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Treacherous Ice in the South; Danger in the South; Mail Bombing Leaves Man Dead; Human Factor Spotlights Chris Klug; No Three-peat for Shaun White; Interview with Brian Boitano

Aired February 12, 2014 - 08:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And now for the five things you need to know for your new day.

Starting with number one, the south, of course, being hammered right now by that snow and ice. Already, more than 30,000 people are without power in the state of Georgia.

The Senate set to vote today on a debt ceiling increase after the House approved the bill, this time with no political skirmishes and no strings attached.

Veteran news anchor Tom Brokaw is battling cancer. The 74-year-old revealed he was diagnosed with a blood and bone marrow cancer last August. Brokaw says his doctors are optimistic.

Six miles of water has gone dark after a coal slurry spill in West Virginia. More than 100,000 gallons is believed to have flowed into a creek. Officials are saying the public water supply isn't affected.

Spoiler alert at number five. Some news in the Olympics. A gold medal tie today in women's downhill. Today American Shani Davis is going for his third straight gold in the 1,000 meter speed skating event. For now, the U.S. remains at seven total medals, two of them gold.

We're always updating the five things to know, so be sure to go to for the very latest.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks, Michaela.

Back to the breaking news now. We've been covering this throughout the day. It is the weather. Some vicious weather. Georgia and the Carolinas dealing with a winter storm that some forecasters have called "potentially catastrophic." Ice is coating the roads, it's coating the tree branches and power lines, raising the risk of spin outs, not to mention tree limbs down and the power lines down. A huge power outage expected.

George Howell is on the roads in Atlanta this morning.



So right now sleet coming down here in the city of Atlanta. There is snow to the north of us, a concern about ice to the south. William, if we could switch over and show the road camera, to show you Interstate 85 driving into the city, into the connector. Keep in mind, this is rush hour. I mean you would expect a lot of people on the roads right now. Hardly anyone is out here.

You see an official police officer ahead of us checking the roads. Compare this to what we saw just a couple of weeks ago. Again, that was a storm that came in right before the rush hour, caught millions of people by surprise. This time the storm came in overnight.

And there was a lot of preparation. These roads have been sanded and salted. Everyone told to stay home. And again, John, Kate, the concern right now, it's about those power lines, it's about the trees, because as we see this ice and this snow compile upon itself, that is when the weight will bring down trees, bring down power lines. And this is a multi-day event. So what you see right now, we expect that - expect to see a lot more of it as we continue through this storm.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: But at least right now a very different view on those roads than from two weeks ago when it was really a traffic jam standstill.

HOWELL: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Well, hopefully, it will continue to look what it looks like right now in front of you. Thank you so much, George. We'll continue to check back in with you.

This storm is gaining momentum, though, right now. More than 40,000 people in Georgia have lost electricity. And officials fear that number is going to rise and could rise quickly. CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Decatur, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb, for us.

Nick, you're been kind of our ice barometer throughout the morning. How's it looking now?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can probably hear the freezing rain pinging off my coat. We've heard that freezing rain and seen that freezing rain really pick up throughout the morning. And why is that a big concern? Because of those power lines. George Howell was talking about it. Here in Decatur, a suburb just outside of Atlanta, already thousands without power. And as the day goes on, thousands more expected to be without electricity.


VALENCIA (voice-over): As the storm bears down, bringing that dangerous mix of snow and ice and wind, officials across Georgia are scrambling to get in place, preparing for a day's long battle to keep the power on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be a challenge for all of us.

VALENCIA: Officials say once you get past a quarter inch of ice, power lines are in big trouble. The forecast this time, three quarters to over an inch of ice.

GOV. NATHAN DEAL (R), GEORGIA: We're not kidding. We're not just crying wolf. It is serious business.

VALENCIA: Inside this storm command center, Georgia power officials are making plans, marshaling the troops and even asking for help from other states, calling in trucks from as far away as Florida and Pennsylvania. Atlanta's big challenge, the bulk of its power lines are above ground and easily taken down by ice and wind, a problem that wasn't rectified after the ice storm of 2000 when a half inch of ice left more than 300,000 people without electricity. Some couldn't restore power for weeks. Wind gusts today up to 30 miles per hour, combined with thick ice, adding to the danger of falling trees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to do all we can to get our folks to the outages and the power back on for you as quickly as possible.


VALENCIA: Back here live in Decatur, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta, you can see those frozen power lines there just behind me, a big concern for officials, especially when you consider those trees right next to them. They could be, you know, at risk of going down, knock down those power lines. That, of course, leads to power outages.

Another thing real quick to point out here. When we got here, Kate and John, this table had no ice on it. Now you can -- if you're good at it, I'm not really, you can make a snowman from all the ice that's accumulated on top of that table.

John, Kate.

BERMAN: The picture of those trees with that ice, you can see how dangerous it is. And if you're thinking about going out, anyone down there, look how uncomfortable Nick appears right now.


BERMAN: You do not want to go outside and look like that. All right, Nick Valencia, appreciate it.

Next up for us on NEW DAY, a Tennessee lawyer is dead, his wife is seriously hurt after a bomb explodes in their home. It was sent through the mail. And this morning, investigators want to know why.

BOLDUAN: And also ahead, two-time gold medalist Shaun White falling short in his run to make Olympic history. We're going to talk about it with a man who has had plenty of success of his own. Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano just returned from Sochi as part of the U.S. delegation sent there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PEREIRA: In Tennessee today, investigators are back at the home of a retired lawyer and his wife, the scene of a deadly bombing. The bomb was delivered to them through the mail.


PEREIRA (voice-over): A massive explosion leaving an elderly man dead and his wife critically injured after a mail bomb was delivered directly to their home. Their rural Tennessee community in shock this morning at the apparent targeted attack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard a big boom, looked out the window, did not see anything, thought someone might have actually backed into the building next to my office.

PEREIRA: The windows of their house, completely blown out, and debris scattered across the couple's porch. A motive for the attack? Unclear. But neighbors are in disbelief as to why someone would try to kill the retired bankruptcy lawyer and his wife.

CHARLES LANDON THOMPSON, NEIGHBOR: The last people in the world that you would imagine to be a target of a packaged bomb like that.

PEREIRA: Details about the investigation are limited, but authorities are warning residents to be cautious.

ROBERT BRYAN, WILSON COUNTY SHERIFF: We're asking the general public, if anyone receives any type of package, suspicious -- with suspicious circumstances, please contact their local law enforcement jurisdiction.

PEREIRA: Officials are offering an $8,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

MARK GWYN, DIRECTOR OF TENNESSEE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: It's important that we have help from the public, if anyone saw anything, or believe to have any information that would help us with this investigation, we ask that you call 1-800-TBI-FIND.


PEREIRA: Not only are their neighbors baffled, but they're completely terrified to even go to their mailbox and check to see if they have a package. So you can understand there's concern and worry in this neighborhood right now as they try to get to the bottom of it.

BERMAN: Oh, yes, totally understandable.


BOLDUAN: Terrifying. Wow, we'll follow up on that one.

So, Chris Klug, who's a pioneer on the slopes, he was a member of the first U.S. Olympic snowboarding team back in 1998 until an unexpected diagnosis stopped him short. Here's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta with this week's "Human Factor." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chris Klug, he's had numerous successes on the snow, but a routine check-up when he was only 21 almost ended his budding career.

CHRIS KLUG, THREE TIME OLYMPIC SNOWBOARDER: They said, you have a disease called PSC, primary sclerosing cholangitis. And I said, doc, you got the wrong guy.

GUPTA: Unfortunately, Klug was the right guy and his liver disease was slowly damaging the bile ducts inside and outside of his liver. He spent almost six years on the transplant list before finally receiving a liver.

KLUG: I said, I'm going to do everything in my power to give myself the best chance to bounce back strong from this.

GUPTA: And he did. Klug's body reacted well to the transplanted liver.

KLUG: It was like a new engine got dropped in me. That summer, I had my best snowboard results ever and I was on the World Cup podium four times.

GUPTA: In 2002, he became the first-ever organ transplant recipient to compete in the Olympics. He won bronze in parallel giant slalom. But Klug didn't forget how he got there. He started the Chris Klug Foundation to help bring together organ donors and recipients.

KLUG: The donors are the real miracle of this whole process.

GUPTA: And this father of two isn't taking that second chance at life lightly.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


BERMAN: Wow, that's just wonderful.

PEREIRA: How powerful.

BOLDUAN: No kidding, right? Amazing.

PEREIRA: All right. We're going to take a short break right here on NEW DAY. But guess what. We have a special guest who's going to tell us what it was like being part of the American Olympic delegation. Brian Boitano just returned from Sochi. He's here. We'll talk to him live. So many questions.


PEREIRA: That's a great song to play right now. Let's talk Olympics. It just was not Shaun White's day. The two-time gold medalist failed to reach the podium in Sochi finishing just outside middle range in fact in fourth place. We're going to talk about this because he has been to the Olympics. He has been to the Sochi Olympics as part of the official delegation.

Brian Boitano is here people. He's an Olympic gold medalist and former professional figure skater, also a member of the U.S. Olympic delegation selected by President Obama. You just returned on Sunday. What a pleasure a delight.

We'll talk about the delegation duties and all of that in a second. But I'm really curious to get your insight, get us inside Shaun White's head this level of expectation. You're a former -- you know, you've been to the Olympics before. You're expected to medal. You expect, your coach expects, America expects and then this happens.

BRIAN BOITANO, OLYMPIC CHAMPION: It was disappointing, but, you know what? At different levels of your life and different Olympics, you have a different expectation for yourself. So when you're first going into the Olympics you're just happy to be there. The second time you go to the Olympics, you expect yourself to get a medal.

I think where Shaun White is in his life right now, he doesn't need -- he doesn't have that hunger, he doesn't need to achieve -- you know --

PEREIRA: Not hungry --

BOITANO: -- yes, the medal level. But it's still disappointing.

BERMAN: A lot of people don't remember, Brian, you went back after 1988 you won the gold in one of the most dramatic, most wonderful performances of all time. But then in '94 you decided to go back. Did you have winning in your mind? I think it's a different situation with Shaun White. I think Shaun White thought he was going to win.

BOITANO: I thought that I had a chance to win as well. I mean I knew the reason I went back because I knew I could be competitive with everyone and I could win just like anyone else could win and I wanted that competitive place of Olympic sport back in my life.

BERMAN: Is it hard to let go?

BOITANO: It's hard to let go as a competitor. I mean you had -- you know, and I had, you know, professional figure skating so I actually had a little bit of it in my life. Other people in Olympic events, once they retire from skating or skiing or something they have to move on in their life completely.

BOLDUAN: I, like many, have been captivated by the figure skating competition and it sure seems that Russia has been doing a very good job of being the host country and pretty much dominating in that sport this time around. When you watch it today, has the sport changed?

BOITANO: You know, it's changed in certain ways -- the judging system. But in other ways like when you go back there it's exactly the same. Skaters all say that when they walk back stage and they get in that tunnel and they are experiencing like watching other people going for their six minute warm up and watching it. It's always the same.

The pressure is the same. You can feel it. The athletic side of it is always the same. But there are definitely differences. The judging system is completely different and the team competition is completely different.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.


PEREIRA: I'm curious about this. What do you think of the team competition and let's go back in time. Imagine if you had been part of the team competition.

BOITANO: Yes, there was -- because I was in three Olympics and I think that we would have gotten a medal in each one of those because we had a really strong team.

BOLDUAN: You've been robbed.

BOITANO: I've been robbed. I need retroactive medals.

PEREIRA: Get a time machine.

BOITANO: You know, exactly. But I think it needs some ironing out. But I think it's kind of fun. It actually -- you know, when you see all the new sports like slopestyle and, you know, all the athletic skiing events and stuff like that, it's a little more relaxed. When you go into figure skating, it's very, you know --


BOITANO: Yes, there's nothing about -- but the competition with the team adds a little bit of relaxation to it. It's a lot easier to go with. And I think that's the way the Olympics just feels right now.

PEREIRA: Let's get to that other part of having gotten back on Sunday being part of the U.S. delegation. Tell us about that experience for you and how you felt being there. There was a lot of questions about safety and security. Give us your sense of what happened.

BOITANO: Being on the delegation was amazing, and being on the delegation with the people that I was on with, Janet Napolitano and Caitlin Cahow -- I mean they were just truly amazing people to travel with.

And it's a great way to travel. I mean you're on a delegation. You have your own security. You travel, you know, with an escort in an armored vehicle. It was a great way to travel. But that being said noticing the other security that was there at every intersection there was a person standing. At every, you know, venue at the airports every where there were people all over watching.

BOLDUAN: Do you think that fear of the security fears and the threats do you think that has loomed over, has affected the mood at the games when you were there? BOITANO: I think so. You know, I sort of liken it to what happened in Little Hammer to Nancy and Tonya. I mean that whole thing sort of took over, you know, the Little Hammer Olympics and it was like an interesting veil to cover it. And I think that this security -- I think the security is one of the things that's been, you know, affecting the attitude of people wanting to go to the Olympics. And really when you go around and you see all the security, you can't help but to be reminded of it constantly.

PEREIRA: Now that you're home you can just sit in front of the TV like the rest of us and cheer.

BOLDUAN: It's colder here than it is in Sochi.


PEREIRA: Brian Boitano what a delight.

BOITANO: Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Brian.

BERMAN: Nice to see you Brian.

BOITANO: Nice to see you too.

PEREIRA: Coming up, in a bit of good stuff this, guy was not the most generous person during his life but it's what he left behind that landed a farmer in our "Good Stuff" today.


PEREIRA: I'm going to do my best to channel Chris during our "Good Stuff" edition today.

An eccentric Iowa farmer who wasn't exactly known for generosity in his life has become the very picture of it in his death. Family friends of the late Edwin Skalla (ph) use the words the loner and quirky to describe this farmer who had not a whole lot of friends. He had quite a few odd habits like his penchant for painting his nickname Bud in big letters in the roof of his barn.

So you can imagine what a surprise when after he passed away at 92 years of age, by the way, the executor of his estate revealed to neighboring churches what he had bequeathed them.


FATHER JOHN DORTON, PARISH PRIEST: Elation and then you have to go and be a little bit more calm for the celebration of the funeral, you know.


PEREIRA: So all in all, an estimated $10 million worth of farmland to be doled out among churches and parishes in 13 different western Iowa towns -- an extraordinary generous gift. And it's expected to trickle down to nearly every member of Bud Skalla's community.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is going to benefit, obviously through the whole town whether they are a member of the parish or not.


PEREIRA: Think about it. All the services that the churches perform, all the resources that they give to the community, really a final unselfish act leaving a lasting legacy of a life perhaps misunderstood at first blush.

BOLDUAN: Misunderstood -- that's a perfect way of saying it. Quirky and a loner but in his death did something wonderful.

PEREIRA: You know something, he did something wonderful. They'll always remember him.

BERMAN: His legacy will last a long, long time.

PEREIRA: Good Midwesterner -- 92 years of age. Good one.

BOLDUAN: That's it for today but much to cover especially the weather, right Indra? She's going to have a busy day.

Time now for "NEWSROOM" and Carol Costello -- hey Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Stay warm guys. "NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now the "NEWSROOM" on ice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no way you can deal with ice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the ice. It's the ice.