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Special Event

Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci Holds News Conference on Nor'easter 2001

Aired March 6, 2001 - 10:20 a.m. ET

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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: This nor'easter that's battering the northeast coast of the U.S. may not be the storm of the century, but it sure is getting the attention of folks up in Scituate, Massachusetts. Look at this: This reporter for WHDH is really getting -- he's getting hammered.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: If I didn't know better, I would think that would be our Jeff Flock.

HARRIS: I was going to say, the only person I know that could probably understand what he's going through is our Jeff Flock. He's probably laughing at this guy right about now.

Wow, look at that. That's pretty heavy-duty stuff.

KAGAN: You know who else would have really enjoyed that, our late, good friend John Holliman. He never saw a storm he didn't love as well.

HARRIS: He loved this sort of thing, yes.

KAGAN: He'd be hanging onto that pole toot suite (ph).

HARRIS: Oh, you got it, you got it.

All right, let's check and see how things are shaping up right now in Scituate.

Our Mark Potter is standing by there. It looks like the winds were pretty high at least a while ago, Mark. How's it feeling right now?

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a, in a word, a miserable morning. It's gotten worse. It's very cold and the wind has just started kicking up just in time for this broadcast. And the rain has turned to snow and it's going to be a long, cold day for the people here.

We're at the harbor at Scituate. Behind me are the fishing boats -- the cod and the flounder fishing boats. They were brought in over the weekend to prepare for the storm. They've been tied to the dock. One fisherman said he used every bit of rope that he had. But everything seems to be OK here, at least with the fishing fleet. Now, the big concern this morning was the high tide about 8:00 this morning Eastern time. It's an unusually high tide anyway because of the approaching full moon. And these offshore winds are kicking things up. And the big concern was coastal flooding, and indeed we have had some of that.

The area behind me flooded out this morning. One of these floating docks used for the boats we saw floating down the street. So the situation here is a little better.

More seriously, however, about a mile away, we saw a several- block area where a number of homes are being flooded out. They're still facing crashing waves coming in from the sea, and that's going to be a day-long situation for those people. We saw vehicles under water, areas being blocked off. The water was quite high and it's a very...

HARRIS: Well, Mark, we hate to interrupt you right now, but the governor of Massachusetts, Paul Cellucci, is just now beginning to address publicly this storm that's battering his state.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. PAUL CELLUCCI (R), MASSACHUSETTS: ... impossible to travel on.

And we're a little bit worried about the next couple of tides tonight and tomorrow morning in particular. So we're going to be paying very close attention to that. We've got over 600 National Guard troops who are ready to evacuate people in those coastal areas should they need evacuation.

I would also say that, right now, we have about 80,000 customers without power. There's a big tower carrying power in Wakefield that has come down. There's a couple more that are leaning. We'll know in the next couple hours how long it's going to take to get that service restored. That probably represents service to about 55,000 to 60,000 customers.

So the power companies will continue to work overtime to make sure everyone gets their power on. If people are without power and need assistance, all the armories around the state are open. They should check with their local communities. A lot of community centers have also opened. So those who do not have power and would like to get to some place that -- where they can be warm and safe till the power is restored, they can check with their local armory or with their local town hall.

On the roadway front, people staying off the road has been very helpful. The roads are very clear. We -- although we expect some additional -- possible additional snow as this storm winds down over the next several hours. We have been able to keep the major roadways open. That's a good thing.

But I would urge the citizens the rest of this day that if you really want to get out and get some place, if you can use -- particularly if you're close to public transportation, the T is basically on schedule, the commuter rails are just a little bit behind schedule. That would be very helpful to the highway crews so that we can continue to keep these roadways open.

We do expect that we'll keep the state of emergency in effect through tomorrow so we can continue to utilize National Guard troops and the extra resources that the State Police and other state agencies have allocated to this storm.

But I do expect, unless something changes, we do expect that the roads will be clear and we'll have a normal commute tomorrow morning. We expect that state officers will be open, that businesses will be open and commerce and government can get back to normal tomorrow. Because we've been able to stay ahead of the snow, we should be able to continue to do that even if there's some additional snow so that we can keep those roadways open and clear so people can get to work tomorrow.

So that's basically the update. A couple of warnings: We've had one serious accident where a snowmobiler was on a train track and collided with a train. I can't tell you how dangerous that is. And anyone who's got young people with snowmobiles, make sure they do not go on train tracks. The trains are running. And we do not have an update on that particular situation other than that it was a very serious injury.

Another thing is this snow is pretty heavy. I can feel it in my back right now. Did a little shoveling at home when I got up this morning. So let's help senior citizens, if the younger people could help their neighbors, if you get people who are living alone, if you could check on them, if young people could help the older people shovel the walks. It's pretty heavy snow. We don't want people having heart problems as a result of this heavy snow.

So if everyone would kind of look out for each other, I think we can get through this storm without too much in the way of physical injuries to the people of Massachusetts.

The last thing, I do want to thank Steve McGrail and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and all of the people gathered here from...

HARRIS: All right, we've been listening to Gov. Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts who's been saying although his state's been hit hard, they have been well prepared for this nor'easter of 2001. They've got some 600 National Guard troops out just in case people have to be evacuated. There are 80,000 people who are without power right now in the state. They've got one tower in Wakefield, he said, that's down, a couple others that are leaning.

They say that, right now, people have been following instructions and have been staying off the roads, and therefore they believe that the roads will be clear for tomorrow and expect that the state of emergency will last through tomorrow. But they should return to normal and people will be able to go back to work. Although there is some advice he is issuing people today. One, use public transportation if you do have to go out. And two, if you do go out, please make sure you check on your neighbors or on your senior citizens.

Let's go back now to Mark Potter, who's standing by in Scituate. We saw him getting battered by the winds. There you see Mark is back there.

Mark, we just heard the governor talking about power problems and how the folks are getting ready to be evacuated in certain spots. You seeing any signs of that sort of problem around there in Scituate?

POTTER: Well, we haven't seen the evacuations nor the power outages. But as I was saying earlier, we are seeing that coastal flooding that he's talking about in a couple of areas. And it's pretty serious. An area about a mile from here, it's a several-block area where a number of the houses are under water. Some vehicles are under water. The people had to spend the night in local hotels. So I don't think they're evacuating, but it certainly is a serious situation.

I can also verify a point that the governor made about the roads. We drove in very early this morning from Boston and all the roads that we were on in Boston were clear despite the falling snow. And they were clear all the way here. The trucks were out all night. They seemed to be doing a good job and keeping ahead of the snow, as the governor said. So they are doing their best.

This is not the storm of the century, but it is a storm that's definitely having its mark and the people are working hard to keep ahead of it.

Back to you, Leon.

HARRIS: Mark, one last note, Mark. Yesterday, another big concern for a meteorologist there was -- in that area that you happen to be in right now -- was beach erosion. In fact, there was some concern that some of the rocks that had been piled up there on sort of a levee protecting the homes along that beach front, that the rocks would have been moved out and the beach would have washed away. Any signs of that sort of thing happening?

POTTER: Absolutely. And in another area that we visited, we met a homeowner whose name is Sam Klein (ph). He was standing on the porch of his home watching the waves threatening his home, talking about how far away the beach used to be. And now the water's right up to his house.

He also made the point, though, that in time, the beaches sometimes regenerate themselves. They are rebuilt by other storms. It's sort of an ebb and flow. But right now, there's not much beach left in front of his home. So we have actually seen that.

HARRIS: All right, good deal. Well, Mark Potter reporting live from the mess up there in Scituate, Massachusetts, take care and be dry. You and the crew up there, be careful up there. We'll talk to you later on. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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