CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
Tornado Devastates Kansas Town; Severe Weather in the Midwest; Kenya Airways Plane Crashes
Aired May 5, 2007 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CO-ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: Well, good morning everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I am Betty Nguyen. This is Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May. It's been a stormy day for a lot of folks.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: It has, a rough day, a rough start to this morning for some folks after a rough night. Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. So glad you could be here with us to start your day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: All right, thank you for that Reynolds.
WOLF: You bet.
NGUYEN: Want to toss now, or at least take you to Darin Brunin. I understand he's in Wichita, Kansas. Darin you were there as a storm blew through. What did you see?
VOICE OF DARIN BRUNIN, STORM CHASER: We were actually following the large tornado up Highway 183 south of Greensburg. And it appeared to be a very large tornado when we saw it.
NGUYEN: We've been looking at pictures of it. It looks like a wedge-shaped tornado. When you say "very large," the word that we're getting is somewhere from a half mile to a mile wide. Is that what you saw?
BRUNIN: We're definitely thinking a mile wide. When it hit Greensburg, we were probably three to four miles south of it, and it was just, it was huge. And you could tell it really meant business.
NGUYEN: Yeah, it did, especially looking at the damage that it caused. As you were heading into the path of this storm, a lot of people were obviously getting word that it was coming into their neighborhoods. What was the warning like? Did you hear lots of warnings on the radio as you were headed toward the storm?
BRUNIN: Well, being a storm chaser, we did have live radar with us. Chasing at night it really helps. We knew there were warnings, and we actually talked to some residents in the community, and they said that they had plenty of warning, from what we could tell, at least 20 minutes.
NGUYEN: Was this a slow-moving storm? It caused so much damage. We're just trying to understand how big, how massive and how quickly it moved through the area.
BRUNIN: Yeah, it was definitely a slow-moving storm. I mean, you have a big tornado like that that moves slower, it can tend to do a lot more damage because it's over an area for a longer amount of time.
NGUYEN: But how long was it over the town of Greensburg?
BRUNIN: I couldn't answer that. I mean, I would say, you know, a minute or two. You know, it was moving slow, but, you know, it was still moving along at a decent pace. You can get storms that move a lot slower than that.
NGUYEN: So as you watch this and you're headed to where this tornado is moving into, that being the town of Greensburg, when you got there, what did you see?
BRUNIN: Well, actually, before we got to Greensburg, probably five miles south where the tornado had crossed, right on Highway 183, we actually ran into a resident who was waving his arms at us. We actually picked him up and took him to some of his family so he could get in contact with them. But as we approached Greensburg, we arrived before most of the emergency responders. And it was really a scene of shock, you know, disbelief. You know, there were people walking on the highway just in shock, you know, not even knowing really what had happened, you know. It was injuries and dogs limping around. Before we got to Greensburg there were a herd of cows on the highway that was severely injured. So it wasn't a pleasant sight to see at all. It was very horrible.
NGUYEN: I can only imagine. We spoke with a storm chaser a little bit earlier, and he was saying that, essentially what you're saying, people were just walking down the street like something out of a horror flick. He kind of related it to like a zombie movie. People really didn't know what had happened. All they knew was that parts of their home and their town was just picked up and destroyed, leaving them injured.
So you talked about the people. Well, what about the buildings? What about the downtown area and the communities? What did you see in the wake of any kind of damage there?
BRUNIN: It seemed like the western part of town was hit a little bit harder than the eastern part. Still some houses standing, or more houses standing, I should say, in the eastern part of town, but in the western part of town, it was just, I don't even know how to describe it. It was just --
NGUYEN: Was it leveled? Did you see anything standing?
There was still structures standing, but we did run across homes that were completely leveled and some clean foundations, which would hint at a very violent tornado.
NGUYEN: Mm-hmm, yeah, especially with such a large wedge tornado that blew through there, and you saying fairly slowly, as in the case that some tornadoes will move by, and it caused so much destruction and the fact that they've just been on the ground for so long, even though a minute or so doesn't seem like a lot, when you're talk being really forceful winds that can do the damage that we're seeing right there. Darin Brunin, a storm chaser joining us live by phone from Wichita, Kansas, thanks so much for your information.
T.J., as we are looking at this video here of some new daylight video coming into CNN, you can see just the bricks on the ground, you can see parts of buildings that have just simply collapsed. Don't know exactly which building this is in particular, but we do know that 80 percent of the hospital there in town was damaged. One portion of it, in fact, collapsed, and there were patients inside at the time.
HOLMES: And the crazy number we just heard a minute ago, we've been talking, 75 percent of the town is what emergency officials are saying. But someone from the Red Cross we just talked to a short time ago said they're hearing maybe 90 percent of this town may have been touched in some way, damaged or destroyed by this tornado. So either way, 75, 80, 90, heck --
NGUYEN: It's a high number.
HOLMES: Fifty percent, whatever it is, it's unbelievable for this small town. We are keeping an eye on this story with those folks in Kansas, who went through a nightmare last night and waking up on that nightmare today.
NGUYEN: Still this morning.
HOLMES: Just devastated by that tornado. That story continues to develop at this hour and we will continue to bring you the latest. .
HOLMES: We're continuing to keep an eye on the situation in Greensburg, Kansas, where the word is that at least one person has been killed and dozens more, up to 60, at least, have been injured after a massive tornado tore through the town of Greensburg, a town of about 1400 to 1600 people. We're continuing to get some of the first daylight pictures, pictures continuing to come into us of the devastation there. Estimates from the Emergency Management and American Red Cross is that 75 to 90 percent of the town has been touched.
This is the high school, we're being told, that we were just looking at there, a high school that has been heavily damaged, at least. But some of the daylight pictures giving us a whole new perspective of what they went through last night. Again, several injured, several possibly still trapped under buildings that have collapsed, and including the hospital that is there that we were told earlier is pretty much destroyed.
We do want to hear now -- we just showed you a picture of that high school. We do have sound now from a student that we want to take a listen to that we just got into the CNN newsroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no basement, so my mom stayed with our next-door neighbors in their basement, and we had no idea until like 3:00 in the morning last night when she finally called, so we were worried.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came to help clean up, but we don't even know where to start, so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And that is pretty telling. That last word we heard from that student came to clean up, and look around, and it just seems hopeless in some of those situations, impossible to really clean up when there's such devastation and such damage. We are keeping an eye on this story all morning. Make sure you stay here with us for it.