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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Tornado Coverage; Anthony Shadid's Legacy; Tornado Devastates Parts of Illinois and Kansas; James Murdoch Steps Down; 12 Dead from Severe Storms

Aired March 1, 2012 - 07:59   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Good morning, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're coming to you live this morning from Harrisburg, Illinois, where the story is the clean up today. As you can see, the damage behind me -- this is really ground zero, the heart of where the largest number of people died in Harrisburg. So, here people are grieving for those they lost. People are injured and recovering today in hospital.

And also, people are cleaning up trying to grab whatever they can because obviously the devastation is immense here. We're going to tell you the stories of the victims, the survivors, and what they do next as STARTING POINT gets underway. We start right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

So, as I mentioned, cleanup is really the focus. This is Jeff Street. We're pretty much on your property.

JEFF STREET, TORNADO SURVIVOR: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Point out for me where your house is.

STREET: It was right there.

O'BRIEN: This right here?

STREET: Yes.

O'BRIEN: So this is pretty much the driveway up to your house?

STREET: Yes. That used to be a garage right there. That used to be the house. The closet there was the front bedroom. There's a bathroom that's in between that. And then there's a back bedroom on the other side of that.

I was in that bathroom right there when it hit.

O'BRIEN: When it hit you were in the bathroom?

STREET: Yes.

O'BRIEN: So you heard the warnings?

STREET: My wife got up and said there was warnings and then she come back in there again and said the sirens went off. I was preparing to go to work. And I told her, I said, get my daughter and my two grandsons in the utility room in the center part of the house where there's no windows. She did. And I said, I'll be there in just a minute.

And before I could ever get out of the bathroom, it had hit. Everything collapsed and had me for 10 or 15 minutes pinned in the bathroom and they were pinned in the utility room.

O'BRIEN: How did you get out?

STREET: Kicked and kicked until I got the door open and then I crawled out and crawled -- I was barefooted, had a pair of shorts on. No shirt. I just crawled out over the stuff. Made it out to some concrete and was looking toward the utility room hollering, help, hollering for my wife, hollering for my daughter, trying to get anybody to answer me.

O'BRIEN: How is everybody in your family?

STREET: They're fine now.

O'BRIEN: Oh, thank God.

STREET: Yes.

O'BRIEN: So, your grandsons I understand were a little bit injured?

STREET: Yes. The 3-year-old was fine, little shaken up. Five- year-old has a concussion and some head trauma and they took him to deacon and kept him overnight for observation.

O'BRIEN: So, I saw you today, I just saw you discovered that there's a bucket of belongings.

STREET: These are some of my grandchildren, he's 3 years old now. That was one of them that was involved in it. That's my three daughters and these are some of my other grandchildren, thank God, that was not involved in it.

O'BRIEN: So today, you're just going to clean up.

STREET: Today, I'm trying to find anything to hold on to.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Street, I appreciate you talking to us. I know you're busy. You have a lot on your plate today. So, thank you.

STREET: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: So, his story of course is typical. And as the sun has come up we've begun to notice more and more people to come out. The curfew was until at 6:00 in the morning. But even at 6:00, it was quite dark and only part of the street was lit.

So, it hasn't been until really right around 7:00 in the morning East Coast time, so, 6:00 -- what's that, 6:00, here that actually people were able to come and start really having an opportunity to gather their things.

I want to introduce you to Alice and Chris Retzloff.

I appreciate you talking with us this morning.

So, you do not live here. You're freezing. We'll do this fast so you can warm up.

It is chilly today. When you think about people like yourselves who had to get out of your homes pretty much in your pajamas when the tornado hit, it must have been absolutely terrifying. Can you tell me what happened?

ALICE RETZLOFF, TORNADO SURVIVOR: My daughter tracked the storm actually from Missouri following the little red boxes on radar.

O'BRIEN: Oh, my gosh.

A. RETZLOFF: And she said, it's heading for us.

O'BRIEN: She called you.

A. RETZLOFF: No, she lives with us. She came in and woke us up several times during the night. She said, it's a bad one. And, you know, there's a possibility it could be headed for us but we're not certain.

She woke us up, it must have been 4:30, something like that.

O'BRIEN: Where did you go?

A. RETZLOFF: We have a basement and we went in our basement and huddled together with our dogs and the sirens went off. And we heard just the -- the wind was just immense. The sound and then the next siren went off and there was just this incredible pressure that we all had on us.

CHRIS RETZLOFF, TORNADO SURVIVOR: All our ears popped like coming down in an airplane.

O'BRIEN: So you could feel the pressure shifting, so you knew you were right in the middle of the heart of the storm at that point.

A. RETZLOFF: It's on top of us.

O'BRIEN: What was the damage to your home? I know you live sort of on the other side. This is the path of the storm for people who don't realize, it really came kind of a couple hundred yards wide literally this direction.

C. RETZLOFF: We fared a little better than these people here.

A. RETZLOFF: Our damage was minimal compared to this. We just had a tree come through our front window which I think helped because it kind of decompressed the house. That's when our ears all popped, it went silent.

C. RETZLOFF: Our next door neighbor's house is pretty much gone.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it's amazing to se how the homes almost seem to explode from the pressure.

A. RETZLOFF: Yes. It was -- I mean, just 20 yards, our neighbor, they were fleeing from their house and running, it was dark. We could smell gas because we have the service Caddy Corner from us that has propane.

O'BRIEN: Do you have enough help? Do you feel like your needs are being met?

A. RETZLOFF: It has been wonderful. The people have been coming through our street and handing out gloves and asking if they could help pick up debris, if there was anything salvageable.

C. RETZLOFF: Picking up sticks just to help.

A. RETZLOFF: Anything salvageable, they're bringing in boxes.

O'BRIEN: That's great news. That's great news. I appreciate you talking to us this morning. I know on a day like today, you need to get back to your home and really start doing some of that repair work, so we appreciate it greatly.

Thank you.

C. RETZLOFF: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We want to now talk to Governor Patrick Quinn. He's joining us by phone. He, of course, is the governor of Illinois.

Governor Quinn, thank you for your time.

We've been talking to a lot of people today, some of those who lost loved ones, others who were able to crawl out or kick out. Others who are just looking at some of damage and saying, oh, thank God it was only a tree through my house.

How does -- how are you feeling about, first of all, the response and what lies ahead in terms of funding, et cetera?

GOV. PATRICK QUINN (D), ILLINOIS (via telephone): Well, it's inspiring. I was in Harrisburg yesterday afternoon and evening and to see all the volunteers coming from everywhere to help their neighbor was really inspiring. The sound of chain saws was everywhere. People were cutting down trees and clearing off debris. There were volunteer carpenters already on the roofs of homes repairing roofs.

It was really something. The people of Harrisburg when they got the warning at 27 minutes to 5:00 a.m., there are folks who literally ran out of their house to neighbors' homes and knocked on doors. An 80-year-old woman who was helping alert the neighborhood to the proximate danger.

And it's our job now as a state and a community to recover. What we have to do is use our transportation people, our state police, our emergency management folks to help Harrisburg get back on its feet. And we've declared it a state disaster area.

Now, we have to calculate all the damage and that's part of what we have to do to get federal disaster relief.

O'BRIEN: How long you think that's going to take? How long are you expecting before you'll be able to give some hard numbers on damages -- on figures and costs to rebuild, et cetera?

QUINN: It takes a few weeks. We had a terrible flood in southern Illinois last year. The Mississippi River, Ohio River, it took us several weeks to calculate the extent of the damage to the penny wherever we can and we have great cooperation from our local emergency responders, the mayors and everybody who are involved in this.

And our state has got an excellent emergency management team. We've been through other disasters and we have to apply those lessons to help the folks of southern Illinois and especially Harrisburg get everything they're eligible for under the federal law.

And I did receive a phone call yesterday from the White House. They're very, very interested in making sure that we have everything that we are eligible for.

O'BRIEN: All right. Governor Quinn, thank you for talking with us.

That's governor of Illinois joining us by phone this morning. Thank you, sir.

There were, of course, other places where the tornadoes hit with a vengeance as well. The powerful winds really began on Tuesday and carved this deadly path that went from Kansas into Kentucky.

Take a look at these pictures from Branson, Missouri. There were no deaths reported in Branson, but three in the state. Twister said to be about 400 yards wide caused major damage to some historic theaters in Branson, and according to the National Weather Service the tornado was on the ground for 20 miles.

If you take a look at Kansas, 120 mile an hour winds hit a hotel. Some of the worst damage was in a place called Harveyville where they are reporting somewhere between 40 percent and 60 percent of the entire town is damaged or destroyed. A man said that he actually caught his grandson as he was basically being sucked out of a window as the tornado hit.

The storm eventually moved into Kentucky where it was going about 125 mile an hour winds. They were flattening homes. The National Guard eventually was mobilized trying to help out.

You're looking at pictures now in Kentucky of Elizabethtown where damage, of course, looks very similar to the damage in other areas hit by the tornado.

Turning now to the state of Indiana, similar damage again. Roofs ripped off. At least one home was completely unmoored from its foundation. These pictures come from Newburg, Indiana.

And in Tennessee, take a look at these pictures from Cumberland County, where the hail there was just huge. High winds, obviously lots of damage to homes. And a total of three people were killed in the state of Tennessee.

Storms continued east but Rob Marciano was reporting for us that they lessened in their fierceness and that, of course, really ended up accounting for the fewer deaths to report thankfully today.

There are other stories making news this morning as well and Christine Romans is back in New York. And she has a look at those stories for us.

Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Soledad.

Well, those pictures, they really almost -- they almost understate the scope of the damage around you, don't they? Tornado is a rare story where the pictures don't even tell the whole story, right?

O'BRIEN: That's true. That's really true. You're absolutely right.

ROMANS: All right. We'll switch now quickly to Afghanistan, Soledad -- some breaking news there, where two more American soldiers have been killed and a third American has been wounded this morning.

Gunman opening fire at a NATO base in southern Kandahar. One of the shooters was wearing an Afghan national army uniform. The shootings are 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.

Egypt is lifting a travel ban on seven Americans who are facing trial there. The seven include U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's son, Sam LaHood. These Americans are accused of stirring up unrest while working for foreign-funded, non-governmental organizations there.

In all, 16 Americans were charged. The others had already left the country.

Mitt Romney is on a role but he doesn't have so much to show for it. With 11 states up for grabs in the next five days, the former Massachusetts governor just picked up his third win this week. Totals from the Wyoming caucuses are in with Romney defeating Rick Santorum by seven points. But Romney only gets 10 delegates, Santorum picks up nine.

And look at the delegate split from Michigan, despite winning by three points, Romney gets 15 delegates, the same as Santorum.

Listen to how Santorum spins it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a huge win for us. Let's play it the way it is. Don't give Romney all the spin. We went into his backyard. He spent a fortune, money he had no intention of spending, and we came out of there with the same number of delegates he does.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Next up, caucuses in Washington state on Saturday before voters head to the polls in 10 states on Super Tuesday.

Classes at Chardon High School outside Cleveland, they're scheduled to resume officially tomorrow. But teachers, parents, and students will be allowed to return to the school this morning. Grief counselors will be on hand.

On Monday, police say 17-year-old T.J. Lane opened fire on students in the cafeteria killing three of them.

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

A federal judge is siding with the tobacco industry. He rejected a government mandate that would have required drastic images and words on tobacco products to warn of smoking dangers. The judge said those labeling rules amounted to a violation of free speech.

Soledad, back to you in Harrisburg, Illinois.

O'BRIEN: All right. Christine, thank you very much. Appreciate that, Christine.

Ahead this morning, we're going to talk to the famed and intrepid "New York Times" reporter Anthony Shadid's widow. He died when he was reporting from Syria. He has a new book out. And today, we'll talk to his widow about the stories he tells in that book.

Also, we'll continue to update you from our live position here in Harrisburg, Illinois, where it is a focus of cleanup and grieving for the six people who lost their lives in the wake of this tornado.

Those stories and much more as STARTING POINT continues right after this break. We're back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not torn, it's only dirty and wet. Firemen or someone found it several hundred feet that way. We don't know where the flag pole is, but at least we have the flag, so I'm grateful for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winning foreign correspondent, Anthony Shadid, spent 15 years covering the Middle East. He was dedicated and intrepid in reporting from really the most dangerous spots in the world. It was not without cost, of course. He was shot in the shoulder while he was reporting in Ramallah back in 2002.

He was kidnapped and beaten while covering the Arab spring in Libya last year. And then, while he was covering the conflict in Syria, he died of an acute asthma attack. It was just as his third book, which is called, "House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and A Lost Middle East" was being released. And his widow is Nada Bakri, and she joins us this morning to discuss Anthony's book and his life.

And Nada, thank you for joining us. I'm sorry I can't be with you in person to discuss this. The book is really, truly a beautiful book, and it's really about a renovation, a renovation literally of a home in Lebanon, but also, in a way a renovation of a life and a soul. Anthony went into that renovation very troubled. It was a tough, tough time in his life. Can you tell me about that?

NADA BAKRI, WIFE OF ANTHONY SHADID: First, thank you for having me. You know, I think for as long as he remembered, Anthony always wanted to become a journalist and to cover the Middle East. And, you know, he spent 15 years of his life covering it. It's a region full of conflicts, wars, bloodshed. So, that took a certain toll on him.

And then, I think, at some point, he felt like he needed to, you know, find peace somewhere or find home. And, in 2006, he finally made the trip to his ancestor's village in Southern Lebanon which is called Majayun (ph). And, he looked for the house that his great- grandfather had built and where his grandmother was born and lived until she left to the United States.

And when he saw that house, he just fell in love with it and decided that he was going to rebuild it and save it from the state it was in. And, he just -- you know, it helped him find himself. It helped him find peace. It helped him find happiness. It was the place that he wanted to be in more than anywhere else in the world.

It was his home. And, I don't think he was happier anywhere else than when he was in Majayun (ph). You know, it helped --

O'BRIEN: Parts of the book are so -- I'm -- forgive me. I'm sorry to interrupt you. I was just going to say that the parts of the book are so sad. I mean, sad. Other parts are -- you laugh out loud, because, of course, he's describing a renovation of a home which is always chaotic, and the characters that he's talking about that he has to deal with in the renovation are interesting and colorful.

But he was trying to recover from all of those years of war reporting. You're a reporter as well. Did you sit down and discuss the dangers as a couple? You have a small child, and he had an older child. Did you ever say, you know, should we be doing this? Isn't this too dangerous?

BAKRI: You know, of course, it came up a lot in the years that we were together, but, again, you know, Anthony does not remember a time in his life where he didn't want to be a journalist and a journalist covering the Middle East. And again, it's a region full of conflicts, wars, bloodshed. So, it was just -- it wasn't -- you know, it wasn't like he chose to be a war reporter or he wanted to be, you know, in a dangerous place all the time.

It was just, you know, region that he was in. That's why I think it was so important to him to go to Majayun (ph) after being in a dangerous place, after covering wars, after seeing, you know, deaths and violence and bloodshed, because it was there where he could, you know, kind of recover from what he saw.

And nothing mattered to him more than telling stories that, otherwise, would not be told. You know, even if it meant at a personal risk.

O'BRIEN: There is a videotape that was posted to YouTube. And I know you've had a chance to look at it. It's said to be pictures of Anthony maybe taken a couple hours before he died of this acute asthma attack. And in it, he talks sort of about his hope. I mean, it really -- he's speaking in Arabic, but he's talking hopefully about what the future for Syria can be.

You know, often, I think people do think of war correspondents as tough, but I want to play a little bit of what he says in this clip, and I'll ask you question on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY SHADID, TWO-TIME PULITZER PRIZE WINNING FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I think, sometimes, people think the stereotypical war correspondent is tough and sort of inured to danger and pain, and Anthony was really - seemed very, you know, the opposite of that, to care very deeply of the people whose stories he was trying to tell, to be very, you know, gentle is how he was described by his colleagues. BAKRI: It's true. I don't think Anthony was interested in covering wars, the war itself and the fighting and the warfare as much as he was interested in covering the stories of people whose lives are affected by these wars and, you know, the loss that they're suffering from and the pain and how their lives are changing under these wars and conflicts and violence.

And that's what, you know, made him who he was. These stories meant everything to him, telling these stories.

O'BRIEN: Nada we've got to take a short break for a commercial. I'm going ask you, if you don't mind, to stick around on the other side. I'd like to ask you some more questions about the book, "House of Stone." We'll do that right on the other side. STARTING POINT is going to be back in just a moment. Stay with us, everybody.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody. We're back talking to Nada Bakri. She is the widow of Anthony Shadid, the "New York Times" Pulitzer Prize winning foreign correspondent who died of an acute asthma attack in Syria. He wrote a book. It's called "House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East." It's just been released.

Anthony talked about speaking Arabic, which he did fluently, but with an Oklahoma accent and sort of how he always was interested in sort of digging into and understanding his roots. Why was that so important to him?

BAKRI: I'm sorry, can you repeat that? I'm having trouble hearing.

O'BRIEN: Well, I'm sorry. Forgive me. I'm going to try again. I was asking a lot of the book, as you well know, is about rediscovering roots. And I was curious to know, as Anthony kind of joked in the book, how he spoke Arabic fluently but with an Oklahoma accent, which is, you know, hard to imagine. Why was rediscovering roots such an important theme for him in his own life?

BAKRI: You know, it's an interesting question. And, I wish Anthony was here to answer you, but I'm going to try my best.

I think, you know, being the son of immigrants who found themselves in Oklahoma City, a place that, in the beginning, they didn't relate to very much, and then, you know, over the years, they just, you know, became just natives to the city, but there was always a part of them that longed to Majayun (ph), that longed to that ancestors village, that long to the house that their great-grandfather had built for them and left there for them, you know, just waiting for them to go back to it or visit it whenever they wanted.

And then, you know, Anthony spent 15 years of his life covering people who lost loved ones, who lost houses, whose life work changed by, you know, violent circumstances or other events. And, you know, I think, you know, all these things, being a son of immigrants, covering conflicts for so many years, just made him feel like he needed to find his roots.

And he needed a place that he could call home, a place where he can find peace with himself and just Majayun (ph) was that for him. And, you know, he would often tell me, when you're in Majayun (ph), especially sitting in the garden, that he just -- how happy he was being where he was.

And there's no place in this whole entire world where he would want to be more than that. Even after he dies, he wants his ashes to be spread in that garden, because he found home and he never wants to leave there.

O'BRIEN: Before I let you go, I want to ask you about your children. You have a two-year-old son together, and he had an older child from a previous marriage. What's the legacy that you want them to know about their father?

BAKRI: You know, Anthony was a great journalist and a great author. But for me and for our children, I want them to know what a great father he was and just a great, humble, modest human being. I think that's, for them, that's the most important thing, how much he loved them.

O'BRIEN: Most important legacy for sure. Nada, thank you for talking with us this morning. We appreciate it, talking about her husband's book, "House of Stone" about his ancestral home in Lebanon. We appreciate it.

Much more to tell you about from here where I am in Harrisburg, Illinois. We'll talk about other places across the country that were damaged by tornadoes. We'll talk to the governor of Kansas and Branson, Missouri's mayor as well. Those stories are all ahead. We'll take a short break and STARTING POINT continues after the break. Stay with us. Look, every day we're using

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Welcome back to STARTING POINT. We're coming to you live from Harrisburg, Illinois. Right where I am, this is the ground zero of where the tornado caused the most devastating damage, not only to property which you can see, but five people died in this housing complex.

I want to show you a little bit of what you can see. This is all that's left of one of the homes here. The tornado came from this direction and it was reported to be several hundred feet wide. And you can see if we go, the entire thing has been literally ripped right off of its foundation. One person died in the home that's adjacent here. And in fact, the number of deaths really are along this string of homes. Nothing here. They literally have been wiped away. And much of the damage, in fact, Kevin, if we walk over here, much of the damage has all been piled up when the storm kind of ran into other homes.

Let me show you this. This is the thing that is always so incredibly challenging I think about tornadoes. This is a home that has almost no damage. It only lost a little bit of siding, obviously a couple of things fell down. But beyond that, many of the homes here on this side of the street literally have virtually no damage. And contrast that to what we can see over here, which is a house that's practically collapsed.

You can see today people have come in and they're literally picking through the rubble trying to figure out what they're able to salvage now that the sun has come up and they've opened up the streets again and they can come and grab some of their belongings.

So let's get a little closer here, Kevin. Be careful of the nails obviously. You can see this house, it almost likes like it sort of imploded. The car is there. People were inside this house and the whole thing just came down around them. As you go further back you can just see the devastation. Just this really goes on for hundreds and hundreds of yards.

So today we're seeing cleanup. We're seeing a lot of grieving as the people who lost their loved ones here are trying to make some sense of a storm that seemed to just randomly role through and pick its victims. And also we're seeing leadership as they try to assess the damage in monetary terms so they can figure out what kind of eligibility they will have from the federal government.

We've got a couple of other storms to tell you about. We told you about the damage in Branson, Missouri. We've got the mayor of Branson, Raeanne Presley, joining us by phone. Mayor Presley, I appreciate your time this morning. I know that the good news in Branson was that you had no deaths to report, but you had some damage. Can you update me on how it was there?

MAYOR RAEANNE PRESLEY, BRANSON, MISSOURI: Yes. Good morning. We were fortunate. While we did have some injuries, none of them very severe. We did not have any deaths. We're very grateful for that. I'm out and around this morning. I'm already seeing the power is coming back on. We're getting that fixed for folks. People are cleaning up and picking up. It's obvious to me that in short order we'll be back in business.

O'BRIEN: That's some good news. I know that there was some pretty serious damage to those theaters that are historic, obviously, in Branson. What's the status of that? I heard that many, many dozens were damaged.

PRESLEY: Well, no, not quite that many. We're fortunate. We have about 15 venues that have live entertainment and we have five or six that sustained some level of damage. None of them were completely destroyed, so many are open. In fact, we had shows last night. So a lot were not damaged. So we encourage people to come back and get ready for a great season in Branson.

O'BRIEN: Good. That's good news. I'm glad to have some good news to report from you. I appreciate your time this morning. That's the mayor of Branson, Missouri. Appreciate your time, ma'am.

Let's turn to what's happening in Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback is in Kansas this morning. Good morning to you, governor, appreciate your time. Can we talk about Haleyville for a minute? That's a town that was reported to have very severe damage. Can you update me -- I'm sorry, Harveysville. Can you tell update me on the damage there, sir?

GOV. SAM BROWNBACK, (R) KANSAS: Yes. We had significant damage through much of the community. We had an EF-2 tornado that went through there. It went through without some warning. There was a tornado watch. Sirens didn't go off. And it sustained substantial damage. We had a couple people injured as well. People are starting to pick things back up. Power is starting to come back on and people going to start putting their lives back together. But the town itself was significantly damaged.

O'BRIEN: The reports I heard said somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of the town is either damaged or destroyed. Does that seem accurate to you?

BROWNBACK: It does. That's about accurate. It's a town of about 250 people. I'm headed there today. We've declared an emergency. I've declared an emergency for the community. The community is rebuilding. It's got agreements with other counties in the area, the state, to help in the cleanup and rebuilding. But about half the town was significantly damaged and a number of the homes in that portion that were hit were wiped out altogether.

O'BRIEN: There was a report that I heard of a man who said he was able to save his grandson when he grabbed him as he was sort of being sucked out of the window. I'm sure those are the kinds of stories you hear today and as you go through Harveysville. I appreciate your time. That's the governor of the state of Kansas joining us, Governor Sam Brownback.

We've got more weather to check in on of course, though, and Rob Marciano has an update for us on that. Rob, that story that I heard about the kid literally being sucked out of the window, it sounds so crazy and improbable, but of course tornadoes sort of define a crazy weather phenomenon.

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. When you're talking about an EF-4, even an EF-2 in that case, you have a serious decrease in pressure. More importantly, you have serious winds happening outside of the home. Usually it's the flying debris that will hurt you the most. That's why we tell people to get inside, cover up in the most interior room of your home, preferably a basement.

Will you need to do that today? I don't think so. The threat from St. Louis to Memphis will be on the docket. Winds aren't set up for tornadoes. There may be enough instability to create some storms with damaging winds and large hale. But the next storm barreling through the northern Rockies, this has dynamic energy. It will tap some moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Tomorrow looks to be a pretty bad threat, maybe even more widespread than yesterday. Not saying that we'll have a widespread outbreak like yesterday, but the ingredients are there in Louisville, southern Illinois. So folks in your area, Soledad, are going to have to be on guard through tomorrow night.

O'BRIEN: That's terrible. That is just terrible news for people here. The last thing they need to hear because many people, rob, you are coming in to try to clean up and city set their lives right again. Rob Marciano, I thank you.

We're going to take a short break. When we come back we'll talk to some of the families who are affected by the storms. Today, of course, the focus is on cleanup and grieving for families who lost loved ones. STARTING POINT will be back right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: This just in; 351,000 unemployment claims were filed for the first time last week. It's another week below the key 400,000 level. This is -- when you look at economic data a sign that the labor market is heading in the right direction.

Next week we're going to get the big jobs report for February. That's going to give us a bigger picture about jobs in this country and where the national jobless rate stands, we'll have that next Friday.

Meantime, a big shakeup at News Corp, James Murdoch is going to step down as head of News Corp's UK subsidiary News International. He's going to remain as the COO of News Corp. That makes him the third highest ranking executive behind only his father Rupert and News Corp President Chase Carey.

The -- the past year has been filled with scandals for several of the company's top publications. There are investigations into phone hacking and bribes to police. It has been a scandal-filled-year for a very high profile family who's made a lot of money covering scandals.

Joining me "New York Times" media reporter Brian Stelter which is a little irony in the whole thing. So James Murdoch, many people saw him as sort of as heir-apparent. Now he's stepping down from the newspaper, the British newspaper division. Is this -- is this punishment for the scandals or is this a promotion?

BRIAN STELTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": This is felt to be a long- time coming because James Murdoch has been the most closely tied to the phone hacking scandal in Britain. This is a scandal that is slow motion in a way. There's a lot of investigations going on in Britain about it. Hasn't really come across to affect the U.S. but James Murdoch has been wrapped up. And there's been a lot of questions about what he knew about hacking and bribery and when he knew it.

By moving him away from oversight of these papers it seems like his father, Rupert Murdoch, is trying to move him away from that tarnished British newspaper area. That said, a lot of analysts look at this and think this is just a new set of makeup. This isn't an actual face transplant for the company.

ROMANS: Right.

STELTER: And that's what they say it means.

ROMANS: And this isn't the heads rolling. I mean, there have been people who have lost their jobs in this whole investigation but nobody very super high up at the company?

STELTER: Right. There's -- there's evidence, there seems to be signals from Rupert Murdoch and his family that he -- he is confident that this company can go forward no matter what, no matter what's revealed in this investigation.

And by the way, that's probably true in the broader sense. This company, News Corporation is doing very well it's stock was up yesterday its television stations and networks are going gangbusters. But that newspaper unit is really tarnished right now and it continues. Almost every day it seems there's new revelations about how much hacking happened and how much money was paid to police officers to get information.

ROMANS: And this is a family business. And the business has taken a hit because of -- because of the scandal. No question. Yesterday the stock was up on a down day I think, in part because people were wondering if maybe Lachlan Murdoch the eldest son, maybe he could come back and become the heir-apparent.

STELTER: This is the great family drama that always envelopes News Corporation, which is the favorite son or daughter; is it Elizabeth or Lachlan or James. Two weeks ago when Rupert Murdoch came to London to produce this brand new Sunday edition of the "Sun" one of his cherished newspapers, his son Lachlan, not James, came with him, so people immediately read those (INAUDIBLE).

You know the broader point is that there's some activist investors, some activists out there who say this family shouldn't be running this company on their own. That it's great to have mom and pop businesses out there but this is one of the biggest media companies in the world and that it needs to have more transparent leadership and a more -- a more active board of directors.

So far and with yesterday's move with James Murdoch still being in charge, still being deputy COO, it seems Rupert Murdoch is resisting those calls.

ROMANS: And we still -- I mean, that's the family drama behind the succession.

STELTER: It might be a promotion. You know he's going to be running some of the most valuable parts of the company, the international TV business. He will be in some ways removed from the British newspaper unit although let's be clear about this. Every day we see new details about what's going on there. Every day there's new testimony in this slow motion scandal.

ROMANS: Right. All right, Brian Stelter of "New York Times", thank so much. Nice to see you this morning Brian -- Soledad.

STELTER: Thank you. Thanks. O'BRIEN: All right, Christine, thank you.

Before we go to commercial break I just want to show you some folks as they -- as they start to pick up their belongings, this structure right here, that's actually a closet. And people have been coming in and removing clothes, et cetera. It's hard to believe that that has stood and look around it. Everything else around it has been absolutely shredded by the power of the storm.

And as you pointed out, Christine, a little bit earlier, it's -- it's very hard to give a sense of how bad it really is. Sometimes I think the pictures don't actually do justice to the damage that's taken place on this little street.

We're going to take a short break. We come back on the other side. We're going to talk to some family members who -- whose mother was killed in the tornado when her home collapsed around her. We'll talk to them about how they're grieving and what they plan to do today.

That's all ahead. We're back in just a moment.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC GREGG, MAYOR, HARRISBURG, ILLINIOIS: It's absolutely been a horrific day here in Harrisburg, Illinois. We've lost six lives, we're a very tight knit community. People care about each other and to lose six lives and have many, many hurt and of course millions of dollars in devastation is just heartbreaking for a community.

And it's heartbreaking yes we've seen this in Joplin, Missouri last year in fact many of our people went to Joplin to help out. My daughter was one of them and now here today we're faced with this area in our community and our area. And so it's just been a very tough day for us. And our hearts are going out and our hearts are broken, in fact, for those that lost their lives and their families and those that are injured.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, I wanted to show for you an example of really the power of 170 mile-an-hour winds. Take a look at this and these homes were really literally pulled off their foundations. And you see, there's not even much debris around there. And the question is of course well, where did the debris go.

Well Kevin, show them this shot. Right over here is where the debris ended up. That's another home that has pinned itself against another home that is right behind it. And you can see just the power of ripping a home off its foundation. It slams into another home.

Many of the people on this side here were injured and actually had to climb their way out of their homes or be rescued out of their homes.

But for people on this side the story was much more devastating. A number of deaths that occurred in these homes here.

I want to introduce you again to Darryl Osmon and his sister Dena McDonald. We were chatting a little bit earlier and I appreciate you guys coming to talk with me earlier in the morning when it was still dark out. You were sort of hoping to be able to gather up some things. Did you find anything?

DARRYL OSMON, RESIDENT: Actually, we have.

DENA MCDONALD, RESIDENT: We -- have found a few items.

O'BRIEN: What did you find?

MCDONALD: This is a picture. I was a sophomore in high school when this picture was taken. And this was my boyfriend's junior prom in 1984.

O'BRIEN: I'll hold it so these guys can see that. Oh my goodness so what was it like to recover that from your mom's house?

MCDONALD: You know, it's just one of those -- I actually don't have this picture. So you know, so this is something I will keep.

O'BRIEN: It's something your mother obviously treasured.

MCDONALD: Yes definitely.

O'BRIEN: We should tell people -- oh what's this?

OSMON: We found that one.

O'BRIEN: Who is that?

OSMON: That -- that is my aunt. She is now, she told me last night on the phone, is old enough for Medicare. So that gives you an idea how old that picture is.

O'BRIEN: Wow. Well, that's a great picture.

OSMON: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Your mom was inside her home when it -- it sort of sounds like it collapsed around her.

OSMON: I -- I don't know if it collapsed around her.

O'BRIEN: Or if it was picked up.

OSMON: Or if it literally got picked up and carried off with her in it. But you see behind us here, that's -- that's what's left of her home, right there.

O'BRIEN: And you can see parts of the home, a home, I don't know whose home, kind of pinned up against another home over there.

OSMON: Yes. Yes. It's a -- we -- we have found stuff out of her kitchen in a general area over there.

O'BRIEN: Across the street?

OSMON: Across the street. Stuff out of her living room in a general area over there.

O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness.

OSMON: Across the street again, I mean --

MCDONALD: Then we both looked down -- these are slides, which are -- what was --

O'BRIEN: Way back when.

MCDONALD: -- when we were little.

OSMON: That was digital 40 years ago.

MCDONALD: I found some of these all the way up by the main road, yesterday.

O'BRIEN: Oh, wow. That's a solid 100 yard.

OSMON: It's at least 100 yards, yes.

O'BRIEN: So your mother, was she rescued? Obviously there was no building here. Did they find her in the rubble here?

OSMON: I'm not really sure. The officer that I saw yesterday morning that told me she was in the ambulance, at that point in time I was so relieved that she had been found so quickly that I didn't even ask. So I don't know if she was like laying in the street or dug out of the rubble. I honestly don't know.

O'BRIEN: They were able to put her in an ambulance and your wife who's a nurse was able to go along on that ambulance ride.

OSMON: That's correct.

O'BRIEN: She had a gash on her forehead but did you think she was sort of ok?

OSMON: At that point we had no clue that her injuries were life- threatening. We felt at that point that she was going to be ok.

O'BRIEN: When did you realize that she was not going to be ok.

OSMON: Approximately an hour later when my wife came out of the hospital from the emergency room and said the doctors told us that it doesn't look good. That was a pretty severe blow.

O'BRIEN: You live in another state. MCDONALD: I live four hours away.

O'BRIEN: And started driving basically.

MCDONALD: Yes. They called from my niece's phone, his daughter's phone that it was my sister-in-law on the phone. She said, Dena, you need to get here now. So I just threw clothes in a suitcase just whatever I could grab. Jumped in the truck probably within five or ten minutes of that phone call.

Got 15 minutes away from my home and I had actually called them back because I wanted them to check the weather because I wanted to see where the storm actually was so I didn't have to drive through it. Within 15 minutes they said, you don't have to hurry.

O'BRIEN: Your mother had died.

MCDONALD: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Did she know in her last moments, because it sounds like she was pulled out conscious and talking, did she know you were all worried about her and caring for her?

OSMON: Yes. I believe she did. When we were -- before I actually got out of the ambulance and then of course my wife carried on with her in the ambulance to the hospital, when we would talk to her she would try to respond. Her words were mumbled. You couldn't really understand what she was saying, but she was squeezing our hands. She knew we were there. She knew we were there.

O'BRIEN: I was told this was a new housing complex. All these homes actually were brand new.

OSMON: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Did she just move in, in November?

OSMON: She just moved in, in November of last year, yes.

MCDONALD: She couldn't move in -- she couldn't move in until it was done. It wasn't done when she had signed the lease.

OSMON: Yes.

MCDONALD: So I mean it was brand new.

OSMON: Yes. She was the first tenant. Like my sister said, she signed the lease before it was actually ready to move into.

O'BRIEN: What do you do now?

OSMON: Pick up the pieces. Pick up the pieces. You know, as tragic as this is for those of us that have lost our mothers and brothers and sisters and others, as you know, there's a total of five gone just right here -- from these units right here. All the dead in this complex were right here in these units, and as tragic as it is, we need to be thankful it wasn't worse.

When you look behind you up the hill up through there behind you at all those homes that are damaged and destroyed and think about how many people lived in all those homes, it certainly could have been far, far worse.

O'BRIEN: The number of dead could have been in the hundreds.

OSMON: The number of dead could have easily been in the hundreds.

O'BRIEN: I appreciate you talking to us this morning. I know you're here to clean up and do some work so I'll let you go. But thank you --

MCDONALD: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: -- for sharing your story with us.

OSMON: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: So as we close out STARTING POINT for the morning, We'll end as we began which is a look at this neighborhood. This is the center, ground zero, all new homes really hit here. And that's where five of the six people who died in Harrisburg lost their lives, right here.

A community that's close knit and they're really relying on that today because they have to kind of lean on their neighbors for support in such a terrible, terrible time. As the sun comes up, as the day moves on, we see more people kind of climbing up this little mountain of rubble trying to get out whatever they can.

You can see more trucks as well because people have driven trucks in to go throw their things in the back, whatever they end up grabbing and then be able to drive them out.

That's it for STARTING POINT this morning here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

And we're going to hand it over now to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Kyra Phillips who is standing by in Atlanta -- hey, Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi Soledad. Thanks so much.