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Historic Deep Freeze; Deadly High-Rise Fire; BCS National Championship; Another Auburn Miracle?; Living with Survivor's Guilt

Aired January 6, 2014 - 08:30   ET



Breaking news to begin the half hour, that dangerous deep freeze threatening more than half the nation right now. It's called a polar vortex and it's sending wind chills in parts of the country plunging to 60 below. The coldest, literally deadly, in history making. Let's bring in Indra Petersons. She's tracking everything for us.

What are we seeing now?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I'm going to continue to bring up the words "particularly dangerous situation," because even in the weather world you hear these words and you go, whoa, what is that? What is going on? But typically it's for severe weather with tornadic outbreaks. Today it is for cold temperatures.

Something you've never even seen before in Minnesota for wind chills going between negative 40 to negative 65 degrees. They have never issued one of these warnings before, but that is what they're dealing with right now for temperatures that look like these. Unbelievable, only five minutes outside, that is all it takes right now to get frostbite in these regions. So that is the big concern.

Now, I know a lot of people in the Northeast are waking up this morning and they're saying, it's warm. It feels good out there. What are you talking about? Enjoy it. Look at the map. You can actually see the warm front and you can see the cold front making its way in. So today we're going to have a little bit of a different weather pattern.

Instead of warming up as we go throughout the day, the temperatures are actually going to start to go backwards. They're going to go down so much so that the rain is going to clear out. Anything already on the ground that's still here from the nor'easter last week, that is going to freeze up again. And temperatures will go down to that freezing point. And then tomorrow morning the winds kick in as well. So we already have the cold air plus wind chill. There go those temps. Pittsburgh, 27, New York, negative 7 degrees below. No thank you.


PETERSONS: Very dangerous.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. Thanks, Indra.


PEREIRA: All right, I -normally I give you the five things you need to know. I sort of feel like I should give you the five ways to stay warm today.


PEREIRA: But we'll go to the five things to know.

Here we go, at number one, back from the holiday break. The Senate will take a procedural vote on restoring long term unemployment benefits cut for 1.3 million Americans in December.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on Janet Yellen's nomination to lead the Federal Reserve today. She is expected to have enough support to pass and succeed Ben Bernanke as the chief of the central bank.

Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old girl who was declared brain dead after a tonsillectomy is out of a California hospital. She is still on a ventilator. Her family says it will try to find a place to bring her for rehabilitation. A New York facility says it would provide long- term care for Jahi.

It is sentencing day for Jihad Jane, Colleen LaRose of Pennsylvania facing a possible life sentence for her role in a global terror plot to murder a Swedish artist whose drawings outraged Muslims.

And Pope Francis celebrating the epiphany at the Vatican, marking the wise men's visitation of Jesus. The pope announced Sunday he would be traveling to the holy land in May.

We always update those five things to know, so be sure to go to for the very latest.

Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

And also new this morning, investigators are looking into that deadly fire in a Manhattan high rise that happened Sunday. One person was killed as more than a 100 firefighters worked to try to extinguish the flames. The video is truly terrifying. But we're also hearing remarkable tales of survival.

The Lupiano family walked down -- more like ran down 40 flights of stairs through smoke filled air to reach the ground and safety. John, Maria Lupiano are here with me, as well as their sons Bradley and Drexel.

We say it always, we're so great to see you, but we are so thankful you could be with us here today to talk about this.


JOHN LUPIANO, SURVIVED NYC HIGH-RISE FIRE: We're glad to have made it.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, John. So walk me through what happened and how did you get out?

J. LUPIANO: Oh, yes.

M. LUPIANO: Now I was - you know, we just finished our breakfast and then I was talking on the phone and then suddenly I smelled something burning. I check my stove because I thought I was cooking that I forgot to - to turn off my stove.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

M. LUPIANO: And then, oh, everything is off. And then when I got up, I saw some smoke inside the house. I say, John, I think something's wrong. So I check the door and then I open it and then there was like smoke from our left side, which is our neighbor. So I thought there was a fire from that side. So I said, we have to get out right away. We just grab our shoes, our coats and ran to the exit door. And the - and then, after a few minutes, the smoke came so thick and black and we couldn't see anything.

BOLDUAN: Of course. And, John, this plays to the universal fear that we all have of being caught in a situation like this. And you always wonder, what are you going to do?

J. LUPIANO: Right.

BOLDUAN: How are you going to react? What's going through your mind when you're running down fight after flight after flight?

J. LUPIANO: Yes, when you're - yes, Maria - well, Maria made the decision like to flee basically and we just didn't have really time to think, which might have been fortunate, even though we could have made a different decision potentially. Because as we descended, it got worse and worse to the point that we couldn't see our feet.

BOLDUAN: Really?

J. LUPIANO: It was dense black smoke and gagging, coughing, tearing, holding the boys. They were great. We were kind of calm, but at that point you just had no choice but to try and get through and get down. And once we got to 18, which was below the fire level --

BOLDUAN: Which happened on 20.

J. LUPIANO: Yes, it was - yes, like just unbelievable. It was like, wow.

M. LUPIANO: So clear.

J. LUPIANO: So, in a way, leaving quickly might have prevented it from being worse because it took until about five or seven floors. We were like, OK, there's smoke. We'll just go down. And then it was like - became, you know, OK, I'm going to die now. So it was really an incredible minute of contrast. And then another three minutes or whatever, who knows what time passed until we - well, we're going live, you know, we're out, we made it. So it was obviously harrowing and scary. BOLDUAN: Obviously. And you're not even talking about running down one, two, three, even 10 flights of stairs -


M. LUPIANO: Yes, 40.

BOLDUAN: Which would be enough - it would be scary enough. But, Bradley, you're running down 40 flights of stairs following mom and dad and your brother as well. What are you seeing? What are you thinking?

BRADLEY LUPIANO, SURVIVED NYC HIGH-RISE FIRE: Well, at first I had no idea what was going on because I thought, oh, well, there's smoke, but I had no idea where it was coming from or how it started. So we just started running down the stairs. And it was scary because after like 15 flights of stairs, the fire - the smoke was just getting worse and worse. So I thought it might have been like near the bottom and we wouldn't have made it or something.

BOLDUAN: And then you finally made it out. Was - how - was it just so scary, Drexel?

DREXEL LUPIANO, SURVIVED NYC HIGH-RISE FIRE: Yes. Like, it was so scary because like also like - like when I - when once I went to (INAUDIBLE), I was like tearing (ph) and like I couldn't breathe. Like, it was so hard. And I -


D. LUPIANO: And I also couldn't like see. I had to like feel my way down.

J. LUPIANO: Yes, that was the scariest thing. We didn't know what floor - we didn't know where we are.

BOLDUAN: Where you were.

J. LUPIANO: I mean, what do you do, go back? You can't see. And so - I mean you know you're going down, sort of, although it was very disorienting and scary.

BOLDUAN: And scary enough to just live through it. But when you know that another person succumbed to smoke inhalation trying to make it down those very same stairs, trying to run down, even starting at a lower floor, what -- that really forces one to probably re-evaluate.

J. LUPIANO: Well, it kind of us - try and re-evaluate what we did. But on the other hand, if we didn't go quickly, we might have hit even worse smoke -


J. LUPIANO: And collapsed because that could happen easily. And then again, we thought, if we stayed, maybe we would have been safer.

BOLDUAN: Where are you guys staying now? Are you back in the apartment?

J. LUPIANO: It should be able to be re-occupied today because there's no -- the fire wasn't in our apartment.

BOLDUAN: Right. Exactly.

J. LUPIANO: It's just full of soot and ash and dust from the fire. But nothing's damaged, so they can clean - they're cleaning that out. The building, when we left last night from the lobby, had numerous air machines to start that process. So we should be able -- hopefully they resume stuff today.

BOLDUAN: So much to be thankful for in this new year. What a harrowing experience you're living through.

M. LUPIANO: Yes, start of the new year.

BOLDUAN: We talked about it in the commercial break, boys. I'm going to ask you the big, important question, who has the two best parents in the entire world today?

D. LUPIANO: Them two.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Well, thank you so much for coming and we're so thankful that you could be here. Great to meet you guys.

M. LUPIANO: Thank you so much.

J. LUPIANO: Thank you. Great to meet you. Happy New Year.

M. LUPIANO: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Happy New Year.

M. LUPIANO: Happy New Year.

J. LUPIANO: Thank you.


CUOMO: Great family there. Great story to come out of that. Thank you, Kate.

We're going to take a break now on NEW DAY. When we come back, speaking of great moms, don't mess with this one. Why did she wildly dive into the stands at the Sugar Bowl. She says she'd do it again.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Just take a moment to check out some of this viral video that showed up of an Alabama football fan giving new meaning to the term "roll tide." You see her right there. Michelle Pritchett, a photographer and mom from Sweetwater, Alabama, says Oklahoma fans crossed the line when they cursed at her and tried to pick a fight with her son during Thursday night's Sugar Bowl. Just look at her. She swan dives. There you go.

It's about to happen again. She swan dives. Takes over like two rows to launch herself against some Sooners fans. She got in a couple of punches before, probably not surprisingly, getting the boot from the stadium. Later she was asked and she told reporters she'd do it again if she had to. That's called a super fan.

CUOMO: That is called -

BOLDUAN: But she didn't get to see the end of the game.

CUOMO: Really inappropriate behavior that luckily didn't create a spark. At least those -

BOLDUAN: Can you believe that?

CUOMO: Those boys there had like -- whatever they'd been mouthing off, at least they had the good sense to shut it down.

PEREIRA: Right. Right.

BOLDUAN: The minds just to not take it any further. So --

CUOMO: Boy, oh, boy.

BOLDUAN: There you have it.

CUOMO: Speaking of things that we don't want to see in the big championship game -

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly.

CUOMO: We got the big game going on. The BCS championship team of destiny versus team of dominance. It's all going to happen tonight. You have number two Auburn taking on undefeated Florida State at the Rose Bowl. Florida State favored in the line by the odds makers here. But let's take a look at the match-up. Let's take a look at what could actually happen tonight. We have the host of CNN's "Unguarded," Ms. Rachel Nichols.

Rachel, happy New Year. Good to have you.

RACHEL NICHOLS, ANCHOR, CNN'S "UNGUARDED": I promise not to swan dive over to you guys.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

NICHOLS: No matter what you say, Chris Cuomo, I am not going to -

CUOMO: Well, you could do it with one punch.

NICHOLS: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Don't test - exactly.

NICHOLS: Boom, it's all over. It's going to be an exciting game tonight. Everybody is really wanting to see, of these two forces colliding, and this is what happens when you have teams that come out of different conferences. Well, we're getting testing (ph). We don't know who's the stronger team.

You have Florida State that's been criticized a little bit for their level of competition. They've been racking up these huge scores, these huge numbers, but, really, how good teams have they been playing?

And then you have the Auburn kids who have gotten out of scrape after scrape and they've been so much fun to watch. You really have to say, all right, who's going to come out on top tonight and you've got both sides, both fan bases thinking they're number one. And that's part of the 30 day layoff that we've had too. You've got plenty of time for these games - this game to build up.

BOLDUAN: So we - clearly, we just need to wait, watch and see how this turns out because no one really knows who's more dominant. But who's - who are the big players to watch tonight?

NICHOLS: Well, one of the things, too, that goes into this is, Auburn just had all of these last minute -


NICHOLS: These last minute wins, right?


NICHOLS: Everybody thinks like, oh, my gosh, if there's a scrape, they can get out of it. If there's something that comes down to it in the last moment, those kids will have the experience, the presence of the moment to not wonder about what the stakes are, to just forge ahead and have the confidence to know that they've done that.

On the other hand, the Florida State team, they have won by -- almost 30 points in every game that they've played. They had one game where they won only 14. On the other hand, the Florida State team they have won by almost 30 points in every game that they have played. They had one game where they won by only 14.

BOLDUAN: Thirty points.

NICHOLS: Other than that, the average had been 27, 28, 29, 30 points. This is a team that goes into any of those situations feeling confident.

I got to tell you, Chris, you'll remember this, in the World Series years ago when Curt Schilling for the Arizona Diamondbacks said I keep hearing about destiny, the team we're playing, the New York Yankees. Because I keep hearing about their aura and the state but to me that's just through strippers I know.

PEREIRA: OMG. NICHOLS: That's sort of what the Florida State kids have sounded like this week. It's that they keep saying we hear about destiny. We hear that Auburn is a team of destiny but we don't really buy it. You get that feeling out there.

CUOMO: They are favored in the line of those who are supposed to know. But I will tell you this, that we learn again and again no matter what the sport is you don't know how you're going to respond until you get punched in the face. And we don't know what Florida State will do --

NICHOLS: Florida State hasn't been there yet.

CUOMO: -- if they go down early, there's big play early. Jameis their great quarterback is only 19 years old -- Heisman winner.

NICHOLS: 20 he turned 20 -- come on, give him that year.

BOLDUAN: Give him the one year.

CUOMO: But you know what I'm saying.


CUOMO: We don't know. So it's going to be great to watch.

NICHOLS: It's interesting. You don't have teams usually meet in the national championship that are so different. And you don't have teams that haven't been tested against the same kind of mettle. So it really is a question mark. It's going to be fun to watch.

BOLDUAN: Which makes a great press.

NICHOLS: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: All right. We'll watch it with you. Thanks Rachel.

NICHOLS: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY -- "SOLE SURVIVORS", the compelling story of four people living with unimaginable guilt after surviving tragedies that cost others their lives. We're talking about it.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

For nearly 20 years Ky Dickens was riddled with guilt. At 16 years old she gave her seat to a friend who died minutes later in a car crash leaving Dickens to ask why -- why was she spared. Now in a new CNN Film "SOLE SURVIVOR" airing Thursday, Dickens takes a gripping look at four different people living with survivor's guilt.

She joins us live from Chicago this morning. She's the director of "SOLE SURVIVOR". Ky Dickens what a delight to have you here speaking about something so few of us know about.

KY DICKENS, DIRECTOR, "SOLE SURVIVOR": Yes. Thanks for having me.

PEREIRA: Well, that is the first thing I wonder, I think many of us think "There by the grace of God go I. If I were to survive something like this I would have this new found purpose." But your film looks at the fact that many of them struggle -- struggle with this survivor's guilt.

DICKENS: Yes absolutely. You know, it's something I think that's very misunderstood and people don't realize it survivors are victims too. Just because they didn't die in an accident doesn't mean that they didn't lose their life as they know it, you know. Often survivors lose a good friend or a loved one in a tragedy or a plane crash or natural disaster. You lose your ability to see or to walk, you might lose your home in the case of a hurricane or that type of thing.

Everything that you loved is gone. What your life revolved around is no longer there. So, you know, they feel awful. They need to grieve. They have their own pain yet because people respond to them as though they should be fortunate and they should feel lucky they don't feel as though they have the permission to feel, you know, to feel sad.

PEREIRA: The should and the realities are two very different things. We know --


PEREIRA: -- that you follow in this documentary you follow various survivors, sole survivors but you did this for very personal reasons. Tell us a little bit more about what happened when you were 16.

DICKENS: Yes, sure. When I was 16 a good friend of mine died in a car crash and moments before the crash we decided to switch places. He ended up riding shotgun in the car that spun out of control and I rode behind him actually in a car and more or less watched what happened.

And at the time, you know, I didn't want any of my friends to know that we switched places. I withdrew from my friends in high school. I felt like a fraud. I wasn't sure that they'd think -- that being that I survived were they going to think that I was some sort of murderer -- that it should have been me. So I just kind of dug that deep down like a secret for many years.

In my 20s I realized I had survivor's guilt because I had this constant need to be doing something super important to heal, to change lives. I felt like I had to live up to my being spared.

PEREIRA: Wow. That's an incredible, incredible revelation. You specifically, we talk about the fact that tragedies are tragedies no matter what. You specifically look at survivors of airplane crashes.

DICKENS: Yes. PEREIRA: Talk about this experience because that's a very public experience. They are often splashed across the headlines on news programs. Their experiences have got to be even more traumatic.

DICKENS: Absolutely. I mean I think, you know, being a survivor of a plane crash is so public, so widespread and disastrous and acute that it's almost like the nth degree of survivorship in many ways. And for the survivors in this film, how do you live your life for the 79 or 156 or all the other people that perished, let alone the dreams of those people's families and friends.

And so I think the immense pressure to feel, you know, to ask those "why" questions and not know how to live up to all the hope and promise that sometimes people assign to a survivor, especially of a plane crash, these people often want to be anonymous. I think most of the survivors in the film really want to live kind of a sheltered life, very much out of the public eye because they don't want to disappoint people for what they have or have not done with their life.

PEREIRA: I can tell this has been a very personal voyage for you. But what are you hoping others -- the people that watch this documentary -- take away from viewing it?

DICKENS: Yes. I mean I really hope that people understand that survivors are victims too like I said earlier and need time to grieve. They need therapy. They need resources. They need tenderness after a tragedy.

I think responding to survivors as though they are lucky and fortunate and should be thrilled that they lived is not beneficial to the grieving process and to their ability to reconcile the tragedy with what their life will look like going forward.

PEREIRA: Thank you so much for sharing this with us. If you want to see this film you'll have a great opportunity to watch it right here on CNN. "SOLE SURVIVOR" airs this Thursday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN. Its director Ky Dickens joins us from Chicago. Thank you so much for this Ky.

Kate, Chris?

CUOMO: All right Mick. Coming up on NEW DAY the need is great. We know this. Too many are living too close to the margin. We need to do better and one hotel is doing something remarkable; so much so it's worthy of "The Good Stuff".


CUOMO: Sure. Chevy Chase never dies. It's time for "The Good Stuff".

All right. Most hotels sell their furniture when they renovate but not the Doubletree in Wichita. They decided to take hundreds of pieces -- beds, lamps, tables, chairs -- and give them to different charities for instance the group that helps women and children displaced by domestic violence. PEREIRA: What a good idea.

CUOMO: Take a listen.


PAT O'CONNELL, DOUBLETREE: They don't have anything but the clothes on their backs so they don't have furniture and now they will have some.


CUOMO: Unusual. So much so --

PEREIRA: This is genius.

CUOMO: -- yes, that when Doubletree did this and came to the charities they were surprised by it. Take a listen again.


PAUL DOHM: They asked if we had a need for some of these items. So when I heard that there were beds and other types of furniture that were available, you know, of course, I said that's the stuff we need all the time.


CUOMO: Of course do you. And that puts us under the category of simple genius and here's why. The company is going to make less money because they are not selling their furniture as part of their renovation process. But they are putting that second to the priority of reaching out and helping their community because the need is so great.

PEREIRA: Fantastic.


CUOMO: This is what corporate responsibility is about. You may reduce your margin a little bit but you are helping those in need.

BOLDUAN: In the long run I think you can argue it's not reducing your margin at all. We talk about this sometimes in the aspect of why restaurants can't give food because there's health stuff -- sometimes you can't give food to charities like this but this is perfect. It's just so simple.

PEREIRA: This is genius. It's genius.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Office furniture, they should do the same thing.

PEREIRA: Right. That's a great idea.

CUOMO: And people need it.

PEREIRA: Come on other hotel chains, motel chains.

CUOMO: It gives people a sense of feeling like home.

BOLDUAN: 300 rooms.

PEREIRA: 300 lives changed. Or more even, really, when you look at a family.

CUOMO: The Doubletree we salute you out there in Wichita. Thank you very much for being "The Good Stuff".

BOLDUAN: We not only like your cookies we like what you're doing.

PEREIRA: Their cookies are really good.

CUOMO: All right. A lot of weather, a lot of news. Let's get to you the NEWSROOM with Ms. Carol Costello.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks guys.

PEREIRA: Happy New Year -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Happy New Year to all of you too.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", polar vortex a life threatening surge of sub-zero air blasting America this morning.