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tv   First Look  MSNBC  May 22, 2013 5:00am-5:30am EDT

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the mayor told us live that he does not expect to find anymore victims alive in more. latest death poll is that at least 24 people have been killed. 9 of them kids. "first look" is up next. good wednesday morning. right now on "first look," as the search for survivors in moore, oklahoma, draws to a close, residents begin assessing the damage from monday's ef-5 tornado. >> she came running to us. she was fine. but everything is gone. she's alive. we're alive. >> stories of a community overwhelmed by tragedy. pulling together to help the victims. it was just amazing. neighbors helping neighbors and
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one man told me, he said that's what we're here for. >> plus, an irs official refusing to answer questions. the fbi zeros in on five benghazi suspects. and convicted murderer jodi arias pleads for her life. good morning. i'm mar a schiavocampo. residents are just beginning the massive job of cleaning up after monday's devastating tornado. meteorologists with the national weather service now categorize that twister as an ef-5. that's the highest level saying it packed winds of more than 200 miles per hour. this morning the medical examiner says 24 people were killed in that storm, including 9 children. with more than 230 injured. early on, officials put the death toll much higher saying confusion on the ground led to a miscount. local hospitals are treating victims for everything from minor cuts and bruises to more serious injuries like broken bones. officials are now in the early stages of assessing the damage
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and trying to figure out if any parts of the city of salvageable. president obama has pledged the full resources of the federal government towards the recovery. he's designated parts of the state disaster areas opening up funds for those affected by the storm. >> the people of moore should know their country will remain on the ground there for them beside them as long as it takes. >> and the people of oklahoma will need that help as a vast recovery effort gets under way. for the very latest on that recovery effort, we're joined by msnbc's thomas roberts who is in hard-hit moore, oklahoma. thomas, good morning. >> mara, good morning. it's about to be dawn on day two of a new normal here in moore, oklahoma. a day where we expect to see more people returning to the remnants of their homes. yesterday we saw many people coming out trying to pick out the scattered pieces of their lives. just to find anything tangible they could take away with them.
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maybe a photo, maybe a baby blanket. many people left empty-handed and so many still shellshocked at what they had seen and survived. >> that is my neighbor's truck and that is my neighbor's car. and that car is one of the neighbor's cars somewhere down here. >> i kicked the door in just to save this one elderly lady in her grandkids and stuff. and she had just gotten inside the house when it hit. she was still in the living room. the whole living room was obliterated. >> thousands are displaced, but we still don't have solid numbers on just how many people have taken shelter at the american red cross. i had an opportunity to speak with one family who rode out the storm huddled in their bathtub. it was a young couple and their three little girls. they pulled in the sofa cushions over their head, a blanket over top of them and just prayed as the bath tub was spinning. remarkably, they all walked away alive and unscathed.
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they returned to their home yesterday to pick up a few mementos but they are currently staying with family to the north. >> thomas, having covered disasters like this, you know, i'm always struck by how people are so resolved to rebuild and recover. if you move about there, what's the spirit on the ground with the people you've spoken to? >> well, there really is a hopeful spirit for most people here in moore. obviously, this is an area that is prone to these types of storms. they have survived and they have rebuilt from these types of storms. so many people talking contextually about the 1999 storm. basically, the same type of storm that came through and tore a path of destruction through this community. they rebuild and they move on. but the one thing that people are saying about this one, especially the young couple i spoke to yesterday that survived this storm in their bath tub, they did not have a basement or any type of tornado shelter. and the mom who i spoke to amber said that in their next home they will make sure that they
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have some type of structure so that they can get underground. as we keep hearing, these types of storms, an ef-5, there really is nothing you can do other than get under ground or get out of the way. taking safe harbor in hallways and places like that really isn't the safest way to do it. basically being underground or literally getting out of harm's way is the only way to avoid the type of death and destruction we saw here on monday. >> later on in this show we'll talk more about safe rooms. thomas roberts live on the ground in moore, oklahoma. thanks for that, thomas. and for more on the tornado and why this part of the country is so prone to severe weather, we turn to the weather channel's mike seidel who is also in oklahoma for us. mike, good morning. what can you tell us about why this part of the country, known as tornado alley, gets so many of these kinds of storms? >> well, simply you have to have the ingredients. you have to have cold air aloft.
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that's inherently unstable when you have the warm tropical air coming out of the gulf of mexico. throw in the jet stream winds. different wind directions. the surface winds from the southeast as we had a couple of days ago and then the upper level winds. they veer with height from the southeast to the southwest to the west and northwest. you have that spin in the atmosphere and you are out here in tornado alley. you are in probably easily the most susceptible area in the entire planet for tornadoes because we have the gulf of mexico. we have the hot dry air coming out of the mountains and the colder air coming from the plains and out of the rockies. so this spot is known as tornado alley. and this is the -- the last time we had an ef-5 tornado was in oklahoma back on may 24th, two years ago. that one touched down on the northwest side of oklahoma city around elreno. that killed nine. that was two days after the now well documented and the one we often talk, about the joplin on may 22nd. so this area no stranger to ef-5 tornadoes. we average about one per year
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since 1950. and behind me, this is a playground that's just been mangled. and what we'll be able to show you at first light is this whole landscape out here has been scraped clean. even the grass has been sucked up by this twister. by the way, we're on the other side of i-35 on the east side on the far eastern side of moore. most of the rest of the media and where we were yesterday is on the other side on the west side where we had the school issues and that's where most of the commerce is. so, mara, a cool, crisp morning. a better day today for the cleanup as we'll have no storms. just sunny skies and temperatures around 80. >> mike seidel, thanks so much. for more on the weather we're joined by nbc's bill karins. is that part of the country facing any more dangerous storms in the next few days? >> not any time soon. they are getting a break. a good time for the cleanup and figure out what happened and where we go from here. the scientists were all on the ground yesterday giving us the details of how intense they thought this tornado was. this was a map literally put out
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by the national weather service in norman, oklahoma. four surveyors on the ground, teams of two. and they did find that it was ef-5 damage as we've told you there at the briarwood elementary school. max winds of 200 to 210. the blue coloring is where it was ef-0. ef-2 in yellow. the intensity changed dramatically as the tornado was on the ground. these storms are always evolving. it was an ef-5 for a very short period of time. notice the bright red. that's when it was ef-4. almost the worst of it in the strongest this tornado was was unfortunately when it was right over the most populated areas there right around moore, oklahoma. so that's kind of how these storms evolve. of course, the aerial pictures of these houses that were scraped, that were underneath that ef-4 and ef-5 damage is very typical of these storms. yesterday, thankfully, we made it through the day without any reported tornadoes. we had a lot of strong storms that produced wind damage from texes too louisiana, mississippi, even kentucky,
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tennessee and upstate new york have a lot of cleanup from those storms yesterday. they are dying off this morning. no severe weather left out there. just thunderstorms down there along the gulf coast. just outside of houston to louisiana. the same storm that brought us those tornadoes has weakened. it's still going to be moving through the ohio valley. we are going to see a chance of a few isolated tornadoes in ohio today. otherwise a lot of other strong storms with gusty winds and hail, pretty much a lot of areas, the ohio valley through tennessee and on the east coast. just a more humid air mass. reminds you of summer. but i don't expect a lot of tornadoes. nothing like what we dealt with earlier this week. >> we're thankful for that. thanks, bill. coming up, more on the relief effort in oklahoma. in other news, convicted murderer jodi arias has a change of heart as the jury begins deciding her fate. "first look" returns in three minutes. ♪
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now to some other stories.
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an irs official at the center of the agency's recent controversy will testify on capitol hill today. but don't expect her to say anything. lawyers for lois lerner say she plans to take the fifth when she appears before the house oversight committee. she disclosed the improper targeting of conservative non-profit groups. the fbi identified five men suspected in last year's deadly attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi. you can see three of them right here. no arrests have been made but officials say they have enough evidence to seize them by military force. a bipartisan overhaul of the nation's immigration laws has won approval from the senate judiciary committee. senators voted 13-5 to send the bill to the floor. it provides a path to citizenship for millions but does not include protections for same-sex couples. in arizona, federal court has struck down the state's new law on abortion. the court set a ban on the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy violates the
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constitution. convicted murderer jodi arias has changed her mind. she no longer prefers the death penalty to life in prison. she told the jury she, quote, lacked perspective when she previously told a reporter that she preferred to die. >> asking for death is tantamount to suicide. either way, i'm going to spend the rest of my life in prison. it will either be shortened or not. if you have a newborn at home, this one is for you. a new study from the american academy of pediatrics says babies who sleep in bed with an adult are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome. it recommends placing babies on a firm mattress and not using pillows or bumper pads in cribs. now back to our continuing coverage of the devastation in oklahoma. joining us now by phone to discuss the relief efforts is vicki eichstad with the american red cross. good morning. thanks for being here. >> you bet. >> now that your organization
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has had a little time to assess the situation on the ground, what do you find are the most pressing needs there in moore? >> really need warm compassion of human kindness. simple things are really meaning an awful lot to people who have nothing. we are providing shelter, a safe place to stay, meals and someone to talk with for their mental health concerns. >> and, of course, when a tragedy like this strikes, the primary concern is rescue of those who are injured or trapped. but now as officials say, they were moving beyond that stage. we're looking at those left essentially homeless by this. do you have any sense of how extensive that is? how many people have been displaced and what are the conditions put in place for them? are there shelters that have been set up? >> yes. our disaster assessment teams are still trying to get through all of the neighborhoods. there are still many roads
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inaccessible, but, yes, we feel there are thousands of homes that have been either totally destroyed or with heavy, heavy damage. so right now we have four shelters open, and we have more workers and volunteers and supplies on their way here. and we want the community to know that we'll be here as long as there's a need. >> vicki, thanks so much for that. and the red cross is now taking your donations online by phone and by text message to help with relief efforts in oklahoma. you can visit red cross.org. call 1-800-redcross or text redcross to 90999 to make an instant $10 donation. the red cross reminds people they don't just need money. they are also looking for blood donations. how small acts of kindness
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are making a big difference in tornado-ravaged moore, oklahoma. plus, last night's emotional tribute to the victims of the tornado when "first look" returns. you hurt my feelings, todd. i did? when visa signature asked everybody what upgraded experiences really mattered... you suggested luxury car service instead of "strength training with patrick willis." come on todd! flap them chicken wings. [ grunts ] well, i travel a lot and umm... [ male announcer ] at visa signature, every upgraded experience comes from listening to our cardholders. visa signature. your idea of what a card should be.
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nbc's janet shamlian reports on how the community of moore and others nearby are coming together with small acts of kindness. >> need some gloves? >> reporter: chris williams and jesse know this could have been their street because it almost was. >> we brought some gloves for you guys. >> reporter: their home spared, they brought every pair of work gloves in the only hardware store they could find open. passing them out to homeowners in need. >> doing anything we can to make it easier for these people that have lost everything. >> reporter: a block away, gina was struggling to rake the muck and debris. she couldn't believe it when more than a dozen national guardsmen on patrol said they would finish the job. >> it was just amazing, neighbors helping neighbors, and one man told me, he said, that's what we're here for. >> reporter: on every street in moore, the circumstances were different. but the sentiment was the same. what do you need? how can we help? >> these are the people we see
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every single day. so this is, you know why not make an effort when there's people in need. >> reporter: because driving is restricted, these friends walked miles in the rain to reach a co-worker's damaged home. nearby waitress megan serving lunch to anyone who needed a hot meal. >> being out here to help people who are less fortunate, especially at a time like this is where it matters most. >> reporter: then arguably among the most important gestures. reuniting still separated families. local veterinarian vance campbell temporarily closed his practice to lead the effort to get every pet found in the ruins, maybe not back in its house, but back home. >> people that have lost everything, if they can get their pet back, you know, that would mean the world to them. >> reporter: in the midst of heartbreak, neighbors and friends showing what true heart is. janet shamlian, nbc news, moore, oklahoma.
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as residents in oklahoma start the process of cleaning up, celebrities, athletes and social media users have stepped forward to offer support and aid. stars have enlisted twitter as a way to send prayers and encourage donations for oklahoma. carrie underwood, reba mcentire and ellen degeneres hash tagged support. some turned to facebook and read it as pages popped up to help them find family members, possession and pets within that devastation. on "the voice," oklahoma native blake shelton was joined by wife miranda lambert to pay tribute to the victims of the tornado. ♪ but you will how dare you i miss you ♪
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>> shelton announced he's organizing a benefit concert with nbc to aid victims. bill karins and richard lui will join me for our first buzz. mine was earned in djibouti, africa. 2004. vietnam in 1972. [ all ] fort benning, georgia in 1999. [ male announcer ] usaa auto insurance is often handed down from generation to generation. because it offers a superior level of protection and because usaa's commitment to serve military members,
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joining me for this morning's first buzz are richard lui and bill karins. so in the wake of this tornado, a lot of people are looking at what could be done differently in the future. and one of the things we're hearing a lot about with the storm of this size, the best way to ride it out is underground or to get out of the way completely. and one of the things we're learning is how few homes in that area have safe rooms. only 10% of the homes in moore
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have safe rooms. they aren't required and that's the case. >> no basements or anything like that. in the west where i grew up, after the earthquakes, we had to have foundations twice as wide as twice as deep, plywood instead of half an inch, an inch deep. it's about regulations. >> will people start mandating these. but it's a lot more expensive. >> they did mandate stuff in florida for hurricanes. they made it mandatory for the building codes. could they include that into the building codes in the midwest? you are talking thousands of dollars an addition to every house. >> one was $4,000 for a closet size underground. >> which would be 3%, 4% of the value of the house. >> it's not cheap. >> it's a whole different story if you require every school to have these safe rooms because you are talking hundreds of students. >> even a community shelter seems like it would make a lot of sense and in moore they didn't have it. you have more information about the tornado itself. >> before hurricane katrina there was this famous forecaster that was like literally this is
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gloom and doom and it's turning out from the national weather service, rick smith, four hours before the tornado hit, these were his words. he said, tornadoes and giant hail likely today and he said this is a little different than yesterday we're on a monday. we have schools in session and people driving home from work. that's a big, big concern for us. he said i would not be surprised to have similar tornadoes dor what we saw yesterday. we're not trying to freak you out and scare you. we just want you to be prepared. his words came exactly true. their concern was strong tornadoes and concern was hitting a school. and that all did happen. >> perhaps that speaks to taking more precautions. >> we want to end on a high note. you have a silver lining. >> the sports world reacting. and the big one is, of course, kevin durant out of the thunder. the nba coming out. he says he's going to put down $1 million for the leaf efforts. the thunder following their effort saying they'll put down $1 million and then a third million coming from the nba and the nba players association.
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we also have -- >> great to see them stepping up. i have to cut you off. we have to get to "way too early." i'm mara schiavocampo. "way too early" starts right now. i'm finding pictures and jewelry and those are, of course, the things that are completely irreplaceable. as long as we keep finding stuff like this, i'll be really happy. because all the rest of it is just material. every one of us are safe and alive and we are so blessed and we are just heart broken for those that can't say the same thing. so we are -- this is nothing. we have -- we would give up ten of these houses for the family that we have that's safe. >> good morning, everybody. i'm

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