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Govenor Pataki Declares State of Emergency

Aired August 14, 2003 - 18:47   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And Kyra, a number of developments we want to bring you up to speed on, on what we know about this and the scope of it. We should also tell our viewers we are about 12 minutes away from a scheduled news conference by George Pataki, the governor of New York, who has declared a state of emergency -- no surprise there -- in his state. Governor Pataki perhaps with more details at the top of the hour, 7:00 PM Eastern. He will hold a news conference.
We are told now by our Justice Department correspondent, Kelli Arena, who has been working her sources, that the FBI is now, quote, "nearly certain" that this is a technical problem that caused this massive blackout -- "nearly certain." The federal government inching closer to saying the same thing as New York officials, that there is not terrorism involved here. The FBI also saying, according to Kelli Arena and her sources, that they have ruled out the worm. There was some thought early on that because this happened so quickly, that perhaps the computer worm, wreaking havoc on computer systems around the world, could have been responsible. We are told now by Kelli Arena's sources that has been ruled out.

We are also told by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -- a bit of alphabet soup there, but a very critical federal agency when it comes to energy matters -- that it is trying to find out whether one of two scenarios, either this started in Ontario, Canada, and moved south, or it started somewhere in Ohio, moved north, and then made its way into the New York area. But we also are told that they believe this was definitely a technical issue.

It also affected the upper peninsula of Michigan. You see Detroit there among the cities affected. The upper peninsula of Michigan affected, as well. And we are told -- and this should be good news to anyone watching from the affected areas -- that they are beginning to bring those systems back on line, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg saying he expects power back on tonight. He is hoping it comes before it gets dark or too dark in New York City. Both regional and federal energy officials telling us they are beginning to bring those systems back up. They, of course, want to know what caused this in the first place.

As that investigation continues, we want to go back to the streets of New York City, where our Wolf Blitzer has been talking to many of those affected by today's stunning development -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: John, it's an amazing thing to hear the personal stories of all these New Yorkers who've gone through these past couple of hours dealing with this crisis. I think it's fair to call it a crisis -- no electricity. It's dark, of course, inside the buildings in New York City.

I want to bring in one special guest that we have, Latoya Arrington. She's with the St. Vincent's Hospital. It's a cancer hospital a couple of blocks from where we are right now. Latoya, tell us where you were when the electricity went out.

LATOYA ARRINGTON, ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL: Well, I was in a train (UNINTELLIGIBLE) West 4th Street. I'm stuck on the A train. And they evacuated the train, and then I walked back down to the job, where they had backup generators.

BLITZER: How did you get out of the train? Did you have to walk through the tunnels?

ARRINGTON: Well, we walked through a little tunnel, and they had an opening somehow they found. And there was a lot of people upstairs, and we walked up some stairs -- not through a deep tunnel, just up some stairs. And there was a lot of people up there waiting for us because it was getting really hot down there, and people were starting to panic.

BLITZER: Then it was -- I assume it was very dark down there, as well.

ARRINGTON: It was very dark. There was one light on in each train. We walked back and forth through the train because they didn't know where they was going to let us out at. But it wasn't so dark. You could see (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BLITZER: Were people calm or were they nervous? Were they crying? Were they scared? Describe the mood to us.

ARRINGTON: I think from the previous incident that happened with the train a few weeks ago, when people was busting windows -- I think that they took better precaution this time. This time, people were much calmer and really listened. They gave us more information, so we really didn't panic. And they told us it was a blackout throughout the city. So you know, we kind of followed directions, and people was really very, very cool and very level-headed.

BLITZER: Now, what happened, Latoya? You work at St. Vincent's Hospital. What's your job there?

ARRINGTON: I'm a medical technician there.

BLITZER: And so you got to the hospital, and what did they say?

ARRINGTON: Well, a lot of people were still there, saying they're going to spend the night if it doesn't come back on, the lights doesn't come back on. We have patients there. We have patients that has diabetes -- is diabetics, and you know, we have to walk and give water and food for them should that they don't go into comas and things like that.

BLITZER: Do they have emergency generators at St. Vincent's? ARRINGTON: Yes. Yes, they do have backup generators, and that's what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people out there doing chemo and intravenously. That's the backup generators helping that out.

BLITZER: Now, I see you have a shopping cart -- if we could show our viewers -- a shopping cart full of water. What did they say, Go out and find as much water as you can, bring them to the patients?

ARRINGTON: As much water as they can. We have one -- two freezers working in there, so we're going to throw these in the freezers, let them get cool, and then we give them out to the patients that's remained in there.

BLITZER: How were the patients dealing with this, from what you could tell?

ARRINGTON: Well, they're sick patients, so they're being calm, and we're helping them as much as they can, each one of us because there's still a lot of staff on hand. So they're very calm.

BLITZER: All right, Latoya Arrington, good luck to you.

ARRINGTON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Get back to the hospital with the water, and we'll continue to watch, make sure everything's OK.

ARRINGTON: OK. Thank you.

BLITZER: You got a beautiful smile.

ARRINGTON: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right, that's it, John, a typical story. There are a lot of these stories here in New York. We're going to be speaking to people here throughout the night. It's going to get a little bit more complicated if the power is not back on once it gets dark. Right now, it's still light out here. We'll continue to monitor the situation. The bottom line, I have to tell you, John, people in New York are dealing very fairly, very calmly, very rationally with this crisis.


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