CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Harrisburg, Illinois Devastated by Tornado; Extreme Weather Threatens Midwest; Romney Takes Wyoming Caucuses; Twelve Dead from Severe Storm; Storms Injure 100 In Harrisburg; U2's The Edge Gives Homeless Kids a Break; Tornadoes Ripped Up Midwes

Aired March 1, 2012 - 06:58   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: As we begin STARTING POINT, this morning, we're going to take a closer look at the damage not only here in Harrisburg, Illinois, but across the United States today as many people are cleaning up, and of course, grieving. Here in Harrisburg, this exact apartment complex they lost five people. Five people were killed here.

Another person not very far from here bringing the total in Harrisburg and in the state to six people dying in the aftermath of these tornadoes. Today, we'll take a look at what happens in the cleanup, what happens in the aftermath. We'll look back at some of the victims and their lives, and also, we'll update you on what is going to happen across the United States. STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're in Harrisburg, Illinois as grossly (ph) 9,000 people. Today, though, all the focus is on this community right here. This apartment complex where five people lost their lives in the aftermath of a tornado with winds of roughly 170 miles an hour coming this direction, slamming into homes, absolutely devastating this neighborhood.

You can see some of the damage behind me. This home, you can tell it's a home, because there's a car in the garage, but outside of that, it's really hard to tell. But let me show you something where really the bulk of the deaths occurred. It's this way. Kevin, if you'll follow me.

This is a home that has been completely wiped off its foundation. You can see down here into the basement the women who lived in this home died. Because the winds were coming, basically, this direction this home was right directly in the path, the homes that lie down that way, as well. There is a number, they don't look like anything's there and that's because the homes aren't there anymore. They were literally wiped off their foundations.

The thing about tornadoes that is always so strange, of course, you can have a home wiped off the foundation and literally right next door is a home where there is almost no damage at all. This home lost a little siding and a broken window, beyond that, it's not really bad. That is what I always find very challenging in covering tornados, so much loss and then some people who are able to get out of the area with just their lives.

Today, of course, a number of people who are injured, 100 injuries or so reported. Many of them came right from this area and no surprise because look at the damage here. People had to hold themselves out of the rubble, in many cases, or wait for rescuers to come in. We'll have a chance to talk to some of those victims, as well.

I want to introduce you to family members. Can I bring you over here for one second? The Osmans lost their mom yesterday. This is Darrell Osmond and Carolyn Osmond and Deena (ph) McDonald (ph) and Steve McDonald (ph). So Darrell, thanks for talking with us. You basically did this very walk right after the tornado hit.

DARRELL OSMAN, TORNADO VICTIM: Basically 24 hours ago I made this same walk that I just made this morning coming in to talk to you.

O'BRIEN: What was it like? The lights obviously weren't on.

DARRELL OSMAN: Red and blue lights everywhere. Of course, it's dark and emergency vehicles were already here and some emergency services personnel, but other than that, there was nobody here at the time that I walked in here yesterday.

O'BRIEN: Did you hear people crying for help?

DARRELL OSMAN: No, actually I didn't. Between the engine noises of the emergency vehicles and things, no, I personally did not hear anyone crying for help.

O'BRIEN: You ran to your mom's house, which is around the corner a little bit.

DARRELL OSMAN: Around the corner from right here, yes.

O'BRIEN: What did you see?

DARRELL OSMAN: Nothing, literally. Her house is literally gone. Nothing there but the car sitting there that was in the garage.

O'BRIEN: And I know you had to then go in and try to figure out where she was and --

DARRELL OSMAN: I was fortunate in that respect. I walked, ran, rather, up here and the first person I saw was a police officer. And he asked me who I was looking for and I said, my mother lives in what used to be right there and pointed over that and he asked me her name and he said, you're lucky, she's in the ambulance right here.

O'BRIEN: I know Carolyn went into the ambulance, Carolyn went into the ambulance. Tell me about Mary, your mother, was in the ambulance. Was she conscious at all?

CAROLYN OSMAN, TORNADO VICTIM: Yes. O'BRIEN: She was talking?

CAROLYN OSMAN: Well, no, she knew we were there. She was trying. Just had a laceration on her head that is all we really saw at that time and she was in quite a bit of pain because every time the ambulance would bounce, she cried out in pain. But when we weren't bouncing, she was OK. I mean, I just didn't realize she was that bad.

O'BRIEN: When you got to the hospital, of course, the hospital itself had been damaged by the tornado.

CAROLYN OSMAN: Yes, it had. There were personnel everywhere.

O'BRIEN: Was it chaotic?

CAROLYN OSMAN: Not really. There was an order to it. They all knew what they were doing and just took us right through. And they had doctors coming in that work out of the offices here and they were there and some of the girls I work with from primary were there helping and it was real organized.

O'BRIEN: Deena (ph), how long before you were able to get to your mom and get to the hospital?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I live in Indiana and I live about four hours away. I didn't get here until, I don't know, around noon yesterday. And I still haven't seen my mother, actually. She had already been taken to wherever she's at. She'd already been taken there, but I haven't seen her since I've been here yet.

O'BRIEN: When you look at the scope of this damage, her home literally has been wiped off its foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There really aren't any words to describe. When I drove through town and I saw this yesterday, I just thought to myself, how terrifying, you know. And I knew by that time that there were more people than just my mom that had perished. And so, I wasn't just heartbroken for my mom, you know, I was praying for everyone that had lost a loved one. I mean, this is just, you don't imagine something like this happening and hitting so close to your family. I mean, you see it on the news. You don't, you don't ever think it's going to happen to you. You really don't.

O'BRIEN: Did you get to the hospital in time to see your mom?

DARRELL OSMAN: Oh, yes. Of course, my wife being a nurse she got to actually ride in the ambulance with her, and I followed the ambulance in my personal vehicle and we got there and they took her right on into the trauma area. And a little bit later my wife came out and said that the doctor told her that she might not live. And, of course, that's when I called my sister and told her to get home.

O'BRIEN: Were you able to talk to your mom?

DARRELL OSMAN: Not after she got into the hospital. I spoke to her -- excuse me -- I spoke to her a little bit while she was still in the ambulance before we left this site. But after she got to the hospital, no, I was not able to talk to her more after that. I know in my heart she was there. I know that. And I got to say this, I have to say this, the only thing that's getting me through this is knowing that she's in heaven with god and Jesus Christ has given me the strength to do all of this.

O'BRIEN: I can't imagine. So sad to see.

DARRELL OSMAN: Forgive me.

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry. We appreciate you talking to us this morning. The house, there's nothing there. What will you do today? I don't even think there's things to gather.

DARRELL OSMAN: Yesterday we came out here during the day hours and we were able to find some pictures, some of her children, some of my children, some actually of each of us, believe it or not. Of all things, I found my birth certificate that she had. I found her marriage license.

O'BRIEN: So important things?

DARRELL OSMAN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Memories.

DARRELL OSMAN: We were able to find her checkbook. We have not found her purse with her credit cards and things yet. We're going to spend today hopefully they'll let us in here and maybe not because of all the news crews and things, but hopefully let us in here so we can search through the rubble some more and try to find some more things.

O'BRIEN: Our condolences to your entire family. We appreciate you talking to us this morning. I agree with you. You look around and think, how terrifying, how terrifying and for everybody that is here, I appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.

So, this really is the center of where most of the lives were lost in Harrisburg, as you can see, devastating for the families. It's been 24 hours since the tornado road through here and still very difficult. There were other places where the tornado hit with vengeance, as well. Powerful wind began on Tuesday, a deadly path that went from Kansas to Kentucky.

These are pictures from Branson, Missouri. No deaths reported in Branson, but three overall in the state of Missouri and the twister was reported 400 yards wide and in Branson some major damage to historic theaters and according to the national weather service, the tornado was on the ground for 20 miles. If you go to Kansas, 12 120- mile-per-hour winds there hit a hotel and most of the damage in Harveyville. Half of that town has been damaged or destroyed. A man said that he literally caught his grandson as he was being sucked through a window and he was able to save him.

That storm eventually moved on to Kentucky. That's one about 125 miles per hour. Wind flattening homes there and the National Guard was mobilized to help out. You're looking at pictures from Elizabethtown in Kentucky. You will see roofs ripped right off. One home completely torn from the ground and those pictures you're looking at from Newberg, Indiana.

We have pictures from Cumberland now. You can see huge hail in addition to all the other damage from the wind was doing a lot of damage. High winds did damage to homes, of course. Three people were killed in Tennessee and the storms then continued east. And Rob Marciano has an update for us on exactly what happened when those storms moved east. Hey, Rob, good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad. Those storms weakened thankfully. The same cell that hit Harrisburg moved down the Ohio River and hit Newberg Indiana as an EF-1 tornado, so significantly weaker, thankfully, but it was a long-lived cell and one of many that rolled across the area.

All right, where are those storms now? We're looking at a weakening system, thankfully, but the atmosphere itself is going to recharge as we go through time. Today the threat is going to be from St. Louis down through Memphis. Now, we don't expect a whole lot of tornadoes from this graphic or the storms to develop later on today, but damaging winds, certainly large hail possible.

What will really recharge the atmosphere as this storm exits, the next storm that is coming in and energy driving out of the rocky mountains and also a dynamic storm and maybe more powerful than the one we had yesterday, but a slightly different set up. It will track a little bit further to the east and slightly different people will be affected, but a wide swath of potentially destructive weather exists from Indianapolis back through St. Louis. The storm's prediction center a moderate risk of seeing severe weather. For them to do that two days out is a big, big deal.

And notice through parts of southern Illinois, you're under the gun for a slight risk. What did we have yesterday? We had a slight risk of seeing severe weather when those storms rolled through. That means the ingredients are there to see tornadoes. We don't typically get these ingredients this far north this time of year. High time is April, May, and June. So, yes, Soledad, this is extremely rare for this time of year. More importantly, rare to be this far north from where you are in southern Illinois. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Rob, thank you for that update.

There are other stories, of course, making news today, and Christine Romans has a look at those for us. Christine, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Soledad. Breaking news from Afghanistan where two more American soldiers have been killed and a third American has been wounded. A gunman in an Afghan national army uniform and another man opening fire at a NATO base in southern Kandahar, those shootings the latest in a series of attacks against Americans and other members of the NATO alliance following the burning of Korans at a U.S. military base. Thousands of Syrian troops stepping up their attacks on rebel strongholds in Homs. A senior government official is vowing to "cleanse" the district of all opposition fighters. Rebel forces report power and communications have been cut off in some areas of the city. Meantime the Syrian opposition getting support here in the U.S. Patriots who want to end the regime are planning a large demonstration in Charlotte, North Carolina, home to one of the largest Syrian communities in the U.S.

Egypt is lifting a travel ban on seven Americans facing trial in that country. The seven include U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's son, Sam LaHood. They're accused of stirring up unrest while working for foreign-funded, nongovernmental organizations. In all 16 Americans are charged. The others had already left the country.

Teachers, parents and students will be allowed to return to Chardon high school outside Cleveland this morning. Grief counselors will be on hand. Of course, classes officially resume tomorrow. On Monday, police say 17-year-old T.J. Lane opened fire on students in the cafeteria, killing three of them.

A three-day nightmare at sea is over for more than 1,000 passengers on the ship the Costa Allegra. A fire knocked out power to this cruise ship Monday. A French fishing boat finally towing Allegra to the Victoria Port in the Seychelles. Passengers spent three days without lights, without showers in pirate-infested waters.

Three in a row for Mitt Romney. After sweeping Michigan and Arizona earlier this week, the final totals from the Wyoming caucuses are now in with Romney defeating Rick Santorum by seven points. The former Massachusetts governor trying to build on his momentum by attacking Santorum's qualifications to be president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Rick Santorum is a nice guy, but an economic lightweight. He doesn't understand what it takes to make an economy work on a personal basis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: And 11 states are up for grabs in the next five days. Here's how the delegate count stands so far. Romney has 181 delegates. Santorum has 61, Newt Gingrich with 39, and Ron Paul with 33.

"Minding your Business" this morning, U.S. stock futures pointing to a higher open right now. Dow futures up about 30 points. Investors are waiting on two key economic reports that come out in the next hour, weekly jobless claims, and also a report on personal income and spending.

And remembering Davy Jones. The Monkees lead singer died yesterday after suffering an apparent heart attack near his home in Florida. TMZ obtained a 911 call in which a woman appears to be getting Jones to the hospital. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911, what is your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ambulance, please, hurry. I'm getting him in the truck and start driving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Meantime, this is video of Jones final television performance taped last spring for a PBS concert series.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: He was 66.

All right, Soledad in Harrisburg, Illinois. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right, thanks, Christine, appreciate that. That's a sad story to hear of Davy Jones death.

So we're back here in Harrisburg. And we've moved in a little bit as the sun comes up. It's a little bit easier to see some of the damage.

In just a little bit, we're going to talk to the Sheriff of Saline County, which of course (INAUDIBLE) for Harrisburg. And he's going to talk about some of the rescue attempts that happened here and some of the folks who had to just sort of move themselves out of these collapsed buildings to get to safety.

We're going to chat with him right after this short break. Stay with us. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm praying. I mean, I'm really hoping and praying to God that everything will be cool. But I was - I was really thinking for a second that we were going to die. I mean, I was scared. I was - I really thought my dad and I were going to die and get thrown from our trailer and die. It was scary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT.

Even though he's won three states in a row, Mitt Romney, well, he can't be feeling like much of a winner this morning. Check out how the delegates were rewarded after Romney's Michigan win on Tuesday, an even split with Romney and Santorum each getting 15 delegates. Santorum is calling it a tie.

Wyoming's caucuses have been taking place throughout February and the final results there are in with Romney defeating Santorum 39 percent to 32 percent. Look at the delegates, 10 for Romney and nine for Santorum.

Here's the updated delegate's scoreboard. Romney with 181; Santorum, 61; Gingrich, 39; and Paul, 33; 1,144 delegates are needed to clinch the nomination.

Senior political director Mark Preston joining us live from Washington this morning. So it's three straight wins, Mark, for Romney, but is it feeling pretty hollow for the team or at least Romney supporters?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you know, what we saw on Tuesday night where he won the popular vote statewide in Michigan was actually a big victory, Christine, for Mitt Romney, because had he lost that state, the state where he grew up in and the state where his father was governor, it would be a devastating week right now for Mitt Romney.

So even though we saw the delegates split and Rick Santorum is correct because it really is all in the math. At least when we're talking about it here in the media and at least what the Romney campaign is going to push forward, they're going to say that a win is a win is a win.

And, of course, we saw that last night, as well, with the Wyoming results where basically those delegates were split apart.

But, Christine, it really comes down to Super Tuesday, right, where there's going to be lots of delegates on the line.

ROMANS: Right, and in five days to go. So what does it - what does it all mean? I mean, a lot could happen in five days in politics.

PRESTON: A lot could happen in five days in politics. And if we look at the polling right now, you would think that it's not going to be necessarily a good - a good day for Romney.

But, you know, as things have changed so quickly here in this race, we should point out, as you said, 1,144 delegates are needed to win the Republican nomination. On Tuesday night, about 40 percent of those delegates are going to be awarded.

The problem is, though, most of them are going to be proportional, which means that someone is going to win some in some state and other one is going to win some in another state, and this Republican race for the nomination is going to go on.

But I do have to say this, Christine. And I don't think I'm overstating it. I really think the near future of the Republican Party is going to be determined on Tuesday night because we'll get a clear picture of who really is going to be the strongest person to win the nomination.

ROMANS: So if you're Rick Santorum, right, and you've been riding this surge and you want to, you know, take what you call a tie, you know, same number of delegates in Michigan and really, you know, carry through that momentum, what do you do?

He's got less money, less money than - than Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is feeling as though, you know, a win is a win is a win. So what does the Santorum team have to do here to try to come out on top?

PRESTON: Well, he has to recalibrate his campaign a little bit. This is a Republican primary so your voters are going to tend to be social conservatives and that's where Rick Santorum really does very well.

The question, really, a victory for Rick Santorum is really a defeat for Mitt Romney and we'll have to se what happens to Newt Gingrich.

But let's just really quickly look at the South, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, those are going to be three states that are critically important to what happens on Tuesday night.

And then for Rick Santorum, he does very well in Ohio, which a lot of people are looking at because that really is the Bellwether State, the state that really plays an important role in the general election. If he's able to do well there, then that's going to give him momentum and at least talking points going forward against Mitt Romney.

Of course, we don't know what's going to happen on Tuesday night. A lot is on the line. Rick Santorum, what he lacks in money, though, Christine, he really has in grassroots support -

ROMANS: Right.

PRESTON: -- and that's something we're not seeing from Mitt Romney.

ROMANS: Right. And if you're - if you're Team Romney, you don't want to make any mistakes over the next five days and you certainly want to try to build on what you've got and show that you are the, you know, you want - you want the conservatives to be comfortable with you, but also show that you're the electable - you're the electable candidate.

PRESTON: Correct, absolutely.

ROMANS: All right, Mark Preston, thanks so much, Mark.

All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, we're going to head back to the scene of the devastating Midwest tornadoes. Soledad talking to the Mayor of Harrisburg, who is promising we will rebuild.

She'll also speak to the owner of that apartment complex where six people died in Harrisburg, Illinois. You're watching STARTING POINT. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I started feeling the trailer shaking and that's all I can remember. The next thing I knew, he was hollering and I was hollering, and I crawl - in some way or another I crawled out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

You're looking inside a destroyed home. One of the homes hit incredibly hard, obviously, by the tornado that hit Harrisburg, Illinois. Just look at the damage and look to the degree which the home was literally shifted right off of its foundation.

I want to introduce everybody now to Keith Brown. He is the sheriff of Saline County, which of course includes Harrisburg. Thank you for talking with us. We appreciate it.

When you see the scope of the damage, I know you have been in law enforcement for decades. What do you think?

SHERIFF KEITH BROWN, SHERIFF OF SALINE COUNTY: Well, I started with the state police and I've been all over Illinois in different disasters, but this one is at home. So it makes a whole lot of difference.

It's pretty difficult to see your neighbors and your friends. I spoke with the Osmonds early this morning in regards to their mother who passed right here in this area, so, it's - it's exceptionally difficult to see our community damaged in this way.

But we're pretty tough. We'll be back, but it's a rebuilding time and it's a time for us to get all of our items in line so that people can be made whole, again, and try to move forward.

O'BRIEN: The Osmonds were telling us that, really, by the time they got here and they don't live very far away, they were able to run into deputies and law enforcement personnel who sort of helped them get to their mom. What was the status? How quickly could you get your men and women here to try to help out?

BROWN: We were here within just a few minutes of the incident. But it took, by the time we could make a longer term response, it took quite a while because of the number of trees down. But we did have officers in here fairly quickly.

In fact, one of the officers from the Harrisburg Police Department just lives up the hill and he was down here almost immediately giving us information as far as what was going on and we had injuries here. So, we started sending ambulances to this area. O'BRIEN: Let's walk down this way, because you mention the trees and I think that this is - this is behind the housing complex. And in fact, if you just drive down the street, it's very easy to miss. And then you see the scope of the damage. It's incredible. You see how wide this tornado really was.

BROWN: Just across the street here, the property is just barely damaged.

O'BRIEN: Almost not touched.

BROWN: And some windows out. And on this side, we have just the pieces and parts of just a number of different apartments. I believe there were six apartments here that were destroyed.

In fact, a gentleman I went to high school with was injured and we moved him from here and got him in the ambulance out there. So, we were able to get in here. But it took - it took quite a while and that's just part of these types of disasters because when trees are down, our ways blocked, it takes a while to get everything through and find the path.

O'BRIEN: What happens next? Obviously, cleanup phase and the sun has just pretty much come up in the last 20 minutes or so. So I would expect folks are going to start coming to pick through and see what they can salvage from at least the homes that are still kind of standing.

BROWN: The area was cordoned off last night with law enforcement and this morning we'll start letting residents back in. We also would probably be working with the insurance companies, different groups that are the representatives of the people who have been injured or damaged here. All of these have these folks in and try to start the process for them as far as getting them back the hope. There will be a number of government people. The National Weather Service will be here this morning.

We've been talking with a number of the federal folks Representative Shimkus, Senator Durbin's office have all called. I'm not sure who all is going to show up this morning, but the Representative Shimkus' office said they would be here this morning.

We just got a number of folks who will come in and hopefully they have monies and they have some governmental assistance for the community to get it back on its feet and moving forward. I would say 15 percent to 20 percent of the community has been very impacted by this.

O'BRIEN: I was going to ask you what the estimate was?

BROWN: It's 15 percent to 20 percent probably. We're working on that to get an accurate number, but those will come in the next few days.

O'BRIEN: Just under 20 percent, 1,500 to 2,000 people maybe. Thank you for joining us this morning. We appreciate your time. We know you're really busy, especially this morning. BROWN: We'll head back and forth to the command center and to see what we can do with our folks.

O'BRIEN: We surely appreciate it. Sheriff Brown joining us this morning. We're going to take a short break.

When we come back, we're going to talk to the man who just built these homes. These homes are new. What you see here was just built in November. People have just moved in November and, of course, four months later, you know, tragedy strikes. We'll talk with him right on the other side of the break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. We're coming to you live this morning from Harrisburg, Illinois. As you can see, it's all devastation and destruction around me.

This location here was literally the ground zero for where the tornado touched down and killed five people in this housing complex alone. A sixth person died not far from where we are and really where the heart of the devastation was right here.

John, would you show how the homes were literally wiped right off of their foundations. In this area here was really took the brunt hit of the 170-mile-per-hour winds. Homes knocked off their foundations and most of the people who died were in this little area right here.

A tremendous tragedy to talk about this morning. Nine thousand people in this city and, of course, today is going to be focused on cleanup. As you just heard from the sheriff, also figuring out sort of what kind of financial assistance, et cetera, that they can get.

I want to bring you over here because I want to introduce you to the mayor. Eric Gregg is the mayor of Harrisburg. It's nice to have you, sir. Thank you for being with us. We appreciate your time this morning.

Danny Morris is the gentleman who owns this apartment complex. We appreciate you letting us be here. Thank you very much. I'll start with you, Mr. Morris. You were telling me last night that this was brand-new.

DANNY MORRIS, APARTMENT COMPLEX OWNER: These four right here very new.

O'BRIEN: So, the people who moved in and who literally lost their lives had only been in a couple of months.

MORRIS: Right. About October. Some started in June and then October.

O'BRIEN: When you view the scope of the damage and we were talking last night, we couldn't even see how bad it is in there. Today, it's very clearly horrific.

MORRIS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: What do you think? This was your property.

MORRIS: The property -- that's the main concern right now. Just kind of like a family.

O'BRIEN: A tight knit group. You knew everybody personally?

MORRIS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Mayor, Mr. Morris' story and I'm sure his loss, too, for his friends and people he knew it really resonating throughout your community. What do you do? What do you tell people today?

ERIC GREGG, MAYOR OF HARRISBURG: We have to stay strong. We have to be vigilant and as heartbreaking as this is for all of us, our hearts are broken here in this community because we're a very close knit community and we care about each other. That's our culture here. We check on each other. We work with each other. We help each other anytime and that's what we do.

So, this is just, hits us right in the heart and, I tell you, we will, we will come back and we will, we will do what we have to do and we are very resilient community and an area. So I certainly sympathize and agree with Mr. Morris that the loss of life is just devastating to all of us.

We're going to do everything we can to take care of those who have been displaced and we will help Mr. Morris any way we can. We will take care of our community. We'll take care of each other.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Morris, can you tell me a little bit about the people who lived here last night. Tell me about some of the lives that were lost. There was a couple that lived there.

MORRIS: Yes, a couple that lived there and then next to them a young lady. And then --

O'BRIEN: They all died in this tornado.

MORRIS: The mother lived there.

O'BRIEN: Right here. We talked to them a little bit earlier.

MORRIS: And these people, they came out OK. They have some injuries, but they're OK. The lady right here behind us, she passed away and next to them, his wife was just has some injuries and he's still in the hospital.

O'BRIEN: Have you been able to connect family members? Have you seen them as they come out?

MORRIS: Yes. O'BRIEN: Well, we appreciate you talking to us. I know it's a terrible time and we appreciate you letting us shoot some pictures to show the nation what's happening in the world, as well. We appreciate it. Both of you, thank you very much.

MORRIS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Rob Marciano obviously has been covering the storm path from when it started on Tuesday. Rob, you have an update for me on what's happening with the storm.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Weakening, thankfully and most of them moving off the east. Here's a look at the storm itself as it rolled through right around this time yesterday morning about an hour prior to this.

And not only did it roll through Harrisburg, but it rolled down the Ohio River just south of Evansville, where it was an EF-1 tornado with winds of 90 miles per hour. That is a drastic difference and weakening of that storm.

But took some time to do that and a tale of two different stories and that's not the only one. As you know, multiple tornadoes touched down across multiple states and an incredible outbreak for February.

The southern side where we had storms yesterday, that had weakened thankfully. But we're going to recharge the atmosphere somewhat today and more so tomorrow.

Damaging winds maybe some large hail from St. Louis to Memphis later on this afternoon and not a huge threat for tornadoes with this round, but we've got a tremendous amount of energy coming out of the Rocky Mountains with the next storm. This has more dynamics to it. It's got a little bit more strength.

It's got a slightly different path. So slightly different people will be affected, but a large chunk of real estate tomorrow is going to be engulfed in a serious threat for severe weather. The lighter yellow and orange here that is slight risk, which by the way, with the same amount of risk we had yesterday.

And the orange here and the reddish color from National Louisville across the mid-south here, this is a moderate risk as issued by the storms prediction canter.

When they do that two days in advance, that's some serious business. We're worried about tomorrow, certainly, and the folks in Southern Illinois and points west who were affected by tornadoes yesterday, you're in that slight risk area.

Obviously points to the east and moderate risk, that's more serious business. We'll continue to update you on that as time develops, but unusual event for the month of February and we're kicking March off in the same fashion -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Terrible, terrible fashion, really. Rob, thank you very much.

There are other stories making headlines today and Christine Romans is back in New York and she has a look at those. Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Soledad. That's right. Another black eye for the cruise ship business this morning. The FBI is investigating the disappearance of a female passenger from a "Celebration" cruiseliner. She vanished somewhere between the Bahamas and the Florida coast. The woman was reported missing by her boyfriend.

More violent fallout from the Koran burning in Afghanistan. NATO says two of its soldiers, both of them Americans, were killed today in southern Afghanistan. A third American was wounded.

Officials believe one of those attackers was an Afghan soldier and the other a civilian. Both assailants were killed by coalition forces. The unrest triggered by the Koran burning has left 39 people dead now, including six American soldiers.

Relations between the U.S. and North Korea appear to be thawing. North Korea agreeing to suspend all nuclear testing and the Iranian enrichment in exchange for food. The North Koreans will get 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance from the U.S. this deal includes provisions for inspections from the International Atomic Agency.

We're expecting a decision sometime today from Mississippi Supreme Court on the validity of dozens of pardons Governor Haley Barbour gave to convicted killers and other prisoners during his final days in office.

Five inmate trustees who worked at the governor's mansion had been released by the time Mississippi attorney general saw to block those pardons.

Bank of America is weighing some new fees. It's considering tacking on up to $25 more in monthly fees. The bank telling CNN this morning they have pilot programs in Georgia, Arizona and Massachusetts.

Mostly with new customers, but with some existing customers could be affected, as well. These fees aren't going anywhere, folks. The big banks need to make money. Revenue has been declining and some ways you can avoid these fees, though.

Include keeping a minimum balance, opening a credit card and taking on a mortgage loan with the banks and you can avoid those fees by doing more business with them -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Christine, thank you.

Still ahead this morning, going to talk to the governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback. As you recall in Kansas, a small town called Harveyville was knocked out by this tornado, the path of tornadoes, the estimated 50 percent of the town damaged or destroyed.

We'll talk to him about that this morning. That's straight ahead as STARTING POINT continues. We're back after this break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: You know him for his music but now, starting to learn more what he cares about and what he spends his time working on. U2's guitarist, the Edge, trying to give kids a break, specifically the 1.5 million youth in America who are homeless. He's executive producer of a new documentary called "The Break," which airs tomorrow, March 2nd, on MTV. The documentary follows three young people as they take steps to rebuild their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNE MAHLUM, FOUNDER & CEO, BACK ON MY FEET: My name is Anne Mahlum. For the past five years, I have been leading an organization called Back on My Feet that uses running to help the homeless turn their lives around.

(SHOUTING)

MAHLUM: And six months ago, I accepted a challenge to try and help three young people who are alone in the world find a place to fit in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The Edge also wrote an original song for the documentary and he joins me live now from Dublin, Ireland. Along with the homeless advocate who provided the support, Anne Mahlum, the founder of the nonprofit, Back on My Feet.

Really nice to see both of you this morning. I know that the documentary is tomorrow on MTV, so you want to get the word out.

Edge, let me ask you first, so many things you can put your name and your reputation and your support behind. And I know you've done work with getting musical instruments back to New Orleans. New Orleans is a passion for you. This is a new kind of project for you. What about this project attracted you?

THE EDGE, U2 GUITARIST: It was something I have been thinking about for years and really wasn't sure if it would ever come to anything, but it was one of those ideas that just wouldn't go away. And, you know, it just -- just kept tapping me on the shoulder. And I was told my friend at MVT, Bill Flanagan, a few years ago now, and I told him what I was thinking about. And he said, you know, why don't you talk to our people and maybe we can do this thing together.

ROMANS: What is it about this project that drove you? Tell us about it, in your own words, what is so important about this, getting young people an identity and a focus through running? THE EDGE: Well, really, it started as I realized that I, myself, was falling into the trap of thinking about the homeless in terms of the cliches. And I realized that I had to think a bit more about this. You know, that the caricature of homeless people that they're all alcoholics and they're all drug addicts and that they're lazy or whatever, these stereotypes are really not accurate.

And it was a particular incident, I remember being in a cab in New York City and just out of the corner of my eye, I just saw this gentleman lying on the sidewalk and my first reaction was to jump out of the cab and sort of find out what had happened. And I realized, oh, it's a homeless guy. And, suddenly, my attitude changed. And later I was thinking, why did I suddenly see this person in a different category because they were homeless. And it started a cascade of questions that I asked myself. And then I started to rethink about the fact that the homeless are the ultimate disenfranchised, marginalized people. They don't really have a voice. So many people who are in a lucky situation, such as myself --

ROMANS: Right.

THE EDGE: -- know nothing about the struggles that they face, why they become homeless. So really, the idea of the show was to try to answer those questions, to give a voice to homeless people, particularly homeless youth and, hopefully, in the process, that the rest of us would learn about the struggles that they face, some of the reasons why they reasons --

(CROSSTALK)

THE EDGE: -- why they become homeless and that there is a pathway out of it.

ROMANS: Anne, let me ask you, you took this challenge to help these three people.

MAHLUM: Uh-huh.

ROMANS: What did you learn?

MAHLUM: I learned a lot. I learned these three kids are really brave and really courageous for putting their lives on camera. And the same view as Edge has, these individuals, it's not their choice to be homeless. They don't want to be homeless. They don't know how not to be homeless. Giving them an opportunity to be successful and a break that they can actually have that chance to have a better life, it was really amazing to watch them take advantage of that.

ROMANS: Your running is such an interesting angle. If you watch the doc, you'll see why "Running For You" was so important.

Edge, thanks so much. Quickly, are we going to have new music from you this year? Please, tell me soon.

THE EDGE: We're working on a lot of new music and it's going great. But we're giving ourselves the luxury of a bit of time to consider what we put out next. So no plans as yet.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much.

I have to add -- you have to ask Edge when's the 13th album coming out.

Thanks. So nice to see you guys. Thank you so much.

We'll be right back. Soledad will have a lot more from the Midwest where those monster tornadoes have literally ripped up of these towns. She's in Harrisburg, Illinois. She'll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED TORNADO SURVIVOR: Honestly, it sounded like a train was coming through town, and we don't have a train here. As soon as I heard the growling, by ears, it felt like -- you know when you're in an airplane and it pops, that's all it did. My daughter was by the windows. She said, "Momma, look. My chairs are spinning outside my window.

All of the stuff that is here and in there, it was on top of me. I was inside that bathtub. I couldn't move. It was just really rough.

O'BRIEN: What was going through your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED TORNADO SURVIVOR: I swore we were going to die. All I could do was pray.

O'BRIEN: Sort of the same story. Those are folks in Kansas, although those were the same words people here in Harrisburg, Illinois, were using. They didn't know what was going to happen. All these could do was pray. Devastation roared through in the form of a tornado that hit not only this housing complex and a lot of other places as well.

We'll walk you through a little bit of the damage. As you can see what happens here -- Kevin, maybe you can walk down this way with me -- is folks who, now that the sun has come up, are beginning to clean up and try to grab anything they can.

What's very ominous about this -- and you might miss it if I don't point out the detail -- is there's nothing here, just the foundations. These are the homes that suffered the most damage, where people were killed because the homes were literally blown off of their foundations. All that's left is a bit of debris and little bit of rubble.

The woman who lived in that house, she died. She ended up having what seemed to be just a gash on her forehead but she ended up perishing from that. More people died -- the house here, the house next door to that.

And if you can turn this way, Kevin, we can show the extent of when the storm literally blew from behind me all the way up this way. You can see where that rubble then got tangled in some more of the houses, more of the complex.

I'm walking very carefully because there are lots of nails obviously. This is always the case when you have the debris left over from a tornado. This literally goes back a couple hundred yards. And then, the thing that's always so eerie about a tornado, the houses back there, some of them spared. Even here some have just a little bit of damage, literally a little bit of siding has fallen off.

So today, people are here. They're coming by, stunned by what they see now that the sun is up. Also, you know, coming with trucks so that they can pick their belongings out of the rubble, grab their couches or whatever they can manage to get out.

And as you heard from the gentleman who owned this complex, and also some of the family members of those who lost their lives, it's a moment to not even think about the property but to think about the people, the five people who died right here. And then, of course, another individual's body was found not very far from here, kind of across that field.

And once again, the -- in awe of the power that 170 mile-an-hour winds can pack when they hit right on into a housing complex.

We'll continue to update you on what is happening here today in Harrisburg where the focus is on grieving and cleanup. Straight ahead, we'll talk to a couple who survived. They managed to crawl their way out of the debris. We'll talk to them about how they were able to do it. We'll also speak to the governor of Illinois about what the road is ahead in terms of financial help and in terms of what other help that they need from people across this nation.

That's all ahead as STARTING POINT continues. We're back in a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)