From your description of the situation, I take it you're an individual who has editing experience but no After Effects experience. You need to know that AE isn't the kind of application where prior knowledge easily transfers to AE proficiency. With this app, you need to begin at the beginning... which you will find on this page. The most important stuff is right at the top, namely the logic behind the workings of AE.
It really will help, and it's a LOT more time-efficient than constantly asking elementary questions in a forum, then waiting for a response.
What Dave said - start with the basics. Effects are applied to layers in comps, not imported source footage.
On Saturday I was able to create an adjustment layer and a distortion ripple effect on a video I created in Power Point and apply a shockwave with 30% transparency to a 4 second section of the clip. Today I am working on a new project and created an adjustment layer but now my Effect Controls panel is completely blank, and searching for "Distortion" in the Effects and Presets panel brings up nothing. I don't know what changed from Saturday to today but I would like to get my effects and presets back again. You can see in the lower right where I typed in "distortion" in Effect Controls but nothing comes up and trying to expand that window does nothing. I'll keep stepping through Chris Meyers Apprentice and the Adobe books as well as Lynda.com for a resolution in the mean time as I know forums aren't a place for beginners.
There's a good reason for that -- you don't have any effects applied.
See that "fx" column header in the timeline? When you apply an effect to a layer, you see a corresponding "fx" symbol in that column.