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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Aftermath of the Oklahoma Tornadoes; Interview with Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb; FBI Agent Killed Friend of Boston Marathon Suspect After Questioning; Benghazi Attack Investigation
Aired May 22, 2013 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): From search and rescue to recovery. The operation refocuses from looking for survivors to searching for bodies in Oklahoma. This hour on CNN, we'll take you on a tour of the swath of destruction.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Look at the trees, it looks like people pulled them up and laid them down there just like they were weeding their garden. But those are huge, old root pinetrees.
BERMAN (voice-over): And first on CNN, one of the ER doctors who helped evacuate hundreds of patients from the Moore Medical Center.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't feel like I can take credit for that. I'd just -- like I said, I was doing my job, and doing what I had to do.
BERMAN: This and other hero doctors pulling mattresses off beds, throwing those mattresses on top of patients, all in a desperate effort to protect them from the storm.
GOV. MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA: They had jackhammers, they had saws, cutting through metal. They had sledgehammers. They were desperately trying to get under the debris.
BERMAN: Men and women, professionals, regular folks, all headed straight for Moore, Oklahoma.
Coming up, desperate search for survivors and the heartbreaking discoveries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Twenty-four people lost their lives here in Moore, Oklahoma, including nine children.
Now, you remember, yesterday, the government came out with numbers much higher than that. So, you have to take a little bit of solace. And we are told those numbers are not expected to change, part of the story of this epic tornado here. BERMAN: Search and rescue mission here is now really transitioning into a recovery operation. The National Weather Service confirming that the tornado that carved up this town was an EF-5, with winds topping out at 210 miles an hour.
CUOMO: According to state insurance officials, damage claims likely to top $10 million, with 10,000 people directed by the twister, 2,400 homes damaged or destroyed.
So, it was very hard to imagine what it's like to put yourself in the situation. We're telling you people's stories. We're showing you the damage. But imagine, 200-mile-an-hour winds, only 10 minutes really to prepare for it.
We took to the skies to give you a look from the above exactly the path of this tornado took, and the randomness, the violence, is so clear.
Take a look.
CUOMO: We're going to take you through the tornado's path from beginning to end. If you look down here, you're going to see a brown line. It starts with the debris field and goes in this direction. That is actually the tornado's trail.
And as you see, it's going to get much more dramatic as we get near to the populated area.
You literally can trace your finger a line where the tornado went. The path is completely obvious. It's about a block and a half wide, and you notice it just by seeing everything that's destroyed. Everything that looks just like paper on the ground, those are homes, timbers, roofs, those are cars.
There are two major time components here. Sixteen minutes. That was the warning window before the tornado touched down and then a 10- minute window, during which this went from heavy wind to a tornado having the ability to destroy everything in its path.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God!
CUOMO: This is where the tornado was. Look at the difference between life and death, between losing everything and losing nothing.
Over water, you'll see, it looks like it disappears, then it touches down on land again, the destruction resumes.
Right now, we're flying at 2,500 feet above the ground. Scientists say that debris from the tornado can get ten times as high as we are into the air.
Look at the trees, looks like people pulled them up and laid them down like they were weeding their garden, but those are huge growth pine trees. Cars were just littered along the trail. They were never there. They weren't parked there. They were tossed like toys.
When you look at the debris down there, you can understand why search and rescue is so difficult. It's time consuming. It's hard to get into these areas, once you do to fight your way throw those homes literally like digging through a haystack.
One of the worst parts of this tornado's path, that it's one that this community has seen before. In 1999 and 2003, there were terrible tornadoes here that carved almost the same path through this community.
This part of the community really shows randomness and intensity of the tornado. Some folks are just completely (INAUDIBLE) and then a block away, they've been spared and this part of the debris field ends at a school where children lost their lives.
CUOMO: As remarkable as the devastation is, I think that what is more impressive to me and the time I've been here is the resolve of the community to come back, and their knowledge that they know how to recover. You know, they understand how devastating this is. And they've lived it before and they know how to get back.
BERMAN: There is a steely confidence here among the people of Moore, Oklahoma. It's really remarkable.
It's really interesting, Chris, to see the damage from above, sort of the sky high look at everything that went here.
We also see it in vivid terms here on the ground level, sort of the big picture and small picture.
I went through a walk through this neighborhood we're standing in right now, and there were so many small signs of the lives changed and the devastation that's been caused.
BERMAN (voice-over): Just one street, just one neighborhood. But countless reminders of the enormity of what happened here. The living room set with no living room. A minivan in a space that defies the laws of physics.
(on camera): Let me give you a sense of the power of the storm. This is a guardrail. This heavy piece of twisted metal was part of the highway which is a few blocks that way.
Somehow, this tornado moved this guardrail from the highway right to here. This shows you how powerful it is.
But there is another sight I want to show you which gives a sense of the damage that this storm could do. And it's a simple, small image. It's this. It's a kid's toy. It's a little car or truck here. It's part of someone's life.
We haven't seen anyone at this house today. Someone's life that will be changed forever.
(voice-over): In yard after yard, giant wooden splinters, spears sticking out of the ground.
(on camera): And in the middle of all of this debris, in the middle of this muck, in the middle of all of these lives that have simply been torn apart, now there's this rain falling down on all these people trying to piece their lives back together.
(voice-over): The rain falling on Richard Jones in his living room.
(on camera): So show me where you rode out the storm.
RICHARD JONES, OKLAHOMA TORNADO VICTIM: Right in here. We were in this bathtub here. The two youngest grand kids, I laid over them. My daughter right over me, we had a mattress over the top of us.
BERMAN: How many of you were in here?
JONES: Four and a dog.
BERMAN: What did it sound like while the tornado was blowing over?
JONES: Just unreal. It sounded like the whole house was ripping apart. This -- I was just waiting to be sucked out at any moment. I knew the house was being destroyed.
You could hear the grass breaking, shattering, it was unreal. Very unreal.
BERMAN: How long did it last?
JONES: My daughter said 90 seconds. It felt like forever.
BERMAN: And when you came out, what do you think about what you saw?
JONES: I don't know how we lived. I mean, you can go outside and see the destruction. It's just unreal. Very unreal. Luckily, we're all here and alive.
BERMAN: Richard Jones, surrounded by his family.
We met a lot of families on the street, Chris, over the last day. And so many of them, it was so interesting, they were smiling and it really struck me that these people could still find some joy in just being together. Despite everything that's happened here.
CUOMO: Combination of faith and perspective helping so many people.
Now, somebody who had to live this as a leader in a community, of course, Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb.
It's very good to have you with us again.
When you were with us yesterday morning, you were getting ready to go out there and see what was out there, and how people were doing in the communities. What hit you?
LT. GOV. TODD LAMB (R), OKLAHOMA: The pure devastation and the horrific scenes. You know, when we were together yesterday morning, about 5:50 in the morning, 6:00 a.m., still just seeing images on television. I was at the emergency operations center all evening the night before. Seeing it first hand as you can attest to, it's just pure devastation, absolutely horrific.
But as you just said, you also see amongst the rubble and amongst the devastation, families huddled together pulling things out of the rubble. Smiling, the best they can.
They're still tragedy. We lost life here, but families are picking themselves up. They're strong. They're resilient. A very, very strong faith and we're going to move on, we have hope.
BERMAN: Is it frustrating for you as a public official sometimes to see all this destruction around you? Do you feel like you can make the difference that you want to make as quickly as you want to make it?
LAMB: It's very frustrating, because, you know, you run for office, and you want to serve and give back because you care about people. That's why I'm in public life, and when there's so little you can do. But that's why I'm visiting with you and others about relief efforts, rebuilding schools and things that need to happen, but it can be frustrating.
But at the same time, everybody who can be helpful is being helpful. And we have so many groups, agencies, organizes and individuals here on site, helping and making a difference.
CUOMO: Any chance that there was good fortune in this? That there isn't more loss of life? You got to see just how widespread the devastation is?
LAMB: It's odd to say, and it's a tough balance to strike when we say we're fortunate. But we don't want to lose one -- one life. So the fact that it's 24, not 25, if the number was 100 and it wasn't 101.
CUOMO: We were worried about that yesterday.
LAMB: Right. We were with the initial reports. But the fact that this storm and the enormity of this tornado, the violence of this tornado, and the destruction that has occurred and wiped out businesses, flattened neighborhoods, wiped them out, obliterated them, that we have 24, it's a blessing to some degree -- still tragically lost 24 lives.
BERMAN: Let me ask a question because a lot of people are asking about the issue of shelters, particularly in schools. I know there was a state rep who proposed a bond issue to fund some of these shelters in all the schools.
Do you so support that measure, because from the outside looking, it seems to a lot of people that these shelters really should be part of the school system?
LAMB: Well, I understand your question. It's an important question to ask. Right now I'm focused on recovery and relief effort.
Congressman Cole, we're in his congressional district. I look forward to meeting with him. I saw him this morning briefly. I look forward to meeting with him and get his thoughts and advice and suggestions for his hometown, where he grew up, where he lived, where his family was and is, and get his thoughts on federal legislation as opposed to just state legislation.
CUOMO: We've been staying in contact, Lieutenant Governor.
LAMB: Thank you.
CUOMO: To help, CNN.com/impact. You can go there and find out ways to help the families in this community. The state motto is labor conquers all.
LAMB: That's right.
CUOMO: And, certainly, you got work in front of you to bring the community back together to get these homes --
LAMB: Thank you, all, again, for covering it. Thank you, CNN, for covering it because if you weren't here telling the world what was going on, a lot of folks wouldn't realize the devastation here in Moore, Oklahoma.
CUOMO: People are going to help.
BERMAN: Appreciate it.
Ahead on STARTING POINT, we're going to speak with a family who lost so much, and we're going to hear about one mother's last-minute escape with her three sons. It is an incredible story. We'll have that next.
CUOMO: We'll also have Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's going to be speaking with an E.R. doctor whose composure and level-headedness during this storm's impact literally saved many lives. How did she keep her cool? You're going to find out on this special edition of STARTING POINT.
BERMAN: Welcome back to Moore, Oklahoma, everyone, where survivors this morning picking up the remains, sifting through pieces of their homes, looking for photographs, mementos, anything that might remain. One of our guests now knows about that firsthand, knows that destructive power of these storms. She and her three sons escaped their house with only minutes to spare. They returned to find that their home was completely destroyed.
Terimy Miller joins us now, along with her friend Kim Smith, who's helping raise money for Terimy.
Terimy, let me ask you right off the bat. You and your boys, you all OK?
TERIMY MILLER, LOST HER HOME IN MONDAY'S OKLAHOMA TORNADO: Yes, they're fine. They're with their daddy right now. So that's the main thing.
They are safe. They are happy. They are content at the moment.
BERMAN: Now, your story of escape here, fairly harrowing, walk us through this.
MILLER: OK. Well, pretty much, my work let us out early. They knew the storm was coming. They had been hit before and had been flattened.
So, I left, went and grabbed my youngest from daycare, who was next door, ran to the school, grabbed my other two, and when I got there, sirens started going off. OK. The guys -- stay here. We're not letting kids out. Sirens stopped.
They let us take our kids then. I grabbed them, went home. I got there, I put them in the coat closet, because hell was coming down at that time. I turned on NBC News, listened to Mike Morgan, and he started telling us where it's at, what's going on. I'm like, all right, I need to, you know, listen, see what's going on here.
And when he said, if you live in this area, which was where I live, which is fourth and eastern area, he said get out now if you have no shelter. If you have shelter, get in it. But if you don't, get out. He said, don't stay in the closet. Don't get in the bathtub or the bathroom. It's not safe, go. It's too huge.
They were comparing it to the May 3rd tornado, big time. I was like, OK, boys, we're out of here. My middle one was crying, because he was scared. He didn't know what's going on. I grabbed him, get outside, let's go. My middle one grabs our inside dog.
CUOMO: How old are the boys?
MILLER: Devin is 11, Jules is seven who's my middle one. And Titus is six.
CUOMO: OK. So, you got some young ones. They don't know how to do this themselves.
MILLER: They don't know what's going on. They know a tornado is coming. They know bad weather is out there, and they're like, OK, is our house going to go away? What's going to happen? I get in the car. We get out. I even turned my alarm on to my house, my house alarm. And we zoomed. When I left, I went fast as I could.
I went basically toward 19th street, turned left, and went east. Kept going until I got to Sooner Road and went south toward Norman. Listening to the radio, they're telling me where the tornado was at.
BERMAN: Running from the storm.
MILLER: I was running, and that's what Mike Morgan told us. Run away from it. And that's the only way I knew, because they say it's getting right close to 19th and 4th. I knew them areas, and I was like, OK, I know where I'm going. I could see behind me the blackness, the dark, and I said, boys, it's right behind us. You can see it. You can see it. When I got down, I knew I could turn and come back toward the house. I turned and I could see it moving away. And I started taking pictures of that. I saw it leaving. I took pictures of the tornado leaving.
BERMAN: Looking at your house now, we have some pictures of your house --
BERMAN: What does that like?
MILLER: It's scary. I mean, when I walked up, I was astounded. What happened? My home is gone. I -- I did like any probably any normal person did. I hyperventilated a little bit, just like I can't believe this is happening. I cried, because I lost everything except my children. I worried about my two outside dogs that were left there, because I -- we ran. I mean, we literally ran.
And luckily, they are alive. One of them got injured. He's going to have to lose his right eye because of the storm. And we just -- we're lucky. And I started thinking, I have my children, and everything will be OK. I will rebuild my house. It's a house. It's a structure, yes. It had a lot of memories in it. My pictures from childhood. I mean, pictures I took when I was in sixth grade.
I mean, up to now. Stuff that I got when I was in the navy. I mean, it's all gone, but I know I can still remember it. I can still remember where everything was in that house. I can still see the pictures in my mind, and I'll just have to keep it that way. I mean, I was then able, yesterday, to get some stuff out, but I'll just -- I'll survive. I mean, my kids are happy.
CUOMO: You know you got the most you're about to save. You know you made the most important choice. You got what matters most out of that house.
MILLER: Yes. My three kids.
CUOMO: How you move forward?
BERMAN: And you have friends helping chip in here. MILLER: Friends and family. My sister and niece came down yesterday and my brother-in-law, they came down. I had a friend that came over from Norman. She came over and we just started pulling stuff out. I had even high schoolers. Never met these kids before, and they started pulling stuff out, and they're from Moore High School. And they're just helping me like "you need help?" "Yes." We started pulling the stuff out.
CUOMO: We've been hearing stories of how the community comes together. You guys are a living example of how Moore, Oklahoma will get itself back on its feet. Thank you so much for telling us your story.
MILLER: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: Thank God you and your boys are fine. Thank you for doing the good work for raising money.
BERMAN: Thank you for being a good friend.
CUOMO: A lot of people who are in this situation, and that's why you can go to CNN.com/Impact. CNN.com/Impact and figure out how to help people like you just met in the people here in Moore, Oklahoma.
BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, how do the people here in Moore, how do people in this town begin the arduous task of rebuilding? As the rescue turns to recovery, we look at what the next steps are.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This just in to CNN. An FBI agent shot and killed a suspect in Florida who knew Boston bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsavraev. According to our affiliate, Central Florida News 13, the agent was apparently conducting official duties in Orlando when the man was shot and killed. We're going to bring you more information throughout the morning as it becomes available.
Developing this morning in the investigation into the deadly attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. A senior Republican lawmaker tells CNN that investigators now have names to go along with the photos of people who may have been involved in that attack. The lawmaker could not say how many people have been identified. At a Congressional hearing last week, attorney general, Eric Holder, hinted that there were new definitive and concrete developments.
"Minding Your Business" this morning, another record high for stocks. The gains for the year have been impressive now, folks. Dow, S&P 500 both up 17 percent in 2013. The NASDAQ, up 15 percent.
And in Washington, a grilling for Apple CEO, Tim Cook, accused by a Senate panel of using every means necessary to avoid paying billions dollars in -- billions of dollars in taxes. Senator Carl Levin says apple has sought, quote, "the holy grail of tax avoidance" offshore corporations who don't pay taxes in any country. Tim Cook defends his company. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM COOK, APPLE CEO: We pay all the taxes we owe, every single dollar. We not only comply with the laws, but we comply with the spirit of the laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Some on the committee noted the irony of Congress criticizing Apple for using some of the legal loopholes Congress, itself, created. Others applauded Apple's ingenuity and praised its products. Back now to Chris and John in Oklahoma.
CUOMO: All right. Thanks, Christine. Coming up here on the special edition of STARTING POINT, for some, it was literally the difference between life and death, but why are Oklahoma homes and facilities not equipped with storm shelters? That's the big question here. We're going to go inside one after the break.