tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 31, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
on our broadcast tonight from new orleans, hard hit. isaac has moved out but it's brought a wave of misery to millions of people here along the gulf coast. tonight the death toll is rising. entire neighborhoods are still under water. for the most part new orleans passed the most important post katrina test. we will talk to the mayor about what went right and what went wrong. and about last night, in tampa mitt romney's big moment. a more personal side of the candidate than audiences have seen before but did clint eastwood's opening act steal the show? eastwood's opening act steal the show? "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. what a couple days it's been, from the gop convention to the hurricane here along the gulf
coast, and so after wrapping up our convention coverage we wanted to come here to new orleans to check on what the storm did and did not do to the city and region starting with this number. about 500,000 people here in louisiana are going to be heading into another night tonight without power. the storm hit hard. it moved slow and came to stay. it's still a big weather system and there's still a lot of suffering and standing water from here through mississippi and alabama. our team is here and in place. we want to start tonight 30 miles to the west of where we are here in laplace, louisiana, very hard hit. nbc's gabe gutierrez there is tonight. gabe, good evening. >> reporter: brian, good evening. the situation here is improving but not fast enough for many. behind me is i-10 the major highway between new orleans and baton rouge. parts of it are still shut down tonight. one of many headaches along the gulf coast.
almost 72 hours after hurricane isaac first slammed into the gulf coast, much of the area is still under water. glenys is still overwhelmed. >> i can't take it. i haven't been in this situation. i hope it never happens again. i pray it never happens again. >> reporter: with the water slowly receding bob hassell is now starting the agonizing process of ripping out walls and adding up the damage. >> everybody back here has pretty well got the same problems. going to have a lot of heartache to get through this. >> reporter: after isaac dumped up to 20 inches of rain in some places yesterday alone forcing dramatic rescues including this one where the coast guard air lifted a couple and their cat to safety, damage and debris now stretch from louisiana to mississippi to arkansas. there have been at least five storm-related deaths. more than 5,000 people are staying in shelters and 500,000 residents are still without power. extra line crews have been
called in from out of state to help working 16-hour shifts. mississippi today, some relief. lower lake levels eased water pressure on a rain weakened dam. thousands near the louisiana border have been evacuated in case the dam collapsed. now some are headed home. >> i was just praying that they could get a hold on it and stop it from breaking. >> reporter: meanwhile, back near new orleans the cleanup began in slidell. >> this was the water mark from katrina. >> reporter: a bad case of dejavu for frank jackson. he just reopened his soda shop a month ago after taking in five feet of water during katrina. >> i know to a lot of people this is devastating. people that's been through it a few times. we just, you know, you clean up and you move on. >> reporter: many of the people we've met are struggling to stay positive but the stubborn water is testing their patience.
>> gabe gutierrez to our west, laplace, louisiana tonight. gabe, thanks. now back here to new orleans we're alongside the shore of lake ponchartrain here but that's not it behind us. there isn't supposed to be water standing here behind us. across the lake as gabe said in towns like slidell, mandeville, they're cleaning up a mess. a lot of mud, a lot of standing water. new orleans is used to storms and yet haunted by this week's anniversary. the place is still a bit off balance after isaac. the french quarter is opened and bustling but then again it most always is. elsewhere in new orleans it really feels like the aftermath of a hurricane. a huge portion of this area is still without power including a lot of traffic lights, responsible for 38 traffic accidents as of this morning. >> 50,000 people have been evacuated from the parish.
>> mayor landrieu has been going nonstop and knows this was a big test of all the new construction and they got more hurricane than anyone counted on. >> isaac proved once again whether it is a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 these storms are unpredictable and deadly and in some instances a category 1 storm for some people can be actually worse than what they went through during katrina. >> we met at the 17th street canal famous for what happened here seven years ago this week, visible from where we stood. >> this is actually pretty simple. >> yes. >> seven years ago today there was a hole where we see that patch in that levee, thus everything we see here in the foreground, right? >> that's exactly right. when katrina came in, that storm blew in and it blew out. it wasn't until the afternoon of monday when somebody came in and said, governor, i have bad news. a levee breached. they were talking about the breach here and the breach in the lower ninth ward. that breach, that breach right
there, that's about 500 yards long. >> yep. >> is the breach that flooded the city. >> everywhere you go in this city the strange feeling of this anniversary is inescapable. for example, this is part of what we aired on "nightly news" seven years ago tonight. where is the aid? it's the question people keep asking us on camera. >> brian, it is an absolutely fair question. i got to tell you from the bottom of my heart how sad i feel for those people. the federal government just learned about those people today. and i've got to tell you we are moving heaven and earth to get food and water to those people. >> reporter: in the time since those awful days the storm that claimed 1800 lives, new orleans has spent these seven years and the government has spent over $10 billion strengthening the ring around the city to control the water. what it leaves out is places like plaquemines parish, which runs south of the city clear
down to the gulf. they have to build up their own defenses which often seems like a personal crusade of the parish president. >> i've never seen anything like this. i've been through katrina and gustav. my home for instance has more damage than it did from katrina and the debris is piled 10, 15 feet high against the levees in some places. >> reporter: there is the feeling here that time and tides are working against the land and the clock is ticking on efforts to fortify this stretch of the gulf. for those folks in plaquemines parish this time of year their eye is always on the next one but for us about this last one weather channel meteorologist jim cantore is still here even though this weather system has moved elsewhere. first of all i just read tonight at the height of it reversed the flow of the mississippi river back up to the north. >> that's why it is so important to pay attention to where the storm comes in, who is to the right of that center, and
obviously tells us how much power there is with that wind bringing the water up river. let's talk about the storm again currently sitting in southwestern missouri, very heavy rain and severe weather threat. we still have the rain bands extending all the way down into louisiana and mississippi. as a matter of fact, brian, we may have a few showers right where we're standing. this is a look at the rainfall of the last 72 hours. i mean isolated amounts of 20 inches in spots. seven rivers in major flood stage. that area of pink and white is larger than new england and represents an area of 8 inches plus. that is a huge area of rainfall which we could still add to. who gets it as we go forward in time with the storm is missouri, northern missouri, illinois, indiana. all the rain they get. they will not be complaining about it. >> jim cantore with us here in new orleans, thanks for your coverage all these many days of the big storm. mitt romney came here today to view the damage which brings us to where we were last night the big climax of the republican convention in tampa. a night that had its moments
both surreal and emotional. peter alexander who covers the romney campaign is here with us tonight. welcome. >> reporter: good evening to you. as you know at one point this storm isaac threatened to cancel the republican convention. ultimately it shortened it by a day. mitt romney today just accepting the republican nomination wanted to project the image of a national leader so came here to meet with victims and tour some of the damage. mitt romney arrived in flood ravaged new orleans today to survey neighborhoods mired in misery after isaac the water come from the sky, the rivers or the ocean with the tidal surge or all of the above? invited by the republican governor bobby jindal romney thanked first responders and tried to focus attention on the storm's victims. >> it has really destroyed us down here. >> reporter: hours earlier in florida -- >> this was a big week for us and you made it a very special week for us. >> reporter: romney and his running mate were squarely focused on ousting their opponent. >> time to give someone new a chance.
hold us accountable. listen to what we have to say and say do i want that or not? >> reporter: last night struggling with the remnants of a cold and at one point talking over a few protesters who were escorted out, romney tried to present himself as a caring and competent leader. >> president obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. my promise is to help you and your family. >> reporter: romney became the first republican in 60 years to accept his party's nomination without mentioning war despite the ongoing conflict in afghanistan. meanwhile, speaking before troops in texas, the president struck a political theme. >> if you hear anyone trying to say that america is in decline or that our influence has waned don't you believe it. >> reporter: also tonight to give you a sense of the urgency the romney campaign is bouncing between states right now, today in its rush to get back to the airport taking off for the battleground state of ohio, two of the vans in the romney caravan actually hit one another. the good news for tonight is
nobody was hurt. >> still got what, 67 days of this campaign to go. peter alexander, good to have you with us tonight. still ahead as we continue from new orleans the other moment from last night in tampa when clint eastwood took to the stage and people started wondering just what it was they were going to see. tonight what team romney made of it. and later, where were you when you heard the news 15 years ago tonight?
we're back. a lot of talk out of tampa last night after mitt romney's big night had to do with his warmup act the appearance of clint eastwood. from the opening moments it was clear we were about to witness something unusual for a political convention and we did. our report tonight from nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: the good, the bad, and the ugly. how did a cameo appearance by an iconic movie star blow up on twitter and threaten to upstage
the candidate? there was wild applause when clint eastwood came onstage. >> save a little for mitt. >> reporter: he was a much hyped mystery guest. the opening act of the convention's most important hour. primetime on the broadcast networks. tightly produced by the campaign down to the second. eastwood was slated for three minutes, a quick endorsement. >> i've got mr. obama sitting here. and he is -- i just was going to ask him a couple questions. >> reporter: but the aging gun slinger went rogue, doing improv with an empty chair berating an imaginary president obama. >> what do you mean shut up? i'm not going to shut up. it's my turn. >> reporter: six minutes in the romney camp was squirming. paul ryan looked uncomfortable and that was before eastwood got crude. >> what do you want me to tell romney? i can't tell him to do that. he can't do that to himself. >> reporter: by the time eastwood finished 11 minutes later twitter exploded.
a new account invisible obama attracted 36,000 followers by the end of the night. even the president chimed in tweeting this seat's taken. this morning ann romney made the rounds of morning tv telling charlie rose she was surprised. >> i didn't know it was coming. >> reporter: a top romney aide said he first knew eastwood would use a chair when waiting back stage he saw it on the screen. he laughed off the controversy saying it's just like the movies. some people always want a different ending. >> go ahead. >> make my day! >> reporter: andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. >> thank you very much. >> let's bring in the moderator of "meet the press" david gregory who has made his way from tampa back home to washington tonight. clint eastwood aside where does last night leave us now? >> it's critical talking to the romney campaign. they know how important the gender gap is and the appeal to women in the governor's speech, mitt romney's speech was such a central focus they felt that he
revealed more of himself, did himself some good in terms of making that personal connection. i spoke to a high level republican lobbyist coming back from tampa and he said four years ago there was a sense that mccain just couldn't win. this time there is a sense that the party's warming up to romney and that he is staying close enough to be in the game and actually win this thing. on the democratic side speaking to team obama advisers today the president's team thinking there is an area of vulnerability. expect the president to be much more specific, to offer some tangible ways forward particularly on the economy when he addresses his delegates to the convention next week. they think that is when independent, undecided voters want to hear, brian. >> david gregory part of our tampa team for the last four days. david, thanks. we do want to let you know david has an exclusive interview with chicago mayor former obama chief of staff rahm emanuel. among the guests on "meet the press" sunday morning here on this nbc station. we are back in a moment with the big reopening of a national landmark.
a lot of other news items to get quickly caught up on here tonight. a supermarket night shift employee in the suburban new jersey community of old bridge left his job then walked back into work in the early morning hours armed with an ak-47 and a hand gun. he killed two people before killing himself. he's been identified as a former marine just 23 years old, discharged from military service in 2010. there was a private memorial service today for neil armstrong, a reunion of his apollo 11 crew mates, buzz aldrin was with armstrong on the moon and michael collins was there. he of course circled above to fly them home afterwards. john glenn and his wife annie were there. there will be a national memorial service for neil armstrong in washington on september 12th. by the way, tonight up in the sky perhaps for neil armstrong a
rare blue moon as they call it, the second full moon in the month of august. 15 years ago tonight a lot of people remember where they were when they heard the news princess diana had died in a car accident in paris. her fans and admirers left tributes on this anniversary date in both london and paris where the mercedes she was riding in crashed in that tunnel as it was being tailed by papparazzi. diana, her boyfriend dodi fayed, and the driver of the car were all killed in the accident. tourists in washington this holiday weekend will find water in the lincoln memorial reflecting pool for the first time in two years. it was actually stimulus funding that paid for the major renovation project. $34 million worth. the site of dr. king's speech is one of the most photographed spots of course in all of washington. and we now know the powerball winner, that $337 million jackpot won by one guy. he is 44-year-old donald lawson of the tiny town of lapierre, michigan and just retired from
his job as a railroad engineer when he learned he won. he chose the lump sum after taxes, $158 million. he says he wants to send his kids to college and take care of his mom. up next here tonight from new orleans, when katrina wiped out the neighborhood, one woman begged everybody to come back. well, this time she gathered them all together to ride out this storm.
we're back. you're looking at the waters of lake ponchartrain. there is of course a huge span cutting the lake in half over 20 miles long so across the other side the towns of mandeville and slidell but here the city of new orleans side where we're actually outside the protected levee system. it's off to our left here. this was no place to be during isaac. the water came up this flood plain and still remains on land. it'll dry up eventually. this is the lake view neighborhood of new orleans. they got hit pretty hard during isaac but nothing like katrina. during that storm seven years ago this week they got all the hurricane they could handle.
and yet during this storm this week nbc's kate snow rode out the storm with a veteran of the neighborhood. >> reporter: tuesday night isaac was rapping on the windows. >> going to go out, this is the way to go. >> reporter: but the fears are always close to the surface. seven years ago their house was swallowed up by katrina. >> i cried a lot. it was just -- the loss was so tremendous. it wasn't just the physical loss. it was the emotional loss of your community. >> reporter: there were some who thought the lake view neighborhood would just die away but connie wouldn't hear of it. single handedly you were calling people, telling them come on back. >> yes. >> reporter: sitting with them at your dining room table encouraging them to rebuild. >> as i saw people driving in to address their house for the first time i would go there and hug them and say look. whatever you need i'm in my
home. we're a base. >> reporter: as she was telling us how she eventually created st. paul's home coming center to help people rebuild. >> oh, there go the lights. >> reporter: in the dark of tuesday night connie and her husband gathered with neighbors, something she says wouldn't have happened before katrina. by thursday they'd been without power for 36 hours. hi. how you doing? >> hi. >> reporter: you made it. they lost some roof shingles. >> yeah. all over there. across the street. >> reporter: but the patio was ready for plants again and connie was ready to get back to work. >> this is a very good feeling. >> reporter: no damage inside the center but a tree is down. >> i have a great tree guy. don't worry. >> reporter: it's not catastrophic. >> it's okay. don't cry. you're making me cry. stop it. >> reporter: when she reaches an elderly neighbor there are tears of relief. >> we're good. hey, we came through it. open for business. >> back in business. >> just reflect on the strength and resilience of our people and
that we are united and just rode out another huge challenge. >> reporter: connie told us this afternoon she's already getting phone calls on her cell phone from people who were more badly affected who want her help. they want the organization's help. they are ready. they have volunteers waiting to help people rebuild. she also got her power back this afternoon, brian. she says this was a category 1 and it was bad. she's real worried about a 3 or a 4 or a 5. she doesn't ever want to go through katrina again. >> i understand why the levee, which is right there behind us, is absolutely everything to this and every other neighborhood in new orleans. great having you here, kate. thank you very much. kate snow with us. that is our broadcast for this friday night and for this week. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams reporting tonight from new orleans. have a good labor day weekend. don't forget our coverage of the democratic convention in charlotte starting on tuesday. in the meantime, good night from charlotte starting on tuesday. in the meantime, good night from here. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
right now at 6:00, a hero caught on camera. a good samaritan stepping in to save the life of a man being beaten in the middle of downtown oakland. and also -- a major artery is shut down tonight ahead of the labor day weekend. and it's a hectic get away all the way around. airport delays and a big change in weather too. >> good evening and thank you for joining us.