tv Early Start CNN May 21, 2013 2:00am-4:01am PDT
at this hour, search teams are looking for signs of life among this debris. >> a direct hit. one elementary school in the path of the enormous twister completely flattened. and this morning, seven young students confirmed dead. and there is a desperate search for survivors. it is continuing. >> everything is gone.
devastation, desperation, and a lot of despair. families searching for belongings. their pets, loved ones. it's an unbelievable site here. welcome to a special edition of early start. i'm john berman, just on the ground amidst of all the rubble and houses that have been obliterated. >> we're going to begin with you, john. >> it is a sight to behold this morning. we'd like to welcome our viewers in the united states, also around the world. this town that looks nothing like it did 24 hours ago because of a monster tornado that was as wide as two miles, two miles wide at one point, it leveled this community. two elementary schools in its path. both those schools destroyed. one of them within my eyesight right now. it is the scene of a desperate search this morning for survivors.
there are 31 confirmed fatalities so far, including 20 children. that number will rise, with reports of more bodies found overnight. of those 40, about 20 are children. at least 145 victims are in the hospital right now. the tornado, said to be an ef-4, which is the second-highest strength. it packed winds of 166-mile-per-hour to 200-mile-per-hour. up to 200-mile-per-hour in some places. president obama issuing emergency disaster overnight. we have this covered from every angle, with reporters fanned out across this wide swath of devastation. first, we want to show you how this all unfolded. simply terrifying, entire communities. >> the massive tornado tore across 20 miles of oklahoma city suburbs in just 40 minutes. from the sky, the mile-wide trail of destruction, hard to
comprehend and utterly catastrophic. the storm flatten homes and buildings. leaving two homes and a hospital marilee recognizable. >> i've never seen anything like this in my 18 years covering tornadoes. >> reporter: decimating everything in its path. homes crushed to piles of debris. what looks like haystacks where houses once stood. cars tossed like toys from the parking lot of the medical center, piled up, blocking the main entrance. >> i heard it go over us. felt our ears popping. it was something we never experienced. it was really scary. >> reporter: nearby, a mother and her 7-month-old found dead where a 7-eleven once stood. >> we were throwing debris, trying to get anybody out. >> reporter: a massive recovery effort at one of two schools for
children buried in the rubble, continued through the night. the grim reality setting in. bloody teachers seen here. destroyed from the monstrous twister, trapping close to 100 students. tears of relief for one mother, as she reunites with her first grade son. and a hug to his teacher. for miles, entire neighborhoods destroyed. many describing the horror they faced. >> we grabbed our motorcycle helmets and hid in the closet and prayed like hell. and luckily, the only room that was spared was the room we were in. >> reporter: debris turned the powerful, black funnel, as it roared like a freight train. you hear the piercing winds reaching up to 200 miles per hour. at a family farm, as many as 100
horses were killed and most of the barns demolished. >> i was between them. and it just pushed us down the shed row. >> reporter: president obama declared a disaster area late monday and called the state's governor. >> there are families wondering where loved ones are. right now, we're doing everything we can. >> we are standing amid the mud in the debris, driving here, we saw people picking through their yards. seven children were killed when the tornado flattened the tower plaza elementary school. i can see it right now. crews have been busy all night searching the rubble for more victims. and pamela brown is live with me right now. we've been standing outside the remainders of this school. >> just imagine, john, dozens of students and teachers, huddled together inside that school. cleaning to the walls because
there was no underground shelter, according to authorities. this happened when the massive tornado swept through. parents who dropped their children off yesterday, now, just waiting to learn the fate of their child, while other parents are crying tears of relief this morning. illuminated by floodlights, rescue teams search tirelessly overnight. sifting through mountains of debris where plaza towers elementary school once stood. in some places, the debris was ten feet high. underneath, every parents' worst nightmare. the bodies of schoolchildren trying to seek shelter from a ferocious tornado. the race to rescue students and teachers began after the massive mile-wide tornado ripped through at least two elementary schools in its path. hardest hit, plaza towers elementary. a third grade class huddled in the hallway of the school. >> i had to hold on to the wall
to keep myself safe because i didn't want to fly away in the tornado. >> we had to pull a car out of the front hallway off a teacher. and she -- i don't know what that lady's name was. but she had three kids underneath her. good job, teach. >> reporter: worried parents at a nearby staging area and search for answers. several children were pulled from the school alive. but with each passing hour, the operation went from a rescue to recovery mission. the heart wrenching really hard to comprehend, even for those covering it. >> i've never seen anything like this in my 18 years covering tornadoes here in oklahoma city. this is, without question, the most horrific i've ever seen. >> lance, we need to get this information. >> reporter: searchers were able to reunite many kids with their families. cnn's nick valencia was there. >> was it scary? what was it like?
>> it was like a big tornado tore up the whole place. >> you're a tough one for sticking it out. >> yep. >> reporter: what was once a place for learning became an unrecognizable place for horror. a student from plaza towers elementary, telling cnn's george hamil how he survived. >> it was scary. and a lot of my teachers left. >> what did you do? >> like this and you covered your head with your hands. >> teachers at both those elementary schools that were hard-hit by yesterday's tornado, being heralded as heroes. some shielded the students from the tornado. others pulled walls from the children that were trapped underneath. and rescue teams still out here, searching for children who may still be trapped under the rubble. but at this point, it's not looking good. as we said, it is a recovery mission. >> as a parent, i simply cannot
imagine giving up hope. saying that the search is over. and they're still picking through the rubble just behind us, pamela, this morning. this town, simply devastated. not just the structures that have been tore apart. and i know you as a parent can understand what the families are all going through. >> i'm with you. i'm with you on this, john. don't give up hope. you never know, right? as they continue to search, maybe they'll find more of the children alive. we'll check back in with you in a moment here. so, how did this monster tornado form? we have more from the weather center. you were daying this is not over yet. did we know how massive this was going to be? >> we did know the conditions were ripe enough, it could be this massive. unfortunately, we're talking about those conditions today. and i'll walk you through the path first. this is one of the days we talk about violent, long-live tornados. that's what i want to walk you
through. this path was 22 miles long. as this formed, right before 3:00 p.m., it was in a nondensely-populated area. then, it went right over new cakastcas castle. as it became massive, it exploded. and the densely-populated is where we saw this thing intensified. we can see now that we're talking about minimum, 160-mile-per-hour winds, potentially as high as 200 miles per hour. we started to see this impressive damage. the catastrophic damage. as the thing started to dissipate is when it started to go, once again, into areas that were not as densely populated. really, the timing is very unfortunate in a path like this. let's take you out wider and talk about this. very common, now, it seems in this area, look at the three tracks that have gone into this area. one of the ones everyone keeps talking about is may 3rd, 1999. one of the biggest differences i
wanted to point out was the lead time. here, by the time we saw the tornado warning when it touched in new castle, was a 13-minute warning. they still had a long path before it went into moore. when you put it all together. you compare that to may 3rd, 1999, look how much they had. they had 40 minutes, hour and a half warning time before it hit the area. that's a reason a lot of people did leave. this is not going to be survivable. and many people were able to escape. that being the main difference there. >> thank you for that. we're going to continue to check in with you to see who is in the path today. strangers helping strangers and neighbors helping neighbors. we have continued coverage of the deadly oklahoma tornado aftermath. stay with us. >> one of the guys pulled a teacher out.
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you're looking at live pictures right now from our affiliate koco. i'm looking at this right now. it's lightning in the sky here. it gives you a sense that this severe weather pattern that brought so much destruction to where i'm standing in moore, oklahoma, it is not over yet. there are concerns. it is an eerie vision to be standing in this debris and see the skies above you sort of on fire like this with the lights flashing. again, welcome back. we're live in moore, oklahoma, where this massive tornado
touched down monday afternoon, leaving dozens killed and a path of destruction in its wake. these are the latest developments here. the official death toll now stands at 51. 20 children are among the dead. but those numbers are expected to rise sharply. we're told about 40 more bodies have been taken to the medical examiner's office overnight. president obama has signed a disaster declaration for all of oklahoma. federal emergency aid is on the way and is badly needed. and texas is sending its search and rescue team to assist first responders here. there were so many people on the ground helping. and overnight, rescuers combing through wreckage of the tower plaza elementary school that was flattened, just flattened by the tornado. i see the remnants of it here. seven students were killed there alone. let me give you a sense of why this is so dangerous. i can reach anywhere around me and pick up something like this. this giant, twisted, ugly, sharp piece of corrugated metal.
and it's everywhere here. and just imagine something like this flying through the sky, coming right at you. if you don't have the proper shelter, if you didn't take cover, so dangerous, potentially deadly. patients had to be evacuated from the local hospital here in moore. the situation was dire everywhere. that was heavily damaged by the tornado, too, the hospital was. cnn's nick valenti is covering that angle for us. nick, hospital workers only had minutes to get everyone out. how did they do it? >> reporter: the moore medical center, john, took a direct hit. the tornado shredding through the community. i spoke to the security guard outside guarding the facility this morning. he was on scene about 20 minutes after the tornado hit. he said at this point, that's when patients were getting evacuated. hospital staff was getting evacuated. local news reports that there were at least 30 patients inside this hospital at the time.
and no one was injured as a result of the tornado, john. of course, they were being treated for undisclosed injuries at the time. and it's our understanding they've been transferred to nearby hospitals to recuperate from their injuries. john? >> so, nick, anyone left in there? and what's the plan for the patients right now? as you said, it's remarkable this no one was injured as a result of the tornado. >> it is remarkable, john. that's the objective word this morning. you can reach out and pick up shards of glass, pieces of wood. the debris is just scattered all throughout this community. you look behind me here. and the second floor of this moore medical center, completely reduced to rubble. the parking lot looks like a junk yard. as far as the patients and their conditions, that's a good question next. we don't have the answer to it.
we know they're in nearby area hospitals. we don't know what happens next for them. a lot of people are having the same questions this morning. a lot of residents reeling and recovering and trying to make sense of what happened here yesterday. john? >> nick valenti, our thanks to you. you've been here for the last few days as the storms have gone through. thanks for your perseverance and your bravery covering this story. there was something i saw on my way here. outside one of the areas where a house once stood, there was a tent. someone had put up a tent in their yard so they had somewhere to sleep overnight. obviously, their house was just gone. so, that tent, for a while at least, is now their home. >> a lot of people are trying to figure out how they can help. we're going to give folks that information. if you want to help the victims of the oklahoma storms, you can
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welcome back to this special edition of "early start," live from oklahoma. people waking up to a much different situation than they did yesterday. and this morning, crews racing around the clock here, looking for survivors after this tornado simply blew this town apart. i'm standing a short distance from where the plaza tower elementary school stood yesterday. it was one of two schools right in the path of the monster storm.
official say seven children -- we have emotional video right now, just into cnn overnight, showing students at briarwood elementary school, reuniting with their parents. 50 people have died, including at least 20 children. president obama signing a major disaster declaration, ordering federal aid to this area. obviously, it is so, so needed here. i'm in a neighborhood right next to the school. the school is just 200 yards away from where i am. it's been flattened. this neighborhood, it was a row of houses. but each house, knocked down. or the roofs have been tore out. the trees twisted. and you can see the lightning flashing. ominous flashing, repeatedly this morning, hanging over the
heads of everyone in this town as they attempt to go on with this rescue and recovery effort. >> john, is there an area where the parents are hanging out, you know, hoping -- i guess we're going to keep hope alive that perhaps their children are found alive today. >> people are trying to get a sense of what's going on and if loved ones are okay. overnight, even hours after this tornado barreled through here, there were family members, fathers who didn't know where the mothers were. parents looking for kids. kids looking for brothers and sisters. it's been a horrible night here. >> let's hope we have good news to report on that front. thank you very much, john. federal help is on its way to oklahoma. president obama signed an emergency disaster declaration, that speeds up the process of getting much-needed help, much-needed funds to the devastated area.
dan lothian is in washington. what does this mean for the victims of the tornado? >> it's critical assistance for the state in general. they have to move all of the debris. they are conducting search and rescue and recovery operations. critical funds for the state in general. but for those individuals who have been impacted by this storm, this will allow funding for temporary housing for many of the folks that need to repair their homes or have lost everything and need to replace them. this is the kind of money, the federal assistance, as they all, the entire state tries to move forward. president obama, who has been getting updates on the storm from lisa monaco, his adviser for homeland security. he did reach out by phone, calling the governor of the state, mary fallin, saying no
needs will go unmet. james langsford says the federal response so far has been reassuring. >> we have from the beginning, the national weather service is based in oklahoma city, as well. for the national weather service to be on the ground in norman, oklahoma, is an incredible help to us. before the storm came, we have federal connection with what happened there. i'm confident they'll continue connection there with fema. >> fema has a number of teams on the ground. they have those urban search and rescue teams. in addition to that, communications technicians and also those doing damage assessment in the early hours. so, all of this federal assistance, trying to help that state move forward. >> what's interesting is yesterday we were talking to the governor. actually during "starting point." she chatted with us. and she was in the middle of this crisis already. there were areas that were
declared disasters. maybe that's why they had boots on the ground there. when might we hear the president speak? >> when you look back at natural disasters, the president will come out and make a statement about pledging continued federal help for the people of that particular region that have been hit hard. but in addition, what we often see is that the president will go and visit fema headquarters here in washington. we'll take a little time before he heads to the zone because there is so much activity going on there. and they don't want to get in the middle of that and interrupt the operations on the ground. so, the president, we do expect, will say some kind of statement, perhaps later today. and perhaps will make a visit. at least that's what he's done in the past. nothing on the president's schedule. >> dan lothian, live in washington for us. let's head back to john live in oklahoma for us today. >> we've been saying, seeing
lightning flashing in the sky over moore, oklahoma, all night. many people here want to know what is the forecast for today? is it another dangerous day on the horizon? we'll have that forecast when we come back. this special edition of "early start" continues after the break. make a wish! i wish we could lie here forever. i wish this test drive was over, so we could head back to the dealership. [ male announcer ] it's practically yours. test drive! but we still need your signature. volkswagen sign then drive is back. and it's never been easier to get a jetta. that's the power of german engineering. get $0 down, $0 due at signing, $0 deposit, and $0 first month's payment on any new volkswagen. visit vwdealer.com today.
as rescuers look for more survivors. we see flashlights in houses nearby here. sunrise, just a few hours from now. there will be more information at first light. the medical examiner's office expecting about 40 more bodies this morning. about half of them children. once those are confirmed, the death toll here could rise sharply around 91 people killed. let's talk more about the elementary school just a short distance from where we're standing right now. plaza towers elementary, where at least seven children were killed. i want to bring in pamela brown covering this angle for us. in some ways, this is what's tugging at people's heart strings around the country. >> there's two elementary schools in the direct path of that massive tornado. the tornado bulldozed through the school. all that's left is a couple of walls. across town at briarwood elementary, parents came
accounted for. rescue teams searching through the rubble. some parents waiting to learn the fate of their child. i know you're a parent, john. it gives you chills. >> there's so many fears of that number of the seven killed here at plaza towers. you look at the parents and you can't hug your kids tightly enough. when you see your child after that, there's no way to squeeze them tightly enough. those hugs were some of the most amazing things i've ever seen. just stunning. obviously, it is a massive search and rescue effort here in moore. there's so much to do. and crews are working furiously, digging for survivors. elite search and rescue team coming up to help the first responders. there's no running water in a large part of this town. and workers are busy trying to get service restored. george howell has been covering all the angles.
>> that's the first time to see those reunions. that's incredible to watch that. very different story here at plaza towers. there were some parents that did find their children. there were some still looking. they will continue to be looking today. i spoke with a woman who was looking for her niece. i spoke with one family, though, able to find their children. really interesting to talk to them. let's listen to this clip that i had just the other day. >> i thank god that i got there to pick up my nieces, my nephews, my son because i don't know what i would have done if he would have been one of -- i mean, i can't. i'm speechless how did this happen? why did this happen? >> what you see there, that's an
example of parents that got really lucky. they went there. they found their children. they were crouched in the storm position to wait through the storm. that's how they found their children. but you know, you also find people who are still looking. and that's the tough part. >> they have that lost look in their eyes, which is one of the most devastating parts of this. another thing people talk about so much. they talk about 1999. may 3rd, 1999. how does this experience affect what's going on here right now? interesting because that was a big storm. incredible storm. came through here. and what you can tell, people had a plan. people know how to respond to these things. the schools have a plan. the children know what to do when a storm like that comes through. they had about a 16-minute leave time before this storm. typically it's about 13 minutes. they had some time to prepare. but a storm like this, you can only do so much. and here we are, now, with the
parents still looking for their children. >> quickly, george. i know you're from this area. i think people are asking, why doesn't there an underground shelter. is that unusual that there wasn't an underground shelter here? >> some schools have them. i grew up in austin. and i was born in amarillo. i remember being a kid in third or fourth grade. big tornadoes coming through. and you get in that position. you crouch down. you wait when you hear the sirens. we did take shelter in a school in shawnee that did have a shelter. >> one of the things we're talking about this morning, as we see the lightning flashing around us is the weather. what is in store for today? is it another dangerous day ahead of us. the debris around.
the atmosphere. everything has been tossed up, blown into the air. we want to know the forecast today. are there more tornadoes coming? >> this is the toughest part about what we do. we have this threat for severe weather in the forecast. you can see a lot of instability out there. as we zoom in towards moore, that's when start to see the threat for more of this heavy showers that are moving through the area. right just east of the area again, talking about the severe thunderstorm watch. we're going to be talking about the threat for more tornadoes today. this is an outbreak. it's called an outbreak for a reason. look at this wide span once again today. still, a moderate risk possible. from dallas, going in from shreveport and out through arkansas. we have the threat for the potential of violent, long-live tornadoes. even the threat, the slight risk extends all the way through michigan, portions of texas.
and keep in mind, just last week. granbury, texas, you were under a slight risk and had an ef-4. don't pay attention just where the moderate is. we have a wide swath of another day of instability. we're standing amidst the pure devastation here. many people in moore, oklahoma, picking through the pieces than they're still in a state of disbelief with their homes destroyed. searching for loved ones. we'll continue our live coverage from the ground here. i'm so glad you called. thank you.
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sto many people in moore, oklahoma, asking how or why this morning. here's a look at how the day unfolded, from the funnel cloud formation to its wake. >> these are live pictures of a funnel cloud that's just developed. it appears to be on the ground in oklahoma city. this after the national weather service issued a warning for metropolitan oklahoma city. a population of 171,000 people. >> this type of tornado will just level towns. honestly, this is getting scary. right now, this -- oh, my goodness. it's three-quarters of a mile wide. and it's moving into western
sides of moore. it is coming into highly populated areas. >> our worst fears are becoming realized this afternoon. we hope everyone heeded the warnings. but it's a populated area. we just fear that not everyone may have gotten the word. but we certainly hope that's the case. >> just like on the movie "twister," there were horses and stuff flying everywhere. you know, it's indescribable. >> how are you feeling physically? do you feel lucky? >> i feel pretty lucky, yeah. feel pretty lucky. >> this is the most disturbing picture to me, jake. this is a school. and the school took a direct hit. >> i just heard some lady down the street. she was screaming about the elementary school. i went that way. got there. it's pretty much gone. me and three other guys pulled a teacher out. she was on top of three kids. the kids were fine. she was pretty bad.
we wheeled her out to the ambulances. >> we're two blocks away from the elementary school hit hard by the tornado. as far as my eyes can see, the homes are demolished. debris everywhere. chimneys cracked, houses ripped apart. the outsides of the home completely leveled. the neighborhood is not standing anymore. it's completely gone. >> wow. to find out how you can help the victims of the oklahoma storms, visit our impact your world page. that's at cnn.com/impact. death and injury tolls continue to rise. straight ahead, we have the latest on the victims of the deadly tornado. how many have perished and how many are fighting for their lives. that's coming up. i want to make things more secure.
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welcome back to "early start." a grim update to the killer tornado that ripped through that area. the medical examiner now says of the 40 bodies, they're expecting to receive, about half are children. that is in addition to at least 20 children who are among the 51 people that are confirmed dead. the tornado said to be an ef-4. it had winds ranging from 166 miles per hour to 200 miles per hour. 145 people were sent to the hospital with injuries ranging from minor to serious. nick valencia is outside moore
medical center. what can you tell us, nick? >> good morning. we're outside moore medical center, the only hospital that services moore, oklahoma, which makes this all the more tragic for the patients that had to be transferred other places. you can see behind me, the parking lot. it looks like a junk yard. the entire second floor, reduced to rubble. this hospital took a direct hit from that ef-4 tornado. there's reports from a local newspaper that 30 patients inside at the time of the ef-4 tornado. they were taken into the basement, which could explain how they were all able to survive and escape without tornado-related injuries. i want to bring in ken garcia, from the american red cross. he's been talking to us throughout the morning off camera. what kind of help and services can the residents of moore expect? >> right now, we have shelters that are open across the area. three specifically for this
area. one is united methodist. moore community service. and one in the new castle storm shelter. a lot of people staying with friends and family. but the shelters are available. our volunteers are working with first responders and making sure they have meals and drinks. they are starting to cool off a little bit here. want to make sure they're staying warm, as well. >> do you have a figure of how many residents stayed in your shelters overnight? >> at st. andrew's, we had 56 or so that came in. that was a come and go sort of deal. we tend to see low populations. mostly in oklahoma, we find other places to go. a lot of people don't want to go to the shelter. they're available for folks. we want to make sure they know they can get the help. >> we saw that with local residents in the neighborhood we were yesterday. neighbors helping neighbors. one resident dug his neighbor out of the rubble. if there's any part of this story that's uplifting, it's the residents helping each other. i want you to get into moore
medical center. you said there was an event held here in march. quite a different scene then, wasn't it? >> every year in march -- march is red cross month. they host a chili cookoff. volunteers make chili. firefighters come in and make spicy chili. we do it every year. and now, seeing it behind us. it's devastating. when i was driving in, my jaw dropped when i saw this. i wasn't used to that. >> ken, thank you very much for your insight and to give us context about moore medical center. we're unaware of what happens to the patients that were transferred to nearby hospitals. we'll work on getting that information for you. right now, back to you in new york. >> incredible. it looks devastating behind you. we appreciate that and the red cross chiming in for the folks that want to help. still ahead, tornado alley has had its share of twisters. but the one that ripped through moore county has changed the
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imagine that moment. tearful reunion. parents an children are reunited after a deadly tornado flattened an elementary school. and a desperate search at this hour. rescuers continue to dig through debris, looking for any sign of life. everything is gone, devastation and despair, families gather, searching for their loved ones. pets and what is left of their
belongings. welcome back to a special edition of "early start," i'm zoraida sambolin, it's 6:00 a.m. in the east. john berman is live in oklahoma. he's there with pamela brown and george howell this morning. where they are, they're surrounded by a lot of homes and police have asked them to please move from that location, because what they would like to do is hear in case anyone in the area inside of those homes is calling out for help. so they are moving to another location, and they will be with us shortly. they're live on the ground. george howell has been there for a very long time. this is his hometown, so he brings a unique perspective. so the race son to rescue people had may be under a mountain of rubble. the town literally flattened by one of the most powerful tornadoes there is, an ef-4, packing winds of up to 200 miles per hour. two elementary packed with students were destroyed. authorities say seven children died, at the plaza towers elementary school where we are
this morning, that's where they were moving from, there is nothing left of the school. it is just a pile of brick. the other school, briarwood elementary, in all there are 51 confirmed fatalities, including 20 children. but that number, unfortunately could rise dramatically. the medical examiner's office tells us 40 more bodies are on their way to them and half of those are children. at least 145 victims are in the hospital at this hour. president obama has issued an emergency disaster declaration for the area, it is clearing the way for a lot of federal assistance to head in that direction. and we have this story covered from every angle as only cnn can. so let's first show you how this all unfolded. shocking, the community of moore, oklahoma. >> the massive tornado tore across 20 miles of oklahoma city suburbs, in just 40 minutes. from the sky, the mile-wide trail of destruction hard to comprehend, and utterly catastrophic.
the ferocious storm flattening homes and buildings, flinging cars in the air and leaving two schools and a hospital barely recognizable in the hard-hit town of moore. >> i've never seen anything like this in my 18 years covering tornadoes. >> decimating everything in its path. homes crushed to piles of debris. what looks like haystacks were houses once stood. as the injured poured into hospitals, cars tossed look toys from the parking lot of the moore medical center piled up. blocking the main entrance. >> i heard it go over us, i felt our ears popping. this is something that we never experienced. it was really scary. >> nearby, a mother and her 7-month-old found dead where a 7-eleven once stood. they tried to take cover in a freezer. >> grabbing and throwing debris, trying to get anybody out. >> a massive recovery effort at one of two schools for children buried under the rubble continued into the night. the grim reality setting in with
rescuers and their anxious parents. bloody teachers seen here carrying children away from briarwood elementary school destroyed from the monstrous twister trapping close to 100 students, tears of relief for one mother as she reunites with her first grade son and a hug to his teacher. >> he was so brave. >> for miles, entire neighborhoods destroyed. many describing the horror they faced. >> we grabbed our motorcycle helmets and hid in the closet and prayed like hell and luckily the only room that was spared was the room we were in. >> debris churned through the powerful black funnel as this storm roared. you can hear the piercing winds reaching up to 200 miles per hour. at a family farm, as many as 100 horses were killed. and most of the barns demolished. >> two of these stalls like this, they came together and i was in between them. and they just, it just pushed us
down the shed row. >> president obama declared oklahoma a disaster area late monday and called the state's governor. >> i know there are families wondering where their loved ones are. and right now we're doing everything we can. >> two elementary schools were directly in the path of that deadly tornado. one is the plaza towers elementary school where john berman was standing a little while ago. at least seven children were killed there. the other, briarwood elementary school. crews have been busy all night, searching the rubble at these schools for more victims. so far, 40 children confirmed dead and that number likely to go up. pam brown has details for us. >> illuminated by flood lights rescue teams searched throughout the night, sifting through mountains of debris where power towers elementary school once stood. in some places, the debris was ten feet high. underneath, every parent's worst nightmare, the bodies of school
children who tried to seek shelter from a ferocious tornado. many more still missing. the race to rescue dozens of students and teachers began right after the massive two-mile-wide tornado rip throughout two elementary schools directly in its path at hardest-hit plaza towers elementary, a third grade class huddled in a hallway of their school. >> i had to hold onto the wall to keep myself safe because i didn't want to fly away in the tornado. >> we had to pull a car out of the front hallway off a teacher and she, i don't know what that lady's name is, but she had three little kids underneath her, good job, teach. >> worried parents sent to a staging area at a nearby church and searched for answers. at first, several children were pulled from the leveled school alive, but with each passing hour, the operation tragically went from a rescue to recovery mission. the heart-wrenching reality of the storm's fury hard to comprehend, even for those
covering it. >> i've never seen anything like this in my 18 years covering tornadoes here in oklahoma city. this is without question, the most horrific i've never seen. >> lance, listen we need to get this information. >> this new video shows raw emotional moments from parents reunited with their kids from briarwood elementary. searchers were able to reunite many kids with their families. cnn's nick valenzia was there. >> was it scary? >> it was like a big tornado hit the whole place. >> you are a tough one for sticking it out. >> yup. >> what was once a place for learning, became an unrecognizable place of horror. a student from plaza towers elementary telling cnn's george howell how he survived. >> it was scary and a lot of my friends were still there when i left. >> what did your teachers tell you to do? you showed me a moment ago.
>> you duck and covered your head with your hands. >> just incredible moments there. >> it is seven minutes past the hour. a couple of things i want to tell you. the police department in the city of moore is going to have a press conference. that is scheduled for 8 :00 a.m. eastern. at that time, they will give us an update what all the information that they know. they'll also explain they have asked the crews to move from the area. because where the crews were are a lot of homes and they want to be able to hear in case there are survivors in the rubble. so they can rescue them. so let's take a look at how exactly this massive storm actually formed. meteorologist andrea peterson has more on that from the cnn weather center in atlanta. >> one of the things i wanted to show you is how massive this really is. look at this huge supercell where we saw the tornado son the hook of this big supercell. i want to show you a different look, a 3-d view. i want to show you how high the debris field was. we're talking about two and a half miles wide.
but look at the height. we're talking about debris flying as high as 20,000 feet, if not above. so a very scary situation out there. definitely indeed. i want to show you the path quickly. that's one of the things we've been focusing on. we'll be looking at the lead time. this thing formed in an unpopulated area. it strengthened over newcastle and when it went over moore, it had 160 to 200-mile-per-hour winds. >> andrea, if we can talk about what's happening there and what is the latest on the storm's path and who is in danger at this stage of the game. >> yeah, this is the most scary part of today. we've seen so many storms already, so many more focused on the recovery stage. but today could be as bad as yesterday. we've now seen another moderate risk for today. we did not see this yesterday. we have a moderate risk extending from dallas through shreveport, portions of
arkansas, but the swath of even a slight risk out there through wisconsin, michigan, through texas. all of you under the gun. please pay attention, don't think this is something that happened yesterday, today could be a similar day. >> so the "moderate" word could change, almost in the blink of an eye. to find out how you can help the victims of the being okay storms, visit our impact your world page. that's at cnn.com/impact. strangers helping strangers, neighbors helping neighbors. a desperate search for survivors is under way at this hour. we have continued coverage of the deadly oklahoma tornado aftermath. stay with us. there's just carnage, you know, it's, but it had to be done. people needed to be helped. so i started rounding everybody up. people were rounding up and down the streets. i got them hollering out. if you can hear me, call out. we started getting people out. mine was earned in djibouti, africa. 2004.
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monday afternoon in moore, oklahoma, leaving dozens killed and a path of devastation in its wake. here are the latest developments for you. the official death toll now stands at 51. 20 children are among the dead. but those numbers are expected to rise sharply. we are told about 40 more bodies have been taken to the medical examiner's office, that happened overnight. and 20 of those are said to be children. president obama has signed a disaster declaration for oklahoma. that means federal emergency aid is on its way. and texas is sending its elite search and rescue team task force one to assist first responders there as well. overnight rescuers have been combing through the wreckage of the tower plaza elementary school. which was flattened by the tornado. at least seven students were killed there alone. in a local hospital in moore, oklahoma also took a direct hit from the monster tornado. cnn's nick valencia at the moore medical center for that part of the story this morning. good morning to you, nick.
>> good morning, zoraida. this hospital did take a direct hit. that ef-4 tornado shredding through this part of the community. you can see behind me the parking lot, looks like a junkyard. the second floor of this community hospital reduced to rubble. there were at least 30 patients inside at the time of the tornado, local reports say that those patients and hospital staff went down into a basement. that could be explanation as to why no one suffered tornado-related injuries. as a result of the storm that moved through here. we know that those patients, 12y taken to nearby area hospitals. we don't know their conditions right now or what happens next for them. but we do know that this hospital and the community hospital around it is trying to help reunite patients with their family members. there's a report this morning of a 9-year-old girl with two missing parents. and the hospital staff trying to reunite that little girl with her family. zoraida. >> gosh, we certainly hope that
they're successful. thank you so much. nick have a learnsia. and we have a complete crew on the ground, john berman, pam la brown and george howell. they had to be moved because police have asked that all the media crews move out of the way. apparently there are a lot of houses in that area and they want to be able to hear in case there are people trapped under the rubble so they can get in and rescue them. so we are relocating them and they will be with us shortly with a live report from there. 145 people were sent to the hospital with injuries. ranging from minor to serious. about one-third of them are children. senior medical correspondent elizabeth cohen at the cnn center in atlanta with more on the effort to help all of the injured. and elizabeth, what type of injuries can we expect to see there? >> you know, zoraida, if you look historically at the kind of damage that other tornadoes have done. about half of the injuries are going to be from flying debris. especially wood. because so many homes are made
out of wood. that they're used to dealing with that kind of issue. and then the rest would be or much of the rest would be people who were actually hit by the tornado. where the tornado actually lifted them up. dropped them down. and that's a different kind of trauma. but also obviously a severe injury. so these injuries can range from relatively minor, hit by some wood that needs to be taken out of your skin or whatever. to obviously really, really major, i mean we're talking about major trauma here. zoraida. >> elizabeth, i want to talk a little about the folks trapped under the rubble. i know that this is all you know changing by the minute here. we're looking at all of the responders there on the ground, going through all of the rubble. and you know, we were saying earlier that maybe this has turned into a recovery mission. an i want to give people some home of the potentiality of finding their children and loved ones alive under the rubble. what kind of injuries do you think are involved there? >> whether it's a hurricane or an earthquake or the devastation
that we've seen in the factories and other parts of the world, you never know what's going to happen. you always want to have hope that maybe there's someone in there who can be saved. it might not happen, but you always want to have that hope. in this case what you're talking about is it could possibly be crush injuries. if a part of someone's body is crushed that can set off a devastating chain of events inside the body. and what you're hoping is that you can get to that person in time. but certainly people have been known to survive for days and days. sometimes even weeks and weeks. i was in haiti for example where an infant was found many days after the earthquake. and she was okay. she obviously was dehydrated, she obviously needed food, but she was okay. so i know, i'm hearing that they're not finding many people right now. but of course you always hold out that hope. >> and maybe with daylight, that could help their effort as well. elizabeth cohen, thank you so
much for joining us this morning. we really appreciate that. some of the most traumatic images this morning come from you, the viewer. we have those stunning images coming up. and chris cuomo is live on the ground and will join us after this break. me and four other guys pulled a teacher out. she was on top of three kids, the kids were fine. she was hurt pretty bad, 'we put her on top of a car and took her out to a car. people were running around screaming, there were cars on their sides, schools just gone. have a good night. here you go. you, too.
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a situation that's far from over. all morning we've been watching them getting ready, getting water, letting people know they have power this situation is still very fluid here throughout the morning you'll see huge waves of energy in the air, lightning, we're told the storms that are still in the area are not severe. that's very big. because the fear is very palpable on the ground right now. i just got off the phone with one of the emergency workers heading up search and rescue. he just kept saying low, low, our death estimates are injured. what we can tell you is everything is very low because it's been very difficult to access areas. what we understand about the perimeter they're dealing with is several blocks wide. 20 miles long. is the kind of band of destruction that this tornado dealt with. unusual for them in that unlike what you'll be hearing about, 2003, may of 2003, they got hit very badly here, a lot of loss of life and property. they rebuilt. however, this seems to come down
to one huge tornado as opposed to a population of several. and it did unfortunately hit the briarwood and plaza towers schools. plaza towers, much more severe. that's where they're doing the digging. that's where they're trying to get through rubble. our crews are been moved, other media has been moved because supposedly wanting to keep it as quiet as possible. to hear people. that's the type of situation they are. an emergent situation. they don't know where people are. the number of injured in hospitals around 200 right now. minor injuries, they believe a lot of injured are still out there. so what they're doing is two-fold. one they're getting as many available search and rescue assets as possible into these communities. one of the benefits of the search is it's not a very broad area. but it is very long, 20 miles. the homes that we have seen, it is, it's as if once where there were houses, there are now bales of hay. everything is destroyed. they are splintered, they are tinder boxes.
which means literally they could light on fire, there are a lot of noorl gas leaks going on right now. officials are worried where they can turn off gas, where they can't. power is very spotty. water is spotty in different places in moore, oklahoma. in terms of priorities, here's what we've been told, search and rescue, find those who are alive. these are very difficult houses and structures to search. mostly wooden, stick houses, when they fall on top of themselves, they're very dense, difficult to get through. it's difficult to get earth-moving equipment. you'll see pictures throughout the morning of literally, by hand. these are regular cars, suvs, they're having a tough time getting the big earth-moving equipment. the bull-dozers, the back-hoes in to dig through rubble. so a lot of it is being done by human hands. the response has been extraordinary in terms of surrounding areas bringing people here. however, that's the first thing they're doing. looking through rubble. a lot of communities are organizing to do it themselves. the priority of children of course at the plaza towers
school, huge rush of manpower there to find a way in. they did find bodies there. we're staying away from that, i'm staying away from any death toll numbers or injured, because the accuracy of them is secondary right now. it's bad here, it's going to get worse. the numbers themselves are secondary importance to finding people alive. that's where the energy is a lot of families are being rue united. that's what first baptist is about. throughout the morning you're going to see a lot of activity here because the need sin credibly great. what we want to let you know at this time is throughout the morning we'll be telling people how to help. nothing destroys like a tornado. hurricanes, fires, they're all terrible. but there's something unique about a tornadic effect of its ability to tear through communities and that's what happened here. so we know they're staging search and rescue. we know they don't understand a lot about the ultimate death toll and certainly those injured. property damage is probably
going to be one of the most clean-ups in history. that's not going to be surprising. the weather here should hold for the day. it's scary to see a lot of energy in the air, a lot of lightning. but we're told there should be no more tornadic effect. we'll be monitoring here. it's tough to get information. i'm going to go back to the studio so we can get more information about where there's damage. where people can go to get help. places like first baptist. if you're in oklahoma, here on moore, it's on northwest 27th, off of i-35. they have power and water. i'll go back to you in new york i believe so we can get some more reporting on what's going on here on the ground. a very emergent situation, a lot of people still in need and distress and it will be like that for most of the day until they can get a handle on this. >> chris, i cannot tell you how much we appreciate you being on the ground because as i said, the crews have been moved because police want to hear if in fact somebody is trapped under the rubble. we'll check back in with you. still ahead on "early
start," storm-chasers got a firsthand look at the massive twister that rip throughout oklahoma yesterday. what was it like? they'll tell you, coming up. changing the world is exhausting business. with the innovating and the transforming and the revolutionizing. it's enough to make you forget that you're flying five hundred miles an hour on a chair that just became a bed. you see, we're doing some changing of our own. ah, we can talk about it later. we're putting the wonder back into air travel, one innovation at a time. the new american is arriving.
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after i hit my head, i was landing on top of the dog and i could hear her just will perfecting and i cannot believe we actually survived this thing. >> while you're hearing this young woman talk there. she's lucky to have found her dog. many families have lost so much more. looking at the oklahoma here, a great veteran yabl newspaper, a great headline sometimes does say it all. "worse than may 3rd." one family lucky to be reunite here on the cover. many not. this is what they call an emergent situation when it comes to weather catastrophes of this kind. that's simply means, they just don't know, you're going to hear things throughout the day. you never want to go too far down the road of speculation in situations that are developing. but be especially careful with what you allow yourself to absorb today. this is the worst of all the different things that a tornado can bring to a community and nothing destroys like a tornado. hurricanes are terrible. fires terrible. but there's something about the violence of a tornado.
so here's what we know about the situation. unlike what happened here in may of 2003, which was devastating, that was a multitornadic effect. there were different spots down. there were different tornadoes that they had to deal with. this seems to be the work so far here in moore of one massive tornado. we'll leave the numbers to the experts, what we know is that it was about several blocks wide and 20 miles long of damage. things in that path, just destroyed. where there were houses, there are now piles of ha seems to be straw. hay. these are stick homes. he they fall on top of each other. they are especially heavy. an emergent situation meaning what? if it's heavy. it's tough to move. they can't get a lot of earth-moving equipment into these areas. they're trying very hard. there's a massive response on the ground. surrounding areas, surrounding states. it's a federal emergency. the a sets will be provided, but it will be hard to get them there. low, low, low, is what we're told by search and rescue officials, meaning they don't
know the number of dead. they don't know the number of injured. frankly, that's not important right now. the actual numbers, what is important is the urgency of getting to these areas. we know about the two schools, briarwood, which was damaged, but they believe that the situation was highly sustainable there. that they don't believe that it was catastrophic there. plaza towers, was a much worse situation. we've seen pictures last night. we'll show them to you today. they're doing a lot of search by hand. it reminds me of the earthquake in china. several years ago. where they couldn't get earth-moving equipment. but the asset they had there was million of people available to come and search by hand. that's what they're doing right now. as we develop a pirktd of this situation, this is what they call emergent. george howell is with me, he's been here thought the night. george you've been living the experience with people. obviously the fear is the unknown, they can't get help yet, low numbers at the hospitals, what were you hearing and seeing about how we're coping with what's going on on
the ground? >> the one thing that i want to stress, and as you mentioned, very important that we, you know, we say exactly what we're hearing with this, it's still a search and rescue, until we hear otherwise from investigators, it's still a search and rescue there are parents who are waking up to watch the broadcast. to watch the local affiliates, it's a search and rescue. they want to know that those officials, are still looking through the rubble, debris, looking for children, looking for people who could still be there. >> absolutely the right thing to do. as we learned in other experiences, as they've learned here on the ground and in tornado alley in general, people can sustain under that debris. it's heavy, it's tough to get through. you have to be careful. but search and rescue, certainly tons of possibility for life sustaining, correct? >> that's the thing. so through the night, we have been here really since like, i would say like 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. right there across from the school. and parents only had a certain amount of daylight you know to go in and look for relatives,
look for their children. that happened until the police said look we need to start a curfew, you need to move out of this area. they started that curfew. >> important to point out as we're seeing in the picture, george, this started at just before :00 p.m. the asset there was daylight, that people would have time to look. 3:00 p.m. however the middle of the school day, school about to get out, a lot of kids in flux. that created a difficult situation, a lot of kids were pulled back into schools, parents went out looking for them, exposed themselves to the tornado. >> when we get daylight many of the parents will return to that neighborhood looking for their kids. there are neighbors that are looking for neighbors. relatives looking for relatives, that will continue today. but what i can tell you is about yesterday. we saw plenty of things, we saw a woman looking for her niece, we saw, and here's the thing. i want to play the sound byte. i spoke to three parents who went to that school, and found their children. found their children crouched
down you know in this position that you take, you take this you know, safety position in these schools when a storm comes through. that's how they found their kids. listen to this. >> i thank god that i got there in time to pick up my nieces, my nephews, my son. because i don't know what i would have done if he would have been one of -- i mean i can't -- i'm speechless how did this happen. why did this happen. >> we're out of the sound bite now. they were able to find their kids, right? amazing. >> beautiful, fortunate ending. however, there are also, they're finding a lot of casualties of parents trying to get there, and responding to that, instead of the danger of tornado itself. so we're going to hear a lot of mixed stories, about where people found their fate in trying to rescue their kids, is that true? >> there's a search for children, there's a search for
relatives. there's another person who came up to me. she was frantic, she was looking for her mother, her daughter looking toor her grandmother. they found them. listen to this sound bite. >> we drove all the way here and we got a text, said grandma is fine, she is at my house, mom, everything is gone. there's nothing left anywhere. all the pictures, all grandma's stuff, all my pictures, my letter jacket, my college degree from o.u., there's nothing left. >> and george, they're telling there about the loss of personal items and goods. it's so horrible. people have to start over. but when you value things that can be lost, it's hard to have perspective what you've lost everything you own. but there's so much more, the kids that they're searching for, trying to find each other it gives people such sharp perspective on what is important in life. as george was saying, very early in the process of knowing who can be found and who cannot. that's what you're hearing? >> absolutely. we've been here through the
night. one thing that i've noticed is that these search and rescue teams, they were going through the neighborhood with flashlights, going to homes, pulling over wood, pulling over debris, looking for people. all night. all night long. so you know, there's always that hope, we know that when we get daylight, that will continue. we know that people will come back into the neighborhood to see if they can find anyone, just account for as many people as possible. >> we hear about these storms, it happens, may is the month. it had been a relatively light month until this happened. but be very clear, this is not hype, this is a very, very bad situation that we're dealing with here. this community has been rocked. by this. the devastation is complete where this tornado went through. the families there have lost everything. as we give you information about how you can help, please take it very seriously. this is about the weather, this is how a tornado comes, it comes from the spanish word to turn, and that's the twisting that
makes is so devastating. we'll bring a couple of storm chasers we have who understand this much better. you will see flashes of lightning. stan, we're not in any particular threat. not like what they saw yesterday. there are storms in the area. there's a lot of energy in the air. but the good news is, there is no real threat of more tornadoes, nobody knows that better than the chasers, it's great to have you guys here, give me your names so everybody knows them. >> lauren hill and colt forney. >> what do we know about the situation yesterday. >> just complete devastation. it was incredible. i still don't know what to think about it. they early in the day looked like it would be a pretty decent day for tornadoes, the parameters were there, plenty of shear. just never expected something this violent. >> you've seen a lot of this stuff, right? you come around, you see natural disaster. you see tornadoes, how did this one stand out for you? >> this one from the very beginning, you could just tell where the hook was on radar, as
soon as the tornado dropped down southwest of town, you could it will and look where it was going and you just knew it was going to be the worst possible spot to hit. >> because why? why was it so bad? so much built up there? >> the energy was huge. you had a lot of inflow coming into the storm, the updraft was really cranking and right through moore, right across highway i-35. when we crossed 35, there were people already stopped on the interstate ahead of us to the north. and it just -- it was horrifying. >> we have a clip of what was there. let's play what the storm chasers were facing yesterday, take a look and a listen at this. >> houses are completely leveled. >> leveled. it's unrecognizable. >> houses are leveled. >> this doesn't look like it was ever a development. >> no, it doesn't. >> oh, oh no. >> this, oh, my god, guys. >> now we've been hearing the word, it looks like the tsunami. toor those of us who had to cover that. what is it that happens as this
passes over a home, cars, what is its ability to do to things? >> it's like a bomb went off. the field we came up to we realized later was a subdivision, used to be. and there were people crawling out of the mud. when we first came upon it we were one of the first on the scene. from the west, there was a day care center and at first they thought three children were missing, but thankfully they were reported found. they were crawling out of boards, the day care did not exist any more. and there was a horse from a nearby pasture? the day care, still alive, bleeding. trying to get people out there have as quickly as possible. shortly of a we noticed, this huge rushing sound, you could smell the natural gas, so just to our north, everyone was trying to get as many people as possible with any vehicles there, to get them south. >> one of the things we're dealing with here is how difficult it is to get search and rescue in, to get big equipment in. what did you see that substantiates that kind of
claim. it's going to take a while to clear these areas? >> the power line, power poles debris strewn all across the road. some of them were completely unpassable. you would have to bring in heavy equipment to plow the road to get through. nails, flat tires. the lot of it wasn't passable. >> a lot of this stuff sounds routine. but a tornado, there's something unique about it. not just in the bizarre nature of how it looks, and touches down and the fascination. we're going to play for you some sound now. just so you can understand the violence of the energy at play with one of these things touches down of this magnitude. let's play it, can we? >> it's going, i know we're not. it's going to go just to our north. >> listen to it. you can hear it. listen. >> look at that collar cloud. >> listen to the roar.
>> oh, my god. >> this is not good. please, dear god, please keep these people safe. lots of debris in the air. >> is that a vortice on the side? >> big, there's a whole roof that just came off. >> no, not yet. >> the debris that looks small you have to remember it's to scale. there are walls in those things, there are car doors that are circling around on the outer wall of these tornadoes. that sound is testament to the violence of the energy that's being brought there right. i mean this is your realm much more than it is mine. what does the sound represent? >> it's a constant thunder, in fact, probably the scariest thing beside the rush, you could feel the vibration from the tornado as it was approaching. even once we had gotten further west of it you could feel as it was moving away. it coming at you kind of like shock waves. we still have -- especially in
the town you're seeing when you're trying to position, it was weird getting away from traffic. you know the people that went north of you just a bit ago, it's devastating. >> because a car is not a safe shelter. with this type of energy coming at you? >> no, and unfortunately on the interstate you'll have people like abandoning their vehicles into a ditch. especially on an underpass, that can be completely fatal. they can flip on you. >> one of the things that we're dealing here with the remnants of the storm that we're going to have to deal with in a real way, not a theoretical way, there's a lot of energy now, a lot of lightning touching down. it's a problem for search and rescue and the natural gas and lightning, we're going to have to take a break, take the shot down and figure out the safest route to get a shot back up, and then we will. we're going to take a break, you guys are free to stay. we'll get the shot back up. but we've got to take a break for the safety of the lives of
the people on the ground. we'll get the shot back up when we can. okay? >> thank you very much, chris. i want to mention that at 8:00 a.m. eastern, we're expecting a news conference from the police department there. i know chris doesn't want to talk about numbers, but we are going to have some of the latest numbers here. there were some bodies that were led the to the morgue. so the mr. is will update that. and also the search and rescue efforts as well. it's pure devastation, many people in moore, oklahoma, still in a state of disbelief. their homes destroyed and some desperately searching for their loved ones. we'll continue our coverage right after this. trees, the electric, we thought we were going to be trapped there all night. because it was sparking around us. and my sister-in-law is pregnant and i've got all my kids. and you know, it was a lot of people to be trapped there. [ male announcer ] who loves social networking as much as you?
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welcome back to moore, oklahoma. i'm chris cuomo, we're here on the ground in a very developing situation, here's what we know. obviously massive potentially historic tornado ripped through this area. usually it's multiple tornados that they deal with. here in tornado alley. this was believed to be the work of largely one massive tornado. they'll measure the damage to figure out the strength effect of this tornado. but we know is that a section of
this community, several blocks wide and some 20 miles long, was completely disintegrated by this tornado. houses, where there were once these homes, now there are just bundles of what appear to be straw, tinder boxes, natural gas leaks, potential for fire. you do often have to measure these things in terms of human loss, the property loss is obviously, i must tell you these numbers are early, they are low, this is an emergent situation, search and rescue is still active here, they're not able to get a lot of information from the ground. for inches, a 145 people is their estimate of who has been treated at area hospitals. there are walking wounded all over this area. so that number is low, it's also but what you take into consideration as an injury. there a lot of people who won't leave their homes, who are bleeding, broken limbs, dealing with this situation close to home. why? because they're looking for loved ones. trying to find out if they still
have anything intact that they can salvage from their home. 51 are confirmed dead at this time. 20 of those are children. you're looking at a picture of what was on the cover of the "oklahomian" this morning. we can deal with homes, businesses, you cannot replace life. that's something that's brought sharply into focus when you can't find their kid there are so many families desperate to find their children. this tornado struck just before 3:00 p.m. and we all know that's when school gets out for so many kids. parents went rushing out. it was dangerous to do so. some of them paid a price for that move but many wound up finding their kids, two schools in particular, briarwood and plaza tower, plaza tower was devastated by the tornado. you've seen pictures, search and rescue has to be by hand. why? it's difficult to get earth-moving equipment and roads are blocked. they are strewn with debris, power lines are down, gas leaks are abundant. now they're dealing with that
here on governmental side, they have experience with this often tragic experience, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with the obstacles of practicality. so they're wrestling with that here. so again, 51 confirmed dead. 20 children, it's a low number. it's an estimate just to gauge what's going on here. hopefully it stays at that. the goal here of course, is search and rescue. we're told by government officials, very much still about search and rescue. not recovery. which is where you don't expect to find people alive any more. the best-case scenario is what we're about to show you now. families who went out into the unknown of not understanding where the rest of their loved ones were. but they found up finding them. take a look at some of the reunions we were able to capture.
he was so brave. he was so brave. >> so we're hoping that this is a scene a lot of other families get to have today. it's still very early in the situation. when you look at a situation like that we have john berman here. it seems chaotic, but that's the best you can do in a situation where the school is blown to shreds and there are no services on the ground. cell signals went down quickly. >> i've been driving around for the last several hours, hundreds of law enforcement officials out working the streets, they have road blocks up in place so rescue crews can get where they need to it. and also because there are telephone poles down everywhere. debris strewn across the road and if you try to drive aover
it, you'll pop your tires. as you drive through some neighborhoods that have been affected lying this one you're looking at right now, from yesterday, overnight you could still see flashlights glaring, looking in every nook and cranny. >> that's why you're here, right? they get you to move so they didn't have to hear the truck and generator so they could use their ears toed find people. >> one of the things they asked us, they asked us to move from our location. we were much closer to the plaza tower school, we were in the debris field and they asked us to move because our truck was making a lot of noise and they wanted to be able to hear the sounds coming from inside these buildings. if in fact there are any sounds. >> search and rescue very active. we're going to go to break now. we will start getting information from officials, there's a press conference at 8:00 a.m. local. the president will have his own press conference, we'll bring it to you and for now, we'll take a break here from moore, oklahoma. hmm, it says here that cheerios helps lower cholesterol
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welcome back to moore, oklahoma, i'm chris cuomo here. the situation far from over on the ground. search and rescue is desperate here. government authorities are calling in help from the federal government, from surrounding communities to help find those who may still be alive. what happened here, obvious, a massive tornado ripped through an area several blocks wide. 20 miles long. you're taking a look at what hit moore, oklahoma yesterday. the power was undisputable. where there were homes, there are now what appear to be piles of straw. the loss was complete. and across all categories. homes obvious, business of course. human loss of life, as well. the numbers are very low. just got off the phone with an official, he says although, although, although, chris, we don't know, we don't know about the dead, he don't know about the injur