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Tornadoes Rip Through Midwest; Toronto Council Conflict With Mayor Continues

Aired November 18, 2013 - 12:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's on the ground!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: That prayer, the Lord's Prayer, from CNN iReporter Anthony Khoury at his home in Washington, Illinois. This is one of the towns hardest hit by these killer tornadoes.

I want to bring in our Chris Cuomo who is there. And the devastation, Chris, as you know, you have seen this, you've been in it, you've been covering this stretching for miles in the town where you are, in Washington. I imagine a lot of people were praying.

CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY": It's absolutely true. I mean, this is a very prayerful community, Suzanne, and this was also a situation that was so sudden. Yes, there was a warning system. People were getting alerts on their cell service. But it went from storm front to touchdown tornadoes in minutes. It was moving at 50 plus miles an hour. There were sheer winds going on and straight winds. This was a very, very urgent situation.

The young man you heard praying in the video, that's Anthony Khoury. We spoke to him on "New Day" this morning and he was there with his family. And they really thought that it could be over because of the size and speed of the tornado coming right at them. And you have to remember, this is the most tornado touchdowns late season that they've had in 20 years.

So this was unexpected in its frequency. It was unexpected in its duration. And yet there's been an equal and opposite force that we've seen here on the ground, and that is the power of this community. And in no way is that hyperbole, Suzanne. I mean this is a prayerful community, but they believe in each other and they believe in their resilience. And as you well know, that can make all the difference.

I want you to listen now to a man named Steve Bucher. He's an older man and he's lived in this community for a long time and he was sitting in his basement and he thought to himself one of three things is going to happen: 'either we're going to go to heaven; we're going to go to the hospital; or we're going to walk out of here.' It was just him and his wife. And yet he managed to have a sense of humor and perspective, even though when he came back out of his basement, his entire home was gone. Take a listen to him.


STEVE BUCHER, TORNADO SURVIVOR: It makes you realize how temporary life is, you know? My wife said something this morning that reminded me of a song I used to know. It said, the things that I have and hold dear to my heart are just borrowed. They're not mine at all. Jesus only lets me use them to brighten my life. So remind me, dear Lord.

CUOMO: And today maybe more than ever. You know what matters most and you have your wife, you have your health.

BUCHER: That's the only thing important to me this morning. Everything else is rebuildable. I couldn't replace her.


CUOMO: You know, and it is simple but it is so true. And it becomes profound, Suzanne, when you set it against this. That everything you have is gone. And we all like to say that we're not about our things, but it's not until you've lost them all that you really have a true sense of perspective of what matters to yourself. It was really a -- a real privilege to hear Mr. Bucher's perspective this morning.

MALVEAUX: And, Chris, you can't help but really learn something from the community there. The fact that he said, you know, this stuff is just borrowed. You know, this is just stuff.


MALVEAUX: But it's his wife that means the most to him. Is that the sense that you're getting from most people there, that they realize in some ways how fortunate they are?

CUOMO: Yes. Yes. And we do have - you know, it's an interesting irony. You know, the media sometimes stays away from stories where you don't have high fatality, high injury count because sometimes that's an equation with urgency. But here you get a sense that loss can mean a lot of things.

And while, yes, you are hearing this perspective, this perspective of being about something bigger than themselves and their possessions, there is a lot of loss and a lot of pain here, Suzanne. Even though you don't have loss of life or injuries, thank God, you have people who have lost their homes, their livelihoods. So there's a lot of perspective but a lot of pain as well.

MALVEAUX: All right, Chris, thank you so much. We really appreciate it, reporting from Washington, Illinois.

Authorities are now saying a whopping 68 tornadoes were reported. I want to bring in our meteorologist Samantha Mohr at the CNN Severe Weather Center to talk about what we have actually seen here and just how people this was. I mean to think about the sheer numbers of storms and tornadoes that touched the ground here, I can't even imagine when you look at the devastation there. And this happened over a relatively short period of time?

SAMANTHA MOHR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, as Chris was talking about, Suzanne, it was just moving at such a fast pace here, this line of super cells. This is our 3-D radar. We were talking about this outbreak yesterday about this time as it continued to unfold. We couldn't believe our eyes how well this held together. But I do have to give a shout out to the Storm Prediction Center, the SPC. They had a great handle on this, giving this a high risk for extremely dangerous tornadoes early on Sunday morning. So there was a good heads up but it was moving at quite the pace.

These are all of the storm reports you're referring to. Over 400 wind reports. We were talking about what a big wind maker. Even if it hasn't produced all these storms, this would have been a story in its own just from the 400 reports of wind damage all across the Midwest, into the Great Lakes and all of those tornadoes, as well, 63 tornadoes that moved on through.

This is the line I want to want to talk about, though, because we've been watching all of that damage from Washington, northeast of Peoria. We saw it form midmorning here and then we saw it move into Washington. And notice how residential this area is. It's not like it's out in an open corn field. So a lot of homes. We have schools in this area that were damaged. Thank goodness it was Sunday morning as far as the schools are concerned.

Here's the line that it took. Very interesting. Look, it's heading for Chicago and it hopped, skipped and jumped all the way toward Chicago and then it was almost like God was looking out, protecting Chicago, it lifted right before it hit the densely populated area here, Suzanne. So that in itself is a miracle and very rare for this time of year. November's generally one of our quieter months. We don't anticipate this type of outbreak. Thank goodness for the Storm Prediction Center.

MALVEAUX: All right. We'll take the miracles where we get them. Thanks, Samantha, appreciate it.

MOHR: You bet.

MALVEAUX: Coming up, we're going to hear from one iReporter who, against his better judgment, he jumped in his truck to get a look at the tornado.

Plus, more from the people hit hardest by that storm.


MALVEAUX: Entire neighborhoods are destroyed in Illinois after dozens of tornadoes tear through the Midwest. Just take a look at the damage here. We're talking about one of the tornadoes that hit Sunday was clocked at 166 miles an hour. That is a powerful EF-4 tornado. I want to bring in our iReporter Eric Hall. He captured one as it was heading towards town. So just watch this first.


MALVEAUX: So, six people lost their lives in Illinois. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. This is across three states, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. Well, search and rescue teams, they are now still searching, looking for those who are missing.


CURT ZEHR, LOST HOME IN TORNADO OUTBREAK: We're just one family (INAUDIBLE). A lot of people who - a lot less than we do -


ZEHR: And really devastated. So, keep us in your prayers.


MALVEAUX: We are keeping them in our prayers. Joining us by phone from Washington, Illinois, iReporter Eric Hall.

And, Eric, first of all, I'm glad you're safe.

ERIC HALL, IREPORTER (via telephone): Thank you.

MALVEAUX: We appreciate what you did, actually bringing the video to us. I understand at the time that this hit, you were cleaning your house when the storm started to roll in and then you grabbed your iPhone. So tell us what happened next.

HALL: Well, after going through all that, I'd -- what had happened was I -- the alarms went off. I was outside on my front porch reading my tablet and the tornado sirens went off. So I kind of looked around to see what was going on and I didn't see anything. But you could tell by looking at the sky how low the ceiling was that the storm was (INAUDIBLE).

So I went into the house and turned on The Weather Channel and when the TV finally came on, The Weather Channel people were announcing that the town of Pekin had been hit by a tornado. So I got a little concerned there and I started - I sat down and started listening to the report. And, I don't know, say about five to 10 minutes in was when the emergency broadcast (INAUDIBLE) came on the TV and on my computer and on iPhone --.

MALVEAUX: And tell us what you saw outside, Eric, when you - when you went outside and you started shooting. What did you actually see?

HALL: Well, when I got outside, it - I looked around at first and I didn't see anything and the siren had since turned off and I was looking east, looking west as far as I can see because I'm in kind of a dense residential neighborhood.

And so I looked east again and out of the corner of my eye saw what looked like rotation heading towards Peoria Street. And I kind of sort of looked and looked and tried to focus a little bit more. And sure enough it was a tornado. And it was crazy. It sounded like a slow- moving freight train to me and it was moving very fastly across the street.

When I saw what was going on, I was petrified. I didn't know what to do. So when I kind of came to mentally so to speak and I went ahead and hit record on my iPhone and started recording the whole thing. It didn't last that -

MALVEAUX: And, Eric, I understand that you said - I'm sorry, I understand that you said you had, against your better judgment, actually went outside. What happened to you?

HALL: Well, what I - well, it was due to that because I was outside. That was against my better judgment. I went outside to check and see what was going on. And when I saw that it was a tornado, I was like, oh, what am I doing? What am I doing?

And that was also a fact with me getting out -- jumping into my truck and trying to go to Kroger because I knew, since the power was out, I knew I had to get things like - well, I needed really was candles. And so I headed on out there and the - it blocked off Peoria Street up by McDonnell (ph). That's maybe a - barely a quarter mile away from where I am - where I live right now and about from where I saw the tornado. (INAUDIBLE).

MALVEAUX: And how did you manage to get to safety, Eric?

HALL: Well, the tornado hadn't really hit my house. So, I mean, I was always safe. The tornado had already gone past when I was in my truck.

MALVEAUX: All right, Eric, we are - we're so glad that you are safe, that you're OK. Thanks again for your firsthand account of this and sending us your iReport. Please continue to take care of yourself and your family.

We are following this as well, coming up, you have heard this story. He's admitted to smoking crack, drinking heavily, but he's still insists that he is fit to be the mayor of Toronto.


MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: But I'm not an addict. My wife will see that (ph) because I'm not an addict. I'm not an alcoholic. I'm not a drug addict.


MALVEAUX: Our CNN interview with Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford.

Plus, we could hear from the mayor live this hour as the city council holds another special hearing.


MALVEAUX: The crack-smoking confession, the drunken rants, all the drama, of course, might be coming back to bite Toronto's mayor. The city council, now meeting this hour, could vote to transfer much of Rob Ford's power to his deputy mayor.

Now, his new local TV show also debuts tonight. Ford is using the air time to defend himself and challenge the officials who essentially want him out. They say this is ridiculous.

Want you to check out this clip. This from his new show. It's called "Ford Nation."


MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: I'll do a drug test, an alcohol test, right now because -- and I put a motion forward that every councilor do it, too.

You know what? They jumped up. They don't want anything to do with it.

And at our last council meeting, everybody says, oh, we're going out drinking afterwards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) put that back on the next meeting.

R. FORD: Yes, absolutely. I don't want to do this. I'm not a rat, Joe.

You know what? I know people party on the side. I know lawyers, doctors, everybody has a good time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who else on council do you know has done it? Anybody on council --

R. FORD: I'm not going to name names. That's not -


R. FORD: Let them vote on it and see who comes forward and who doesn't.


MALVEAUX: All right. So Ford shows up at a Canadian football game on Sunday and he gets rock star treatment from a lot of folks out there.

Our CNN's Bill Weir, he caught up with him at a rally, this is with supporters, and the mayor was explaining why he has been denying these accusations of using crack for so long. Listen to this.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These folks love you, but do you realize how you're perceived around the rest of the country, around the rest of the continent?

R. FORD: They can make fun of me. They can laugh at me all they want. They don't know Rob Ford. These people know me. They've known me for -- I was born and raised here. WEIR: Why did you decide to finally admit that you had smoked crack?

R. FORD: I'm not going to run around and be phony and lie. And I'm not going to have someone try to blackmail me and say they have videos of this and hold it over my head.

WEIR: (Inaudible).

R. FORD: Because you don't trust what "The Toronto Star" says. I just had enough. I was sick and tired of all these allegations and all this (inaudible). Excuse me words. And then that's all it is. Sorry, I guess I shouldn't have sworn in front of the kids.

You know what? I made mistakes. I drank too much. I smoked some crack sometimes. What can I say? I made a mistake. I'm human.

WEIR: Can't you see why some have questioned your judgment?

R. FORD: So what? So lie about it, just hide?

WEIR: No, no. Just that you would do it in the first place. That shows --

R. FORD: No, no, I didn't say that. No, I didn't say that. You're absolutely wrong, what you said.

They said, 'Do you smoke crack, and are you a crack addict?' No, I don't smoke crack, and I'm not a crack addict. Have I? Yes, I have. So that's what -- I didn't lie. I don't smoke crack. I haven't smoked crack in over a year. But did I? Come on.

WEIR: That's semantics.

R. FORD: Semantics? Typical media. You guys are the same. You're all cut from the same cloth.


R. FORD: Me? You know, if you -- you know what I mean? You guys can spin it every way you want.


MALVEAUX: All right, so then the mayor's brother coming to his defense here.

CNN's Nic Robertson, he spoke with Doug Ford, and here's what he said about the upcoming council vote that's about to happen.


DOUG FORD, TORONTO CITY COUNCIL/MAYOR'S BROTHER: What is happening today is an overthrow of a democratically-elected mayor, illegally. This is what you see in third world nations. You don't see this in Canada. You don't see this in the United States. You don't see this in the U.K. We're talking about a third world nation overthrow here. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why doesn't he try to avert the situation, take your advice, their advice, just step back and get some help for a short time and come back? Doesn't that avert the situation?

D. FORD: You know something, no. It wouldn't avert it, because the ship's already left the dock, and there's no rule --

ROBERTSON: Do you think that your brother did allow the ship to leave the dock by not taking the opportunity when it was presented?

D. FORD: You know something? Personally, he's made a mistake. We will rehash this for the next hundred years, folks.


MALVEAUX: Nic Robertson joins us from Toronto.

Nic, all this rehashing going on here, I imagine people are kind of frustrated. You see the mayor obviously has got a temper. He keeps explaining himself. Does it help him at all?

ROBERTSON: You know, he does keep explaining himself. You get him in a relatively controlled, confined environment and he can explain himself and get his points across and show supporters around him who like him.

But get him as we saw him coming out of the TV station on Sunday where he had been recording his new talk show, and you just see the pressures of that that he's under.

Watch this. Watch this and see what happens when he falls over a photographer.

MALVEAUX: Nic, it looks like we don't have that sound. Yeah, describe it for us, if you will.

ROBERTSON: We don't have it.

You know, it's one of those situations, Suzanne. You've been in them yourself. You're standing next to the man in question. You've heard what he said. You've heard what people have said. He falls over a photographer, and instead of saying, 'Can I help you up? Are you OK?' He says, I didn't do it. He explodes.

And it's in that tiny fraction of a second when you're next to him -- yeah, take a look. Take a look at it yourself. Have a look. See what you think.


ROBERTSON: Mr. Mayor, that took a long time. How did it go? How did the taping go?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why you are not taking any Canadian -- oh, no, you knocked down the camera person again.

R. FORD: I didn't push her.

ROBERTSON: Mr. Mayor, how did the taping go?

R. FORD: I didn't touch her.

ROBERTSON: How did the taping go, Mr. Mayor?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did the show go today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you tell your audience?

R. FORD: I didn't know that was going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see SNL last night?

ROBERTSON: How did the taping go, Mr. Mayor?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you feel about you being spoofed on SNL?


ROBERTSON: You see it there, Suzanne. He just explodes. And it's so unexpected and so unnecessary. And it's that unpredictability that's really -- his behavior -- that is so fueling the effort to strip him of his powers, whatever he said, rehash, that we'll rehash this for the next hundred years, as his brother says.

He can put it in different terms, that perhaps he should get more help, that he is getting help. But it's that unpredictability, and that's what's working against him. And you see that in just a few seconds, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, I guess we'll figure out. We'll see what happens, whether or not he has any power at all at the end of the day, because they are really trying to make sure that he does not.

Nic, we'll get back to you. We're keeping eye on the city council meeting happening that's happening in Toronto. It's set to get under way in just a minute. Much of Mayor Ford's power is essentially on the line. When it starts to get interesting, of course, we're going to dip into that, take it live.

We'll be right back.


MALVEAUX: Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford, could be on the verge of losing more power, even more power. The city council is set to vote on a measure to transfer a lot of his duties and his budget to his deputy mayor.

So that would turn Ford into more of a figurehead than really anything else. But so far, he is refusing to step down. Ford is saying that let the voters decide his fate in the next election. We're going to watch the vote here, update you as soon as anything happens there, of course. And we're also going to bring this to you, as well. Protesters are sick and tired of all of this. They want the mayor gone. They've been holding anti-Ford rallies in Toronto.

And I want you to listen to this. This is what one comedian said at a protest last week. He's kind of like the Stephen Colbert, if you will, of Canada. Watch.


IAN MACINTYRE, COMEDIAN: And just like you, Rob Ford knows that when you go into a friend's crack house, and they offer you crack, it's rude not to the smoke that crack.


MALVEAUX: All right, the funny man behind the bullhorn, Ian MacIntyre, he's a Toronto-based actor, writer, comedian, and clearly not a fan of the mayor.

Thanks for joining us. Appreciate this.

You know, if this wasn't real, it would be hilarious. And, you know, all of us find moments, I think, when we are laughing at what is happening here, but this thing is crazy. I mean, it's absolutely crazy. Do the people of Toronto -- do they think it's funny? Are they laughing because they really want to cry?

MACINTYRE: Hi, there, Suzanne. I'm having a hard time hearing you.

There's another protest going on right behind me at the moment. I'm not sure if that guy is doing a bit or if he actually means it, but he's pretty loud.

MALVEAUX: Ian, tell us what -- you know, what's happening here. Are people -- you were part of this rally and people were very angry. They asked you to speak to kind of lighten the mood a little bit.

Do they need laughs? Do they think this thing is still funny, or are they just kind of sick of it?

MACINTYRE: Very sick of it. I mean, I know it's interesting because the Rob Ford story has gotten international headlines here in like the last week, and it's become a huge thing.

But we've been living it for about three years now. And this has been pretty obvious from the get-go, that this guy was a bit of a train wreck. He's been a pretty bad mayor, pretty much this whole time, and it's -- we're just finding the world is catching up to the rest of us.