tv Piers Morgan Tonight CNN May 23, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
everything we own is everywhere. >> you know, maggie, trey, and all i can tell you is you are a picture and story of perseverance. all we can do is say thank you. keep your chin up. you have each other. you have your dog. you have your spirit and your sense of faith. thank you so much. to everyone else there, thank you for joining us "in the arena" as we hear great stories like that. good night from washington. "piers morgan tonight" starts right now. >> tonight out of the blue nature's fury. >> oh, gosh. that's a monster tornado. >> the heart of a city ripped apart. >> we huddled down over her daughter out in the elements up against a wall. >> families devastated. >> we were already in our last seconds here and we were just praying for god to take us quickly. >> the death toll climbing. >> we felt like king kong was trying to snatch the roof off.
the whole building started to shake. our ears started to pop. >> incredible stories of survival. >> we thought we were going to be sucked up the chimney. >> now joplin, missouri, holds its breath and wonders is it over yet? >> it was crazy. i never seen nothing like that a day in my life. >> why now? what's really going on? >> that is destroyed. completely. >> twisters, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis. where will mother nature strike next? eyewitness accounts from storm chasers and reports from the ground. >> debris on the ground here. >> this is a special edition of "piers morgan tonight." good evening. joplin, missouri, is under another tornado watch tonight. the national weather service says there's a 45% chance of a second tornado outbreak just one day after a deadly twister ripped through the central town and killed at least 116 people. tying it for single deadliest to
hit american soil since the national weather service began keeping records 61 years ago. today survivors wander through rubble of neighborhoods today while police and firefighters from four states dig through the wreckage. they found seven people alive today and hope to find more but many fear the death toll will surely rise. these extraordinary pictures show you just how bad the situation is. you are looking at what used to be joplin's walmart. superstore took a direct hit from a tornado and reduced to nothing but rubble at a time when the store was crowded with weekend shoppers. st. john's regional medical center took a direct hit scattering x-rays as far as 70 miles away. i want to go straight to joplin live and sam champion. sam, i mean, scenes of utter catastrophe in joplin. bring me up to speed with the latest news there. >> reporter: i tell you, it's a hellish out in joplin tonight. there's lightning dancing in
every direction across the sky. the kind of rain tonight that you get in a hurricane. you are getting in this town. the kind of rain that they just don't need after what appears to have been an ef-4 tornado. one rare, 1% of tornadoes ever recorded. that kind of strength pops into this town about three-quarter of a mile wide and runs for three miles and some are estimated six on the ground. this doesn't skirt the edge of town. it runs through the middle of town wiping out the southern section of the town turning it into bare trees and a bunch of shattered timber and cars that are balled up. not cars that are blown across a parking lot but turned into balls of steel. it's just an incredible scene here in joplin, missouri. >> we're hearing stories of hail stones bigger than golf balls raining down on joplin. aside from all of the other stuff that was going with the tornado, that sounds really
terrifying. >> reporter: it is terrifying. you have to understand that these people just last night at about this time were stumbling out of the debris of their home and didn't know where they were and didn't know where their loved ones were. they finally caught their breath during the day today and then they've been pounded by one, two, three severe thunderstorm events during the day today. with very similar characteristics. those large hail stones you were just talking about. the strong driving wind. and these punishing cold rains as well. it's made it very difficult for the teams to look for people that they are hoping may be alive in the rubble here in joplin. >> sam, we are seeing a death toll at the moment of 116. that ties the worst ever figure that we've seen for direct hit by a single tornado. from what you've seen on the ground in joplin, would you expect that death toll figure to rise? >> reporter: sadly, piers, i really want folks to have hope. if they have not been able to contact a loved one, there is
such a scene of chaos here i would like for them to still have hope they may see that loved one alive. when we tour the damage and just on that side down the hill, there is nothing there. we are told that when you look there you can see the horizon for miles. we're told that they were giant homes and big apartment complexes and big shopping centers. that number at 116 about doesn't surprise me and do i believe it might be higher? personally, piers, i think it really might be. >> sam, we can see the weather conditions with you now are atrocious. we hear there's a 45% chance of another tornado hitting joplin, which would be an appalling new blow for them but we hear there are threats of tornadoes in wider area to dallas and other cities, kansas, i'm hearing. what are you picking up or what do you think will happen over the next few hours? >> reporter: what we've seen is there's a stationary front really. it's an incredible setup.
you have this cold air that's much colder than normal into the northwest and it's got a 200% snow pack in the mountains there and you have record setting heat into the southeast. temperatures are not even southeast but washington, d.c. is 90 degrees for the first time this year already. and right on the edge between that unusually cold air and warm air, you have a powerful jet stream so where that air clashes you have this amazing lift to create these strong thunderstorms. that clash zone, that zone where the storms are developing is not moving. not for tonight. not for tomorrow. not for tomorrow night and probably not for the following day. so exactly what we have tonight is what these folks will have to endure for two, maybe three more days. >> hearts go out to these people. sam, if you could just stand by for a moment. i want to bring in jeff who is a storm chaser. you were actually chasing this very storm. what did you see? has there ever been anything
quite like this before in your storm chasing career? >> yes. back in '99 there was the most intense storm and how fast the tornado came down on the southwest side of the city and then how fast the width of the tornado literally exploded from a few hundred yards wide in the first 30 seconds on the ground to almost a mile wide and about two minutes later. and that's what i witnessed. and then moving through the city at close to 50 miles an hour at mile wide ef-4 tornado created tremendous damage is what we witnessed. yesterday in joplin and that's what we witnessed this powerful tornado that moved through the city of joplin. >> you're an experienced storm chaser. you do this for scientific reasons and create very valuable research by doing this. there must have been moments last night when you were fearful
for your life, wasn't there? >> yes. one of the things that happens with this tornado when i was going down 20th street in central joplin heading east on 20th street toward the joplin high school, the tornado widened so wide moving to the east and north edge of the tornado was about six blocks north of me and as it continued rapid expansion not moving to the north but tornado getting wider north and south, the tornado came up to 20th street and had debris hitting the vehicles and cars were being picked up and spun at me and then hurled back southward into the tornado as the tornado continued to track south of 20th street through the heart of the city of joplin. >> the weather there is still very, very bad. we're hearing there's a 50-50 chance of another tornado tonight in joplin. what kind of a device given all of your experience would you
give to the people of joplin given what may happen in the next few hours? >> i think tonight looking at the weather pattern i was out this afternoon chasing northern oklahoma, there's a stationary front and what we call overlay, a lot of storms and hail and wind which will continue through the evening hours and then the bigger concern is going to be tomorrow. tomorrow we have a large area from northern kansas along i-35 corridor including cities like wichita, kansas, down to oklahoma city, down to dallas, over to shreveport, little rock, joplin, kansas city, we expect a significant wide scale tornado outbreak with very long track and damaging tornadoes so tomorrow they have to be extremely on guard because computer models show there could be significant tornadoes. this is concerning for everyone in the weather business and
everyone here needs to be on full alert especially tomorrow evening as the storms come out of central oklahoma and central kansas and move toward southwest missouri later early evening and late afternoon and be on guard because tomorrow will be long track tornadoes and maybe significant tornadoes as well. >> jeff, what we're hearing is that this is already statistically the 11th worst tornado season that america has seen in recorded history. obviously it's not over yet and it could rise up that ladder quite sharply and quite quickly. in all your time, how bad would you say what you've been seeing is by comparison to other seasons? >> this is definitely one of the more intense seasons we're seeing more ef-4s and ef-5 than we normally do. more intense tornadoes. unfortunate thing is those tornadoes on the 27th in alabama with an ef-4 to ef-5 moving it
over densely populated areas, you have mass casualties. and that is what happened on numerous occasions this year. that's why the death toll is what it is. out in the plains in a wheat field it doesn't hurt anybody. if you get an ef-4 tornado through a heavily populated area like we saw in joplin, these kind of catastrophes are going to happen and the conditions are right for continuation of strong violent tornadoes as we go well into the month of june and part of july based on current weather conditions across the central -- >> i'm sorry. i'm going to have to interrupt you. there that's been invaluable information. i'm going to go to two people that survived the tornado in joplin last night. one is tom with his daughter
olivi olivia who barely escaped with their lives. can you hear me? >> yes, piers. >> we know conditions are bad and communication is bad from joplin because of appalling weather you've been having. tell us exactly what happened to you. i'm not sure if he can hear me. can you hear me, tom? >> yes, piers. >> i know the communication is very bad. we've been having trouble all day. it's obviously terrible weather still in joplin and will only get worse. tell me, tom, what happened to you last night? talk me through the experience you and your daughter had in the tornado. >> we heard the first tornado sirens go off and just from watching some of the radar we knew that that one was going to be going a little bit north of us. it's just when we heard the second set of sirens that we actually knew that we might be in for something a little bit worse from watching the radar on
television. normally i'm the type of person that will go out and take a look and i'm going to kind of watch the storm. just to set an example for my daughter, we ended up taking cover because i wanted to teach her that's exactly what we do when we hear the sirens. it probably wasn't 15 seconds after we intentered the bathroo underneath the stairwell that we took cover and lights began to flicker and we heard the freight train that people describe actually happens. it was just a little bit after that that -- i'm sorry. go ahead. >> i was going to say obviously olivia is with you. it must have been a terrifying ordeal for her. >> i'll definitely let her answer that question. how terrified were you during that process? >> i was very scared. i thought me and my dad were
going to be gone. we lived through that terrible tornado. >> i mean, the desperate situation for you. obviously we can tell behind you, tom, that the weather is atrocious tonight and deteriorating again. are you fearful along with other people in joplin that you may get hit by another tornado? >> it's just made it very difficult to be able to locate people. we've got a lot of volunteers that are trying to do the work and they just can't get in because of the weather. it's really working against us. it looks like we got more coming tomorrow. we've been absolutely decimated in the neighborhood that i was at. it was an absolute war zone. a lot of elderly people in that neighborhood. and from the amount of wreckage that was left that we crawled out from underneath, we were absolutely by the grace of god allowed to live and there's a lot of people that weren't but we're just very thankful to just
have one another and to know that all that stuff that was lost can be replaced. >> tom, i'm seeing pictures while you were speaking there of just appalling scenes in joplin. it's like armageddon has hit your town. i don't know how you're all going to start rebuilding. have you even thought about the rebuilding process? >> to be honest with you at this point we're just focused on just being so thankful and i think there's a lot to be said for if we could just as easily forget our troubles as easily as we forget our blessings, things would be far different. so we're very thankful, very thankful. >> thank you so much for taking time to talk to me. it's a miracle that you survived. i agree with you. you have to thank god and pray for the others who have not been
found yet. i'm sure there are more trapped in this rubble. this looks horrific there. >> we just ask that the viewers would be praying for those that have been hurt much worse than us and those that have been lost. we just ask for their prayers. >> tom, thank you very much. and to olivia as well. >> thank you. >> when we come back, the incredible twister fate that saved an entire high school graduating class from a tornado's fury and later star weatherman sam champion on this season of wild weather. what's behind it? ♪ [ 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. two of the most important are energy security and economic growth. north america actually has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. a large part of that is oil sands. this resource has the ability to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. at our kearl project in canada, we'll be able to produce these oil sands with the same emissions as many other oils and that's a huge breakthrough. that's good for our country's energy security and our economy.
>> it's indescribable. i don't know what to say other than that. i've never seen anything like it. >> that's what is left of joplin's high school. anderson cooper is live in joplin tonight in missouri. anderson, these are quite desperate scenes. the pictures of really horrific. you got there the last few
hours. what are you making of what you're seeing? >> reporter: it is really -- as you said, it's obviously horrific. what maybe the pictures don't show is the weather that's still -- the weather system that's still affecting this area is making it very difficult for those who are out searching for people who may still be alive trapped underneath the rubble. it's cold here. there has been a driving rain here throughout the day. severe thunderstorms. major lightning. huge lightning strikes all around us over the last several hours. and the bad weather is expected to continue into tomorrow. huge bolts of lightning just there. i don't know if you saw any of them behind me. you can imagine what this does for anybody that may be trapped underneath rubble still and may still be alive who is going to have to spend the night here in the driving rain. it will give them access to liquid, something to drink which is obviously good for anybody that's trapped but with the
severe weather, the cold, it's really difficult and for rescuers it makes their job just all the more difficult. they are still out there for many hours searching for people. the last i heard they had found seven people alive. at this point we still don't have a count for how many people may still be missing. we have not been able to get a count like that. i'm not sure if you've heard anything that's newer information than i have, piers. on the ground here we haven't heard anything. >> i'm seeing the images and it seems impossible to me the death toll will stay at 116. you see vast sways of the region just decimated. it's like a scene sort of armageddon scene. really appalling pictures. >> reporter: it's very strange. you walk through some of these areas that are just completely destroyed. it is destroyed as far as the eye can see. i'm on kind of a hilltop and all
you see are shredded trees. again, you walk through some neighborhoods and you don't hear anything except for the wind blowing and the sound of the rain and the occasional clap of thunder. it's a very eerie feeling and sickening kind of silence that you hear. again, i've been to -- we've all witnessed a lot of disasters. this is really a different kind than certainly i've seen before just for hitting such a heavily populated area and you guys really get a sense in looking at the images and looking at the destruction of the power of this tornado as it touched down, piers. >> if you could stay with us, we're going to move to sam champion quickly. sam, i think what's striking about what anderson has been saying is that the devastation we're seeing, i mean, this is really out of the ordinary with these tornadoes. what we're seeing in the last two weeks, there was one two
weeks ago which was just as powerful. we're now seeing this. it seems like this is getting worse. am i right to think that or from a meteorological point of view is this kind of what happens every few years? >> reporter: well, we always expect this clash of air masses in spring and as the warm air wants to overtaken the cold air of winter. but this has been highly unusual. earlier in the broadcast we were talking about the number of ef-4s. since we've been keeping records since 1800s of storms and weather in this country, the number or the percentage of ef-4 tornadoes is about 1% of all tornadoes and now here just within about two weeks of each other, we have ef-4s and ef-5s that are miles wide and long track tornadoes that stay on the ground for long periods of time. this is highly unusual and much like you would look at a flooding situation and you would
say that's 100-year flood. this is certainly a 100-year tornado situation if not then some. what we've got to remember about this is that we can build homes that will survive tornadoes. we truly, truly can. most areas where tornadoes happen they just don't legislate that people have to build houses to withstand them because it's so expensive. if you look around a lot of homes are built on slab foundations. you can't survive this kind of tornado, this size of tornado, this strength of tornado, when it is coming at you if you can't get below ground. you are really not only just a regular basement but a cement slab over your head between you and that ungodly tornado that doesn't care about taking everything with it. but we would have to make people build like that and it just isn't something that goes down very easily even in tornado prone areas because it's so expensive. >> anderson, let me bring you back in here. you have covered horrendous natural disasters this year
alone. in terms of tornado seasons to put this in correct perspective, is this as bad as you have seen tornado damage? >> reporter: it is. to see it so soon after the other storms that we've seen so far this year, you know, we're told this is going to be a very active storm season this summer. you think back and even though last year there were a lot of hurricanes for instance, a lot of them veered off before hitting the united states so we really didn't see the kind of storms that we've seen in past years. but certainly just -- i really have not seen something like this over such a wide area that touched down and i think part of the problem and sam could talk to this better and you had people on earlier that talked to it is the slowness of this storm that in some parts it just seemed to kind of linger in places. over the hospital people in the hospital said it stayed over the hospital for a minute or so. the slow moving nature of this really added to the impact that
it had on the ground. >> sam, i mean, we're hearing reports that debris x-rays from the hospital for example, being found up to 70 miles away in people's driveways. it seems extraordinary. >> reporter: exactly what anderson just said. this thing seems to have been moving in slow motion at some points and then picked up speed and moved on but it was very slow as it moved across that hospital zone. when you look at the damage there, you can really tell that it stayed around for a while because there's a rolling form to the damage. that's where everything is crunched up in a ball. things were just completely tossed and tossed and tossed and then that tornado picked up and ran and it now turned into a splinter kind of debris like where we were on top of the hill all across the area. that where it was slow and then it did pick up and move. >> we can see lightning flashes behind you. i think you better take cover.
stay safe. looks pretty hazardous even now. >> reporter: will do. >> reporter: thanks, piers. >> coming up, what you can do to help the victims in joplin. i'll talk to the red cross. what's so special about web browsing on the new blackberry playbook? ♪lash! ah ahh... that's right, it runs flash. so unlike some tablets we could mention, you get the best of the internet, not just part of it. ♪ flash! ah ahh... ♪ producing products that save on fuel and emissions like ecopia tires... even making parts for solar panels that harness the sun's energy...
there it is. there it is. oh, gosh. that's a monster tornado. >> if you're just joining us, live with news from joplin, missouri, where 116 people have now been declared dead following the horrific tornado yesterday. there are fears of another tornado hitting not just joplin but dallas and kansas are in the firing line. i want to go now to an attorney in joplin, missouri, who posted the words oh, my god just before she and her uncle died in the tornado. my deep condolences on this terrible double loss to your family. these are appalling scenes that we're seeing in joplin. if you could just tell me where you were and what you saw. >> thank you, piers, for your condolences. it's awful for everybody. i was on my roof.
i took a picture of the tornado. crazy foolish. after the storm passed i headed south and i had to go on foot at a certain point. checked on my grandparents just absolute devastation. buildings gone everywhere. obviously it's going to take a long time for this community to recover. there's a lot of loss of lives and property and just unbelievable. your worst nightmare. >> you described it in a text message soon afterwards as being like a freight train. what does it feel like to be near a tornado this devastation? >> it's always cliche. it sounds like a freight train. and that's exactly what it was like. i've never been scared of tornadoes before. i think i am now. i think everyone should be.
>> you were on facebook just before the tornado hit. were you in direct communication with your aunt because we know that she posted this last awful message saying oh, my god. she clearly realized what was coming her way. >> i wasn't not until later. i was on facebook and saw posts from meteorologists telling people to take cover and the tornado was coming and i saw it and took cover myself. it's just indescribable what happened. i haven't slept. it occurred and trying to update people and help where i can. that's all anybody can ask for. i think like everybody thinks that it is very tough and weather is not cooperating. it's a very bad situation, piers. >> and how far away were your aunt and uncle from where you are? >> two to three miles from where i was downtown to the north.
it's relatively undamaged now but you go a mile south, two miles south of where i live, it's an eraser just half mile wide just eliminated half of the town. >> you obviously know joplin very well. we're hearing that the death toll is now 116 people including your aunt and uncle. already tying for the worst ever death toll from a single tornado strike. looking at the images that i'm looking at which are just horrendous, given what you know of the town, would you say that there are likely to be more people that have died in this than the numbers that are being said at the moment? >> from things i heard from people who work at the hospital, i have to believe it's going to go a lot higher which i hate saying that. i think that's the truth in my heart and everybody knows that. i think when this is all said and done, everyone in this town will know someone they've lost. >> you've been very active as
you said on facebook. social networking as it has done in recent disasters playing a very important role in spreading information here. what kind of thing would you like to say to other people in joplin particularly as the weather is deteriorating again. >> take cover. it's dangerous outside. it's horrible. until this storm really -- it's mainly search and rescue and try to put a roof over your head. there's not much to try to rebuild right now or try to recover from. it's just try to stay safe and prevent further loss of life at this point. >> thank you so much. i can only again offer my sincere and deep condolences to you on this awful loss of your aunt and uncle. 2 of 116 that lost their lives in this devastating tornado. i really appreciate you coming on tonight. thank you. >> thank you, piers.
cnn meteorologist jack cafferty jacqui jeras is joining me now. we've seen flashes of lightning when i spoke to anderson cooper. what are you sensing there? are you sensing tornado tonight? >> reporter: probably not tonight but conditions tomorrow will be another story. there's a good probability that severe weather will break out and that includes southwestern missouri including folks here in joplin. the thought of another tornado potentially is extremely frightening for these people and so many people that are just hanging on by a thread and sustained so much damage that, you know, it's a very dangerous situation even with some strong winds. the weather today has been a huge story not just because of the tornado but because the weather today is impacting the search and rescue efforts. it's literally been raining all day long. you talked about those lightning flashes. there was hail this morning.
we had wind gusts of 60 miles per hour. they had to stop the rescue efforts for a while but they've been back into it and you can imagine with all of this rain coming down, it's made things extremely difficult for crews. our visibility has been extremely poor. the winds have been very strong. we're having a hard time keeping our equipment on the air as well. in addition to that, the rain has been so heavy we've been getting flash flooding so there are many streets and intersections across the area that are just covered in water and so that's making things much more difficult as well. smaller rivers and streams we're also concerned that they could see rises because of heavy wet weather. we're hopeful as we head through late-night hours tonight that things will dry up and most of the day tomorrow will be dry but then that severe weather threat and unfortunately that danger of tornadoes comes back we think by late tomorrow evening. >> every sense we're getting is this is even by bad tornado
season standards, particularly bad. we seem to be seeing the epok lippic weather spreading around the globe. from a meteorologist point of view, do you assess this as getting worse than in previous years? are we seeing really unusually bad weather or just these two incidents involving tornadoes that have come quite close together? >> reporter: well, we're going to have to go back and go through data and really analyze things to find out exactly if there is a cause or if this is just a cycle. we see cycles of active weather and cycles of very quiet weather but there's no question that this has been historic. we had a record number of tornadoes in the month of april and while we've had a lot of tornadoes the month of may so far, it hasn't been record breaking but we could be approaching records in terms of fatalities so part of it might even just be bad luck, piers. this was one supercell that
produced a tornado that touched down for about somewhere between three and six miles is what we're hearing and that entire pathway happened to be where people live. if this tornado had touched down maybe 40, 50 miles west of here into a wheat field or corn field over into oklahoma, we never would have heard about this storm or we certainly wouldn't be covering it. these storms have been hitting in populated places where people live and where people work and it's just so incredible and so devastating. i've covered a lot of tornadoes and i've seen a lot of devastation but i don't ever think i've seen something this extreme, this severe covering such a large area. this tornado that moved through just ripped everything to shreds in its path. >> it's appalling. thank you very much indeed. coming up, more live from the scene of the deadly twister in joplin and we'll tell you how you can help.
[ male announcer ] a word of warning to piggy banks... pants pockets... and anyone, anywhere who would hide our precious coins. we're coming for what's ours. maybe you didn't hear. but dimes, nickels, even pennies have power now. because the volt charges for about a buck fifty a day. making most commutes gas-free for just a handful of change. so we're taking it back. all of it. we have some driving to do. the 2011 chevrolet volt. it's more car than electric.
the death toll is feared to be on the conservative side and will raise quite significantly in the next few days. the tornado hit just after graduation at joplin high school wiping it out almost completely. the senior class was spared and terrible tragedy averted because of a scheduling quirk. joplin holds its graduation at missouri southern state university a few miles away from the school. c.j. huff is superintendent of schools and joins me now. this was an extraordinary escape. all of the people from joplin high school happened to be at a graduation ceremony away from the main school. had they been in the building, i dread to think what may have happened. we would have been looking at many, many fatalities. i'm having trouble there hearing the superintendent. i think we may have to come back to him. wanting to hear from the superintendent who oversees all
of the schools in joplin, missouri, where we have seen this twister take the lives of 116 people. the fears tonight are of a second tornado sweeping into joplin and other areas of the south including dallas and kansas. tomorrow is now feared to be a distinct possibility. i'll be joined by t.j. holmes from cnn. you used to work for an nbc affiliate in joplin. you're now back there tonight. have you in your darkest nightmares you could never have imagined this kind of scene, could you? >> reporter: no. i'm coming in parts of a town that i know so well are unrecognizable right now. you have a tough time. i have a tough time getting my bearings in certain places even though i should know exactly where i am. i am from the south, from arkansas, worked in arkansas, been covering tornadoes a long time. it seems cliche but you never have seen anything like this in your life.
it's something worth noting here about this town, joplin, missouri. this town, yes, it's small. 50,000 people. but this town is the economic life. it is the engine of this entire area here in southwest missouri because there are so many other towns around. so many towns come here during the day. the population of this city goes up to about 200,000, 300,000 every single day during the workweek because this is where everyone comes to actually work. i'll toss it back to you. i think i need to hand it back over. it's important and worth noting here, this town is of vital importance. not just joplin but the entire area depends on joplin for its livelihood. >> that's a very good point to make. it is indeed that. i think the big concern now is that the rescue operation could be severely hindered by what may be coming later tonight and tomorrow. i think we're now rejoined by
superintendent huff who is in charge of all of the schools in joplin. i'm sorry. we've lost him again. communication in joplin is very bad tonight. the weather is atrocious again. we're having a few issues there. let me bring you back in, t.j. for someone like you that knows the people of joplin, you've articulated very well there the importance of joplin. tell me about the people of joplin and what they're going through and what they will be going through as the next few days unfold. >> reporter: this is a town that enjoys -- everybody comes together for the friday night basketball or football game to watch the young man that baby sits your kid or the young woman who is a baby sitter. everybody in this town knows everybody. that's why it's impossible that every person in this town knows someone who has been killed now with numbers over 100 with number of killed. this is the kind of place where people might leave for a while but they always come back.
they don't come back because they don't have another choice to. they come back because this is what they know. this is home. this is familiar. this is family. it's so personal to them here. this is the kind of people you have here. no doubt they'll come together. they will build this place back up again. to see what it is right now. as we were driving in, we saw a sign that said range line road closed between 7th and 32nd street. that may not mean a lot to people listening. it's the magnificent mile for chicago. fifth avenue for new york. peach tree road in atlanta. it's the life blood of this community. so the very last place you would want a tornado hit, not that you want it to hit anywhere, but for it no knock out range line road in that chunk of this community, that is joplin and that's gone right now. that says a lot about what's about to happen. of course they are going to come back, piers. we know these places are resilient.
this town is hurting and right now we have misery on top of misery. the rain is shooting sideways in many places now and it's just making a mess here on top of the mess they already have. you see these lightning flashes. we jump at them every time. amazing show going on in the skies right now. misery on top of misery tonight. >> i think you should take cover. we saw massive lightning strike behind you. it looks like another appalling night there in joplin. my hearts go out to all of the people there. it's really shocking scenes. we'll come back to you a bit later on. thank you very much. >> we'll be right back after a short break with more breaking news from joplin in missouri where the scenes after this tornado are really quite desperate. there's a whole world missing when you search on orbitz.
looking at de stating images from joplin in missouri where a twister yesterday has taken lives of 116 people so far. death toll is predicted to rise, probably quite significantly. you can see why from these appalling images. also the weather map tonight show worrying signs of potential further tornadoes. not just in joplin, missouri but other areas of the south, including dallas, kansas. it's going to be a rough night tonight and probably a rougher day tomorrow. nature's fury is also striking elsewhere tonight. iceland where an erupting volcano is spewing ash into the atmosphere. president obama has already been forced to leave ireland early to
beat the cloud of volcanic ash. joining me is president of iceland. mr. president, thank you for joining me. obviously a very serious situation with this volcano. it's different from the one we saw last april. tell me what is happening on this occasion. how bad do you think is situation is? >> well, listening to the disaster on the tragedy you have just been describing in the united states, we are fortunate here in iceland that nobody has been hurt, nobody has been killed. and in terms of the human condition, everybody is safe. of course, there are difficulties for the local community, but over 95% of iceland has been leading a normal life. the ash goes up in the air and might go to other countries, as you were just mentioning, but listening to you describing to what's happening in the united states, we can be blessed here
in iceland that this hasn't really caused any damage to the people. but, of course, great difficulty for the farmers and the local people, especially the sheep farmers. >> mr. president, i really appreciate you giving us an update on the situation. i suppose the only question i'd like to follow up with, because we have got this huge breaking story in america involving this tornado, is what kind of effect do you think this volcanic eruption will have on air traffic over the next few days? last time we saw at least two weeks of chaos throughout europe. are you anticipating a similar situation this time? >> no, no, definitely not. the flights started from iceland yesterday afternoon, or, actually, this afternoon. and, in fact, in terms of europe, this is not going to be anywhere like what happened last year. it's a -- it's a different
eruption. and although europe is also better prepared to deal with it. there might be some difficulties in scotland and in scandinavia, but, fortunately, i think we can truly say the nature of this eruption will not cause similar disturbances as last year. but, of course, it is a monumental eruption. it's the biggest one we have had in that area of iceland for 140 years. >> clearly, a serious situation. mr. president, thank you very much for spending the time. if you don't mind, i'm going to go back to missouri where the weather is deteriorating again. i want to get a quick update. after this break we'll be back with more breaking news from joplin in missouri. ♪ [ 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