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Oklahoma Disaster Coverage; Sergeant Accused of Videotaping Female Cadets; Cameron Speaks About Soldier Attack; Quick Thinking Saves Lives; Remembering the Children Lost in the Oklahoma Tornadoes

Aired May 23, 2013 - 06:30   ET



BERMAN: In full recovery mode. Here in Moore, Oklahoma, the focus shifts to what's next as the tallies of damage and destruction, they grow.

ROMANS: And indecent misconduct. A former military sergeant accused of secretly videotaping female cadets in the shower and the bathroom.

And jurors deadlocked. What will happen to Jodi Arias if jurors can't agree if she should be sentenced to life or death?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. Zoraida Sambolin is off today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman here in Moore, Oklahoma, this morning.

And when President Obama comes here to Moore on Sunday, there will be so many people to comfort and, of course, so much destruction to see. You can still see it all around me here.

State insurance officials tell us claims are now expected to surpass $2 billion in this tornado-ravaged town. Some 13,000 homes damaged, destroyed, or somehow effected, 10,000 people with no place to live, staying with friends, family, and hotels.

And this battered town is now facing the task of burying 24 of their own, including 10 children.

After two agonizing days of search for survivors as we said this town now is really in recovery mode. It's about cleaning up. There's so much debris to be removed and so much rebuilding to do.

George Howell is live at Moore City Hall this morning. And, George, what's the latest on the recovery efforts?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, good morning. You know, just a few minutes ago we saw the local paper that was thrown out. It really tells the story. "Return to Rubble." "Moore residents venture back into the disaster zone to begin salvage after deadly tornado. You know, so as you mentioned, you know, all the people have now been accounted for, the missing have been accounted for. And now, it goes into that new mode of going back into these neighborhoods, these terribly damaged neighborhoods, and starting to think about how to rebuild. You know, we're talking about a storm that caused so much damage, officials believe it could be in excess of $2 million. This is a tornado that was on the ground 40 minutes, stretched 17 miles, and 1.3 miles wide, caused just a swath of damage through this town.

So, now that process, John, is just starting to look at it and start to rebuild out here.

BERMAN: And one of the things people are now doing, George, is to try to plan for the future. The mayor here in Moore, he's pushing for a new law that would mandate safe room or storm shelters.

Give us the sense of the specifics of how this would work and if it would include schools.

HOWELL: Well, you know, this is -- and you see a lot of officials from senators, U.S. senators, to the governor here looking at these different concepts. This plan, according to the mayor, would basically require new homes to have safe rooms.

That is quite an added expense when it comes to building new homes, but officials here are looking at what happened in this case and they say it's worth it. Even the governor is proposing an account, you know, for donations to come in to build safe rooms for schools and for private homes. You even see a state representative looking at possibilities of bond measures to create the money to build these safe rooms and underground shelters at schools, looking at what happened, John, they're saying it's worth it.

BERMAN: Really gives you a sense looking at all this destruction about how these rooms, how these safe rooms and shelters can save lives.

George Howell for us this morning in Moore City Hall -- thanks for being with us.

Of course, there were the homes in Moore that were devastated and destroyed. But there were also a lot of businesses in this town that suffered a great deal of damage.

Our Jake Tapper visited a prominent strip mall to see just how bad things got there.


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 that -- 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 OK? 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 OK.

TAPPER (voice-over): For the folks cleaning up here today, tomorrow looks different than they planned.

Michael Moran's dream, his business, Nutrition 101, it's 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. Actually 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's 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.

TALLEY: 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.

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

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

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

TAPPER (voice-over): Jake Tapper, CNN, Moore, Oklahoma.


BERMAN: The people here are amazing, of course.

And one of the sites you see, Christine, such a vivid image of people going through their businesses, going through their homes, trying to look for anything to salvage, find something to keep. It's hard in what you see them leave with is often so interesting. It's just a stuffed animal, even finding a stuffed animal is meaningful for them. ROMANS: Wow. All right. Thanks, John.

Let's get back to other headlines. Happening here right now, new this morning: a sergeant at West Point accused of secretly videotaping female cadets in the shower and bathroom. Army investigators are trying to contact a dozen women unwittingly caught on camera at the academy.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is here with more details on this. Good morning, Barbara.


You know, we've been talking about these sex assaults, sex crimes in the military. But for the Army, it doesn't really get any seedier, any more invasive than this incident.


STARR (voice-over): Another black eye for the U.S. military. This time, an Army sergeant first class is charged with allegedly secretly videotaping female cadets in the showers and bathrooms at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It went on for nearly three years.

His job: to mentor and train cadets.

The sergeant's conduct was discovered last year. After criminal investigation, he is now charged with indecent conduct, dereliction of duty, cruelty, and maltreatment. The story was first reported by "The New York Times."

It's the latest in the series of high-profile cases of sexual misconduct in the military.

President Obama is outraged and vowing to crackdown on assaults.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He has zero tolerance for sexual assault in the military and that he believes that those who participate in it dishonor the uniform they wear.

STARR: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says accountability must improve.

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Starting with some of the questions about victims saying, and rightfully so, that they didn't feel their commanders were accountable enough to be able to come forward and register a complaint.

STARR: At Ft. Hood, Texas, another sergeant first class who worked on preventing sexual assaults is under criminal investigation by the Army for allegedly trying to force a female soldier into prostitution as well as abusive sexual contact and maltreatment of subordinates.

And Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski was arrested on sexual battery charges for allegedly groping a woman near the Pentagon where he worked on sexual assault prevention. (END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Now, you know, look, sexual assault crimes, sex crimes in the military have been going on for years, just as they do in civilian society. But many military leaders will now tell you that they believe it is time that they must deal with what they see as an emerging cultural problem in the military. How the U.S. military treats its military women -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Barbara Starr, thanks for that, Barbara.

Just in to CNN this morning: British Prime Minister David Cameron speaking out right now about a brutal attack on a soldier -- a soldier who was hacked to death on a public street. Live on Downing Street right now, Cameron says security operations are under way and that the country will be resolute against its stand toward terrorism and he just said that this was a betrayal of Islam and the Muslim community.

The suspects were shot. They are under guard that the hour in a hospital.

Police have spent the day back at the scene looking for evidence. The country on high alert right now.

Coming up, deceased Boston marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev now linked to a triple murder in Massachusetts back in 2011. Details on that, next.

You're watching EARLY START.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Forty-four minutes after the hour.

Developing this morning: the search is on right now for a missing child after a fourth grade field trip turned tragic during a gravel slide caused by heavy rain. Search teams in St. Paul, Minnesota, will be out with rescue dogs this morning looking for this missing child. Another child killed in that slide. Two others were hurt. We're told the ground beneath the kids simply gave out.

Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev killed in a shootout with police is now being linked to a gruesome 2011 triple murder in Massachusetts. A law enforcement source says Ibragim Todashev confessed to slashing the victims' throats and claimed that his friend Tsarnaev also participated in those murders.

Todashev was from Chechnya. He was killed early Wednesday in Orlando during a confrontation with an FBI agent and Massachusetts state police detectives.

The Chicago Board of Education is shutting down 50 schools around the city. City officials say 140 Chicago schools are now less than half full and that the closures will consolidate those underutilized schools. The Chicago teachers union says the move could expose students to turf wars and gang violence. Forty-five -- 46 minutes after the hour now. This storm system that spawned the Oklahoma tornado has moved to the east. Meteorologist, Indra Petersons following the system for us. Good morning.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine. Yes. One of the things that made those severe storms so strong was all the cold air behind the low. Now, that same low now is pushing, like you said, straight to the northeast today with that tailing cold front producing showers really all the way down to the south. It is so cold we're going to be talking about the potential for even some snow flurries at the highest elevation peaks with this system.

So, keeping that in mind, I want to show you real quickly, I know everyone is worried about this Memorial Day weekend. The farther south you are, you're going to start to see clearing first, and eventually, by the end of the Memorial Day, we're still going to be talking about some showers in Maine. But again, the farther south you are looks like a better weekend will be shaping up for you.

Here in New York, it looks like by Sunday or so, we'll start to see things clear up. Here's what it looks like though. Severe weather still in the forecast. Remember, that threat, that same low is the same low now that's pushing into our area. Most likely here, we're talking about some straight line winds and some larger hail. But again, we're looking at another threat area in the panhandle Texas in through portions of Oklahoma.

Here, not as strong of a threat as we saw last week, but of course, we are talking about a slight chance for tornadoes in that area as well. We are watching, though, as we're starting to see some severe weather were some cells kind of popping up. A lot of lightning in the area in Oklahoma where we're trying to do that recovery. And unfortunately, it looks like that will be the case straight through the weekend.

We're going to be talking about some nice moderate temperatures, 70s and 80s, some 60s in the overnight hours, but as long as we see those thunderstorms developing, we're going to be talking out chances for some heavier showers, even some winds, 15, even 30 miles per hour. So, of course, that could hinder some of those recovery efforts out there -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Indra Petersons, thanks for that forecast. Thanks, Indra.

Coming up, Moore, Oklahoma, it didn't know how many heroes there were and it's missed until that tornado struck. We're going to meet a doctor from the Moore Medical Center who went above and beyond.


BERMAN: Welcome back to Moore, Oklahoma, everyone. John Berman here. The day started out like any other for Dr. Stephanie Barnhart, but Monday ended like none other as the doctor on-call at Moore Medical Center emergency room. She sprang into action as the EF-5 tornado barreled toward the hospital. I (INAUDIBLE) mattresses on people to protect them. And Dr. Stephanie Barnhart comforted patients as they rode out this devastating tornado. And despite the catastrophic destruction to the hospital, no one died in her watch, really, there were no injuries, and many survivors are crediting the team's selfless heroism. Look at the destruction there. It's amazing that no one was hurt.

And Dr. Stephanie Barnhart is here with us this morning. Thank you for being with us, especially despite the weather here, the rain and the lightning bearing down on all of us here in the town right now. So, explain to me what happened that morning. You hear the tornado warnings. You know you have minutes to get ready. What do you do?

DR. STEPHANIE BARNHART, MOORE MEDICAL CENTER: Right. Well, the hospital did a great job of alerting us and we had the TVs on so we knew that it was a possibility that it was coming for us. Our staff and team did an excellent job of getting all of our patients back into the -- what we call our safe area. That's more in the central portion of the hospital, which what we call our fast track or clinic area.

We still were there for probably, I guess, 15 or 20 minutes. We were still treating patients. I don't think we knew that it was really going to come. I knew that it was definitely one that had touched down and we still had the TV on in that area. And so, we -- at one point, we finally looked up and saw that it was headed our direction for sure.

The power went out, and at that point, we were -- yes, we told the patients to get the mattresses. We were handing out blankets and sat on the floor and ducked for cover.

BERMAN: As it was going by you.


BERMAN: What was that like? What were the patients saying?

BARNHART: Well, it was very calm, amazingly. Everybody was -- I don't think we had one patient that was maybe just crying. It was a little girl, she was seven. She was there for an asthma attack. But everybody else was very calm. It was amazing.

BERMAN: A testament to your cool, I think, no doubt. Look, we spent a lot of time outside of what's left of the Moore Medical Center right now. There's so much damage there. When you went out, when you saw what happened, what did you think about the destruction?

BARNHART: I had no idea that it was even -- and I didn't even get the depth of it until probably the next day, but I had no idea. I talk about this a lot, the area that we were in, nothing was touched. It was -- I don't know if anything was even out of place. We had one ceiling town maybe that was down, wires, dust in one portion. But, other than that, it was -- I had no idea. I thought we were OK where we were.

BERMAN: You grew up here. I mean, you're in Okie. You're from Oklahoma.


BERMAN: Is that how you knew what to do or did you get training to perform like this?

BARNHART: Well, I think every day in the ER is probably a little bit of a test and just kind of a little bit you have your busy days and crazy days. And during my training, we talk about disasters, but -- so, I was somewhat prepared, but I don't think you really ever are until you're actually in the situation. And, I think you just get on a mode of just to go and just do what you know to do and it's more instinct.

BERMAN: Obviously, somehow, you were wired for this type of event. Those patients, they were lucky to have you. Dr. Stephanie Barnhart, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it this morning.

We're back right after this.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Pain, tears, and remembrance. A lot of grief in Moore, Oklahoma, as people try to recover from the loss of 24 lives in their community. One of those victims, nine-year-old daughter, Emily Conatzer. She was one of seven children who were killed when the tornado flattened the Plaza Towers Elementary School and her parents, they can't stop thinking about what happened when the tornado touched down.


KRISTI CONATZER, DAUGHTER KILLED BY TORNADO: I have a lot of questions about what happened. You know, it's -- it's unsettling because I want to know that she went in peace.

CHRISTOPHER CONATZER, DAUGHTER KILLED BY TORNADO: That's all I want to know, really, because it killed me that night not knowing where she was at. All I did when I closed my eyes was picture her flying through the air, being trapped somewhere, crying for mommy and daddy and I don't want to picture that. And I couldn't sleep at all. I couldn't sleep.


ROMANS: Oh, you can hear John Berman's entire interview with the Conatzer's coming up at 8:00 on "STARTING POINT."

A group of dogs bringing comfort to some of the hardest hit victims. Golden retrievers have a lot of experience with this kind of disaster. They're therapy dogs trained by a group from Illinois. They drove 12 hours Tuesday to get there. They also provided comfort to victims of the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings and the Boston marathon bombing. We told you how NBA star, Kevin Durant, has donated a million dollars to help storm victims in Oklahoma where he plays ball. The NBA star all visiting one of the damaged neighborhoods and meeting some of the families who lost everything.


KEVIN DURANT, NBA PLAYER: I've talked to a family. They're going to have to bulldozer (ph) what's left of the house and build from scratch. And that's going to take a long time, man. Some families don't know what they're going to do in the next few weeks. So, it's very unfortunate. As much help as we can give, you know, these families need it.


ROMANS: A reminder that if you want to help the victims in Oklahoma, you go to

That's EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. A special edition of "STARTING POINT" live from Moore, Oklahoma, starts right now.