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October 9th, 2009
07:54 PM ET

“Out of sight, out of mind?” Underground in the tunnels of Las Vegas

Editor's Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about the underground tunnels from Ted Rowlands. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Inside a living space in the underground flood channels of Las Vegas.

Inside a living space in the underground flood channels of Las Vegas.

Michael Cary
CNN Senior Producer

Las Vegas Boulevard, aka the Strip, is known for its glitz, glamour and lure of hitting a jackpot, but a world exists underground that has become home to those down on their luck. People are living in the flood channels that run beneath the city, and some survive in elaborate shelters deep in the dark labyrinths– many of them driven here by unemployment, drugs, alcohol and mental illness.

Hundreds of homeless are living within the more than 300 miles of underground flood channels, according to Matthew O’Brien, author of “Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas.” He says as many as 10 people live in one tunnel near the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” neon sign.

It is the desert, so the storm drains are dry most of the year. But when it does rain heavily, those underground must flee and watch their belongings wash away. Flooding, fires and disease are just some of the dangers.

O’Brien served as our tour guide through four different tunnels around Las Vegas, armed with a black metal flashlight and donning a black-knit cap, boots and long-sleeve black shirt. Above ground, one would think he was a cat burglar or mercenary.

Every tunnel is different – ceilings can range anywhere from four to 12 feet high. Some of the concrete floors are covered with dust, others mud, and – in one section – a foot of stagnant water.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Michael Cary
October 6th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

“Out of sight, out of mind?” Underground in the tunnels of Las Vegas

Editor's Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about the underground tunnels from Ted Rowlands. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Inside a living space in the underground flood channels of Las Vegas.

Inside a living space in the underground flood channels of Las Vegas.

Michael Cary
CNN Senior Producer

Las Vegas Boulevard, aka the Strip, is known for its glitz, glamour and lure of hitting a jackpot, but a world exists underground that has become home to those down on their luck. People are living in the flood channels that run beneath the city, and some survive in elaborate shelters deep in the dark labyrinths– many of them driven here by unemployment, drugs, alcohol and mental illness.

Hundreds of homeless are living within the more than 300 miles of underground flood channels, according to Matthew O’Brien, author of “Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas.” He says as many as 10 people live in one tunnel near the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” neon sign.

It is the desert, so the storm drains are dry most of the year. But when it does rain heavily, those underground must flee and watch their belongings wash away. Flooding, fires and disease are just some of the dangers.

O’Brien served as our tour guide through four different tunnels around Las Vegas, armed with a black metal flashlight and donning a black-knit cap, boots and long-sleeve black shirt. Above ground, one would think he was a cat burglar or mercenary.

Every tunnel is different – ceilings can range anywhere from four to 12 feet high. Some of the concrete floors are covered with dust, others mud, and – in one section – a foot of stagnant water.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Michael Cary
November 18th, 2008
07:04 PM ET

How to catch a serial arsonist

Program note: California investigators are trying to track down a suspected arsonist who may have set one of the current wildfires burning. Watch Ted Rowlands' report on how a community tracked down a serial arsonist; along with Ted's jailhouse interview with the man whose compulsion destroyed hundreds of homes and terrified thousands of people.

Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources Officer Gary Margheim shows CNN photographer Tom Larson where he found a critical clue -- the arsonist's 'sparking' device.

Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources Officer Gary Margheim shows CNN photographer Tom Larson where he found a critical clue - the arsonist's 'sparking' device.

Michael Cary
CNN Western Region Senior Producer

Imagine waking up on a warm summer day wondering whether or not an arsonist may spark a fire that would wipe out your home? That's the nightmare residents of Kittitas County in central Washington dealt with daily during the summer of 2004 when fires were erupting sporadically, sometimes as many as three in one day.

"The public was stressed out. We had people not wanting to leave their homes," said Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana. "We had rumors of people on hilltops with rifles in the afternoon watching for people that might be trying to light fires."

Sheriff Dana set up a multi-agency task force filled with federal, state and local law enforcement and fire officials to catch the arsonist and bring a sense of security back to the rural community.

The fires started small, mostly on the side of highways. Then the arsonist started setting them near structures. The largest, dubbed the Elk Heights fire, forced hundreds to evacuate and ultimately destroyed two homes. That was bad, but 11 days later, the arsonist sparked three fires in one afternoon sending a shudder through law enforcement.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Cary • Wildfires
November 4th, 2008
07:06 PM ET

"The worst, filthiest election"

Michael Cary
CNN Senior Producer

There's a sense of excitement in Clark County, Nevada, this election day, not only because of the historic nature of the contest, but because there's been a real battle for the state's five electoral votes.

We talked to voters outside a polling location at Basic High School in Henderson, a city neighboring Las Vegas, after they cast their votes in the school's gym.

"This is the biggest moment in my life, and I think there's a lot riding on this," said Ryan Moxley, a 31-year-old maintenance manager who said he voted for Obama. "This is a very historic time and I'm glad to be part of it actually."

81-year-old retiree Daniel Schears expressed a far different opinion. "This is the worst, filthiest election I have ever witnessed," he said, adding that he's been voting since he was 21. "They have lied. They have told all sorts of stories that are not true, and to me, I don't care what side they're on, that's terrible."

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • Michael Cary