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Tornado Survivors Pull Together; Administration Admits Deadly Drone Strikes; Man Killed By FBI Knew Bombing Suspects; Sergio Sorry For "Fried Chicken" Remark

Aired May 22, 2013 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, and we're coming to you live from Moore, Oklahoma just 48 hours ago, the site of that horrific tornado. Officials say six adults are still missing after Monday's giant EF-5 tornado. That is the worst there is. Twenty-four people have been killed in that storm. We've now learned that 10 of them were children. The mayor here does not expect the death toll to climb any further he says. At least 324 people were injured when the tornado hit on Monday.

The White House says President Obama will visit this region on Sunday. Today Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano toured the devastation. She urged victims to sign up with FEMA to receive assistance, and she restated that the president is committed to sending all the help that is needed.

The power is still out to about 10,000 customers here and the cost of rebuilding will be huge, in the billions. 4,000 insurance claims have been filed here so far. But one piece of good news, one glimmer of light. High school graduations will happen as planned on Saturday.

When a tornado with the force of an atomic bomb slams into a community as it did here in Moore, safe rooms can mean the difference between life and death. And that is why a lot of questions are being raised about why so many homes and buildings in this community lacked safe rooms, including the two schools that took a direct hit from Monday's tornado.

THE LEAD's Erin McPike joins me here with more on this. Erin, we've heard a lot of people say, red tape is to blame.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The thing about safe rooms is they are so industrially thick. I was in one today. And it is much better than being in a cellar because rubble can fall on top of a cellar and it is hard to get out. But now the government wants to be sure if they're giving grants that people use this money for safe rooms and not for anything else. And that's the problem. Some cities can't keep up with that fast enough.


MCPIKE: Jeff Rogers had this $11,000 tornado safe room installed at his Shawnee, Oklahoma house last week. Four days later, this passed by his backyard.

JEFF ROGERS, TORNADO SURVIVOR: Seeing the destruction at Moore and seeing the destruction less than half a mile from us, you know, you need to have a safe place to go in Oklahoma.

MCPIKE: Rogers had tried for federal money but couldn't get it, so he paid for it out of his own pocket. But residents in nearby Moore weren't as lucky. Officials in Moore, Oklahoma, the scene of Monday's tornado, say they have asked for FEMA money to build shelters but have been stymied by red tape for more than a year. "We found that the FEMA requirements and their interpretation seem to be a constantly moving target." They say FEMA allows grants after the president signed the disaster declaration when the city says it's too late. FEMA says it has funded hundreds of safe rooms in the Oklahoma area, including many in the path of Monday's tornado.

CRAIG FUGATE, FEMA DIRECTOR: Over 10,000 have been built. More than any other state. But again, every time a disaster happens, there's more calls for this. And it's not only the building of safe rooms, but making sure they're built to the right standards.

MCPIKE: Andrew Zagorski, who built Roger's safe room, claims fraud, not FEMA slows down the construction of more safe rooms throughout the area.

ANDREW ZAGORSKI, CONTRACTOR: It's sad to say there's been a lot of scam artists involved in this project. They were giving out rebates for the longest time. I don't have the exact date when they stopped, but FEMA came down and they pulled their money out of this state because the rebate programs are supposed to be for safe rooms. If you notice, every time they launch a program, it is the safe room rebate program, not cellars.


TAPPER: The mayor of Moore, Oklahoma, Glenn Lewis, joins me now. Mayor, before we get to this issue of safe houses and cellars, you have some breaking news about the six individuals unaccounted for.

GLENN LEWIS, MAYOR OF MOORE, OKLAHOMA: Yes, we do. I just learned that six people that were missing have now been accounted for. All six --

TAPPER: Specifically five -

LEWIS: Five of them were found alive. One is at the medical examiner's office, which we presume is probably dead. Otherwise he wouldn't be at the medical examiner's office.

TAPPER: Of the six people, five are okay.


TAPPER: The sixth person we don't know if they were double counted in the original 24 --

LEWIS: Exactly.

TAPPER: -- death count or if there is a 25th body. We don't know that yet. We'll hear from the medical examiner. But there are no longer six people missing.

LEWIS: You guys have an exclusive on that. We just found it out.

TAPPER: Just important that the information is out there.

TAPPER: Now Mr. Mayor, let's talk about the issue of safe homes and cellars. You are proposing new legislation. What are you proposing?

LEWIS: Actually, what I said was basically we would discuss it in a council meeting. And what we will do is get the stakeholders here in the city, a lot of the business people, we'll get the school people, and we will get home builders association involved, and we'll discuss what we think we need to have. Moore has one of the largest amounts of storm shelters and cellars in the country. Until 1952, we hadn't had any tornado deaths. 1952 we had two. We didn't have any more after that until 1999 --

TAPPER: Right.

LEWIS: -- and we had six. It was a very similar storm. This time, we've had 24. That includes south Oklahoma City. And you know, it's one of those things if you had so many storm shelters, would it really matter? We don't know.

TAPPER: We don't know, but let's talk about this for one second. Because I think a lot of people watching probably wonder why don't schools have them? At the very least have them. Kellienell (ph) Elementary School just three miles down the road from Plaza Towers that took that huge hit, they have a shelter. It was built with FEMA funds after that horrific May 3rd, 1999 -- why do they have shelter at one school but not three miles closer?

LEWIS: It is about the money and statistics. An F-5 tornado is very rare. It's one percent to two percent of the tornadoes. They don't happen very often. We are probably the only city in the world that's actually been hit with it twice. So, it is the same reason they don't have safe rooms for earthquakes. They don't work -- you know, all the time.

TAPPER: Don't you think that the schools here should have, every school here should have a safe room or cellar of some sort?

LEWIS: Oh, absolutely. You know, anybody that lives in any tornado area should have one. But it's just a matter of cost. You know, there will be more people after this tornado that buy them and have them put in. So, we'll have more as soon as this is done.

TAPPER: I know they are very expensive, and that's because the soil here is so moist. And that's very difficult to build. Is this not something that the community of Moore would come together and pay for? Or is this not something the federal government and state would help out with?

LEWIS: You'd have to ask the school board that. The school board is a separate entity than the municipalities. We can only make recommendations to the school board as to what the school does. But we would like to see that. You know there is not a school bus in the country we know of that has seat belts, but there's more people are killed on buses and accidents than are in tornadoes. So what are you going to do?

TAPPER: All right. Fair point. We appreciate it. Mr. Mayor, good luck.

LEWIS: Thank you, sir.

TAPPER: Good luck rebuilding, and thank you so much.

LEWIS: Thank you.

TAPPER: The community's bond that no twister can ever tear apart. Their homes and businesses are gone. But we'll show you the unbreakable spirit of Moore, Oklahoma. That's coming up next.

And you've seen powerful tornadoes in action and the destruction they leave behind. It's all around me here. But we'll show you what one looks like from the inside and how they can literally peel homes apart. That's coming up.


TAPPER: You're looking at scenes of the devastation here in Moore. A car tossed aside like dice by that mighty tornado that hit just about 48 hours ago right this moment.

Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, live in Moore, Oklahoma. Disasters like the one that left this community in shambles can change one's perspective in an instant. Sure, they may have lost their homes. Perhaps even the businesses that they built from the ground up. But they escaped the tornado with their lives. And their families are okay as well. And that alone is giving people here in Moore the strength to not only heal and rebuild but to help others do the same.


TAPPER (voice-over): One look at the Camden Village strip mall and you can see not only the tornado's fury but also its cruel capriciousness. At one end, a Chinese restaurant torn to shreds. At the other, a pub virtually untouched.

(on camera): The tornado just like came --

LISA TALLEY, TORNADO VICTIM: Yes. I mean, you can see the way it came. Dan McGuiness (ph), which is the pub on the end, you could go in there and sit down and have a hamburger right now if it had electricity. It didn't go that way. It went this way. I mean, they're not touched. They didn't lose a single -- a chair wasn't even turned over. There were two beers still sitting on the counter halfway full.

TAPPER: Come on.

TALLEY: Promise you.

TAPPER (voice-over): Lisa Talley's father owns the mall and we found her here touching base with tenants and directing cleanup crews.

TALLEY: There is a girl down there working right now for Cheers. She lost her house yesterday. She has nothing. And she is up here helping him -- you know, she is the manager of the store. She texted me last night and I said are you OK? Is everyone okay? She said, I have no home and I have no job.

TAPPER: But she also heard stories of survival, such as two from the family that owns the Chinese restaurant. They survived by hiding inside their freezer.

(on camera): They went into the freezer --


TAPPER: -- of the Chinese restaurant?

TALLEY: Yes. Katy and her daughter, she made them leave, and her and her husband rode it out in there.

TAPPER: In the freezer.

TALLEY: In the freezer.

TAPPER (voice-over): Next door is what once was the office of chiropractor Tyler Boden.

TALLEY: Open for business.

TAPPER: Boden came by to sort through what's left.

(on camera): What are you looking for? Just whatever you can recover?

TYLER BODEN, CHIROPRACTOR: Cash box. We've got some patient files here. Want to try and get as much of that secured as we can. We're just going to start calling. There's a long list of patients, and we'll just do the best that we can. And, you know, I just hope -- I just hope everybody is okay.

TAPPER (voice-over): For the folks cleaning up here today, tomorrow looks different than they planned. Michael Moran's dream, his business, Nutrition 101, is devastated. It's gone.

(on camera): So what happens next for your business?

MICHAEL MORAN, BUSINESS OWNER: Well, we've been here the last two days, yesterday and today trying to salvage what's left. Unfortunately, I did have insurance on the store, so everything I had I put into the store. And at this point we want to get everything that is still useable to pick up the pieces and try to recover and move on.

TAPPER (voice-over): Moran still seemed shocked that he escaped in one piece, running as the tornado chased behind him after hearing a dire warning on the local news.

MORAN: I just missed being in this by about two minutes.

TAPPER (on camera): I think the meteorologist is right.

MORGAN: Oh, yes. Without him saying that, I probably would have tried to stick it through staying here, and there is no telling what would have happened at that point.

TAPPER: It is hard to imagine anybody surviving this.

(voice-over): But the tenants here at Camden Village did survive even if their businesses did not. And now, the hard work begins of putting things right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know my dad and his team of people. I mean, they're going to bust their tails to get this thing put back up real quick.

TAPPER: They would not have it any other way. They would not be anywhere else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would never leave here. Have you seen how amazing people are around here?

TAPPER (on camera): It's pretty incredible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't get any better than this. Why would you leave a community that, you know, you can't live in fear.


TAPPER: Some incredible people we've met here, Lisa Talley among them, and the rest of the gang that we met at the Camden Village Mall, our thanks to them.

Coming up on THE LEAD, a man connected to the Boston terror suspects dies after attacking an FBI agent, is killed more appropriately. What did he know and why did he react so violently to questioning?

Plus, it started as a few insults tossed back and forth, but now the Tiger Woods/Sergio Garcia dispute takes a racist turn. That's next.


TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you here on THE LEAD. One day before President Obama is expected to give a speech defending his secretive program of drone attacks, a stunning admission from the administration. For the first time the Obama administration is admitting, admitting that radical American born cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki and three other Americans were killed by covert U.S. drone strikes.

This comes from a letter to Congress from Attorney General Eric Holder. In the letter Holder says that Awlaki was the only one actually targeted by drones. The other three were believed to have been connected to al Qaeda and Awlaki's own 16-year-old son, of course, who by most accounts was an innocent bystander in all of this. The Obama administration has long been suspected to have played the role in the deaths of these four individuals. This is the first time they've admitted it publicly.

In national news there is a new crime scene tied to the Boston bombing investigation, but this one is hundreds of miles away from the scene of the attack. It's in Orlando, Florida. An FBI agent shot and killed a man being questioned for his ties to the bombing suspects.

Investigators say the agent shot Ibragim Todashev in self-defense after the former mixed martial arts fighter attacked the agent at his Orlando home. A source confirms the man previously lived in Boston and knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev. They say he was also from the same area of Chechnya as the Tsarnaev brothers.

In another bizarre twist, a law enforcement official has just revealed that Todashev was directly involved in that 2011 triple homicide in the Boston suburb of Waltham that you heard about after the terrorist attacks. One of the victims killed in the incident was a former roommate of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. That information was apparently revealed during FBI questioning before everything went awry.

In the "Sports Lead," it was shaping up to be a pretty entertaining new chapter in the ongoing feud between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. As entertaining as feuds between guys in polos and khakis can get, I guess, but then with one incendiary quick the trivial rivalry took a nasty turn. CNN's Rachel Nichols has more -- Rachel.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The long-time feud between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia reached a boiling point Tuesday night when at an awards dinner in England the ceremony's host asked Garcia if he might try to patch things up with Woods by inviting him to dinner at the upcoming U.S. Open.

The 33-year-old Spaniard answered, quote, "We'll have him around every night. We will serve fried chicken." The incident quickly sparked outrage and within an hour Garcia issued a statement calling his words, quote, "a silly remark," but said in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner.

Woods disagreed, tweeting this in response. Quote, "The comment that was made wasn't silly. It was wrong, hurtful, and clearly inappropriate." Woods then added, "I'm confident that there is real regret the remark was made."

Garcia has acknowledged he doesn't like playing with Woods. During the recent players championship he blamed Woods for causing fans to cheer when he prepared to hit his ball. At a news conference Wednesday, he seemed genuinely upset.

SERGIO GARCIA, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I want to send an unreserved apology. I didn't mean to offend anyone. I was caught off guard by the question, but don't get me wrong. I understand that my answer was totally stupid and out of place.

NICHOLS: Garcia said he hadn't yet spoken to Woods, but was trying to reach him via telephone to personally apologize. Still, he maintained the comment had no racial undertones.

GARCIA: No, not at all. It wasn't meant that way. Like I said before, I was caught off guard and what seemed to be a funny question and trying to give a funny answer that came out totally wrong and, you know, I want to make sure that, you know, everybody knows I'm very, very sorry. I can't apologize enough times.

NICHOLS: The incident is reminiscent of 1997 comments made by two-time major winner Fuzzy Zoeller who referred to then 21-year-old Woods as a little boy, then asked that at the champions dinner after Woods' first Masters victory Woods not put fried chicken, collard greens, or, quote, "whatever they serve on the menu."

Zoeller lost several of his endorsements after that, and the remarks stained his career. As for Garcia, his primary sponsor, tailor made Adidas, has already issued a statement distancing itself from the golfer with the company saying it will review their relationship.


NICHOLS: Now, Jake, this feud has been going on since the year 2000, and there's been plenty of back and forth between these guys. Sergio has called Tiger a liar. Tiger has called Sergio a whiner. But there's never been any kind of racial undertones before. That's what is really interesting as we go forward here.

Really, Sergio seems sincere, saying he wanted to personally apologize to Tiger, but you have to wonder how Tiger is going to take it if Sergio keeps insisting there was no racial meaning behind his remarks. I'm not sure if you make a fried chicken joke about a black athlete there is another meaning other than racial, right?

TAPPER: That's exactly what I'm wondering. How on earth does he expect anybody to take him and his apology at his word if he keeps acting as if there wasn't a racial undertone? It doesn't make sense otherwise.

NICHOLS: Why would you say it? I think it is going to be interesting forward. Tiger has said several times he doesn't have any interest in patching things up with Sergio. His comments today indicated he wants to sort of move on and be the bigger person, but I respect Tiger for making the point that these weren't silly remarks as Sergio initially termed them and holding Sergio to the fact that this is a problem because you want this kind of language out of sports. We are seeing increasing racial incidents in the game of soccer. We've seen it flare up in golf now and I think Tiger has a point in making a stand saying there is no place for this in the game.

TAPPER: All right, Rachel Nichols, thanks so much. We will be right back.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. That's it for me from Moore, Oklahoma. I'm heading back to Washington, D.C., a lot of news in D.C. I'm going to leave you right now in the able hands of my friend and colleague, Wolf Blitzer. And also, of course, Wolf, you're going to stay here and continue to cover what's going on here as they make recovery efforts.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": There are so many stories here. Powerful stories of survival, recovery, and I just want to share some of those stories with our viewers out there and I look forward to doing that tomorrow.

TAPPER: And you heard, of course, the mayor of Moore was here and said of the six individuals that were missing, they have located five of them. They were alive and presumed well. The sixth is in the Medical Examiner's Office and we don't know if there was a double count or if the death count has gone from 24 to 25, but all six have been located one way or the other for the most part for the better.

BLITZER: That's good.

TAPPER: So it's good news. So I'm going to leave you in the able hands of Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thank you so much for watching THE LEAD. We'll see you tomorrow.