tv NBC Nightly News NBC June 26, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
on the broadcast tonight, state of emergency. florida may be used to hurricanes, but some folks are saying, nothing quite like this. days of drenching rain, widespread flooding and damage. firestorm, the inferno in the american west. the kind of computer you own could mean you'll pay more. >> a mother's fight, a follow-up tonight on what her victory means for others. standing ovation, he dreamed of walking across the stage to get his diploma. tonight a thrilling and
emotional graduation. "nightly news" begins now. tonight we are following the wrath of nature and elements in two separate areas of this country. water flooding from a relentless storm in florida, and fire out west. first off, 19 million americans are feeling the effects of a massive and slow churning storm in florida. relentless rains have brought torrents of water on shore. the famous sunshine skyway bridge across tampa bay has been closed since 4:00 p.m. on sunday. it's never been closed that long, not even during a hurricane. and i-10 across florida is closed both ways because of a sinkhole. entire towns and communities are under water, it's where we begin our coverage tonight with jim cantore in live oak, florida, just west of jacksonville. jim, good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, brian. this is the second tropical storm of the month for florida. a month that started out in drought in many areas, but after 30 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, cities like live oak just can't handle all this water. debby swept into northern florida today swelling rivers over their banks and swallowing homes. in the past 72 hours, more than two feet of rain has fallen leaving parts of the state soaked. >> been here eight years, i've never seen it this high, even with a hurricane, a real hurricane. >> reporter: so much rain has fallen that the city of live oak, miles away from the nearest river is 80% under water. as deep as four feet in some places. 60 people have been forced to flee their homes so far. >> we're doing all we can. the water's rising, retention ponds are full, ground is saturated, and we're just trying to do everything we can to keep people safe. >> reporter: tim hopes sandbags will be enough to save his business.
>> water's still rising, yeah. but you have to try. we can't just sit back and let it keep coming in, we have to try. >> reporter: the massive slow moving storm stretches 205 miles from its center. in alabama, authorities are searching for a man who disappeared in the rough surf. the entire state of florida remains under a state of emergency. tens of thousands are still without power and rising water has closed portions of interstate 10. west of jacksonville, authorities are saying the suwannee river has risen 20 feet in the past 24 hours. >> what we're concerned about now is making sure the residents are taken care of. we had over 7 inches of rain through the evening and overnight. >> reporter: in tampa, high winds closed the skyway bridge and the cities famed bay shore boulevard which this summer will take thousands of visitors to the republican convention. today it looked more like an actual bay. and guys, it's fresh water flooding we've seen in through here. a lot of these businesses saved
by sandbags as the rain begins to taper off. now we're talking about rivers. rivers that have to rise to potential major and record flood stage. four of them and counting across the state of florida tonight. >> and that, of course, will be on a time delay. jim cantore in live oak, florida. jim, thanks for your reporting. now to the american west tonight where the problem is fire fed by extreme heat and making for just about the worst conditions for those who are out there trying to fight it. and the effort is on by the way to keep the fire line away from colorado springs. nbc's miguel almaguer is with us from there tonight. miguel, i already understand some july 4th festivities at the air force academy have been cancelled because of this encroaching fire? >> reporter: yeah, brian. it seems like things have gone from bad to worse. take a look at those ominous plumes of smoke billowing behind me. it's a clear indication of why this fire has become the nation's highest priority blaze. some 1,600 homes have been
forced to evacuate. 5,000 people are out of their homes tonight. while firefighters are making some progress, it's been a tough line for crews all across this region. on the front lines, firefighters face two battles, intense flames and record breaking temperatures, up to 106 degrees. >> now, the record heat and everything, it's all kind of adding up to the perfect storm for us. the biggest thing that we do is, we take up a lot of water, and we hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. >> reporter: a triple digit heat wave spread across six western states. >> this could be another record setting day for us. >> working hard. >> reporter: in new mexico, robert caldwell is clearing a fire break, carrying a pack that weighs 45 pounds. >> it can be grueling, long days. 16 hours, sometimes as much as 36 hours. >> reporter: with over 6,000 men and women battling the blazes, arnold jordan and his team of sioux indian firefighters are up against colorado's monstrous
high park fire burning now for 18 days. >> it's very sweaty, very, very, very tiring. >> reporter: in colorado springs, where today it's a record 101 degrees, flames once again are closing in on homes. the inferno brewing less than five miles from the air force academy. specially equipped c-130's joined the fight dropping retardant. with the heat and winds, new fires are breaking out every day. in montana, the 3,000 acre pony fire is zero percent contained. firefighters were pulled and aircraft grounded due to strong winds. >> the engines that are going up there just can't drive to the fire, so it's making it difficult to fight. >> reporter: firefighters are making progress. crews took a stand in the suitably named last chance, colorado, and won, saving most homes. and brian, tonight while some homes have been saved. we have new word of another
wildfire breaking out in another major city here in colorado, a blaze in boulder went from three acres to nearly 300 acres in a matter of hours. some 900 people have been forced to evacuate. back here in colorado springs, the gig worry tonight is going to be these winds, the fire is going to be on the move. >> all right, miguel. we'll stay on it. desperate situation in colorado tonight. thanks for your reporting tonight. we turn now to presidential politics. tonight on this broadcast, we're debuting our new nbc news wall street journal poll, we're joined for that with chuck todd in our washington newsroom. good evening. >> good evening, brian. it's been a tumultuous month on the presidential campaign. he had that anemic jobs report, the attorney general under fired. lots of money spent on tv ads. about the only thing that's changed in the race, the country is getting more defiant for their candidate, leaving the country more polarized, if that's possible.
all month, june has felt more like october on the campaign trail. today alone, the president barnstormed three states, including florida. the vice president in iowa, mitt romney, virginia. >> the president failed to lead. he failed to do what he said he'd do. >> reporter: why the urgency? the race is tight. our new nbc/wall street journal poll shows the president narrowly ahead of mitt romney, 47-44. it's nearly identical to where the race stood last month. what's remarkable about this tightness, is that this poll exposed more weaknesses for both candidates. president obama saw his job approval rating slip with more voters disapproving, 48% than approving, 47%. it's been six months since his job rating was upside down. for romney, after three months of improving numbers, his personal negative rating is back to an all time high. 39% view him negatively, 33% positively. one reason his negatives may be on the rise? >> but as a corporate raider, he shipped jobs to china and
mexico. >> reporter: for the past month, the obama campaign has poured more than $25 million into negative tv ads in battleground states. to get a better understanding of each candidates strengths and weaknesses, we asked voters to name the first word that came to their mind about each candidate. for mitt romney, his strengths, good businessman, change, conservative. his negatives, personal traits like wealthy, out of touch. for the president, his strongest positive was a surprise, health care, also good leader. but his big negatives continue to include the economy and unemployment. something the president tried to touch on yesterday. >> the debate in this election is not whether we need to do better. everybody understands that our economy isn't where it needs to be. >> reporter: as for whether the economy is recovering, 51% said it is, while 44% don't believe it. but it appears politics colors those responses. most democrats said it's recovering, most republicans said it isn't. and we also asked folks how they would react if the supreme court upheld or overturned the health
care law. brian, we got a surprising finding. most people actually fell into the category of mixed feelings. what our pollsters tell us is, once the court decides, you'll start seeing public opinion truly shift. >> and we'll apparently have our answer on thursday, the last day of the court session. chuck todd from washington tonight, thanks. it was only late today we learned nora ephron was hospitalized at the end stage of a long fight with leukemia. and now tonight we have learned her death at the age of 71. she apparently kept her illness a secret from even some close friends. she is, of course, already being remembered as one of the great screenwriters and humorists of our era. kristen dahlgren has a look back. >> yes! yes! yes! . >> i'll have what she's having. >> reporter: oscar nominated
screenwriter and director, nora ephron gave us characters like "harry met sally" and "julie & julia." her cultural influence undeniable. >> i would like strawberries instead of vanilla if you have it. >> it was her own colorful life and her way of finding some humor in some of life's toughest times that made nora ephron an american favorite. >> the biggest thing that makes 50 the new 40 and 60 the new 50 is not better living through chemistry, not exercise, but hair dye. >> reporter: born in new york to two screenwriters, she was raised in beverly hills, but web with the back east in college and became interested in political science. her second marriage was to carl burn steen of watergate pain. their bitter divorce became a
novel and film "heartburn." she was married to nicholas pelleggi and turned her trademark humor. >> and i don't want to say, there was this piece of meat i didn't eat. >> there's a lot about getting older that you look at and go, are they crazy? our you're at the best time of your life. >> today, ephron's life is being celebrated along with that unique ability to make us laugh at just about anything. nora ephron was 71. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, los angeles. and still ahead, as we continue along the way on a tuesday night, a major victory for a mother who's been fighting to save her daughters, why it's big news for her and thousands of other people waiting for the right bone marrow match. and later, the story you have to see about grit, determination and graduation.
back now with a victory for a woman we told you about a few weeks. tonight after an uphill fight, she has changed federal law and if the process, perhaps even modern medicine. an update on her successful fight tonight from dr. nancy spiderman. >> reporter: doreen flynn is a mother on a mission. her three daughters all suffer from a disease called fanconi anemia. a genetic disorder that destroys bone marrow and increases the risk of cancer. the only treatment is a bone marrow transplant. >> as a mom, i'm willing to do whatever it takes to help make that possible. >> reporter: whatever it takes, including changing the law. >> you only need to register one time. >> reporter: to encourage more people to donate bone marrow, doreen wants them to get paid. but that breaks a longstanding law that makes it illegal for donors to profit from their gift of life.
>> for any family out there that has a sick child, parent, brother, sister that is awaiting a donor, they find out they get a donor, and then all of a sudden that donor pulls out for some odd reason. that's heartbreaking. >> reporter: to minimize the chance of heartbreak, she sued the federal government in a landmark case. and yesterday she got the news that the u.s. attorney general will not pursue the case with the supreme court, thus making a lower court's ruling law. >> this decision is a total game changer. right now, any donor, any doctor, any patient across the country can use compensation in order to get more marrow donors. >> reporter: donors would receive not cash, but coupons for goods and services for as much as $3,000. for doreen flynn, whose eldest daughter jordan received a bone marrow transplant a month ago, this is a sweet victory. but her fight is far from over. >> i cried at first, actually, because i never thought we'd get this far. they were happy tears, and the
twins still need a transplant. so i also think of them as well. she really had no choice. >> reporter: a victory she sees for her family, and those she doesn't know. >> i feel very proud about it. i've always wanted to do something good in my life, and i feel this is a huge accomplishment for that. >> 75% of marrow donors can donate just by getting their blood drawn after taking medication that separates the stem cells from the rest of the blood. it's easily, relatively painless, and takes about three or four hours. but it's that time commitment, brian. and the voucher system, devil in the details. but it's a big step forward. >> well done on the story. while we have you, i noticed a story today about the investigation into a possible link between stress and early onset dementia? >> this is a pilot program that's going to go on in england. 140 patients enrolled. they're trying to figure out the link between stress and depression and whether those two things can speed up the development of alzheimer's.
we've known for a long time that there are triggers that can take a predementia state and kick it into full-time alzheimer's. so with blood and saliva samples, these doctors are hoping to unravel some of the mysteries of the brain and find the stressors that may in fact start alzheimer's sooner. >> all right, nancy, thank you for that. up next, the suspense in the pool last night as two rivals in the water go head to head on the road to london.
george hearst, jr. has died. he was the grandson of william randolph hearst. and george ran the family business as chairman, a vast media empire. 15 newspapers, 300 magazines, 29 tv stations and cable interests. george hearst proudly served in both world war ii and korea, where, as a rescue pilot, he was among the very first to fly an aircraft brand new to military use, the helicopter.
he left a legacy of charity, giving away hundreds of millions from his family foundation. george hearst, jr. was 84. and frank chee willeto has died. he was one of the navajo code talkers. the young navajo men who turned their native language into code to transmit secrets for the u.s. military during world war ii. he enlisted in the marines, served in the sixth division in saipan and okinawa. back home, he worked for the bureau of indian affairs. in 2001 he was awarded the congressional silver medal for his service to this country. frank chee willeto was 87. a quick update here on the suspenseful swimming in the olympic trials in nebraska last night. with the olympic games just 30 days off, they called it the dual in the pool as ryan lochte beat michael phelps in the 100 meter individual medley. phelps finished second. both, of course, will represent the u.s. team in london. speaking of london, a huge tourist destination in that city, is the ferris wheel they call the london eye.
it's a massive thing, looming 440 feet above the skyline. and now there's a report that new york city is planning a bigger one just across new york harbor on staten island. perhaps to take advantage of the two million tourists who, each year, take a beautiful and free ride across the staten island ferry. up next here tonight, years in the making, one young man's dream come true.
this next and final story is for all those who have faced what might seem like an impossible challenge. it's about a young man who has already been doing some pretty incredible things. then he set a new goal for himself, and then on a big day in his life, he achieved it. his story tonight from nbc's jenna wolfe. ♪ >> reporter: the seniors at scripps ranch high school have been waiting a long time for this moment. but none more than patrick iveson, whose dream of walking at graduation once seemed impossible. >> when i was first injured i was completely paralyzed. >> when patrick was just a toddler, a driver backing out of a parking space didn't see him and ran over the little boy. he survived, but his spinal cord
was crushed. >> i'm technically a quadriplegic, which just basically means i have impairment in all four limbs. >> reporter: but patrick was a kid who dreamed big. he was never supposed to walk, but somehow learned to play soccer, tennis and kayak. and growing up in southern california, there was nothing he wanted more than to surf. we first met patrick three years ago in the water. can you explain to me how you surf. >> i have a specially adapted board. get a team of people and we all go out on water. >> reporter: with his wheelchair on shore, a team puts him on the board and fits his elbows into the holders to keep him steady. and for a few seconds, patrick is free. >> it feels like i'm flying. >> reporter: on the "today" show, patrick told us of one more dream. >> to walk across the stage at graduation. >> reporter: to walk across the stage. for three years, patrick's been working with specialists, intensive rehab that's given him
back some of his mobility, bringing him here. okay, so you made this promise to us a couple years ago that you were going to walk across the state at graduation. >> yeah. >> reporter: how do you feel about that now? >> i feel good. >> patrick james iveson. >> reporter: as patrick stands, so does the audience. a standing ovation as he makes his way across the stage, proving that with guts and dreams, almost anything is possible. jenna wolfe, nbc news, san diego. >> how about that? and we thought you'd like to know, patrick will be off to usc in the fall. for us, that is our broadcast on a tuesday night, thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. and, of course, we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
good evening and thank you for joining us. >> we begin tonight with new details on a hawaiian vacation gone horribly wrong. a livermore girl is in the hospital after a shark attack. the girl's name is sade st. claire. this happened on the beach on the island of maui. they say the 16-year-old had a four to five inch