS: You're welcome.
COOPER: Sorry for the bad news there.
So, how come a Texas golf course got money meant for businesses hurt by 9/11? It's an unbelievable story. They're not the only ones who got the money -- that story in a moment.
But, first, Erica Hill has the headlines.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.
We start in Iraq, where violence continues, following a relative lull during the recent elections. Two attacks in Baghdad today, first in front of the Iraqi Interior Ministry -- a suicide bomber took the lives of three police officers and a civilian. And one American soldier on patrol was killed by a roadside bomb in the eastern part of the city.
The numbers of U.S. deaths in Iraq now stands at 2,175.
In China, a third death from bird flu -- the 41-year-old woman died last Wednesday. Her death came two weeks after she was hospitalized with fever and pneumonia. Chinese authorities say they intend to vaccinate the entire poultry industry, a massive effort, since China has the world's largest poultry population.
Wolves in Idaho may want to keep -- start keeping a low profile. An agreement between the state and the U.S. Interior Department expected to be signed next week would allow ranchers to shoot wolves that menace their livestock. A decade ago, in an effort to reintroduce the species, 35 gray wolves were released in Idaho. An estimated 500 now roam the state.
And, at a bowling alley in Portage, Michigan, the accomplishment of a lifetime. Ed Lorenz rolled his third perfect game in nearly 50 years of bowling. And, then, shortly after, he collapsed and died. A friend bowling with Lorenz said -- quote -- "If he could have written a way to go out, this would be it."
COOPER: Wow. That is bizarre.
HILL: There you go.
It is. On a completely separate topic -- I know you're tight on time -- but I just wanted to say, I'm happy to see you clean up the hair there for New Year's. It looks good.
COOPER: Thanks. Yes. I know. It's a little close on the sides, I got to admit, but...
HILL: No, it's good. And it will grow. Don't worry.
COOPER: It will grow quickly.
We will see you in Times Square New Year's Eve.
HILL: I will see you Saturday.
COOPER: All right. Thanks, Erica.
It was a good idea, loans to small businesses hurt by 9/11, right? But guess what? A bunch of businesses thousands of miles away from ground zero got money. 360 investigates who gave handouts to the wrong hands.
Also tonight, a long night's sleep would be a dream come true for a lot of Americans. But for those who drift off so deeply that they can't awake, because they suffer from a rare disease, a long sleep is not a dream, but a nightmare -- all that and more when 360 continues.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, tonight, in "Keeping Them Honest," the story of money, a lot of money going where it never was intended to go, 9/11 handouts in the wrong hands.
CNN's Joe Johns is "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This New Jersey Midas shop is many miles from ground zero and didn't even exist on September 11. But Hal Glasser bought the place with a federally guaranteed loan intended to help business affected by the attacks. He says he didn't even know the money was coming from the 9/11 program.
HAL GLASSER, BUSINESS OWNER: Filled out numerous paper -- you know, amounts of paperwork, nothing indicating anything to do with 9/11, and went through all the legal issues to get the loan, but it was not -- had no indications of getting any kind of discounts or special rates for any special loan.
JOHNS: Congress allowed lenders to make a total of $3.6 billion in loan guarantees through the Small Business Administration. The recipients were supposed to be companies adversely affected by 9/11.
But after reports that a liquor store in Georgia got a loan, even a golf course in Texas, the SBA Inspector General's Office started looking into it. They found that a lot of people who got the loans, like Hal Glasser, didn't even know what they were supposed to be for.
(on camera): So, if there was a problem, then, it was with the lenders?
GLENN HARRIS, COUNSEL TO SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION INSPECTOR GENERAL: Well, we did find a problem with the fact that the lenders' documentation was not able to establish whether the borrowers were in fact adversely impacted by the 9/11 attacks. But, also, we felt that the agency could have implemented greater level of control to review the lenders' work and make sure that they were doing the right thing.
JOHNS (voice-over): So, this is another example of government, waste, fraud and abuse, right? Not necessarily.
Take, for example, the case of a perfume store in the Virgin Islands that got one of the loans. While it may sound like a waste, the auditors say it probably made sense.
HARRIS: If you recall, after 9/11, people weren't flying; people weren't traveling. The Virgin Islands is obviously an area that is heavily dependent on tourism. So, it's actually not unreasonable to think that that is a business that was adversely affected by the 9/11 attacks.
JOHNS: Everyone we talked to said Congress intentionally made these loans easy to get to help small businesses cope with slower sales, increased security, disruption to commerce caused by the terrorist attacks. The problem, for now, at least, is one of accountability.
The inspector general's office looked at 59 loans. It was not able to tell, in all but nine cases, whether the recipient was actually eligible. On the other hand, the loans appear to have been a pretty good bet for the government. The number of people who defaulted on the loans is 2 percent lower than on similar loans.
The lender that granted Hal Glasser his loan said in a statement, it was in full compliance with SBA guidelines. The only real loss to the government and to taxpayer would have come if Glasser defaulted. He says he's paying the money back.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
A race against time to save thousands of men, women and children. They survived one of the deadliest earthquakes in memory, but now winter is coming, and they're not prepared, as you can see what they're wearing right there. Dr. Sanjay Gupta on an urgent mission to save lives.
Also tonight, sleeping for weeks, how a rare disorder, one doctors can't even figure out, is making it almost impossible for a teenager to stay awake.
COOPER: A teenager with a mysterious disease afraid to go to sleep, because it could be two weeks before he wakes up. His story is coming up.
But, first, here's what's happening right now.
Iraq's elections will get another look today at an -- by an independent monitoring group. It will conduct a follow-up assessment of its initial report that stated the December 15 vote met international standards. Iraqi election officials are also inviting international observers to examine the election and complaints about it. Several Iraqi groups claim the polling process was fraudulent.
The number of Guantanamo Bay detainees on hunger strike has more than doubled since Christmas. The U.S. military says 84 detainees are now refusing meals. Thirty-two are getting nutrition through feeding tubes. The military says the number of participants has fluctuated since the fast began in August, reaching a peak of 131 on the fourth anniversary of 9/11.
And the infamous face of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal has been seriously hurt in a prison kitchen accident. Lynndie England's mother says her daughter got second- and possibly third-degree burns on her chest when she was splattered with grease as she removed chickens from a tall oven. England, who appeared in photographs with abused prisoners, is serving three years for her role in the scandal. Well, a good night's sleep for many of us, it's something we can only dream about. According to one survey, 70 million Americans suffer from -- from insomnia. Well, tonight, you are going to meet a teenager whose problem isn't staying up. It's waking up. Because of a rare disease, he may be sleeping his life away.
CNN's Kareen Wynter reports.
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's only 15 years old, but he's in a race against time. Eric (ph) Haller seizes every moment on the basketball court and at home with friends. Simple things other people take for granted are precious to Eric (ph). He knows it's just a matter of time before he loses control.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pretty freaked out about that.
WYNTER: Before he has to sleep again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty stressful. Sometimes, it's depressing.
WYNTER: This vibrant, outgoing teenager slips into an altered state, in which he sleeps, and sleeps, and sleeps, sometimes for up to 20 hours at a time, day after day, buried beneath a blanket, getting up only to use the bathroom or for a quick bite.
Eric's (ph) biggest fear was getting sick and missing Christmas, just like last year. And, this year, it happened again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember the last time you woke up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I just want to sleep.
WYNTER: Most medical researchers have never heard of this rare disorder. It's called Kleine-Levin syndrome. And it's a mystery. No one yet has found the cause. It's marked by episodes of excessive sleep, combative and childlike behavior. Each episode can last for weeks, even months, with patients literally sleeping their lives away. Eric (ph) has missed school, holidays, a large part of his childhood.
Loerry Haller says her son usually falls into an episode twice a month. His sleeping spells can last a week or longer.
LOERRY HALLER, MOTHER: He's going through so much agony right now, and -- in this little hell right now that he's in.
WYNTER: Loerry's life is also on hold.
HALLER: Our life stops, because Eric's (ph) life changes drastically. He cries, and asks, mom, when am I going to be better?
WYNTER: It's 8:00 at night, day nine. Eric (ph) has slept 18 hours today. The next morning, he wakes up, briefly, to use the bathroom. HALLER: This is day 10, so he has been sleeping for 10 days.
WYNTER: But Eric (ph) goes right back to bed. A few hours go by. Loerry is concerned. Watch what happens when she tries to wake him up in the middle of the afternoon.
HALLER: Aren't you hungry now? You haven't eaten in a long time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Get out.
HALLER: Eric (ph), do you feel like maybe you're coming out of it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I just said get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out.
WYNTER: It wasn't always like this. Loerry says her son began to get sick in the sixth grade. She took him to specialists and psychologists, who invariably told her Eric (ph) was either depressed or on drugs, or even faking his condition. It took two frustrating years until one doctor finally reached a diagnosis, Dr. David Palton. He stumbled on the answer in a 20-year-old textbook.
DAVID PALTON, PSYCHOLOGIST: It talked about a case of a 17-year- old young lady who would go to sleep for -- for a couple of weeks at a time, and talked about her regression in personality. And then, you know, I knew that that was something close to what I was seeing in Eric (ph).
WYNTER (on camera): Kleine-Levin syndrome. Finally, the Hallers had a name for Eric's (ph) problem. There are only 500 documented cases worldwide, but this new knowledge was a mixed blessing.
PALTON: Both had a big sigh of relief. It was -- it was bittersweet. It was good and bad news, of course.
WYNTER (voice-over): Dr. Palton says there has been almost no research into KLS. No one has come up with a cure. Each case is different. If they're awakened, some patients might try to stay up in a confused, foggy state. But they quickly go back to sleep.
DR. EMMANUEL MIGNOT, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: There's actually even a few cases where people have died of suffocating from eating and overeating during these episodes.
WYNTER: Dr. Emmanuel doctor is a researcher at Stanford University's Sleep Disorder Clinic.
MIGNOT: We are finding that there's probably a genetic factor that's important in predisposing to Kleine-Levin syndrome.
WYNTER: Dr. Mignot says researchers are still far from a cure. Until then, patients like Eric (ph) Haller will live as much of their lives as they can, in those precious moments of reality, before they have to sleep again. Kareen Wynter, CNN, Placentia, California.
COOPER: So bizarre.
You know, there were some of the -- some of the great mysteries of 2005 ahead. An airman lost more than six decades ago suddenly reappears in ice. And what really happened to the face of Ukraine's president? We will tackle some of the year's great questions.
Plus, oh, the things people do in front of a camera. Still love that guy. Our talented friend here was seen all -- all over computers all around the world. Some of the best -- Or is that worst? -- video downloads of the year -- coming up on 360.
COOPER: Well, it's a race to beat the elements.
Rain, freezing temperatures, and snow is coming to remote parts of Pakistan, where thousands of victims of the killer earthquake are stuck, waiting, without enough supplies to protect them from the cold.
CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports now from a mountain village in Pakistan, where some -- it is some 7,000 feet high and the people there are getting desperate.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since the earthquake of October 8 in Pakistan, there have been more than 2,000 aftershocks.
It seems the earth is always trembling. And it has left a feeling of everything being unsettled, both physically and psychologically. But, as we learned, the greatest threat to the more than two million displaced survivors was not coming from the ground, but from the air. It's getting cold, really cold.
The snow has already started to fall in the hilltop town of Gunwol (ph), snow-covered peaks with impossibly blue rivers running through them. Today, the Aga Khan Foundation brings supplies.
As I watch the young boys and men jostle for the few bags, it never seems like enough. Never before have I seen relief at such a raw level. Simply, if these supplies hadn't arrived, many of these people would have probably died within the next few weeks. I snow many of them still will.
Ten-year-old Javid (ph) and 13-year-old Masser (ph) are brothers. They lost their mother during the quake. And their father is too ill to help. So -- and this is too often the case -- young boys are quickly turned into men, as they move their family from higher in the mountains to this village.
(on camera): So, he's moved here because it's -- it's too -- too cold?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because their houses are all gone. So, they have decided to move to that place. And there's (INAUDIBLE) brothers and sister in that tent, they're burning wood to keep them warm. And they're all right.
GUPTA (voice-over): Their job today is to try and hoist at least one of these 50-pound bags of supplies up the side of one of these mountains to their home. They don't want any help, afraid someone will steal their bag.
Their hands are working hands, already far too calloused and cracked for such a young age. But they do have shoes, more than this boy can say -- no shoes, no jacket, no gloves and, some would say, no chance at survival.
Today, it is below freezing. As he curls his toes in a futile attempt to stay warm, it looks to me like frostbite may have already claimed his black feet. He runs away when I offer him my coat.
(on camera): The snow has started to fall in many places of Pakistan, as you can see here.
And it is a tremendously large problem. Obviously, it is very cold. But, even more pragmatically speaking, it just makes this area absolutely uninhabitable. What you want to do is to be able to drive stakes into the ground here. You absolutely can't do it.
The ground is just too tough. Some of the people around here are telling me they can't even dig to bury people. They can't even dig their own graves.
And get this. Even when the snow starts to melt, all this water actually will come down and cause significant mudslides -- so, one problem on top of another.
Right now, a lot of people are trying to be encouraged to move to lower ground to get away from all this. But, as you can see, so many people are still staying around here.
(voice-over): The Pakistani government has set up tent relief camps, like this one, but many aid organizations are trying to help people stay where they live and continue the lives they know.
ROGER DEAN, GOAL IRELAND: And every person -- there's no selection criteria. Everybody gets what they need to stay alive this winter.
GUPTA: A few miles away, Roger Dean with the GOAL foundation is fighting for the life of that boy with no shoes and everyone else in the area.
(on camera): So, tell us what's going on here.
DEAN: What we have got here is, we have got the logistical base for GOAL in this area. We have got -- our shelter and our food programs are all being supplied from here. So, we are having all the metal sheets for people to build their homes, their winter shelters coming out from here.
GUPTA: We're about a mile in the sky now, you know, about 5,000 feet or so. What has been the biggest challenge to get all this done?
DEAN: It's the time scale. We're working against a very, very tight time scale. We could have had snow any day. As you can see outside, the cloud has come in overnight. This is new for today. And that's a bad sign. That means rain is on the way. And, when there's rain, there's snow. So, anything can happen.
GUPTA (voice-over): GOAL and many relief organizations, including USAID, World Food Program, and Doctors Without Borders, are working to make it safe to continue living here.
(on camera): This home costs about $200.
Point out a couple of things here. First of all, this is corrugated iron. And for many people living in this area, this could be the difference between life and death, as the winter gets much colder here.
Also, as you look up here, you will see a lot of straw in between the tarp and the corrugated iron. That's the best form of insulation they can have around here. And, also, this tarp itself, a simple tarp, gray on the outside, and actually white on the inside.
And the -- and the point of that is to actually attract the sun, to keep it even warmer. This is what they are going to have to deal with, as the winter gets much colder around here and the temperatures drop below freezing at night.
What this the -- what is the thing you need more than anything else?
M. MUSHTAQ KHAN, VILLAGER: We need no -- iron sheets. If we have iron sheets, we can live here. Otherwise, this tent is not enough.
GUPTA (voice-over): And there it was, a problem. Yes, it was getting colder, and a solution, $10 iron sheets.
It wasn't clear that these corrugated iron sheets would make it here in time to save the lives of Javid (ph), Masser (ph), and that boy with no shoes. Some say it's already too late. Some say the aftershock of winter came too quick and too strong.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Gunwol (ph), Pakistan.
COOPER: It is hard to imagine what life is like for that little boy with no shoes and no warm coat, with the winter approaching.
Well, the earthquake in Pakistan is one of the events we are going to always remember when we look back at 2005. The question is what 2006 will bring. That is anybody's guess. Of course, it is just around the corner. And I hope you will join me for the big party to welcome it in.
In a moment, the strange things you see in Times Square at midnight. I don't know who that loser is.
Plus, remember the "Numa Numa" kid, and this guy, too, the "Star Wars" guy? Remember? Well, they're all making a comeback. We will showing you the top downloads of the year. What do you think came in number one? The list coming up when 360 continues.
COOPER: So, every day of every year, the Web has offered something entertaining to download, usually for free, often pretty weird; 2005, of course, no exception.
In fact, the clips seem to be getting kind of stranger by the day. Here, then, is our own highlight reel of some of the most watched Web videos of the year.
Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): We begin with everyone's favorite Jedi, the "Star Wars" kid. Thanks to this school video, the Canadian teenager was already a cyber-celebrity before 2005, but, this year, came the remix, followed by several tributes. All received heavy rotation. But, if you ask me, they just don't stack up to the original.
From sci-fi to sports. Remember this college reporter?
BRIAN COLLINS, REPORTER: It seems last week player on -- it seems every week, they have a player...
COOPER: Brian Collins, a freshman at Ball State University, tough day on the job. But he did coin this memorable catchphrase.
COLLINS: Shoots it, and boom goes the dynamite.
COOPER: It spread like spam across the Web and made its way mainstream, until, one day, when it just went, well, boom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Thanks a lot for that look into sports, Brian.
COOPER: This short from "Saturday Night Live" with a couple performers hard-core rapping about cupcakes and "The Chronicles of Narnia" became an instant Internet sensation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
UNIDENTIFIED MALES: It's "The Chronicles of Narnia."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Since its December 17 debut, the clip has been downloaded more than one million times.
Then, there's the Web cam dancers and household singers, both always crowd pleasers.
COOPER: But out of all the video downloads this year, there can be only one champion. And here he is now.
COOPER: Ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu, I give you the "Numa Numa" kid.
COOPER: Oh, "Numa Numa" boy, where have you gone?
Sadly, the Numa Numa" boy won't be appearing with us this Saturday as CNN rings in the new year, although he's invited. And so are you, of course, to come to Times Square or tune in, beginning at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Joining me will be Harry Connick Jr., the John Mayer Trio, Barenaked Ladies, Brooks & Dunn, and the godfather of soul, Wolf Blitzer. Actually, he's not -- not the godfather of soul, but James Brown will be performing for us as well.
This marks my third time hosting the party for CNN. And given what happened in the past, this year, well, it is going to be pretty interesting.
COOPER: New Year's Eve in Times Square, you never know quite what to expect. I mean, sure, you are going to see people with the funny hats and the noisemakers.
But, for our coverage, we like to add a little spice, sometimes even some old spice.
(on camera): You? Who have you got with you?
HUGH HEFNER, FOUNDER, "PLAYBOY": Well, I got the girlfriends with me.
COOPER (voice-over): On New Year's Eve, we bring you women of substance on both coasts, from Hef's playmates to L.A. to Zarrella's drag queens in Key West. JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Up there, in that red high heel, descending down here on to the street.
COOPER: We're not sure when the drag queen drop became a tradition exactly, but that's what's great about tradition. It doesn't really matter why it started or how it ends.
(on camera): That apparently is a drag performer who -- well, it looks like she's about to drop, even if the shoe isn't.
(voice-over): We have always had great musical guests.
Last year, Jerry Jeff joined us in true country style.
(on camera): What are you leaning on there, Jerry Jeff?
JERRY JEFF WALKER, MUSICIAN: I'm leaning on this mechanical bull.
COOPER (voice-over): Celine Dion even treated us to a multitude of hand signals, a couple songs, and a prayer for peace.
CELINE DION, SINGER: And peace around the world.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Even the naked cowboy strummed a few cords.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): I'm a naked cowboy, coming to a town near you.
COOPER: And taught us all an important mind-over-body lesson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you not get cold? We need to know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pretend that I'm not cold, and it works.
COOPER: How, then, do I stay warm?
Well, in 2003, I went for the suit and tie. Last year, for some reason, I decided to try to look like Mr. Rogers. Then the night took an ugly turn.
(on camera): You can hear the last shred of dignity I had just being stripped away right there.
(voice-over): This year, we will have all the hoopla and confetti from New York and from Florida and appearances and performances by Cool and the Gang, Brooks & Dunn, the John Mayer Trio, the Barenaked Ladies, Harry Connick Jr., and the incomparable James Brown.
COOPER: James Brown, how cool is that? The party is in Times Square, but we're staying live past 1:00 a.m. East Coast time, because we want to bring in the new year with everyone in the Central time zones as well. I think we are the only ones doing this, live celebrations in Chicago and New Orleans, as part of our continuing dedication to the Gulf and to that city.
And we want to know how you're celebrating during the program. Saturday night, just grab your cell phone, your digital camera -- or, better yet, turn on your Webcam. Send us video from your party. Then e-mail those shots to newyears@CNN.com -- newyears@CNN.com. We will share some of those pictures with everyone. Keep them clean, Mister. Nothing dirty -- well, maybe a little.
We want to thank our international viewers for watching.
Coming up next, the great mysteries of 2005 -- some solved, some not, a 360 special.
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