tv NBC Nightly News NBC July 23, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
on the broadcast tonight, here it comes. in the gulf, the race to get out of the way of the latest weather threat, bonnie. where is the storm headed tonight? and there's extreme weather elsewhere, too. look at this sinkhole that swallowed a car. christmas in july? a sign of the tough times at the mall. and ann curry's making a giving hope to some of the poorest people in america. giving hope to some of the poorest people in america. nightly news begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening, i'm lester holt in tonight for brian
williams. the pace of evacuation that site of the oil blow-out is picking up this evening. tropical storm bonnie made landfall this morning south of miami before heading to open water. it was later downgraded to a tropical depression, but is expected to regain tropical storm strength over the weekend. and while right now it poses minimal danger to coastal communities along the gulf, officials are worried it poses a significant threat to the armada of containment vessels at sea, as well as the floating tide of oil spread across the gulf. nbc's anne thompson is watching developments for us in venice, louisiana. anne? >> reporter: good evening, lester. officials here think they can handle whatever bonnie would bring, in part because they had a dress rehearsal, of sorts, with hurricane alex, but they are taking no chances. today, there was not a minute to waste along louisiana's oil-weary coast.
tugboats pushed barges loaded down with boom and equipment up the mississippi river. on shore, crews readied supplies to be transported out of the path of the storm. seeing their protection move, some local officials criticized the strategy, but the leader of the federal response says the plan is rooted in his hurricane katrina experience. >> i'm still haunted by the specter of flying in over new orleans on the 5th -- 6th of september as a principal federal official and looking down at new orleans to a parking lot full of buses that were flooded and not used for evacuation because they were not moved in time. >> reporter: venice, louisiana's southernmost town, is at sea level. the risk here, storm surge and flooding. coast guard commander claudia gelder is sending her supplies and people to higher ground nine miles away. safe, but close enough to return quickly. >> the storm will move all around. we want to just make sure we are in the right place as soon as possible after the storm. >> reporter: bp's floating
hotels for cleanup workers on the coast are vacant and moving to safe harbor, while all those fishing boats turned cleanup vessels are headed in. >> those folks will return today, but we won't deploy those tomorrow as we expect maybe landfall sometime tomorrow. >> reporter: at the leak site, the two drilling relief wells pulled up their pipes and started the slow journey out of the storm's path, while outside the new orleans, the federal hearings into the explosion that killed 11 workers were stunned by testimony that the rig's general alarm had been adjusted not to ring at transocean's insistence. >> they did not want people to be woke up at 3:00 in the morning due to false alarms. >> reporter: now, regardless of what kind of wallop bonnie packs, it has already altered the timeline to kill the well, pushing it 12 days past the mid-august target. lester? >> anne thompson tonight, thanks. with all this, that means along the louisiana bayou, there is a new unknown to deal with,
and that is causing some high anxiety for people already dealing with their share of disaster. michelle kosinski is in dulac, louisiana, for us tonight. michelle? >> reporter: hi there, lester. people's lives here are so close to the water, there isn't much they could do about the storm. they can either ride it out or get out. some people say a hurricane headed for them wouldn't normally faze them, but they have never had a storm mixed with oil. in new orleans this morning, they closed the flood gates and loaded up sandbags in plaquemines parish. a day to clean up, tie down, move out. >> water got this high. >> reporter: on property still scarred from katrina and where those memories live so close to the surface. shrimper lynette gonzalez, known as net -- >> after katrina, you learn to just move your stuff. >> reporter: -- is trying to protect what is left of her livelihood. storms, they know, but this is an ugly mix.
>> i'm afraid of the oil, you know, and the water coming up here, and -- i mean, what's gonna happen then? >> reporter: working alongside it, they've been watching that water rise for weeks, already so high. >> immediately, i just got to get out of harm's way, the water's coming. >> reporter: they also know every day spent crouching from a tropical storm will be a day not spent cleaning up oil, one day further from the end. >> we dodged a bullet now for three months. i don't think we're going to dodge this bullet. this bullet -- oil is coming in. >> reporter: this family lost everything in katrina, just bought this fishing boat they can't wait to use for fishing and not oil boom, now trying to get it hurricane-ready in a hurry. >> the last thing we want to do is worry about four boats that we have out, scattered throughout louisiana. >> reporter: where life is tied that water, so is anxiety. and lately, it only seems to be rising. the goal on these bayous is simply to work through it. many are so exhausted from three months of worry, they feel this is the least of it.
and at any rate, the storm will pass. lester? >> michelle kosinski, thanks. and now we turn to the weather channel's jim cantore, who's in naples, florida, with the latest on this storm now, where it is headed and what it might mean for all the oil in the gulf. jim, good evening. >> good evening, lester. you wouldn't know we had a storm here today, that's for sure. the sun is out here in naples and the storm pushes to the northwest. let's look at that projected path and time it forward, shall we? you can see, we get into saturday. that is when it will be over the heart of the oil spill and making its way onshore by saturday night. those will be the major impact times. in the meantime, look at these impacts, surface winds from the east-southeast will allow these seas to build, possibly ten, as high as 12 feet. we heard from thad allen today that is a good thing, helps to mix up and break up the oil. the bad news, according to the noaa forecast, the dark blue area you see surrounded by the hatch blue area where the heaviest concentrations of oil is and that means bretton sound and the chandelier islands will deal with this. about 150 miles of coastline are expected to be impacted, lester.
that could be less by the time all is said and done than we had with alex. >> thanks, jim cantore. while the gulf coast battens down the hatches for bonnie, a storm system 900 miles to the north left milwaukee soaked and shocked. behind it came extreme heat that was making for miserable conditions outside. that is where nbc's kevin tibbles is tonight. kevin, tell us about it. >> reporter: hey, lester. with all the talk of tropical storms in the gulf it is hard to believe it is monsoon season here in milwaukee, just as another wave of heat crosses through much of the country. it didn't just pour. milwaukee was pounded. a record 5.6 inches of rain from one massive storm. >> i'm very amazed at this. i have never seen anything like this. >> reporter: nearly eight inches of rain in a single day, another record. a state of emergency declared as roads washed away and basements flooded. >> you can't underestimate the
power of the rushing water. it will pull you under in no time. >> reporter: two sisters were hospitalized when struck by lightning. numerous tornadoes were reported and milwaukee's airport closed, with standing water on the runways. rushing water opened a giant 20-foot sinkhole in the city's east side, swallowing an suv and its driver. >> i knew i needed to do something quick, otherwise something bad was gonna happen, because the water kept flowing and flowing. >> i grabbed you hand and you looked at me like you weren't even in it yourself and just said, "get me out of here." >> reporter: and right behind the rain, more extreme heat. on the mall in d.c., it is a steam bath. >> no, i don't like the heat. it's sweltering. >> the humidity is the worst. >> reporter: so hot in maryland, a car dealership was baking cookies on the dash. once again, much of the nation swelters. >> the heat wave is going to continue. if you had a little bit of a break for the two-thirds of the country that has been hot, a little bit of a break, the heat is coming back. it is going to remain hot.
>> reporter: in chicago, with temperatures in the mid-90s, the kids get relief any way they can. and lester, it's beginning to look like this seeming never-ending wave of heat is going to last well into next week. that suv in the sinkhole, it went in there 24-odd hours ago with a full tank of gas, the engine, lester, is still running. back to you. >> kevin tibbles tonight, thanks. let's turn to the economy now. another up day on wall street. the dow gained more than 102 points. capping off a big week. the blue chips finished up more than 3%. the stock market has been gaining on signs the economy may be getting stronger, but stubbornly high unemployment is one area that is still causing a lot of worry. in an interview with tim geithner for sunday's "meet the press," david gregory asked why the recovery from the meltdown has been so sluggish. geithner says businesses and consumers got into too much debt, and that's difficult to
overcome. >> what you would expect is a more moderate pace for recovery than is typical, and that's what we are seeing. again, you are seeing recovery, you are seeing private investment expand again, job growth starting to come back and that's very encouraging. >> you can see david gregory's full interview with treasury secretary geithner sunday on "meet the press." state and local governments are another part of this economy that is struggling and facing cutbacks. and in two neighboring california communities, taxpayers' anger with the way things are being run has boiled over. as nbc's george lewis reports now, that outrage led to some big changes. >> we don't have any problem sitting down. >> no. >> reporter: the raucous city council meeting in bell, california, lasted into the wee hours of this morning. >> recall. recall. recall. >> reporter: and the message from citizens was loud and clear. >> i have some kind of respect for you and now it's to the floor. >> reporter: at issue, the high salaries of three top officials,
city manager robert rizzo making almost $800,000 a year, police chief randy adams, earning $457,000, and assistant city manager angela spaccia, taking home $376,000. the three agreed to step down, but many voters also want the heads of the city council members who okayed the salaries, council members who serve part-time and earn $100,000 a year themselves. >> everybody in the nation is looking at this city and we should be embarrassed. >> reporter: california's attorney general, making a run for governor, is launching an investigation. >> how in the world can a little city like this pay such exorbitant salaries? >> reporter: then there's the little city next door to bell, maywood. teetering on the brink of financial collapse, maywood got rid of all its municipal employees. now, everything here from garbage collection to law enforcement is outsourced. l.a. county sheriff's deputies are the police force.
>> members of the community have come up to us and many of them tell me personally, they feel much safer. >> reporter: how much do you save by not having a police department? >> a couple of million dollars a year. >> reporter: city councilman felipe aguirre says the alternative was bankruptcy. and it isn't just maywood and bell that are in the hole. >> there are about 5,000 units of local government in california, everything from huge to tiny, and they are all feeling the pinch. >> reporter: in this tough economy, a worst of times tale that goes beyond two cities. george lewis, nbc news, maywood, california. when "nightly news" continues in just a moment, at the mall and online, deep discounts as retailers offer christmas in july. what's going on here? and later, every paper plate tells a story. ann curry meets a woman whose simple but powerful idea is making a difference for her neighbors.
its's hot outside. in fact, weather experts say this is shaping up to be one of the hottest years on record nationwide. so why are christmas carols playing at many malls around the country in july? it is perhaps a sign of the still-challenging times, a hard sell on christmas in july. as we hear from nbc's mike taibbi, a lot of financiallystripped americans are buying it. >> reporter: at the times square toys "r" us store, there are rides a brand new ice cream shop and a familiar image and an unfamiliar stop on the calendar. >> for some of you, some of the hottest air you've seen all summer long. >> reporter: in the hottest stretch of summer, june retail sales down half a point from may, christmas in july is back, and bigger and in more ways than ever.
you're wearing the hat because you believe in this concept, right? >> mike, i definitely believe in the concept. the stores are jump-starting sales in july because they doubt those sales will be there in december. >> reporter: to push back against the recessionary time, retailers are pulling out all the stops, but there's nothing that says shopping more than the simple idea of christmas. >> ho ho ho ho. >> reporter: that's why santa's on duty, but the swimsuits and sandals are the biggest seller at this target store in buffalo, and why sears and kmart set up christmas lanes at many of their stores and why all the major retailers are pushing extended online sales on websites filled with holiday imagery. >> start to put christmas on people's mind, think about christmas, and think about sears. >> reporter: some stores serving the bottom line in other ways. walmart is about to use remotely tracked smart tags on popular clothing items like jeans to more efficiently manage inventory and control theft there are privacy concerns. >> little by little, our privacy is being eroded. everything is computerized.
>> reporter: this week, young noah knows retail's big story. who is this guy? >> summer santa. >> reporter: not all grownups think summer santa is such a great idea. >> too early to think about it. >> reporter: but enough do. >> i like the idea. it is called christmas in july for a reason. >> reporter: that's why the salvation army is ringing its bells in july as well as december. and for those who really get into the christmas spirit, at the chicago sears' store, there is also a sale on snowblowers. mike taibbi, nbc news, new york. when we come back here tonight, something even more unusual than christmas in july. now there's video of one couple's up close and personal encounter with a huge creature of the sea.
some skeptics wondered if the photo could be a fake, but it turns out there's video of it recorded by another boater nearby. the quality's not great, but you sure can see, this was a close encounter. in washington tonight, a retirement ceremony for general stanley mcchrystal, the former commander of u.s. forces in afghanistan, whose storied career came to an abrupt end after he and his staff criticized and mocked the civilian leadership, including the president, in a "rolling stone" article. in his last form elect, mcchrystal saluted the troop at fort mcnair for the final time. longtime journalist daniel schorr has died. schorr reported and broke stories at home and abroad for more than 70 years, many of them as one of the original murrow boys at cbs news. he covered world war ii, the cold war and perhaps most famously, watergate, where he discovered his own name on the so-called nixon enemies list. in 1976, he refused to tell congress who his source had been on a story about illegal cia and
fbi activities. >> betray your source would be for me to betray myself, my career and my life. and to say that i refuse to do it isn't quite saying it right. i cannot do it. >> schorr was forced out of cbs that same year, did a brief stint at cnn, and for the last 25 years, he was a senior news analyst with npr, still on the air until two weeks ago. dan schorr died this morning in washington. he was 93 years old. when we come back, my colleague, ann curry, finds a woman making a very real difference for friends and neighbors in need.
time now for our "making a difference" report. and while this economy may be turning around for some americans, the reality is that millions of families that were the first to feel the downturn and will likely be the last to feel the recovery are at real risk of going hungry. my colleague, ann curry, has the story of an ohio woman who, despite being poor herself, figured out a way to feed thousands of those families and make a difference every single day.
>> reporter: lisa roberts knows what it's like to feel hungry. as a single mother, she was often unable to feed her two boys, much less herself. but through her hunger, she found her calling, helping to gather food for people in need, something she has been doing for 13 years at her friends and neighbors food pantry in southeast ohio's appalachian foothills. >> it is not an emergency thing anymore. it is an everyday thing now. >> reporter: where the recession has taken its hard toll, in some places unemployment is 20%. >> 2010 and it felt like you go back to the roots. >> there's no jobs here. >> reporter: with two trucks, a donated space and a few volunteers, including herself -- >> thank you, dear. >> reporter: -- lisa feeds as many as 3,000 people every month, a number that has risen sharply in the great recession. >> you can choose to feed less people more food, or more
people less food. and when more people are showing up on your door, i can't turn them away. >> reporter: you're where the buck stops? >> yeah. okay, you get one cereal. >> reporter: lisa lets people choose from whatever she has, a mark of respect, because people feel uncomfortable asking for food, like anita hayes, a bakery worker, and her partner, jim skipper, who is unemployed. >> the pantry probably helps us out a good 75%. >> is that hard? >> the first few times, i had to swallow my pride, but i wasn't doing it for myself. i have to feed my children. >> reporter: lisa and her colleagues at the food pantry wanted president obama to know what life is like living on the edge of hunger. >> i want as many as i can get. >> reporter: so they asked people in food lines to write their stories on empty paper plates. >> my husband worked all his life to take care of us. he died hungry. >> that one kills me. >> i hope that he will read them
and i hope that he will understand that that plate that he is holding is a person. >> dear mr. president -- >> reporter: she packed them up and sent them to washington, d.c. >> read what they have to say, if he sees that there are so many of them, hopefully that will make a difference. >> reporter: you seen the way between hopelessness and hopefulness. >> you have to stay hopeful or you are going to cry, you know? how am i going to face the people that are going to come through here without hope, without a smile? >> reporter: one woman trying to feed the hungry and nourish hope in a place where the american dream has become even more elusive. ann curry, nbc news, southeast ohio. >> for more information and to find out how you can help, go to our website, nightly.msnbc.com. and you can see ann's full report, "america now: friends and neighbors" on "dateline," sunday night at 7/6 central on nbc. that's our broadcast for this friday night. thank you for being with us. i'm lester holt, in tonight for
brian. i will see you tomorrow morning on "today" then right back here tomorrow evening. on "today" then right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com he's a working man. he doesn't bother anyone. it's scary not knowing, you know. >> an innocent man gunned down on his own porch. another victim in oakland. i'm tom sinkovits. >> the shooting of an