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tv   ABC World News With Diane Sawyer  ABC  August 29, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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fish market. it's coming up at 6:00. now, back to cheryl. >> and world news is coming up next. i'm cheryl jennings. thanks so much for inviting us into your homes tonight. thanks for joining us for now. this is "world news." and tonight, the raging waters after irene. 20 million people see the rivers keep rising. houses cut in half. cars careened downstream. the national guard no match for the floods. and caught on tape, people watching their homes fill up. parts of hotels float away. also tonight -- on the run. moammar gadhafi's family flees libya.
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abc takes a tour of his daughter's personal palace. an indoor pool, luxurious spa. school spirit. the superintendent making a drastic personal sacrifice to help his hometown school. and dancing in the wind. a tiny aviator just a foot and a half tall who flew straight through the hurricane feathers intact. how did he do it? good evening to you. a good new week to you. so many of us awoke this monday morning to sunshine above but the reality of what was hurricane irene on the ground leaving behind floods that stretched from maryland to maine. more than 20 million americans still in the danger zone. whole communities were cut off. covered bridges were washed away. cars were swept up in the torrents of water. and here are some numbers for you. irene has already killed at least 35 people, mostly by drowning or falling trees. 5 million homes and businesses
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still without power tonight. and some may not get it back for a week or more. and an early estimate puts the total damage from irene at $7 billion. and tonight, as we were all weekend, the abc news team is out in force across the disaster zone. so we'll begin in new jersey with abc's dan harris, in the town of little falls. dan. >> reporter: diane, good evening to you. the coming hours are going to be absolutely crucial for the people who live in this neighborhood. the passaic river which runs right behind these houses is set to crest at 13.8 feet. that is a record. and it's supposed to happen at 5:00 in the morning. d since it's never before happened in recorded history, nobody knows how bad it is going to be. the water is lapping at the front stoop here in little falls. as we saw close up, when we went out into the waters with joe kroko who lives here. but when we got here, the current was so strong, joe and i had to take turns getting out of
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the boat to pull it. joe have you ever seen anything like this before? >> no, this is the worse. >> reporter: it was a day of unbelievable sights across the state. a house on fire in the middle of the floodwaters, with fire crews in a boat, contending with a fierce current while trying to douse the flames. national guard vehicles driving through water so high, you could barely see the roofs. >> he's got his window open. >> reporter: you got to wonder how the people inside could breathe. and in the city of trenton, this -- the asitake creek jumped its banks, overran these train tracks, and then, look at this, it turns into a waterfall that flows through these two cars, under this auto repair shop that's got some serious damage. and then it flows right down this residential street. and here is the worst damage it did, it undermined the foundation of this multifamily
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home and sheared the side off it when it collapsed. while we were there, the family who lives here showed up. they were slack-jawed. so i'm looking at the side of your bedroom right now? that's your bed? >> that's my bed, the second floor. >> my house for 22 years and now -- >> reporter: unfortunately, that family had no flood insurance so they have lost everything. as for this community, little falls, the city has set up a shelter for the 400 families who live in this area to ride out what will be an incredibly anxious night, diane, as this water rises, at by one estimate, 2 inches an hour. >> all right, dan, thanks. also anxious, of course, in vermont, where they had a month's worth of rain in one day there. abc's linsey davis is in wilmington now. >> reporter: not your ordinary debris bobbing up and down in this raging vermont river. this is a chrysler, caught up in the kind of flooding most haven't seen here in living memory. it was really scary. people coming in, chest deep in water.
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>> reporter: at least two of the lives claimed by irene were here in vermont. one person is still missing. >> oh, my god! >> reporter: a dozen bridges have been lost, including some of the state's iconic covered ones, just washed away. more than 250 roads closed, and many stretches look like this, crumbling. in downtown brattleboro, thousands of homes and business are without power. officials are struggling to determine the true extent of the damage. the governor, who surveyed the wreckage by helicopter, described widespread devastation. >> we've seen so many heartbreaking stories that it's -- we need all the help we can get. >> reporter: the national guard is out with rapid response teams working on rescue and relief, but even the rescuers are in need of help. >> the water level got right here. >> reporter: this firehouse inundated by floodwaters. so the water has receded. but what a mess still remains.
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as we make our way through what remains of this doorway. we want to show you the typical scene up and down main street. look at what the water did to this boutique. the store front pushed right off the foundation. and then just a disaster zone inside. thenent the corner, you see the famous flood of 1938. this is the water mark from the water yesterday, way above my head. diane. >> the new famous flood of hurricane irene. thank you, linsey. and 100 miles away from you up in windham, new york, more than 2,000 people were trapped as the waters rose there. abc's jim avila is in windham right now. jim. >> reporter: diane, it's scenes like this that show us the power of a tropical storm in not a very tropical place. sucking the earth from beneath the pavement and swallowing entire cars ananhousing foundations in giant sinkholes. irene's legacy in new york's catskills mountains is the flash flood. >> there goes the car. that car is history. >> reporter: this is windham, new york, a small town normally
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alongside the batavia kill creek. but irene's downpour joined town and river as one. >> the water is, like, picking up speed. >> reporter: john and linda schofield woke up to whitecaps across their front lawn, their river front main street home suddenly an island. no escape. their plight documented by a grainy cell phone camera, their only link to the outside. >> it's starting to come up high on the porch. >> things are really bad. >> reporter: how intense was this, linda? >> it was raging. i was shaking. it was so bad. >> reporter: in front of their eyes, windham was floating away. >> we were watching dumpsters, refrigerators, these huge propane tanks, shooting off propane. >> reporter: there was no warning. no evacuation orders. even the fire chief was surprised by the flash floods that put him and his rescue workers in four feet of water on main street. >> the current goes against you and it's unbelievable. you can't stand up, you know, it's unreal. >> reporter: it's like this all through the catskills --
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>> make sure nobody's in the water. >> reporter: -- many towns cut off by falling trees and broken bridges. the only access or view, from the air. in fact, just up the road, at a town called prattsville, they're totally cut off, hoping for airlifts of food. diane. >> all right, jim, thanks. and so we know the floods are bad after irene, but a lot of the dire predictions about explosive winds hitting skyscrapers didn't happen. so was it really necessary to evacuate more than 2 million people? abc's clayton sandell decided to take a look at why some of the science was wrong. >> if you haven't left, you should leave now. >> reporter: the dire warnings were hard to miss -- >> monster category 3 or 4 storm. >> reporter: but with irene not quite living up to the hype -- >> people sitting on the beach in asbury park, get the hell off the beach. >> reporter: monday morning meteorologists are wondering what happened. some think irene might hit the u.s. as a category 4 catastrophe.
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when it came ashore, it was a much weaker storm. >> of course that's the problem, because the evacuations are, in large part, determined by the intensity of the hurricane. >> reporter: what happened with irene highlights that predicting hurricane intensity, how strong the storm will be, is inexact and hasn't improved much in 20 years. forecasters admit the computer models they use are not good enough. >> we know we need to do a better job forecasting. >> reporter: there's a lot forecasters got right about irene. armed with so-called spaghetti models, they predicted five days before the storm hit that the storm would spare florida and georgia, making landfall in north carolina. monday's prediction was only 10 miles off, preventing costly and unnecessary evacuations. >> i think they informed us well. and we did the right thing. >> reporter: scientists point out predicting where storms will strike has improved 60% since 1990. critical information that saves lives. clayton sendell, abc news, denver. and for a somber anniversary and perspective, it was six years ago today, by the way,
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hurricane katrina barreled across the gulf coast. katrina triggered 28-foot storm surges. at its peak, irene mustered only 5 feet. katrina packed 130 miles per hour sustained winds at landfall. irene brought top sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. and we move on now to an unlikely ugly brawl. two giant political figures in a big fight tonight. nothing more brutal than a friendship turned sour. in his new memoir, former vice president dick cheney decided to take aim at former secretary of state colin powell. what did he write? and how is powell fighting back? abc's john karl on that tonight. >> reporter: they've been two titans of republican foreign policy for decades. working side by side through no less than three wars. >> first, we're going to cut it off, then we're going to kill it. >> reporter: but in his new book, dick cheney unloads on colin powell, accusing him of undermining president bush as secretary of state and being,
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quote, openly disdainful of the president's policies. cheney even claims credit for kicking powell out of the administration after the 2004 election. now it's powell's turn. >> they are cheap shots and the kind of headline you might see one of the supermarket tabloids write and it's nonsense. >> reporter: they had been close friends. in november 2000, when cheney was hospitalized with a heart attack, powell's wife, alma, prepared an entire thanksgiving dinner for the cheney family. now cheney portrays powell as two-faced and dishonest. especially on iraq. time and again, i heard that powell was opposed to the war in iraq, cheney writes.s. indeed, i continue to hear it today. but never once in any meeting did i hear him voice objection. cheney also takes aim at condoleezza rice. after one heated disagreement on iraq, cheney says rice came into his office and, quote, tearfully admitted i had been right. powell accuses cheney of trying to pump book sales. but there's something else going
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on here. evidence that president bush's foreign policy team was at war with itself. >> the team was not functioning as a team. and we had different views and not just views -- not views that could be reconciled. >> reporter: we reached out to condoleezza rice for a response. there is none yet. but, diane, rice will have her say soon enough -- she has her own book in the works due out in november. >> all right. john karl with the blow by blow tonight. and we move overseas to libya and moammar gadhafi. increasingly abandoned. his wife, three of his children, and several grandchildren have escaped across the border, seeking refuge in algeria. there is also new evidence of his atrocities against his own people. and we want to warn you some of these images are difficult to watch. but abc's jeffrey kofman in tripoli begins inside the palace of a dictator's daughter. >> reporter: the dictator's only daughter, aisha gadhafi, didn't even have time to pack. she fled her palatial home last tuesday as tripoli fell.
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her opulent home, strictly off limits while she lived here, has been open for all of libya to see. in a city with no running water, there was no keeping the kids out of aisha's massive indoor pool. the house boasas a beauty parlor, a spa, huge entertainment room, all paid for with oil revenues, while the people of this country live in poverty. when you see how aisha lived and you see this, what do you think? "how can she sleep? how can she drink? how can she eat?" says this woman indignantly. feeling utterly betrayed by the gadhafi family who claimed to be of the people. but there is even worse betrayal being uncovered, mass murder by gadhafi soldiers as the regime collapsed. here, close to 100 bodies, supporters of the revolution. a survivor says they were told they were being freed. "when a gadhafi soldier unlocked the door, other guards started shooting," he says, "and others
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threw in grenades." the bodies here have been removed for identification and burial, but there are thousands more prisoners who are missing, unaccounted for. the fear, some of them are being held in secret prisons. there is now a desperate search to find them before it's too late. today, families searched the ashes for signs of missing loved ones. a ring, a bracelet. anything, so they could at least know whether to stop looking. jeffrey kofman, abc news, tripoli. and still ahead here on "world news" -- one man gives up a big part of s salary to help hometown schools. would you do it? how chocolate may be the secret weapon against heart disease. and how this one little aviator braved irene and came out on the other side unruffled and singing. look at all this stuff for coffee.
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larry powell plans to retire this week for exactly one day. he'll then come back to the same job at a fraction of the salara. >> the public and my employees won't notice any change at all. i'll be here doing the same job. but i'll just be doing it for a few dollars less. >> reporter: his current salary plus benefits cost the district $290,000 a year. under the new deal, he'll make $31,000 with no benefits for the next 3 1/2 years. >> this takes about $830,000 and sets it aside and so if we face some midyeararuts, i can have the money ready to go and it doesn't affect employees. >> reporter: fresno, like school districts across the country, has been struggling with budget cuts. last year, $3 billion in cuts statewide. class sizes have grown. extracurriculars, electives and art programs have been cut. by voluntarily reducing his salary, he gets to save programs and positions that would otherwise face the chopping block.
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in fact, the deal is, he gets final say how the money is spent. that $830,000 is enough to hire 20 new teachers, fund 16 preschool classes or pay for 11 art programs for the entire year. >> i want parents and kids to know during tight budget times we're not going to stop delivering on those unique things that kids need. >> reporter: he says he's saved plenty. and doesn't need health insurance because he's covered under his wife's plan. >> i've got a great retirement. i've had a great life the community has given to me an awful lot. how about giving something substantial back? >> reporter: a lesson in humility and public service he hopes will benefit his students. david wright, abc news, los angeles. >> mr. powell with something to teach. coming up, word tonight that chocolate may be the new weapon to protect against heart disease. rt disease. toothpaste is not formulated for cleaning dentures, the abrasives in the toothpaste actually create those micro fine scratches in the denture, and that's where bacteria can grow andndhrive. these are the very bacteria that can cause bad breath.
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chocolate lovers are in love tonight. turns out chocolate may be a kind of secret weapon against heart disease. scientists at cambridge university in england found people who eat chocolate have lower rates of cardiovascular disease than those who don't, by 37%. and less diabetes, 31%. and a lower risk of stroke, 29%. the scientists are not sure exactly how much chocolate is beneficial but they did find that even those eating milk chocolate got some benefit. and the most famous penguin in the world, happy feet, is finally headed home. his detour through new zealand came to an end today. happy feet boarded a research ship that will sail toward antarctica for four days and then, with a gps device strapped to his leg, he will swim the rest of his way on his own, we hope, bon voyage. and coming up, another bird who surprised everyone on an extraordinary journey, flapping his way through the heart of a hurricane. hurricane. woman: day care can be expensive.
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ten ounces of bird against a 600-mile-wide hurricane? better bet on the bird. here's abc's john berman. >> reporter: travelers sat stranded. runways sat empty. 13,000 flights canceled by the giant storm that was irene. but there was one flight that did go through. of the nonstop international variety. call it air chincapin. a chincapin is the name of a whimbrel. a whimbrel is a kind of bird. a very brave bird that flew through a hurricane. he was wearing a transmitter backpack so scientists could track him on his annual migration. he left canada over a week ago. by wednesday, researchers watched with horror as he headed straight into irene, then a category 3 storm with 110-mile-per-hour winds. and he disappeared. >> we were all walking around on pins and needles hoping the bird made it through.
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>> reporter: then friday, they got a signal from chincapin, alive and well in the bahamas. nice, right? how exactly did chincapin make it through? maybe guts and gut. >> the whimbrel is able to survive the hurricane because of the tremendous fat stores they're able to put on and therefore they're able to expend the amount of energy it takes to fly through the hurricane. >> reporter: scientists say birds have an uncanny ability to judge weather patterns, usually to avoid hurricanes. or in chincapin's case, perhaps surf irene's wind currents and find a safe path through the storm. maybe it was courage, daring, perseverance or maybe chincapin likes samba. ♪ he'll spend the winter in brazil. john berman, abc news, new york. and thank you for watching. always on at "nightline" will be along later. we look forward to seeing you here again tomorrow night. bart protesters threatened
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another attempt at disrupting a monday ride home. tactics in use on both sides. >> and after a murder and two arson fires neighbors had it, why this house has become a magnet for crime. >> the new bay bridge begins to take shape. a vision of what it will look like when it's finished. >> and crime fighting technology that can ensure you're getting what you pay for at the fish market. >> good evening, every one.. >> the protesters turned up in bart tonight as they'd threatened to do. >> this time, it's taking place above ground, now, they're on the move towards powell street and market. here you can see them now as they're marching and have been heard chanting. the whole system is guilty. there is a huge police presence and as you can see, there is a lot of activity here on the escalators,


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