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tv   CNN Presents  CNN  May 29, 2011 8:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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up and, boom. yeah, dad. leave me alone. cute story to end on there. i'm drew griffin at the cnn center in atlanta. cnn presents special "a twister's furry: in the path of destruction." it begins right now. this is how it began. the wisps in the distance, the roar. >> listen to it! >> reporter: the flashes of transformers and power lines and it kept on growing and growing and growing into a massive, angry monster. >> oh, it's getting big, big, big. >> that's huge. >> oh, gosh.
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that is a monster tornado. >> reporter: battle hardened storm chasers in awe of nature's power. >> oh, my gosh. this is awful. dude, the trees. the trees are debarked! >> reporter: residents running for cover anywhere they could. >> in a crowded convenience store some 20 people hunkering down in a darkened commercial refrigerator. >> can we go in the cooler? [ screaming ] >> go! >> oh, dear heaven. >> god! >> reporter: at the same time a security camera in a nearby frozen yogurt shop catches the chaos. workers moving customers to the back and then everything goes flying. the massive tornado mowing down everything in its path.
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people's lives churned up and spewed out. >> here's the gas station that we were at. >> reporter: this is the convenience store now. >> this would have been where we walked in. >> reporter: all across the city, thousands and thousands of people in shock, taking the first steps on the long road to recovery. make no mistake, joplin, missouri, will rebuild, but it will never be the same. hello and welcome to this one-hour special report on the joplin, missouri, tornado and other deadly storms. "a twister's fury: in the path of "destruction." i'm drew griffin. this evening in joplin at 5:41 r residents and city crews stopped
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and bowed their heads in a movement silence to remember exactly what happened one week ago tonight. that is joplin tonight. a week ago the people of joplin were in shock. an f-5 tornado, unlike anything anyone had seen, ripped through the heart of that city, mowing down everything in their path. today president obama went to see for himself the devastation and to bring words of comfort and encouragement to the badly wounded community. at least 142 people were lost in those deadly minutes. our dan lothian traveled there
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with the president. >> reporter: before touching down air force one flew over joplin, missouri, giving the president an aerial view of the devastation. what took months and years to rebuild was destroyed in a few moments. homes, businesses and anything else in the tornado's path. on the ground it was a somber president surveying the breathtaking damage up close, meeting with officials, survivors and promising not to abandon this city. >> what i've been telling every family i've met here is we're going to -- we're going to be here long after the cameras leave. we are not going to stop until joplin's fully back on its feet. >> reporter: there is plenty of pain here, but also plenty of hope. roadways were lined with thousands of people, some waving flags or holding signs with messages like, god bless joplin. at a memorial service on the campus of missouri southern state university, that escaped the tornado's wrath -- >> we will be with you every step of the way. we're not going anywhere.
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>> reporter: -- president obama thanked the people of joplin for their courage. >> you banded together, you've come to each other's aid, you've demonstrated a simple truth, that amid heartbreak and tragedy, no one is a stranger. everybody is a brother. everybody is a sister. >> reporter: recovering from one of the worst natural disasters in u.s. history will not happen overnight. but missouri governor jay nixon is optimistic about the future. >> joplin will look different. and more different still in two years, and three, and five, and as the years pass, the moral of our story will be the same. love thy neighbor. god bless. >> dan lothian joining us live. the president has a lot of
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comforting to do lately. storm after storm, disaster after disaster. >> reporter: that's right. i mean, we saw the president several weeks ago when he was in memphis, tennessee, after they had a lot of flooding there, and then in tuscaloosa, alabama, we saw the president there touring the region after more than 40 people were killed in a tornado. and, you know, meeting with the residents there. today the president reflected back on that. he said at the time when he was in tuscaloosa, that was the kind of devastation that he had never seen in his lifetime. he says, this tragedy here is just as heartbreaking, but in some ways, he said, it's even worse. >> all right, dan lothian live in joplin. last sunday's twister left a mangled path of death and debris. initially said to be five to six miles wide. our casey wian wanted to check it out for himself. what he found was a bit outstanding. >> reporter: show us the initial damage from the tornado. >> initially those trees start
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through there. and the stuff over here, that's a trailer for the business here, the working trailer. >> reporter: so, this is ground zero of the joplin tornado, and we're going to drive its entire length from west to east to get a good picture of just how widespread the damage was. here's the first downed power lines. major electrical transmission lines. one reason much of joplin is without electrical power. so, less than a mile into our journey, you see the first homes that have lost part of their roofs. you with see everybody on this house a sign warning looters will be shot. we can see some of the power company crews are working on repairing these downed electrical lines. that will be vital to this area's recovery. we're now about three miles into our journey and you can see behind me that by the time the tornado got here, it destroyed almost everything in its path. including one of the iconic images of this disaster, st. john's hospital. now about four miles into the
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path of the tornado, this is where we first came just hours after it hit and spoke with a family who was trying to salvage what they could, despite a driving rain and hailstorm. >> it was just starting off with hail. i'm used to that. and then it just went insane afterward. >> reporter: here is the collapsed home depot where we first met 17-year-old andrea osborn, who was desperately searching for her father. >> my dad and my uncle are in there, and i'm just -- i'm hoping and praying to god they're okay. >> reporter: turned out they were buried in that rubble. so, we are now about seven miles to the east of where the tornado first touched down. as you can see, there's still lots of damage here, so those original estimates of six miles on the ground are way too conservative. this is where jim and stacy richards lived. stacy survived the tornado by hanging onto two dog crates as her home collapsed around and on top of her. >> that was awful.
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laying there, screaming and screaming and screaming. yeah, it was horrible. >> reporter: this week they got their insurance settlement so they can rebuild. how far east did it go? >> i'm not sure. i know there's damage over on the next mile section. >> reporter: we're now almost exactly 12 miles due east of where we started this journey and where the tornado first touched down. this is the area where locals say the tornado actually lifted off the ground, meaning its path is about twice as long as first estimated. now the national weather service has revised it's report based on aerial photographs of damage to trees. they now say the tornado's path was 13 miles long. also new numbers to report today, drew. the death toll continues to rise here. officials say there are 146 sets of human remains that have been recovered. without getting too gruesome, that doesn't mean that's the same number as the death toll because there may be duplicate partial remains. also, 43 people remain missing tonight. that includes four people listed
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as missing but whose family members say they are, in fact, deceased. some good news for this community. very early stages of its recovery, fema says it has approved $6.2 million in loans for 5,600 joplin area households. that's about $1,100 per household. not a lot of money but a start. the city of joplin, now the water is safe to drink. it hasn't been all week. they lifted the boil water order and now people don't have to drink bottled water in the city of joplin. just one sign it's starting to get back to normal. >> casey, i want to ask you about the figure of 146 now perhaps dead. 43, though, missing. where are they? where do they suspect those people are, if they are, indeed, perished in this tornado? >> reporter: you know, no one knows. search teams are still combing throughout this area with dogs. city officials don't know how many dog teams are out there at this hour, but they are still out there looking.
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you can see behind me, there are still piles of rubble, piles of debris, still homes in various stages of collapse. there are structures all over a 12 to 13-mile long area and a three-quarter to one-mile wide area. imagine the job it takes to go through all of that rubble. they found one body a day or two ago in a pond. so, they could be anywhere. some of those missing may just be missing and haven't contacted their family members. we just don't know. >> casey wian live in joplin, missouri, all week long, casey, great job, thanks. when we return, a store manager tells one customer, hey, you can't leave. an unwelcome order, but it may have saved a life. another couple's lives spared in a room they took for granted until now. ♪ [ male announcer ] in 2011, at&t is at work, building up our wireless network all across america.
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and so we just all jumped in the cooler. it's pretty small, so everyone was pretty tight, you know. everyone was getting kind of crushed. it stored beer so this was broken glass everywhere. >> the dillon supermarket in joplin was one of the major businesses that took a direct hit from last sunday's tornado. assistant manager john and customer rick morgan were both in the store as the storm approached. they join us now. i believe it's the first time you've seen each other since
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last sunday. fy have this right, that is when rick, you said, i'm leaving and john said, no you're not, is that about right? >> well, yes. i publicly repented on last tuesday with t.j. in an interview that i had been one of those people that just, you know, would hear the sirens go off and i went into the store to -- and just ignore they will, but i went into the store to get milk and the sire rens went off and john got on the p.a. and said, everyone need to get into the produce cooler. my thought is, i'll just get in my home and drive home, which is right down 20th street, which is the path the tornado was taking at that very moment. i got to the front door and he was pleading with me. he says, sir, you don't want to go out there. and i didn't. because i didn't, i'm alive. >> rick, he saved your life, right? basically? >> he did, he did. he saved my life.
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and about 35 of us were crammed into this little cooler. and he was the last one if. he was telling me, i didn't know this, but that he was actually starting to be sucked out, lifted up, and two of the girls that worked for him held onto him and kept him from -- because they couldn't close the door because of the wind was so bad. he was about to get sucked out. >> john, is this store policy, your policy? have you practiced this, everybody in the cooler? >> this is a company policy, kroger is really good. they have all of these different policies out. they believe in safety first. my store manager, mindy, she's adamant within the store to make sure everybody knows where they're supposed to go in the event of a tornado. if it gets cloudy outside, we go around, check to make sure that people know where their flashlights are at, make sure that the batteries are working in them, they know exactly where they're to go, and to grab
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everybody on the way to our produce cooler. >> john, give me an idea of what it was like inside that cooler. were people screaming? were they scared? were they calm? >> people were screaming, people were praying, people were crying. i know it seemed like everybody was holding on to everybody. i believe it was everybody's efforts. the employees as well as the customers who were holding onto and keeping each other from any more possibility of being hurt or injured. >> can i ask both of you -- >> at a certain point -- >> yes, go ahead, rick. >> i was just going to say, at a certain point, even the roof of the produce cooler halfway collapses down on us. and it held, though. and we were saved. >> rick, when the door was opened, you came out of that cooler. what did you see?
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>> to see this behind you, it's just -- it's like the end of the world. it's devastation. i don't know. it was terrible. we were all just in shock. just shock. i don't know what else to call it. i came back, walked home and came back later that night about midnight to see if my car, which was just completely trashed in the parking lot and see if there was anything left in it worth anything and there's not. >> that was the car you were going to drive home in. >> that's the car. oh, it's just crushed down. it's just -- i mean, the roof is completely crushed in. it's just really bad. when we got there, we talk with people and some guards that were there and i brought my son with me and we were walking away. and john was walking back from his house. i said, there's the man that
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saved my life. we just talked for a little bit. the thing he shared with me that i just found so encouraging and profound he said, he don't think anyone was left in the store. i think they all lived. and i was just so thankful. i mean, that's what leadership is all about. it's just -- you know, i was at the thing with president obama where he talked about the manager who actually gave his life to save those customers in a cooler, i think, in pizza hut. i don't know. i appreciate this man because he really did -- i mean, god spared us, but in the natural, this man saved my life, literally. and i thank you. >> well, heroes come in all shapes and sizes, guys. a nice moment to end on there. john, congratulations for stepping up to the plate when your customers really needed you. thanks to both of you. john, assistant store manager at dillon stores, which i'm sure up
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or down, they're coming back to joplin, i bet, right, john? >> they are going to rebuild here. and they put out a news about that about everything that's going to be taking place. >> and rick morgan, who will never shop anywhere again. thanks again. >> i -- well, actually, i called nicole, who had talked to me the first time about the first interview i had, and i left her a phone message on wednesday. i said, well, i just spent about an hour in my storm shelter for the first time in many years. >> all right. >> and the tornado didn't come but i'm going to keep spending it there when the sirens go off. i've officially repented. >> rick and john, thank you so much. speaking of that -- >> if it's possible, could i give a real quick shout out. >> real quick. >> i'd like to thank all my family and friends back home for all their prayers and support, and i'd love to thank all the dillon's employees and everybody for all the support and prayers
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that they've done for us. so, god bless you all. >> i can give a quick shout out to the workers. i was out of -- our house was not hit, but i was -- i had power back in three days. and i'm so thankful for the men and women who have come here and just are working so hard to help restore the city, the volunteers. it's just been overwhelming. thank you. thank you, thank you. >> all right, guys. a quick shout out to both of you. thank you for being on our program. we really appreciate it. congratulations. thanks again. well, the death toll could have been even higher in the storms were it not for the so-called safe rooms in some houses. a safe room is a fortified structure like steel and concrete made to withstand a tornado, and the beelick family in joplin says their safe room saved them from death. t.j. holmes got a firsthand look.
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>> reporter: you guys are accustomed to severe weather in the midwest and this part of the country. when did this start to feel any different? >> this storm, even though initially to me started like pretty much every other storm that we know. we hear the warnings on the television. we keep an eye out the window. >> reporter: when did your own personal alarm bells start going off? >> you know what, they were downstairs, they were eating, watching a movie, and i was upstairs watching tv, like i said. i looked outside and it was dark. it looked scary, but it wasn't that much different, but something said, go downstairs. as soon as i said it, the power went off. >> and we got in the room. she closed the door and then my ears started popping. >> oh, terrible. >> as if we were going up in an airplane. i had never experienced that before. >> reporter: how many times have
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you all used this in the past? >> never. been here three years. >> reporter: you have never used your safe room? >> never. two and a half weeks ago i cleaned it out. >> reporter: you were using it as a closet. >> we were. this was a closet. >> reporter: did you feel safe once you got in here and closed the door? >> well, i was against the door and it was shaking so hard. and i just was holding on. i mean, i was just laying against it. you could feel the pressure. >> yeah. see, this is wood on the top so there was a lot of banging going on. >> just sounded like everything was exploding. >> reporter: where in your house could you have survived if you didn't have this room? >> not anywhere else in the house besides down here. >> if our daughter isabella would have been in her room she surely would have died because her whole window exploded in.
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just glass everywhere. >> upstairs there is a board from the fence that actually goes right through the wall like it was going at 200 miles an hour. >> just wouldn't have been okay. >> everything on the top floor was pretty -- pretty much shot. >> everything had just exploded. everything was everywhere. i mean, it was like a war zone. i turned around and went and told my kids, nothing looks the same, but we are all alive. >> reporter: today what do you think about the attitude you used to have about this room? >> i would never live in this area without a room like this again. it saved our lives. >> from now on we will always keep it cleared out so we can get in here. >> it's a blessing. now take a listen to this. >> the sirens sounded, and the warnings went up. we ferried everyone into the basement of the gymnasium which is where the shelter is. >> coming up next, high praise for red cross volunteers who helped so many victims while
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of the 142 confirmed dead in joplin, there are individual stories of tragedy. the lives taken range from 1-year-old hazy howard to 92-year-old margaret. throughout the week we watched as rescue workers sifted through giant piles of rubble that were once homes and businesses and cars. families presented photos of the missing, and the nation waited and hoped for happy reunions. hope for finding 16-month-old skyler alive. wednesday, the toddler ripped from his mother's arms by the sheer force of this storm, drew national attention, tens of thousands of people to a facebook page to try to locate him.
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a nationwide appeal led to tips that he may be kansas city, springfield, but none of that turned out to be true. a great aunt identified his body on wednesday. we learned today the body of will norton, the teen who had just graduated from joplin high when the tornado hit one week ago, his body was found in a pond. the 18-year-old was racing home ahead of the tornado, less than an hour after he accept his diploma. he was in the family's hummer with his dad. the tornado sucked him out through the sun roof. his father survived. it is the survivors trying to make sense of the catastrophe that upended their lives and destroyed almost everything around them. as casey wian tells us, some are fining faith and hope at a red cross shelter. >> reporter: blown away. a town, a community torn apart. he lost his hospital, his home
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i was yelling his name, dad, dad, are you there? he nearly lost his life. >> i thought i was going to die, truthfully. >> reporter: like so many trying to pick up the pieces of their lives in joplin, missouri, this doctor and john ness have been ravaged by this disaster. but they have both found faith and purpose at this makeshift red cross center on the campus of missouri southern university. >> we've been sleeping in the dormitory area. >> reporter: ness is lucky to be sleeping anywhere. when this tornado devastated this town, he was literally sucked through the wall of his home. >> wall went through it, into the backyard, the trees were falling, and fell and smashed everything i own in the backyard.
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>> reporter: ness has lost much, everyone has here, scarred permanently by this killer storm. >> every time i hear a bang or boom or something, i jump. which i never was that -- like that. it scares me. >> reporter: ness counts his blessings. >> if it wasn't for the lord, i wouldn't here. like i said, sunday morning i got saved. sunday night i got blowed away. >> reporter: he has high praise for the red cross and its tireless volunteers. >> walk a little bit and keep your legs moving. >> reporter: he's tending to those in need even as he struggles with staggering losses in his own life. >> we lost our home, you know, the hospital is destroyed, and i -- my office is destroyed. >> reporter: dr. zaidi was at
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st. john's on the when the tornado cut through it. >> i had no idea what my family -- i lost -- we lost contact. >> reporter: frantic, uncertain hours followed, but then word finally came through, first from his daughter, then his wife, they're okay. but someone was still missing. his father. >> we went to my parents' house. he was there, he was stuck in the rubble. he was stuck in his room pep couldn't get out. >> reporter: as in so many scenes that have played out all over joplin, dr. zaidi was forced to dig to save a loved one. >> we found a path and we cleared up stuff and we just kind of pulled him out from there at 2:00 in the morning. >> reporter: throughout this temporary red cross shelter,there are stories of
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dramatic rescues, close calls and agonizing losses. >> we are homeless, jobless and carless. but believe me, i think that we are so lucky to survive this. and right now we just have to start from scratch. >> it was a big question this week in joplin, where dot sick and injured go when their town's main hospital is blown away? we'll take you inside st. john's hospital next.
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caring for victims of this tornado was made even more difficult after the place joplin has counted on for care, the largest hospital, became part of the rubble field. st. john's found itself directly in the tornado's path. >> oh, my gosh. oh, my gosh. >> reporter: what happens if disaster strikes -- >> right through here. i don't know where we are. >> reporter: if the worst happens. >> oh, my gosh. >> reporter: and the hospital is at the center of the storm. >> oh, no. it's the hospital!
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>> reporter: st. john's hospital, joplin, missouri, the biggest hospital for miles around. >> st. john's is a 230-bed acute care hospital. >> reporter: jim risko has been an e.r. doc at st. john's for the past seven years. >> this is a very sophisticated hospital in a relatively small town. >> i was down the road playing horseshoes with my friends. >> reporter: on may 22nd andrew mcdab yell came to the hospital to visit his grandmother. as he arrived, a sound familiar to every mid-westerner. >> the sirens started going off when i was walking in. i didn't see much other than the dark clouds over there. i didn't think much of it. >> reporter: but in those dark clouds, a monster tornado was headed right for them. at st. john's, it was the moment they trained for that they hoped would never come. >> we drill just by virtue of
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the fact we're in tornado alley, we prepare several times a month. >> reporter: but this was not a drill. >> it was a stormy day. we thought all was going well. >> reporter: angie was a nurse in the emergency room. >> of course, no one ever thinks it's going to happen. nobody was really taking it serious. >> reporter: but the tornado was churning toward the hospital at 200 miles per hour. there wasn't a second to lose. >> i was in triage center and heard loud train sounds and our security alerted me that we had to move quickly. >> the nurses already warned everybody that we do have a tornado, go. >> reporter: patient paul johnson hit the decks. >> my son was with me, so he just shoved me in the hallway. >> reporter: moments later, the tornado hit the hospital dead on. >> the whole building started going side to side like we were
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on a boat. >> oh, my gosh. >> everything just started flying at me. >> reporter: all the ceiling tiles came down. >> oh, it's getting big, big, big. >> pieces of the window same sailing all around. >> ek go machines and gurneys and wheelchairs were flying down the hall. >> oh, gosh. that is a monster tornado. >> of course, now there was a whole lot of our fathers and hail marys going on. >> there were three co-workers in front of me. i started screaming for them to get down. pushed them under our registration desk. >> reporter: before the tornado passed, abner started crawling down the hall to make sure everyone was okay. >> our nurses were directly protecting patients, laying over the top of patients because these ambulance doors immediately gave, blew through the e.r. >> reporter: when it was over, paul johnson could see the sky.
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>> i could look right up through the ceiling and see blue sky. i could see some of the hospital had to be gone. because i knew there was another floor above us. when i saw that, i said, this ain't good. this is not good at all. >> reporter: but johnson was okay and so was mcdaniel and his family. >> my grandpa has bruises and cuts on his back. my grandma has glass still embedded in her hair, but we're a lot better off than a lot of people. >> this is bad. oh, my gosh. this is awful. >> reporter: a lot of people in joplin were suddenly and severely wounded. but the biggest hospital in town was in ruins. >> pretty much turned the page on disaster plans. >> reporter: risko at home on his day off rushed to the hospital. he arrived to find a building he hardly recognized.
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>> the hospital was on fire, blackened, and the top of the roof was gone. the doors to the emergency room were blown open. >> reporter: now the newly wounded flooded into the hospital. >> they began running through and jumping over tables through our e.r. doors that had busted open. i mean, they were bleeding profusely. immediately when i started seeing them, all fear is gone from myself.
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us. >> reporter: as the injured flooded to the hospital for care, mcdaniel was desperately trying to get his grandmother out. >> they took us down to the second floor and there was about ankle-deep water, and we were trying to push wheelchairs and everything through it to get people out. >> reporter: they wheeled thinks and flagged down a passing car to drive them home. >> there was no crying, there was no screaming. >> reporter: the st. john staff kept working, laser focused on their patients. >> we did what we had to do. and we all stayed, even though people were worried about their families. >> i'm just a very short period of time we were able to evacuate over 200 patients to a safer parking lot and then transport them to area hospitals. >> this finger here was lacerated wide open. >> reporter: patients like paul johnson were stabilized in makeshift triage centers. >> they were making do with what they had. so, i tip my hat to them. it was that fast they set up a system that fast that took care of people. >> reporter: six people died at st. john's that day, but miraculously, most survived. >> this is the new tower, this is the original hospital. >> reporter: two days later, for jim risko, it's all sinking in. >> my heart's broken because my
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mom and dad died here, my son was born here. i have so many memories of working with the other doctors and the nurses. this is home. i mean, st. john's is more than a building. it's a spirit. >> st. john's and the national guard are opening a temporary field hospital with 60 beds. it's across from the destroyed building. why are we seeing so many of these powerful tornadoes this year? we'll show you the science behind how they're formed next. ♪ [ male announcer ] in 2011, at&t is at work, building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people
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... they all work together perfectly-- and you could save 25%. wow... it's all in the wrists. ♪ nationwide is on your side the signature of last sunday's tornado in joplin, missouri, was it's size and power. earlier this week i asked cnn meteorologist chad myers how a tornado of such ferocity can form. as you'll see, it's a volatile mixture of heat and moisture. >> the storm developed in the five miles from just west of joplin, right over here, the storm was just on the ground as an f-0, small little tornado. but in five miles it became 200 miles per hour and more. just five miles. had the storm, had this spot right here, been maybe 15 miles farther to the west and so the
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spotters were out on it, saying, look out, this is a huge killer tornado, get out of the way, get out of the way, get out of the way, maybe the immediacy would have been a little more. people would have been out of their cars, out of buildings. a lot of people died in cars. you saw what happened to those cars. cars were destroyed. it was a giant tornado. there was some times just nothing you can do about it. there's an question. that's joplin, that little word right there. this is what we call a hook echo. this is a monster cell. but it wasn't -- it wasn't a tornado on the ground until it got right there. and then when the tornado got on the ground, it just rolled and ripped through joplin, missouri, got bigger and bigger and bigger. at some point in time, at 200 miles per hour, even if you're in your safe spot, if you're not underground in a storm shelter, you can't survive it. >> we've seen so many tough storms this season. is there something about this season or the particular storms
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we are just unlucky, this one hit joplin, one other one hit tuscaloosa. >> a few things that are different. we don't know for years what exactly all happened until somebody's master thesis figures it out. let's go through the things that are different this year than a normal year. this is a normal jet stream, a normal pattern and storms firing in oklahoma and texas. how is spring 2011 sdimpbt? it's colder than normal in the plains. this was a record snowpack. there were 72 feet of snow at alpine meadows in the sierra. record snow pack in the rockies and cold, cold air across the northern plains. every time a cold front came down, it was colder than it should have been. that cold air digs under and pushes warm air up. and the dry air here -- this has been historic drought in parts of texas. many of the storms should have been in texas, but if the air is so dry, you can't get a thunderstorm, you won't get any tornadoes. what was it waiting for?
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the storms are waiting for the flooding. the floodwaters that are here. every time the sun comes out, it bakes those floodwaters, they evaporate and the air here is more humid than it would be in a regular year. something else, the gulf of mexico is warmer than normal. you have colder than normal, warmer than normal. that makes a jet stream that's faster than normal. when you get a jet stream moving faster, you get the potential for more sheer. more difference between what the air is doing down here and what the air is doing up here. a faster jet can make and does make bigger tornadoes. i mean, how does a tornado form? >> this is cool stuff. particles on the ground, humidity on the ground starts to rise. like a hot air balloon. when the sun comes out, heats the ground, the ground warms up and the air wants to rise. as the air rises into space, it goes up higher and higher and gets into colder and colder air so the particles congeal, the humidity comes in and goes straight up into the air and you
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see the towering cumulus clouds, like everything in the northern hemisphere that spins to the right and everything in the southern hemisphere that spins to the left. if you move this stuff long enough on the way up, literally, 60,000 feet in the sky, 12 miles from the surface to the top, you will get this spin. eventually, the whole storm spins and then the back half we call it the mesocyclone, the conservation of angular momentum, like an ice skater bringing her arms in. she skates and skates faster. the more -- the closer her arms are in and at the bottom of the mesocyclone a tornado falls out of this storm. >> well, it has been a month since tornadoes ravaged alabama. coming up next, we'll look at the slow recovery efforts there and tell you how their future is now connected to joplin, missouri. hi, i'm betty white, host of the aarp get-over-it-a-thon.
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if you're hesitant to join aarp because you think it makes you old, i have a message for you: get over it! call in. i'm standing by.
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♪ get over it
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joplin, missouri, and tuscaloosa, alabama, are two american cities united by tragedy. massive tornadoes striking just weeks apart. in joplin the work has just begun, but in alabama it's been a month. how is the recovery there? cnn's david mattingly.
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>> reporter: one month since a monster tornado killed 41 people here, tuscaloosa, alabama, offers little hope for a quick recovery to the victims of more recent tornadoes in places like joplin, missouri. >> what's this over here? >> that's my grandson's tent. >> reporter: on the outskirts of tuscaloosa, i find gayle harden in a moment of despair. >> today it just hit me, you know, that -- that i'm not ever going to be able to go back home again. >> reporter: after living in tents for weeks with her family, almost everything harden had still sits in a massive pile next to the road. letting go of the life she knew has been the hardest thing of all. >> how to start over with everything, because everything's just dirt and debris. but i got my family and we'll make it.
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>> reporter: a thought echoed daily across tuscaloosa as small signs of hope slowly emerge. the streets are finally clear. water is back on. electricity returns to more homes by the day. but one thing hasn't changed. so many neighborhoods like this remain in pieces, abandoned, lifeless ghost towns. in fact, if you look around and look at all this destruction that's still all around us here, it looks like the storm hit yesterday. and it feels like it to survives whose lives were broken, bent and battered. what was it that went in here? >> that was a two by four there. >> reporter: it went right through the house? >> right through the house. >> reporter: in one of the hardest hit areas, steven brown is the only one i find trying to rebuild. his house, the only one on the street still standing. but shredded inside and out by debris. >> that was a piece of panels
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come through and wedged inside, inside of that right there. just wedged inside of that wall there. >> reporter: if someone had been hiding in this closet, that wouldn't have been safe either? >> no, no. went straight through. >> reporter: oh, look, it came all the way through. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: his family survived huddled and praying on the hallway floor. three next door neighbors survived. a google street view of brown street shows a wooded neighborhood full of life. this is a it looks like now. after everything that's happened, what made you decide to come back? >> this is home. >> reporter: and like so many hit by this tornado, brown is getting help from volunteers, offering food, sweat and comfort. brown tells me he's learned something and wants to tell the people of joplin, don't turn down help and don't give up. >> if you can't go anywhere, you can always go home. >> reporter: would have have been easier for you just to pack it in, say, i'm not going back, start over somewhere? >> yeah, it would have been a whole lot easier. it definitely would have been a
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whole lot easier, but i won't let this get me down. >> reporter: a full month after a deadly tornado and so many still so slow to turn the corner from surviving to recovery. david mattingly, cnn, tuscaloosa, alabama. >> from the cnn center in atlanta, i'm drew griffin. piers morgan is next.cnn, tuscaloosa, alabama. >> from the cnn center in atlanta, i'm drew griffin. piers morgan is next. >> the tender age of not quite he's already made "time "magazine 1 hurricane list of the most influential people in the world. he's a role model to millions of fans and hob knobbing with celebrities. >> i bowed to lady gaga. she had a crown on. >> he's even met the president. >> what did he say to you? hi. i'm barack.
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>> i get high pitched when i get excited. "i'm chris." >> someone who knows the president who's better than just about everybody else. the first brother-in-law. >> what do you call the president? >> when i see him i call him barack or mr. obama or mr. president. the best one is that guy who goes to his left all the time on the basketball court. >> this is piers morgan tonight. >> google chris colfort you'll get more than 2 million results. millions of fans across the country hanging literally on his every word. he's here now and itune will be hanging on your every word. how are you? >> awesome. great. >> i don't know why i do this to myself, but there you are the coffer which has eluded me so far. two copies of "hollywood reporter "this year alone. there you are on both of them.
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and then this one which absolutely -- i've got to be honest, sickened me. i have spent 46 years in journalism, in broadcasting. desperate to get on the top 100 of "time "magazine's most influential people. and there you are fresh out. you're not even inside, you're on the cover under the banner. the most prominent head on the whole damn thing. >> right at the end. there's my forehead. >> how old are you? >> i am turning 21 in two weeks. >> this is ridiculous. how did you do this? >> i have a fantastic publicity team. but i mean -- >> you must pinch yourself. when you pick up "time "magazine. you weren't doing anything before you got this job, were you? >> no. i was just a student. and i was in high school a few months before i got the show. then i was in college for two weeks when i officially got it. i was working at a dry cleaner in the summers, too. >> earning how much? >> oh, gosh. >> make me even more annoyed.
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>> no. at the dry cleaner's i was making i think 7.25 an hour sunny think that was minimum wage at the time? >> you were earning $7.25 in a dry cleaners. >> yes. >> when you get a call saying, are you available to be the heart throb star of the biggest tv show in america? >> well, i wish i was that picturesque. but no. >> it really is like that, isn't it? >> in a way, yes. >> where were you when you got the call? >> i was driving back from the last audition. and i was -- my mom was driving. and i'll never forget. we were just passing santa monica pier and the phone rang. and she answered it. and then she looked at me with that look and i knew i had it. >> what's the look? >> the look was like looked like she should be driving, she should be paying attention to the road? but like "ooh" look. >> how did you feel? what extraordinary story for you. but did you realize when you got that call how big it might be?
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did you have an inc. ling? >> absolutely not. and had i had any notion that it would become what it was, i would have been insane. i mean, who could have predicted all of this. >> i literally cannot. i was trying to think of anyone in recent time that has gone from where you were at the dry cleaner's and college to the cover of "time "magazine within a year. that's absolutely startling. >> it is so surreal that whenever i have a minute to myself and i stop and think about it. i get so lost in this cloud nine world that it's so hard to come back down from it. >> did you dream of being famous? were you like all these kids, doing a bit of acting and singing, were you thinking in your hef, i really want to be, i don't know, whoever. tom cruise? >> no. >> zach ephron? >> definitely not. >> who were your idols? >> i never thought i would be of heart throb stature. but i think i always dreamed of being respected. but i never had any aspiration
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of being famous. just being known. >> who did you look up to? who were your celebrity idols? >> oh, gosh, yikes. honestly i don't know if i really had any. because there really wasn't anyone there for me to look up to. i mean, yeah, i honestly just had to keep inspiring myself along the way. >> so you never had anyone you were thinking, i want to be like them? >> well, everyone wants to be lady gaga at one point of the other. >> i didn't want to be lady gaga. >> you're lying. everyone wants to. >> i've never woken up and thought i want to be lady gaga. >> have you ever wanted to be oprah? >> not actually oprah. >> i always wanted to be oprah. >> did you? this is fascinating. why did you want to be oprah winfrey? >> who wouldn't want to be oprah winfrey? if you don't want to be there's something wrong with you. >> funny enough oprah winfrey i do get. >> she's very inspirational for my character. but i didn't really have a hero growing up, unfortunately.
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>> did you want to be an actor? >> yes. ever since -- i remember i was like three years old and i was watching a movie, the title of which escapes me. and i remember the credits came on. and i remember asking my mom why it was over. and i just desperately wanted to be on the other side of it. and as i got older i found out what movies actually were. and the actors playing these roles. these kids weren't actually living the adventures you saw them living. but i knew i wanted to be part of that world. >> when was the moment with "glee "when you realized your life was never going to be the same for you? >> i don't don't know it's a constant bubble being popped more and more. >> when the ratings come in. you go, oh, oh. >> of course when it's your first thing you think as soon as the pilot airs first time it's going to be this huge thing and you wouldn't be able to walk outside. but it's more of a gradual process. >> for you what was the pinch me moment? >> what was the first pinch me
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moment? >> the moment when you rang your mom and you were both getting carried away on the phone? >> i don't know. maybe it was the first time i was recognized? or maybe it was -- the first time i drove up to paramount studios and had a place for my car to go. >> through the gates. >> and they let me in. they didn't call security. >> i had the same moment when i signed up for "america's got talent" and the first day of filming the live shows was through those famous gates. >> awesome. >> that is a moment, isn't it? >> it's an amazing feeling. it is. >> you were thinking this is a long way from the dry cleaners. >> yeah. actually getting work, being a working actor i think was the moment for me when i really had the realization. >> and then of course "glee "explodes and your character becomes this iconic character really fast. and you -- i think you're very smart in the way you handled the character and the brand and everything else. >> thank you. >> and you do this extraordinary speech at the golden globe which i want to show a little of
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first. >> chris colfer. [ cheers and applause ] >> i have to thank ryan murphy for basically being my fary god father. everybody at fox. robert orrick for submitting me to the show. our amazing, amaze iing -- and very talented cast. you guys deserve of this as much as i do. but most importantly, to all the amazing kids that watch our show and the kids that our show celebrates who are constantly told no by the people in their environments, by bullies at school that they can't be who they are or have what they want because of who they are. well, screw that kid! [ cheers and applause ] >> i mean, that for me was the moment. obviously you won the golden globe. that's big enough. but actually i remember the media reaction after you made that short but perfectly phrased speech. and you became a kind of poster boy for kids who be being bull
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yesterday for whatever reason. and it wasn't just about hints you may be gay or whatever. it's just kids who feel they're outsiders, right? >> right. absolutely. i think maybe somewhere in my mind i knew that when i made the speech that kurt was affecting more than gay kits, kids being bullied in general. so i don't remember that moment at all. i was on such an adrenaline high that i can't recall anything. >> if your voice had gotten much higher i would have recommended you joining the beatles. i was out of control. >> had it been higher, can you imagine the dogs that would have been howling for miles and miles. gosh, people's glasses would have been breaking. >> what a thrilling moment for you there. but to have the poise to come out with what you do. didn't plan it really. >> no. >> what were you thinking? >> when i was walking up i remember thinking to myself do not trip on a chair or table up there. because it was so possible. there were so many things in my way. but i don't remember anything
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but the moment. i just remember getting up there and saying what i felt and then looking out into the audience and thanking everyone that i could physically see and remember who they were. because there were people that i saw but i couldn't remember their name at the moment so i didn't thank them. and then thank god i was a big speech kid in high school. thank god i was. otherwise i probably would have spoken spanish up there. >> obviously i imagine all people who get bull yesterday at school, you can probably remember who the bullies were. >> yes. >> did it please you you were able to have this wonderful moment of payback, really? >> now, there's a diplomatic answer that i could give. but absolutely, yes. >> give me the straight one. >> oh, god, yes. yes! and those individuals, it's almost like you want to say suck it to them. i should have just said that. like given names and social security numbers instead. but no, it's great. >> do you remember their names? >> yes, of course. >> is there anyone in particular you'd like to just smoke out now? >> no. i hated them all equally.
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>> tell me about that period when you were being bullied. obviously that speech you made applied to all kids being bull yesterday out there. what is that feeling like for someone who's never been through it? how did it make you feel? >> i was just embarrassed. because i'd walk by these people that i barely knew in the hallway and ned just scream profanities at me that i didn't think were true at the time. and of course everyone else in the hallway would laugh. and of course i had some amazing legendary comeback. but i mean, it's embarrassing and it's uncalled for. especially when they don't know you and you don't know them. and i was a really, really good kid. i wasn't necessarily the best student. but i was a fantastic kid. and it was heart-wrenching. it was heart-breaking. >> when we come back talk about "glee" the phenomenon. important not just to you in the cast but also to america now. ♪ [ male announcer ] in 2011, at&t is at work, building up our wireless network all across america.
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♪ caught in a bad romance ♪ >> that was the lady gaga episode of "glee "which was brilliant to watch. i love lady gaga. to me she's just a phenomenon that completely gets what it takes to be a modern day brand, doesn't she? >> and she understands her fans. >> did you meet her? >> a couple times. >> what did you make of her? >> i completely embarrassed myself to no end.
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i mean, i bowed. who does that? >> you bowed to lady gaga? >> i bowed to lady gaga. >> she's not royalty. >> well, she had a crown on. >> what did she say to you? >> thank you. >> did you have to then say anything else? >> i kind of ran out of the -- thank god i didn't. it crossed my mind but i ran out after that. >> did you have a proper conversation with her? >> no. i don't think i'll ever be able to have a proper conversation with her. >> you'd be too nervous. >> yeah. >> is she like an iconic figure for you? >> she's actually one of the first people in my generation whose music i liked. like everyone before her i really didn't care for too much. like growing up. there wasn't too much to choose from. she's really the first person that i've connected to music and liked it. >> here's a question for you. you recently went to the white house correspondents dinner. there you are at one of the top tables. i'm always curious about the reality when you meet, for example, right wing politicians or commentators or whatever, i bet they're just all over luke a
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rash about "glee" right? >> everyone loves "glee". everyone loves me in "glee." >> you quietettly know they're all voting for gay rights. >> it's great when people come up and say, oh, can i have a picture with you? sure. you don't believe it me and my rights but -- >> do you ever say to them i know how you voted? >> here's the thing. what if something else comes along and they think, no, that gay kid from" glee gkz didn't give me a picture. >> do you think they'll ever change their mind because you gave them a picture? >> who knows? i think it will change their mind if i give them a picture rather than not? >> and you know who they are and you know how they voted? >> usually, yeah. >> i love that. do you feel like you're winning when you're with them? >> a little bit. it is kind of nice when people believe so strongly against you
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yet they want proof that they met you. it's kind of awesome. >> i mean, you've obviously become this as i say iconic figure. do you feel that america is fast becoming much less homophobic? or do you feel that as gay rights become much more prot nent and successes are being achieved, in a funny way it's becoming in certain cases more because they try to resist change? >> i don't know. because i know that i surround myself with positivity towards the situation and not negativity. but i certainly hope. so and i certainly have witnessed first hand the progress that's been made. and some of the progress that myself and the show have made. so i like to believe that yes, that it has definitely improved. >> you're still googling yourself? >> yes. oh, god, yes. >> if it makes you feel better you should now look at my name. seriously. >> i mean, last time i googled myself was i think like september 2009.
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>> and it was so shocking you stopped. what did you find there? >> just high school again. it was high school all over again. people making fun of my voice, people making fun of the way i looked. i mean, it was just bullying in another form. >> and that hurt? >> yeah. because i mean, it's ridiculous when people have like strong opinions about you when it's about things you can't control. like an example, my voice. i cannot control how high pitched i get when i get excited. i wish i could control it. there's so many situations when i wish i wasn't squealing. but it's something i do. >> if your voice didn't have that kind of tone to it you wouldn't be the singer you are. >> maybe not. >> it sort of comes hand in hand. >> yes. >> the glass kind of half full? you're not going to mention it again, are you? rubbing it in. i would enjoy it if i was on the time of "time" magazine i would carry this around all day long. i really would. >> i almost did. >> what did your mother say when she saw this?
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>> it's so funny. whenever i call, my dad is always over the moon excited and so proud and so excited. and whenever i call my mom, my mom will get silent for like two minutes on the phone. and she'll go "who are you?" i mean, she apologizes. i'm so sorry, christopher. i don't mean to be silent on the phone. i'm so proud of you. i just can't believe you came out of me. it's just -- it's crazy. >> my mother once said to me, you're looking very pale. are you working too hard again? what mothers do, they don't see you in the way everybody else does. >> no. >> tell me how the fame thing has impacted your life. are you finding that you're getting more attractive because of the fame? >> oh, sure. i hope so. i don't know. >> you hear that fame is such a magnet to people, isn't it? >> a little bit. i mean, i think fame is great until the day comes when you are afraid to leave your house
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alone. and then the day when your name is used as an adjective in a negative form. >> it seems to do that. it's that culture, isn't it, of envy? resentment of people's success? i mean, that goes with the territory, doesn't it? >> yeah. >> are you equipped to deal with all this? >> sometimes. sometimes not. i mean, sometimes i do get very overwhelmed with it. and sometimes -- i'm quite frightened by it to be honest. >> it is scary. >> it is very scary. and there really is a whole other world people don't see. they always see in front of the camera and never the behind the scenes stuff. >> what's the behind the scenes stuff for you? >> like the security people and the security issues that are very frightening that people don't know about because i don't want them to know about. >> what's the scariest thing that's happened to you? >> i was at a movie theater once. and i was by myself, stupidly.
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and i was semimobbed but it got very physical and people were pulling at me and grabbing me and i had to call the police. and the next day i was covered in bruises because people got so physical with me. >> wow! >> yeah. >> and as it was going on, what were thinking? >> >> not much. i went to my happy place. >> i would go to my unhappy place. >> no. i definitely had to go to my happy place. >> were you worried about whether you might even survive this? >> absolutely. >> it was crazy, right? >> it's crazy. but it's really a mind trip. because on the one hand you want them to stop. you want it to stop. and on the other hand you know that if you -- since you are in the public eye you are a raging jerk and say get off me and leave my alone it's going to be written about the next day. and people are going to say -- there'll be talk about what a jerk your. >> have you had stalkers? >> not really. some form of stalking is flattering, you know?
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>> yeah. if they're good-looking. >> if they're very good-looking and stalking i call it pursuing. strongly pursuing. >> how do you deal with the dating process when you're really famous? i mean, how can you trust people? >> i don't know. i mean, i don't know how you deal with it. because i think there's always the question if, what people's real intentions are. >> yeah. >> but i don't know. i think you just have to wish for the best. it's a gamble. >> life's a gamble though, isn't it? >> life is a gamble. >> coming back we'll talk to you about projects, this movie you're about to start making. >> sure. [ man ] i got this new citi thankyou card
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>> stop. curtain. please stop. come on did you get how stupid we were? we thought that since no one was teeing us or beating is up that no one cared. like some kind of progress had been fade. but it's still the same. >> it's just a stupid joke. >> no, it's not. all that hate. they're just afraid to say it
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out loud. so they did it by secret ballot. >> the moving scene from "glee" starring chris colfer. it gets a representing as being a light, fun, frivolous show but there are moments like that that are very significant and have an impact on america. >> all the light, fluffy stuff makes the stuff that punches you that much stronger. >> yeah. apart from the fact that you seem to cry every single episode. >> i do. it has to be my tears otherwise i think i'm cheating. >> how do you get your tears to work? >> it's really just kind of like a gland thing. >> can you do it now? >> i can't do it now. >> some of you actors can actually just literally. >> i'm not that good at it. >> what would it take you to get into tear mode? >> if i'm sobbing like maybe a thing to get things running down. >> a minute? >> a minute. or if it's like one or two then it's like a couple seconds. >> you could get tears in a couple of seconds?
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>> i could. >> come on. >> i don't think i could do it on the spot unless it's scripted. >> all right. i'll play matthew morrison's guy. i'm saying something really, really upsetting to you. >> no, i can't. i can't do it now. >> it would be great tv. is it like a magician revealing his tricks? you feel awkward about it? >> that's what it is. i have to do this whole chant before i can do it. >> can actors do that? can they all do that? to water? >> no. because sometimes you just can't do it because your body can't produce tears so you can't. >> i couldn't. if someone said to me, cry, i couldn't think how to even start. i haven't cried in about 10 years. i don't know how you do it. >> it's funny. i literally have not cried off camera in years. >> really? >> i don't think i've cried. >> when was the last time? >> last time i cried? my grandfather's funeral, two and a half years ago. that's the last time i cried. every time i've done it so far since then has been in front of
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the camera. >> and in the show literally almost every episode there'll be a moment when you're in tears. >> yeah. >> you're not that emotional off camera? >> no. i would say for me what works is i'm about 20% emotional and then 80% physical. i think of a lot of what i do is physical. >> has it toughened you up a bit? all that bullying, all that ostracizing? >> >> yeah. i think so. >> you've got a steelier side to you than when you were growing up? >> i think it made me a very sarcastic person for sure. i think sarcasm comes from hard times. >> the good thing is you're now welling up because you've been coughing. >> i was coughing. >> so we can cut this and make it look like you started crying. >> right. i just have horrible allergies. that's why i can do it. >> is it fun "glee" or like all these shows actually incredibly hard work to make? >> i would be lying if i didn't say it was a lot of work. we are working constantly.
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>> when did you finish working on this season? >> we finished season two yesterday at 4:00 in the morning. >> wow. >> so yes. we are constantly working. it's very hard to hear other actors in the tv shows complain about their four hour a day tapings. because we really are working constantly. >> do you not get time off? what happens? >> no. on our hiatus that we get we go on a music tour. i mean, it's an amazing, amazing to be a part of. but it's a lot of work. >> and you're also doing a movie. >> yes. >> how are you going to fit that? ? >> the tour ends on july 5th or 4th i believe. as soon as it's over i am literally going straight to a plane and flying to set in l.a. >> the moment that finishes -- >> i'm back in season three. >> do you get any time off at all? >> no. but that's self-inflicted. >> maybe even a day? >> i'll get like a day here and there. >> when you see the schedule. before it used to say dry cleaners, college. >> school, work. grandma's house.
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>> now you see "glee" tour, movie, "glee". >> it's insanity. sometimes i think maybe i'm still back in my hometown, i just went insane and i'm sitting in some mental institution rocking thinking all this is true. >> is there anything else on the list? not this year, really? >> no. there are a thousand things that i'd like to do. i'm doing -- developing a television show for disney right now. i have tons of projects up my sleeve that i haven't announced yet. >> of all the famous people you've met, who's been the most inspiring to you when you've actually met them? >> oh. >> apart from -- >> gee, i don't know. give me a minute to think about this. >> just curious who you may have met that said something that's actually been quite profound to you for whatever reason. >> yeah. >> because you're now mixing in
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these rarefied circles. >> did you meet the president? >> i did. i met the president. >> what did he say to you? >> hi. aim barack. >> he didn't say that. >> he said hi, i'm barack. and i said, i know. and then of course when i get excited i get high pitched so i'm like "i'm chris." he probably thought i was like a mickey mouse impersonator. >> did he know you? >> i think his daughters did. i think he's busy to watch "glee". >> he didn't say i watch you religiously? >> he didn't say "i loved you in single ladies". >> apart from meeting the president what's been the most excited you've been to meet anyone? >> i loved meeting oprah. who wouldn't. >> what was she like with you? >> great. very welcoming and gave everyone hugs and friendly. and awesome. and i've gotten to meet a lot of my heroes. >> i bet for your mother when she's watching you on oprah that was quite a moment. >> she was upset because she didn't get to go with me.
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so she was mad about that. >> your mother is getting demanding about fame now, right? >> a little bit, yeah. she called me the other day, "oh, christopher, i did this interview about famous mothers. i hope you don't mind." and i went -- >> i have to ban my mother from talking to the media. >> right? i tried. >> i said, that's it. you're not aloud to talk ever again. >> my biggest fear is which upsets my parents because i was so young doing all these things i didn't want to look like i had stage parents that were invited me on a leash. so i never invited them to anything a couple of years we were doing this. now a couple of years have passed. they're like when do we get to come to the set? maybe next season. >> chris. it's been lovely. >> thank you. coming up a white houser like no other, barack obama's brother-in-law, craig robertson.
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>> i'm drew griffin. here are the headlines. president obama went to joplin, missouri sunday, his first chance to see the damage caused a week earlier by an f 5
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tornado. he spoke at a memorial service for the 142 known victims and the president promised continued federal assistance as joplin rebuilds. security forces in yemen turned water cannon on anti-government protestors sunday. tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to demand the embattled president there resign. he shows no sign of going anywhere. at least three people have been killed, 90 injured in taid. yemeni troops are battling for control of a key coastal city. nmpblgt the texas panhandle about 300 homes are being threatened by a large wildfire happening in randal county. south of amarillo it covers about 500 acres. it's just one of more than a dozen wildfires burning in texas. those are the headlines this hour keeping you informed, cnn, the most trusted name in news.
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you could call craig robinson first brother-in-law but michelle obama's brother is also a college basketball star turned very successful coach and the author of a game of character "a family journey from chicago's south side to the ivy league and beyond". he joins me now. i read this book. fascinating book for many reasons. >> thank you. >> but as i read it i was thinking, so this guy goes to princeton, you get an mba from the university of chicago. you're the coach of an amazing basketball team, oregon state. a life of unparalleled excellence and success. and just when you're claiming all bragging rights in the family, your sister goes and marries the guy that becomes president of the united states. i mean, that's a bummer, isn't it? >> for some people it could be. but what you have to understand, piers, is that my sister spent her entire life being craig robinson's little sister. everywhere she went it was craig craig. and she does a great impression
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of this. it's like "craig craig craig. you're craig's sister. are you craig's little sister?" she's had to put up with that her entire life. and now it's only fair that i spend some time being michelle obama's older brother. >> proud to be michelle obama's older brother. >> absolutely. absolutely. she's just such a bright light for the family, for the country, for her own individual family. and i couldn't be more proud of her. >> reading the book, very interesting about you your very modest beginnings you had as a family. tell me about the early days. >> you know, i talk about this in a game of character. it didn't seem modest to us. it felt like we lived in a castle even though we lived in this one-bedroom apartment. and it was filled with love and lessons and tenderness. and they're the kind of lessons that resonate at the kitchen table as they did for us, on the basketball court as it does for my team, and in the board room as it did when i was working in
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corporate america. >> when i say michelle, who i've never met, when i see her she shows remarkable poise. and apparent self-confidence. and you're similar. you're a confident man. but you're a warm character. i can tell that. i can tell that from the book. you're obviously similar personalities. are you amazed at how she's dealt with becoming first lady? >> wow. amazed? i'm amazed that she is the first lady. i mean, who does that? who grows up on the south side of chicago and as you pointed out, very modest background and ends up being the first lady? >> well, the answer is nobody. nobody's done that. >> that's right. >> and that's what makes her position so completely unique. and barack obama's for that matter. >> right. and her ability to step into that role has -- is a real tribute, i think, to our parents. i mean, you know, whatever we've been asked to do in life or shown to do, it's been a
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really -- it's been -- our parents wanted us to do it with love, hard work, empathy, compassion. and you see all of that in my sister. >> what do you call the president now? when you see him? >> oh. when i see him i call him barack or president obama or mr. president. i've called him all of those. the best one is that guy who goes to his left all the time on the basketball court. >> doesn't it feel even stranger calling him "mr. president"? >> it does. >> i mean, take me back to the first time you met him. >> it is. it is so surreal. and it's one of the favorite stories from "a game of character" is when my sister brought him home, so to speak, and asked -- after she introduced us and we saw things were going well --
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>> had you heard of him before? >> you know, i had heard she was dating a guy who was a harvard guy, and they worked together in the summer, and this, that and the other. but i sort of took it like i took most of her boyfriends. i figured the guy would be gone, 86ed in about two months. so i didn't pay much attention. but then after awhile when we got to meet him, i was like, wow, this guy has such a different background from ours. but you could tell right away he had the same value that is our family did but raised completely different. so they dated for a few months. and she came back and asked me to take them to play ball. she had heard my father and i talk about how you can tell a guy's personality and character based on how he plays on the basketball court. so to make a long story short, it was tough for me to say why to agree to that but i did. and i took him out to play. and just -- it was reinforced what a wonderful guy he was. he was completely unselfish on
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the court. he was quietly confident, to be playing with a bunch of guys who were ex-college and pro basketball players. and the best part about him was that he didn't try to suck up to me by just passing me the ball. he played the game like it should have been played. so i was able to report back to my sister that this ace pretty good guy based on our -- >> are you a good judge of character from the way people perform on a basketball court? is it as simple as those things that he was doing means he's a good man? >> you know, it's hard when you get fatigued to shield your real personality. that's what i'll say. it's not always an indicator, but you can do a lot of -- you can sort a lot out by watching a guy play. >> take a short break. when we come back i want to talk to you about the first moment you walked to the white house as the brother-in-law of the president of the united states.
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>> together i've watched barack and michelle strengthen each other. i've watched them create a home filled with love and drowned in faith. during challenging times aye watched michelle and barack stand by each other. and i know they'll stand by you, the american people, now and in the future. >> that was craig robinson introducing his sister michelle obama at the democratic national convention. quite a moment for you, for the family, for everyone. when was the moment when michelle was dating barack, when was the moment that you realized, this guy may be something special politically? >> oh. i had no idea at the time when i met him. i mean, he was a lawyer. he had been a community organizer. i knew he had political aspirations. but he never came off as a political guy to me. he always seemed like just a
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normal, small guy, great personality, who looked like he'd be a good fit with my sister. that was how i looked at it. and it wasn't until he really started getting into politics in those first early campaigns where i saw, you know, he's got a gift for this. >> i remember watching him speak for the first time around 2004, i think it was. and thinking, wow, who's this guy? " because he just had something. and other people picked up on it. and then obviously he ended up running and he ended up winning. and then you made your speech there. what's the moment like for you personally? on a human level? when you walk into the white house for the first time with your brother-in-law as the president of the united states? >> well, i got to tell you, the first thing, piers, that struck me was how small the inside of the white house was. >> i was there the first time the other day. it's a lot smaller than you think, isn't it? >> it is. i mean, the rooms are small. the building looks grand. but when you go in it's really
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small. and i tell you, the only bed that's big enough for a 6'6" guy is the one in the lincoln bedroom. >> so if you you don't get that you've had it. >> that's right. my feet are hanging off. >> was it a surreal moment for you? >> oh, yeah. and it still is. and i try to get into this a little bit in "a game of character" but i don't get to flesh it out really well. it is remarkably weird walking in there and knowing that my mom and my sister and my brother-in-law and my nieces live there. i mean, you can't possibly get your arms around it even after this period of time. but it just -- it's truly a rewarding opportunity. and every time i go it's very exciting. >> what do you think is the greatest mischaracterization of the obamas from your standpoint? something that annoys you most when you see them described as whatever? >> you know, i would love to tell you that there was something that bothers me.
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but nothing that anybody says bothers me. and i talk about that in "a game of character" how my mom at an early age helped us with ourself esteem by saying to us, if you're doing the right things it doesn't matter what people say about you. if you're doing your best, working your hardest and you have good intentions, then just do what you do. >> do you ever argue with the president about stuff he's doing as president? >> are you kidding? no. he's much smarter than i am. >> you don't -- >> no. we may have the -- before he was president, the argument about which chicago bulls team was better than the other one. because we're both great chicago bulls fans. >> you're not tempted over the breakfast table to say, hey, come on, mr. president, about this policy of yours. >> no. not at all. and i appreciate the fact that he stays out of my team's business, too [ laughter ] >> how did you feel when you
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discovered that your brother-in-law had ordered the mission, the successful mission, that killed osama bin laud snen. >> i have to say i was probably like most of the people were who heard the news. it was extremely moving and then extremely thankful and exhilirated thought worked. >> he didn't even tell michelle, he said. >> well, yeah, i'm sure that's the case. and it is -- you talk about character and integrity. you think about how wonderful our armed forces specialists are and all the people who are -- who are fighting for this country. and it just -- it was a very humbling and sobering thought that went through my mind and just made me glad that i live here. >> and finally, little you be out on the stump for him in the next election campaign? >> well, if they need me.
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i don't know if they'll need me. if they need me i'll be willing to help as always. >> i would definitely bring you into the team, craig robinson. i think you're a secret weapon. >> thank you very much. >> very nice to meet you. >> nice to meet you. thanks for having me on. >> my pleasure. when we come back a preview of my end view with "america's got talent" nick cannon.
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a month ago now the winners from my other show "america's got talent" heavy blue singers michael grim and the show's host, nick cannon. listen to what he has to say about his wife mariah carey and their new baby twins. >> tell me about your lovely wife who is i have to say delightful. >> thank you. >> she makes me laugh. she looks sexy. >> i hate when you say this. >> sexy, beautiful. >> i know there's this nasty undertone that you have. every time you say something about my wife, i can't just imagine what you're thinking. >> the reason you don't like it is you


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