tv John King USA CNN May 16, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
>> i put him on mute. >> reporter: new york. >> i never thought he wanted to release all of his financial records. i think that was a factor in his decision today not to run for the republican presidential nomination. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." "john king usa" starts right now. >> thanks, wolf. good evening, everyone. tonight from morgan city, louisiana, one of many communities threatened by the slow moving but still menacing mississippi river. this is the city's flood wall right over my shoulder. down below, you should be able to walk down there. that's a wharf along the riverway. pedestrians do all the time to look out at the glorious river. instead three to four feet of water and it is rising. slowly, but it is rising constantly. this is an extraordinary measure to protect communities. today we have an aerial flight with the governor bobby jindal. the morganza spillway.
the state making a decision to open the spillway and release water into some communities, burying homes in those communities to protect communities like baton rouge, new orleans, one of the extraordinary measures this state is taking. the stakes are enormous. governor jindal saying $300 million alone in crop damage, tens of millions in other property damage. there are a dozen oil refineries in flood zone. there are chemical factories, homes and businesses as well. listen to governor jindal here explaining the tough decision to open the spillway he says will protect larger communities without a doubt but for the families right in the devastated zone, listen to how many homes could be, could be just buried. >> look, worst case scenario and i don't think the numbers will be this bad. they said 3 million acres under water. 20 to 30,000 people will be flooded. approximately between 11 or 15,000 homes. since then the estimate has been
revised. they didn't have to open as much of the spillway as they thought. the good news is that the numbers of people impact ld be lower than that. >> reporter: you hear that noise behind the governor as he speaks? that's a pile driver driving a steel pile into the river bed. they opened that spillway. something else they're doing to stop floodwaters from coming back up into these small communities, they took a 30-foot high steel barge, took it out into the river and sunk it, using rocks to hold it down. using steel pilings -- that's the banging you heard -- to keep the water from coming back up into the waterways, back flooding they call it. building a makeshift dam to divert the water into wetlands and less populated areas, all designed to protect communities here. much more on this story in the hour ahead. i want to begin by giving you a glimpse of what we saw today. we got on an army helicopter. the national guard here up with governor jindal and up with the
man who runs the louisiana national guardp you might have to lean forward to hear some of this because of the helicopter noise, but take a remarkable look as louisiana slowly floods. look from above. >> this bank right here 600,000 cubic feet per second of water. >> they were originally thinking they'd use 350,000 feet. they've reduced that and lowered the amount of water they're expecting due to lack water coming in. that's certainly modest good news for the state. there are folks who will have water on their property. they're still saying we won't get to normal levels of water in some places in louisiana until july or august. >> what you have is this water is coming down the spillway. it will be merging with the water that's spilling over the
bank of the river. >> you say down below us, how deep will the water get? >> in the basin there are estimates of 20 feet deep. >> when the corps opened the spillway, they estimated 2500 people inside of the spillway, but they estimated outside of the spillway there were 22,000 people impacted. >> these are tough people, they're resilient people, they've been through a lot. they'll get through this. i'm talking to a lot of families. they know exactly where they're going to go to evacuate. the good news is you get people, given the amount of time they've had to forecast -- >> it is stunning when you see it from above essentially controlled flooding.
opening that spillway releasing the water sbos the communities. as we were flying over the general from the national guard explaining that the water is rising very slowly. ironically, the reason that it's rising more slow than they expected is that there was a drought before this flood. we're looking down at trees being told if we fly over in a week or two, those trees will be under water. that's the scene here in louisiana as the state rushes to try to prevent damage to more heavily populated areas. if you move up to the roof tops around vicksburg, mississippi tonight, and the river is not expected to crest there for several more day, martin savidge spent the day in vicksburg which has never, never seen flooding like this. >> reporter: john, you're absolutely right. this is the next city that will feel the brunt of this historic flood that is coming down the mississippi. take a look at this. this is a beautiful old historic southern town. this is some of the great architecture you would see. the 1902 railroad station.
look at the water right up to the front doors. this is the flooding. let's show you what they're doing to prevent it from getting any worse down here. it is really quite a remarkable engineering feat that they've had to put together in a real hurry. this water came up -- they had warning, but the water came up in the last ten days. look at the construction they've had to build here. the question is will it be enough to hold? basically an old fashioned dike system put together with railroad ties, tar in between. you got these huge steel girders here that are literally backing it up and chains as well as another secondary system. but as you can tell, the water, the pressure that's coming as a result of the water coming downstream is massive, which is why you can see it is just gushing and pouring out of every crack and crevice there is. they've got massive pumps over here that are going around the clock that are trying to pick up the strain and catch the overflow, but right now this is the only thing that is protecting downtown vicksburg in
what's called catfish row, which is an historic part of this town. this is the frontlines of the flood here in mississippi. right now they're hoping it's going to hold, but as you say, john, they don't really know because the crest is not here yet. john? >> martin savidge for us. as he noted on the front line in mississippi. this is the front line in louisiana. trying to keep the water out of populated areas, the u.s. army corps of engineers, new orleans office. i know you're very busy. what is your biggest challenge right now? the spillway is open, things seem to be going as predicted. >> now what we're working on is working with the local power, working with the local levy districts to get flood fighting measures in effect that will come down as the water comes down the atchafalaya. >> it look loop back up and catch a community, even a
community that has a flood wall here, maybe this stops it but it can come up somewhere else. how do you fight that? >> the system is designed to divert water out to the gulf of mexico. with the low lying marshes and the areas around here, the water before it gets to the gulf, the volume of water is so extreme that it will back up through those marshes and start coming up through the south side. >> how many homes now that you've actually opened the spillway. it was a theory until the weekend. now you've opened the spillway and the water is coming out. how many homes are being buried? how many people will have their homes sacrificed to protect more populated places like this one? >> there are 20,000 residential structures that could be impacted. we're working closely with the local officials to get flooding in place. we're building temporary levees, temporary structures. so we're out here with the levee districts with the national
guard to get some protection built up to help those communities. >> not since 1973 had the spillway been opened. this is theory. the engineers work on the models all the time. what has gone, in a way, worse than you predicted? anything? >> the system has gone as functioning. we're starting to divert the flows into the atchafalaya system. the system is under pressure. it will be for a long time. our concern is making sure we're out there on the system, making sure the system is intact while we're still working with the communities to help. >> and when you turn to something like this, this is working. now, we should be able to walk down there. a lot of people do in the evenings. does this tell you even though the water is up higher here than it normally is, does this tell you that opening the spillway, that other steps are working, that you're mitigating the risk to morgan city? >> the wall is the line of
protection. it is working like it is. there are things on the riverside that's being impacted. >> we were out on the makeshift dam today. essentially a barge, they drop it down. how long to come up with that? it was done in '73 on a smaller scale. but to be able to do that so quickly. you're in the corps. you've dealt with the frustrations with the corps in the state of louisiana in the past, this time things seem to be working right. >> it was taken from the 1973 concept. the local levee district came up with us. we took a look at it. we were able to permit it and working with the districts and a joint project to get that done out there. it is going very fast. we expect to get that in place in time to be able to help. >> you've will the time to warn people to get out of their communities. a sense now that it will be better than you thought a couple days ago. it is not rising as fast. or do you still have concerns,
that it could be worse? >> we're going through a slow opening of the spillway so that the water is making its way downstream. like you touched on the drought condition. so a lot of the overgrowth in the spillway since we last operated it. but other than that, we think that -- i lost it on that one, sorry. >> a busy man. easy to lose your thoughts when you're juggling so many balls. bust best of luck in the days ahead. it is just stunning to see water in places where there's not been water for years. where is it all going to go? chad myers in the weather center. governor jindal and a conversation with the governor just ahead. web browsing
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any planned medical or dental procedures, and don't stop taking pradaxa without your doctor's approval, as stopping may increase your stroke risk. other side effects include indigestion, stomach pain, upset, or burning. if you have afib not caused by a heart valve problem, ask your doctor if pradaxa can reduce your risk of a stroke. you're looking at live pictures here, morgan city, louisiana. no parking on wharf. that means cars, not boats, ladies and gentlemen. the water on that dock is three, four feet high and rising. you could walk down there, you could drive a car down there. this is morgan city. you see how high the water is, the bridge over there. we're standing on the flood wall protecting this town right now as the state of louisiana and the federal government take extraordinary measures to try to
keep the water away from more populated communities like morgan city, bigger cities like baton rouge and new orleans, sacrificing low lying areas as part of that effort. before the army corps of engineers began opening the spillway, new orleans wasn't expected to see cresting along the mississippi river until a week from now. but now, everything has changed. chad myers is in the cnn weather center to tell us why. >> up in morganza, the river plit, you get the acha fay lie ya and the mississippi. those gates that they opened were holding the river back from going down the atchafalaya in the first place. concrete metal and wood holding the mississippi basin. now it is not because they've opened some of those spillways, opened some of those doors so the water can go down the atchafalaya in first place. it will make its way down to morgan city. the people that lived in this basin knew this was going to
eventually happen. they were hoping not. last time it happened was in '73. morgan city will be seven feet over flood stage. you still have another four feet to go where you are. water will continue to come up as the days go on. but as you said, the mississippi river will not really crest in louisiana south of there any more. so we're getting to about may 17th for baton rouge. may 14th that was over the weekend for new orleans. the crest is over. it won't come up any more now because they've split the flow down one side and to the other side and so evening out the flow compared to what it was. we've also talked about this. the bonnet carre spillway. there's new orleans right there. hard to see, but i'll draw it out for you. it comes down like this and down toward the gulf of mexico. they opened this last week. you can see the bubble of muddy water that's now in lake pontchartrain right there. it eventually makes its way out.
but there could still be a problem with the algae bloom later in the season because of all the fertilizer and pesticides in there. i'm going to take you to new orleans and where this entire thing is going to spill out where this morganza spillway will spill. the water will come out of the mississippi river, dirty as it is, whatever it might be. but it will spill where it wants to because it's not being held back any more. it won't be going down the mississippi as much. we're going to take that crest about three feet from where that crest was in new orleans and we're going to bring it down. so let's take you to the morganza area here. this is where the spillway is, that's a bridge, that's a road. they've opened up the dwgates a the water is spilling out. how deep does it go? 15 to 20 feet in some spots. by the time down to you, 7 feet deep or so. but it could have been a lot worse. without any protection at all, this didn't happen because there
are, obviously, levees. but without any protection at all, the entire mississippi floods from new orleans down to baton rouge. but there are dam, locks, walls. but without the army corps, new orleans would have flooded again. >> we'll keep in touch with chad. a fascinating thorough explanation there. chad mentioned all the spillways and the levees and everything else. as the corps of engineers open up more of the spillway while the flooding disaster spreads, big towns being protected, more small towns being impacted. ed lavandera shows us this is a slow motion disaster. >> reporter: here on the banks of the atchafalaya river, the water is slowly starting to rise. as the parish president told me a little while ago, this whole process is slow and painful. that's because the floodgates of the morganza spillway are being
opened slowly. they opened one on saturday. but as they open each individual gate, that means more water is flowing downstream. up stream they're issuing mandatory evacuations orders. here in butte larose, we believe that those will come by the end of the week. they expect several feet of water here. the initial expectations were 15 feet here in butte larose. 90% of the population has already evacuated from here. people heeding the warning because the water is coming up, all bee it slowly. it will be here for a very long time. john? >> critically important point ed lavandera makes there about the warnings. the mississippi moves so slowly. it's obviously making its way to louisiana right now. you see the higher waters around mere in morgan city. it is time that officials say is their greatest ally.
they had time to run simulations to open the morganza spillway. i had a conversation earlier today with governor bobby jindal. you remember him around the country probably. even if you don't pay much attention to louisiana because of his high profile role after the bp oil spill. another disaster striking the state of louisiana. after an exclusive aerial tour we had a conversation with governor jindal about the big challenges just ahead. i'll start, governor by asking your sense of the economic impact of this on your state. >> this will have a tremendous economic impact on a number of different sectors and communities. for example, farmers alone, no good numbers yet, but it will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars of damage. i did a study based on the acreage of flooding in '73, the last time they opened the spillway. those same acres in place there would be $300 million in damage. they're still refining those numbers. you look at the structures that are in harm's way. you look at the fact that you've
got chemical plants, refineries, ports, five of the nation's largest ports, 11 of the nation's refineries impacted by this high water. this is significant for the entire country. what's particularly devastating is the family that's in a home. when you zero in, there's a family getting water in their home. they may lose their possessions, they may lose their memories, we do everything we can to keep this water out of people's homes and out of these communities. >> that's progress, the noise. >> true. >> in the sense of how many people? how many people are going to pay that ultimate price of losing their homes? >> worst case they looked at, modeled, 3 million acres under water. 25 to 30,000 people flooded. that's approximately between 11,000 and 15,000 homes or structures. since that time the crest had been revised downwards slightly. they've not had to open up as much of the spillway as they thought. it could impact thousands of homes. by doing this, we'll redirect
the water into an unpopulated area, into the wetlands. it will be good to rebuild the wetlands, but rebuild those homes as well. this is incredibly important. this will be done by tomorrow. a great innovative way with the flood waters. this one is being sunk 500 feet along, 30 feet deep. sunk in place with sheet piling and rocks. if you went behind us, it would go to ultimately lake lelore. you got a 20-foot flood wall, the water comes to the spillway, the flood wall protects it but it comes back to the lake. this will stop it from happening. >> on the boat ride out you took a call from the president. your state has been through this before whether an oil spill, katrina, tensions back and forth between local governments, your
office, washington. >> i thanked the president. we've had somebody from fema, the corps of engineers, the coast guard, national weather service in our meetings every day. the project going on today is a joint effort. this is the army corps of engineers getting the permit, they're paying for the rock, the state is paying for part of it, the local parishes are paying for part of it. this is a joint effort. i thanked the president. this is an unfortunate event. historic waters going back to 1997. as we speak our communities are working together, folks are doing whatever they can to protect the communities. so i thank the president. his agency are down here working together with local officials as well as the state to fight these floodwaters. i will say this will be a marathon, no t a sprint. we won't be done in a week. this water will be elevated for a number of weeks. we have to work together to get through this. >> when you talk about once in a lifetime moment, you have a once
in a lifetime flood, you had a once in a lifetime oil spill, before you were governor, a once in a lifetime hurricane. what goes through your mind? >> we've had four hurricanes, katrina, rita, gustav, mike. we're a tough and resilient people. i was talking to a local guy, the good book says god won't give you more than you can handle. i wish we weren't so strong because we keep getting all these challenges. the people of louisiana will come back better than they were br. yeah, this is another challenge, but the reality is our people will get through this. you see parishes help each other, national guardsmen work around the clock to build miles of barrier. you see people not being flooded helping people who are. i talked to some of the families many of whom are about to lose their home, they tell me, governor we'll get through this, we'll be okay. >> you have a better understanding of the water? >> i was born and raised in
south louisiana, grew up in baton rouge where the mississippi river is a big part of our economy, our way of life. when you live down here, you know to respect the bayous and the rivers. even someone who was born and raised here and lived my life here, we haven't seen this much water come into these communities about you build these levees. it is like having fire insurance on your home. you hope you never have to use it. >> thank you for coming down. not every day you hear an interview with that banging behind you, is it? that's a pile driver. the governor had the authority to stop that construction. but we decided that wouldn't be a good idea because of the urgency of the flood challenge here. they took a giant steel barge 30 feet high, took it out in this river and sunk it. they are making a danl putting steel around it. they're trying to block the water from coming into the community, send it into marsh and wetlands. a pile driver literally pounding
these steel casings in as we were walking around with the governor. trying to protect populated areas by diverts the water into marshlands and some less populated area. they believe they'll save communities with tens of thousands in it. we're in morgan city live tonight in louisiana. much more on the impact of the floods, the preparations for the floods here in louisiana as we continue. when we come back, presidential politics. the donald takes himself out of the race. doesn't surprise me. how about you? turns out, it was all a tease. ♪ [ male announcer ] in 2011, at&t is at work, building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars
donald trump took himself out of the 2012 presidential race. no announcement. just a written statement. i've spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. ultimately however business is my greatest passion and i'm not ready to leave the private sector. to discuss this more is erick erickson. he's the editor of the blog redstate.com. gentlemen, before we speak, i want to play a little bit of donald trump's sound here because i was skeptical from the beginning thought this was, shall we say, a bit of a tease. listen to donald trump saying maybe yes, then ultimately no. >> i'm thinking about it. i'd rather not do it.
i'd rather have somebody in there that will straighten out the country. if and when i decide to run -- and you may be pleasantly surprised in your case n the case of cnn you may be unpleasantly surprised. nobody said it would be easy. but i had no idea that i would be hammered like i have been hammered over the last three or four weeks. it's actually, i think, a compliment. i'm not sure. >> joe mcquaid, will you cancel the primary now that you don't have donald trump. >> you have to come up here and do a debate amongst the serious candidates. >> erick, joe makes a good point. among the serious candidates. you were to sit down with donald trump today to see if he could appeal to conservative voters. he canceled that. you were among those who thought this was a tease from the beginning. what now? >> i don't think it changes anything. i always wondered if donald trump were to actually get in
for some reason, what would his natural constituency be? i don't think he has one. without him being out of the way, i don't think it changes anything unless we'll have less salacious news stores to deal with and we can get on to some of the serious issues. >> i want the move on from mr. trump in a minute. when we move on, i don't think we'll come back to him. i wanted to play a clip. it was clear to me back when he was raising the birther issue and when it was clear that the president had both short form and long term birth certificates. you don't have to answer questions from guys like me, you have to answer questions from honest to god everyday americans. look how he reacts when he's challenged. but you raised this -- >> no, no, you raised the question. >> i did not raise this. i qualified this in palm beach. >> you raised this. every time i sit down with the press all they want to talk about is the birth certificate. i got him to do something that nobody else could get him to do
and i've been given great credit for this. >> if he had it, he should release it. >> absolutely. >> there are some who question yours in middle of this. you went on anderson cooper and your officials told you it was missing or it wasn't there. >> excuse me, excuse me. very simple. i had people looking into it. now i don't have to have the people -- i can call them back, i hope. i haven't seen this. >> if serious people told you it was missing or not there, here it is. here it is. >> would i pay them? maybe i'll let you negotiate for me. let me just tell you, i don't make up anything. let me tell you something. i have done a great service to the american people. >> joe mcquaid, i'm guessing you won't miss mr. trump too much. wouldn't you like to have him at a union leader board to have him answer questions and see him around town halls taking tough
questions from the people of new hampshire? >> he suggested early on even if he did get into this, his campaign would be a different national campaign and not be in new hampshire based campaign, which is probably one of the reasons why he wasn't going to get into it in the first place. john, we talk about we're all skeptical, but we like to watch a car wreck. and it makes the front page because it's interesting. >> i think that's a great way to put it. donald trump is noout. mike huckabee said over the weekend he is out. do we have our republican field, romney, pawlenty, gingrich, maybe governor huntsman. who else? >> may be waiting on mitch dani daniels. if he gets in, that will be a shake-up for things on who is the anti-romney. he decided to drop out today. some may say that's a coincidence.
others may not. for the rest of the field, we're probably waiting for mitch daniels to come in. sarah palin maybe, but increasingly looks like she won't come in either. >> doesn't look like she will get in. i was having a conversation with governor jindal here. he's not running for president. his hunch is -- he hadn't talked to mitch daniels. his hunch is that mitch daniels gets in. let's focus on a candidate that is in. we know that mitt romney has problems with the votes are because of the health care plan he passed. it tells the residents of massachusetts you must get health care. if not there are penalties involved. yesterday newt gingrich was on "meet the press" and that dirty word "mandate" came up. listen. >> i've said consistently we ought to have some requirement where you have health insurance or post a bond or indicate that you're going to be held accountable. >> but that is the individual mandate, is it not?
>> it's a variation on it. >> it's a variation of it on a sunday hshow. today tweets saying mandates bad, mandates bad. did the former speaker step into it a bit there? >> i think he did. i haven't seen his whole statement about paul ryan's suggesting that we change medicare greatly, but he seems to be against that as well. so i think gingrich is going to add spice to the campaign because he sometimes says things that he then regret, but it was another idea. >> and erick, we've talked about this in the past, he's a very thoughtful guy, provocative guy, but that seems to be a mixed message between sunday and monday. >> he's an undisciplined guy. this is an example of it. to go from sunday to almost a reversal on monday. what was not in the clip there, was he then went on to say
that's one reason he wouldn't go after governor romney on the individual mandate. the way i see newt gingrich's campaign shaping up, you have them fighting for the same constituency which i think does neither of them any favors. >> now we'll focus on the candidates. trump is out, huckabee is out. we get closer to the real field and we'll debate the issues in the future. what congresswoman gabrielle giffords said as he watched her husband take off on the shuttle "endeavour." >> blastoff for space shuttle -- they are the purest way to gauge success. ♪ maybe the only way to gauge success. but the most powerful thing about humble beginnings is that they are... ♪ ...humbling.
welcome back. we're live tonight on the floodwall in morgan city, louisiana. let's check in with joe johns in washington for some of the latest news you need to know right now. >> rahm emanuel is now the mayor of chicago. at today's inauguration, he promised to reduce street violence and downsize city government. today tim geithner informed congress the u.s. government has hit the debt ceiling but there are enough legal tricks to keep things going for another 11 weeks or so. the guy who ran for new york governor last year from the rent is too damn high party has a new cause. he wants people to take pictures of the gas pump during their next fillup and post them on the
website gasolineis too damn high.com which is sponsored by the conservative and pro oil drilling group let freedom ring. in florida this morning congresswoman gabrielle giffords watched the launch of the space shuttle "endeavour." giffords' husband mark kel se commander of the 16-day mission. as you can see low clouds obscured all but the first few seconds of the flight but one lucky airline passenger was in the right place at the right time with her iphone. stephanie gordon posted this video to twitter. that's a pretty amazing picture. i actually retweeted that. she picked up a thousand twitter followers after people saw that picture. >> that is great stuff. you're right. what timing there. you look ow the window. there goes the shuttle "endeavour." intread ip work with the iphone there. congresswoman gabrielle giffords is recovering from the gunshot wound to the head. she traveled down there to watch
the shuttle launch. i spoke with peter corasone. what did the congresswoman tell you was going through her mind when she watched "endeavour" lift off? >> well, you know, john, when we watched the shuttle launch. it was actually a quiet moment on the roof of the center. the noise of the shuttle was very loud and we were listening to the communications between the shuttle and mission control. there weren't a lot of words exchanged. after the launch was done, three or four minutes into it, people started talking or cheering and applauding. one thing gabby did say to me -- i looked over at her and she said, good stuff. i got to agree. that was good stuff this morning. beautiful and really powerful moment to be there. >> if you say powerful moment, it's interesting because she's been through so much in recent months, so much with her recovery and her therapy and everything else. for those few moments there's a
bit of apprehension as the liftoff starts. take us through that moment. >> yeah. i think it's -- there's a sense of relief, obviously, a couple minutes into a launch like this when you know that at least the beginning portion has happened safely. because prior to it there's anticipation and anxiety that runs through the astronaut families. i think that's normal. it's risky business, obviously, flying the space shuttle. >> she obviously came for the launch, it was delayed. she went back to the rehabilitation center. she comes back again. physically is that taking a toll on her? >> actually, it's quite the opposite. the travel to florida has been a therapy utic process for her and a milestone in her process. because it's physically challenging moving around and challenging. that's something the doctors said they're looking forward to for her. the environment, meeting new people. so it's exciting for her.
there's a lot of adrenaline that fills the environment right now for the families. she's doing great. >> commander kelly begins the mission, the entire crew begins the mission. i understand he left some gifts behind. >> he did. at the main engine cutoff, which is the major milestone where they've reached orbit and a lot of the potential for early problems is gone, scott kly, mark's brother, delivered a bouquet of red tulips to gabby and red roses to his daughters claire and claudia along with some notecards. it was sweet. >> one of the conversations with the congresswoman about her prognosis of returning to congress one day? >> it's not a conversation that's started in earnest yet because at this point they're focused on the day-to-day. for gabby, she still has the sort of hurdle of the brain surgery that's left to be done which is to replace the portion of her skull that was removed. it is really day by day.
and in the moment for her. >> pia carusone, thank you for your time today. >> thank you so much, john. more of our flood coverage when we return. also tonight a major sex scandal unfolding in the united states is shaking up the world of international finance and french presidential politics. [ male announcer ] in 2011, at&t is at work, building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people in more places than ever before in an effort to give you the best network possible. at&t. rethink possible.
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and while the presidential race we're talking about tonight is in france, the sex scandal right here in the united states. today a new york judge refused to grant bail for dominique strauss-kahn. he's the head of the international monetary fund. he's been considered a top potential challenger to the french president nicolas sarkozy. strauss-kahn is accused of attempting nicolas sarkozy. strauss-kahn is accused of raping a house maid on saturday. richard takes inside the courtroom as the drama played out today. >> reporter: just minutes after other defendants faced charges on drug possession, burglary and public you're urination, one of most political clients walked into this courtroom. he was in a glass-enclosed booth talking much of the time with his attorneys almost like he was a suspected war criminal. and then the attorneys went at it with the prosecutor's office.
the chief argument would he receive freedom, temporary freedom, on bail. the prosecutor said he was a flight risk, someone similar to roman paman polansky. he has a daughter here in manhattan with whom he could stay with. the judge said he's going to be treated just like any other defendant but he indeed was a flight risk because he was on an air france jet bound for europe. but his defense attorney said that was a ticket bought long ago. john? >> richard, we understand we have new details of this alleged incident tonight, what do we know? >> reporter: well, a law enforcement source telling cnn that the police checked hotel records saying that he checked out of the hotel, strauss-kahn, about 12:28, they suspect the incident happened about noon. the defense attorneys in court
said yes, he was rushing out to have a lunch with an unspecified person. there are reports it could be his daughter. the lawyers indicated maybe that person would testify for him with some sort of alibi. he is now at rikers island, the notorious rikers island, not to mix with other population there. richard roth with the details. the french election until next year, so there's plenty of time to vee verberate. terry, let me start with the basic question. the media impact. this is one of the most powerful men in international finance. one of the most prom innocent political figures in france. what is the reaction back home? >> reporter: well, it is an enormous political earthquakes are john. the shock wave is tremendous. it's always very risky to skull the presidential election ahead of time, you could very well
make the case that the presidential election was his for the taking. he had not yet announced that he was going to run, simply because he had not been allowed to do that and remain the head of the imf, but privately, he made it clear he would do so. the first step was the primary of the french socialist party. he was a very heavy favorite in that. the second step, the potential runoff against president sarkozy. and some polls had him as high as 60-40 to the current french president. so a very good and strong position up until saturday afternoon. >> up until saturday afternoon. this is not the first time. these are serious criminal charges, but not the first time there have been some allegations of inappropriate behavior around women. take us back through that. >> reporter: yes, absolutely. i mean, it's been -- there have been a lot of stories about dominique strauss-kahn inclination, but, you know, it's one thing to be a skirt chaser
and it's a completely different story to be accused of an attempted rape. it has always been a concern. it was going to be an issue during the presidential election. and remember the time he was appointed as the head of the imf. some of the imf sources came to me and said, are these sources true? is it dangerous to have him head of the imf? is it likely at some point it would blow up in our faces, and we have seen what is happening today. obviously, we don't know the facts for sure. he is still presumed innocent. but he certainly is in a very, very difficult position today. >> and his american-born wife, anne sinclair saying in a statement die not believe for one second the accusations brought against my husband. i think have no doubt his innocence will be established. his spouse is standing by him, thierry. in terms of back home, is there a rally around this gentleman or a lot of silence? >> reporter: there is not
exactly silence but everybody knows, even if it's true, only to say so in the current difficult political personal circumstancesle he is facing right now, everybody knows this is the end of the road for him none as the head of the imf, but as a french presidential contender. so they just don't want to add to his misery at some point and to say this, as frankly as i just did. but, you know, so they're paying tribute to him. they're saying he's going through a very difficult personal circumstances that we have to wait for the justice system to do its work. but, again, everybody knows this is the end for him. >> thierry arnaud, the political correspondent for the french network, appreciate your input tonight. when we come back, floodwaters threatening so many communities here in louisiana. a few final thoughts as we continue our live coverage from morgan city, louisiana, tonight.
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as we leave you tonight, we're on the wharf here of morgan city, louisiana. as you can see the water on the wharf, look at that, about boot-high. it gets deeper as you go that way. in the area of 2 to 4 feet. about 7 feet farther down. this is a wharf right along the city. the waters are up substantially to the flood wall right here. the floodwall runs ab