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tv   CNN Presents  CNN  May 27, 2011 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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in my neighborhood, we do things to people. >> what are you trying to say? >> stop hitting on my wife every time you see her, please. >> lively encounter with nick cannon. you can see that on monday and that is it for tonight. here is anderson cooper. tonight, the terrible power of tornados and the almost unimaginable impact of one. the one that hit joplin, missouri. the deadliest tornado on record, part of the deadliest tornado season in half a century. it stayed on the ground a very long and when it left, it took a large part of joplin with it. >> oh, man! >> oh! it's getting big, big, big. >> at least 126 people dead, dozens still missing, the actual number not known.
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local officials believe upwards of 8,000 structures were damaged or destroyed. nearly two dozen people, including three young men, took cover at a convenience store. the video is dark, but the audio, the sounds tell a story. >> oh, my god! [ screaming ] >> imagine pushing open the door after that incredible experience. elsewhere in joplin, one couple recorded the scene moments after the tornado struck. destruction all around them, homes on fire. they called out for the young man's sister and fiance.
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>> sarah! sarah, mike! >> of course, there's no end to the heartbreak, but no end to hope either. we met tracy pressler, looking for will, who was driving home with his dad and was sucked out of the sunroof of his suv as the tornado struck. >> we cry a lot. >> yeah. we cry. >> but we have faith, you know, that they're going to find him alive. you have to have hope and you have to pray. and if they don't, we pray they find him. >> more on will norton's story and also that of lantz hare. >> until he's find, dead or alive, i've got to find him.
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>> parts of oklahoma were struck by tornadoes, as well. frank wood rushed his family into the storm shelter as the twister struck. >> we've got to go now! it's coming right over us. we're right in its path. >> one beloved member of the wood family, roxie the dog, didn't make it into the shelter. all these stories and details tonight and witness the courage of people beset by catastrophe and tragedy. but we start at the beginning. it's 5:40 on sunday evening and a monster rakes across joplin, missouri. >> strong tornado! >> as the twist errors towards this convenience store -- >> no, they haven't yet. the sirens aren't going. >> customers huddle in terror
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inside a dark refrigerated storeroom. [ screaming ] >> jesus, jesus, jesus, heavenly father. thank you, jesus. >> amazingly, everyone inside survives. >> we got debris on the ground. >> the massive tornado, believed to be three quarters of a mile wide, with winds exceeding 190 miles per hour, rips a path of destruction four miles long right through the heart of the city. >> oh, my god! >> by monday morning, the devastation was clear. buildings on fire. entire neighborhoods wiped out. st. john's medical center, with
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183 patients, took a direct hit. it was unclear if any of the patients were uninjured, but the twister heaved gurneys for blocks. >> the windows were blown out. there's debris hanging outside the windows. part of the roof is missing. i'm now standing behind the hospital and blocks, brick walls are just crumbled. >> and it struck the high school as seniors were finishing graduation ceremonies nearby. the school was demolished. >> i walked around as much as i could to see it. it looks like it's been bombed from the outside in. it's terrible. >> the storm left cars and trucks on top of each other. this walmart, now flattened. this home depot crushed. we don't know how many shoppers were inside when the twister hit. thankfully residents did have warning.
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>> by our count, we had 17 minutes with the siren and the strike. >> the level of destruction is overwhelming. not just block after block of rubble but neighborhood after neighborhood, flattened as far as the i can see, even from the cockpit of a helicopter. the first job for the first responders was search and rescue. a handful of survivors were pulled from the rubble, but the level of destruction was so extensive, they were prepared to find bodies. take a look. at joplin's home depot, they have not found anyone alive. they've only found bodies. >> everything we did yesterday were recoveries. >> do you think there are more people still inside? >> we have indications from our canine alerts that yeah. >> do you think they may be alive? >> i think it's unlikely they're alive.
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>> doug westhoff is the task force leader. >> we had people coming by yesterday recognizing vehicles from their loved ones and knew that they were potentially underneath those slabs and one knew that his son-in-law and two grand kids were in all likelihood in that store. >> mortuary teams stand by but they still hope to find someone alive. >> the dogs are trained to find anyone alive. this is the job we've been called out to do. >> this task force has four dogs working in joplin. her dog is named katie. >> they've got to be naked. as you can see all this debris, if he has a collar or vest on, they can get trapped. so she's got to be naked. i take all of this off. when i get her ready to go, i direct her into the area. >> many of the fatalities at the home depot have been found at
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the front of the store. if they were huddled near the front, that would have been the most dangerous spot for them. >> unfortunately, yes. >> that's where the walls came down. they've used heavy equipment to drill through the collapsed walls and neck underneath, then push them out of the way. this is a wall of the home depot? >> sure. >> and it fell? >> what you've got is a piece of concrete. >> this is all insulation? >> absolutely. >> the walls may have collapsed, but oddly the tornado left many of the store shelves still standing. >> this was a much more survivable environment here than it would have been to be at the front of the store where those huge concrete falls came down on folks. >> have you already been through this area? >> yeah. we were able to probe in from different places. >> with so much heavy equipment needed, the search is sometimes frustratingly slow. how much are you working against the clock in terms of bad weather coming later today?
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>> we're working against the clock both for the survivability profile and the forecast for the bad weather. so yeah, we're always under the gun for that. we had to shelter our folks a few times yesterday just based on the lightning strikes and the hail and rain, it just makes it impossible to do it safely. >> time is running out, and there's still so much to do. doug westhoff is trying to be optimistic. >> if the space is right, if the void is big enough, people can last many days like this. so we're two to three days into this thing and we're sort of the eternal optimists out here. we're going to maintain hope as long as we can. the reality is creeping into the back of your brain this is becoming less and less likely a rescue and more and more likely recoveries. but that's the reality of the world we live in. >> by the end of the day, they find one trapped person, but sadly that person had already died. the searching continues, however, even here in joplin, amidst all this misery. even here there is still some
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hope. there is still hope in joplin. up next, inside the search for the missing. two teenagers vanished. the families desperate for answers. later, caught on tape. a family scrambling for shelter as the tornado gets close. but where is the family dog? >> that's once-in-a-lifetime. you'll probably never see this again. and it's moving fast. it's huge. >> they got into the shelter. the dog didn't. you'll want to see how this story ends, coming up. what's so special about
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that could be a sign of serious side effects. ask your doctor about plaque build up. and if crestor is right for you. [ woman ] i love what we've created here together. [ male announcer ] if you can't afford your medication, astra-zeneca may be able to help. i'm tom foreman in washington. tonight in joplin, fear is starting to give way to frustration. more than 150 people are still missing since sunday's record twister, and the death toll is expected to rise. but families are frustrated they can't go to the morgue and check for loved ones. officials say they're using dna testing and fingerprinting to identify remains. early tonight, the coroner told eliot spitzer where specials are being exceptionally cautious. >> the situation that we had early on is we had some -- a family members that made
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identification on an individual, let's say start off with, and they got him to a mortuary, got him embalmed and dressed. and when they went back, it was not their son. moammar gadhafi's diplomatic window is closing. the russian president changed course today, joining american and european leaders and calling for the libyan lead tore step down from power. medvedev's statement came at the end of the g-8 summit. and the rest of bernie madoff's belongings will go on auction next week. now back to our anderson cooper special report "deadly impact." i'm tom foreman in washington. this is bad. oh, my gosh. this is awful. look at that. that is destroyed.
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completely. >> so many families in joplin are still searching for loved ones and refuse to give up hope. will norton disappeared while driving home with his dad from his high school graduation. his dad, mark, survived. the powerful winds of the twister pulled will right up through the sunroof of their suv, according to his dad. his family heard reports that a young man watching will's description was take on the a local hospital and moved to another hospital. well, will's sister tracked down that hospital and visited the young man, but sadly it wasn't her brother. >> we'll be okay. we've got a lot of people looking for him. a lot of people love him. >> for will norton's aunt tracy and sister sarah, the wait is at times too much to bear. will was driving home from his high school graduation with his father mark when the tornado struck. >> they thought if they could
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pull into this subdivision they could find a place to go. they only got as far as that median when the tornado picked him up and they got wrapped up in this stuff and it was a big mess. i don't know where that came from. >> what has he told you about what happened when the tornado hit? >> he said that he remembers flipping and being airborne and just kept going. >> will was in the driver's seat. his father tried to grab him. >> my brother grabbed him from across the seat to hold onto him. he remembers my nephew just started reciting scripture, one verse after another. my brother was a little shocked but will did it all the way until he went out the window. >> what window did he go out? >> the sunroof. he went up. >> so he was sucked out of -- >> he was literally pulled through the window while my brother held him and he was ripped out of his arms. >> mark was found in this ditch. there's been no sign of will.
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>> we've called hundreds of hospitals and right now we think he's still out here somewhere waiting to be found. >> will's family is urging people to search not just in joplin but areas further away. >> he could be between here and springfield, missouri. we're not talking half a mile or mile. we're talking miles. that storm could have taken him miles. >> canine teams have been called, some trained to find the living, others to find the dead. >> i think sarah's mom, i think she's having the toughest time, as any momma would have. you don't want to think that your kids are gone. it's really tough. so we just ask for prayers for everybody. people that are following on facebook, we really love you and we pray for everybody. that's what we want. it's going to be okay.
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we'll find them, baby, we'll find him. >> steve lee, retired battalion police chief for the joplin fire department, is working around the clock to find will. they've searched the water now? >> they're on their second search just to confirm it. that's where we're at there. >> you're carrying a picture of will. >> yes, i have a picture of will, in case i come up to somebody to show them who we are looking for. >> we have faith that they're going to find him alive. we just pray they find him. we're a strong family, and we're going to be together and we're going to find him. someone is going to find him. a lot of people are looking and there's a lot of families that are suffering. and we hope they find their loved ones alive. >> although ton identified young man in the hospital turned out not to be will norton, the
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anguished family of lantz hare was one of them. lantz was last seen with a friend. lantz was ripped out of a car. i spoke with his dad, mike, in joplin. he vowed to search until he found his son, alive or not. what was the last you knew about lantz? >> my youngest son called me, and it was maybe ten minutes after the storm, and they -- him and my ex-wife had been trying to get ahold of him over and over and they couldn't. and i started calling him and still never got anything. i called it all last night. >> you're still calling his number? >> i can't stop. i don't know why. i stayed up until like 2:00 last night and that's all i did. >> called his cell phone? does it ring? >> it rang for the first day and
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a half and now goes straight to voice mail. but just in case he gets it, i want him to know that his dad loves him. >> how are you holding up? >> i've got a lot of strong people around me to pick me up. that's about it. i mean, something as catastrophic as all this, you don't know whether he's underneath a piece of wood or whether he's in the hospital or where he's at. and we've searched and searched and searched. so i've got to keep searching. >> you're going to go to springfield now and hope for the best? >> i'm walking away from here and going to springfield and kansas city and wichita. >> you're going to check all the hospitals? >> we've had reports that there's a kid that looks like lantz. i can't just sit here and the hospitals tell us it may not or it may be him. you know, some of the reports
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are the bruising is so bad that they really can't tell. well, i can tell whether it's my son. i can tell. and i will tell. >> you were asked to give dna? >> i was asked to give dna todd at missouri southern, a little while ago and that right there just set it in me that there can't be no stopping until lantz is found, dead or alive, i've got to keep pushing. i've got to find him. >> it's important to hold onto hope? >> oh, my god, yeah. if you don't have hope, what are you going to do? look at all this. if every family out here didn't have hope that it's going to be better, i've heard on the radio they're going to rebuild st. john's. that's hope. you've got to have hope. you've got to have god. you've got to have friends and family. you've got to have all of it combined to get you through this.
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>> thank you for talking to us. i appreciate it. >> thank you. >> stay strong. >> sadly, after i spoke to mike hare that day, we learned that his son lantz did not survive. up next, a brother desperate to find his sister minutes after the tornado hit. >> sarah, mike! sarah, mike! >> sarah, mike! mike, sarah! >> frantic search, destruction everywhere they looked. see what happened to them, coming up. plus, they rode out the tornado almost in complete darkness inside a walk-in beer cooler at a convenience store. do you even have a name? well, it doesn't matter. because it's about to change. there's a cheaper, cleaner way to fuel up now. the volt plugs into any socket, and fuels up at home. sure it could use gas, but for most commutes you won't need much, if any.
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when you look at this, i mean, what does the future hold? >> well, this is just not the type of community that's going to let a little f-4 tornado kick our ass. so we will rebuild and recover. >> this is not going to kick your ass? >> no, it's not. it's been a long time since we had one this bad. >> mike wolfson, the mayor of joplin, missouri. the resilience of the people of joplin will no doubt get them through the weeks and months and even years ahead. three quick-thinking young men took cover in a gas station convenience store and crammed into a walk-in beer cooler with
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about 20 or so other people. one was isaac duncan and recorded the experience on his iphone. you're not going to see much, but what's said as the twister struck tells you the whole story. >> oh, my god! [ screaming ] >> heavenly father. jesus, jesus, jesus! >> i spoke to isaac and his two friends about their incredible experience. you actually shot the video. >> yeah. >> you go to the back of the store and you know the storm is coming. the front door was locked, right?
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>> basically we had to pull over to the closest thing that we could find, which was this gas station. so we got out, sprinted up to the door and they had locked it just so the door wouldn't fling open. we pounded on the door and the clerk came up and unlocked it and we hurried back to the back of the store. >> how many people were in there at the time? >> probably about 18. >> how quickly did the storm hit? >> probably a minute the other person ran up to the door. the clerk ran up as the storm was getting close and unlocked the door for him and saved three people more that ran in. and within 30 seconds of that, we were all down in the back and the glass was just glowing out of the entire front of the store. >> what was it like for you? >> it sounded like 100 freight trains running close to the building. it started to cave in and i noticed the smell of gasoline outside, which freaked everybody out. >> you were worried a fire might break out? >> yeah. towards the end of it, you could smell smoke outside, so we
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figured it was time to get away from the building. >> how long did it last for, cory? >> three or four minutes, you know, of bad, bad hail and debris. like that second part where it hits is just so -- the sound, the force of it is so loud. >> what goes through your mind when you're experiencing something like that? >> honestly, it was very surreal. i never felt anything like it. it was almost like a weird calmness. i didn't think i was going to go out in a tornado, but i think i'm going to. >> you were thinking that? >> oh, yeah. we all sprinted into this little cooler and packed 20 people in. >> how big was the space? >> you know, ten feet by, you know, probably seven feet. it wasn't big at all. >> so you're all pushed up against each other? >> oh, yeah. all the shelves and items were falling on people. >> everyone was getting cut by class.
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the only thing remaining from the building is the cooler we had jumped in. a big part of that was the clerk at the store. i mean, not only did he run up and unlock the door, but he was the last person into the refrigerator. he's a hero. >> so when you leave, it's got to be surreal when you walk outside and you see what you've survived. >> we sat there for probably 20 minutes deciding what to do. everything had collapsed on us. so cory went into the back and a wall had fallen down. he climbed out and i went next and we pulled everyone out. when we got out to the side, you could see all the gas from the gas station was starting to run out. >> what made you decide to turn your iphone on and start recording? >> i just record everything. i don't know. >> this is it, you might as well record it. i'm so glad you guys made it and great thinking to record it.
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so thank you so much. we showed you video at the top of the program. a couple, brook and aaron emerging in joplin after the tornado in what was their neighborhood in name only. >> you guys okay? are you guys okay? >> yeah. >> holy crap! >> they raced to the home there and sarah's house was badly damaged. >> sarah, mike! sarah, mike! >> sarah, mike! mike, sarah! >> i'm going to check in the basement. sarah, mike!
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>> mike, sarah. >> you guys down here? >> mike? >> sis? >> kirby? >> sarah? >> mike? >> they must have left. >> i think they're gone. >> kirby, kirby. >> kirby jean. [ whistling ] >> all right, come on. they're not in the basement? >> no, i don't think so. sarah, mike! >> you went down there? >> yeah, you can't see anything, though. >> kirby, by the way, is sarah's cat. brook and aaron didn't find sarah at home but they did find sarah. i spoke with her and with aaron.
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aaron, what was going through your head when you grabbed the camera and first ran outside, had you ever been through anything like this before? >> nothing like this. i'm not sure anybody has with what they're saying about this kind of tornado. when we left the house, we had no idea it was like this, though. i took the camera thinking there would be some downed trees and stuff like that. but you realized the severity of everything, and i already had the camera running. every block you went in deeper, the worse and worse it got and the severity of it set in. >> aaron, you even had trouble figuring out where you were, even though it's probably a neighborhood you know very well. >> yeah, i've lived in joplin my entire life. i've been to my sister's house obviously plenty of times. everything was just so level, you had no idea where you were. with the street signs gone,
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there was no land markers, no houses, no trees, no nothing. it was just completely barren. so we kept having to ask people where we were. even the people who lived on the streets were so dazed, they had a hard time telling us where they were. so it was a real struggle to find out where the heck we were. >> sarah, where did you ride out the storm? >> we were in the basement of our home. it was an hold cellar, and we heard the sirens go off. so we went to the basement and continued watching tv until we couldn't hear it anymore and realized what was going on. >> what was like being in the basement hear thing storm? >> it was crazy. the only way that i knew what was going on is because of tv and people saying it sounds like a train. and it dawned on us when i said oh, it sounds like a train going by, we realized, you know, what it was. and when the pressure of our ears came, you know, it felt like our ears were going to
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blow. that's when my fiance said we're definitely in a tornado. >> aaron, how did you finally find sarah? >> after we didn't find them at the house, we didn't know what to do. but people pointed us to the walgreen's a few blocks away saying that's where they had a triage center set up. they weren't there, so we started walking down main street, or what was left of main street, trying to get a cell phone signal. asking people if they had seen them, yelling out their names. and finally we happened to walk into cell coverage and her fiance, mike, got a phone call through to us that lasted about ten seconds. pretty much saying they had made it to our parent's house, they were okay and the phone cut out. but that's all we needed to hear. >> that's incredible. sarah, your cat, kirby, is kirby okay? >> he is okay. he's a little traumatized. that's why i didn't bring him tonight. yeah, he's happy and, you know, ready to be getting back to
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usual. >> aaron, i'm told you're getting married in a couple of days and you managed to actually save the wedding dress. how did you do that? i know somebody else, the store where the wedding dress was, was obliterated and their dress is gone. >> yes, sir. similar story. we're walking down main street, and this is right after we found out they were okay. so now we're trying to get ahold of our relatives and our other brother in town and we come across the alteration store. the roof is half own, the glass is blown out. so my fiance crawls in through a broken window and i'm waiting outside for her. she emerges a few minutes later and just this big grin on her face and she's like, this is the only dress not on the floor and still in the white bag, hanging on the rack. so you see me walking with this giant white bundle. and that's what it is, the wedding dress.
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>> are you holding the wedding in joplin? >> yes. the church we grew up is the first united methodist church, which is the fema headquarters too, i believe. >> that's a great -- i'm so glad you found each other and everybody is okay. >> thank you. >> i wish you all the best. there's a lot of stories that did not end happy, so nice to have one that has. have a great wedding. >> thank you. >> thank you. thousands of buildings in joplin were damaged or destroyed. it could total $3 billion. but missouri's governor jay nixon has vowed to rebuild the city and a lot of residents echo the governor. they'll begin again, brick by brick. how do you begin to rebuild? how do you decide where to start? sally smith is figuring it out. >> i'm finding stuff over here and i'm also finding stuff over here. so i don't know where to start looking. >> we first met sally in what
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remains of her mother's home. this was sort of a fire -- >> fireplace. and the piano. we had windows, the couch is here. i don't know where the couch is. >> sally's mother, marge, is 80 and survived in her sister's house nearly. sally and her family are hoping to find some personal belongings to cushion the blow. >> the first thing we did is look for jewelry, things that my grandmother had given her. >> things that had sent mental value. >> sentimental value. then clothes. now i'm just going through pots, pans, plates. >> that's how you begin rebuilding? >> yeah. just little pieces here and there? >> yeah, yeah. >> some of her mother's doll collection survived the tornado. sally still can't believe what she's seeing. >> overwhelmed. i told my husband this morning, i'm just overwhelmed. i don't know what i'm going to do. but it will work out, it will.
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but i've never been through anything like this in my life, ever. >> it's the kind of thing you always see on the news. >> we keep seeing pictures and i keep telling people that doesn't do it justice. >> most of the upstairs is gone. this is your bedroom. >> this is my bedroom when i was growing up. you could see all the way to home depot. >> it's literally as far as the eye can see all the way around. >> yeah, it's just gone. walmart, i mean, you can see walmart. it's just right there. it's gone. >> sally's home survived the storm, but her employer was badly hit. she's not sure if she still has a job. you're wearing a t-shirt that says life is good. >> god is not going to give us anything we cannot handle. we will be fine. saying goodbye to things is hard, but it's life.
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we go on. >> you're about the most optimistic person i've met in a long time. >> you know, i don't know. like i said, life goes on. you cannot fall apart over things like this. >> you can't fall apart, and so she doesn't. that's how you rebuild, she tells me. that's how you restart. you stay strong, you pick up the pieces, and you start one by one. it's not just in joplin where so many lives are being rebuilt. in oklahoma, a funnel cloud cut a tractor trailer in half. the driver escaped with his life. we'll have a look at the weather there, coming up. and a family runs for cover as a tornado moves dangerously close to their home. but their dog, roxie, has to be left behind. the story has a remarkable ending. we'll show you that ahead. biotis in phillips' colon health defended against the bad gas, diarrhea and constipation. ...and? it helped balance her colon.
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strong winds. >> what's that out there, dude? look right out there. get that. get that, get that. >> holy [ bleep ] >> i got it now. holy hell. >> a look at the deadly tornado that hit oklahoma. this is the deadliest tornado season since 1953. states from ohio to texas have been on guard. and when joplin was struck,
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there have been dozens of other tornadoes across the midwest causing death and destruction. take a look. >> oh, my god! back up. oh, no! stop. oh, no. >> in this part of the country where things were bad, they have quickly gotten worse. >> extremely large and dangerous tornado. >> very large tornado. >> at least 16 people were killed in storms that struck parts of oklahoma, kansas, and arkansas. ten of those 16 dead are because of this monster. >> oh, my gosh! >> another killer tornado. >> dozens were injured in central oklahoma, many along the interstate 40 corridor leading out of oklahoma city. watch as this twister swallows this 18-wheeler. somehow the driver in the cab made it out with only minor injuries. >> it's coming up to i-40 right now. unbelievable. it's a killer tornado. goodness gracious. wow!
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>> the oklahoma governor mary fallen declared a state of emergency statewide. >> it's devastating. >> in arkansas, at least four people were killed by the storms and another two in kansas. in these states, as well, overturned trucks, destroyed homes are scattered for miles. more than 500 people have been killed this tornado season, a season that still has months to go. i want to give you another remarkable view of a tornado that touched down in oklahoma from david payne. >> the motion is tremendous. david payne, are you still with us? violent tornado. >> another killer tornado. it went across highway 81 and it almost got us. it intensified right on top of us. >> i had a chance to speak to david payne by phone about what it was like. david, how close were you to that tornado?
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>> you know what? that video there, that was kind of about the end of the chase. the first tornado, which i would love to give you -- i hope you can get some video of this. that was on the west side, you mentioned canadian county, and at that one point, i lost a side mirror off of my car, and we were within a couple hundred yards when it sat down southwest of oklahoma city. an incredible storm. it goes back to what we just witnessed in joplin, missouri, the deep south and april 27th and you got to go back to last time we had an event like this in oklahoma city, may 3rd of 1999. the tornadoes were violent, long-tracking tornadoes, absolutely amazing. these storms were turning and rotating from start to finish and they were killer tornados in oklahoma. >> and to get that close, what does it actually feel like? people talk about a pressure
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change. >> right. there is, if you're really chose, you often hear the noise that it sounds like. if you're really close, it sounds like you're standing next to a jet airplane, like you're back by the engine. your ears will pop sometimes. but they pop big-time and you can have obviously ear damage if you're caught inside a tornado. our plan is not to do that. but when you're close to it, it's traumatic, it's chaos, there's drama. it's insane, and your main objective is you're trying to tell people, this is where it is. and if you don't move, you either get out of the way or go below ground or you're going to die. >> david payne of cnn affiliate kfor. an oklahoma family that barely made it to their safe room in time.
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this video shows them running to save themselves. they had to leave their beloved pet behind. what happened later after that is just amazing. 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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there's so much destruction in communities across the midwest right now. tornadoes have robbed people of their loved ones, their homes, all their possessions. it's really unthinkable. i want to take you back to oklahoma, to the city of piedmont where one family lost their home and thought they had
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lost their beloved pet. >> reporter: these are the frantic moments. >> it's coming right over us. we're right in its path. >> reporter: just before frank wood scrambled up the stairs to his balcony and saw the tornadic beast for the first time, staring him straight in the eyes. >> that's once-in-a-lifetime. you'll probably never see this again. and it's moving fast. >> holy crap. >> it's huge. >> reporter: wood rushed his children down into the garage and locked themselves into a reinforced safe room. but they couldn't grab the family's dog in time, a boxer named roxie. >> she was standing there staring at me and i'm trying to get her to come in. >> i thought she was going to get sucked up by the tornado. >> so it was heartbreaking to
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close that door and leave her outside? >> yeah. >> reporter: time had run out. >> in fact, go. we got to get in now. >> reporter: moments later the tornado strikes the wood's home. >> here's the safe room. >> reporter: it's a good thing to have. >> it saved our lives. >> reporter: this is what the house looked like before the tornado, three stories tall, overlooking 12 green acres. when you look at this house, it's amazing to think it was once a three-story house. the tornado shredded the top two stories. his pickup truck was thrown almost 300 yards into a ditch. >> you just sit there and pray. we got on our knees and just sat there. and it was over. >> reporter: but roxie is nowhere to be found and 8-year-old paisley wood is devastated. we climbed through the rubble to find the sky is the ceiling. frank wood hunting for anything that might bring a smile to his daughter's face. >> this is her teddy bear she
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got from children's hospital. >> but paisley can't stop thinking about her dog. >> that was probably the most upsetting thing was roxie. >> reporter: then a phone call almost two miles away, david franco, an oil rig worker, sees a dog walking around his work site. >> i knew she belonged to somebody. >> reporter: paisley and her family race to see if it's true, that their dog had somehow managed to escape the tornado's grip. then the moment they had been hoping for. >> she's coming right now. >> roxie! >> reporter: it is roxie. >> thank you very much. here we go. bless her little heart. >> reporter: she survived with only a small scratch on her leg. what do you think of finding her dog? >> awesome. >> reporter: you didn't think you were going the find roxie again, did you? >> no.
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>> reporter: when you found out she was okay? >> i was very happy. i started dancing. >> reporter: the happy dance? >> yes. >> reporter: they might not have a place to call home, but they've got each other and roxie, too. ed lavendara, cnn, piedmont, oklahoma. >> we've met so many incredible people this week and we want to thank them all in many states for spending some time with us and letting us tell their stories and letting us see their bravery and their courage in the face of really unspeakable loss. thank you very much for watching. stay with cnn for continuing coverage of the tornadoes and how joplin, missouri begins the long and hard task of rebuilding out of the rubble. if you ask a parent, they might call it intuitive.
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