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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Ebola Quarantine in Ohio Expands to 16; Ebola Patient Nina Pham's Condition Downgraded; New Calls for Ebola Hotzone Travel Ban; Dallas Lab Worker Quarantined on Cruise Ship; Roots: Anderson Cooper's Journey Home; Nigeria: Kidnapped Girls to Be Freed

Aired October 17, 2014 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, new rare images inside the plane flying Ebola patient, Nina Pham, to a Maryland hospital, the most critical journey of her life as doctors officially downgrade her condition. We'll talk to Sanjay Gupta.

Plus another healthcare worker from Dallas with a connection to Thomas Duncan on a Caribbean cruise. The ship racing back to Texas tonight.

And Frontier Airlines notifying 800 passengers who might have flown on the same plane as Ebola patient, Amber Vinson. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, we have new pictures from inside of the plane that Nurse Nina Pham flew from Dallas to a new hospital, the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. This is the picture.

It is from inside a Gulf Stream G-3. That is the CDC private plane. Take a look at this, notice, the health care workers on board that we can see are, three of them, none of them are wearing hazmat suits. It is a stark contrast of them loading her on to and off of the plane where they were in full head to toe hazmat gear.

Here's what we know. During the three-hour flight, Pham flew in the rear of the plane in a specialized containment tank. The trip took a toll on Pham. This morning doctors downgraded her condition saying she was fatigued from the trip.

And tonight, officials saying, more people are at risk because of possible exposure to Amber Vinson, that's the second Dallas nurse, who contracted Ebola. They have now identified up to 16 people up from 12 who they say were in close contact with Vinson.

The person at the highest risk, her stepfather. Now Vinson traveled from Dallas to Cleveland and back last week on Frontier Airlines. Frontier is now notifying some 800 passengers, who flew on either of her two flights as well as those who traveled on those same planes shortly thereafter.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta begins our coverage tonight. And Sanjay, the CDC has been playing catch-up here in many ways. There is speculation the nurses may have contracted Ebola because they weren't wearing the proper gear. I know you have some big developments on that tonight. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are hearing that those guidelines that have been at the center of a lot of criticism, Erin, may be getting updated. That maybe happening very soon, specifically, some update of protocols on how to put on and more importantly take off this protective gear without getting contaminated.

And also the fact that the existing guidelines were inadequate in terms of the amount of protection that they provided, specifically around the neck, expose skin around the neck, look for some changes around those guidelines as well.

All of that, that inadequate protection, may have led to Nina Pham's infection, her contamination and what happened to her over the last 24 hours, which is something we're learning more about. Take a look.

BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): Nurse Nina Pham in a video taken by her doctor in Dallas. This is just before she was transferred to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. As another health care worker in a full hazmat suit hovered nearby, the 26-year-old Pham broke down in tears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no crying. Tears --

GUPTA: Six days after arriving at the hospital with the fever, Pham left Texas Presbyterian on her way to Maryland. Co-workers field the parking lot to wish her an emotional goodbye. CNN got a rare look at how the plane transporting Pham isolate an Ebola patient on board.

New images released today show the health care worker sitting just ahead of the isolation unit not wearing their hazmat suits. After arriving at the NIH, Pham's condition was downgraded from good to fair, to stable. But the head of the NIH remains remarkably positive.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: This is a serious infection. She is getting the optimum care. We fully intend to have this patient walk out of this hospital and we'll do everything we possibly can to make that happen.

GUPTA: Pham is now entering the most dangerous phase for Ebola patients as the disease gets more serious as it progresses.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: There is no two patients are going to be the same, Erin, but remember there is a good chance over the next couple of days, she may get worse before she gets better. So we're going to keep a close eye on that - Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Sanjay, thank you very much.

And you know, in Ohio tonight, the number of people now under quarantined, those who may have come into direct contact with Amber Vinson has grown. Susan Candiotti is in Akron tonight. And Susan, I know you've been doing a lot of reporting on this. What have you been able to figure out?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. Well, tonight, we are getting new details emerging about when Amber Vinson was starting to show signs of sickness. Remember they were looking at the possibility that she started to feel ill as early as Friday when she first arrived here in the Cleveland area to visit her home.

But it wasn't until they said Sunday when she started to feel that something wasn't quite right and that was a day before she flew back to Dallas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CHRIS BRADEN, CDC: She rested for a long time on some days she said she felt funny, those types of things, but nothing specific. The judgment that we came up to is that we can't rule out that she wasn't ill, OK, for the time that she was here in Ohio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Now the CDC is now acknowledging that it wasn't a good decision to allow her to get back on that plane, even though she had a low-grade fever. And they are also identifying today, as of today, 16 people who have been quarantined, different definitions of that.

One, the closest to her, her stepfather who remains at home, but the other people are also monitoring themselves at home, the other 15 people in two counties here in Ohio, including the store clerk and another clerk that waited on her in that bridal shop.

As well as the bridal party, the bridesmaids putting on the dresses and the like, those people mainly as well so authorities are looking at the protocols that they are doing to still look for anyone else who might have come into contact with her -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Susan Candiotti, thank you very much.

And more breaking news, Frontier Airlines has just finished notifying all 800 people who flew on the same plane as Amber Vinson. Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT. Tom, what have you learned about what that means?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it means that this job just continues to expand in so many different ways. That concern that we are just hearing there from Susan about the idea of when she got sick, the focus so far is on the return flight from Cleveland to Dallas with Amber Vinson and 132 other people on board the plane.

Now you are talking about the flight to Cleveland, which added another 153 people on that flight and then you talk about five flights by the plane after all of that, which added up to that some 800 people we're talking about.

Now the plane has been taken out of service. It's not being used at all right now. They are stripping out carpets and upholstery and replacing the filters in the plane, even though this is not an airborne illness, they are replacing that on the plane and it is out of service altogether right now.

The original plane, though, the one on that flight up to Cleveland has been cleaned nine times and is back in service. Again, the chances of anyone getting sick from this, Erin, in this kind of contact, this casual contact on a plane is very, very low.

But the way these numbers keep expanding, almost by the hour now, show how seriously many people are taking the threat.

BURNETT: Right, which is good they are finally taking this seriously. But again, we should emphasize the sicker you get, the more infectious you are. And obviously at that point, even if she was sick, it wasn't very noticeable. Tom, thank you so much.

Well, Gene Nixon is the health commissioner for Summit County in Ohio and he joins me now. Good to have you with us, sir. I really appreciate your time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no audio now.

BURNETT: Can you hear me, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't hear anything?

BURNETT: OK, so we're going to take a break and come back as soon as we get that. We'll come back as soon as we get that audio up and see if we can confirm some of this and how sick she exactly was when she was in Ohio. No, we have you now? Gene, do you hear me?

GENE NIXON, HEALTH COMMISSIONER, SUMMIT COUNTY, OHIO: I do.

BURNETT: So I just wanted to ask you, sorry about that, you just heard Susan Candiotti talking about this latest development, there were 12 people who had been confirmed close contacts of Amber Vinson. It's now 16 under quote/unquote, "quarantine." What defines close contact?

NIXON: Well, I think in this case, some of the contacts were in the store and it depends on how long they were in the store. Some of the contacts were on the plane, it depends on their -- how close they were to her on one of the planes.

And of course, her father, she lived in the home with her father so that was a close contact and then she spent some time with her friends at a store.

BURNETT: And let me just confirm. You are saying some of those people were on the plane?

NIXON: Well, that is what we are looking into now. We have a number of people that have -- the CDC is helping local health departments identify folks that were on the plane with her in both directions, to Cleveland as well as back to Dallas.

BURNETT: So do you expect that number then to grow further. It went from 12 to 16, could it go higher? NIXON: It could go higher. I think there are different tiers and that is what we are working on with the CDC and the Department of Health in Ohio, to define, you know, what kind those contacts are, what kind of - whether we are talking true quarantine or they need to self-monitor, whether we need to be in the home so that is all flexible right now.

BURNETT: I'm curious of this whole issue of self-monitoring because that's what she was doing, right? And then of course, she got sick and before you really know you have symptoms, you have them and you have what happened now. And so does self-monitoring have any sense given that?

NIXON: Well, I think self-monitoring with some control by us. I mean, we are keeping in touch with all of those folks in the community that are in any of those tiers and many of those were in their homes every day, keeping track of them.

If we are not in their homes, we are calling them up to find out if they are taking their temperature and they'll take their temperature while we are on the phone with them. We don't let them go and say let us know if you get sick. It's something that we are in constant contact with those folks.

BURNETT: All right, and in terms of how she felt, people are trying to really understand this. Dr. Chris Braden, of course, the head of the CDC team in Ohio, said that she, quote/unquote, "felt funny" and then he's also said there were indications that she wasn't feeling well.

When you say felt funny, did she have a stomachache? Everyone wants to know this question including many of those who are now self- monitoring. What is a symptom? What is a feeling funny?

NIXON: Well, you know, there was a lot going on in her life that day. She learned that her partner had gotten ill in Dallas. I think she had concerns going on at that time. But I think we've all had that moment where something is not just quite right.

And maybe you just can't pin it down to a stomachache or a headache, but something is not quite right. And I think that is how she described it and that is how he felt. And we don't know much more than that at this point.

That is the information we've gotten back from Dallas, but I think that kind of makes sense. I think we've all -- we can understand that discomfort that we've all felt at some time or another.

BURNETT: All right, Gene, thank you so much for your time tonight.

NIXON: You bet. Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, the president has named an Ebola czar. He is a White House insider, but what does he know about Ebola?

Plus new measures to isolate people being monitored for Ebola. So here's the question, how can officials keep people away from airplanes, cruise ships and frankly, anyone in the general public?

And Anderson Cooper in search of his roots tonight, on his mother's side, incredible wealth and on his father's, a civil war hero and a slave owner.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Breaking news, new guidelines to protect health care workers who may have been exposed to Ebola. The CDC saying the new instructions to be released, quote, "very soon," will deal with putting on and removing protective equipment.

The new actions come as President Obama bows to public pressure appointing a new man to lead the nation's response to the deadly virus. Already though the pick of the president is coming under intense scrutiny because he didn't tap an infectious disease expert, but he tapped a Washington insider, a man named Ron Klain.

Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hammered for days over its lack of Ebola leadership, the White House is confident a remedy is now in place.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have an all-hands-on-deck approach across the government to make sure that we are keeping the American people safe.

ACOSTA: The latest hands on deck Ron Klain tapped to become the president's Ebola response coordinator, a former chief of staff to both vice presidents, Joe Biden and Al Gore, Klain was made famous during the 2000 election recount and the film that followed. But Klain has no medical experience.

(on camera): What does Ron Klain know about Ebola?

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What we were looking for is not an Ebola expert, but an implementation expert.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Republicans were quick to pounce.

REPRESENTATIVE BILL JOHNSON (R), OHIO: I'm not sure what appointing someone that has no experience in health care or public health administration is going to do to help stem the tide of Ebola in West Africa and protect the public health of Americans here at home.

ACOSTA: Aides say Klain is the czar and will report to National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco who answer to the president. Earlier this week, the White House insisted Monaco could handle the task of being the Ebola point person.

EARNEST: She is a highly capable individual who can fulfill her responsibilities.

ACOSTA: One day later, the president changed course.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person.

ACOSTA: And more shifts could come. Pressure is building on the administration to reconsider a travel ban on flights from West Africa.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I believe it is the right policy to ban air travel from countries that have been hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak.

ACOSTA: Now the White House says the option is on the table.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I don't have a philosophical objection necessarily to a travel ban.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And the administration announced its speeding up production of Ebola drugs and potentially a vaccine as for Ron Klain, the White House would not say when he will be on the job, only that it could be as soon as next week.

And he is expected to be in this role for five to six months, and that is a sign of cautious optimism over here that perhaps they could beat the virus by then -- Erin.

BURNETT: Five or six months, we'll see. All right, thank you, Jim.

And the pressure is building for the president to ban flights to the United States from the Ebola hot zone. Would the idea work though? We talked about it last night said, I don't have a problem. I'm not opposed to it.

But you know what? So far no one has made a strong case. I want to bring in Dr. Ivan Walks, the former District of Columbia chief health officer and Dr. David Dousey, he is the epidemiologist and dean of the School of -- at Mercyhurst University.

Let me start with you, Dr. Dousey, the president says a ban would result in people hiding where they've been, right, that they would still find a way out of the hot zone.

We just wouldn't know they came from there. He said that would create more risk of Ebola because we don't know where they are coming from. I know you believe a ban makes sense. Why?

DAVID DOUSEY, DEAN, SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH OF MERCYHURST UNIVERSITY: There are a few reasons why they don't make sense. The first reason is that commercial airlines are not trained and their staff are not trained to respond to a deadly infectious disease outbreak so we are essentially coopting them to be first responders.

Secondly, the disease itself is very difficult to contain and to -- it can spread on commercial airlines and we provided them with little guidance on this. Commercial air travel is also one of the easiest and most sufficient ways for the global spread of the disease to occur.

And on top of that, commercial airliners are really not set up logistically to respond and do the things we need them to do quickly in this instance for us to contain the disease.

BURNETT: All right, Dr. Walks, you heard Dr. Dousey making the case. You also had Senegal today declared virus free. The World Health Organization credits in part to the fact that Senegal closed its borders. It shares a border with Guinea, which is in the hot zone. Doesn't that add up to proof a travel ban can work?

DR. IVAN WALKS, FORMER DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CHIEF HEALTH OFFICER: Actually it does not. It proves that a travel plan between adjacent countries might be a good idea. Not only is it a horrible thing to think about, but what are we actually trying to accomplish by that?

A false sense of security I think is one of the things we have to be concerned about and also a distraction. We have to really go fight Ebola where it is, make sure we are doing great contact tracing here and I think those are much more of a priority than a travel ban.

There are no direct flights. We don't share a direct border. Are we going to check every single flight that somebody came into contact with? We have just seen how hard it is with 800 people now being notified to kind of track air traffic from one person. If we begin doing this, I think it will be more of a distraction at this point than a help.

BURNETT: And Dr. Dousey, you know, on this issue of whether people would then -- not only is it hard to track, the point Dr. Walks makes, but this issue that it's then impossible to find where they came from.

Marine General John Kelly, one of the top generals in the United States in the southern -- in South America. He said look, we have to look at America's southern border and he said an American embassy person in Costa Rica told him this story. I wanted to play it for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL JOHN KELLY, COMMANDER, U.S. SOUTHERN COMMAND: There were five or six black guys at the border waiting in the line to pass into Nicaragua and on the way north. And the embassy persons walked over and just asked who they were and they said we're from Liberia, been on the road about a week and we're on our way to New York City illegally. They could have made it to New York City and still be within the incubation period of Ebola.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: That's a pretty scary scenario, Dr. Dousey and it is possible to imagine those kinds of things happening if you, quote/unquote, "close the borders."

DOUSEY: First off, there is no evidence of that. And secondly, I really want to emphasize one thing, which is, if you restrict travel or ban travel within the country and also significantly increase the aid in the host countries or in the countries where this is happening, what you are going to do is you're going to limit the number of people that want to flee or that want to go underground.

So I'm not saying that we should limit travel and then do nothing else. What I'm saying is, we need to limit all travel from effective countries to non-effective countries to slow down the global spread of this disease. It is the common sense thing to do.

The airlines are not trained to respond in this way and in addition to that we know that if we don't limit the travel, the disease can spread more easily globally.

BURNETT: Dr. Walks, what about that idea that would the aid going in. You close it off and flood it with help. You choke off the problem there?

WALKSK: Well, I think we absolutely flood it with help and do everything we can there. I think this idea that we are going to be able to stop or America can say close the borders and all of the other countries are going to do that, you really have this expanding slippery slope kind of we need to close everything for it to work because we don't have direct flights.

Again, it is a lot of work to even put that together so every country doesn't allow flights and then we can track everybody that may have -- I don't know how we do it. I think if we all figure it out, let's talk about it then. But right now it is a distraction.

Let's do what we know needs to be done, get the aid into the countries. Screen people. Screening works. Screen people and do very good contact tracing. That is how we'll get it under control here and keep it under control.

BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to both of you. And we should say according to our numbers over the past two months screeners have screened 36,000 people of people coming out of the Ebola hot zone and one of them actually ended up having Ebola, that was Thomas Eric Duncan.

OUTFRONT next, Ebola patient, Amber Vinson, flew on two commercial flights while another Dallas health worker tied to Thomas Duncan's care is on a cruise tonight. Why were they traveling with the general public?

Plus Anderson Cooper hearing his father's voice for the first time in 35 years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": I listened to it in my office at work. That was the first time I heard my father's voice since I was 10 years old.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Anderson tonight in search of his roots.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Breaking news, another Dallas health care worker under quarantine. This time on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, officials say the passenger may have handled lab specimens from Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan.

I want to talk to a passenger on that cruise ship in just a moment, but first, Alina Machado is OUTFRONT on why these hospital employees were traveling in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Carnival cruise ship with thousands of passengers is now making its way back to the United States because one of the passengers may have been involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan.

The ship's doctor declared the worker symptom free and in good health. Still the Carnival Magic was turned away from Belize. A U.S. State Department request to fly the lab technician out of Belize City was turned down.

PERRY: It defies common sense from my perspective that someone who has been in close proximity or have treated these patients. That they would go out and expose other people possibly to this, that they would travel out of state. That they would go on a cruise.

MACHADO: Now more than 70 health care workers are being asked to sign this document. They must agree to not travel on commercial airplanes or public buses or ships regardless of whether they are showing symptoms. They are also agreeing to stay away from public places such as restaurants and stores during the 21 days they could develop symptoms. But is it enough?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are home town health care heroes who will honor that and that that is sort of binding legal document and order.

MACHADO: Dallas County Commissioner Dr. Alba Garcia said it is a good first step.

(on camera): Well, why wasn't this done sooner?

ELBA GARCIA, DALLAS COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Well, like I said, you know, the interest and the common voice was not there. I'm very glad to -- that we finally came at this to the conclusion that these streamlined new guidelines have to be followed by everyone. This is the only way we're doing to give -- going to give people -- to feel better about the situation.

MACHADO (voice-over): But despite the new steps to prevent Ebola from possibly spreading, local leaders are bracing for the possibility of more cases.

GARCIA: You can't say never obviously. But definitely you will see what's being happening.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MACHADO: Now, it's worth noting there were no travel restrictions in place before this week for these health care workers. And if they violate the order that they signed, and they don't follow the restrictions that they agreed to, there will be a penalty. But at this point, Erin, we don't know what the penalty could be.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Elena, thank you.

Joining me now is Michael Brown. He's a passenger on that Carnival cruise ship that currently has the isolated passenger.

Thank you so much for being with us tonight. I know it has been a rather unexpected day to say the least for you, Michael. The cruise ship trying to go to Belize, trying to go to Mexico, trying to find a place to go to port.

What were you aware of? What were they telling you during all of this?

MICHAEL BROWN, ABOARD CARNIVAL MAGIC (via telephone): Well, we hadn't been aware of anything until this morning when the captain came over the intercom. We were scheduled to port into (INAUDIBLE) and I noticed on the map on the TV channel, it showed our approximate location and we started to pull away from the port and it was pretty obvious that we weren't going to port. Then, we were delayed for two hours and then the captain finally said that we were not going to be able to port because we couldn't get permission.

So, that's when kind of everything hit the fan here and we realized that we were quarantined or the whole ship was at least having some change of pace here on our trip.

BURNETT: What have they told you? I mean, we understand this is a woman who worked at the hospital in Dallas, that she never came into contact with the Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, but may have handled one of his specimens. But really, it was after the nurses contracted Ebola, that's when was aware, oh, this might be an issue and she went immediately to the ship and said she worked at the hospital. She has no symptoms at all.

So, have they told you all of that? Has that assuaged concerns or is that a question for much of the day to you?

BROWN: Well, it's been a question the last two days. We heard somebody potentially was going to get flown out, we heard someone was going to get airlifted, there were all kind of rumors. They never said "Ebola". They've said symptoms and, you know, they kind of kept it somewhat quiet. Everybody knows what they are talking about.

And then they said this person is quarantined on the ship. So, obviously, our concern is, you know, where is this person and what kind of set-up do they have to take care of this person on the ship. I can't imagine it's a complete quarantined area. BURNETT: Have they told you at all where the person is being kept or

anything like that? Or no?

BROWN: No, they have not told us at all. And my big concern is, my wife has immuno-suppressive medications from a kidney transplant and we don't know where this person was. You know, kind of if she is susceptible to getting something a little easier than the rest of us. So, we were just kind of wanting to know but we haven't heard anything from the captain or anybody else as to what has been done.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Michael. We appreciate your time tonight.

BROWN: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And that lab worker of course doing the right thing in going straight to disclose who they were and what had happened in isolation. We just want to empathize the number, 74 hospital workers from that Dallas hospital are now being monitored. There were 76. Obviously, the difference being the two who have now contracted Ebola. The mayor of Dallas, the latest we have, is that he said he believes there will be a couple more that contract Ebola and they said right now, everyone now is in the incubation period, so we do not yet know whether there will be more.

Well, OUTFRONT next, more than 200 girls kidnapped earlier this year in Nigeria, and tonight, word of their fate.

And next, Anderson Cooper retracing his roots. So, Anderson found some amazing stories about his amazing ancestors. You may think you know about this family. But you didn't know a lot of what you're going to going to find out tonight. Someone in Anderson's past was a slave owner and was murdered by a slave. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: All this week on CNN, we've been sharing a series of special reports called "Roots: Our Journeys Home". And I, along with a lot of my colleagues here at CNN, had the opportunity to dig into our family trees.

(AUDIO GAP) Anderson's turn. Watch as he traces his roots through the Deep South.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): My dad, Wyatt Cooper, died when I was 10. When you're a kid, and you lose a parent, it's like the world as you know it comes to an end. The clocks are re-set. The calendar goes back to zero.

After my dad died in 1978, it was just me, my mom and my brother Carter.

My mom and dad met at a dinner party in 1962. They couldn't have been from more different backgrounds. That's the thing that interests me the most about my heritage, that the different branches my family tree mapped out by Ancestry.com started off so apart and have come together in me.

My mom is Gloria Vanderbilt. She was born into a family of great wealth, but it was a different time. And parents like hers had nothing to do with raising their kids. Her dad was Reginald Vanderbilt, who died when she was an infant. Her mom, Gloria Morgan, was just 18 and had no idea how to raise a child.

When my mom was 10, her father's sister, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney a sculptor who founded New York's Whitney Museum, went to court to take custody of my mom away from my grandmother.

At the time, it was called the trial of the century. It's at the height of the Depression and made headlines around the world.

It's hard to believe, but the court decided my mom should be taken away from her own mother and raised by her aunt Gertrude, who she barely knew.

For my mom, that wound, that pain is something that has never gone away.

(on camera): Whenever people ask me about family history, they're usually just referring to the Vanderbilt side of my family, which is understandable I suppose.

The first Vanderbilt came to America back in 1960. His name was Jan Aertsen Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt means "from the Bilt", which is a town in Holland. Jan Aertsen settled in New York's Staten Island. He was an indentured servant, but within several generations, the family's fortunes took a dramatic turn.

(voice-over): In 1794, my great-great-great-grandfather Cornelius Vanderbilt was born on Staten Island. At 16, he borrowed money and bought a small boat, began ferrying cargo on the Hudson River.

Cornelius Vanderbilt was a tough businessman to say the least. He under cut his competitors and built a fleet of steamships and eventually moving into railroads.

(on camera): This is New York's Grand Central Terminal. It's an extraordinary structure. Back in 1969, Cornelius Vanderbilt bought 23 acres of land here in what's now midtown Manhattan to build a depot for his New York Central railroad. This wasn't called Grand Central Terminal until 1913.

(voice-over): There's an imposing statue of him right outside the building. I remember seeing it when I was a little kid and for years I believed that all grandparents turned into statues when they died.

Subsequent generations of Vanderbilt built huge mansions. Excess is what they became known for. There's some enormous houses in Newport, Rhode Island, that are museums to the public. But many of the mansions they built in New York have been torn down. This was my great grandmother's house which once occupied an entire

block in New York's entire block on New York's Fifth Avenue. It's gone. And now, the department store and now a department store Bergdorf Goodman stands in this spot.

(on camera): Growing up, I never really paid much attention to the history of the Vanderbilts. I mean, I read about them in school books, but they seemed real to me. It was like about strangers.

The truth is, I was always glad not to have the Vanderbilt last name and all the baggage that came with it. I always wanted to make a name for myself.

(voice-over): The part of my mom's family that did interested me as a kid was her mother's side.

Her mom, Gloria Morgan, was incredibly beautiful and had an identical twin, a sister named Thelma. Their father was an American diplomat, and their mother, Laura Delphine Kilpatrick Morgan, was half Chilean.

Gloria Kilpatrick Morgan's father had married a Chilean woman when he was the American consul general to Chile in 1965. His name was General Judson Kilpatrick. He'd been an infamous cavalry officer fighting for the union in civil war. They called Kilpatrick "Kill Cavalry" because he got so many of his men killed. He was one of Lincoln's youngest generals, a graduate of West Point who was deeply opposed to slavery but he was also deeply political and apparently corrupt.

(on camera): In tracing the history of General Kilpatrick, I was stunned to learn that the two different branches of my family nearly met. It happened in the battlefield in the civil war, in the Battle of Resaca. My great-great-grandfather, General Kilpatrick was shot and wounded and had to leave the battlefield.

The very next day, Burrell Cooper, my great-great-grandfather on my father side, joined the battle. Except he wasn't fighting for the Union, he was fighting for the Alabama infantry (AUDIO GAP)

(voice-over): And I find it amazing two branches of my family came together here on this field in Georgia. One opposed to the evils of slavery fighting for the union, the other for the confederacy, fighting to support slavery.

(on camera): My dad was born here in Quitman, Mississippi, in 1927. Though growing up as a kid, I never felt all that connected to the Vanderbilt side of the family, I was always really interested in my dad's Southern roots.

(voice-over): My dad and I look a lot alike. This is him as a kid, and this was me.

My dad's dad, Emmett Cooper, was a farmer. I like this photo of him a lot. His heavy lidded eyes and the air of sadness about him. He married my grandmother Jenny Anderson when she was a teenager. My dad was born in this house in Quitman in 1927. (on camera): The house my dad was born in has long since been torn

down. There is no sign of it anymore. The land is mostly forest, though, it's still owned by coopers.

My dad wrote a book a few years before he died called "Families". It's a memoir of growing up in Mississippi and it's also the celebration of the importance of family. I reread it every year and I think of it as a letter from my dad to me.

(voice-over): My dad's memoirs are full of family stories. The tales of people whose names will never appear in history books or newspapers, but who raised families, worked hard and struggled to make a living off the land.

People like my great grandfather William Preston Cooper. Apparently, he wasn't very religious and on his deathbed they tried to baptize him. He refused, yelling that all they needed to do was to bring him a woman and he'd have no need of dying.

My second cousin, Reecy Harrison (ph), met me in Quitman, and offered to take me to see the graves of some of these family legends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that's it.

COOPER (on camera): Oh, wow.

(voice-over): Deep in the woods, we found an old overgrown Bull cemetery from another branch of my family.

(on camera): So, this is the whole cemetery. Wow, this is incredible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We haven't been here for a long time.

COOPER (voice-over): The Bulls married into the Cooper family back before the Civil War.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is Grandfather Burrell's wife, the mother to William Preston Cooper.

COOPER (on camera): OK. So, that's Burrell Cooper's wife. Wow.

UNDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Watch for snakes.

COOPER (voice-over): I grew up reading stories about the Bulls in my dad's book. People like my ancestor Jim Bull.

(on camera): My dad's dad said that he never got over the habit of killing people, but that he never killed anybody who didn't serve it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm pretty sure that's who he was.

COOPER: Right. And he would kill men for cussing in front of women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

COOPER (voice-over): Reecy also wanted to show me another cemetery. I read about it in my father's book but I've never been there myself.

(on camera): I'm trying to find the old Cooper cemetery. It's here along the Mississippi/Alabama border. It's deep in the woods and it's hard to find, near a house where my great grandfather William Preston Cooper used to live.

(voice-over): We traveled along a dirt road for miles, through forest, some trees and canyons of kudzu before we finally found it.

(on camera): Relatives of mine had been working to try to clear the under growth and cut down trees to try to clear the cemetery, but one of the amazing things about it is this cemetery is so old, a lot of the headstones have disappeared or just worn away by the elements. You can't see any -- the names of people anymore. It's even hard to tell what's a headstone.

(voice-over): Here we found the grave of Burrell Cooper, my great- great-grandfather --

(on camera): Confederate States of America.

(voice-over): -- who fought on the same battlefield during the civil war as my other great-great-grandfather Judson Kilpatrick.

(on camera): Burrell Cooper was shot in the right hand during the civil war. He lost one of his fingers and was partly paralyzed in his right arm. Records indicate that because of that paralysis, he struggled the rest of his life to earn a living for his kids. He died at the age of 54.

(voice-over): His life was a far cry from Judson Kilpatrick's life, who survived the war and went on to become U.S. ambassador to Chile.

Though a lot of people in my family fought for the Confederacy, nearly all were too poor to actually own slaves, except for one, Burrell Cooper's grandfather.

(on camera): I recently discovered that one of my ancestors did, in fact, own slaves, my great-great-great-great-grandfather Burrell Boykin. He owned 12 slaves. In fact, he was killed by one of those slaves in 1860, one year before the civil war begun.

(voice-over): It's one thing to read about slavery in history books, it's another to hear that a distant relative took part in that evil.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so glad you came.

COOPER: Thank you.

COOPER: My dad and his family left Quitman during World War II and moved to New Orleans. His mother, my grandmother, Jenny Anderson, worked in the Higgins huge factory making landing craft for the war. She sold lady's hats at Maison Blanche department store.

(on camera): Back in 2005 when I was in New Orleans reporting in the wake of hurricane Katrina, completely by coincidence, I stumbled across my dad's old high school that had been flooded during the storm.

This is the school now. Back then, it was called Francis T. Nichols Public High School. Francis T. Nichols was a confederate general, governor of Louisiana.

One of the things I love about New Orleans is that it's a city that embraces its past, even if that past is painful. They don't try to erase their history, no matter what story may be. In fact, Francis T. Nichols' name is still on my dad's old high school. It's still etched in stone. His likeness is still etched above the front door.

Francis T. Nichols was most likely racist, definitely segregationist, but they haven't removed his name from the school. It is now the Frederick A. Douglass High School, named after the famous abolitionist.

(voice-over): We're invited to take a look around. People work at the school said they had old files but I couldn't imagine any of them had my dad's.

They showed me closets full of old records and posters dating all the way back to the '40s.

(on camera): They moved back after the war.

(voice-over): I couldn't find anything that belonged to my dad. As I was leaving, the school nurse came outside with a surprise for me.

(on camera): Oh, my God! Oh, my God!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is a report card, but not only do they keep stuff there, the file cabinets back then --

COOPER: This is his photo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that is him.

COOPER: My God!

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: I love you.

COOPER: Oh, that is so nice.

My dad's report card. It's crazy.

Can you believe they had my dad's report card all the way going back to 1944? They just had it in a file all the way to the back. That's awesome.

See, this is what I'm talking about New Orleans, the history. Like they don't throw away the history. It's all here. It's -- the past is very much alive in New Orleans.

(voice-over): My dad worked as an actor for years, appearing on stage and TV. He even had a tiny bit part in a movie called "The Seven Hills of Rome". We stayed up late one night when he was on TV when I was a kid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Mart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wyatt, good luck in that. I'll be up front leading the cheering section. Thanks, Wyatt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Goodbye.

COOPER: He then became a screen writer and wrote for magazines, as well.

My dad is buried in Staten Island, next to my brother who died in 1988. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about them both, and wonder what they would think of me, the person I've become.

The thing about death is that after a while you can't remember what a person sounded like. You forget all the little things you once knew, the sound they made when they opened up the front door, the way they walked. The way they laughed.

WYATT COOPER: My feelings about what I want my sons to be --

COOPER: A couple of months ago, Clock Tower Radio restored an interview my father did back in 1975.

WYATT COOPER: My relationship with my sons, which are both quite extraordinary. I mean, my relationship with each son is quite extraordinary.

COOPER: I listen to it in my office at work. It was the first time I had heard my father's voice since I was 10 years old.

WYATT COOPER: They asked me questions, asked how much does a stunt man make because that is what he would like to be, you know?

COOPER: The thing about the past is one can't help what zip code one was born in. What country or family you're descended from. All you can do is learn the lessons of those who came before you, the stories, their mistakes, and their successes. You can't choose what family you're born into.

WYATT COOPER: My sons are very aware that I had certain expectations.

COOPER: All you can really do is choose how you want to live your own life.

WYATT COOPER: They will behave with honor and dignity.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Anderson, you know, I -- I don't think anyone watching doesn't tear up watching you listen to your dad. What was that like?

COOPER: It was extraordinary. I mean, it was completely unexpected. This group -- Clock Tower just did this. They didn't contact me. Suddenly, I saw it on Twitter. And you know, I clicked on it and there was my dad's voice. It was really -- you know, it was the first time since I was 10 years old. And you know, he sounded different than I remembered. But it is a remarkable thing to have.

BURNETT: Well, yes, and he was talking about you. And did you even remember, I was thinking when you said you wanted to be a stunt man, I saw the look on your face, do you even remember that --

COOPER: Now that he said it, I remember it. I hadn't remembered it up until the moment I heard that, yes.

BURNETT: That was incredible. Was there anything that surprised you? I mean, there is a lot obviously about your mom's family people know. But as you looked into this, was there something that surprised you about the past?

COOPER: You know, I was certainly surprised that the school in New Orleans still had my dad's report cards back in an old file that even survived Hurricane Katrina. And then I want to thank everybody at the school, the nurse who came out. That was not planned. It just happened as we were there. But certainly, it just -- you know, I think it makes you feel connected to history and makes you feel connected to all of those who came before you. And whether you would agree with them or not or support them or not they are part of who you are. And it is a neat thing to look back on.

BURNETT: Neat, and a lesson in American history. You sort of had the lesson, the rich and the poor from the North and the South. It was pretty incredible, and it's all there in one person. Anderson, thank you.

COOPER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And, of course, you can see Anderson's "Roots" again, and if you missed any of the others, including mine, you can see it at CNN.com/roots. And remember, our CNN series ends with a primetime special on Tuesday at 9:00 Eastern.

OUTFRONT next, earlier this year, more than 200 girls were kidnapped by terrorists in Nigeria. Tonight, a big, big, big development.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Tonight, a potential breakthrough in the kidnapping ordeal of more than 200 school girls in Nigeria. Nigeria's government says it has reached a cease-fire agreement with the terror group, Boko Haram, that will free the girls. Now, we don't know exactly what this means. The United States, of course, designates Boko Haram a terrorist group, Boko militants have slaughtered thousands of innocent civilians.

But Nigeria's government says a, quote, "significant number of the girls will be freed soon thanks to the deal." There is no word yet on, but we are following this one, hoping, anticipating that there could be a miracle.

And this weekend, Lisa Ling will travel to America's newest oil boom town. It's in North Dakota, and as you will see, women are flocking there for new and creative opportunities. This is "Life with Lisa Ling". It airs this Sunday night at 10:00 Eastern.

Thanks so much for joining us. We all hope you'll have a wonderful and safe weekend. We'll see you back here again on Monday night.

"AC360", though, begins right now.