tv CBS Evening News With Russ Mitchell CBS April 17, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PDT
>> mitchell: tonight, tornado's rampage across north carolina, the state is devastated after dozens of storms destroy buildings an lives across wide areas from the capitol to small towns. >> it sounded like the whole world was just being sucked up into the air. >> mitchell: i'm russ mitchell. also tonight trail of destruction. one north carolina county is especially hard hit. with more than 20 deaths and miles of devastation. an economic speed bump, as the price of gas soars above $4 in more and more states, fears that the economic recovery could stall. and open for business, a year after the bp oil spill, deepwater drilling is back in the gulf with few new regulations or oversight. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with russ mitchell.
>> mitchell: and good evening. residents across a huge part of the country are counting their dead and cleaning up the rubble after a brutal weekend of tornadoes and severe storms. let's take a look at the latest. at least 45 people are reported dead and hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed. more than 240 tornadoes in all touchdown across 14 states. that's a record number for a single storm system. the twister struck over a three day period from the great plains east to north carolina, which was the hardest hit state with at least 22 deaths. this time lapse video shows the size and intensity of the storm front that swept into raleigh late yesterday quickly blotting out the sky and pounding windows with wind and rain. cynthia bowers is in southwest of raleigh tonight where she has the latest. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, russ. people in this area say they knew dangerous storms were coming. but they had no idea just how devastating and just how deadly they would prove to be.
it's still not known just how many tornadoes raked north carolina saturday but the devastation is clear and the death toll is rising. governor beverly perdue who saw homes across the capitol city of raleigh destroyed said it could have been even worse. >> people who say they've lost everything, they're all thankful for their lives. >> reporter: this lowe's home improvement store could have been a disaster in itself if not for quick thinking employees like gail dickens who saw it coming. >> i said we have a tornado, get to the bathrooms now. everybody was standing there quietly until we heard the roof peel back and you heard people scream then because at that time you just heard in the hallway it just went-- . >> reporter: gail says it is a miracle no one in the store was seriously hurt. as frightening as things got at the lowe's this is what gail came home to find. one neighbor dead, seven other families with absolutely nothing left except each other.
>> i don't know what hit me. something come across, hit the back of my head. >> reporter: mechanic nicholas was building a swing set for his three-year-old when he saw the tornado heading straight for his mobile home. he grabbed his little girl, his pregnant wife and raced for the only refuge they could find, this ditch. >> we didn't have time to be scared. we had to go. if we didn't hurry, we would not be here right now. >> reporter: as for starting over? >> i don't know, it don't look promising. >> reporter: like his neighbors, steve buchanan climbed out of the ditch to find the life he had built over the years erased in a matter of seconds. >> just take it a day at a time. that's all i can do. >> reporter: amid the sense of loss, folks here see signs of hope in the small things that were spared. >> so these, the youngest survivors of the storm. >> yeah, the youngest ones. >> reporter: such as angela's dog bela and three of her five puppies. and steve buchanan's american flag is still flying.
>> it's still hope, so... >> reporter: for 15 years the aftermath of hurricane fran has been the disaster by which all other disasters are measured. folks here say this one was worse, russ, much worse. >> mitchell: cynthia bowers in sanford, north carolina, thank you. north carolina governor bev perdue has been touring her state today and she joins us from raleigh. governor, good evening. >> good evening, there. >> mitchell: how would you describe what you saw today? >> i've seen a lot of damage in north carolina over the years but this is the most catastrophic i've ever seen. the destruction is massive. i've been in six counties. we'll do more counties tomorrow. we have 23 counties that are really, really hurt badly. lots of tremendous property damage, schools lost, infrastructure damage. the great news about north carolina is our people are pitching in. they are coming together. there are communities as cross the country that are already in place helping us get our lives back together and move on until tomorrow. >> mitchell: i know you declared a state of emergency.
what is job number one as far as you are concerned? >> well, we have the federal folks on the ground job number one after state of emergency is doing property assessment and reaching out and helping people as much as we can with shelter, food and clothes, with a bit of assistance to clean up the salvage and to start their lives again. we're taking care of the infrastructure today. the power companies have been great. we have more than 2,000 people on the ground trying to restore power and clean up the hot wires down all over the state. moving a lot of trees, a lot of damage. it is what you would expect in a coastal state like north carolina. but again the good news is that we've got thousands of volunteers, red cross is here and lots of people from all over the country are trying to help us. >> mitchell: as we speak now what is your biggest concern for the people and those areas that were hardest hit? >> well, the biggest concern are the folks in north carolina has to be public safety today. we're less than 24th out of a major weather catastrophe-- 24 hours out of a major weather catastrophe. but the longer term is how some folks who lost everything can
start building their lives again. many of the homes and lives that were really hurt badly, many of the families that have had significant losses and lost loved ones, 22 people that we know of dead now actually have very few resources to begin to rebuild again. so we need the help and support and prayers of everybody in america. north carolina is a strong state. we always bounce back. we have a legacy of doing that. and we will be fine in the long run but in the short run we appreciate the help we're getting. >> mitchell: north carolina governor bev perdue joining us from raleigh. thank you for joining us. best of luck to you. >> thank you so much. >> mitchell: in all of north carolina it was bertie county east of raleigh that took the biggest hit. tonight we are in town of coal rain. >> reporter: family members are going through what is left of roy and barbara lafferty's home today. >> this is helen white. >> reporter: the lafferty along with barbara's mother helen were killed when a tornado devastated the small town of coal rain.
>> i just had a gut feeling when i couldn't get them on the phone. and i knew how close it had hit. i just had a feeling. >> reporter: daughter-in-law kim lafferty says their cat oreo was the only survivor after the the only survivor after the home was ripped from its foundation and torn apart. >> she was in the shed. they found her under the shelves and things in there. >> reporter: they had just come home early from a vacation. >> normally they be out all weekend long. >> why particular reason they came home. >> we don't know. any reason we can figure out is it was god's plan. >> reporter: bertie's county was hit harder than any other spot in the state. 11 people are confirmed dead in this rural area. >> in bertie we just deal with these acts of mother nature. we pull together and do the best we can. we'll be able to help people recover. because some people, you have been out there, some people have lost everything. >> reporter: rescue crews say they have now accounted for
everyone here in the county but still a lot of rebuilding and that process starts now, russ. >> mitchell: you touched on this earlier but as you flew over the area earlier today could you assess how wide the damage was? >> reporter: several miles. we first drove into the town of askewville about 10 miles away from where we are here and rescue crews say you can see a pretty strong path of that storm moving. several cars were flipped and there was major damage to a farm. >> mitchell: tara lynn of our raleigh affiliate joining us from colerain, north carolina. here is what else is happening. in texas crews are fighting to contain at least half a dozen large wildfires. north of capitol a thousand in palo pinto county forced the evacuation of two small towns. one day after yet another air- traffic controller fell asleep on the job, we have details from the new faa regulations designed to put a stop to the problem. wyatt andrews has the latest on the federal government's new
plan and why the obama administration thinks it will work. >> reporter: the new rules from the faa sound deceptively simple. with so many air-traffic controllers sleeping on duty, six have been suspended for eight cases of sleeping, the new rules start with an order to get more rest. instead of the mandatory eight hours off between shifts, the rules now require nine hours off. the rules also ban controllers from swapping into a midnight shift after a day off. a scheduling trick routinely used to engineer a three-day weekend. >> more rest time, more managers on duty and making sure that controllers are not looking out for their own schedule rather than the safety schedule that we think needs to be put in place. >> reporter: but will one extra hour off between shifts make a difference? that one hour is the product of a study done jointly by the faa and air-traffic controllers union which show the faa's
scheduling system partly to blame for fatigue. one study of rotating shifts, for example, where controllers work day shifts and midnight shifts in the same week concluded that controllers often carry an acute sleep debt on to night shifts and this sleep disturbance can lead to increased fatigue and unsafe conditions. to the union that one extra hour off is critical. >> there should be a minimum of nine hours between a shift which allows a property amount for sleep so the controller comes back to that day shift rested. >> reporter: but some of the controllers are also to blame for not getting their sleep while off duty. >> and it was obvious from the interviews that we have done with controllers that have been now suspended because they fell asleep that some of them, when they were-- during their rest period, may have been doing other things rather than resting. >> reporter: one other recommendation from that study on fatigue is to give controllers on the midnight shift a two and a half hour
sleeping break while on duty. transportation secretary ray lahood ruled that out saying controllers, quote, won't be paid to take snaps. >> mitchell: wyatt andrews in washington, thank you. up next on the "cbs evening news." could soaring gas prices take the bloom off the economic recovery? ? you may not want to face the fact that you're at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke. plavix helps protect people with acs against heart attack or stroke: people like you. it's one of the most researched prescription medicines. goes beyond what they do alone by helping to keep blood platelets from sticking and forming dangerous clots. plavix. protection against heart attack or stroke in people with acs. [ female announcer ] plavix is not for everyone. certain genetic factors and some medicines such as prilosec reduce the effect of plavix leaving you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. your doctor may use genetic tests to determine treatment. don't stop taking plavix without talking to your doctor
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to 5. >> yeah. >> people will be staying home because prices will be ridiculous. >> reporter: the rising prices come just as the economy is beginning to show some signs of life, including a drop in unemployment to 8.8%. the lowest level in two years. but analysts say soaring energy costs are threatening to slow down the nation's recovery. >> gasoline prices drive up food prices. they also make more expensive business in places like florists, landscapers and so forth. there is a big crunch in the service sector and on food prices. >> reporter: at union city flower shop in new jersey, that cost of doing business has increased dramatically. you've had to make some pretty big adjustments. >> big time. >> reporter: the manager anthony ameralis estimates compared to last year it now costs about $60 more each time he fills up one of his four delivery vans and the vendors who deliver flowers to them have doubled their fuel charges as well. he is resisted raising are his prices for fear of losing his long time customer. >> we get it from one end, we get it from another, and it is just squeezing us. you know, we have nowhere to move. >> reporter: to cope he has
taken painful measures, cutting employee hours, even using gas cans to buy cheaper gas elsewhere instead of at the more expensive stations near the store. at a savings of 50 cents a gallon. >> fill up in the morning, ignore the smell, bring them in and we have them there during the day when the drivers need gas, we fill them up in the street. >> reporter: here in new york city gas prices are well above $4 a gallon and some analysts say relief is still months away. they estimate oil and gas prices will not stabilize until the summer. elaine quijano, cbs news, new york. >> mitchell: under brilliant sunny skies pope benedict celebrated palm sunday with want outdoor mass in st. peter's square overflowing with pilgrims and tourists. the ceremony opened the holy week leading up to easter sunday. and still ahead on tonight's "cbs evening news", what's changed and what hasn't in the year since the bp oil spill.
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a week that took nearly three months to stop. one year later our mark strassmann has returned to the gulf coast to see how the oil business has changed and how it has not. >> reporter: in this moment bp's disaster exploded into view. 11 lives lost, nearly five million barrels of oil spilled. and all preventable. critics vowed never again. almost a year later, ten new deep water wells are under way, some already drilling, other sites with rigs on the way. the gulf is back open for business. >> to see activity again is great. >> reporter: dwayne rebstock's louisiana company services the oil company supply ships. he's happy to rehire ten laid off workers but is puzzled by what has changed. >> i don't see any improvements that were made to any degree or level that justifies ten months of the shutdown. >> reporter: even government regulators admit they have a long way to go despite mandating
new disaster plans from drilling operators from data on worst case spill rates to response time. and well design, casing and cementing and safety. >> deep water horizeon did come as a wake-up call to the industry. there had been complacency and overconfidence. >> reporter: and incompetence. for 87 days bp could not stop its only leak. since the spill groups have create two new capping and containment systems, now for deep water drillers in case of another major spill. one is the marine well containment company. its center piece, this 100 ton stacking cap designed to collect 60,000 barrels of leaking oil a day. >> we have the equipment, we have the people, we have the predefined plan and we're ready to go. >> reporter: how long to get this system in place over a problem well? they'll only say a matter of
days. it's one of the unknowns in a new approach that has never been tried before on the sea floor. and every day of delay, a ruptured well could leak thousands of barrels. more fuel for critics. since bp's disaster congress hasn't passed a single new safety regulation for deepwater drilling. >> until tough, new safety standards are put on the books, then we are still gambling with the livelihoods and the life of the gulf of mexico. >> no coast was smeared more than louisiana. but the state relies on oil jobs and its officials want even more deepwater drilling asap. >> and now is the time to begin issuing permits. >> reporter: at this congressional hearing louisiana's natural resource director seemed not to have even read a presidential panel's new safety recommendation. >> don't you think the safety recommendations of the bp commission should be implemented. >> i'm not familiar with the safety recommendations. >> you haven't analyzed the safety recommendations. >> i have not, sir. >> reporter: bp has refused any comment as the anniversary fuels
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>> mitchell: finally this >> mitchell: finally this sunday, operators of japan's crippled nuclear plant said today they hope to stabilize the reactors in six to nine months. the city of takata was almost wiped out by last month's tsunami. it suffered more than 2,000 dead or missing. but as lucy craft discovered, the survivors refused to give up hope. >> reporter: in what once was the heart of a bustling downtown, now turned to rubble, kiyoko kanno looks for signs of her former life. things she used to own. her husband's tools. and people she used to know before she became a refugee. >> i was living a care-free life in my own house, she says. not a day went by that i didn't stop by here for a
visit. a visit that lead to an offer of help from her old friend. kanno's home washed away in the tsunami, she left kanno's whole family, five people move in. she was lucky. in takata nearly half of the city's 23,000 residents are living in shelters. more like kanno are staying with friends. prefab houses are starting to go up but the process is slow and maybe months before kanno and her family can move in. >> we can't keep living off other people, she says. and even people whose houses survived have to struggle for supplies waiting in line for food and water. >> the country itself is struggling while trying to support us evacuees, this woman says, how much can japan do when it is still trying to recover itself. for kanno the healing starts with little triumphss like
finding baby pictures of her grandchildren she thought had been lost. if those grandchildren she worrieses about most. >> i don't know what will happen with their school, she tells me. they're using it for a morning. here death and destruction are easy to see. fortunately, so are the many hands reaching out to help. lucy craft, cbs news, japan. >> mitchell: and that is the "cbs evening news." later on cbs, "60 minutes." thanks for joining us this sunday evening. i'm russ mitchell. cbs news in new york, katie couric will be here tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
considering to give more people access to medical treatment. health carry invented. what one east bay community is reconsidering to give more people access to medical treatment. and one bay area city may eliminate free downtown street parking, i'm linda yee, i'll tell you where and why. >> a vanishing breed. the survivor of the 1906 earthquake marks another anniversary. the cbs news is next. ,, ,,