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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 24, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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on the broadcast tonight from joplin, missouri, from the air -- a new and terrifying display of nature's power. on the ground -- the race against time for more survivors of the tornado that destroyed so much of this town. and in the forecast -- >> oh, my gosh. it's bigger than be. >> more bad weather heading across the plains and the desperate feeling here tonight that it's just not fair. our team is on the ground again tonight. our team is on the ground again tonight. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television and good evening once again
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from joplin, missouri, tonight where throughout this region we are feeling kind of dangerously exposed, a kind of cruelty of this weather pattern and a double-edged sword. first of all, this was the first good clear day since the big tornado for equipment both large and small and people to come back in and look at the task ahead of joplin, missouri, where easily a third of the city is gone -- some 2,000 buildings. but the problem is daytime heating. it's like a terrarium as cold air comes in from the upper plains and the rockies. believe it or not, storms are firing off tonight to our west and south. more on that in a moment. we had an uptick in the number of dead today. it stands right now at 123. again, countless people have
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been injured and it's still too early to tally that up. this tornado in joplin brought the total number of people who have died in tornadoes in our country this year so far to 488 souls. 50 deadly tornadoes have touched down in the united states so far just in 2011. the average, 28 of those per year. president obama announced today he will visit this city on sunday. we have a look at conditions here. beginning our coverage tonight from nbc's al roker. >> reporter: it's now been 48 hours since the deadliest tornado in more than 50 years touched down in joplin. and the numbers are staggering. more than 1,000 homes destroyed. hundreds of businesses gone as well. >> there's st. johns hospital. you can see how damaged it is from up here. >> reporter: but from the air, this disaster takes on a whole new dimension. >> you are looking at the beginning of seven miles of pure hell, the path of the joplin tornado.
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from the ground, it's pretty terrible. from the air, it's hard to believe when you look and see the swath of damage. >> reporter: entire neighborhoods wiped off the map. >> from 1,000 feet up, you can see how this town of 50,000 was changed in an instant. >> 300 yard spread all the way through here. >> reporter: back on the ground, search and rescue efforts are in full swing. >> move off to the side so the dog doesn't smell you. >> reporter: at this site, rescuers sift through the underbrush on a hillside looking for survivors. the emotional toll almost too much for some to bear. >> this used to be our home. now there is nothing left of it. >> reporter: at this mobile e.r. unit with 24 beds, commander mark forbes says thankfully so far there's only been a trickle of patients to treat. >> we have seen a lot of cuts, some broken bones and actually some motor vehicle accidents. what we believe is people with minor injuries are just taking care of themselves at home
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because they believe all the facilities are overwhelmed. >> your assignment is between 25th and 26th street. >> reporter: one of those coordinating the volunteers, steve vanderbol. >> we are moving teams online on numbered streets, moving them from west to east, covering everything. >> reporter: it's a massive operation with national guardsmen, fire and police, plus civilian volunteers. >> the resiliency of the people in this community in joplin, missouri, with everything they have gone through over the past few days and actually for the past few weeks has been something that, to me, has been happening. >> the only clothes we have are halloween costumes. >> reporter: for this family the task of sifting through what's left of the home is made easier by the support of friends who have come out to help. >> the things that are most important to us, we have pulled out. >> reporter: in spite of their losses the two can see a future here. >> it's hard to imagine joplin ever being the same, but there is so much relief help pouring in that, i don't know, maybe the
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town will recover. >> maybe it will be better. that's the spirit that a lot of folks, brian, are clinging onto. >> imagine that. we have to cling to that. and, al, a very basic question has to do with your line of work. this weather seems so cruel that we are watching the skies again. why is this happening? >> well, we've got -- we have had this pattern and it's not going away. jet stream up to the north. lots of warm air coming in, cold air from the plains and we've got it again tonight. we are seeing severe storms, tornadoes firing up in central oklahoma, kansas, texas. they are making their way across. there is a strong risk of severe storms tonight. that will be moving east tomorrow, working its way into this area -- missouri, parts of oklahoma and on into the ohio river valley. so we are not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination. >> okay, thanks for starting off our coverage tonight. you mentioned the storms popping off to our west. for about the last hour and a half we have been watching our nbc station kfor in oklahoma city as their meteorologist
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david payne has been giving viewers a close-up view of a storm they have been tracking live on television. >> i'm headed east at a good clip in the debris path. it looks like the debris path was a half mile wide across i-40 from right to left, south to north, a half mile wide. a semi blown over at exit 115, semi blown over on i-40, as i keep moving east. there are going to be people with injuries out here with the semis, the way they are laid on their side. >> again, a special kind of cruelty that there is weather anywhere near here that severe. talk about the ongoing human drama in the tornado that has picked up this town and turned it over, transforming joplin, missouri. more on that daily struggle here today from nbc's kevin tibbles. >> reporter: in joplin, the new
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day reveals what looks like a moonscape as traumatized residents pick through the mess that remains of their worldly possessions. many of the newly homeless now stay in an emergency red cross shelter at missouri southern state university. a friend spotted jane bryson on tv and came to offer shelter. >> i'm going to take her home with me since she lost her home and everything. >> reporter: some of the injured are treated in the teaching wing of the university's medical facility. now it's a clinic filled with volunteers. >> we have had iowa, arkansas, kansas, oklahoma. you know, as far away as california come in. >> reporter: patients like marcia mccullough all have the same message for loved ones searching for them. >> i just want to let my sister and my daughter know that i'm alive and well and only in minor pain. >> reporter: mary basher was in her apartment when it collapsed.
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she fell two floors. >> if you're alive and you got out of this, you had a miracle. >> reporter: and edna lyons was on the floor below. she was buried. >> i saw the tornado. you don't ever want to see that. it's the most evil looking thing you have ever seen in your life. >> this is day two. >> reporter: a local radio station abandoned its all-talk format and now broadcasts messages around the clock for those seeking the missing. >> we have been taking thousands of calls nonstop. >> reporter: social media sites are filled with worried postings from relatives. >> heart-wrenching not to be in contact with loved ones, especially through such a traumatic event. >> she's alive. that's all that matters. >> reporter: all across joplin, so many stories similar to these stories of survival. stories of being reunited with loved ones and, of course, brian, so many other stories with a tragic ending. >> we have been listening to that radio station all day long. we get emotional with every phone call looking for someone including people lifted out of cars. kevin tibbles continuing our coverage here. kevin, thanks. it is true. walk anywhere in joplin,
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missouri, these days and you find usually in this order -- destruction, sadness, shock, and daily minor miracles like we found today when we came upon a small baptist church and when we arrived they had just come across a great find. where did you find it? >> some guys found it up inside on the pew where i left it. isn't that something? >> what are the chances of that? >> sitting right on the pew. >> holy cow. well, if nothing better happens in this whole thing, that's got to mean something. >> it does. >> this tornado changed the views you can get of joplin, missouri, the vistas as you look out here have gone back to the 1800s before these buildings went up in the first place. walking around this town it reminds you of the fairy tale. structures made of stone and brick like this one survived largely, while the ones made of wood went down. brick structures including this
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church. we even ran into today the man who did this original brickwork. >> i have bricked it twice. we had a fire 14 years ago. >> you did a great job. >> well, thank you. that's what i did. i feel like the lord watched over us. got down in that basement. you could hear the debris, the glass flying down the hallway. >> people's ears were popping because of the change in pressure. >> it made my ears hurt. >> yeah. >> this is the main way into the basement. >> the pastor here showed us the church basement that functioned as a bunker as the tornado went overhead. >> got some water here. >> and kept people alive. 15 people rode out the storm in here. >> they held the door shut. they came here because there are no windows, no access to the outside. >> he kept repeating the church is wherever they gather and not any one structure. >> this is just a shell that we comele and worship in. i'm thankful we had no loss of
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life to this point. we know of no one of our church members that lost their life. >> not surprisingly, the youngest congregants tend to be the most hopeful about rebuilding. >> it's just unbelievable. >> what are you going to do for a church now? >> probably mount sagmont. >> probably go have church there. >> i tell you what, we're all lucky. we survived it. we didn't even get a finger cut. >> this can't be your first tornado. >> it is. >> all your life? >> here? >> yeah. >> that's what i told my wife. you're scared to death but i have been married to her 58 years. >> so you're just starting out together. >> yeah. >> again, listen closely. it's 90% faith and attitude when life and nature leave you with nothing else. we talked about the weather tonight. the wind's just now picking up here. it's ominous. mike seidel is in wellington, kansas, with one of the mobile units. i understand winds are getting a little sporty out there where you are. >> reporter: they are.
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so far we have dodged the worst of the storms. let's take you and show you some of that video in el reno out to the west of oklahoma city. tornadic super cells. we have storms producing lightning. wind gusts to 40 miles per hour. so far no warnings in this area. we just got word from canadian county, oklahoma, sheriff's dispatch that they are reporting injuries and now two reports of fatalities. that's the large wedge tornado we have been watching with our jaws dropping throughout the afternoon. we're going to follow it here. we are under a p.d.s., a particularly dangerous situation tornado watch until 11:00 tonight. we have a long way to go. the worst of the weather is south of us on i-35 by about 90 minutes. mike bettes is there. we will keep you updated. this is all headed your way, brian. be on the lookout this evening. >> that's what we are worried about. mike seidel from the weather channel. we learned a new one tonight. p.d.s., particularly dangerous situation. mike, you and the crew stay safe. we'll take a break here in joplin. when we come back, some of the day's other news including a
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conversation with israeli prime minister, benjamin netanyahu, a man at the center of the news today, hundreds of miles from here.
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back from joplin, missouri. as promised we have to get to some of the other news of this day. halfway across the country specifically. on capitol hill, israel's prime minister was cheered over and over again during a speech to a joint session of congress today. benjamin netanyahu said israel is prepared to make painful compromises for peace with palestinians but will not, as president obama has called for, return to its borders before the '67 mideast war. nor he said will israel negotiate with terrorists by
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which he meant hamas. >> i believe we can fashion a brilliant future for our children, but israel will not negotiate with the palestinian government backed by the palestinian version of al qaeda. that we will not do. [ applause ] >> again, several standing ovations. late this afternoon, our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell sat down in washington with netanyahu. >> reporter: president obama has said to you that you cannot afford any more delay, that with all of the upheaval, the changes in the arab world that israel is at risk of being isolated, of being left behind. what do you say to the president? >> i think the president shares with me and i share with him the desire to move the peace process forward. i said in congress that there is one way to move this thing forward. president abbas of the palestinian authority has to do what i did two years ago. two years ago, i spoke to my people and i said, i will accept
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a palestinian state. i think the president -- president abbas has to says these same six words to his people. i will accept the jewish state. you know what, i will give him a break. five words. i accept the jewish state. i think if he says that then that will move the process forward. people will say, okay, we have a real peace partner and for real peace, we're willing to move and move quickly. >> reporter: but why in the world is it an upheaval? isn't israel at risk of being isolated, of the u.n. taking action to declare a palestinian state? >> the world is changing. we want to make sure when we make peace we not only have somebody that will recognize us. but that we know we have a secure border to defend ourselves, not only to defend the peace but to defend ourselves if peace unravels. i think we are seeing what is happening in syria. we are seeing what is happening in other places in egypt. we don't know whether our peace partners will be there tomorrow. i mean really tomorrow, not an
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abstract notion. so when we say we want mutual recognition and defensible borders for israel, that's really the meat and potatoes of peace. >> reporter: there was a moment in the oval office on friday. you and the president of the united states and some of your own supporters, friends of israel said that you were lecturing him, that it went too far. >> i wasn't lecturing anyone. i was speaking about the basic things that israel requires to have peace and security and survival. i am the leader of an old nation. the president said a great nation. i said, he is the leader of a great nation, the american people. i have the greatest respect for america and for the office of the presidency. >> by the way, andrea mitchell's full interview with netanyahu of israel will air tomorrow on her msnbc show "the mitchell report." in other news domestically chrysler announced today it has paid back the bailout loans from both the u.s. and canadian governments.
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we're talking about $7.6 billion in all, but this is a little bit misleading. the government loans were paid back by borrowing money from banks and selling bonds. italy's fiat has taken a much bigger stake of chrysler these days and now owns 46% of chrysler. on wall street back home in new york today the dow was down 25 points in today's trading. another break and when we come back tonight from joplin, missouri, we'll show you what happened to the president and first lady overseas today.
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because we are tracking a lot tonight and because the weather to our west is so important to this vulnerable and exposed area in and around joplin, missouri, we are going to go to weather channel meteorologist mike bettes. you will recall he was the first one to offer television coverage of what happened over the weekend and because he apparently can't get enough of it tonight -- mike, you're in perkins, oklahoma, tonight. what's happening in the skies behind you? >> reporter: we have a tornado warning for our county on the northeast side of oklahoma city. the skies are ominous. we believe a tornado could be headed for stillwater and the university at oklahoma state. we urge everybody to take cover as soon as possible. tornadoes all over the oklahoma
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metro area including grady county. storm chasers seeing violent tornadoes. we have seen them all around the metro area and this area is no stranger to tornadoes, but unfortunately in light of what's happened in recent days we are urging everyone at this point south and north side of oklahoma city to take immediate shelter with tornadoes on the ground as we speak. brian, it is a violent evening. we don't -- we can't even say for sure that tornadoes couldn't be headed your way in joplin tonight. >> that's what we're fearing. thankfully everyone in this region is hyperattuned to these weather systems colliding. mike bettes out in oklahoma where they might indeed have a rough night. mike, thanks. again, we must look at other news of this day. the obamas are in the united kingdom. a state visit in london including a state dinner this evening. they are spending the night at buckingham palace. as you may know, they hurried there from ireland.
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they met today with newlyweds prince william and kate. believe me when they throw a state dinner at buckingham palace it's unlike any event ever. there is the white house released photo of the meeting with the newly married couple. and we want to update you as well on the volcano in iceland. this became an issue once again over this past weekend after months of sitting there dormant. it has already led to the cancellation of 500 european airline flights. the winds keep shifting. the latest projection map shows the cloud actually moving away from the uk. good news for the president and first lady who will want to eventually come home. bad news is it moves more in towards central europe over the next 24 hours. we're back with more of our coverage here in joplin, missouri, right after this.
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back here in joplin, missouri. as the wind picks up, i want to show you a few things before we go. you perhaps heard reports about the bark being ripped from trees. this is what we mean. look at the stories this one tree tells. we found a receipt kind of glued on here.
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something that cost $12,400. a piece of corrugated steel. this is on here now for good. tar paper from a roof wrapped around the base. this sitting in the yard. everybody can identify with this. this is a rubbermaid rolling trash can. look at that, a piece of lumber clear through the other side. this tree looks like somebody took a piece of, like, 600-grain superfine sandpaper and worked on it as a piece of art over several days. it was just mother nature. stripped everything off this tree. only bark this storm didn't get is still adhering to it. but, again, insulation. but fiberglass insulation and look at where we are. there is nothing left of this stretch of joplin, missouri. remember, three-quarters of a mile wide, all that you can see running for six miles through a third of this city. that is, for now, our broadcast. and to answer all the questions about people wanting to help, you can go to our facebook and
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twitter pages. you can go to our website, for ways to direct you to that. for our team on the ground here tonight in joplin, missouri, that's our tuesday broadcast. thank you as always for being here with us. i'm brian williams. here with us. i'm brian williams. good night. -- captions by vitac -- right now at 6:00, a search for a missingn tee from the east bay. the clue that led investigators to san francisco. it's a controversial new tell-all painting, an unflattering portrait of sarah palin. the local connection to the new book. and a new warning tonight involving fish caught in the san francisco bay. the news at 6:00 starts right


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