ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
May 21, 2013
Guests: Paul Douglas, Theresa Mosier, John Doak, Mark McBride, Steve Ellis, Hakeem Jeffries
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. And
thank you for joining us on this day two of the tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma,
coming to a close.
We know more this evening about the sheer power of the massive tornado that
devastated this community. We know more about the scope of the damage
visited upon this town and we know more tonight of the amazing acts of
courage by teachers in two schools crushed by the storm.
The good news today -- and it`s nice to be able to report some good news in
the midst of this -- initial reports of fatalities have been cut in half.
The Oklahoma City medical examiner last night having placed the number of
dead at 51, this morning, revised that number to 24 confirmed deaths. A
spokesman explaining that some victims were counted twice in the initial
The monster tornado has now officially been deemed to have reached EF-5
status in at least one area, according to survey crews which estimated peak
winds of 210 miles per hour. Its force -- get this -- is estimated to have
been 8 to 600 times greater than that of the atomic bomb which exploded in
The storm system initially created an EF-0 tornado, touching down at 2:56
yesterday, just 16 minutes after the first warning was sounded. Funnel
quickly intensified and within four miles and 10 minutes later have reached
category 4. Its track was eerily similar to the one from 1999 EF-4 tornado
that struck area and devastated everything in its path, including two
schools and a hospital.
As we see this time lapse video of the tornado`s progression, it was on the
ground for 17 miles, creating a path of carnage that was at its greatest
1.3 miles wide. The number of homes destroyed is unknown, 237 people are
reported injured, including 70 children and 34,000 people have lost power
in Moore, Oklahoma City and other affected areas.
At the Plaza Towers Elementary School, the search for survivors continued
today after 200 people work through the night.
Oklahoma`s governor, Mary Fallin, made an on-site tour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA: It was a very surreal coming up on the
school because there was no school. There was just debris. And it was
piled very high. It was hard to tell what was there.
HAYES: FEMA director Craig Fugate says search and rescue in the entire
affected area will continue until everyone is found.
And stories of neighbors helping neighbors are already pouring in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALFREDO CORREALES, SURVIVOR, HELPED WITH RESCUE: We pulled a bunch of
people out. A lot of them are elderly people. We pulled some younger
people out too. Some didn`t make it. Some did. Most of them did that we
were involved with.
I kicked the door in to save this one elderly lady and 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. I don`t know
how she made it but she did. Thank God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Obama having last night declared a state of emergency in
Oklahoma, today said Oklahoma will get everything it needs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The people of Moore should
know that their country will remain on the ground there for them beside
them, as long as it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today also produced as it would in the age of instant eyewitness
video more YouTube videos of the storm, on the day when the risk of
tornadoes throughout the region remained elevated. Due to widespread
tornado damage and continuing severe weather across Oklahoma, the state
emergency operations center remains activated.
Joining me right now from Moore, Oklahoma, MSNBC`s Thomas Roberts.
And, Thomas, I see some folks in the background of the shot. We`ve been
seeing them all day as we`ve been watching what`s going on unfold.
What are people doing right now in the aftermath of this? Are they
returning to their homes? Are they out of the area? What are folks trying
to do today on the day after this disaster happened?
THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, right now, Chris, it`s a beautiful
contradiction here in Moore, Oklahoma, because the evening is absolutely
perfect, but as we look around, it`s complete devastation after a little
over 24 hours now we know that that tornado that ripped through here is
categorized as an EF-5.
As you bring up the people, there`s a young couple behind me, Nathan and
Amber Kryzel (ph) who rode out the storm in their bathtub. This is their
first time back to their home this evening. That`s Amber, the blonde,
behind me. She`s talking about the bathtub which is right to the right-
hand side of that toilet if you can make that out over my shoulder.
But she was in that bathtub with her husband, Nathan, and their three
little kids. They have two 4-year-old twins and one 6-year-old daughter.
They said they got in the bathtub over the top of the girls with couch
pillows and then pulled a blanket over the top of them and rode out the
storm that way.
And, Chris, believe it or not, they emerged from the bathtub completely
unscathed. The girls didn`t have scratch on their heads. There were pipes
burst all around them but climbed out and went to family.
Now, earlier today, it was rainy. It was very windy and there were some
people that did come out to survey the damage early on, but not so many,
and then it got a little bit worse where people just fled.
Now in the evening hours, it`s gotten really nice. This is the first time
-- and we`ve been here all day -- this is the first time we`ve seen Nathan
and Amber come back. Lots of other people have come back along this street
But for Amber, she`s just trying to find something for her 6-year-old
daughter that she can claim as a memento because her twins walked away with
their blankets. So they have something, but she wants something for their
Interestingly enough, her little 6-year-old goes to Plaza Towers Elementary
School, but she is in the early morning kindergarten program. She was done
by 11:30 and her mom had already picked her up by the time the storm came
I asked her if she`s aware of any other friends of her daughter, that may
have perished at the school and she said she`s not. She`s not aware of any
of those teachers.
But that school, that elementary school, Plaza Towers, was the one
elementary school worst hit where they say that seven plus students may
have died there.
And you have brought up the tally in and of itself. They have brought down
that number. The earlier reports were much higher, but it does remains at
24 right now. And as we break down that number, it`s 20 people in Oklahoma
City -- excuse me, 20 people in Moore and four people in Oklahoma City and
then nine of those victims are children.
The first victim that was identified is a little 9-year-old girl named
Ja`Nae Hornsby who was a student at plaza towers elementary school.
It really is just devastating, Chris. I had an opportunity to walk around
the neighborhood and talk to everybody. They`re so grateful that they have
their loved ones and they were able to walk away mostly unscathed, but it
truly is heartbreaking to see how these people are coming back.
Amber, for example, I asked Amber, they`re homeowner here for the last 12
years, and I asked her if she wants to rebuild, she says she doesn`t know.
She just knows that the next house that she has, wherever that is, if it`s
here, it`s going to have a basement.
HAYES: Yes, and maybe bring that bathtub too. That has some sort of
magical power to it. That`s an incredible story.
MSNBC`s Thomas Roberts, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
ROBERTS: Great minds think alike, because I asked her about the bathtub,
Chris. I asked her if she was going to take it with her to the new house
if they moved, and she said she just might. We`ll keep you posted on.
HAYES: That`s a keeper.
As mentioned earlier, yesterday`s massive tornado was categorized as an F-5
in at least one area.
Joining me now to put that in perspective and to illustrate the strength of
an F-5 or EF-5 tornado is Paul Douglas, meteorologist and founder of
Weather Nation TV.
All right. Here`s my question, Paul. This is the question of a person who
is not a meteorologist and doesn`t quite necessarily really understand in a
deep way how a tornado works. I do not -- I just generally don`t
understand the images of destruction that I`m seeing.
I mean, you can look at hurricanes going through areas and floods and,
actually, we`ve been covering disasters a lot because we live in a disaster
prone age. But nothing -- I can`t get my head around how the conditions
are produced that create a storm powerful enough to do the thing that we
are all now watching the aftermath of.
PAUL DOUGLAS, WEATHERNATION: It`s a great question, Chris. And there is a
The United States is ground zero for tornadoes. Ninety percent of all
twisters worldwide form here. The same attributes that make our nation so
beautiful, the geographical features and disparities and contrasts also can
conjure up this witch`s brew of meteorological ingredients.
And, again, there`s nothing more difficult of trying to predict a tornado.
It`s the equivalent of predicting a sneeze. They are atmospheric hiccups.
We can tell when conditions are right, but trying to pin down exactly where
one will touch down and what the ultimate intensity will be is still very
fraught with peril. We`re not there yet.
It turns out that a tornado isn`t so much an object as it is a process.
One that takes many hours to unfold.
And we have an animation explaining the dynamics involved. Of course, you
need moisture from the Gulf of Mexico but overlaid in the mid layers of the
atmosphere, you need dry, cool air. And those conditions usually converge
over the Plains States, traditional Tornado Alley or even Dixie Alley just
east of the Mississippi. In recent years, we`re seeing an eastward trend
to some of the most severe tornadoes.
The winds always increase as you rise up through the atmosphere. This
creates a horizontal wind shear. Think of it as horizontal tubes of air.
Then, when you have a thunderstorm, an intense updraft, that thunderstorm
is able to focus the horizontal shear about a vertical axis and then like
an ice skater who brings her arms in and spins faster, you have all this
moisture and energy being focused around this vertical axis.
In a typical thunderstorm, it usually snuffs itself out within 30 to 45
minutes. But in these super cell thunderstorms, they tilt over slightly
due to wind shear and that protects the warm updraft and it sustains the
warm updraft. So instead of dying out after 45 minutes, it goes on hour
after hour and in the process you have enormous amounts of energy focusing
in right around the central core and ultimately something called a rear
flank downdraft, a surge of drier, cooler, buoyant air pulls this whole
circulation down to the ground and we have a tornado.
Out of 100 thunderstorms, Chris, maybe one or two will ever go on to
produce a tornado. That`s the good news. They are exceedingly rare and
odds of seeing an F-5 probably comparable to winning the Powerball lotto.
I mean, the odds are incredibly low. The fact that Moore has seen three
major tornadoes since 1999 is just unheard of.
But Oklahoma is the heart of Tornado Alley. They`ve had 13 EF-5s just
since 1902 in the state of Oklahoma, and Oklahomans are incredibly tornado
aware. They know what to do.
My nightmare scenario is what happens if something like that hits in
Nashville or Chicago or in Atlanta or even Washington, D.C.
There was an EF-4 tornado 30 miles south of the White House 11 years ago,
2002. It hit in La Plata, Maryland. Most people don`t realize that.
Yes, tornado alley sees the most tornadoes but we`re seeing an eastward, an
apparent eastward shift into Dixie Alley and even Hoosier Alley --
Illinois, Kentucky, parts of Ohio, have seen incredible tornadoes in recent
years. We don`t know if that`s a manifestation of climate change as we
No sound science yet that a warmer atmosphere necessarily means more severe
tornadoes. Yes, I does mean more instability. But there`s more water
vapor and fuel for these severe thunderstorms but in a warmer atmosphere
you should have less wind shear and that would tend to negate some of these
So, there`s not enough data. We need more research. You can`t connect the
dots. There`s no causal connection. But it`s something we`re going to be
watching very carefully.
HAYES: That was really satisfying explanation. I am now -- the image on
my head is this sort of teaching (ph) on its axis situation that happens
there, that I think I can get my head around.
Paul Douglas of Weather Nation TV, thank you very much.
DOUGLAS: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Amidst the rubble today, the inspiring stories of the teachers who
shielded their students from dangers.
This is footage taken yesterday, incredible footage outside Briarwood
Elementary School, a scene of bewilderment and shock just minutes after the
When we come back, we`ll talk to a Briarwood teacher who planned to lay
down her life to make sure her students survived. Don`t miss that.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was so brave. He was so brave. He was so brave.
He was so brave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That very emotional reunion happened yesterday as parents showed up
at the sites of demolished elementary schools in Oklahoma hoping to find
their children alive. Today, justified praise is being heaped on the
teachers who protected the lives of these children.
I`ll speak with a fourth grade teacher who gave no second thought to
putting her life on the line. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today. Our gratitude
is with the teachers who gave their all to shield their children with the
neighbors, first responders and emergency personnel who raced to help as
soon as the tornado passed, and with all of those who as darkness fell
searched for survivors through the night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was President Obama this morning, acknowledging the courageous
efforts of rescue workers and ordinary citizens most notably the teachers,
Plaza Towers Elementary School and Briarwood Elementary School. Oklahoma
officials do not know how many students were in the two elementary schools
when they suffered a direct hit from the storm. All of the students at
Briarwood have been accounted for. However, at least seven children at
Plaza Towers Elementary were killed.
Both schools were basically reduced to rubble. And according to Oklahoma
officials, neither school had safe rooms for students and teachers to take
shelters. Nor did the schools have basements.
The teachers did everything they could to save those kids. A second grade
teacher at Briarwood Elementary was with seven children when the ceiling
collapsed pinning them to the ground, metal beams and cinder blocks crushed
her. She survived and said her thoughts were on children and keeping them
At a nearby day care center, a staff hustled 15 children to two bathrooms,
draping them with a protective covering and singing songs to keep them calm
as the wind ripped the roof off of one of the bathrooms and debris rained
on the children, they remained calm singing "You are my Sunshine."
And maybe the most remarkable story comes from Plaza Towers Elementary
where a Rhonda Crosswhite put herself directly between the kids and the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RHONDA CROSSWHITE, TEACHER, PLAZA TOWERS ELEM.: I was in a stall with some
kids. And it just started coming down. So I laid on top of them. One of
my little boys, he just kept saying I love you, I love you, please don`t
die with me, please don`t die with me.
I never thought I was going to die. The whole time I just kept screaming
to them, quit worrying. We`re fine. We`re fine. We`re fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me right now is Theresa Mosier, a fourth grade teacher of
Briarwood Elementary, who survived a direct hit of her school, along the
students she was interesting.
Theresa, I`m so glad that you are safe and thank you very much for joining
Can you -- can you walk us through what that day was like and at what point
you knew a tornado was headed your way, and what the teachers in the school
did and what you did?
THERESA MOSIER, TEACHER, BRIARWOOD ELEMENTARY: Yes, it was a pretty normal
day until the afternoon. We knew that we were going to have thunderstorms,
but it wasn`t until the afternoon that we started to realize that they were
getting severe, and we noticed that the children were starting to be
checked out by some of the parents.
Later on, our administrator, Dr. McMillan, came across the intercom and
told us that we were to start taking tornado precautionary measures and
that it was not a drill. So that`s when we immediately started taking our
children and getting them against the wall and going into our precautionary
HAYES: And what are those measures? Obviously, you drill on them there
because tornadoes are common there. What exactly did you do with the
students you had?
MOSIER: We`re kind of in a different type of building. We don`t have
hallways. We have pods.
And so, all we have are inside walls so we get our children up against the
inside wall and have them get down on their knees and lower their heads and
put their arms over their head and just stay in that position until, you
know, up until then it just had been until a drill was over. But that`s
what we do.
HAYES: So you have your fourth graders, I believe, against the wall and
they are down. Are they freaking out? Are they scared? Did they
recognize what`s coming?
MOSIER: Yes. You could hear the tornado approaching just minutes or
seconds, whatever, you know, before it even actually hit the building. It
was that loud.
So you could hear it approaching. And, yes, at that point they were
crying. They were upset. They were scared. They were very scared.
But we just all knelt together and I put myself over their bodies and put
my arms around them and just held them as tight as I could and just told
them, you know, it`s going to be OK. I said I promise. It`s going to be
And we just kept like that until we were -- you know, until it had passed
over and we looked up and the ceiling was gone. Cinder blocks were falling
on us, you know, pieces of debris. It was horrifying. They were very
HAYES: At what point did you realize it was over?
MOSIER: Well, for one thing when I turned around and looked up, you could
see the whole entire sky. There was nothing left of the roof.
And just the fact that a lot of debris flying around, the cinder blocks,
you know, they -- everything had just kind of settled down and it got
really, really quiet as far as the weather went. The children were still
very, very upset. But it just got very calm after it passed.
HAYES: How long have you been a teacher, Theresa?
MOSIER: I`ve been teacher for 30 years.
HAYES: I got to say a lot of people in the country today are looking at
this and reminded of the -- just incredible work that you do, personally
and as a member of a profession, and I just want to say thank you for what
MOSIER: Thank you. And we love those children. Love them very, very
much. They are very, very brave.
HAYES: It really shows. Theresa Mosier, fourth grade teacher at Briarwood
Elementary who survived the storm with her fourth grade class, huddled up
against an interior wall as the tornado ripped the roof off -- thank you
for joining us tonight.
MOSIER: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, what happens next for the people in Moore who lost
everything? We`ll find out.
HAYES: Last night on this broadcast, we brought you the pretty incredible
interview of a man who survived the storm with his family in their tornado
shelter and emerged to find everything destroyed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife and I worked hard for everything we had. We
just now paid off our house. We were debt-free. Had no house payment. We
were supposed to go tomorrow to sign papers on land to build a new house
and that house was collateral for the land purchase. So, now, we`re in a
position of which direction do we go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All of us at the ALL IN staff are all together wondering today
about what lies ahead for this man and his family? What lies ahead for
hundreds or thousands who lost everything in Moore, Oklahoma? How do they
begin to rebuild?
I wonder about their insurance. Particularly, if they have, what does it
cover and whether private insurance in the face of catastrophic loss is
And joining me now is the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner, John Doak.
John, thank you for joining us.
And, I guess my first question is, what is the general situation of folks
living in tornado alley?
Obviously, the insurance industry, homeowners all know this is a possible
risk. Is insurance required? Are most of these folks insured? Are they
going to be made whole?
JOHN DOAK, OK INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: Sure. Absolutely. If they have a
mortgage, insurance would most likely be required.
We`ve done an educational campaign over the last year in the state of
Oklahoma to educate folks on the need of insurance after Oklahoma`s
wildfires last year. We found out there was a high percentage of our
population in rural areas that did not have insurance and I think it`s
going to be much different in this case, coming through a rural metro area.
I think it`s going to be substantially different and I think there`s going
to be thousands of claims here.
And we`re going to do our best t make sure Oklahomans understand their
insurance policies from a consumer perspective and make sure insurance
companies fulfill the promises which they made to Oklahomans and the
industry has responded very, very well, and we`re going to work with them
and we`re coordinating that effort as we speak.
HAYES: You talk about making sure that the companies live up to their
obligations. This shows the amount of severe storm related loss this is
year not including the past week compared to the amount covered by
insurance. And what you see $3.5 billion in total losses in $2 billion
covered by insurance. And the fear for a lot of folks standing amidst
rubble, there is about that gap between the two.
DOAK: Yes. That`s going to be -- we`re going to have to analyze that.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department -- we have a very, very fine employee
base. And I want to say they responded overwhelmingly in the last 24 hours
to help folks in the area. But our financial team is going to be on top of
this looking at this from many, many different angles, working with
insurers and consumers to make sure their coverage was adequate, but also
sitting down with them individually one-on-one. We will be here as long as
it takes. I have to say I`m proud to be a part of the National Insurance
Commissioners because I`ve had them reach out from across the United States
to offer assistance. Commissioner Chitzman (ph), from Texas, the president
of NAIC, Senator Nelson, has reached out. Many states. We`re going to
need their help but we`re going to take care of consumers and we`ll do the
Just last week, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin passed the first ever
Oklahoma consumer bill of rights for home and auto. It`s basically a law
that codified some very important aspects of our Title 36 for consumer
protections and I`m very proud of -- that just passed last week. We`re
going to do our very best to take care of consumers.
HAYES: Let me make sure I`m clear here. When we`ve seen situations in
Sandy and areas in flood plains, there are federal programs that act as
sort of backstops and guarantees. What you`re operating there with in
Moore is the private insurance market, right? We`re not dealing with state
or federal programs that have these folks insured because of the heightened
risk for tornado?
DOAK: Absolutely. In Oklahoma, we strongly believe in market competition
for companies and for consumers to be able to make that best choice to let
their feet do the walking with insurance companies, to put them in greater
control. We`re proud of that aspect. But behind the scenes we`re very
proud, if we`re watching the financial solvency of companies, the Oklahoma
Property and Casualty Guaranty Fund is a backstop for Oklahoma consumers
and they`ve been there a long time and they`ve done a good job for
companies that might possibly become insolvent. But again, we believe in
free-market competition. And the insurance companies that do business in
the state of Oklahoma really, when they are competing for business for
Oklahomans on events like this, we know it`s not a matter of if but when
we`re going to have this happen in Oklahoma.
HAYES: Yes. And the proof of that performance and results of that market
competition come in the wake of disasters on the back end.
Oklahoma insurance commissioner, John Doak, thank you very much.
DOAK: You`re welcome. Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, I`ll tell you how they were responding to the Oklahoma
disaster on Capitol Hill today, and why another political fight over
disaster relief is already brewing. We`ll be right back.
HAYES: While the nation`s attention has been focused on Oklahoma, it was
an active day on Capitol Hill, including this breaking news on the most
consequential piece of legislation facing the Congress, possibly one of the
most consequential pieces of legislation in the Obama era, immigration
reform. "NBC News" is reporting today the sweeping bill to overhaul the
nation`s immigration system cleared its first major hurdle today with the
18-member committee charged with completing the first round of legislative
edicts voting to advance the bill to the full Senate. The vote in the
Senate Judiciary Committee was not close, 13-5. Three Republicans,
Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Orin
Hatch of Utah, joined the panel`s 10 Democrats to vote for the bill.
In an emotional moment, shortly before final passage, Committee chairman,
Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, announced he would not call for a vote on an
amendment that would have recognized the marriages of same-sex spouses in
immigration law. The measure will now head to the Senate floor without
that amendment, meaning no protection for same-sex spouses. On Tuesday,
the top Republican in the upper chamber, minority leader, Mitch McConnell,
said he will not block the immigration proposal from being debated from the
Earlier today, speaker of the House, John Boehner, offering his condolences
to the people in Moore on the House floor, ordering the flags around the
capitol being flown at half-staff to honor the victims, and then it was
back to business as usual.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Whether it`s Benghazi,
IRS, Justice Department investigating journalists, the Congress of the
United States and the American people need to know what the truth is, to
hold this administration accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A little invented scandal mad-libs from the speaker of the House.
Over on the Senate side, the political conversation turned to how we pay
for things like disaster relief, which ultimately is through our taxes.
The Senate Finance Committee holding the first hearings on the targeting of
conservative groups, Commissioner Steven Miller, of the IRS, got to spend
his last day on the job getting grilled by a room full of lawmakers.
Down the hall, Apple CEO Tim Cook defended his company`s tax practices
before a Senate subcommittee. A blockbuster Senate report from that
subcommittee found that Apple holds billions of dollars offshore in Irish
subsidiaries to avoid paying little or no taxes to any government. Cook
telling the committee, "We pay all of the taxes we owe, every single
dollar." But, of course, that is precisely the problem. Nevertheless,
Senator Rand Paul, taking a page out of the Joe Barton page book, offered
an apology to the multi-billion dollar corporate giant for what he
characterized as big government bullying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R), KENTUCKY: Frankly, I`m offended by the tone and
tenor of this hearing. I`m offended by a $4 trillion government, bullying,
berating and badgering one of America`s greatest success stories. If
anyone should be on trial here, it should be Congress. I frankly think the
committee should apologize to Apple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Meanwhile, Senator John McCain took the opportunity to turn the
hearing into an impromptu genius bar appointment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: I want to ask why I have to keep updating
apps on my iPhone all the time.
And why don`t you fix that?
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: Sir, we`re trying to make them better all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Amen, Senator.
The next political battle, the inevitable fight over disaster relief. Will
the GOP demand federal relief money be offset by other spending cuts as
they did initially for Sandy? That`s up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM INHOFE, (R), OKLAHOMA: That was totally different. They were
getting things, for instance, that was supposed to be in New Jersey. They
had things in the Virgin Islands. They were fixing roads there. They were
putting roofs on houses in Washington, D.C. Everybody was getting in and
exploiting the tragedy that took place. That won`t happen in Oklahoma.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Senator Jim Inhofe, of Oklahoma, who voted against a bill
that provided aid for Hurricane Sandy disaster relief, explaining the
differences, in his mind, between Sandy aid and the as-yet to be created
aid that Oklahoma will undoubtedly need to rebuild. His colleague from
Oklahoma, Senator Tom Coburn, also voted against Sandy aid, but to his
great credit -- he is the more consistent of the two -- today reiterating
his position that all disaster aid funding must be offset by cuts in the
federal budget elsewhere. His office said, "If an additional emergency aid
package is necessary, Dr. Coburn will not change his long-standing position
There`s a question about how disaster relief will function in a state with
two Senators who have been so outspoken about denying disaster relief to
other states in the very recent past.
Let`s bring in Oklahoma State Representative Mark McBride, who represents
Moore. With me in New York, I have Steve Ellis, vice president of the
advocacy group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Representative McBride, let me begin with you.
What do you need there in Moore? What are your expectations of what the
federal government can provide to help you folks rebuild?
STATE REP. MARK MCBRIDE, (D), OKLAHOMA: You know, I don`t really know. I
was in a motorcade with our colleagues and Senators from D.C. They all
flew in today. I know that Congressman Cole had spoke with the president
twice today and he assured him that he was going to take care of us and, in
what manner, I`m not sure. That`s on their level. I look to them for
getting that aid for us. I know the president did declare five Oklahoma
But in Oklahoma, one of the things about Oklahoma is we pull together. I
can think of $10 million just in the last five or six hours that I know
that was contributed by some different oil companies and different things,
so that`s just the beginning. We`ll step up to the plate, and we like to
take care of our own. But we can also use that money plus the House I
believe passed a bill today. I wasn`t able to get there today. But $45
million out of our rainy day fund.
HAYES: Do you have expectations about how the Senate delegation from
Oklahoma, if confronted with a bill that doesn`t offset the spending, how
would that play among your constituents if Senator Coburn were to vote
against an aid package that would help Oklahoma because it wasn`t offset?
MCBRIDE: Like I said, I was just with them. I know that they`re trying to
get some funding in here, some federal money. It`s federal aid. And I
just know the conversations I`ve had with them. I don`t see them really
voting against it.
HAYES: That will be exactly the interesting test, Steve, because Senator
Inhofe was comparing the Sandy aid package.
I want to say to folks watching this network that part of what he said
about Sandy aid package was true. It did have a lot of stuff in there.
Some was mitigation projects, which are reasonably included. Some of it a
little less germane. It`s very hard for me to imagine a situation in which
the disaster bill that gets brought to the floor for this disaster doesn`t
have a lot of other stuff in it.
STEVE ELLIS, VICE PRESIDENT, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: It certainly has
been the history. I would say that Sandy, because of some of the spending
pressures and really much more robust argument for offsetting it, had even
less than I had seen in the past. And I have been looking at disaster
bills for well over a decade. But I think that, yes, there`s going to be a
lot of pressure because these are part of the only pieces of legislation
that actually move in Congress. If you don`t catch a ride on this disaster
aid, you might not have anything to catch a ride on in the rest of
HAYES: You made this point to me when we talked about the Sandy package,
which is that that Congress is so broken, it`s so dysfunctional that the
Budget Control Act has imposed such intense austerity that if you have
something you want funded, this is kind of your shot.
ELLIS: Right. Absolutely. If you look at just even the regular spending
bills, we did a continuing resolution for the majority of the spending
bills so we extended 2012 levels. When you look at the Senate budget and
the House budget, they`re radically different. It`s hard to see how
they`ll come together on any kind agreement. So this becomes a natural
vehicle and it`s going to attract flies.
HAYES: State Rep. McBride, obviously, you have rebuilt before in Moore, 14
years ago. How did that process work? I read something today about how
you just gotten back to about the same level of housing units after the
full net was accounted for after the last round of destruction. How
important a role did federal or state aid play in that rebuilding?
MCBRIDE: Well, I wasn`t here. I wasn`t involved in that. My father was a
builder and developer and he was involved in rebuilding Moore. You know,
you`re asking me about something I just wasn`t involved in. I wasn`t here.
I don`t know how the federal money played out.
You know, I heard you guys talking about some stuff hidden in the bills and
everything. If you`re going -- Tom Coburn is going to find anything like
that and he`s vote against it.
MCBRIDE: We don`t want anything. We don`t want anything extra. We just
want to rebuild our city and whatever they can do for us they can cough up
and whatever they don`t, we`ll make it up. That`s the way we roll here.
HAYES: That`s a lot of equanimity.
State Representative Mark McBride, of Oklahoma.
Steve Ellis, stay with us.
We`ll be right back with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who went through the
Sandy funding battle, after this.
HAYES: You may not think a lot about disaster funding, but as we live
through the disaster age, with more disasters to come, it will become more
and more a part of our life. After this, when we come back, Congressman
Hakeem Jeffries, who just went through a battle over disaster funding, just
after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM COLE, (R), OKLAHOMA: These kinds of weather disasters are not new
in history. They`re predictable. It`s not a question about whether but
when a community is going to get hit. Frankly, one of the reasons we try
to be sympathetic to people in other parts of the country -- I was happy to
work for Sandy relief, for instance. I was talking to people from New York
and I almost wish I hadn`t said this. I was visiting with a representative
of the governor. I said, you know, we`re always going to be there to help
because we`re always one tornado away from being Joplin. I didn`t think it
would be quite this soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s Oklahoma Republican Representative Tom Cole, who represents
the area struck by the tornado, yesterday speaking to my colleague, Chris
Matthews. We`re talking about disaster relief in the wake of Moore,
I want to bring in Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, who represents
areas of New York City that were hard hit by Superstorm Sandy.
Congressman, I want to play for you this bit of sound from Senator Coburn
or read this to you. Senator Coburn saying, "It`s insensitive to talk
about offsets. It`s insensitive to talk about it now. It just shows the
crassness of Washington versus the sensitivity we need to have."
What`s your sense about whether offsets will be demanded on this and
whether they should be?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, (D), NEW YORK: It`s my hope that offsets won`t be
demanded. We went through this as it relates to Superstorm Sandy and it
was highly problematic. The federal Congressional response to disasters
have got to be three things. They have to be swift. They have to be
compassionate. And they`ve got to be thorough.
As it relates to Superstorm Sandy, the federal government was a day late
and a dollar short. In fact, Congress was 78 days late and $50 billion
short. That was unfortunate. It set us back. It was because of the
offset discussion that we weren`t able to move forward on an expedited
We are hopeful here in the Congress, and on the Democratic side of the
aisle, to make sure, as it relates to this disaster, we can get the relief
necessary to the people in Oklahoma as swiftly and thoroughly as possible
to help them get through initially the recovery phase and then, of course,
the rebuilding after the humanitarian issues have been dealt with.
HAYES: Steve, you track this stuff. Do you agree with the congressman?
You are shaking your head a little bit.
ELLIS: I don`t agree that the delay had impact on the money that went on
the ground. You have a disaster relief fund, like we do now. This is
what`s going to initially get tapped. It`s $12 billion dollars --
HAYES: Yes, well you actually -- hold up right there. Explain to me.
Every time you see this in your inbox, or you see the president signed an
emergency disaster declaration -- in fact, Oklahoma is the third-highest
number of disaster declarations after Texas and California. What does that
mean in real terms before we even get to Congress?
ELLIS: Basically, you have -- the local government says, we can`t handle
this, it`s so big. They go to the governor. The governor says, I can`t
handle this, it`s too big. And then they request the president to make a
major disaster declaration. FEMA sifts through it, because some are on the
margin, some are clear answers like this one.
ELLIS: Exactly. And then the president makes the major disaster
declaration. And that`s when federal funds start flowing. That`s when
money starts moving into the region and flows.
So there is $12 billion today in the Disaster Relief Fund that`s available
for the president to start sending through FEMA to the area. Same thing
happened with Sandy. I just point out, and I don`t want to re-litigate
Sandy or whatever. The president didn`t even request any money, didn`t
submit any requests to the Congress until early December, more than a month
after the disaster happened, because there is this money available.
HAYES: Congressman, was the money flowing quick enough, fast enough, and
getting into the right hands in the wake of Sandy because the president
signed that declaration?
JEFFRIES: Well, the big issue, Chris, was the fact that the national flood
insurance program had run out of money, so there were claims that had been
filed, people legitimate policy holders who were seeking relief based on
the policies they held. But FEMA made clear there wasn`t sufficient
funding to process existing claims and those that would be anticipated.
That created a backlog. The federal government is trying to do the best
that they can. That created complications on the ground. So it`s
inaccurate to say the delay did not have complications. It had real
complications for the people that I represent in communities like Coney
Island and Manhattan Beach and Brighten Beach and Howard Beach that weren`t
impacted by the storm.
ELIS: But just to get to the point though about, in this context, and
there was money that went on flood insurance separately ahead of the other
Sandy stuff. But as we get to this discussion of offsets, and really
that`s what this is coming down to, whether there will be delay because of
delay because of the debate over offsets. So there is money in the bank to
be spending during this discussion as Congress works their will and tries
to come through this. And there have been arguments about offsets over the
year. There`s only one disaster bill that`s ever been, at least 1990,
according to the Congressional Research Service, the investigative arm of
Congress, that has actually been offset. It was actually after Oklahoma
City in 1995.
HAYES: Wow, that`s an amazing --
HAYES: That`s an amazing detail.
Here`s what I want to get to you, Congressman, and, Steve, we`ve talked
about this. Billions of dollars from damages from extreme weather events
that are becoming more frequent. Paul Douglas, at the beginning of the
show, said we don`t have science to link increased tornado severity to
climate, but we have a lot of extreme weather events that are linked to
climate. You can see we`re going up. We`re seeing more disasters. We`re
seeing more expensive tornadoes because of building in areas that formerly
were rural. What should we be doing differently with our disaster relief?
ELLIS: We should be spending more money when we don`t have a disaster to
try to mitigate and to pre-spond to disaster, to move people out of harm`s
way and to encourage that. We should re-orientate our disaster funding
things that actually incentivize states to have disaster response plans,
maybe even make our disaster relief funds, which are currently just 75
percent on a sliding scale of 50 to 75 percent, the more you have in
building codes, the more you have --
ELLIS: -- things that are going to help you out and also help the
taxpayers out so we`re not bearing as much of the burden. Those types of
changes would actually have a really big impact and would make those
disaster relief dollars go farther.
HAYES: Steve Ellis, of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Congressman Hakeem
Jeffries, who has been tireless in advocating for his constituents, thank
you very much. Really appreciate it.
JEFFRIES: Thank you.
HAYES: A final note with some more breaking news from Moore, Oklahoma,
tonight. "NBC News" has confirmed the names of two of the victims of
yesterday`s tornado. The body of Hamit (ph) Bondi, 65 years old, was
recovered today. He became separated from his wife when the tornado struck
their home. And his family tells "NBC News" his wife survived. And
earlier today NBCnews.com confirmed the death of a 9-year-old girl, Jenae
Hornsby. Hornsby was found in the Plaza Towers Elementary School.
That is ALL IN for this evening. The "RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES