tv NBC Nightly News NBC May 1, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
they wrote about losing people, places and things. and there you see nbc bay area co-sponsored the event and our own raj mathai served as emcee for the afternoon. nbc "nightly news" is next and then more local news at 6:00. >p > desperate days in hit south. tp the search for hundreds missing. fr fforp for survivofo heartbreakiheartbreaking task their lives back together. tonight, we'tonight, we're wit a big difference. direct hit. wwap was gadhafi himself t r oft ofr of a nato ai? the latest from libya. act of faith.rthe extor pope john paul ii. op one stone step closer t
stant. one tornado in tuscaloosa cutting across several miles for heply populated areas. every pile of brick, every pile of wood here tells a story. this was a japanese restaurant. 20 people took refuge in the office. it's still standing.ñlñnñnñnñnñ cooler they all survived as the building literally disintegratey around them. officially 39 people have died here in tuscaloosa.
there's añcrñd will go up. john? >> reporter: there so many stories here. remarkable survival . devastating loss. people tonight are pulling together, picking up and trying to move forward. a show of force today from the obama administration as five agency heads,ññ cacabinenet secretaries, got a first-hand look at the damage and the needs. >> i don't think words can fairly express the level of devastation here. >> reporter: in hard hit tuscaloosa, officials released the names of the 39 confirmed dead. their ages ranging from 95 to 8 months. more than 450 are still missing. >> my heart tells me that we will have many more fatalities. >> reporter: the work of rebuilding power grids shifted into high gear. across the south at least 650,000 customers remain without
power. >> reporter: at tuscaloosa st. john baptist church, a spiritual rebuilding. 14 members of the congress gags lost their lives. >> the tornado had no addresses. >> reporter: in the alberta city neighborhood, 14 people rode out the tornado in the basement of this home. and escaped with just scratches. >> when we first crawled out we started screaming. we knew our house was gone. we looked around and everybody's house was gone. >> reporter: the university of alabama's school year was cut short by the tornado. students are sticking around to run a relief operation. since they started on friday more than 12,000 meals cooked, packed and delivered. other donations of diapers, toiletries, canned goods, sorted, packed for delivery as fast as they've come in. they're harness the power of twitser. >> we'll tweet we need sliced breads. an hour later a man will show up and say i have $100 worth of sliced bread. the way our generation, community responds. >> reporter: a single facebook
post sent volunteers descending on an elementary school. they rekcovered books from the rubble of a school library before tomorrow's expected rains. >> i was hoping to get a handful of people to help out. i got here at 10:30 when i said. there were already probably ten people out here working. >> reporter: from alabama we want to go to neighbors mississippi. one small town especially hard hit by a tornado that roared through smithville wrth winds estimated at more than 200 miles an hour. nbc's ron mott is there tonight. >> reporter: today in smithville where the dearly departed were mourned, the faithful gave thanks whether out in the open next to rubble or under a
fireworks tent. emotions raw, exploding into tears for what was lost here including 15 lives, more than 150 businesses and homes, and all by one house of worship. >> this is the church of god right here. this over here is a building. >> reporter: pastor reed wilkerson called his sunday sermon filling your hope chest. encouraging the congregation to lean on one another, mostly faith, to overcome tragedy. >> we serve a god who fills us with hope during the hard times. >> reporter: while so many in this town of 900 are hurting, that didn't stop them and scores of volunteers from resuming the back breaking task of picking up the pieces with tales of survival spreading from one debris field to the next like this 77-year-old's. i don't know how you made it out. >> i don't either. >> reporter: he doesn't plan to rebuild. long stretches of power lines are simply gone. though crews have begun setting new poles. tomorrow, however, one sign of normalcy returns. with the school heavily damaged,
students will head back to class, elsewhere. welcome news, says teacher norah cole who cried under that fireworks tent about wednesday's tornado, her faith intact. >> it didn't check my faith at all. we'll come through it. >> reporter: one of the speakers at this morning's church services echoed that very sentiment, saying we will get through this, but adding we will never get over it. lester? >> ron mott in mississippi, thanks. as we heard at the top, people here are not just waiting for help from the outside. despite what you see behind me, there are large areas of tuscaloosa that are undamaged. yet it seems the entire city is gladly sharing the burden of recovery. >> reporter: there are no strangers in tuscaloosa anymore. just really good neighbors. they are everywhere. on trucks, trailers, on foot. regular citizens passing out
water, food. >> they need the water and the ice. >> reporter: on a call-in radio show, a resident says they need water in his neighborhood. help is soon on the way. some of them hadn't met before today. some aren't even from around here. but now rolling through this deeply scarred landscape, they share what they see as a common responsibility. >> you can't help but come back when you see this. >> it says that in times of tragedy we can come together. >> reporter: in their wake they leave a trail of grateful survivors. >> you getting plenty of help out here? gl there's so much help and support it is unbelievable. >> reporter: many of those they help are volunteers themselves. no job is too small. or too big. and there is so much to do. >> it's really encouraging. >> reporter: it would be easy to label this uniquely southern hospitality. except we've seen it before. in many parts of this country. tragedy reminding us that at the end of the day, we're all in this together. >> any community would do what we're doing.
i mean, it's -- how could you not? it's your home. >> one woman we found here helping came from louisiana. she said these folks were there for us during katrina, and we're going to be there for them. these severe storms we've been following in the south and midwest have led to another problem. dangerous flooding that may only get worse with heavy new rains expected. the weather channel's jim cantore has more on that tonight. jim, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. when you think about the tornadic month that we had in april, a lot of the flooding, and we're talking about hundreds of thousands of acres, still sit under water. that has been completely overshadowed. it may certainly hamper with rainfall in the forecast the humanitarian and relief efforts you can see under way behind me here in forms of that tarp. let's talk about what's going to happen over the next 48 hours. this is a computer model that we asked to mimic out the atmosphere 48 hours. what you're seeing in the clouds and those colors there, the showers and thunderstorms that are going to be bubbling from texas up through arkansas, into kentucky, illinois, indiana, ohio, along the mississippi and ohio rivers that have been so
hard hit over the past month with very, very heavy rainfall. by the time all is said and done, here's the total forecast rain. 4 to 8 inches to add to the 10 to 15 that we saw just last week. many areas have already seen record flood. we will see record flood once again. perhaps even in the city of memphis, tennessee, as we work our way through the next several days. wow. another story right on the heels of this tornadic outbreak. lester? >> all right, jim cantore, thank you. one more note on the flooding. in cairo, illinois, which sits between the ohio and mississippi rivers, the ohio rose to a record level today. authorities have ordered the town evacuated because the flooding has already consumed part of the area. the army corps of engineers wants to destroy a levee on the mississippi river which would protect cairo but flood a huge area of farmland. today the attorney general of neighboring missouri asked the u.s. supreme court to block that plan. the other big story we're following tonight, fallout from a nato air attack that the
libyan government says killed one of moammar gadhafi's sons and three of his grandchildren. today angry mobs set fire to the british and italian embassies in tripoli which prompted britain to expel libya's ambassador to london. nbc's mike tie yaibbi. >> reporter: there's no doubt there was an air attack. reporters confirmed it. reporters here tightly controlled were bussed to the scene to record the damage. two of the four structures in the compound destroyed, blood trails on the floor. a government spokesman says moammar gadhafi's 29-year-old son saif al arab was killed along with three of gadhafi's grandchildren all under the age of 12. state television released video of shroud covered bodies. at the time of the airstrike 8:30 saturday night, gadhafi and his wife were also reportedly in saif's compound for a family gathering. >> the leader himself is in good health. he wasn't harmed.
his wife also is in good health. she wasn't harmed. >> reporter: in rebel-controlled benghazi, eastern libya, there was celebration of the news that the nato strikes had killed members of gadhafi's family. but there were also doubts expressed that gadhafi's son was actually killed. nato's commander, said all targets were general in nature. the airstrike was the third in a week that reportedly came close to taking out gadhafi himself. one attack while he was giving a televised speech about a proposed cease-fire with nato. but even with the bombs falling reportedly so near to where gadhafi was speaking, his offer to negotiate with nato did not include even a hint that he might surrender power. instead he said, "i am not leaving my country. no one can force me to leave my country." that was hours before the latest attack in the intensifying nato
air campaign reportedly came close to forcing regime change another way. >> this was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country. >> reporter: pro-democracy dpon straiters believe that and believe too their leader has now seen family members killed while escaping with his own life again. mike taibbi, nbc news, tripoli. >> nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in benghazi tonight. richard, where is this conflict headed? >> reporter: well, there seems to be a growing consensus that gadhafi himself is a target. and the question is, will nato continue this process of targeting gadhafi directly or at least his compound? many people here feel that gadhafi should be targeted. he's been taking a series of steps to escalate this conflict, particularly over the last several days. he's mined the port of misratah,
making it very difficult for humanitarian ships to bring aid to that besieged city. he's also encouraged his own supporters in tripoli to carry out those vigilante attacks against the embassies of the uk and italy. also the compound of the united nations. the u.n. said today it is evacuating its foreign staff, and people here believe that as gadhafi gets more and more desperate, he will become more dangerous. and they hope that gadhafi will be targeted directly. >> and if he is being targeted directly and this is, in effect, regime change, a tentative regime change we're talking, is there a part two to this from nato's perspective as to what happens, who governs libya afterwards? >> reporter: there is increasingly a movement to recognize the government here in benghazi. the u.s. has said it is an entity worthy of recognition. but not recognizing it as the official government, although several european nations have started to send diplomatic
missions here. where we are right now there are already state department officials on the ground. so some effort is under way to create a government in waiting if gadhafi were to fall and if his sons were kept out of power. >> richard engel in benghazi for us tonight, richard, thanks. when "nbc nightly news" continues on this sunday efening, a milestone witnessed today by one of the largest crowds in vatican history. le
for us tonight. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. six years after his death, pope john paul ii can still draw a crowd as today the faithful answered the call. under a perfect roman sky, a massive demonstration of faith. 1.5 million catholics crowding every cobblestone in st. peter's square and beyond to hear pope john paul ii declared blessed. the unveiling of a giant tapestry of the late pontiff signaled beatification. and unleashed wave of emotion. many in the crowd slept in the streets to get a spot in the square, including john and natalie of st. paul, minnesota. >> we camped out until 4:00 in the morning. then we got in line for about five hours. but it was worth it. >> absolutely. >> reporter: susan labelle came to honor the man who changed her life. >> world peace day in '93 came to denver.
and he turned me around and made me look at christ. >> reporter: at mass, this french nun who says john paul cured her parkinson's disease carried a relic of his blood to the alter. igniting memories of that tragic day in 1981 for chicago's cardinal francis george. >> with the relic, you know, his blood was spilled on that piazza. now his blood was here at talter. i just found that overpowering. >> reporter: the proudest people in the crowd were john paul's fellow poles waving their color. pope benedict xvi remembered his predecessor as a rock, restoring christianity as a religion of hope. yet the priesthood still reels from the sex abuse scandal critics accuse john paul for ignore. for father robert gaul and the priests who call themselves the john paul generation, the pope was an inspiration. >> he was almost like he could
see beyond this world when he was celebrating mass and one could perceive that. >> reporter: after mass, throngs of pilgrims filed by john paul's casket. a final show of gratitude to a man already a saint to so many. now, the pope still needs one more miracle before he can be canonized a saint. today the faithful are still filing past his coffin and the vatican says it will keep the basilica open until the last person has prayed. lester? >> anne, thank you. there's much more as "nightly news" continues from tuscaloosa right after this.
we're back now with some other news including a remarkable finding from french investigators who said today they have found one of two black boxes from an air france flight that went down in the atlantic ocean two years ago on a flight from brazil to paris. most of the wreckage was only recently located. the flight data recorder was partially buried in the sea floor. the plane crashed during a
thunderstorm, killing all 228 people on board. an update now on the space shuttle today from nasa which said the final launch of the "endeavour" has been delayed for at least another week. the latest problem is with a switch box in the engine compartment which has to be replaced. the six astronauts flew back to houston today. they include commander mark kelly, the husband of congresswoman gabby giffords. from england one more note tonight on the royal wedding. after the official wedding photos of prince william and kate middleton, the bride sent her bouquet back to westminster abbey where it was placed on the tomb of the unknown warrior. it's a tradition that began in 1923 with the marriage of prince william's great-grandparents. back in this country, president obama found himself in the same room last night with none other than donald trump, who took credit this past week for the president's decision to release his birth certificate. well, last night mr. obama kept it going at the annual white house correspondents dinner, which is always good for a few
laughs. he spoke of trump's credentials and what he called his breadth of experience. >> episode of "celebrity apprentice," at the steakhouse, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from omaha steaks. and there was a lot of blame to go around. but you, mr. trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. so ultimately you didn't blame lil john or meatloaf. you fired gary busey. and these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. >> today trump said he understood what he'd be getting into at the dinner, but didn't know that the focus would be so much on him, he said. up next here, in the middle of so much devastation, the spirit of giving.
back here in alabama, for all the devastation and heartbreak we're seeing, there is also no shortage of giving. whether it's strangers helping strangers or neighbors helping neighbors. nbc has more tonight. >> reporter: in the small town of cordova, alabama, the sizzling sound of sausage fills the air.
with what little he has, jerry brown cooks breakfast for his neighbors who have no gas or power after tornadoes tore through this town of 2,500. >> when something like this happens, everybody has to pull together. >> reporter: neighbors like rob greganis say there's a special quality to small communities like cordova. he's lived in this house all his life. >> living here is a blessing. you're either kin to each other, went to school with each other. >> reporter: the old southern home survived the civil war but could not withstand this week's storms. the ceiling over his bedroom ripped right off. >> you look up and see the sky where your roof used to be. you see where furniture was moved three or four feet away from the wall, bricks dumped behind it. >> reporter: 70 miles away the damage in the tiny town of hackleburg is even worse. but the spirit of giving just as strong. >> i don't know where to start. >> reporter: with her baby girl casey in her arms, andrea hall says so many helping hands are
supporting the family after they lost their home. >> they keep giving me formula and diapers. everybody's helping out. >> reporter: in a place where only 1,500 people live, irma davis says close knit is not just a description, but a way of life here. >> everybody knows everybody else. and everybody has really pulled together. >> reporter: davis is picking up basic supplies now that she's lost everything. >> it's just the worst thing you've ever been through in your life. >> reporter: back in cordova as he looks out on to the devastation, rob greganis can't help the feeling that the city has been forever changed. >> when other news stories have come and taken the place of this one, we'll still be trudging through getting over this. >> reporter: but he says one thing will be constant. the generosity of its people. nbc news, cordova, alabama. that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. brian williams will be back tomorrow. i'm lester holt reporting from tuscaloosa, alabama. for all of us here at "nbc news," good night.