Azia: Hey guys, it is Thursday, February 25. I am Azia Celestino, and Channel One News starts right now.
First up, we are checking out today's top stories, and severe weather has made its way from the Gulf states all the way up the East Coast, with tornadoes and powerful storms leaving behind a trail of destruction.
More than two dozen tornadoes ripped across towns from Florida to Mississippi, killing at least three people and injuring many others. In Pensacola, Florida, homes were leveled and cars tossed around like toys. In Convent, Louisiana, crews are searching for additional victims in this trailer park after a twister sent mobile homes flying.
Sheriff Willy Martin: There are family members calling in that have not made contact with loved ones that they know were in this area.
Azia: The governors of Mississippi and Louisiana declared states of emergency. The nasty weather moved north and aimed for the Carolinas.
In honor of Black History Month, leaders of Congress recognized two important men who helped pass the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. They were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
This is a moment civil rights activists once thought impossible.
Paul Ryan: They were called outside agitators, subversives and other ugly names.
Azia: In the Capitol Building on Wednesday, leaders of the U.S. House and Senate awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the group known as the foot soldiers, who marched from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery in 1965. Hundreds of people participated in the demonstration, demanding voting rights for blacks. Police blocked and attacked many of them.
Representative John Lewis: We were beaten, we were trampled by horses, we were left bloody.
Azia: Congressman John Lewis of Georgia helped lead the marches. He and Reverend Frederick D. Reese accepted the medal on behalf of foot soldiers across the country.
Lewis: It makes all of the suffering, all of the pain worth it.
Azia: Their efforts eventually led to equal voting rights for all Americans, regardless of race.
Reverend Frederick Reese: To allow all people, regardless of their race, creed or color, to enjoy the blessings that can come of being represented.
Azia: The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor awarded by Congress. Some foot soldiers also attended the ceremony as Congress and the country paused to say thank you.
So after profiling the main candidates running for president, and with less than a week before Super Tuesday voting, we wanted to hear what you guys are looking for in the next person to move into the White House. So we asked you, what qualities are you looking for in a presidential candidate? And the majority of you said honesty, ranking in at 49 percent. Religious values came in second with 15 percent.
Harry said, "A good political background is nice, but a candidate needs to be as honest as possible."
Alyssa said, "Without honesty, how can we trust them to run our country?"
But Isabelle said, "I think religious values, because I don't want our new president to kick out people of a certain religion."
Some of you also mentioned military experience. And of course, the full results are on ChannelOne.com.
Okay, up next, a professor comes to the rescue.
Azia: It was a professor and a group of researchers from Virginia Tech that helped bring attention to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Maggie Rulli explains how their in-depth tests have earned the trust of residents while shining a light on the contaminated water.
Maggie: Michigan leaders say tainted drinking water and its effects in Flint aren't going away any time soon, but neither are a researcher and his team from Virginia Tech.
It all started when a worried Flint mother noticed that something was wrong with her water, but she wasn't having any luck getting her message heard by officials. So she contacted Marc Edwards, a professor at Virginia Tech University, and his team of about 20 doctoral students.
William Rhoads: We found out about it originally when a woman living in Flint named LeAnne Walters felt that she had high levels of lead in her water.
Maggie: She wasn't the only one. The group got more than 100 samples of water from homes, compared it to water from Detroit and tested it in pipes.
Christina Devine: At the end of Week 3, it was already 18 times more lead in that water than in the Detroit water.
Maggie: The problem started in 2014 when Flint moved its water supply to the Flint River. The poorly treated river water stripped lead from the pipes, putting it right in the drinking water of the people in the city. In October the city stopped getting water from the river, but many are worried that the city's infrastructure has been permanently damaged and that there are still high levels of lead in Flint's water.
Since it is unclear if the pipes in these homes can be fixed or not, many are now worried that their homes are worth nothing.
Rebekah Martin: You know, a lot of people from the outside are looking in, going, “Why don't they just leave Flint, why don't they just move?” A lot of them can't, and a lot of them just don't want to. They're not going to walk out on a community just because there is an issue. They're going to try to stand up and fix it.
Kimberly Hughes: It could take a while for lead to completely get out of the water, but what we're hoping is that the water's clean and that everyone will have safe water, but we don't really know exactly what to fully expect yet.
Hughes: I can't imagine not being able to drink my own tap water. I felt really awful, and I wanted to just do everything I could to help.
Pan Ji: From a human perspective, actually, I really hope there isn't any lead in it for this time.
Maggie: Virginia Tech is sending another 300 water testing kits to Flint residents who tested their water before.
Ji: They are doing their own sampling there so they have a better knowledge of what is going on, and we are able to communicate with them individually about what is in water exactly from that tap.
Maggie: The researchers have been called heroes for their work.
Rhoads: I think that we can look back at what we did and be extremely proud of what we did.
Maggie: Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.
Azia: Professor Edwards has gained international attention because of the research, and this week he was hired by Flint's mayor to oversee all water testing done by the state and federal government.
Okay, coming up: This guy is a titan among dinosaurs, so naturally Keith Kocinski had to check it out.
Azia: There is a new dinosaur in town — well, actually, these days he is hanging out at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. And it is a pretty big deal. Keith Kocinski went over to introduce himself.
Keith: Even the movies couldn't dream up something this big. Meet the titanosaur, one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered, now on display at New York City's American Museum of Natural History.
Just how big is it?
Man: Ginormous. Absolutely huge.
Woman: Humongous. It’s gigantic.
Keith: Check this out: This beast is so big, museum officials had to squeeze this
46-foot-high, 122-foot-long frame into multiple rooms. And with a 39-foot-long neck, it could peek into a five-story building.
Keith: The titanosaur would have tipped the scales at 70 tons, about the same as
10 African elephants.
In 2012 a rancher claimed he found dinosaur bones on his land in Patagonia, Argentina.
Paleontologist: The quarry had over 200 bones of six — not one, but six giant dinosaurs.
Keith: It is the largest dinosaur ever unearthed by man. While this is just a cast of the creature, this is an actual fossil from the find. At eight feet tall, it is bigger than me and taller than any NBA basketball player.
Paleontologists suggest this dinosaur, a giant, plant-eating herbivore, lived in the forests of Patagonia during the late Cretaceous period. But even a gentle giant like this may have had enemies. Around 80 teeth from an unknown carnivore were found near the dinosaur fossils, leading some to believe these giants were killed by a predator.