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NEW DAY

Tornadoes Wreaking Havoc Across Ohio; Biden Returning to Campaign Trail Today; Death Toll Rises to 11 on Mount Everest Among Overcrowding. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2019 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hundreds of tornadoes have been reported across multiple states in just the past 24 hours.

[07:00:07] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten million Americans are under flood warnings across the Midwest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no proper reaction to this. You feel everything. Now millions in the region are left grappling with the potential for more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got water still rising, so we're not out of the woods yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He fell on the way down, just below the summit. And then kind of took his last breath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have too many people that lack the experience to be on that mountain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People make bad decisions, get themselves in trouble up high, and we end up having unnecessary fatalities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would have to be foolish to say that wait at such high altitude isn't having some impact on the numbers of death that we're seeing this year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

People in Ohio are waking up to devastation this morning from tornadoes. Now that the sun is up, we are just getting our first look at the scope of the extensive damage in the Dayton area. Take a look at your screen.

Our reporter, Ryan Young, just shot these aerial images for us with a drone. This is over Celina, Ohio. Roofs are torn off of homes. As you can see, two tornadoes struck Dayton's metro area just 30 minutes apart late last night. BERMAN: Look at that. Tens of thousands of residents are without

power this morning. Could be days before the power is restored. Dozens of tornadoes have been reported from Colorado to Indiana in the last 24 hours.

We're also seeing historic flooding in Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Arkansas River is reaching record-breaking levels. And more rain still in the forecast. We've got a lot to discuss this morning.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Ryan Young, live in Celina, Ohio, with the breaking news.

Ryan, you got on the ground about an hour ago, and you've been sending us these remarkable images. What else have you seen?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can tell you at this point, we've been talking to residents who are just starting to poke out of their houses and tell us about their harrowing night.

In fact, they said they heard the sounds start around 10:30 last night, and they didn't expect this kind of power. When you look back this direction, you can see where the storms were to cut a path right through this neighborhood.

One woman was telling us she was trying to get home at the time. And she felt the pressure around her body as this storm got close. But there are scenes like this for over a mile and a half. Guys, and as we walk down here, it seems like this storm cut a path just from house to house to house.

The good news here, seven people injured, and if you look back this way, when I say the good news, there was seven people injured, no one was killed in this storm. Despite the power that we're going through here.

In fact, we were just talking to a firefighter. They were surprised about all the extensive damage they have here and no serious injuries. We're told three of the people who were hurt are now at the hospital.

Listen to this woman talk about the fear that she went through last night and how she feels this morning, looking at her neighborhood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, CELINA RESIDENT: Heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. And it's not just here. It's out of town on Fairground (ph) Road, and I don't know what the other -- going out the other side of town, yes. Really sad. And these people, you know, where do they go?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: Well, you can understand her feelings there. And her house was, luckily, spared.

You're looking at this above video first. You can see from the drone video how extensive the damage is. It looks like it skipped for more than a mile down the way here.

Talking to firefighters, they're still trying to evaluate just the overall damage here and also dealing with the power lines. Coming back down to a live shot right now, there's always something that sort of sticks out to you in these storms.

Look at this image right here. This is part of a tree branch that's impaled this tire. This car totally got beat up here.

And as we were talking to people in this neighborhood, there are parts of roofs that are stuck in other people's roofs. So you understand, there was one woman who was telling us she could hear the two-by-fours going through her roof. She was just so scared. Her daughter was terrified, but they made it through.

Guys, so far we're hearing stories of survival. It will be interesting what we hear as the rest of the daylight comes out and neighbors start to evaluate what's going on here.

CAMEROTA: Ryan, your reporting captures for us how fast these things change lives. I mean, all of the video that you're showing us and the stories of people feeling it in their bodies and then hearing it in their homes. It just came on late last night when nobody -- I mean, I don't know if they had any warning, but they certainly weren't expecting this.

BERMAN: I'm with Ryan, seeing that tire with the stick impaled in it, it just goes to show, things end up where they're not supposed to be in tornadoes. And if someone had been standing there, that would have been in someone's leg. I mean, it is pure luck. There is just no way to protect yourself if you're caught in that.

Thanks so much, Ryan.

The weather system is wreaking havoc across much of the country. Officials say some cities could see their worst flooding ever. Rivers in Oklahoma and Arkansas could rise to record highs.

[07:05:03] And CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the latest.

What's happening around you, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

Well, if you look behind me, that is the Arkansas River. And our -- the video images here kind of capture the force of the current. And this is all water that is being released from the Keystone Dam just north of where we are. And all of this is rushing its way downstream. This is what is causing widespread flooding from -- in eastern Oklahoma from Tulsa, Oklahoma, into western Arkansas, and the Fort Smith area.

These floodwaters expected to continue to rise over the next couple of days. Perhaps another foot or so here in the Tulsa area, according to the National Weather Service. And as much as 5 to 6 feet in the Fort Smith, Arkansas, area.

So and the worst part about all this is more rain is expected here over the next couple of days, so that could contribute and make this an even more treacherous situation. But there have been road closings, neighborhoods where we've talked to residents who say they've taken -- they've seen homes with 2 to 6 feet of water inside these homes.

So this flooding conditions have continued to worsen here over the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, the amount of rain that falls over the next couple of days won't make this much worse than it already is -- Alisyn and John.

BERMAN: All right. Ed Lavandera for us. Wow, that water behind you, Ed, again, expected to rise over the next 24 hours. Thank you so much.

We've got a big campaign day in store. Former Vice President Joe Biden returns to the trail today for the first time in ten days. He hasn't been out yet. The president of the United States still very much talking about him.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is live in Houston, where the former vice president will hold a town hall with teachers later today. What's the Biden campaign strategy at this point, Arlette?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it's very clear that Joe Biden is running a front runner's campaign. He doesn't have as many public appearances. He's holding more fundraisers.

And today, we will hear him make that pitch to teachers here in Houston, his first public appearance since his official kick-off rally in Philadelphia ten days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAENZ (voice-over): As his Democratic rivals ran in parades and held ice cream socials --

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: How was the ice cream?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good.

SAENZ: Joe Biden spent this Memorial Day weekend off the campaign trail. The former vice president's official campaign guidance reading, "Joe Biden has no public events scheduled."

After a three-week burst through the early nominating states, Biden currently running a frontrunner's campaign, one lighter on public appearances and heavy on raising cash.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I promise you this. No one, no one is going to work longer. No one is going to campaign harder to win your hearts, your trust, and your support. SAENZ: In all, Biden had mingled nearly as much with voters as he has

with donors, holding nine fundraisers and 11 public events since he entered the 2020 race one month ago.

In the last week alone, Biden attending three fundraisers in Tennessee and Florida, with no public appearances. But seen here meeting with staff at his campaign offices in Washington, D.C.

BIDEN: There's much more we need to do to build the middle class. In the coming weeks, I'm going to go into a great deal more detail about this.

SAENZ: Biden's next month expected to focus on mapping out policy. This week, with events in Houston and Dallas, honing in on education.

BIDEN: Folks, teachers around the country, they're not getting paid enough.

SAENZ: In his third run for the White House, Biden is likely to spend a large portion of his time preparing for that first debate one month away.

BIDEN: I'm anxious to be able to stand before people and say what I think and let them know what I'm doing.

SAENZ: Thus far, Biden avoiding tangling with his Democratic opponents, keeping his focus squarely on President Trump.

BIDEN: President Trump inherited an economy from Obama/Biden administration that was given to him. Just like he inherited everything else in his life. And just like -- just like everything else he's been given in his life, he's in the process of squandering that, as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAENZ: Now, two weeks ago in New Hampshire, Joe Biden promised a climate change speech by the end of the month. But so far, his campaign hasn't offered any guidance for when that will actually happen -- John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, Arlette. Thank you very much for wrapping that up for us.

Joining us now is David Gregory, CNN political analyst; David Chalian, CNN political director; and Bianna Golodryga, a CNN contributor. Great to see all of you.

OK. So Bianna, Joe Biden's strategy of not doing more public events over this span of ten days doesn't seem to be hurting him in the polls, at least right now, but it's early days.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We haven't seen any gaps yet, which is good.

CAMEROTA: Maybe it's helping him. GOLODRYGA: Maybe it's helping him. And look, he has the notoriety

and the gravitas to already attract attention from viewers, from the media, from people who are already supporting him, right? So that we know. But it is very early in the game.

[07:10:10] Remember, at this point, we haven't seen Donald Trump yet go down that infamous escalator at Trump Tower. So it's a matter of how long this can hold, whether there's enthusiasm.

You don't see the huge amount of numbers at these rallies as you would see for others, as you would see for the president. And so in addition to that, I think you're going to have to, at some point, not only hear Joe Biden focus on defeating Trump but also on introducing his own policy.

Some of the other competitors have carved out their own lanes on focusing on specifics, whether it's education, whether it's health care, and he's got to do the same at some point.

BERMAN: David Gregory, do you care to introduce the Gregory corollary to our viewers just waking up in the 7 a.m. hour, on the assist that Joe Biden is getting on the campaign trail?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the president of the United States is paying attention to him and almost nobody else. That's the bottom line. That says to you that the president thinks the front runner is Joe Biden.

As Bianna says, the country knows Joes Biden. He's the former vice president. He can speak about Obama/Biden, and the Obama/Biden economy, as he did in that clip that was in the piece.

So he's in a tremendous position relative to a very large Democratic field, where you have so many others who are trying to find their own lane, to break out of the pack. He doesn't have to do that.

And I think, as much as there's some tension in the Democratic Party about the progressive wing of the party and the future of the party, I think there's an overwhelming sense of, who's going to beat Trump? And I think Biden fits that bill. He's got a lot of experience running, a lot of unsuccessful experience running for president. So to see him be more disciplined this go around, I think, is going to make a lot of Democrats happy.

CAMEROTA: David Chalian, I think that we just heard Joe Biden make a really interesting point about the economy. And maybe this is how he's going to frame it going forward, which is that Donald Trump is the beneficiary of the -- all of the seeds that Obama and Biden planted, and that the economy is now on autopilot, basically.

And so he -- if voters believe it, he can make the case, you can do better on these other -- on all the other things that I have to offer, and the economy is going to be just fine.

What do you -- how do you think that's going to play? CHALIAN: Yes. Although the other thing that Joe Biden was saying

there, Alisyn, is that the president is now squandering that inheritance. And that may be the tougher argument to make, if the economic numbers begin -- continue to show the strength that they are.

Listen, American's perception of the economy right now is very, very high. I mean, like at an 18-year high in some polls. Obviously, the Democrats will make the argument, have been making the argument that not everyone is feeling that exactly at their kitchen table.

But it's just going to be a tough argument for Joe Biden to say that Donald Trump is squandering the economy, if many of the economic indicators continue to show the strength that they are.

BERMAN: Which is why many of the Democratic candidates are talking more or as much about values as they are on the economy. And to tie all of this together, the Biden thing in what you were just talking about there, listen to the other Democratic candidates responding to President Trump's attacks on Joe Biden from this weekend.

The president, as you've been saying, went overseas and, shattering all kinds of norms, took Kim Jong-un's side, the dictator in North Korea, in his criticism of a former U.S. vice president. But the other Democratic candidates in the field, they were responding to it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Kim Jong-un is a murderous dictator, and the vice president, Biden, serves this country honorably.

SANDERS: We don't need to be praising Kim Jong-un or other authoritarian leaders all over the world, who Trump is making good good friends with.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He cares about Donald Trump, first, last, and in between, and not protecting the interests of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So David Chalian, again, two things went on right there. No. 1, the other Democratic candidates having to respond to Joe Biden loosely, even though Biden hasn't been on the campaign trail.

And No. 2, you can see how quickly they leaped to the discussion about values right here. Because that's where they want to be.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Without a doubt, John. And notice, it's not like any of them are out there saying exactly what their North Korea policy would be. That's not the answer here.

They are just taking on the president for conducting foreign policy by tweet, for breaking all these norms, as you were saying, for a values argument. You know, there's a debate inside the Democratic Party, whether sort

of Trump's chaos and his personality is the thing to continue to put before voters this year, or if Democrats need to be focusing on bread and butter issues like health care, like prescription drugs and what have you.

Obviously, politics is never either/or. It's always both/and. But I think the debate of how much prominence one of those arguments gets will continue to play out inside this nomination.

GOLODRYGA: And look, once upon a time, anybody running for president would say it's a badge of honor, to be insulted by a dictator, right, because they clearly feel threatened by our values systems here in the U.S.

[07:15:05] So there's no problem with calling that out and saying that's not OK. At the same time, Democrats need to tread lightly when it comes to the economy.

Obviously, we're near -- at full employment. The economy is roaring by all measures. But it's an opportunity for these candidates to say, you may have a job. You may have food to put on the table. That is all good.

But is your child's education better? Is your health care better? Are you able to afford medication now? If the answer is no, then this president is not fulfilling his promise to you. That's a route, a specific route, that these candidates can take.

CAMEROTA: David, what about -- I want to move onto a little snafu that Senator Amy Klobuchar got into over the weekend. Because she was trying to share a personal story of standing next to Senator John McCain during President Trump's inauguration.

And she shared this, and we're going to play it for you in a moment, and then it did not sit well with the McCain family. So listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John McCain kept reciting to me names of dictators during that speech. Because he knew more than any of us what we were facing as a nation. He understood it. He knew, because he knew this man more than any of us did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK. So then Meghan McCain tweeted this: "On behalf of the entire McCain family, Amy Klobuchar, please be respectful to all of us and leave my father's legacy and memory out of presidential politics."

Certainly, we understand, obviously, the McCain family wanting privacy, wanting to preserve her father's image, but how can John McCain be left out of presidential politics? I mean, he's -- he's a vital ingredient in all of these conversations. GREGORY: Yes, I don't understand this back and forth at all,

honestly. I mean, I think what Klobuchar, who was a colleague of John McCain, was doing was making an observation. You could see any Democratic candidate for the presidency making, as a criticism of Donald Trump. It's no mystery how the late Senator McCain felt about Donald Trump.

So I just don't understand Meghan McCain's response here. I think John McCain will be held up by -- by, certainly, a lot of Democrats. Anyone opposed to Donald Trump, he will be -- his legacy will be held up, his views. Certainly, his votes about national security and foreign policy. So I think this is -- this is a minor thing.

BERMAN: About values, by the way, what I was talking about before. He'll be held up because Democrats want to make this about that.

CAMEROTA: Great point. All right. Thank you very much for all of the insight.

So now to this story. Another American climber has died summiting Mt. Everest. CNN's Arwa Damon has gotten there. She has flown to the Everest base camp that serves as the launching point for what some now call the death zone. And she brings us a report.

BERMAN: Because she's Arwa Damon.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:21:55] BERMAN: Another American climber has died after summiting Mount Everest. The death toll has now risen to 11 people this year. Experts are blaming inexperienced climbers and overcrowding for the escalating death toll on the world's highest peak.

CNN's Arwa Damon traveled to the base camp at Mt. Everest, high enough to feel the effects of the altitude.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have just arrived to Everest base camp. And I have to say, even at this altitude, even without being anywhere near to the summit, you really feel the impact of the decreased oxygen levels.

The scenery here is absolutely spectacular. You really understand what the draw and appeal is.

If you look that way, that's the ice fall that is so famous. It's what the climbers first have to go through to get to Camp One. And then, of course, as they move on up through the different camps and the different stops, trying to reach what is the one main goal that unites everybody here.

Normally, this entire area at the peak of the season is covered in tents. What you have right now behind me is just a few tents that have been left. There are cleanup crews. There's still a handful of climbers that are down there, some of the last ones to come down from the summit on what has been an especially devastating hiking season for the summit of Everest because of the level of fatalities and because of the issues that arose from all of this backlog that took place. The photographs, the long lines of people waiting inside the death zone, called that because the levels of oxygen there are so low.

Every breath you take in the death zone only gives you a third of the oxygen that you would get at sea level. So you have to be climbing with oxygen tanks. And so these long waiting hours may have contributed to the deaths that we did see, at least to most of them.

And a lot of these climbers aren't dying on the way up. You can make it to that goal. You can make it to the summit. It's when you come back down, that's when people's bodies tend to succumb to altitude sickness.

A lot of debate right now, as to whether or not Nepal needs to be doing more to regulate the number of permits, to regulate who goes up, what level of experience they have. There's been a lot of criticism about inexperienced climbers going up.

But there's also a burden of responsibility on the individual. Yes, this is such a challenge. It is such a goal that is really going to push you mentally and physically to the limit.

But all of the climbers we're talking to are saying, you really need to know how to listen to your body. And just being here right now, one really feels the effect of the lower levels of oxygen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[07:25:02] CAMEROTA: OK. So Arwa Damon just got back from that base camp, where she filed that report. She spent two hours there, until she felt the -- all of the effects of the lack of oxygen, and she went back. She flew back to Kathmandu. She's live for us now in Nepal.

Arwa, that is remarkable to just have seen you there. And tell us what the hikers that you encountered told you about this life and death situation.

DAMON: You know, they were the ones that we met there. They were part of the last group that was coming down. And so they were saying that they had deliberately avoided the big rush that happened earlier because of the weather windows only opening sporadically. They decided to take their chances and wait until the very end.

We met this teenage girl actually. She was just 17 years old, hiking to the summit with her father. She has this goal in mind of trying to complete all seven summits on seven continents by the time she's 18.

But she and her father were talking about how, as they were going up to the summit, they were coming across the bodies of those who have lost their lives. And she was saying that, you know, while it was disturbing, yes, it also proved to be a driving force for her, to keep her going. Because when you're in that death zone, you are fighting for every

single step you're taking. Your brain is screaming at you to stop, to go back, to give up. And you have to try to push through that.

One of the reasons she was saying she pushed through it -- remember, she's just 17 years old -- was because she saw the bodies of those who died, and she did not want to end up like them. She says, "I knew I had to make it to the top. I knew I had to make it back down for my brother and my mother."

Now, she has a fair level of experience. She went up on a private trip with a Gurkha who was focused on her and her father, ensuring that all safety measures were carried out.

The issue, though, is that there are more and more inexperienced climbers who are going up with some companies who are cutting corners to cut down costs, who aren't necessarily carrying out duty of care, and that is one of the issues, one of the underlying reasons, perhaps, why we have had so many deaths this hiking season.

Plus, there's the number of permits that Nepal has issued. The government is saying that is not a factor, that that's an unfounded allegations. But at the same time, there's a big debate going on right now as to whether or not there should be more regulations put into place. Because it is a very intoxicating summit. It's a very intoxicating goal, if you're that kind of person who's oriented towards that, to want to achieve something like that. But at the same time, it's so dangerous.

BERMAN: Arwa, if we can, just very quickly, tell us a little bit more about your journey to the base camp, which is at 17,000 feet. Because I think it will give people a sense of just how dangerous it can be. You could only stay for two hours, because you hadn't acclimated. Explain that.

DAMON: Right. So most people when they're going to base camp, when they're going to be heading out to the summit of Everest, they walk from an area called Lukla that's about a 45-minute flight from Kathmandu, and that hike takes about 10 to 14 days. And along the way, you acclimatize. Your body slowly is able to get used to these lower levels of oxygen.

When you do what we did, which was grab a chopper and go right away, within the space of about, you know, 30 minutes, from basically sea level all the way up to 17,500, 18,000 feet. Your body is hit by the altitude, and you feel it in your chest. You know, every step you take, you feel dizzy, because that's how weak you are without actually realizing it.

My fingers started tingling, because your body automatically wants to protect itself. It wants to protect the oxygen that it has, the blood flow that it has. So it will cut off circulation to your fingers.

One of the experts who was with us was saying, people also feel like circulation is cut off to their toes, to their nose. People can also tend to get nauseous. You feel incredibly out of breath. It's only recommended that you stay there for this two-hour time

period that we were there, because if you stay there any longer without being acclimatized, that can then prove to be fairly dangerous.

CAMEROTA: Arwa, thank you very much for going through all of that to get to base camp, to explain what's happening there on Everest this season. It is so deadly, it is so dangerous, and we really appreciate your on-the-ground reporting. Thank you.

BERMAN: We're going to speak to a climber a little bit later in the show, too, who has just returned from near the summit of Everest to give a sense of --

CAMEROTA: Can you imagine what she just reported, hiking past dead, frozen bodies in the death zone?

BERMAN: And I think one of the important things to remember is even if you are an experienced climber, when you try to summit Everest, it can still all go wrong by luck, just by bad luck.

CAMEROTA: All right. President Trump is downplaying North Korea's latest missile test, contradicting his allies and his advisors. What message does this send to the world? We'll ask the former director of national intelligence, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:30:00]