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May 16th, 2013
12:17 PM ET

Storm chaser Reed Timmer on 10 Tornadoes that touched down in Texas

Storm chaser Reed Timmer is on 'Starting Point' talking with John Berman and Christine Romans. He was on the ground Wednesday night when at least ten tornadoes touched down in northern Texas.


Filed under: Tornado • Weather
May 16th, 2013
12:13 PM ET

At Least 10 Tornadoes touch down in Texas: CNN's Victor Blackwell Reports

Wednesday evening at least 10 tornadoes touched down in North Texas. Six people are reported dead, and dozens more are injured. It is estimated that about 120 homes were damaged.

Read More: Tornadoes hit North Texas; 6 dead, dozens injured


Filed under: Tornado • Weather
March 28th, 2013
08:35 AM ET

Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin says Whidbey Island landslide is 'much larger than the typical slides that we encounter'

A massive landslide wreaked havoc on Whidbey Island just north of Seattle, WA overnight. Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin shares how he’s dealing with the unstable aftermath.

Hartin says he has warned the community that the slide is still active. “But based on a preliminary geotechnical investigation, recommendations of the engineer were that we can allow these folks back into their homes.” Residents have been allowed to return to all but three homes above the slide.

While slides are fairly common in the area, Hartin says the size of this landslide was unusual. “This is much larger than the typical slides that we encounter.”

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Filed under: Landslide • Weather
January 30th, 2013
08:46 AM ET

Reports of significant and widespread damage in Tennessee due to storm

People are being warned to take cover this morning as a line of violent thunderstorms moves quickly through the south and a series of tornado warnings go into effect.

New pictures into CNN show widespread damage in Tennessee, where there are reports of a trapped family and one fatality in the state.

Mt. Juliet Tennessee police spokesperson sergeant Tyler Chandler joins Starting Point this morning to discuss the "significant damage" in the town.

"Fortunately there are no injuries to report," Chandler says. "It looks like we may have missed a major bullet."

 

August 28th, 2012
12:41 PM ET

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu: Isaac concerns are for areas outside levee control systems, speed of water and possible electrical outages

While some Louisiana residents are planning on riding out hurricane Isaac, there are lots of folks outside of the levee system say they are going to go. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has acknowledged there is a higher level of anxiety in the city because Wednesday is the seven-year anniversary of hurricane Katrina.

Mayor Landrieu joins Soledad on "Starting Point" this morning, explaining that the speed of the water that Isaac may bring to his city.

"For the folks around the country, one of the things they may not be aware of is the difference on the ground between a one or two or three," Mayor Landrieu says. "Obviously, a three is more serious. The levee system that we have now is designed to protect us against a category three or bigger. So we have $10 billion of investments, 300 miles of new levees, a robust system of pumps designed for a category three or bigger. And we feel pretty comfortable given what we've all been through that we can withstand that kind of push from outside in. But we have a lot of areas that are outside of the levee control system, outside of New Orleans. So we have a lot of concerns down in Grand Isle and in some areas of New Orleans."

"The problem that storms like that pose is they dump a lot of water quick. And no matter how good your pumping system is, if you drop a lot of water and it continues over a long period of time and it's intense, that will create flooding. So we're worried about that. We're worried about electrical outages. So you remember from Gustav there was an electrical outage that moved throughout the middle of the country and stayed with us for a couple of weeks. Those are our two major concerns right now. We are prepared for them, but that doesn't make them easy," Landrieu says.

Landrieu says one of the most important storm preps is common sense from his citizens. He also says communications have improved significantly since Katrina.

"It's 1,000 percent better.... all of this is still driven by citizens doing the right thing at the right time in the right place with common sense. The more that doesn't happen, and the more the emergency response has to go to places where they shouldn't have to, it drains resources. So this is an all-in game," he adds.


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • Isaac • Weather
August 28th, 2012
12:35 PM ET

New Orleans residents explain to Soledad why they're riding out Isaac from home despite flooding threat

Governments, business and residents in New Orleans and the central Gulf coast rushed Tuesday to complete last-minute preparations to bear the brunt of hurricane Isaac. The storm was expected to make landfall late Tuesday after gaining hurricane strength earlier in the day.

In New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has not issues an evacuation order for the city as tropical storm Isaac nears landfall but he's urging residents outside the levee system to leave.

"If your plan is to go, now's the time to go," he told residents. Of course, there are some who are insisting on riding out the storm. Landrieu has acknowledged there is a higher level of anxiety in the city because Wednesday marks seven years since hurricane Katrina devastated the area.

On Monday, Soledad talks with Jackie Grosch, a resident of St. Bernard Parish who has decided to stay. Soledad first met Jackie in 2005 right after hurricane Katrina, when her house was destroyed.

"It gets old after a while," Jackie says of the repeated evacuation orders. "Packing up and taking journey to where we're going to go. You have to find somewhere to go so we decided to stay. We thought about it and decided to stay."

Jackie tells Soledad they made the decision to hunker down on the second floor of their home. Their supplies include chips, dips, Oreo cookies and peanuts.

"We have a generator. We have our weather radio and we have a cordless TV. So we have something to keep up on everything. We were just getting our life jackets. We're going to have life jackets just in case. But, you know, we have our wall now...It's amazing. That's going to protect us because that's where it came through the last time."

She adds, "this is the test. I don't know if it's going to be a true test because they are saying it's not going to be that bad. Of course, you never know what bad is, we didn't think Katrina was bad either."

Another resident, Angela Young, evacuated a day before Katrina hit in 2005. Her hosue was submerged beneath 8 feet of water. This time, she is going to ride out Isaac in her home.

"I have been monitoring the parish officials and listening to what they are saying on the news, paying attention to what the mayor is saying, for the particular parish that I live in. We have Mayor Landrieu. And also listening to what they're saying about the levees. And they're saying we're going to be ok. I trust that we're going to be fine," Young says.

Young tells Soledad she's not anxious about the storm.

"We're fine. We stocked up on water and nonperishable food items, batteries and things of that nature, to help us in case we lose power. I think that the worst it's going to get in New Orleans east is we'll be without power for a little while," she says.

Young adds, "a lot of people are staying. And, again, when I talked to people, they are saying that they are watching the news and watching where the eye of the storm is going to be. You know, everybody is saying that we're going to be ok, so a lot of people have decided to ride the storm out."

Watch "Starting Point" for the latest on hurricane Isaac as it makes its way towards the Gulf Coast.


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • Isaac • Weather
August 28th, 2012
11:02 AM ET

Louisiana Sen. Vitter: All preparations for Isaac seem really strong, biggest concern is for areas outside levee system

With just hours to go before tropical storm Isaac makes landfall, governments, businesses and residents in New Orleans and on the central Gulf Coast are rushing to get ready for the storm.

Folks living in New Orleans are hoping that $10 billion in improvements to the levee system since hurricane Katrina in 2005 will hold during what is now the first real test. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) went out with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Monday to tour the levees, and tells Soledad on "Starting Point" this morning that everything seems ready to withstand Isaac.

"All of preparations seem really strong," Vitter says. "We'll see how everything goes. Apparently this won't be a very, very strong test, knock on wood because it will remain a relatively weak hurricane. We're hoping for that. It will be an important test for the system."

Vitter tells Soledad that he has evacuated his own family, even though many residents have decided not to leave their homes.

"I think that's reasonable given the strength of the storm. I got them out of town so I could do my work and I knew they were safe. Given this nature of this storm, I think it's reasonable that most people would stay," Vitter says.

Despite all the preparations, Vitter says there are a few things that still concern him before Isaac arrives.

"My biggest concern is not with the system that's been built since Katrina. It's with all of the areas outside that system. We really built the system for the last storm. There are major populated areas outside of that system, Western St. Charles, lower Jefferson, those are very, very vulnerable areas with significant population in them," Vitter says.


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • Isaac • Weather
August 27th, 2012
12:37 PM ET

Mississippi Gulf Coast on the worst side of Isaac and could receive significant storm surge, State Emergency Management executive director Robert Latham tells Soledad

Mississippi Emergency Management's Robert Latham on how the state is preparing for tropical storm Isaac.


Filed under: Isaac • Weather
August 27th, 2012
12:26 PM ET

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas says Isaac preparations 'going to be orchestrated very carefully and in preparation before the storm'

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas on the city's preps for Isaac after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • Isaac • Weather
August 27th, 2012
10:56 AM ET

Using lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina for tropical storm Isaac – Lt. Gen. Russell Honore on how New Orleans might fare against a hurricane

Tropical Storm Isaac could make landfall in New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. With the storm taking a very similar track to the 2005 hurricane, voluntary evacuations have been declared for 15 parishes in Louisiana with a mandatory evacuation in place for St. Charles and the east bank of Plaquemines Parish. Isaac could make landfall as a category 1 hurricane in New Orleans during the anniversary.

During that devastating storm in 2005, 1,700 people died in that entire area, and about 1,300 lost their lives in New Orleans. Neighborhoods were completely destroyed. At one point, 85% of that city was underwater. It was most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have spent approx. $10 billion trying to strengthen the defenses in case a storm like that should hit the area again. Isaac's landfall will be the first real test as to how well the money was spent.

Soledad delves into New Orleans's storm readiness with retired US Army Lieutenant Gen. Russel Honore, who was in charge of the Katrina disaster relief in 2005 and wrote about his experience in the book "Survival."

Honore says despite significant improvements to the infrastructure in and around New Orleans, even a category 1 storm could overpower the city.

"$14 billion of federal money was committed for the levee improvement," Honore says. "They've spent $10 billion. They have about $4 billion left to spend in improving and armoring the levees and completing improvements down at Plaquemines Parish. They also replaced all the pumps, Soledad. When we went into Katrina, the pumps dated back to 1936. We now have modern pumps and a quote from the Corps of Engineers. We have the largest drainage pump in the world on the west bank in New Orleans. It's functional and operational."

"All that being said," Honore adds, "people need to be cautious because anything built by man can be destroyed by mother nature. People still need to listen to local officials, if you're outside of the levee system, you need to be evacuating today."

Honore also says that a more active local government could also help steer the city from another widespread disaster.

"One of the issues of politicians get into is they start preaching category of storm and people go into the data bank say it's just a Category 1. Politicians coming out more and more and saying, this area will flood, you need to move by a certain time. People without rides, you need to go to this location and be prepared to evacuate. Evacuate your animals. If they are going to do a contra-flow out of New Orleans, they are telling people when that will start. So I think there's more specific information going out about the potential effects of the storm as opposed to just talking about category," Honore says.

"People need to listen if their area is projected to be in a flood zone or it will flood based on rain or from tidal surge. You know we lose more homes every year to flooding than we do any other event in America," Honore says.


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • Isaac • Weather
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