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AMERICAN MORNING

Storm Pounds Southern California; U.S. Navy Floating Ship Provides Care to Haiti Survivors; Rebuilding Haiti; The 'Yankees of Investment Banks'; It's Bigger, But Is It Better?; Saving Lives in Haiti; Exodus From Port-au-Prince; Senate Terror Hearing; Defying the Odds to Survive

Aired January 21, 2010 - 06:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome to AMERICAN MORNING on this Thursday, January 21st. Glad you're with us. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. And here are the stories that we'll be telling you about in the next 15 minutes here on the Most News in the Morning.

Southern California on high alert this morning, already soaked by three powerful storms. Number four has now arrived, and it's shaping up to be a dangerous day in Los Angeles. Freeways under water, and homes threatened by mudslides. We're live on the scene there.

CHETRY: Also a brand-new view of the earthquake this morning in Haiti, the moment it struck last Tuesday afternoon. Now almost nine days later, many people are still dying.

Reports say that thousands are dying each day that could be saved by surgery and other medical care. In some places, medical care is just nonexistent. In others, there are doctors and there are nurses but there are no supplies.

There is help on the way, though. We go aboard the Navy's hospital ship.

ROBERTS: Critics say they helped ignite the financial collapse that millions are still suffering through today, so how is Goldman Sachs on the verge of reporting record profits? Our Christine Romans is lifting the veil on one of the most feared and powerful banks in the world.

CHETRY: We begin, though, with another powerful Pacific storm slamming into Southern California. This is the fourth one now to hit this week and by far the most dangerous. Mother Nature certainly seems to be piling on right now.

In San Diego, people had to be pulled from their cars yesterday. Roads everywhere, under water. And here's a look now at the Long Beach freeway, impassable in some places. And with this morning's storm expected to drop several more inches of rain, this is not a good time to be anywhere near Los Angeles. Our Rob Marciano is live in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains where there is a very real threat of mudslides right now. What are the conditions like, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, right now it's a dry couple of hours, the first dry few hours that they've seen in quite some time. But nonetheless, a thousand homes in this area east of L.A. in the foothills of the San Gabriel's have been evacuated in the fear of mudslides. Five months ago, the hills behind me where flames were burning that vegetation. Now it's bare and that hillside could very well come tumbling down. It's starting to rain again, but the rain here across California has been piling up all week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO (voice-over): The water is overwhelming. Ireports show streets that look more like lakes. And a path for golf carts turned into a raging river. The weight of the water, punching holes in roofs, uprooting trees and stopping traffic dead in its tracks. For all this, the fear is that the worst is still to come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's best to get out of the way.

MARCIANO: The biggest concern is here in the foothills of L.A. The area devastated by last year's station fire, which scorched vegetation leaving behind bare hills vulnerable to mudslides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheriff's Department.

MARCIANO: And so the goal Wednesday was to get people out. Police swarming the area to enforce mandatory evacuations. Most people were listening, grabbing what they could and hoping that months of preparation would pay off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've had more geologists and fire people up here, and they're all really nervous about that hillside.

MARCIANO: The fear is that small streams like this could turn into deadly debris flows. This neighborhood in Glendale is typical of a threat with homes pressed right up against hillsides. Some have already gotten hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It happened so quickly, within five minutes. So by the time I looked out the window, I ran out started putting, shifting sandbags, then I realized that wasn't going to do the job.

MARCIANO: Debris basins like this are supposed to stop the flows but many are filling up. And once flow gets going, the rushing water picks up soil and rock, destroying everything in its path.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that debris starts coming down, this here is the flow. And if you're up in these areas, there's no way the fire department or the police department is going to be able to get up here to help you.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MARCIANO: Yesterday during the height of the rainfall, mud was flowing down this hillside. But what they've set up has so far done its job. K-rails brought in months ago, coupled with sandbags have been piling up all week managing to divert the water and mudflow in its rightful place. But you talk to residents and geologists alike, they are amazed that these hillsides have not come down sooner, and we certainly hope that that amazement continues tomorrow.

But we still have one more surge of moisture to go, and it's coming later this morning, and will last right on through the afternoon.

Take a look at the map, this last surge of moisture. We'll have some wind with it as well. Another two, in some cases four inches of rainfall fall potentially across Southern California. And then once we get through tomorrow, then we'll be out of it. But the next 24 hours will certainly be dicey.

Also the severe threat for tornadoes. A tornado watch across parts of the southeast. Reynolds Wolf will be up in about 30 minutes to talk about that situation as well.

We're enjoying a little bit of a dry spell here, John and Kiran, but the rain has started to come in, and I know the radar will be filling up and hopefully the hillside will hold and what doesn't hold, the precautions that they've made will take care of the rest. Back to you.

CHETRY: Yes, hopefully they'll be enough. Rob Marciano for us this morning, thanks.

ROBERTS: Other stories new this morning to tell you about. Mr. Brown goes to Washington today. Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown will meet with Republican and Democrat Senate leaders on Capitol Hill. Democrats are still reeling from Brown's upset victory that stripped away their filibuster-proof majority and left them scrambling for ways to salvage health care reform.

Our Brianna Keilar is following developments for us. She'll be live from the Capitol coming up in our 8:00 hour.

CHETRY: And it's Cindy McCain like you've never seen her before. The wife of Senator John McCain appearing in an ad supporting same-sex marriage in California. No Hate, a gay rights group, is behind the campaign. The group is challenging Proposition 8 passed by California voters in 2008 banning same-sex marriage.

The McCains' daughter, Meghan, posed for No Hate last summer. Senator John McCain says he respects the views of his family members but remains opposed to gay marriage.

ROBERTS: And the president and first lady doing their part to help recovery efforts in Haiti, sending a $15,000 check to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. The deputy White House press secretary says the Obamas have been inspired by the way millions of Americans have responded to the Haiti crisis, even in these tough economic times. CHETRY: And we are following the unfolding human suffering in Haiti again this morning. Right now, a second wave of people are said to be dying, succumbing to infections and gangrene, people that could have been saved with amputations that are so desperately needed. But there is a terrible lack of medical supplies still. We're going to try to get some answers on why that's still the case after day nine.

Also, hope. It still lives in the ruins of Port-au-Prince. A 5- year-old boy pulled out alive eight days after the quake. We also have new video of the moment the earthquake hit. A man actually captured it from the balcony overlooking Port-au-Prince, and you can see the nation's capital turning to dust and rubble.

ROBERTS: Help though has arrived off the coast of Haiti and it could mean the difference between life and death for many earthquake survivors. A floating Navy hospital now anchored offshore and filling up fast with patients.

Our Chris Lawrence has been on board the U.S. Navy ship "Comfort" and he's live for us this morning in Port-au-Prince. And I guess that ship couldn't have arrived a moment too soon for so many people, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you said it, John. I mean, this was like having, you know, Cedars-Sinai or Columbia Presbyterian Hospital just floating out at sea. But the head surgeon told me the key is going to be folks here on the ground sending the right patients out to that ship because if they somebody out there with say, like a broken finger, that patient's going to be tying up space until they can get them an airlift back here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): We follow the same route hundreds of patients are starting to follow. On board a Navy helicopter and in a quick couple minutes out to sea where the big white ship is like a beacon for overwhelmed doctors in Port-au-Prince. Besides the 40 beds in the E.R., the USNS Comfort already has five operating rooms up and running.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The heartbeat of this operation.

LAWRENCE: There's also a team of U.S. Navy translators to help doctors and patients communicate.

MMFN GILBERT LAGUERRE, U.S. NAVY TRANSLATOR: And then they tell you something and you try to explain to the doctor what they're saying, and sometimes you can be frustrated.

LAWRENCE: Gilbert Laguerre grew up in Haiti and struggles to watch what's happened on shore.

LAGUERRE: I can't explain it. It's -- never seen anything like this.

LAWRENCE: The military says the Haitian government is making the recommendations for which patients should come here. Doctors tell us they don't know if they'll see 3,000 patients or 30,000.

(on camera): The Comfort has about a thousand beds nearly as many as Johns Hopkins. But at some point soon, they'll all be filled.

CMDR. TIM DONAHUE, U.S. NAVY: You know at one point soon, we're going to be filled to capacity.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Which raises the question, what happens when these doctors don't have any free beds and needy patients are still waiting to be airlifted on board?

DONAHUE: We're talking with folks that recognize completely what you just said. You know, we have to be able to treat as many patients as we can. We've got to be able to move these folks on. You know, you're not going to be able to live on the ship indefinitely.

LAWRENCE: Commander Tim Donahue says there are roughly 20 facilities in the U.S. that are willing to accept patients. And officials are talking with countries like the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Peru about opening their hospitals as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: I asked the crew how long they plan to stick around. They said it's open-ended. There is no end date, but they've got enough supplies right now for about 60 days. The thing we've got to keep our eye on, though, are these agreements with all these other hospitals because the "Comfort" has to have, you know, places in the United States and Latin America to push these patients on to -- John.

ROBERTS: Yes. You know, the relief effort keeps on kind of ramping up every day, and it's good to see it accelerating day by day, and certainly the arrival of that ship is a real comfort. Hence the name, I guess.

Chris Lawrence for us in Port-au-Prince this morning.

LAWRENCE: Yes.

ROBERTS: Chris, thanks so much.

And stay with us. In about 20 minutes' time, we're going to find out firsthand the biggest challenges facing rescuers in Haiti. Coast Guard, pilot Lieutenant Commander Bill Strickland and Captain James McPherson, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, will update us on what's going on right now.

CHETRY: Yes. They had that amazing rescue of the 69-year-old woman yesterday. They were able to make that happen, so we'll check in with them about how she's doing as well.

And also still ahead on the Most News in the Morning, our coverage from Haiti continues. What caused such widespread devastation in Port-au-Prince? We're going to be taking a look at the lax building standards and whether anything can be salvaged. If not, when does the rebuilding start? It's 10 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Twelve minutes past the hour right now.

Life in Haiti this morning largely taking place on the streets and in makeshift tent communities in part because survivors are simply terrified that the remaining structures could still collapse. We talked about that huge aftershock yesterday. So what will it take to rebuild Haiti?

Our Jason Carroll is live in Port-au-Prince. And we know that as engineers go through and start to examine things, they have to figure out whether there's anything that can be salvaged or if they have to start over from scratch.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. We spent part of our day with engineers yesterday. This effort is going to take time. It's going to take money, and it's going to take discipline. Discipline to adopt uniform building codes when they decide to rebuild.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): Port-au-Prince is about to face many questions about its future. How does the city rebuild when there's still so much destruction? Should damaged structures still standing be torn down?

Eva Michelle isn't waiting for answers. Her house destroyed, she salvaged what she could and watched as workers started demolishing it. It's being torn down the same way it was built, by unlicensed workers. No codes to follow on tearing down. Or Michelle says, to build.

EVA MICHELLE, HOME DESTROYED IN EARTHQUAKE: No.

CARROLL: None?

MICHELLE: No.

CARROLL: No code?

MUCHELLE: No.

CARROLL: No regulation?

MICHELLE: No.

CARROLL: Haitians say that's the way it's done. License is not required. Codes, where they even exist, not enforced. It's part of the reason so much was destroyed in the earthquake and why structural engineers like Kit Miyamoto from California are here now.

KIT MIYAMOTO, EARTHQUAKE AND STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Remove those things out, that can go right into.

CARROLL: This is Miyamoto's first full day on the ground with a nonprofit called The Pan American Development Foundation. The goal? Rapid assessment, meaning quickly investigate the structural integrity of 10 buildings a day.

This was the Ministry of Finance. It's symbolic of what went wrong with many buildings, including their presidential palace.

MIYAMOTO: The reinforced ministry wall, right? Because that's the brick and without no rebar. That's dangerous.

CARROLL: Miyamoto says rebar can make a building more flexible when it shakes, but much of the city's businesses and homes use brick without the reinforced steel bar.

(on camera): What do you do? Do you just demolish these buildings and then cart out all the debris and then start fresh?

MIYAMOTO: It depends. For example, this one. Probably it's not solid. But many buildings can be repaired.

CARROLL: Engineers tell us when Port-au-Prince does rebuild, they have to use new building codes and make sure those codes are enforced.

(voice-over): And engineers like Keith Martin with the Los Angeles County Fire Department say rebuilding, or retrofitting, is not something that can or should be rushed.

KEITH MARTIN, LA COUNTY FIRE SEARCH AND RESCUE: You're talking to be done correctly something that's going to take years to do.

CARROLL (on camera): Years?

MARTIN: Years, to do it correctly.

CARROLL (voice-over): Even Michelle (ph) says she doesn't have the money right now to rebuild, but if she does, she hopes there are guidelines to show her and the other people of Port-au-Prince a better way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And you know, Kiran, the reality is it may be very difficult to change old ways here. But the engineers say at least what Haiti has to do is have these building codes for key buildings, such as schools, hospitals, government buildings. They say that, at least, will be a start -- Kiran?

CHETRY: Certainly, a major, major challenge ahead, no doubt. Jason Carroll for us this morning in Port-au-Prince. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Coming up on the Most News in the Morning, Goldman Sachs expected to announce blockbuster earnings later on this morning. We're going to step back and lift the curtain on this banking giant to see just what makes it so successful.

Our Christine Romans, digging deeper this morning as she minds your business.

Sixteen minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Nineteen minutes after the hour now.

While many of you are waking up wondering if you'll still have a job today, Goldman Sachs employees are wondering just how big their bonuses are going to be.

CHETRY: That's right, how the other half lives, I guess you could say. The most feared and respected firm on Wall Street will report fourth quarter earnings in just a couple of hours, and all that success is finding them a lot of enemies as well.

Our Christine Romans is here to lift the veil on the bank. A lot of mystery and mystique surrounding Goldman Sachs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right, and we're going to get their -- their quarterly report and their annual report from -- for last year, so we're really going to know how much money this -- this bank made.

And, of course, Goldman Sachs is the focus of growing public scrutiny and scorn for its role in the mortgage meltdown that brought the economy to the brink, a Wall Street company whose employees epitomize the Masters of the Universe. If you work at Goldman, you're golden, an elite member of an exclusive club, a club most know very little about.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: 85 Broad Street, home to the revered and feared Goldman Sachs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me what you want, what you really want. (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: But after more than a century of avoiding the media spotlight...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want our money back.

ROMANS: ... the bank finds itself front and center. "Rolling Stone" ridiculed it as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity."

Critics blame Goldman for selling toxic assets like mortgage- backed securities that contributed to the financial collapse. Like other banks, it took government bailout money, although it has since paid it back. And while the country is still reeling, Goldman Sachs is having a banner year. ELIOT SPITZER (D), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Goldman always brings to the table the attitude we're smarter than everybody else, and we're better than everybody else and that's why we make money.

ROMANS: Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer investigated Goldman's business practices while Attorney General.

ROMANS (on camera): What is it about Goldman that makes them so feared and respected?

SPITZER: To -- to a certain, they're the New York Yankees of the investment banks. They keep winning. They have all the money, they keep winning, they have an arrogance, but people underneath it say, boy, they're good. And so you love them, you hate them, you resent them, you fear them, you think the game is fixed. And sometimes, it's probably all of the above.

ROMANS (voice-over): It all began in 1869, when Marcus Goldman created a trading company that invested in other businesses. Soon after, his son-in-law, Samuel Sachs, joined the firm, a rare Jewish bank on Wall Street.

ROMANS (on camera): Outside its headquarters, you wouldn't even see a Goldman Sachs sign. The company declined our request for an on camera interview. Instead Goldman Sachs prefers to let its high- octane roster of traders, investment managers and bankers to speak for itself.

JANET HANSON, FORMER GOLDMAN SACHS EMPLOYEE: This was the equivalent of getting to work at NASA.

ROMANS (voice-over): Janet Hanson spent 14 years at Goldman, starting in the 70s, the first woman to manage the Money Market Sales Desk. For Hanson, the allure was simple.

HANSON: The excitement of working with really smart people I think is really what attracted these very talented young people, particularly young people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was that a contributing factor or not a...?

ROMANS: To begin with, the firm recruits top students from the best graduate schools. Charles Ellis is author of "The Partnership: A History of Goldman."

CHARLES ELLIS, AUTHOR, "THE PARTNERSHIP": Well, if you've got the very, very best people in very large numbers and you discipline them well and train them well, and give them tremendous motivation to do great things and teach them to play as teams, you get a very formidable organization.

ROMANS: And they pay well. This year Goldman's compensation pool is approaching $21 billion. In a company of nearly 32,000, that averages about $700,000 apiece.

CHRIS WHELAN, INSTITUTIONAL RISK ANALYSIS: Goldman bankers just work very hard. They try and get information before everyone else does, and they try and act on it first.

ROMANS: They also rely more on complicated high-tech trading over traditional investment banking to make money -- loads of it. In the third quarter, more than $49 million in profit a day, allowing for bonuses Goldman's CEO claims are justified. He said in October...

LLOYD BLANKFEIN, CEO, GOLDMAN SACHS: I can't do too much that subordinates the -- the interest of our shareholders in having a great franchise in Goldman Sachs and maintaining our people and being able to recruit other people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: After public outrage, Goldman backed off and decided to offer its 30 top executives bonuses in deferred stock instead of cash, a sign to Goldman watchers that the days of avoiding the public spotlight are long gone for this company. And that spotlight will even shine more brightly today when Goldman reports its profit for the year, and we hope with that final bonus pool will be its final compensation pool.

ROBERTS: This is the one thing, and maybe I'm just dense, but I just don't get this, this idea of having to pay people so much money to retain them. You -- you were talking -- while the piece was running that all of these people in these MBA programs want to go work at Goldman Sachs. So it would seem that there's a very deep talent pool out there to draw from. People want to get in the door there.

ROMANS: There's this theory on Wall Street, it's always been this way, you eat what you kill. So the beginning of the year, you draw a relatively modest salary, still much more than the average American family makes, but a modest salary. And at the end of the year, after you know how well the company did, you get half of what that -- what you brought in, or 60 percent of what you brought in. At Goldman now, I think it's about 43 or 45 percent of what you bring in, you get to take home at the end of the year.

You eat what you kill. They're going to find out how much they killed and how much they're going to eat today.

ROBERTS: Modest is a relative word, I guess.

ROMANS: Oh, modest. Yes, that's right.

CHETRY: All right, Christine. Thanks so much.

We're going to have part two of Christine's -- and allegations that critics have against Goldman and why so many Goldman alums end up in leading policy rules in the government. She's going to talk to us about that a little bit more tomorrow.

Meanwhile, it's 24 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Twenty-seven minutes after the hour. We're back with the Most News in the Morning, and time now for an "AM Original," something that you'll see only on "AMERICAN MORNING."

More than a decade ago, President Bill Clinton declared the era of big government is over, but with the response to 9/11, two wars, new taxes, bailouts and record deficits, the truth is, now, Uncle Sam has never been bigger. So what does that mean for you?

Our Carol Costello is live at our Washington Bureau this morning with some answers to that question. Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have a lot of answers this morning, and I know people are very upset about growing government. Let's face it, it's not the best of times in America, and it's difficult to find solutions to problems that didn't just crop up when President Obama took office.

Many Americans, some of them quite vocal, feel President Obama is trying to solve problems by growing government. They feel an already big government is becoming enormous. And they're right, especially on that last point.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): Inauguration Day, January 20th, 2009.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.

COSTELLO: Inspiring words, but President Obama's detractors say they knew what he really meant -- bigger is better.

COSTELLO (on camera): When you were watching the inauguration, what were your thoughts on how he would lead?

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Same old stuff. Same -- I expected nothing to change, and nothing really has changed, philosophically.

COSTELLO (voice-over): It's what you'd expect Congressman Ron Paul to say -- a Republican who leans Libertarian, he ran for president in '08 as an anti-war, small government candidate.

COSTELLO (on camera): Does government have its hand in every facet of our lives?

PAUL: Everything we do! Everything we put in our mouths, everything -- every penny we spend, every contract we make, the federal government is involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Government is the problem!

COSTELLO (voice-over): It's a charge that's fueling the Tea Party movement. Claims of socialism aside, the federal government is getting fatter.

According to a George Mason University study, President George W. Bush presided over the largest dollar increase in regulatory spending in decades, and President Obama's piling on with the auto bailout and Cash for Clunkers.

Truth is, our government has been getting fatter for 60 years. These books list and explain every single federal regulation, from education to transportation. In 2008, there were 222 volumes of government regulations, nearly 160,000 pages. In 1951, there were just 46 volumes, and about 16,000 pages.

COSTELLO (on camera): Is there a point when government becomes so big that it can't possibly work well?

WILLIAM EGGERS, AUTHOR, "IF WE CAN PUT A MAN ON THE MOON": Oh, well, of course. Because think about yourself. If you're trying to do too many things, it's hard to do anything well.

COSTELLO (voice-over): William Eggers co-authored a book about effective government. And while he says he's nonpartisan when it comes to the size of government, he does say big government gets a bad rap.

EGGERS: We've had a lot of successes over the years.

COSTELLO (on camera): Oh, please name some.

EGGERS: Acid rain, it was a huge problem back in the 1970s. We don't hear anything about acid rain today, right?

COSTELLO: Right.

(voice-over): Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Another example, the government's Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild Europe after World War II.

There were misses, too. Remember all those "Whip Inflation Now" buttons? The government used them to push its inflation-busting program which failed miserably. That failing part is what many voters fear today.

SCOTT BROWN (R-MA), SENATOR-ELECT: I'm nobody's senator except yours.

COSTELLO: That's part of the reason Democrats lost a Senate seat and why Eggers says President Obama must convince Americans government can work, even if it's big.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: But that's a tall order in these times.

Another thing to keep in mind, it's not so easy to shrink government. It takes hard work, and, guess what? It takes bipartisan support on the part of lawmakers. Welfare reform, remember that? Everybody loved welfare reform. Well, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Government, it took 30 years to finally reform welfare -- John.

ROBERTS: It's kind of like Mission Creep, and it's keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

COSTELLO: It does. But like I said, it's really difficult to shrink government. It takes hard work and it takes cooperation from both, you know, Democrats and Republicans.

ROBERTS: Right.

Carol Costello this morning -- great piece this morning, Carol. Thanks so much.

You can read more about Carol's story online. Plus, we want to know what you think about all of this. Has Uncle Sam gotten too big? Does he need to shed a few pounds? Just head to our blog at CNN.com/amFIX.

CHETRY: Well, right now, it is coming on across the half hour right now and it's time for our top stories.

Authorities in L.A. are telling people who ignore evacuation orders there that they are on their own. Southern California bracing for more flooding this morning as another major storm system approaches. Another eight to 10 inches of rain is expected.

Our Reynolds Wolf will have the latest warnings. His forecast is coming up. It's 20 minutes away.

ROBERTS: President Obama is calling on Democrats to scale-back health care to elements that people agree on. This comes after Republican Scott Brown captured Ted Kennedy's old seat in that special election on Tuesday, costing Democrats their 60-vote filibuster-proof supermajority. Brown has vowed to send health care back to the drawing board.

CHETRY: And new information this morning on the suspect accused of killing eight people in Virginia. Police say that two of the victims are Christopher Speight's sister and brother-in-law. Officials also recovered explosives at the home where most of the victims were shot. Speight is now being held without bond. So far, he's been charged with one count of first-degree murder, but police say that more charges are pending.

And returning now to the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti, the U.S. Coast Guard among the first American responders to help bring help to the devastated people there. The Cutter Forward arriving in Haiti just hours after the quake hit, and the Coast Guard now has a number of ships and aircraft there to help with the response.

Joining us live from Port-au-Prince, two members of the Coast Guard, pilot, Lieutenant Commander Bill Strickland and also, Captain James McPherson, a spokesman for the Coast Guard and standing behind them as well, other members of air crew with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thanks to all of you for being with us this morning.

CAPT. JAMES MCPHERSON, SPOKESMAN, U.S. COAST GUARD: Good morning.

CHETRY: Let me start with you, Captain McPherson. You guys had a chance to get a bird's eye view, an aerial view of the damage. What is it like in Haiti right now from your vantage point?

MCPHERSON: It's really amazing. The devastation is very widespread in the Port-au-Prince area. The earthquake was extremely damaging, and the port still has extensive damage.

CHETRY: And we're still seeing the struggles, I guess, to get some aid to the people that need it. One of the things our crews on the ground have been talking about is need -- the urgent need for medical supplies that some of these hospital that are there and have doctors and nurses, surgeons and anesthesiologists, but they simply don't have the supplies.

Do you have an update on how that relief effort is moving?

MCPHERSON: Yes. For the Coast Guard, we have -- we have 15 cutters in the area. We have 15 helicopters in the area. We have delivered over 38 tons of medical supplies this week and 40 tons of water this week alone. We are continuing to work closely with our partners, and we have great cooperation to get the supplies out as quickly as we can to the areas that need it.

CHETRY: And, Commander Strickland, let me ask you about this one. There's been some bright spots in your operation. One is that you were able to rescue the Anna Zizi and medevac her. She was the 69-year-old woman who had survived amid the rubble of a falling cathedral. Right there, she survived for an entire week.

What was the operation like? She looked in pretty bad shape and we saw the video of her being taken out of the rubble. How is she doing and how did you guys get her help?

LT. CMDR. BILL STRICKLAND, U.S. COAST GUARD PILOT: Basically, we had just dropped off two other patients on the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and we got the message from the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma that they had a victim from trapped rubble down in the palace area of Port-au-Prince.

We were able to -- an amazing effort of coordination between the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma and our district command center in Miami and also, volunteers on the ground using e-mail and text messages. It was an amazing coordination effort, how we were able to pinpoint her location near the palace and how to make a nighttime landing there in front of the palace to, you know, get her loaded up and get her airlifted out.

We ultimately took her to the USS Bataan where she was offloaded. And from my understanding, she's doing well. She's recovering and expected to continue to recover.

CHETRY: That certainly is amazing, given what she's been through, and her age and the condition. Wow! And you guys had a big part in that.

You've been to some of the biggest disasters and seen so many sights of devastation. How does this rank in terms of what you are dealing with, and also, the conditions you're working under?

STRICKLAND: Well, it's, obviously, you know, pretty much utter devastation in the city proper around Port-au-Prince, and also outlying areas. You know, the only thing I've ever seen that compares to it was the destruction after Hurricane Katrina. But, you know, there's no way to put it in words, really.

CHETRY: Captain McPherson, one of the other things, as you were talking about, you're texting -- a lot of the information is coming in in these piecemeal ways through just people that are on the ground, that see something and then try to get a message out. It seems that some the coordination has proven to be difficult, logistically speaking.

How has your mission changed or evolved as you guys have seen the need on the ground?

MCPHERSON: Well, it's an extraordinary situation, so it's taking extraordinary measures. Anything that we can do to get information, to get rescuers, first responders on scene, we've used e- mail, we've used text messaging. We've called CNN in Atlanta.

We've done everything that we had to do to get the locations of people in distress. And the Coast Guard's been doing that, rescuing people for 200 years, but now, we have to use new ways to do it. But it's certainly a challenge here.

CHETRY: And what are your -- what is it going to be your highest priority moving forward? We're at day nine. I know you talked about being able to deliver 38 tons of medical supplies and 40 tons of water. Are you shifting more toward that role right now?

MCPHERSON: For the Coast Guard right now, our major mission is to continue to get the severely injured from the Haitian Coast Guard base out to the USS Comfort. And that will complete over 500 medical evacuations from the Haitian Coast Guard area. That's been a great success story, too.

The Haitian Coast Guard has been extremely helpful, and they've been doing a wonderful job of taking care of their countrymen even when their homes have been devastated.

CHETRY: Yes, absolutely. Well, you guys have been doing great work, life-saving work. And you're -- you know, angels of mercy for everybody that needs help and needs to get evacuated. So, a big thank you, I'm sure, from the people of Haiti and for all of us as well. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

Lieutenant Commander Bill Strickland, as well as Captain James McPherson, and the rest of the Coast Guard crew working there on the air crew -- thanks so much.

MCPHERSON: Thank you.

CHETRY: It's 38 minutes past the hour. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

There is an exodus underway right now in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Nine days after the killer earthquake there with no homes, little hope, throngs of Haitians are headed to the harbor with just one goal in mind: getting out.

Our Ivan Watson shows us the desperate measures that people are taking.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chaotic crowds in the port of Port-au-Prince. Thousands of Haiti's new hordes of homeless have been gathering here, within sight of American ships anchored far offshore.

Nearly all these people have seen their houses destroyed. Some lost loved ones. They have all been sleeping for days on this filthy quake-damaged wharf waiting for a ship to take them out of the city.

This is where we meet Annette Clement (ph) and her daughter Aneeka (ph).

(on camera): And they spent several days sleeping out here. They say they moved up to this hill after this morning's aftershocks because it was so terrifying. And they're just sitting here waiting, desperate for a ship to take them to another part of Haiti.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WATSON: And she says she doesn't know how many days they're going to stay here.

(voice-over): When a rusting blue ferry finally does pull into sight, families jump on wooden rowboats. An armada of dangerously overload dingy sets for the ferry, launching a chaotic scramble aboard the ship. Parents passing babies up a floating assembly line.

The Haitian government gave away fuel to provide free transport to the port of Jeremie. But officials left out one crucial detail...

(on camera): Has anybody offered you any hope with crowd control of these thousands of desperate people?

ROGERT ROUZIER, SHIP OWNER: No. We have no -- no crowd control whatsoever. We are trying ourselves to control the crowd. But it's impossible.

WATSON (voice-over): The ferry is licensed to carry 600 passengers. But on board, there must be thousands. With few lifeboats, this could be another disaster waiting to happen. But it's here that we spot a familiar face.

(on camera): A nice little surprise here, we came across little Aneeka and her mother, who made it on board.

(SPEAKING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

WATSON (voice-over): Against all odds, they got on board and plan to travel to aunt's house in a safer part of the country. Amid this anarchy, a moment of joy and relief -- a little girl and her mother are about to escape their shattered city.

Ivan Watson, CNN, in the harbor of Port-au-Prince.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: You've got -- you've got to think they run into a sudden storm or something like that, and it could be just a total tragedy all over again.

CHETRY: Yes. But it shows you just how dire the situation is, that they're willing to take that risk and that chance to get out.

ROBERTS: Desperate -- desperate people recourse in sometimes desperate measures to...

CHETRY: Yes.

ROBERTS: ... try to get away from everything. Incredible.

CHETRY: Sadly, that's the case there now.

Well, switching gears a bit, we're talking about Washington now. A Senate committee grilling President Obama's national security team over the attempted bombing of a U.S. plane over Detroit on Christmas Day. Things actually got pretty tense yesterday on the Capitol.

ROBERTS: Senators demanding to know how in a post-9/11 world something like this could happen.

Our Jeanne Meserve has got this morning's "Security Watch" for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, counterterrorism officials admit the alleged Christmas Day bomber never should have been allowed to step on an airplane. They acknowledge their systems failed and say they're taking steps to fix them. But those admissions were not enough to blunt congressional criticism.

(voice-over): Immediately after he was taken into custody, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was talking to investigators, giving up information. But he clammed up after being read his Miranda rights and given a lawyer.

Some in Congress say the decision to classify him as a criminal defendant rather than an enemy combatant was just plain wrong.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think it's a terrible mistake. I think it's a terrible, terrible mistake when it's pretty clear that this individual did not act alone.

MESERVE: Some of the nation's top counter-terrorism officials told Congress they were not consulted. The director of National Intelligence chimed in that a newly created high-value detainee interrogation group, or H.I.G. should have been brought into the loop.

DENNIS BLAIR, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: That unit was created exactly for this purpose, to make a decision on whether a certain person who's detained should be treated as a case for federal prosecution or for some of the other means. We did not invoke the H.I.G. in this case. We should have.

MESERVE: But the director was later forced to issue a statement saying the H.I.G. isn't fully operational. At another hearing, FBI Director Robert Mueller said he hadn't been consulted about Abdulmutallab's status either, though unnamed senior officials in his agency and at the justice department did weigh in.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: This particular case in fast moving offense, decisions were made appropriately, I believe, very appropriately given the situation.

SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ALABAMA: I don't think you can say it's appropriate. We don't know what that individual know and learned while he was working with al Qaeda, and we may never know because he now has a lawyer that's telling him to be quiet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE (on-camera): Government watch list also provided grist for the hearing. The head of the National Counter-Terrorism Center says every day, 350 new names are put on the terror watch list and 30 to 40 specific plots are investigated; although, officials say the no- fly list has been expanded since Christmas day, before that there was pressure to keep the list small so passengers would not be inconvenient. The director of National Intelligence said shame on us for giving in. John and Kiran, back to you.

ROBERTS: Jeanne Meserve this morning. Jeanne, thanks so much.

CHETRY: Reynolds Wolf is tracking the severe weather in the Los Angeles are, plus, he is going to have the travel forecast as well. We'll be right back. Forty-seven minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Ten minutes to the top of the hour now, and Reynolds Wolf is in the Weather Center in Atlanta tracking all of the extreme weather across the country. Reynolds we've got Rob Marciano out west because of all the storms there. How bad is it going to be in the West Coast and what's happening across the rest of the country?

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: In the West Coast, I mean, that is really going to be the big eyesore in terms of your rough weather today, because you have virtually every kind of weather phenomenon when it comes to bad weather. You got mudslides; you got flooding; you got some torrential rainfall on the San Joaquin valley, but then the high relation, John, we're talking about the potential, possibly several feet, not inches, but several feet of snowfall.

Same story for much of the Four Corners, but then when you get to the southeast, another part of the country we have staying all together there when we're talking about a tornado watch that is down in effect for portions of Florida, Georgia and Alabama. This area you see shaded in red is the places that are really going to be under the gun over the next couple of hours. In fact, this tornado watch will be in effect until by 10:00 Central Time, so that is really the second thing to watch out for.

You have the action out toward the west, the heavy rain, the snow in the mountains, then the storms in the southeast, but then, when you get into the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley, rain is going to be the issue and then possibly some heavy fog for you in portions of the Corn Belt and into the Northern Plains. Now, what is this going to mean for your travel? You're going to have some travel headaches out there granted especially in places like Memphis and Atlanta due to the thunderstorms.

Then for phoenix, wind is going to be a big issue, but if you're making that drive up in the higher elevations in Arizona, snow and wind are going to be the problem. Snow, rain, wind could be an issue in parts of California, San Francisco and L.A. It's going to be the wind, the rain, and also some low clouds, so you may keep you grounded for a while. Let's send it back to you guys.

ROBERTS: All right. Reynolds, thanks so much.

Top stories just minutes away, including beating the odds in Port-au-Prince. A 5-year-old boy rescued nearly eight days after the deadly quake. Anderson Cooper has his amazing story this morning.

CHETRY: And six days and 14 hours until President Obama's first State of the Union, so what is his number one priority? Our Ed Henry is live at the White House with more.

ROBERTS: Plus, Democrats still have a solid majority in the senate, but will Scott Brown's stunning victory in Massachusetts put the president's health care plan on the life support? At 7:30 Eastern, we're talking to one of the biggest supporters of reform, Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner. Wait until you hear what he has to say. Those stories and more still ahead. It's eight minutes now at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It's 6:55 Eastern and that means it is time for the "Moost" News in the Morning. A stunning election upset was dubbed the Scott heard around the world.

CHETRY: We're talking about Scott Brown, but his daughters were actually the ones center stage at the Massachusetts senator elects victory party. Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was the mystery woman dancing while pundits prognosticated.

UNKNOWN MALE: The American people don't want one party rule.

MOOS: Behind their backs.

UNKNOWN MALE: I have told you congratulated Scott Brown.

MOOS: Stealing the show from the commentary.

UNKNOWN MALE: It's being sold to the people state by standing in a corrupt fashion.

MOOS: Don't look now but it's the winning candidate's daughter performing at his victory party.

And breaking the news to the crowd that Scott Brown's opponent had conceded.

AYLA BROWN, SENATOR-ELECT BROWN'S DAUGHTER: My dad is the next senator of Massachusetts!

MOOS: But we really got to meet the senator-elect two daughters when he had a dad said what moment.

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Yes, they're both available. No, no, no.

MOOS: Whispered --

BROWN: Not Arianna.

MOOS: That her younger sister is not available.

BROWN: Only kidding. Only kidding. Arianna definitely is not available, but Ayla is.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Stop.

BROWN: And thus began the debate, a proud dad teasing his daughter in a loving way, or just plain creepy? They sure seem to have fun together. This photo began circulating on the web, captioned by Wonkette, found, picture of Scott Brown wearing clothes. That wearing clothes jab stems from this, Brown posing for Cosmopolitan back when he was a law student.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: This guy's got like machoness. Whoa. Senator dreamy. UNKNOWN FEMALE: This guy is hot. He rang my bell. Okay?

MOOS: But bells were ringing for the senator elect's daughters as well. Easy on the eyes. Some kind of hot, younger daughter is a pre-med student, and if the older daughter, Ayla, looks vaguely familiar...

You may have seen her on season five of "American Idol" a few years back

MOOS (on-camera): But the "American Idol" river was apparently too wide for Ayla. She made it to the top 16 and then...

SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, AMERICAN IDOL: It was good. It just wasn't fantastic.

MOOS (voice-over): She left the competition with herself intact and hopes for a singing career, so what if they are dad hit an odd note. Watch mom's face.

SENATOR BROWN: Yes, they're both available.

MOOS: But this was one happy day as Ayla picked confetti out of her cleavage. Her cuff (ph) truly runs it over.

Jeanne Moos. CNN. New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Thanks, Dad.

CHETRY: It wasn't that bad. He was just teasing. I thought they were all really cute.

ROBERTS: Okay.

CHETRY: You thought it was bad? Did you?

ROBERTS: Oh, yes. Top stories coming your way in 90 seconds. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)