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CONNECT THE WORLD
US Braces for Irene; Potential Economic Loss in US Due to Irene; Young Rebel Hero Fights to Protect His People; Scope of Savagery of Libyan Conflict; Supply Lines Reestablished; Inside Gadhafi's Underground Tunnels; U.S. Braces for Impact; The Secret World of the Dictator; The Young Face of War; Hurricane Causes Sports Cancellations
Aired August 26, 2011 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This storm is stretching from Cuba to the Carolinas. And that is one -- one scary big storm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: The United States braces for impact as a massive hurricane closes in on the East Coast.
Well, New York has seen major storms before, but this time is very different, as authorities take unprecedented measures. Evacuations and a transit shut down.
And then this hour, the secret world of a dictator -- Moammar Gadhafi's underground tunnels.
And the young face of war -- why this teenager put down his schoolwork and picked up a weapon and what he says he's got to do when the fighting is finished.
These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.
Well, there are hurricanes and then there is this hurricane. Irene is barreling up the East Coast of the United States and she's is huge, even by hurricane standards. You can see it here on the satellite picture. And it has a vast wind field. Hurricane force winds extend out 145 kilometers from the center. Tropical storm force winds reach nearly 500 kilometers out.
And then there is the storm's track. Right now, Irene is heading toward the most densely populated cities of the United States.
Look at this massive traffic jam today in New Jersey, as people hurry to get out of harm's way.
New York, Philadelphia, Boston all bracing for major impacts.
Well, from North Carolina to New York and beyond, the potential impact could be huge. U.S. President Barack Obama says all indications point to this being a hurricane of historic proportions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cannot stress this highly enough. If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don't wait. Don't delay. We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, as President Obama and his family head back to Washington, the first large rain bands from Irene are hitting the eastern parts of North Carolina. These double flags an ominous sign of what is to come.
Well, CNN, as you can imagine, has got a team of reporters covering the story for you.
We're going to speak to two of them right now.
Guillermo Arduino is at the World Weather Center.
I want to go to him shortly.
First, I want to go to Jeanne Meserve, who is in Ocean City, Maryland -- wind, rain and the potential, Jeanne, for serious storm surges.
Are people taking this seriously?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Oh, they are taking it very seriously. Irene is a big lady and she's headed right here. This pool was full of families earlier today. If you look in the water now, no kids. But you can see the beach chairs. They have put them in the water here in an effort to keep them from blowing away in the wind.
And if you look over here at the famous beach of Ocean City, it's about 10 miles long. A weekend like this, ordinarily, there would be about 200,000 people here. Look it, it is empty. You don't see any umbrellas, any blankets or any people.
People are listening to the warnings to get out of town.
There are a lot of small businesses, hundreds of them, along this beach, relying on the tourist traffic. They are battening down now. They are putting up the plywood. They are putting up the tape. They are making sandbags if they have to make them and putting them against the door, all in an effort to try and save their investment.
We spoke to one store owner earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISSY AUKER, BUSINESS OWNER: We have four shops here on the boardwalk. MESERVE: What kind of precautions are you taking?
AUKER: We're boarded up downtown. It's all glass. And here, we've kind of moved racks back, emptied what we could and now we're sandbagging, hoping for the best.
MESERVE: How worried are you?
AUKER: Pretty worried. Definitely worried. I mean, it's the big deal.
MESERVE: This is your economic future.
AUKER: Yes, this is it. This is our family. So we're doing everything we can to take care of everything. We'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: The mayor thinks that the city is a little better off than it has been in the past. And that's because the Army Corps of Engineers extended this beach, built a berm and also put these dunes in place. That was after Hurricane Gloria hit this city hard back in 1985.
Just an hour or so ago, there were some guys from the Army Corps out here, doing surveying. They tell me that they're trying to get a sense of how much sand is out there now, so that after Irene leaves, they can tell how much she has washed away -- Becky, back to you.
ANDERSON: Briefly, Jeanne, it's, what, 4:00 p.m. local time with you now, Friday.
When it this storm expected to reach you?
MESERVE: It is not expected to hit until the wee hours of Sunday morning. They're saying that the worst of it's going to hit early on Sunday.
But most people have left this town and this afternoon, the town put out an advisory, saying that tomorrow night at 6:00, they expect to shut down the wastewater treatment facilities for the town. So that might encourage even more to get over those bridges and get to safety -- Becky.
ANDERSON: All right, Jeanne Meserve for you in Maryland.
That's where, of course, Obama is flying toward, as he makes his way toward Washington.
Guillermo is with us, of course. And we need you to stand by, Guillermo, just for a moment, because I want to get us to New York. It's mass transit system is the largest in the States and it will come to a grinding halt, we're told, on Saturday afternoon.
Trains, buses, subways, all of it. And that is not all.
New York's mayor issued an unprecedented order earlier today.
Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: We are, today, issuing a mandatory -- I'll repeat the word mandatory -- evacuation order for all New Yorkers who live in the low-lying Zone A coastal areas in all five boroughs that are at greatest risk of damage relating to Irene.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And Mayor Bloomberg has got good reason to be worried. Here's why.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If anyone is worried about a hurricane hitting New York, it's coastal geology professor Nicholas Coch. And to understand why, he took us to Southampton, New York.
NICHOLAS K. COCH, QUEENS COLLEGE PROFESSOR: And this is actually where the 1938 hurricane broke through and made Shinnecock Bay a branch of the ocean.
SNOW: Coch says most New Yorkers forget that it was here that a powerful category three hurricane made landfall in 1938. It was called the Long Island Express and it caused widespread damage even in New York City, some 70 miles away.
(on camera): Even if New York City is spared a direct hit...
COCH: That's right. It's going to have massive flooding. Yes.
SNOW (voice-over): For years, Coch has been sounding the alarm about how vulnerable New York City is because of its topography. He said storm surges could trigger massive flooding in low-lying areas, particularly lower Manhattan.
Consider this simulation done by NOAA, showing what a category two hurricane could do to a tunnel linking Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Donald Cresitello, with the Army Corps of Engineers, mapped out some worst case scenarios.
A category one hurricane, for example, could flood the subway station at the southern tip of Manhattan with three-and-a-half feet of water. A category two storm, he says, could put JFK Airport under five-and-a-half feet of water.
DONALD E. CRESITELLO, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEER: If a storm were to occur, it could be catastrophic, given the population density in -- in the Northeast.
SNOW: High winds are also a big concern. And city officials have evacuation plans at the ready.
Despite all the preparations, Coch says it's not the hurricane he's most worried about.
(on camera): What's your biggest concern?
COCH: The New Yorker.
COCH: Because they don't listen. You can -- you can always tell a New Yorker, but you can't tell them very much.
Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: Well, it's not looking good, is it?
And that's the reason, of course, Mayor Bloomberg taking all precautions.
Let's get Guillermo back with us, shall we, from the International Weather Center -- Guillermo, Irene is a huge storm, isn't she?
GUILLERMO ARDUINO, ATS METEOROLOGIST: It is. There are two elements that are positive I see. There's some weakening right now. And this may have a little bit of implications by the time it gets to New York. We cannot count on them.
But looking at this report, it's the United States at its highest expression. I mean this is -- these are precautionary measures and everybody is listening, because the main thing you have to do is follow what authorities are saying. And that's it.
Well, massive, in terms of its size. You gave us a little bit of an idea at the beginning, talking about the tropical storm force winds that extend 450 kilometers away from the center. So if we think about the diameter, in this case, because when we talk about the tropical storm force winds, we're talking about the radius, that is to say, from the center outward only on one side.
We're talking about 1,000 kilometers in width, which is quite, quite, large, from Florida all the way into the Mid-Atlantic States.
Now, if we superimpose this in Europe, it would be like from -- going from Germany into Spain. You see here the borders and also the center of the system clearly displayed.
When you were talking to Jeanne, I was thinking about -- she was saying we're expecting it in the wee hours of Saturday. She's talking about the center of the system -- or of Sunday, sorry.
I'm going to talk about now something very important, is that tonight, they're going to start feeling the tropical storm force winds in that Baltimore, Maryland and DC area. Because first we get the -- that first half of the system and then the center. And that's officially landfall.
So it is going to -- to get worse before the time of landfall occurs.
Again, two very important things. We see some weakening. Secondly, we may see hurricane or a strong tropical storm into New York on Sunday. - - Becky, I'll see you later in the show.
ANDERSON: Good stuff.
Guillermo, thank you for that.
Yes, coming back in about 20, 25 minutes time.
The storm set to make its first landfall in North Carolina.
And David Mattingly joins me now live from a place called Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina.
How are you holding up there -- Dave?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, we got our first taste of rain, a brief shower came through, a taste of what's waiting for us later tonight and into tomorrow morning.
This storm is supposed to bring a lot of rain, a lot of flooding and some very severe erosion to the beaches here.
There were some evacuation orders that went out, mandatory for the people who live here. That happened today. They were told that now is the time to get out. The mandatory evacuation order means that if you decide to stay, you will be on your own, because it's believed that emergency crews will not be venturing out into the elements, dangerous as they are, to offer any help to someone who might need it.
So they're warning people that if you stay behind to keep control of your property and watch this storm go through, that you could be on your own at least 72 hours with no help whatsoever able to come to you.
So that was the warning, the last warning that went out to people. And, as you can see by this empty beach behind me, nothing but sea gulls and surf to see right here, people are apparently taking those evacuation orders to heart.
One thing they're going to be watching for when this storm comes in is how the dunes here hold up, these massive and very fragile piles of sand with vegetation on top of them. That's -- the storm surge that comes in is going to be pounding against these. And in some places along the Outer Banks, it's going to punch right through and then flood the roads and the property on the other side.
Today, work crews were out with heavy equipment, trying to plug any sort of gaps there might have been in these dunes, also to shore them up wherever they could, trying to make sure that they are as prepared as they could possibly be for this tremendous force of nature that's about to come in.
Everything looking so pleasant right now, but 20 hours from now, it's going to be a much different story, with hurricane force winds, very high and very threatening surf pounding against this beach and people wondering what kind of damage it is going to leave behind.
ANDERSON: It does seem absolutely remarkable, David, that it can -- it can look so pleasant, and, as you say, in some 20 hours time, it's really going to be a mess.
The pictures of you -- thank you, David.
The pictures that you're seeing on your screens are pictures from elsewhere in North Carolina. And you can see -- well, you can see for yourself, can't you, things beginning to kick off a little bit as this storm heads toward the United States. This area the first that it will make landfall on.
All right, You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.
I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.
It is 14 minutes past 9:00.
We're going to continue our hurricane coverage throughout this show, of course.
Up next, though, I want to get you to Libya and Moammar Gadhafi's secret tunnels. We got a look inside.
We're going to take a very short break.
We'll be back with this, after this short break.
ANDERSON: Well, a symbolic moment in Tripoli in Libya. Rebels tore down what was an iconic statue from Moammar Gadhafi's former compound earlier on Friday, a gold fist crushing a U.S. fighter jet. And Gadhafi had it commissioned after the U.S. bombing of Libya in 1986.
Well, sporadic fighting continues in parts of Tripoli and around the hotly contested airport to the south of the -- to the south of the city.
And I want to bring in Nic Robertson in Tripoli for you at this point -- Nic, we're seeing pictures of that iconic statue being -- being brought down.
I hope Nic is with me.
Yes, he is.
You know, what's the -- what's the story from Tripoli today?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems to be one of improving security. I suppose you could say it's a marginal improvement. The rebels really have gained control of the city, as we know. They said that they controlled 80 percent of it, 90 percent of it.
Abu Salim Busaleen (ph), as they call it, as well, that neighborhood seems to be much quieter than yesterday. Although as we drove through, there were fires coming from some of the stores there. We were told that this was the work of Gadhafi loyalists before they fled the area. It doesn't seem to time out for us. There's a question mark in my mind, really, as to who set fire to some of those stores there.
But what we could see, the rebels moving on to another neighborhood, slightly further out of town, that they said they wanted to clear of Gadhafi loyalists. And we watched them doing it. And the way they were doing it was to drive a sort of a heavy anti-aircraft gun on the back od a track -- a truck, pump a few of those heavy, loud rounds into the air and a few rebel fighters would go into the neighborhood on foot and hope to draw out and draw fire from -- from any Gadhafi loyalists.
But it's very ad-hoc, so you get these sort of sporadic gun battles going on that don't amount to anything. But at the end of the day, they amount to the rebels taking and controlling the city, more of it, just so much more effectively.
We also went to Gadhafi's secretive military air base in the heart of the city today, where we're looking at -- we really got an idea of just how much of his oil money, the billions that he wasted on his pet projects.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): We're driving on Gadhafi's secretive military air base, the dark heart of his feared air force.
(on camera): This air base has been at the heart of the city, in the middle of Tripoli. Most Libyans here have no idea what's inside of here. Neither have we and neither has the rest of the world. No one's had a chance to sort of look inside Gadhafi's aging military war machine, or, indeed, inside the airport.
And here we can get right up to the controls. And it's just covered in dust. It's been left to rot.
This is part of Gadhafi's millions and billions of dollars that he spent on his own projects, wasted. All the money that went into this machinery, it didn't go to the people of Libya.
Everywhere you look, it's the same -- multi-million dollar aircraft rusting away, decaying helicopters in lines too long to count, money down the drain.
This gives you some idea of how little parts of this room have been used. There's a tree here growing out of the middle of the runway. And just look at this wrecked fighter bomber, whatever it is here. We've never seen anything like that before, rotting at the side of the runway.
(voice-over): Not just squandered oil revenues, but here, in this former U.S. air base, evidence Gadhafi's military was crumbling long before the rebels picked up guns. But he had more to hide here.
(on camera): This is where Gadhafi kept his private jets. One of them -- and it could have been exactly this one -- we flew several months ago, to be taken to the battle lines in the east of the country. And that was probably one of the last times that it flew, because just two, three days later, the U.N. enforced the no fly zone.
But this air field, the secret part of Gadhafi's world, a bit that nobody got to see. And there was a good reason nobody got into this air field to see what was happening here.
Because millions and millions upon millions of dollars of hardware left rotting -- money the people of this country didn't get.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Tripoli, Libya.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ROBERTSON: Money that could have been -- money that could have been spent on schools, spent on hospitals, spent on -- on the welfare and the education of the people of this country -- Becky.
ANDERSON: The city behind you looked relatively quiet tonight.
The question, of course, remains where is he?
ROBERTSON: That's still the question. I think there have been rumors building on rumors as to where he might be. I think people are getting the idea that if he's hiding in Tripoli, he must be hiding very well, because the rebels haven't been able to find him.
And I think the conclusion is going to come pretty soon.
If he's got out of this city, there are tribes in this country that are still loyal the him. The south of the country is somewhere where he could perhaps find some loyalty. His home city of Sirte has come under NATO bombardment. That wouldn't be the most smart place to go, it would seem, because the rebels are ultimately going to close in from there from two sides.
But it seems, at the moment, really, nobody knows. And it -- and it - - it is simply guest work to try and figure it out -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Nic Robertson in Tripoli, live for you this evening.
Nic, thank you very much, indeed.
Your man on the ground this evening in Libya.
Well, another major story you should know about this evening. At least 18 people are dead after a suicide bomber attacked the U.N. mission in Abuja in Nigeria. Well, police say at least eight people were also wounded in this attack. There may have been 400 people in the building at the time.
CNN's Christian Purefoy is in Nigeria and explains how it happened.
CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The SUV that a lot of people are saying carried the explosives -- that's not confirmed yet from the -- officially -- drove straight through the gates and right up to the building itself. Dramatic pictures and dramatic damage being done.
The security services are still clearing away some of the -- the injured and clearing away some of the rubble to look for, you know, more injured, more victims. The Abuja National Hospital has been overwhelmed and this morning they were talking about ambulances constantly arriving with more patients to be dealt with.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: And it's not yet clear who was responsible for the attack. But the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, described it as "barbaric," "senseless" and "cowardly."
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.
It's 22 minutes past 9:00 in London.
We're going to return shortly to track the latest on the path of Hurricane Irene, as it barrels toward the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. It's a storm which is also having quite an impact on the sporting calendar, I've got to say, with fixtures (ph) and events being hastily rescheduled. We're going to bring you some details on that, after this.
ANDERSON: Well, live video feed from the Kure Beach fishing pier in the far southern coast of North Carolina. On Saturday morning, a hurricane is expected to make landfall on the state's Outer Banks before hugging the East Coast as it heads up toward Maine.
Those are the latest pictures we've got in for you. Of course, you would expect us here at CNN to be all over this story, except that the shot is actually frozen. There you go. The vagaries of technology for you.
Anyway, you can see it's looking pretty iffy, isn't it?
The U.S. East Coast prepares for the worst, as Hurricane Irene approaches. And sporting authorities taking no chances either. Fearing the full effect of the storm, scores of events are being rescheduled. There is concern not only, of course, for the safety of those taking part, but also for traveling fans.
Well, Alex Thomas is me.
What a mess -- not you, of course, the fixtures (ph) list.
ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I put a stop to that (INAUDIBLE).
THOMAS: You can see from that video, Becky, that you wouldn't want to actually have a game...
THOMAS: -- of catch with your son or daughter, let alone play a major sporting event. So no wonder that almost a dozen major sporting events along that East Coast of the United States have been canceled, postponed or even rearranged.
Let's sum up some of the key ones for you now.
THOMAS (voice-over): First stop, Washington, DC, America's capital city, where Saturday's major league soccer match between DC United and the Portland Timbers has been postponed.
In Major League baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies have brought forward their Sunday game by 24 hours in a bid to play twice on Saturday against the Florida Marlins, before the weather hits.
And the Boston Red Sox are doing the same against the Oakland As.
Further up the East Coast, New Jersey is hosting the first of golf's big FedEx Cup Tournament and PGA Tour officials quickly decided to reduce the event to 54 holes. The champion will be declared on Saturday, then, with no play on Sunday.
And New Jersey soccer fans we'll have to wait to see David Beckham and Robbie Keane face off against Thierry Henry after the LA Galaxy Red Bulls match was moved to October the 4th.
Just a few miles away, the kick-off at Meadowlands between two New York-based NFL teams, the Giants and the Jets, will now be five hours earlier than scheduled, at 2:00 p.m.
Finally, women's tennis is also affected. They're warming up for the U.S. Open in New Haven, Connecticut and the final will be moved up a few hours, to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
THOMAS: -- Becky, for that WTA event to change the time it's final. As I said, they're getting ready for the U.S. Open, which starts no Monday in New York, a far bigger deal if that gets affected by Irene.
ANDERSON: It's amazing, isn't it?
All right, thank you for that.
A good Friday to you.
And "WORLD SPORT," of course, up in about an hour from now.
THOMAS: Yes, exactly.
ANDERSON: But next up, we've got coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, we're on hurricane watch for you, as the U.S. braces for Irene. And we're going to check in with the Weather Center and our reporters, of course, in the storm zone.
Also in the next half hour, Libya's teenage fighters struggle to cope. We're going to meet some of the young rebels and hear their stories.
And reporting from a conflict zone -- our big interview today, sharing her experience.
All that coming up in the next half hour.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.
Stay with us.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: It's just before half past nine in London. You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson on CNN, the world's news leader.
Let's get you a check of the headlines, shall we, this hour?
In large cities in the eastern US are bracing for Hurricane Irene. Mandatory evacuation orders are now in effect up and down the Atlantic coast. While outer bands of the very large hurricane have reached North Carolina's coast, Irene should make landfall there late tonight or early tomorrow and impact New York and the northeast this weekend.
Rebels in Libya have removed a famous statute from Moammar Gadhafi's compound, the statue depicting a gold fist crushing a US fighter jet. Rebels still battling pockets of resistance across Libya as Gadhafi loyalists refuse to surrender.
Barack Obama calls an attack on a UN compound in Nigeria "horrific and cowardly." At least 18 people were killed when an explosion ripped through the base in Abuja. At least eight others are wounded and the casualty numbers, sadly, are expected to rise.
And Mexican president Felipe Calderon has called for three days of mourning after a fire tore through a casino killing at least 52 people. Witnesses say a group of men set the building ablaze on Thursday evening.
Well, and ominous storm warning coming from high above the Earth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE FOSSUM, ASTRONAUT: Irene's passing over the horizon from us now. She's definitely a big storm and people in her way better batten down the hatches.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Absolutely. That's astronaut Mike Fossum tracking Hurricane Irene from the International Space Station for you. In its path, the East Coast of America. Tens of millions of people could be affected.
Now, power outages, flash flooding, storm surges, this hurricane is expected to deliver the lot. Ahead of it, New York City is taking unprecedented steps, preparing to shut down mass transit systems and beginning mandatory evacuations in some areas.
Right now, the storm is baring down on the Carolinas. Forecasters say it will then accelerate to the north, passing right over the major metro areas of Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.
Let's find out what's happening in the US right now. We've got Susan Candiotti for you in Mastic Beach, Long Island, New York, and Guillermo is standing by at the World Weather Center.
Let's start with you, Susan. You're some hours away. How seriously are people taking things?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that people are preparing for the storm. Not everyone. You'll always find people who say they think they can get through this without following the preparation directions and suggestions.
But for the most part, after visiting stores, you can see that people are out there buying supplies. At marinas, boat owners are pulling out their boats, getting them out of harm's way. And so, certainly people know the things that they are supposed to do.
Get plenty of water, at least a gallon per person to get them through at least three days. To have plenty of food supplies to get through, canned foods. To have cash out of the automatic teller machines just in case they need it. These are the kinds of things that are happening.
And, as you heard, really arguably in modern history, no one can remember another time when the mayor of New York City has decided to halt all subways, buses, and trains as of Saturday at noontime to make sure that people aren't stuck inside any of those subway systems and transportation systems that might possibly be flooded.
And also, you know, Becky, there are evacuation orders that are now in place and are now underway. For example, the mayor is asking hospitals in New York City to begin evacuating patients to get them to other hospitals that are on higher ground.
That's also happening where we are on Long Island. We're on the eastern end of Long Island, a barrier island called Fire Island, and there are small communities, people who live here, who are being told as of now that they must leave.
And just on the other side of this barrier island on the main mainland, that is the south shore of Long Island, imagine the tens of thousands of people who also live there who are also living in low-lying beachside communities, and it is likely that they will be ordered out as of Saturday morning.
So, I think people are taking advantage of the good weather to get those last minute preparations done, because the weather is expected to start to turn on Saturday in advance of the storm. Becky?
ANDERSON: It doesn't, Susan, deter everybody. I saw some guys just walking behind you as you were just delivering this report. I know there's an enormous surfing competition coming up in your area next week.
And we've got some pictures, I know, of some of the surfers out there riding some of these waves. We can bring those up. Have you noticed people wandering around with surfboards at all?
CANDIOTTI: Oh, absolutely, since early this morning people have been out there surfing, taking advantage of the waves. Usually these are young people who are out there doing that.
And oftentimes when we've asked a number of people who were out at the beach today where do they live? Well, most of the people we spoke with live in a more inshore -- inland, rather, so they're not in those expected evacuation areas.
So -- but the thing is, we do have officials here, including the mayor of New York City, who is -- who is telling people, please, you have to listen to the warnings. Here's what Mayor Bloomberg said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: The sun is shining, but don't be misled. There is a very dangerous storm headed in our direction, and it could go slightly to the east or slightly to the west. It could speed up, it could slow down, it could grow or diminish in intensity.
But there is no question that we are going to get hit with some wind and high water that is very dangerous. And it's hard to believe when you look outside and see the sun, but it is, in some senses, the calm before the storm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: And certainly, Becky, having covered a number of these storms over many, many years, I can tell you that the mayor is right.
And forecasters are saying that they can tell you this with this -- with a lot of certainty, 100 percent certainty. There will be flooding in low-lying areas at minimum.
There will be very high winds because, as of now, they're talking about a Category 1 storm, which means anywhere from 74 to 95 miles per hour more or less.
And there will be power outages, so people will be without. And for how long and exactly where the storm Irene is going to hit -- it's still impossible to predict exactly until we get closer to landfall. Becky?
ANDERSON: Let's, then, get as close as we can. Susan, thank you for that. Let's get ourselves back to the World Weather Center. But as I do, and getting to you, Guillermo, let's have a look at these pictures that NASA's just sent to us as they monitor this storm.
I believe -- is this from the International Space Station? I think it is, monitoring what is actually going on with this Hurricane Irene.
I'm going to bring Guillermo in. Our viewers, though, have been sending us some incredible pictures of Hurricane Irene. First up, in full force -- this is the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas Thursday shot by a CNN iReporter. I'm reading something here --
You know what, Guillermo? I'm just going to come to you, because I think we're -- we're having a bit of a technical breakdown here, we couldn't bring up our surfing pictures. All right, here we go.
Moving on. Irene iReport here wreaking significant havoc in the Bahamas. The same day in the US, here's what was headed their way. Thunder and lighting show in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
This from -- yes, you know what? I'm trying to keep up with these pictures. I'm not doing a very good job. Guillermo, take over.
GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I -- what I was thinking --
ANDERSON: Have a close --
ARDUINO: -- you know, when you were talking about this, I was thinking, in the Abaco Islands, it was a Category 2, very close to a Category 3. Now, it's weakened a little bit, but we should not underestimate the power of this, even if it becomes a tropical storm.
Two things before I talk about the economic impact. Do you know, Becky, how many millions of people are at risk? And I'm talking about coastal parts, mostly.
You know, when we studied American history, you know that the 13 original colonies are here on the East Coast, so they are the oldest cities. And that's where most of the money is and the growth -- the population, the brunt of the population, it's 46 million up -- directly at risk.
The economic loss concerning the -- the number of buildings that would sustain damage, 100,000. And the total direct economic loss about $3 billion. That's according to a government model.
And what I'm going to show you now with the help of Taylor Ward, our producer behind the scenes, is this that combines all the information that I was giving you along with the National Hurricane Center and estimates the economic loss.
This is updated every six hours. In yellow, $1 million. Look at the size of it. This is the general view. $1 million to $10 million in orange here in the Carolinas near New York, and some spots, small but some, more than $10 million.
So, we're going to zoom in first to the first area we're going to have the problems, and I'm talking about especially the Carolinas.
This is the outer bands, and as David Mattingly was saying, this is not going to stop the development of the system, because it's not enough land. It's going to be covered in water. So we estimate between $1 million and $10 million in economic loss in this area.
Taylor, let's go northward, now. Remember also, Becky, that tonight we expect hurricane force winds in the Carolinas, and tomorrow night, we expect that in the Washington, DC area.
Now, looking at the estimate of the economic loss in here, we have mostly in orange, here, of course, inland in yellow, $1 million or less.
And then, there are some pockets like South Hampton in Long Island where we're talking about $10 million or more.
You know why? The real estate business there, of course booming in the last years, and it has not been affected by the recession here in the United States. The pricey houses that we have not only by the water, but all those buildings in major cities in the United States, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. All right. Just before we go, Guillermo, thank you for that.
ANDERSON: Where's the storm at the moment, where's it headed, and where's it expected to hit landfall first?
ARDUINO: Landfall first is on -- in North Carolina, and we're talking about the eastern North Carolina and the cape area. We're talking about tomorrow morning. And then -- then it exits and goes back into the water, and then comes back into the land one day later.
We have it right now here by the Georgia coast, but it's far away from it, so we don't expect any impact in here or South Carolina. But you see that the geography turns so North Carolina is very soon going to see in hours only hurricane force winds.
ANDERSON: Good stuff. All right, Guillermo, thank you for that. Guillermo Arduino for you at the International Weather Center.
Well, we've seen the damage, of course, and Guillermo's been telling us about the economic impact of all of this potentially, and we want to move on, now, with the show and bring you -- well, you know what? I'm going to take you to Libya, I think.
We're going to move on from this story because Libya, of course, the other big story that we've been following for you. The civil war has seen its share of heroes, and one of them is a 17-year-old boy who risked his life to fight for his nation's freedom. Up next, his remarkable story in his own words.
ANDERSON: All right, let's go to Libya for you, shall we? Rebels still scouring the capital Tripoli in their hunt for leader Moammar Gadhafi. So far, though, they have come up empty-handed, and they've met fierce resistance from some of his supporters.
Sporadic fighting does continue in parts of Tripoli, with Gadhafi loyalists launching mortars and rockets at the rebel-controlled airport. You see the pictures there of the burning jets at that airport.
CNN's Arwa Damon is there, she joins us now with more on the fighting there. Arwa?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky. But compared to what we were seeing 24 hours ago, even compared to what we were seeing this morning, it has so far been relatively quiet here at the Tripoli International Airport.
And that is coming as something of a relief to all of these fighters, because although they do feel that victory is close, they are exhausted. And we had the opportunity earlier today to sit down with one of these young men.
DAMON: So, Louie, you're 17.
LOUIE AL-ZINATNI, 17-YEAR-OLD REBEL FIGHTER: Yes.
DAMON: And you're going to be going to university soon, and you want to study political science. Why?
ZINATNI: Why? I want to be an ambassador. I want to be a -- I want to do something for my people, for my country. I like the peace. I don't like war, killing people.
DAMON: So, what made you decide to pick up a gun, carry a gun, and join the fight?
ZINATNI: Because if you didn't kill him, he will kill -- he will kill you. He will kill you.
DAMON: Have you seen a lot of gun battles? Have you been in many firefights?
ZINATNI: Yes. Yes. A lot of them. I don't like killing people, but I -- but when I have to do that, I will do that to rescue my people from them.
DAMON: What has been the most difficult thing for you that you've seen during all of this?
ZINATNI: I saw in Tripoli, I saw in Misrata, I saw in many places dead, the children, dead people. A lot of victims.
DAMON: Do you have nightmares?
ZINATNI: Not yet.
ZINATNI: Do you think about what you've seen a lot?
ZINATNI: Yes. Yes. All the time.
DAMON: The fight here at the Tripoli International Airport is still continuing.
DAMON: What is the first thing that you're going to do eventually when it's all over? What's the first thing you want to do?
ZINATNI: Sure, I'm going up to see my mother, I'm going to see my family, and we -- I'm going to move this gun from my hands. It's not for me.
DAMON: And Becky, many of the young fighters are telling us that they cannot wait to return to a civilian life, a life that they're going to have to wait until the fight here is actually over.
ANDERSON: Yes, remarkable stuff, Arwa. How much control have the rebels been able to assert in the surrounding area?
DAMON: Well, the senior rebel commander is here telling us that to the east -- and that is where, if you'll remember, the bulk of the artillery grad rockets are being fired from -- they have managed to push Gadhafi loyalists back, at least for the time being.
The challenge they still face is that the loyalists are still using, they're telling us, civilian populations as their cover when it comes to the chunk of highway that runs from the Tripoli airport north to the capital.
They have managed to advance on that. They've reached a military installation that was used by Gadhafi forces to refuel. They've managed to begin clearing it of weapons, so they are making some gains, but they do still realize that, at least in these areas, they're still facing a fairly significant challenge from the Gadhafi loyalists.
ANDERSON: All right. Arwa Damon's at the airport for you. Let's move further into Tripoli, the district of Abu Salim is relatively quiet after Thursday's fighting, and as the dust settles, the scope of savagery of the conflict is becoming much clearer.
Alex Thomson visited a hospital there, and I've got to warn you, there are some really distressing images in his report, but do, if you think you can stomach it, watch.
ALEX THOMSON, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): Yesterday, the rebels said they'd take this place from Colonel Gadhafi's last loyalist snipers. And they did.
THOMSON: Prisoners emerging from this chaotic fighting.
THOMSON: And some reports that some such prisoners were killed before they had a chance to be dealt with properly.
THOMSON: We spoke exclusively to the rebel commander who's led much of the fighting in Tripoli.
THOMSON (on camera): Do you think that the remaining Gadhafi forces will give up soon in Tripoli? Will they surrender soon?
ABDUL HAKIN BEL-HAJ, COMMANDER, MILITARY COUNCIL (through translator): I think so. They have no choice but to surrender or die. If anybody is still with Gadhafi, we tell them now to surrender and give up their weapons. No other choice. The war is over, and we deal with these small groups of gangsters.
THOMSON (voice-over): And that dealing comes with great human cost.
Abu Salim hospital today and the last injured, bewildered, terrified patients are being evacuated by the Red Cross.
BRIDGET COMNINO, INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS: We are just helping these hospitals to evacuate their wounded.
THOMSON (on camera): What are conditions like?
COMNINO: They are dreadful. The conditions are dreadful.
THOMSON (voice-over): Patients thanking God that the Red Cross had delivered them from the hell that was this hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are all Muslim. Why do they kill fellow Muslims? Why? Why? Thank you, God. Thank God that I found some people to help us.
THOMSON (voice-over): Nearby in the hospital grounds, 22 human corpses, two women, two children, but most were men of fighting age.
Inside, a horror beyond description. We can't show you what's really in here. Bloodstained beds, smears of blood trailing along the corridors, the flies, and corpses everywhere. Fighters, civilians, all ages, just left.
Here's one room, Colonel Gadhafi smiling down at a room full of Libyan corpses. All of this from the recent battle for Abu Salim.
A fighter shot the door off the basement here.
And there, scores more bodies from previous fighting.
THOMSON (on camera): What we've seen here this morning is the Red Cross evacuation of the last few wounded people leaving Abu Salim hospital as one vast and chaotic mortuary. There are bodies everywhere, mostly men of fighting age, but I have seen two bodies of children, and I've counted at least 75 thus far.
THOMSON (voice-over): There is no doubt that the anti-Gadhafi rebels have prevailed at Abu Salim, but today in this awful place, we saw at what cost.
ANDERSON: Alex Thomson reporting for you.
Well, the focus, of course, has been on Tripoli. The Gadhafi regime still controls some parts of this country. Tripoli up here.
Take a look at this map, though. Rebels say they now control about 80 percent of the capital, while the regime is gearing up now to get into Sirte. They're coming from this direction and from this direction.
That, of course, is the hometown of Gadhafi. NATO warplanes pounding the regime stronghold on Thursday.
The regime also controls the city of Sabha, which is there, it's the southern part of the country. Opposition forces controlling Zawiya and now add key cities to the east all the way along to the Egyptian border.
Well, for months, supplies were a huge problem for the rebels. The fighters often lacked water, food, and especially fuel. Well now, it appears the rebels have solved those problems. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen reporting that fuel trucks are on hand and an efficient resupply operation now, at least, never far behind at the front line.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As heavy fighting rages between the rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces in eastern Libya, the action behind the front line is almost as intense.
Fueling the offensive near Ras Lanuf, an important oil terminal, rebels brought in a tanker truck to keep their operation going.
"We have several trucks here throughout the day, and we can fill about 400 cars with that fuel," the men tell us.
And the gas is more important than ever as the rebels try to keep up the tempo, trying to reach Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, about 150 miles away.
PLEITGEN (on camera): One tanker truck can fill up dozens of these vehicles, which then are going to head to the front line. For a long time, it was very difficult for the rebels to get enough fuel to keep their operations going, but now they say they've solved that problem, and yet, logistics are absolutely essential to their campaign against Moammar Gadhafi's forces.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): A lack of fuel and weapons has stopped previous rebel advances on the eastern front and near Misrata, but now the rebels say gasoline is being trucked in from Egypt and is also coming into ports in rebel-controlled areas, as well, as their logistics have become more professional in every respect, they say.
SAIF AL NASSIR, LOGISTICS CHIEF (through translator): "Trucks bring hundreds of meals to the front line, at least six vehicles each day," the logistics chief tells us. "We don't buy any of the food. All of it is donated by regular people," he says.
PLEITGEN: And some of those who donate have a special cause. Jamal Boghedba says his brother was killed by pro-Gadhafi forces. His picture is on the truck Boghdeba uses to haul ice to the front line for the fighters.
JAMAL BOGHEDBA, LOGISTICS HELPER (through translator): My message to Moammar Gadhafi is that you are no longer in power. We are in power. We are the force of Libya.
PLEITGEN: And as that force tries to advance towards Sirte, the trucks that trundle back and forth will feed and fuel the war effort.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Ras Lanuf, Libya.
ANDERSON: You're with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. It is 54 minutes past 9:00 in London. Up next, inside Gadhafi's tunnels. We get a look below Tripoli and make some fascinating discoveries. That is up next.
ANDERSON: Fascinating clues have emerged about how Moammar Gadhafi managed to avoid capture and keep in touch with his supporters over the period of time when he was effectively in hiding.
CNN's Sara Sidner took a look inside what is -- or was, at least -- the dictator's bunker. Have a look at this.
SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't know what we might encounter in here, and it's very, very dark. But this is Gadhafi's inner sanctum.
Take off my hat, here. There's no reason to have this on because these are really thick walls.
Check out this massive door with this incredibly sturdy lock. You can also see the communications here. This is set up like a survival bunker, and that's exactly -- I think -- what the plan was.
This is incredible. There is literally a city under here. But you can see, wow. Obviously, NATO bombed just there. You can see that there's a huge hole in the roof. But actually, if we were to pop our heads out there, there's dirt there.
This is part of the TV studio. He even has professional videotapes there. So, you're seeing the professional tapes here, so obviously these are where some of his messages are recorded.
And there's tons of them. I mean, look, 90-minute ones. This whole place is filled with some of Gadhafi's recordings. It'd be interesting to see what's on them.
Where we're going now, supposedly, takes us to the House of Resistance, where you'll see a sign of Gadhafi's fist like this right in front of the home. It's a very famous place. Everyone knows it. But the guards are getting spooked that are with us. The opposition says let's get -- let's get out of here.
They believe these tunnels go all the way to the airport and all the way to the Rixos Hotel. They just have not had the time to go all the way through them.
Just to get an idea of how big it is, this is a golf cart. And obviously, it can fit all the way down these corridors. So, I'm sure it was used to -- because this place is so big -- to get back and forth.
This is how you get out on this section. It'll be interesting to see exactly where this leads to. And we have popped up just in front of the House of Resistance.
ANDERSON: Amazing stuff, isn't it? I'm Becky Anderson, thank you for watching. We're going to leave you with scenes from the week in Libya, where there is some cause for celebration for the rebels, but the fight and the hunt for Gadhafi continues.
The world news headlines here on CNN and "BackStory" will follow this short break. Don't go away.