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East River Topping its Banks Now; Tropical Winds Hitting New York

Aired August 28, 2011 - 08:00   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's picked up in the last few minutes, Anderson, but not serious yet.

So, the issue we have to concern ourselves with is this, you can see, in fact, look at this -- some kind of pole has found its way into the East River and bobbing right by the surface. I can probably lean over and grab it.

But for all intents and purposes, this river is just a few inches. It's topping ass waves coming, it's starting to top it. This is a problem for us.

So, while the winds aren't there, the rain has started to pick up. Jacqui and those folks can tell us about how serious that is, but the East River is definitely about to top its banks and come into Lower Manhattan, Anderson.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Anderson is coming to next. But I have --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Rob Marciano, let's see if he can hear us. Here's in Long Beach where obviously they're seeing some intense wave right now as the winds are picking up the water right there.

Rob, can you hear us? What's the situation?

MARCIANO: I can't hear the program, so just tell me when to go.

COOPER: OK. Obviously -- Rob, can you hear us?

MARCIANO: Anderson, here in Long Beach, the situation remains the same. The winds actually, if anything, have picked up since we last (INAUDIBLE). Irene continues to roll this way.

Irene is still a hurricane, although you would describe it as a minimal hurricane. Let me tell you something, I've been in a lot of minimal hurricanes, and it's a still a hurricane. We're taking damage on the boardwalk right now as water continues to fall in.

It's tough to see with the connection, but those winds are massive. That surf is absolutely pounding the shoreline and has completely wiped out the man made berm they put up to protect this hotel, this boardwalk and that town. And we'll walk this way and show you the lifeguard building that's been -- the headquarters there for I don't know how many years completely ripped away from the foundation and now pinned against the boardwalk there. Underneath the boardwalk, that water is not supposed to be there. That's a good waist deep, and the wind continues to push it north into the town.

As I look throughout the town, as far as the eye I can see, the streets are flooded. Not only flooded but flooded with waves on top of the water. So surf in parts of the town here in Long Beach.

Over a quarter of million people without power across Long Island. And the winds and waves continue to increase Irene makes its way towards the beaches on the south shore of Long Island.

COOPER: So, Rob, how big were those berms they made on the beach that you said are now completely gone?

We're having a problem with Rob. Let's check in with Jacqui Jeras.

Jacqui, have we gotten the update, the 8:00 advisory?

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we did. We just got the advisory, and it's still a hurricane, Anderson. Seventy-five-mile- per-hour, maximum sustained from the hurricane center.

I'll go ahead and say I'm a little bit surprised to see that as we'd had a lot of trouble finding any of that ground truths so to speak, and finding some of those winds that strong perhaps to getting some of those offshore. So, it's still a threat and we're expecting to see some pretty bad conditions in the next couple hours, 40 miles away from New York City, that's where the center of the storm is right now, and the big burst of rain that I was talking about, Anderson, this has shifted a little further of to the west.

So, this has gone over towards the Hudson and over into New Jersey, and heading up towards the Fort Lee area, that's where the most intense winds are going to be from there.

But take note, you know, the winds are strong near that center, and where Rob is, here is Long Beach. You're not seeing much rain right now, but we have the strong east wind that continued to come in here, and that is going to continue -- the water is going to continue to pileup as it pushes up into that area, with that tide coming in and in addition to that, the water is going to be remaining high.

We're talking about a good two hours that you will continue to see the high water. The winds are going to be switching in from the other direction and then we'll start to see that begin to go down.

So, still threats for New York City. Winds could still get stronger. They're going to come in gusts. They're going to come in bursts, so be prepared for that. You don't want to go outside if you are feeling that little bit of a lull or not because you never know when the next wave is coming through, bring in the thunderstorms, bring in those downpours and perhaps bring some debris or some flying trees and leaves and branches and things like that into that area.

This is the big picture. And something to keep in mind -- we got to talk about what is going on here across the Northeast. Look how big the storm is. Seriously, Anderson, I never have seen a wind field in a hurricane this big. I mean, we're talking about 300 outward miles, 320 miles. That's how far the tropical storm force winds extend from the center of the storm.

Now, that could extend all the way from the east to the west, we don't know for sure. Generally, the worst of the winds in that right front quadrant of the storm. So, this is now really baring down into parts of the Northeast, into Connecticut, into Massachusetts, and we got some of those outer bans which are going to continue to push through there, and that's why we have the tornado watch, which is in effect.

This includes you in Long Island, up towards Connecticut, into Rhode Island, including Providence because these outer bans are going to continue to push in from here the east. We get those little spinouts.

Now we had two I think that have caused damage in the last 24 hours. They're weak. They happened quick. So, as soon as that warning goes off, you need to take cover and you should be in an interior part of your house as you head through that for today as well.

Lots of flooding. When we think about Irene, that's going to be the bottom storm, Anderson. It's going to be a lot of rivers coming out of their banks. We heard from Don earlier about all of them coming out of your banks in the Philadelphia area as we speak.

COOPER: And, Jacqui, at 6:00 when you and I were talking, this storm was moving about 17 miles an hour. Is it still around that?

JERAS: No, it's faster. It's more like 20, 25 miles per hour. So, this is accelerating. It's picking up a little bit of forward speed. That's the good news. Maybe we could be talking about five to 10 inches of rain instead of six to 12 inches on the range.

It should continue to accelerate a little bit and that's why we're seeing these bad conditions in New York City now at 8:00 as supposed to say 10:00 to 12:00. More like what we were thinking yesterday. So, it's picking up a little bit.

COOPER: Yes, it's amazing how this is happening a lot sooner than we anticipated last night, how it changed even at this late hour. Jacqui, we'll continue to check in with you.

The bottom line, the headline at this hour, it is still a hurricane, still a category one hurricane, not a tropical storm, and that's a big piece of news right there.

Let's check in with John King who is in Long Beach.

John, so this is still a hurricane. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a hurricane, Anderson. We're on the boardwalk in Long Beach, and I was showing you earlier when I just have the stream box up, we have our cameras set up right now, and I'm going to ask jerry to pan over this way a bit.

You're asking Rob earlier about those berms. This sand berm here is about five feet high. It's supposed to come up level with the boardwalk. Well, it did extend that way, and it extended all the way across and it was there an hour ago. An hour ago inside here was dry. And you could see the waves have just shattered the sand berm here. Others further up the beach this way, and other up there.

And the water now is flowing and you can see down through the cracks of the boardwalk flowing out the other way.

I'm going to ask Jerry to turn all the way around and come this way, and you can see the water flowing into the streets of Long Beach. The far street out there was dry an hour ago, and that water is now between ankle and calf deep. You see the officer at the end of the road, the streets in the low-lying areas, they go up and down. If you go just to the left, the water gets deeper and deeper.

If you come back here toward the water -- Jerry, turn around this way -- you can see the waves coming in. Jacqui was talking about the power of the water. The winds picked up significantly. The waves are wiping out the sand along here. You get out there and the winds just in the last hour picked up quite a bit.

The question is there's still power in most of the town and we see some oddest damage out in the streets, and the question is it's high tide now and right around now and the storm is still coming and how much more of this water will flow into the community? And again as it hits the barrier here in Long Island, if this weather makes it toward your way in the more populated areas, how significant will the flooding be, how significant will power outages be and how significant will the property damage be?

We're just beginning to get a sense here now as the winds pick up, of significant street flooding. The question is how long will the rain keep coming and how deep will the waters get, Anderson?

COOPER: John, it's really -- you can hear the wind on your phone or in your microphone, and it's such a big difference from the way it is here in sort of the center of Manhattan. Any sense of how strong the winds are there?

KING: It's hard to get a sense, but I can tell you this morning when we first came out there, it was in the 30s, and that was at 5:00 a.m., and I would say they are now twice as hard in the sense that this morning I had no problem standing in them, and now in the normal wind, you have to brace yourself.

When the gusts come you get moved a little bit, and you have to get into the crouch which I know you are familiar with. And if you lean toward it, if I turn toward it, it's pretty significant. I just turn around, you can watch the impact on you when it comes in. That's -- what you are asking for it if you do that, they're definitely now here I would say gusting at least in the 60s and probably significantly higher than that.

I wish I could give you a better sense, but it is dramatically in the past hour, significantly from 5:00 a.m. and even in the past hour, not only the winds picked up quite a bit but the rain coming in more or less horizontal. And again, you see the erosion and the damage and the contingency efforts they made here, and you can see the water flowing into the streets of Long Beach.

COOPER: And Rob Marciano is also out in Long Beach for us.

Rob, do you feel a lot of wind gusts? Or, I mean, the wind pretty constant?

MARCIANO: Yes, it's constant. The only time I don't feel it as constant as you would think is when I am standing with this protective building.

It's just constant. This is sustained, and it's at 50 miles per hour, OK? And we're getting close to hurricane strength at this point. The waves are just absolutely unbelievable. The power of the ocean right now, we have an astronomical high tide happening right now. We've got a storm surge that is timing with the landfall of Irene happening right now. That combination has completely wiped out the berm --

COOPER: Ali Velshi is standing by at Pier 17. Rob, I got to jump in.

Our Ali Velshi is standing by at pier 17.

Ali, what's been going on?

VELSHI: I won't even say it to you, Anderson, I'll just show it to you. The East River has now topped its banks in Lower Manhattan. The East River is coming over the banks. In fact, it's suddenly calmed down, and the wind is calmed down and you don't see it coming up in surges, but you can see it right there, there is the East River coming into Lower Manhattan, about 50 yards north me, right here, Brooklyn Bridge, right underneath there, there was push, the water is actually pushing up between the boardwalk.

If you are walking on it, the East River, and this is tidal estuary, this is saltwater. This is part of the ocean, and it's coming over right now.

This is not the lowest part in Manhattan. As you go further down toward the tip of Manhattan, you cannot see the tip but you can see the buildings, that's the tip of Manhattan. That's lower, and around the corner is Battery Park City, and that's lower.

So, this problem that we were concerned about water come into Manhattan, even though here it doesn't feel like what Rob and John are feeling, the winds are not that high and the rain is sustained but it's not that bad. This is the problem. We now have the East River has broken its banks in Lower Manhattan. This was the fear that the authorities had in New York. It's particularly large fear with respect to electricity because most of New York's electrical cables are underground. We had seen the water recede, we are now seeing it start to top its banks.

I'll keep a very close eye on this to see how serious it gets. But Lower Manhattan now starting to flood -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Ali, there are a lot of businesses around South Street Seaport, a lot of shops. It's a big tourist area, restaurants. I mean, are they sandbagged? What preparation that they made there?

VELSHI: Everything is shut down. There had been some small efforts at sandbagging. They don't look like they will hold anything back. This is a low area -- not only is it low, but you are seeing me at the shore here. But, in fact, as you go in about a block or block and a half, the land is actually a little lower.

So, the issue is whether this is going to cause the storm drains which were pushing up already to push up higher. But this is now getting quite consistent. As you can see it, you now see the East River now blowing right on to land.

This area that I am in will be flooded within the next few minutes. With each gust and each gale and each surge, more and more water is coming in here.

There are some tourists, by the way, Anderson. I haven't seen people all morning. People are out here. They're not tourists. They're locals, but they are in their rain. They're taking a look at it. They want to see what it looks like for the river to come in.

You have the East River here. You've got the harbor and then you've got the Hudson River and where they meet is the most serious point and that's about half a mile down from where I am right now.

COOPER: How far has the water come -- I can't see your picture obviously from where I am. I don't have return. But how far has the water come in? Is it just lapping over? Is it constant?

VELSHI: It's lapping over. Yes, it's lapping over. I am right at the beach. So, right now, I'm right at the edge of the river where typically you'd look over and you'd have four feet before the river.

The river is now absolutely level with the shore. You can see it's absolutely level with the sidewalk.

So, it's lapping over. Every time a gust of wind comes over and the chop has picked up now, and it's coming over.

A little bit further north, there's a boardwalk. If you are walking on the boardwalk, you would get it splashed up towards you.

So, it's moving in with some speed. No danger just yet. But anything lower than where I'm right now, and there are parts of Manhattan that are lower than me are going to start to get inundated.

COOPER: Ali, I got to say, we're also seeing serious flooding now in Brooklyn.

Let's go now to our affiliate WCBS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This would be certainly a bad location. And now, I'm passing the Holocaust Memorial Park, and the banks are overflowing here, too. And, obviously, I hope for so many reasons there's very little damage, I pray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to make a quick right now that we have a light onto Emmans (ph) and you'll be able to see a little more vividly exactly what we're talking about here. This is Sheepshead Bay, and can you see how the wind is combing with the surge to push water over the embankment here, and it's splashing out of the bay, and it's starting to flood the streets here in Sheepshead Bay and there in Manhattan beach.

Marty, what do you make of this as we drive around?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, I hope there will be minimum damage and the surge ends soon. Irene, you spent enough time here, bye-bye, and time to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Irene, they want you out of Brooklyn by order of the borough president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time to go and you made your point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we are in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn now. We are watching the waters of Sheepshead Bay spill out on the streets. A number of these restaurants on this side of the street are getting some very significant flooding in their facilities, and the police are doing a great job cruising up and down Emmans here trying to keep people from stopping, from gawking.

Mr. Borough President, what do you make of the traffic that we're seeing? We're seeing an occasional private vehicle, but most people are staying home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and people are in their home and this would be a very, very busy day here in Sheepshead bay, with all the restaurants and Randazzo's, some of the other great locations here. And I'm sorry they're going to lose business but hopefully they will make up for it next week, Labor Day weekend.

But in the meantime, let's hope the damage is minimal and we get back to our lives, ASAP.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the borough president, Marty Markowitz, in mobile 2, Tony Aiello, CBS 2 News.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Tony, thank you very much. A waterlogged Brooklyn, waterlogged New York City, waterlogged tri-state area. Let's take you downtown in Manhattan down by Battery Park City.

Scott Rappaport is there, and the big concern is the storm surge, Scott.

COOPER: All right. So, let's just recap now. This is still is serious hurricane, still a category 1 hurricane at this point. There had been some thought that given the -- some of the conditions we're seeing in Manhattan which are not a severe, some of the worst concerns had been this might be a tropical storm. It's not as of the 8:00 a.m. advisory, it is still a very serious storm, a category 1 storm. There have been fatalities.

Now we're watching -- we're starting to see the East River starting to lap over its banks, starting to top its banks and come into -- water starting to come into Manhattan a little bit. Around the South Street Seaport area, you are also seeing flooding in Brooklyn. The rain is now intensified somewhat here around Washington Square Park and throughout Manhattan. We're not seeing the heavy winds inside Manhattan, but again, their story at this hour really is along the low-lying areas, along those areas by the weather's edge, we're really starting to see some heavy winds, starting to see the water come in.

There has been a heavy police presence on the street as dawn has come now and as the rain is anticipated to stay over the city for some 12 hours. Big concerns about what that means in terms of street flooding, also flooding into peoples' homes.

Rob Marciano is standing by -- or Mary Snow is just reporting river breaching. Is Mary available? Can we get to get to her? That Battery Park City -- OK, we're working on going to Mary Snow. She's reporting that there has been some breaching there, some flooding there from the water in Battery Park. That's the lowest part of Manhattan. That's about two miles south of my location right here.

Rob Marciano is still in Long Beach for him. I believe we have him.

Rob, are you still seeing the very sustained strong winds, yes?

We're having trouble making contact with Rob Marciano.

Is Jacqui Jeras standing by?

Mary Snow is down in Battery Park.

Mary Snow, what are you seeing there?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the Hudson River has gone over its banks. And, you know, this high tide. There had been a fear of a storm surge of four to eight feet.

So far, I mean, this is flooding, yes, but it's under a foot. We have been seeing the waters rising over the past half hour or 20 minutes or so and this is really the low-lying area that the city was very concerned about. You might say this is the entrance to the ferries that go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

But, you know, in stark contrast to what we're hearing in other locations, we still really aren't feeling very heavy winds, or the kinds of winds that I had been anticipating hearing these reports. Again, it's still to early to say how high the waters will rise.

But again really officials had been warning about a storm surge of four to eight feet. They knew when there was high tide, there would be some flooding again. It's really right now there is not a foot of flooding so far.

COOPER: So, Mary, there -- is there water by your feet now? I mean, you're on the ground. Is there actually water covering your feet?

SNOW: Yes. Yes, there is several inches of water, and water has come over the banks. You can see it now. It is covering part of this. We had been standing here all day yesterday. It was clear.

This was anticipated that there would be flooding at high tide. And it just really started happening within the last 20 minutes or so when high tide arrived. But, you know, again, we're still not feeling very strong winds down here.

COOPER: Right. I don't have a return, so I can't see your picture, but obviously our viewers can. It does seem like the rain right now have intensified in the last few minutes in our location. I assume it's the same down by Battery Park.

How far does that water -- how far as it come down through the park? Is it just at the water's edge?

SNOW: It has -- the rain -- yes, the rain has intensified. We have felt that. The rain has not -- the flooding, I should say, is inside the park. It has not yet spilled out into the streets of Lower Manhattan as far as we can tell so far. So, it seems pretty contained right now in the park along the Hudson River at the tip of Lower Manhattan.

COOPER: And there is still power in the surrounding buildings, correct? Because there had been some concern or thought if there was extensive flooding, Con Edison might shut down power in anticipation of the flooding, or in concern over what affect the flooding might have.

SNOW: Yes, in fact, we ran into a building manager of a building right down here. He told us last night that he was told that power would be cut in his building. We just ran into him and he said that did not happen. So the buildings still have power.

COOPER: That is certainly good news. Obviously when you are living in high-rise buildings, when the elevator shuts down, it's obviously a big inconvenience to have to use the stairs, so there have been concerns about neighborhoods kind of losing power or, as I said, Con Ed shutting down the power in anticipation of flowing. So down where Mary, down in Battery Park, which was an area we had been looking at that area closely and very concern about, there is water in Battery Park, but Mary is not sure how far it's in, and they still have power in that area.

And, Mary, of course, for our viewers for watching elsewhere and not from New York, Ground Zero is very close to your location?

SNOW: It is very close to the location. In fact, I can see it from here. And, you know, that was a big concern, Anderson, over these past couple of days. And because of all the construction going on, and the cranes that were there, they were secured. They lowered yesterday, and we saw crews working late into the night, almost around 11:00 when we passed there last night, there were still workers there securing that location.

COOPER: Let's check in with Ali Velshi at the South Street Seaport where -- Ali, where is the water now?

VELSHI: It's still -- it's coming over. It's lapping over a little more than when I last spoke to you. So, I will tell you what happens now. It lapse over and there's a boardwalk here which is inclined toward the -- back towards the river. So, it hasn't lapped over the incline and into that sidewalk into the streets.

But as you know from where you are, Anderson, the rain is intensifying here, feeling a little bit more wing. Now, I'm around the bend from where Mary Snow is, right? Mary Snow is at the southwest side of Manhattan, and we're about a mile away on the east side.

The East River has overflowed. Our producer, Ross Arce (ph), with Soledad O'Brien, says that up near the meat packing district, a little higher in Manhattan, they are seeing water about a block into the city.

We had already seen some water here that was further in, but it did not correspond to the East River overflowing, it was the storm drains that were backing up.

So, the combination of the East River overflowing into here, and then those storm drains backing up could cause some problems for us in Lower Manhattan. Just to give you a sense, a f perspective for where I am -- I know you know it well, and Pier 17 is the South Street Seaport. This is the East River across. I don't know how much of our viewers can get over there, but that's Brooklyn where we are seeing flooding on that side of the East River as well.

The Brooklyn Bridge right here, remind people that the Hudson River is a fresh water river that flows into the ocean, the East River is a title estuary. So, we are at high tide right now. We were expecting this to be the worst that would get if it doesn't get too much rain here than it is nw.

But as you and I have been discussing, and you heard from Jacqui Jeras, it looked like it was as bad as it was going to get and then we got the new band of rain in here. At the moment, the East River is lapping fairly pretty over its banks, up through the boardwalk. But it has not started making its way into the streets of Lower Manhattan just yet, Anderson.

COOPER: That's certainly good news. That is certainly good news. Ali, stay with us.

I want to check in with Rob Marciano.

Rob, how extensive is the flooding out in Long Beach?

MARCIANO: The flooding is just intensifying, Anderson. The street flooding continues to lift. The water is rising for sure.

And check out the surf. I mean, that has not subsided at all. It has only intensified, as have the winds which continue to blow steadily out of the east and easily 50, sustained, slightly higher than that, higher than that gusting -- difficult, difficult to stand up.

The surf now has completely wiped out whatever protective berm they tried to build over the past couple days. To answer your question and point it out, this water continues to pour in underneath the boardwalk. So, that's been breached, and continues to pour in to downtown Long Beach with wave action on top of that.

So, I would suspect that there are homes now that are being flooded. The hotel we were staged at has seen their lower lobby flooded out as well. So, the streets are being flooded, some homes likely being flooded, certainly some businesses are being flooded -- and the surge not quitting anytime soon.

We've got high tide happening now. We have not really gotten an onshore push or onshore flow. Even when the storm passes us later on this morning and this afternoon, Anderson, we're going to get the backside of the thing, and I don't think the water is going down anytime soon.

So, as we feared at this time, the storm surge and the street flooding is going to be the issue here, and not only in Nassau County, but I'm guessing up in Suffolk County as well. They're having similar issues.

Back over to you.

COOPER: Yes, no doubt, Suffolk County is going to be affected. The sound side and also the southern side on the ocean is going to be affected it.

Let's check in with Jacqui Jeras.

You know, Jacqui, I think a lot of folks maybe watching us who are living in New York kind of wondering how bad it is in excuse me -- in Manhattan. And they will think maybe they should go outside and walk around even though it's not -- I mean, (a), this is still a hurricane, a category 1 storm. If you don't have to be outside, there's no reason to go outside. JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No.

COOPER: I mean, it's not miserable out here. It's not a sideways rain yet, but a driving, pouring rain, that is -- it's going to be a very uncomfortable day all day today in New York City. Where is the storm now? What does it looks like, Jacqui?

JERAS: It's it's very close to you right now, Anderson. In fact, let's swap it over here so I can show you what we call the velocity mode on our Doppler radar here. Sarah, if you can do that for me.

And this will show you right here, this is where the center of the storm is. So, here's Sandy Hook, New Jersey, is right here. And here is New York City. There you can see the Bronx over here. And there is the center of circulation.

Wow, it just popped up to the north even further. This thing is moving very, very quickly. It's rushing about 25 miles per hour, and there you can see the center of the storm. So, it does looks like it could pass just to the east of New York City, and Manhattan, where you are, Anderson.

So, the worst of the storm is coming in now in terms of the storm surge, that's where we're going to see the height of it. It's reliant on where the thunderstorms develop and redevelop around the center of the storm and how much wind that you're going to be getting there in New York. So, that's why we're seeing the big rush of the water at this time. We'll switch it over now and show you the tide gauge out of Battery Park.

We were hearing from Mary Snow about how high that water has gotten there. This is the tide gauge. What this is going to show you here, this red line is what we have been doing. So, there you see it following with high and low tide, and this is where we're peaking out right now.

And if you do the math and go across, about 8.6 feet, that's what we have seen so far. That's, you know, above sea level, but it's only about 3 1/2 feet or so above normal tide.

The other thing, notice, as you take a good look at this, see how that line is starting to flatten out. So, we are peaking as we speak. We told you earlier this morning, we think the worst of the storm surge is going to be between 7:00 and 9:00. Unfortunately, that's all been coinciding with that high tide.

So, that water is higher than it would be than, say, if this happens just a couple of hours from now, which is what we were hoping for and coinciding with low tides. So, we're going to see that stay pretty high here for maybe another or so, and then starting to back off a little bit. But we've got a lot of water in there and it's going to take sometime for it to recede.

I just want to show you, that's Google Earth and here is Lower Manhattan, and this is going to show you, these are the evacuation zones. So that's what you've got in the orange.

And so all of these people who live in this area where some of this water could be reaching into have been evacuated. So they're not there, at least not in the lower levels, and that's the good news.

So while some of this is -- it's not quite as bad as what we were expecting, this is happening, that water is rising, those winds are strong in many, many areas. So we've got a lot of threats still to go, certainly with Irene. It's not done yet, Category 1, 75 miles- per-hour.

We also need to focus in a little bit on what's going on up here in the parts of New England; we've got this tornado threat, this watch in effect until 11:00. It includes you and Providence over towards Hartford, and we're going to see a lot of flooding, so much rain five to eight inches easily. We could see up to a foot in some areas. Rivers are going to be out of their banks for days and days -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And Jacqui Jeras, I appreciate that. We're going to take a short break, and check in right now actually before we take a break, let's listen in to WCBS and their coverage.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, I'm not sure about the delay, but what a difference an hour makes. I mean, its calm right now, it's actually started to clear up a little bit. But look at all the damage, the debris on the Boardwalk. I mean, look at all of this on here. It's what washed away from the ocean.

I want to just pan over to these impressive waves. They are absolutely incredible. I would say 20 feet high. Look at this and just unbelievable. I haven't seen it like this in a long time. Look at all this plywood and all the debris down here.

Oddly enough I was just speaking to the owner of the Boardwalk and he tells me they don't think they took such a bad hit after all.

Jimmy, our photographer (INAUDIBLE), we're going to walk over here and we're actually going to toss over to the -- we're going to walk over to the owner of the Boardwalk Gary Matola (ph) and just let him assess the damage here in Asbury Park, because, you know, it's not as bad as they thought.

Hey Gary, thank you so much for joining us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're looking around, I see this fence that literally, actually we were here when it lifted and just came flying this way.

MATOLA: Well, the wind was pretty amazing. Some of the debris is all over the place. But we made it through pretty well. All of our buildings are intact, nothing is flooded, the convention all survived, so we're -- so far we're crossing our fingers, and happy that we've done as well as we have.

Although -- although we encourage people just to stay away, there's flying debris and there is a curfew. So people should not come to the beach or the Boardwalk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I think is nice about Asbury Park is that you have a lot of new buildings. You have hurricane windows there that really help the city. Actually the plywood would have been dangerous on the outside.

MATOLA: Yes that's correct. We did not plywood our building because the hurricane glass will withstand the force of a 2 by 4 --


COOPER: And let's check in with our Ali Velshi where the water is starting to come in around South Street Seaport. Ali what's it look like?

VELSHI: Yes just actually now it was lapping last time I told you about it Anderson, and now it's fully level. The river and the -- the riverbank are now one, a lot of water coming in. And I would say, Anderson, that we probably need another good four or five inches of this before it starts to inundate the streets.

But I just went back into the streets where I'd seen storm sewers backing up, I'd seen that recede about half an hour ago. They are back up now and they're -- they're shooting water out of the storm sewers.

So now a block from me, we've got one road that is impassable. We now fully -- and our viewers can see this. I mean, this is -- this is the river -- the river is now completely on to the Boardwalk here, about 50 yards further, it's coming up like Rob said, right through the Boardwalk, right through the bottom of it.

So the fact is it's out here. We've got some people walking around and trying to get a sense of what it's like out here. It doesn't feel serious, because we've got a similar rain to what you have. You're just a little north of me and west Anderson. So, it's heavy rain. I would call this a good storm. But there is certainly no sense of wind around here.

But when you look at the chop on the east river, you get -- definitely get a sense of something is happening. The water is coming in substantially more forcefully, we have a Con Edison drain -- you know drain cover about half a block from here, I looked into that and that's filling up. That's a great concern because New York's power lines are underground.

New York doesn't suffer from the fact that a tree falls on a power lines and cuts power. All our power lines like the subways are all underneath and that's a problem for power. We still -- I am still seeing power on around me. So we have not seen a loss of power here; a lot of police vehicles and Con Edison vehicles in this part of New York.

And again, people walking around. It doesn't seem harmful out here, it doesn't feel harmful, but this east bank -- the East River has topped its banks and is getting higher and higher every few minutes. It's now -- I would say given another few minutes and -- and it will start to move in to the streets of Manhattan and we'll have some flooding on this side.

I know around the corner about a mile from here where Mary Snow is, they're already seeing it move in and on the Hudson riverside they are seeing it move in. So lower Manhattan is -- is getting some flooding -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes it's interesting now we can actually see some people walking around with umbrellas. So there's not enough wind that --


VELSHI: Right.

COOPER: -- that you can't use an umbrella.

But again, if you can stay indoors there's really no reason to be coming outside. It is just miserable out here and -- and it is going to be like this for hours --



COOPER: -- many, many hours. We're anticipating 12 hours at least of rain. Although, the storm is moving quicker than -- than -- that it had been yesterday, even this morning we we're seeing it moving about 17 miles-an-hour. I think last time we talked to Jacqui Jeras, she said, it was moving around 25 or 26 miles an hour if I am still correct.

In terms of -- of how far the water is though, where you are, Ali, it doesn't sound like it's gone too far in?

VELSHI: No, I'll just show you actually, so it's right, it's topping the banks, and you can see it topping the banks quite clearly. But I'm going to walk over to -- to where the -- where the boardwalk is, and there's a lip here, it's a sidewalk basically.

So we've got about four or five inches, we'd have to get to that level, once it tops that it'll start making its way down this road here. And let me just -- let me walk with you for a second, Anderson, and show you what we're talking about. This is an underpass. This is the FDR above me. Normally this is filled with cars. I wouldn't be able to talk it would be so loud. To my left is South Street Seaport.

So now we're getting out into a street here and I just want to make sure we don't get hit by anything, and I want to just show you as we cross the road what's happening in the actual streets. Right in front of me here is what I was telling you about. This is a Consolidated Edison cover here.

So you can see the water there is now it looks like about four inches from top, it's four inches from topping the electrical wires, and then over here I have seen a number of cars try to turn into the street, I am walking into it, I know how deep it is that's why I'm walking into it. But you can see this water, the storm drain, I am now right above a storm drain, and it is -- it is absolutely to my knees. And I have seen cars come in here, they've all -- they've got almost gotten stuck and worked their way out of it.

So the fact is this is more dangerous than it looks. You are right, you can walk around with an umbrella, I have seen a few people doing it and umbrella won't be -- in a threat of -- of turning inside out. There's virtually no wind, the rain is coming straight down where I am, but the flooding has intensified. This whole street, this is Peck Slip (ph) South Street, that's the -- the Hudson River on that side. This whole street is now completely flooded.

COOPER: Certainly not good news. And we'll -- we'll continue to watch that over the next hour or two. In terms of -- I mean there's a -- are there a lot of police where -- where you are, Ali? Because we have been seeing a heavy police presence really all throughout the city, a lot of patrols, a lot of patrol cars just going around and checking and making sure everything is -- everything is in order.

VELSHI: Yes. And I'm -- I'm looking straight down South Street now to basically the tip of Manhattan and there's basically where just south of where the South Street Seaport is, is a staging area, there are police, there are fire trucks, there are Consolidated Edison workers. That seems to area that they are most focused on because I guess that's where they can see the vulnerabilities.

This whole area is landfill so it's particularly low. But yes, a lot of police presence. I haven't seen anything but police presence actually around here, police and media. I haven't seen a few people come over here try and make the turn and stop where I am, reverse and go back out.

And I've seen they've been trying to do that on a few streets around here. So it's definitely becoming impassable for vehicles but mostly it's police out here.

COOPER: All right, Ali. We'll continue to check in with you. We're going to take a break and our coverage will continue in a moment.


COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of Hurricane Irene. At the -- at the top of this hour, 8:00 advisory, it is still a Category 1 storm. There have been some hope that it was -- would become a tropical storm. It has not, it is still a hurricane with those sustained hurricane winds, so we are still watching this very, very carefully.

We're starting to see some flooding in the South Street Seaport in Manhattan, also down in Battery Park -- Battery Park City around Battery Park, right around the Southern tip of Manhattan, about two miles from where I am.

We also have correspondents out in Long Beach where we're seeing even more flooding and in other parts of -- of New York City. Let's listen in to WCBS right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The -- the stuff that's covering the storm drains and keeping these waters from receding even as we have a little bit of a lull in the heavy rain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you can see it, in fact I just see a homeowner going out right now with his broom to clear the debris, so I would urge every block whether there in Seagate on Manhattan beach or -- or -- or any of the neighborhoods here in Brooklyn, please, clear off --



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- those catch basins, let's help out the Sanitation Department and we're helping ourselves so that this water recedes as quickly as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, I'm going to zip through this water so you can see, we've got about six inches of water here on the street in Seagate, and you -- to give a little of demonstration of what we're dealing with in this part of Brooklyn. With Marty Markowitz (ph), Tony Ayala (ph) reporting live in Mobile 2.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok, Tony thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's head back at -- out now to Hampton Bays, when the last time we checked in with Jennifer McLogan (ph) she was talking about experiencing some wind gusts of like 71 miles-per- hour. She's still --

COOPER: That's WCBS. Let's also now check in with our affiliate, WABC.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- the situation we have, again East River breaching the seawall here and it's four feet above high tide, but again, we have four storm, we got a new moon, and we have -- we got a swollen river.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks [INAUDIBLE] we're joined Jamie by Lee Goldberg and Bill Evans, who are saying the guys -- that there may be a possible -- another surge in that area?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well the surge is going to continue if the Accu Tracks a go we'll quickly know. We'll get back to Jamie's pictures. I just did a little quick wind analysis. Just to see exactly sort of fascinating where the storm actually is because we were wondering is it over Long Beach, is it coming right into the New York Harbor. If the Accu Track is available will see that the actual center is actually right over at Rareton Bay and that there still is going to be a push of water here into New York Harbor until we get on the southern side of that circulation --

COOPER: And that's WABC.

Our Mary Snow is down in Battery Park City where she has started to see water coming over. Mary, how is it right there right now?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, there is flooding here on the -- the tip of Manhattan in Battery Park. And for our viewers who are outside of New York, this is normally the park where you may be familiar with lining up for ferries to go to the Statue of Liberty.

We're also on the other side of the island from where Ali Velshi has been reporting. It had been anticipated there would be flooding here and with the high tide the Hudson River has topped its banks. I'm standing in waters -- the deepest that it is really is about a foot of water.

And from what we can tell down here, this is just a park so it has been contained in this park. And I think we're going to head over next to Battery Park City where there is -- there are residents and -- and buildings and see the extent of any flooding there.

But so far officials had been anticipating a storm surge down here between four and eight feet. It remains to be seen how much water will be getting down here. But if this is as bad as it gets, and it's not as bad as what city officials were fearing, but again, it's still too early to tell that.

COOPER: Mary, thank you very much. One of the areas also we're particularly concerned about is Suffolk County in Long Island. That's where WCBS has a reporter out in Hampton Bays let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You see that Joe, this way, signs of a dead end, zoom in to the dead end. And to the show -- show the breach where the water is coming up.

JENNIFER MCLOGAN, WCBS REPORTER: They're telling us -- they're telling us that the Ponquogue Bridge is totally closed, Dune Road is now under almost three feet of water.


MAURICE DUBOIS, WCBS ANCHOR: Um1: That's Jennifer McLogan reporting for us from Hampton Bays out in Eastern Long Island. She just started to get into some pertinent facts about a huge bridge there that connects Hampton Bays to Dune Road, the Ponquogue Bridge. As we heard yesterday, Dune Road is one of those barrier islands and it is shut down.

But on Dune Road are a lot of massive homes, even modest homes as well. But it's beach front property, really choice real estate in this area, gorgeous beaches and she just said it's under a number of feet of water.

And that is a really disturbing development, but not unexpected. This is the kind of thing we're going to get out east on the Eastern Long Island.

But Jennifer there, struggling to stay, really keep her footing in Hampton Bays. And we thank her for the good work there. But you could see, the wind is threatening the power lines, and you want to be careful out there certainly if you are Jennifer or anybody else.

KRISTINE JOHNSON, WCBS ANCHOR: Let's head to Hoboken now, Maurice, where Wendy Gillette is standing by, and we just were issued an urgent release from this area. Officials there talking about people staying out of the water, and more power outages are going to be expected obviously with these nasty conditions that you are still experiencing there, Wendy.

WENDY GILLETTE, WCBS REPORTER: Yes, the conditions are really deteriorating. It has been a steady rain for the last few hours or so. And that announcement by the city is really an urgent appeal for people to stay inside. There are three downed wires, live wires down there at 5th and Jefferson, 703 Park and 800 Madison. And what they're concerned about is because there's so much flooding in the city, the live wires are down and they are worried that people coming out to see the storm are going to get electrocuted. And they said, really extremely urgent that people stay inside.

They're also concerned about the Hudson River. We've been here for about four hours and it has risen incredibly in that time. Right now, it's lapping up against the walkway here. I would say within probably half an hour or an hour, it's going to be definitely coming over this walkway, and that is something that the city is very concerned about.

Three or four feet, and so about one foot every hour, just an incredible progress. When we first came here, I said there's no way it's going to be up over this walkway, and it just kept rising and rising and rising, so that's the situation here in Hoboken.

JOHNSON: All right, Wendy.

DUBOIS: Ok. Thank you so much. Wendy Gillette for us there in Hoboken.

JOHNSON: Maurice, before we head to our next location, I just wanted to talk a little bit more about this urgent release because we really do want to make sure that --

COOPER: And we're just starting to get a -- actually some gust of wind right now here in the village, very close to Washington Square Park. The rain does seem to be intensifying a bit with those wind gusts.

Let's check in with our affiliate, WABC, as we monitor their coverage. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hasn't made its way across on to that the main roadway and again, not a lot of residences here. It is just the pier, the fishing pier. So we're in pretty good shape so far and hopefully it won't get any worse than this. But again you can see, pretty rough waves out there making their way towards us very slowly, but again not too bad here.

Things are quieting down just a little from the last time I talked to you. So it's not quite so bad and hopefully it will stay this way at least give us a little break for a little while -- Lee and Bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here with Lee Goldberg and Bill Evans. Is it going to stay calm like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it looks like she's in the center where we analyzed that circulation. She still has to go through one more batch.

COOPER: And let's check in with our Soledad O'Brien who's been on the move. She was in the meat packing district earlier. Soledad where are you now and what's it like?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Anderson, we are right along the West Side Highway, so we're at the westernmost point at Horatio Street so we're downtown in what is known as the meat packing district and already flooding a big problem. Take a look here, some folks who made the mistake of driving through what they thought was clear and open now really paying the price for it. Their vehicles are stuck and they've coned out. They're trying to wait to figure out how they're going to be able to move those vehicles out.

The water just keeps rising and rising. Right across the way is the Hudson River. And that's a problem because the Hudson has already crested its banks and has flowed over into what is a little walkway that runs along the Hudson River as far back as we can see heading down that way.

And then here, let's walk down this way, Jamie, is the big problem. Look at the flooding, Anderson, right here. It's already almost a foot deep as I head this way. For the residences here, this is your problem. It looks to me I'm going to guess, somewhere around two feet deep.

These are first floor apartments and the water is flowing into them. We've talked to the super, Carlos, who has been through the night, obviously at this point pumping is not going to do anything because it is just flowing right into the apartment building.

This is why they evacuated people. This is the Area A that they talked about because it used to be landfills, and the water, of course, just comes up, low-lying area. Up there, they had a non- mandatory evacuation; people were told they probably want to leave, it was voluntary.

They're very concerned because the truth is, Anderson, it's not raining that hard. We're really not feeling those gale force winds that we know we are going to get as soon as this hurricane really makes landfall here in New York City.

So if you are seeing this already, two feet deep right here, water is going to be a massive, massive problem. I have counted so far about 12 vehicles that are stuck, and that's just the ones that I can see along West Street in the meat packing district. That's also going to be a little bit of mess --

COOPER: Soledad, I have to jump in --


COOPER: Soledad, I'm sorry, I have to jump in. I am told WCBS is getting some -- getting hit hard by some waves. Just want to show our viewers that.

MCLOGAN: Let's get out of here. Grab the mike. Grab the mike. Let's get out of here. Whoa. Let's get out of here. Let's get out of here. Grab the mike.

COOPER: John King is standing by for us in Long Beach. John, you have been watching some very heavy waves pounding that shoreline there and the dock. What is it like now?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the interesting part is the rains have let up significantly here and there's a very light drizzle now, mostly it's just water blowing around. The winds are still quite the problem.

And I asked Jerry Simon just to pan out a little bit, you see these sand berms along the edge, they were about five feet high and they extended across. You see the water coming through now. There was a berm across and this water is flowing underneath the boardwalk here.

This is normally beach. To might right, a little, if you pan out and look, there are volleyball nets down there. This is usually the sea area here. But the waters are flowing through under the boardwalk, and they're going out into the streets where you can see the localized flooding.

Just saw a car go down the street a short time ago, and the water was about halfway up the wheels. It was a pick-up truck so that water is about a foot deep out there. Some local residents who were just here who live in the apartments just across the street they say they're beginning to get some water down in the garage below the building. They say so far, they are saying this is not as bad as they thought it would be. However, we still do see some significant street flooding here.

Streetlights are still on and most of this town still has power. But as you can hear the winds picking up, if I turn this way I am blocking most of it, but if I turn this way, you feel it more substantially, and you see the waves, we still have some stormy seas out there bringing more water to the shore. They will definitely have a problem here of localized flooding. The extent of it we're still trying to get a handle on. Oddly enough, the winds are still quite significant here. And it's not raining nearly anywhere near as hard as it was raining sometime ago. We have had some residents who I think are beginning to believe that the worst of this has passed, and we have seen just in the last hour 10 or 12 people come to take a look and they live just across the street.

(INAUDIBLE) they have lived here for 25 years and never have they seen the beach covered like this, with the water flowing out into the street. Again, a foot or two deep in some areas that we can see, further up the boardwalk you see flooding damage, and the sand berms have been completely wiped out that they built here and the water is flowing underneath.

All things considered, the conditions are very harsh. There's definitely water in the street, and a lot of local residents, Anderson, said they thought it was going to be worse than this.

COOPER: Yes. Let's hope that's as worse as it gets. Again, we'll continue to watch it John. We'll check in with you. We're going to take a quick break.

Our coverage continues with Hurricane Irene in just a moment.


COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of Hurricane Irene, still a Category 1 hurricane. There had been some hope that by the time it hit New York it would be downgraded to a tropical storm. That is not the case as of the 8:00 a.m. advisory. It's still a Category 1 and we're seeing flooding down in the South Street Seaport, and down in Battery Park where our Mary Snow is.

Ali Velshi is over at South Street Seaport for us. Soledad O'Brien is on the Hudson River on the west side of the New York around an area which is known as the meat packing district. She joins us now.

Soledad, are you seeing a lot of water in the streets there?

O'BRIEN: Anderson, we're seeing tons of water in the streets. In fact, you can see it behind me. They have just been able to push one of the cars out. But if we go around this way a little bit Jamie, we can show you -- see this vehicle that's still under water? The water has risen probably three inches in just the last couple of minutes that I've seen. And as you've noted, the rain is actually not that heavy.

Across the way, across the west side highway is the Hudson River, and the Hudson River has overflowed its banks. It is now flowing into the jogging paths that run directly along it. And of course, the same issue as you turn this way, and we take a look at some of these apartment buildings, their -- water is just pouring into them. Those are first floor apartments. And you can see probably two feet of water there, Anderson, so lots and lots of water. COOPER: How far does the water come in? How extensive is it. I don't have a return so I can't actually see your shot.

I think I've lost Soledad.

Let's check in if we can with Jacqui Jeras at the weather center -- Jacqui.

JERAS: Hi Anderson. We're watching that center again, a little bit closer now and we have been tracking it here storm on Doppler radar, and it appears the center is almost right over you, very central to your location, over New York harbor, maybe potentially making landfall over the Coney Island area. So we're monitoring the progress of the storm and that's why we're seeing such great heights with that surge as well.

We've also seen a really big jump here at Battery Park. We're up to 9.4 feet in Battery Park. And so, that is a significant rise that has also taken place in the last hour that continues to jump on up.

There you can see the Doppler radar indicating we're not seeing those big clusters of thunderstorms in New York City, but we're right at that center, we're right at that tight eye so even though it doesn't look bad on radar, that's kind of deceiving. And while we are getting those strong winds and getting some of that over topping which is going to continue to take place for maybe another hour or so until the winds completely shift off to the west.

COOPER: Jacqui, we will continue to checking with you. I want to hand our coverage right now over to Candy Crowley down in Washington -- Candy?