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THE SITUATION ROOM

Peru Quake Search and Rescue; California Overdue for 'The Big One'; Wall Street's Wild Ride

Aired August 16, 2007 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the first hurricane of the season gaining power and pushing toward land. We'll tell you where Dean is heading and why this storm means business.
Also tonight, bodies in the street and destruction everywhere. That's the scene in Peru after a massive earthquake. The death toll climbing higher and higher.

And stock prices claw their way back from the depths but investors fears remain sky high. Can Wall Street slow down the roller-coaster?

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Miles O'Brien.

You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It's moving fast and getting stronger, and right now Hurricane Dean threatens to become a very powerful storm. Warnings are already up in the Caribbean. And that's just Dean's opening act.

Our severe weather expert Chad Myers joining us now.

(WEATHER REPORT)

O'BRIEN: In Peru tonight, there's a desperate effort under way to help victims of that huge earthquake which happened about this time yesterday. Hundreds are dead, many more hundreds are hurt.

CNN's Carol Costello joining us now.

Carol, tell us a little bit about what the U.S. is doing to help out.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, the good news is, is we already have people on the ground in Peru. They're there. They're working with the U.S. ambassador to Peru to find out if that country wants our help. It sure seems to need help because conditions there are just absolutely terrible.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice over): A massive quake, a magnitude 8.0. Thousands of people are wandering the streets bewildered and scared, their homes destroyed.

One American visiting Peru said the quake sounded like a plane flying too low over his hotel. Then the building started moving.

FERNANDO CALDERON, WITNESS: Suddenly, we start hearing glass breaking, things falling out of the buildings, and that's when everybody started screaming and praying. Children crying. It was just awful.

COSTELLO: And then people panicked, running outside to find safety, but it wasn't over. American Dave Brumbaugh says the quake seemed to last forever.

DAVE BRUMBAUGH, WITNESS: The ground was shaking so hard that I almost had to go to my knees to avoid falling. It was as if waves were going through the ground and moving you up and down, and it was actually absolutely terrifying.

COSTELLO: And so deadly. Many were killed by falling debris. The U.N. says at least 450 are dead, at least 1,500 hurt.

Bodies line the streets of Pisco. Peru's hospitals and morgues are overrun.

As for survivors, there may be hundreds buried between tons of rubble. American aid workers are already in Peru working with the American ambassador and Peruvian officials to determine how we can help.

Standing by stateside, Virginia Task Force One. The men and women here are itching to go.

DEWEY PERKS, FAIRFAX COUNTY URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE: Every person in emergency response, whether it's police, EMS, or fire, has the inherent need to help, and so we always want to go wherever it is.

COSTELLO: His 70-member team is experienced and well-equipped with six rescue dogs, high-tech listening devices and special drilling equipment. His team has been to quakes in Armenia, Iran, and Turkey, where in 1999 the team from Virginia saved five people buried beneath the rubble.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: I'm telling you, this team can perform miracles. That Virginia team can actually be ready at a moment's notice. They have people on the team who speak the language. And once the team is assembled, it can on a plane, it can actually be there in 10 hours.

O'BRIEN: Well, the sooner they get there the better, then. What are they waiting for? They just need an invitation, essentially?

COSTELLO: They're waiting for USAID, which is communicating with the people in Peru. And you need permission from the Peruvian government that they want you to come...

O'BRIEN: Right.

COSTELLO: ... because that Virginia team will work directly with Peruvian firefighters.

O'BRIEN: Let's hope they get down there soon.

Carol Costello, thank you very much.

One person can make a difference. And that person happens to be you. Impact your world by logging on now to CNN.com/impact, where you can learn how you can become part of the solution for those affected by this terrible earthquake in Peru.

We have a list of agencies mobilizing to provide assistance to the quake victims there. Check it out.

Every time there's an earthquake anywhere in the world, we think of our own fault lines here in the U.S., of course. What happens when the big one hits Los Angeles? Not if, when. It's not a pretty picture at all.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd with that.

Brian, you're talking about a report here that offers an amazingly dire warning for southern California.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A very dire prediction, Miles, from government seismologist who says this one area of the country is long overdue for a big quake.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice over): A catastrophic new outlook for California. A top scientist forecasting a massive earthquake along the San Andreas Fault that would be devastating to people and property near Los Angeles.

LUCY JONES, SEISMOLOGIST, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: We are reasonably certain that we are going to have substantial damage to our buildings. It's got to be in the range of hundreds of billions of dollars. And there will then be a significant loss of life, probably in the thousands.

TODD: Lucy Jones from the U.S. Geological Survey warns that region is 150 years overdue for the big one. A likely scenario, she says, the epicenter in the Coachella Valley. The quake moves northwest toward L.A., with a possible magnitude of about 7.9.

Compare that to the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco collapsing part of the Bay Bridge and killing 63, or the Northridge quake near Los Angeles in 1994, when 57 people were killed. Both measured about 7.0 or lower.

Jones says it's not just the size that will be more devastating, but the amount of time the earth actually shakes.

JONES: Northridge, 6.7, had a duration of seven seconds. And this earthquake is going to be two to three minutes. TODD: Roads, railways, and pipelines, she says, will be gone. The massive damage, experts say, is partially due to urban sprawl creeping east of Los Angeles right along the danger zone. Within the next 20 to 50 years when this quake is forecast...

JONES: The communities that are within 10 miles of the San Andreas Fault are going to be doubling in the same time period.

TODD: This is all under one scenario, where the earthquake reverberates northwest toward Los Angeles. But Jones and her team says there's another possibility that it moves southeast. Then, Los Angeles would not bear the brunt, but the Mexican city of Mexicali, population about two million, would.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, back to Los Angeles, another key question there is, can the buildings withstand that kind of an earthquake? Seismologists tell us that those buildings that were constructed after about 1990 probably can withstand it, but they're very concerned about building that they say are older and have concrete frames. They are very vulnerable to being collapsed in a major earthquake like that, and another problem is that they were not required to be retrofitted -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Brian Todd, thank you very much.

You know, Peru was the scene of one of the deadliest earthquakes in the past 50 years. Back in 1970, a massive quake struck the region of Chimbote. The 7.9 magnitude quake killed 70,000 people then.

Now, the next deadliest was in northern Pakistan in 2005. You remember that one, 80,000 people perished. That was a 7.6 magnitude quake.

In 1976, 255,000 people died when an earthquake measuring 7.5 hit Tangshan, China.

The deadliest earthquake in the past half century, though -- you will recall this one -- it was the devastating Southeast Asia earthquake of December of 2004, a 9.1 quake. It triggered a tsunami that swept across the entire region. More than 283,000 people were killed 14,000 are still listed as missing. A million people -- a million -- were displaced.

Jack Cafferty joining us now from New York with "The Cafferty File".

Hello, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Miles, here's a wonderful idea that comes to us from a place where people wear shoes that are made of wood. A Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands says people of all faiths should start calling God "Allah" in order to ease relations with Muslims. Bishop Tiny Muskens told a Dutch television station he spent eight years in Indonesia, where Christian priests use the word "Allah" while celebrating mass. And he says -- quoting now -- "'Allah' is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? What does God care what we call him?"

Since he's a Catholic bishop, why wouldn't he suggest the opposite, that all the Muslims start calling Allah "God"?

There isn't a lot of support for this idea in the Netherlands. I wonder why.

It's a country with about a million Muslims. A survey in the biggest selling newspaper there found that 92 percent of those polled disagreed with Bishop Tiny.

The chairman of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands said he welcomed attempts to "create more dialogue," but added that calling God "Allah" does no justice to Western identity and he sees no benefit from it.

This isn't the first time this goofy bishop has made headlines. He once said that the hungry were entitled to steal bread, and he advocated condom use to prevent AIDS.

So here's the question: A Dutch Catholic bishop says people of all faiths should call God "Allah" in order to ease tensions with Muslims. How much sense does that make?

E-mail caffertyfile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile.

O'BRIEN: There should be some good ones on this, Jack, I think. Don't you?

CAFFERTY: Let's hope. I need this gig.

O'BRIEN: Yes, all right. Thank you very much.

Stocks plunge and then bounce back big on Wall Street. Find out what it means for your 401(k) and your pocketbook.

Plus, the race for the North Pole and its oil. The U.S. and Canada try to beat out Russia in a new Cold War.

Also, a CNN special report, "God's Warriors". Christiane Amanpour on the battle for America's soul in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: A panic-stricken tumble and a stunning reversal. Squeezed by the credit crunch, investors took another wild ride on Wall Street today.

From New York, here's CNN's Ali Velshi.

Ali, what does it all mean? ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was a remarkable turnaround today.

At one point, the Dow was down more than 300 points, and a lot of people thought this was it. But, you know, a lot of folks we were talking to today said, you know, we're watching this thing, it doesn't make sense. It might be a little oversold, it might be an opportunity to get into the market. And that's what happened.

In the last hour of trading, the Dow just kept on building and we ended up the day, you know, off 13 points. That's still down, but the fact is, on a market like we've seen today, where the gains for the year, Miles, have been erased on most of these markets, a lot of people thought this was the big one and it didn't end up being so.

This is all about that mortgage mess. This is all about those subprime mortgages, the fact that people can't pay their mortgages and their rates are going up, and how that sort of floated around and affected world markets. But it did end at least for today on a positive note.

It's hard to say that down 15 points on the Dow is positive, Miles, but after the day that we've seen and the roller-coaster ride that we've had, there are a lot of people on Wall Street and across America looking at their 401(k)s, very happy that even though it's the sixth down day in a row, we'll take a 15-point loss over 200 or 300 points down on a given day.

O'BRIEN: I'll take it. I'm afraid to look at my 401(k).

Let's talk about this -- is it -- are we officially in a bear market now?

VELSHI: We are not, in fact. We were going to be in a correction.

When the Dow hits 12,600 on the downside, that means that it's 10 percent below the 14,000 that it hit on July 9th. When a market is 10 percent off its high, it's called a correction. When it's 20 percent off its high, it's a bear market. And that sort of placed areas to start becoming concerned about.

We did hit that 12,600 points today, but then the Dow started coming back. Major markets like the S&P 500 actually closing in positive territory today.

This is a signal that some people -- and the people I've spoken to on Wall Street today are saying the same thing. Sure, there are reasons to be concerned about this market, sure this mortgage thing is real, but the bottom line is there are a lot of good, strong companies out there. And this is bargain hunting.

This is -- this is a big sale. They're going in and buying stocks, and that's what you see.

It happened in the last hour of trade on very heavy volume. That means the pros are getting into this market, and they're coming in and saying there's money to be made in the stock market. Maybe the rest of us should take that advice -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Buying opportunity. Let's not forget that.

Ali Velshi, thank you very much.

VELSHI: OK.

O'BRIEN: The sounds are faint and the pictures grainy and dim, but they're enough to keep rescue teams going in Huntington, Utah. Now 10 days since six coal miners were trapped deep beneath the surface there. And there are as many reasons for hope as there are despair.

Let's go back now to CNN's Brian Todd, who's watching developments there.

Brian, bring us up to date.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, we're told that morale is high among the rescuers here, but the problem is that every time there's a piece of good news regarding this search, it's accompanied by another setback.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice over): With still no sign of the six trapped miners, rescuers pursue another lead -- a fourth hole at a location pinpointed by the detection of noise or vibration. They caution the noise picked up by devices on the surface called geophones could have been anything -- an animal, thunder, a shift in the rock. And it could have been at any depth.

RICHARD STICKLER, MINE SAFETY & HEALTH ADMINISTRATION: We can't tell you that it was in the mine. And we don't know if it was in between the mine and the rock strata or on the surface. But we thought it was significant enough that we could not discount it.

TODD: Officials also show new pictures of what they call an undisturbed cavity more than 1,000 feet from the surface, water virtually spraying from the ceiling, wire mesh, poles, and...

BOB MURRAY, PRESIDENT & CEO, MURRAY ENERGY CORP.: There is 15, 16 percent, almost 17 percent oxygen in there. Almost a normal atmosphere.

TODD: Rescuers first thought the miners could have retreated to this chamber if they survived the devastating collapse. What do these pictures say?

STICKLER: This video shows that they're not at that location.

TODD: But officials say the camera can only capture a distance of 30 to 40 feet all around and the cavity could be much bigger. That drilling can only give indications of where the miners are or possibly get food or air to them. What will get these miners out, owner Robert Murray told me, is the digging in the main tunnel. And that's been set back against by seismic activity.

MURRAY: We have gone 826 feet. We should go two to three times what we are, but we don't know whether the mountain will let us or not. That mountain is alive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Eight hundred and twenty-six feet, that's not even halfway to where they believe these miners are. Now, these so-called mountain bumps have been so powerful that the rubble kicked out by one of them recently completely covered up one of those huge machines they're using to dig through -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Brian Todd in Huntington.

Thank you very much.

A catastrophic earthquake. We'll talk to one American who was there when it hit.

And gays for Giuliani. A political video meant to scare off conservative voters.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Well, you could call it a new Cold War. An international dispute heats up over who owns the North Pole.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, looks at who's involved, why, and why now.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Miles, is there going to be regime change at the North Pole? Well, some are calling it the tizzy at the top of the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice over): This is what started it: a mini sub planted a Russian flag under the ice at the North Pole, directly challenging Canada's claim it's in charge of the Arctic region. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper then flew to the Arctic Circle to put Moscow on notice.

STEPHEN HARPER, CANADA PRIME MINISTER: Canada's new government understands the first principle of Arctic sovereignty -- use it or lose it.

STARR: The U.S. is also skeptical of Russia's newfound claims in the Arctic.

TOM CASEY, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN, STATE DEPT.: I'm not sure whether they've, you know, put a metal flag, a rubber flag, or a bed sheet on the ocean floor. Either way, it doesn't have any legal standing or effect on this claim.

STARR: All three countries and others want the oil and natural resources under the pole, especially if global warming makes the Arctic more accessible.

For its part, Canada is taking new steps across the fabled Northwest Passage to protect its claim. A navy deep water port will be opened at the eastern entrance to the passage. A new army training center will be built at Resolute Bay. And the red-uniformed rangers, Canada's long-standing eyes and ears in the north, will get 900 new troops and much-needed equipment.

The dispute may only grow. Denmark is mapping the region to see if it can extend a claim, and the U.S. Coast Guard also has sent science experts to the area for its own mapping effort.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Moscow may be trying to expand its challenge. The Russian air force has just started flying its long-range bombers on training missions over the Arctic. That's something the Pentagon is watching very closely -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, Barbara Starr.

Bodies in the streets, other victims buried beneath the rubble. Hundreds are dead after a powerful earthquake rocks Peru.

We're on the scene for the rescue and the recovery efforts.

And "God's Warriors". Christian conservatives ready to go spiritual battle on the streets of a very liberal city. A special report from CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening right now, American Jose Padilla has been found guilty of terror charges. A jury in Miami convicted Padilla today of conspiring to kill people in a jihad and supporting terrorism overseas.

The Pentagon says it accidentally paid a small parts supplier almost $1 million to ship two 19-cent washers. It blames a flawed system designed to rush supplies to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It says loopholes letting the mistake happen have been closed and the money has been returned.

And could a White House wedding happen? President and Mrs. Bush announced today that their daughter Jenna is engaged. Longtime boyfriend Henry Hager popped the question yesterday.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Miles O'Brien.

You are in THE SITUATION ROOM. Back to one of our top stories now.

Four hundred and fifty at least are dead in southern Peru. A massive 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck about 24 hours ago. More than 1,500 are hurt. Some towns have been reduced to rubble.

CNN's Harris Whitbeck has made it to the hardest-hit town of Pisco. He joins us on the line right now.

Harris, what's the situation there?

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, I'm on a military base right outside the town of Pisco. This space has become a saving area for rescue workers who have been flying in from the Peruvian capital of Lima since about 3:00 this morning through airfields. There is practically non stop (inaudible) landing and taking off. The tarmac right next to the airfield has become an improvised triage area and emergency room where people who are rescued from the rubble are brought here where they are stabilized and then put on airplanes and sent back to Lima. They are sent to Lima because the hospitals in the entire Inca region are completely overwhelmed if not completely damaged. They are trying to get a grasp on the extent of the damage. Peruvian President Alan Garcia said today that the damage was very extensive. However, he did say that the region was very lucky because earthquakes are very powerful also occurred deep under the surface of the earth and the depth at which it occurred probably saved even more towns from being destroyed around here.

Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Harris Whitbeck on the line from Pisco, Peru.

Tonight an American businessman is in Lima and he's reporting a country living in fear trying to deal with chaos.

Joining us now on the line is Dan Brumbaugh. He is an American working in Lima.

Dan, first of all, give us the scene today. Tell us about the relief efforts.

DAN BRUMBAUGH: What we're seeing here in Lima is that there are a lot of people attempting to get down there and the government is not letting any traffic through on highways yet. It's only government military planes and others like that that are able to get through. We've been trying to rent an airplane or a helicopter and everything is gone.

So there is great bunch of leave going in there I understand it from Brazil, from a number of people and countries that sent people in down there already. But even in the capital today, it's just now seeming to get back to normal. We had a scare this morning about 10:30 that took everybody out of most of the buildings again here in San Isidro where I am. But and there are a lot more ambulances and fire trucks running by today than there have been in the last couple of weeks so I imagine a lot of people are having stress problems and such.

This country is really, really on edge from Lima on south. That's for sure. We just pray for all of the people that are hurt and without homes and such down there and we ask anybody that can to go to any relief agency you can and these people out down here.

O'BRIEN: Tell us about efforts -- I assume you would like to get out and come back to the U.S. are you able to do any business? There's probably not much business being down right now.

BRUMBAUGH: Well, surprisingly enough, even though this is the strongest quake the people in Lima have felt in 30 years, we, believe it or not, we went last night and did business almost as usual and in one part of the Lima. You know it was quite a strong quake here in Lima. I was amazed personally that it could be that strong and not have more obvious damage than it did. But believe it or not, people, although quite nervous and jumpy, business is going on I'm going to say probably 60 percent as normal in Lima today. A bunch of schools are closed. But down here in the business district, it's pretty much business as usual.

O'BRIEN: Dan Brumbaugh, an American in Lima, Peru, thanks for that report.

Images and videos of the massive earthquake in Peru are popping up on YouTube. And of course through CNN's I-report, our internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, is here with what's on the web.

Hello Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN I-REPORT: Miles, we've heard people describing the shaking during this earthquake. Well this cell phone captured it. This was uploaded onto YouTube, Daniel McCut (ph) of Salento. This is his work place. This video goes on for about a minute. You can see what they were experiencing. He's going to zoom in here on a computer monitor. You can see how much that was moving around. And as he goes across now to the water, you can see just how much movement there was going on. He said that the windows -- there was broken windows. There was also damage to some of the equipment. We're getting images through I-report of people sending in from Lima as well. Bear in mind all that was 90 miles away from the epicenter. This is from the University of Lima, from Mariana Morales (ph), who sent this in. She said they have been experiencing aftershocks but right now it seems to be back to business as usual.

Miles.

O'BRIEN: Scary to see a crack like that when you're inside the same building too. Abbi Tatton, thank you.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A CNN special report, God's Warriors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call them terrorists, virtue terrorists, that are destroying our kids.

AMANPOUR: Virtue terrorists?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are raping virgin teenage America on the sidewalk and everybody's walking by and acting like everything is OK and it's just not OK.

O'BRIEN: Christiane Amanpour on the battle for America's soul.

Plus, torrential rain soaked parts of Texas. Flooding, stranded drivers, and collapsed roofs.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: Roseanne Panella (ph) is living her picture perfect life. She traded in her stint as an attorney in 1996 for a career with a different focus.

ROSEANNE PANELLA (ph): Practicing law was not something I really enjoyed. So when I started to really think about what I wanted to do, I thought about being a travel photographer. I like to capture sense of place and people.

To do something you love, allows you to be who you are in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Tonight, the battle for America's soul. God's warriors fighting against a permissive pop culture. But does their moral crusade cross the line into something else?

Here's CNN's Christiane Amanpour with a preview of her special series.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me hear your battle cry tonight!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever speaks up most gets to shape the culture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm looking at a whole army of young people who want to speak out!

AMANPOUR: San Francisco, AT&T Park. This is Battle Cry. These 22,000 screaming teenagers and adults are Christian conservatives armed with their faith and prepared for battle in perhaps the most liberal city in America. Ready to fight what to them are the evils of secular society and pop culture. Sex, drugs, violence, and pervasive pornography on the air wave, the internet and in video games. They are god's warriors for Jesus.

RON LUCE, BATTLE CRY: Freedom to rise up and reject the pop culture and recreate it with the creative that God has given us

AMANPOUR: The man leading this struggle is Ron Luce.

LUCE: So I have a question. Do you have a voice? I didn't hear you. I said, do you have a voice? AMANPOUR: I traveled to San Francisco and met Luce as he rehearsed for that night's Battle Cry event. I wanted to know why he's declared war on the American lifestyle.

LUCE: We call them terrorist, virtue terrorists, that are destroying our kids.

AMANPOUR: Virtue terrorists?

LUCE: They are raping virgin teenage America on the sidewalk. Everybody's walking by and acting like everything's OK. It's just not OK.

AMANPOUR: The language is extreme. But many Christian parents agree with Luce. They don't like a culture where kids know more about Paris Hilton than the bible. But his hard line against abortion and homosexuality is what draws the controversy.

LUCE: Battle Cry is not a harmless movement. It's program is fiercely anti-woman, anti-gay, pro-war and pro-obedience.

AMANPOUR: Critics say that Luce, under the guise of saving teenagers, is imposing his conservative values on the rest of society.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It represents a far bigger agenda, a Christian right bureaucratic agenda, that goes from Ron Luce, the leader of Battle Cry, to Pat Robertson all of the way up to George Bush.

AMANPOUR: How do you answer that? They say this sounds like a message of bringing back your values but it's a message of intolerance and hate.

LUCE: You can say it's divisive. Well, maybe it needs to be divisive.

O'BRIEN: God's warriors begins Tuesday, the 21st, 9:00 p.m. Eastern time here on CNN.

The hurricane season heats up. The first troublesome tropical storm of the season swamping parts of Texas as we speak. We'll go there and look at the damage and the guy who is up a tree.

Plus, republican presidential candidates won't be appearing at a gay forum. That hasn't stopped one gay group from making a most unusual endorsement. Well, sort of. Jeanne Moos will explain.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: It's now just a tropical depression but Erin is still causing a lot of headaches tonight in Texas particularly for that guy who is caught up a tree. You saw him there. He's got a cell phone. He's in touch with the authorities. Apparently driving his vehicle in a place perhaps he shouldn't have been. We don't know the full details yet. We'll keep you posted on that. Ten inches of rain falling in that area. Houston also got clobbered. One person was killed there when a roof collapsed amid it all. Floods brought traffic there to a standstill. Even more than normal.

Craig Bell of CNN affiliate KTRK is there.

CRAIG BELL, CNN AFFILIATE KTRK: Things here in Houston, Texas, are starting to dry out. This is Highway 288 North. It was covered in water earlier today but right over here is a big reason why this is starting to dry out. These drains are finally starting to empty out. This stuff had been clogging them up all day long but finally they are emptying out. As you can see, the water is starting to reside now. Right back over here you can see the HPD, Houston police Department, is starting to tow cars off the freeways. That car you see right there. It was completely covered in water, water up to the hood. The same is true for this Ford Taurus right here. People had to literally abandon their cars as they found themselves in an awful mess stuck on the freeway.

Right back down here though, there's still a lot of people who are in need of help. Texas Department of Transportation right now out trying to clean out those gutters as we showed you a moment ago. You can see them emptying their trash out. Right back down there as well you can see those cars that pulled up on high ground to get out of the way of this flooding because it started raining so hard and raining so fast that these freeways could not handle the water and the volume of water that was rushing on there. Fortunately, we can report that no one was hurt. No fatalities, no serious incidents of injuries to report here in Houston, Texas.

O'BRIEN: That was Craig Bell of our affiliate KTRK. We thank him for that.

Our Carol Costello is monitoring other stories coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Carol, what's going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A couple of things, Miles. Search and rescue teams from the Navy and Coast Guard are looking for three naval aviators missing. They are missing at sea after their plane crashed into the Atlantic right near the Virginia/North Carolina border. The twin engine command and control plane went down during training exercises late last night. Naval officials say they do not know yet what caused the crash.

The death toll from the collapse of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis stands at 11. Over the past day, recovery crews pulled the bodies of 50 year old Vera Peck and 45 year old Christine Sacorafas Mosher, from their cars. Divers were only able to get to the vehicles after cranes moved debris out of the way. Two people are still missing.

A sad city from Kansas City. Police there say a man threw his sick wife off their fourth floor balcony because he couldn't afford her medical bills. The body of the 47-year-old woman was found on the pavement earlier this week. Police now sat that her distraught husband told them he walked her to the balcony, kissed her good-bye and then picked her up and dropped her over the railing. He is now facing second-degree murder charges.

That's a look at the headlines right now, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Carol Costello. In Houston, NASA managers are still pondering what to do about the damage on the space shuttle "Endeavour." You'll recall there's a 3 1/2 inch gash damaging a couple tiles in the aft section of the space shuttle "Endeavour." They have run a series of tests so far both computers and in a blast furnace to determine how much heat it will be exposed to when "Endeavour" returns to earth. They had been leaning in the direction of not repairing it. In other words, the heat is not enough to cause them great concern. We should have an announcement very soon.

Earlier today, Barbara Morgan, the teacher turned astronaut, had an opportunity to speak with some kids who were at a Challenger Learning Center here in Alexandria, Virginia. The Challenger Learning Center, founded by the surviving family members of the "Challenger" crew, of course Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space among them, and she took a couple good questions from the kids. Let's listen.

O'BRIEN: How and where do you sleep on the space station and do you ever sleep space walk?

BARBARA MORGAN: We're crawling into the sleeping bag. You can really sleep in any position here. Right side up, upside down, it doesn't matter. The main thing is you want to keep from floating around so that you don't hit your head into anything and either hurt yourself or hurt the equipment. We have these sleeping bags. It's just kind of like a sleeping bag liner. It has clips on it. You can clip it anywhere you want.

O'BRIEN: What would they do without Velcro? She says she's sleeping well.

Jack Cafferty joining us now from New York with the Cafferty File.

Hello Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, the question this hour, there's a catholic bishop in the Netherlands who says people of all faiths should call God "Allah" in order to ease tensions with Muslims. And our question is how much sense does that make?

Lee writes from Palacios, Texas, "If this Dutch catholic dude believes the western world calling God by the name of Allah will ease tensions with the Islamic world, he needs a dose of reality. An educated, well fed and socially secure Muslim will do more for peace than trying to appease him with political correctness."

Iris in Saugatuck, Michigan, "Better yet Jack, why don't we call out all faiths for what they truly are, myths, and abolish them once and for all? The world would be a much safer place for it. Ancient cultures practice polytheism, many gods, modern cultures practice monotheism, one god. It appears we're getting closer to the truth as time progresses. God doesn't exist."

Caitlin in Fredericksburg, Virginia, "The bishop it seems is only trying to help heal the deep wounds from the Jewish Christian Muslim conflict that's been going on for centuries. The fact is, Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God and link their lineage back to the same man, Abraham. I'm sure he was only trying to bring out the similarities between the religions rather than the differences."

Michael in Michigan writes, "Mr. Cafferty, if people want to ease tensions with the Muslim community, all we have to do is act like the Christians we say we are. As a matter of fact, that would ease tensions with the whole world."

Mike in Minnesota, "This must be the Dutch version of Al Sharpton. He makes about as much sense."

And Stan in Muncy, Pennsylvania, "I have a good idea. Why not start calling ham corned beef in order to improve relations with the Jewish people."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/Cafferty file. I like that one. We post more of them online along with video clips of the Cafferty File.

O'BRIEN: Yes semantics is important, isn't it?

CAFFERTY: If you say so.

O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, Jack.

Unlikely political support, gays for Giuliani.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how he can go about you know connecting that with his new persona which is a friend of the Christian right.

O'BRIEN: A new campaign to connect New York's former mayor to a more liberal past.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. It's Hot Shots time. Let's look at some of the pictures you will see in the newspapers tomorrow from our friends at the Associated Press.

Let's start in Gaza City, where Hamas security forces walk across a roped bridge during a graduation ceremony. Not sure about that one.

In Brazil, anxious stock traders worked on the floor. Markets around the world have been in turmoil today, as we've told you. ]

In Washington State, a S.W.A.T. team officer hauls bundles of marijuana plants after a major bust.

And in southern Germany, a Dutch rider and his horse named "Euro Commerce Berlin" (ph), that's the horse's name, they leap over a pool of water in a competition. Good shot.

And that is this hour's Hot Shots. A picture worth a thousand words.

Speaking of a picture worth a thousand words, live pictures north of San Antonio right now. Take a look at these images. This is a man in a tree. According to the dispatcher, he's on the phone right now with the police dispatcher. He's described as being in good spirits. He was driving his car. The car became overwhelmed by the floodwaters. Fortunately, he was able to make it to the tree. We're doing everything we can to get ahead of him but right now he's on the line with the police and there we have boats that are nearby. So it shouldn't be too long before he is rescued.

Republican presidential candidates had a chance to appear at a forum on gay issues but they just said no. So why, you may ask, is there a group on the internet called gays for Giuliani? It's most unusual which brings us to Jeanne Moos.

JEANNE MOOS: Let's say you go to YouTube and type in the words gays for Giuliani. The message says did you mean guys for Giuliani? No, we meant gays.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Rudy Giuliani were here right now, I would want to take his hand and thank him for supporting civil unions.

MOOS: Are you sensing a little satire here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am also so grateful to Rudy for domestic partnership plans that he has implemented in this state because I have had no less than five domestic partners.

MOOS: Meet the creator of what he calls one of the first ever satirical endorsements.

RYAN DAVIS, VIDEO CREATOR: He's completely done a 180 on his beliefs and I'm just trying to remind people that this was the guy I knew when he was the mayor in New York.

MOOS: Ryan Davis is a gay theater director who is now following in the footsteps, make that the dance steps of political videos like Obama girl which continues to spawn sequels like this mock attack ad from the Mitt Romney girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why can't Obama girl just pick a position?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're the Romney girls and we approve this message.

MOOS: Fans who approve of the original Obama girl video even made mash ups of their own to pay homage like little Obama girl. But these videos merely entertain. Ryan Davis wants to affect the vote by scaring conservatives away from Giuliani while at the same time highlighting how, in Davis' view, Giuliani has backtracked on gay issues.

DAVIS: I would be hard pressed to think of any conservative politician who embraces the gay community like Giuliani does.

Everybody's past should meet their present at some point. I don't know how he can go around marching in gay pride parades wearing drag.

MOOS: He points out Giuliani actually moved in with a gay couple while he was separated from his second wife.

DAVIS: I don't know how we can go about you know connecting that with his new persona which is like the, you know, friend of the Christian rights.

MOOS: The Giuliani campaign didn't respond to our request for a comment. Those responding online weren't all getting the point. Whatever organization is behind this, you are homophobic.

Do you mind being called a homophobe?

DAVIS: You know, I'm not a homophobe. I'm gay and I'm openly gay.

MOOS: But with satire like this, it's hard keeping all this gay stuff straight.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

O'BRIEN: Let's go back now, north of San Antonio. This picture does speak volumes. The man in the tree will hopefully soon meet the men with the raft. These are rescue workers on their way to this gentleman. You see him on the phone there talking to the police dispatcher, described as being in good spirits. He was driving his car, 10 inches of rain, flood waters, and we hope before too long he's home safe and sound.

Thanks for being with us. I'm Miles O'Brien.

Up next, in the footsteps of Bin Laden.

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