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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Live Rescue in New York; Irene Makes Landfall in New York; Holland Tunnel Reopens in New York; Irene Batters Rhode Island; Gov. Chris Christie's Message to New Jersey; New York City After the Storm
Aired August 28, 2011 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And our coverage of Hurricane Irene, now Tropical Storm Irene, continues. I'm in Battery Park, where the waters have started to recede.
But we're watching a live rescue occurring on WABC. Let's - let's continue watching that on WABC, our affiliate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and they'll come back -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- maybe we can fill it up to Phil (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. And in fact he just - it looks like he gave him the high sign, so that's probably - you know, they're going to come back, and it's not - you know, not a tremendous distance, probably less than 100 yards, so it should be relatively quick.
But, again, the water has just come up - and, the thing is, it's been coming up through the morning. So I think these folks maybe thought, well, you know, we made it through the night. It was OK. The worst is, you know, behind us. But, as we know, the storm is not over yet, and in the short time we've been here, we've seen the water rise, and - and it's still coming up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely (INAUDIBLE) over. We're here. And right now most of our area dealing with the back end of this storm as it approaches, which is - it can be a wind and slight rain event. But - and we're watching this rescue effort -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're zipping away now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. They're pulling away from the house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this will be the story over the next few hours as we continue our coverage of Hurricane Irene, now Tropical Storm Irene, as it landed in the New York City area, and New Jersey first and then New York City, and it makes its way up north. High tide on the northern shore of Long Island, and the eastern side of Connecticut at the shoreline there about 11:00, and that's the next danger zone. Sade and Diana (ph) will be along to - to watch us and guide us through that. 10:00 - 10:01 here at New York City, as Channel 7 (ph) (INAUDIBLE) bring you continuous coverage of the entrance and slow departure - faster, though - it's good that it's been pretty fast - the fast departure of Hurricane Irene. And then the problems, the power problems. A million and a half households in the tri-state area, in Connecticut, New York, and Long Island and New Jersey, without power. And that's going to be the problem. That number is likely to rise as we continue our coverage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of the area now, the tri-state area, turning from - transitioning from response - recovery to responding to - to what is now Tropical Storm Irene.
As you can see, this family that was just rescued now, rescuers pulling that Zodiac boat up on the pavement of what is a street in Elmsford, which is in Greenburg.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that looks like an elderly gentleman there.
Marcus (ph), do we have a sense of how many people are in those homes and are lining this little - the street?
MARCUS (ph): I'm going to try and ask right here.
Hello, sir. How are you? Are you OK? Are you doing OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm OK. I don't want - I don't want to be in the news.
MARCUS (ph): OK. All right. But everyone's OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MARCUS (ph): How many more people in the house?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another four.
MARCUS (ph): Another four people. All right.
So, there you have it. The family - two elderly residents of the - out that house have been brought to safety by the Fairview Fire Department, and four others still inside the house, and so they're going back.
But you can see it's just a serious situation here in Elmsford. The Sawmill River has spilled its banks. On the other side, the parkway, and that has been closed - that's been closed since 6:00 last night.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MARCUS (ph): This is (INAUDIBLE), and this an area that - that floods typically. But, as we've said, residents are saying they've never seen this - one gentleman lives here 40 years. In fact I'm going to grab him. Freddy (ph), let me talk to you for a second. You've been here a long time, right?
FREDDY (ph), NEW YORK RESIDENT: Yes.
MARCUS (ph): Tell me what this is like?
FREDDY (ph): Oh, it is the worst ever. Definitely, this is the worst ever.
MARCUS (ph): Now, a lot of folks, I guess, decided they could ride it out, but we're - we're seeing otherwise?
FREDDY (ph). All the time. We've seen this two or three times the last 10 or 15 years.
MARCUS (ph): People needs to call for help, I guess?
FREDDY (ph): I guess so. Yes. The town comes in (ph).
MARCUS (ph): Now, you're a little bit on high ground. Are - are you concerned for your house at all?
FREDDY (ph): Oh, not at all. I'm on a - I don't get flooded at all. I've got a crawl space in there and it's never been flooded.
MARCUS (ph): Even with the water coming up?
FREDDY (ph): Even with the water coming up. Even if it comes up this - because I'm almost above the water table, according to the - you know?
MARCUS (ph): All right. So feeling confident. Thank you, Freddy (ph).
And you can see the firefighters continuing to make their trip out back to that house. Four other residents still in the house. They'll be brought out as the fire department was called onto the scene probably about 15 minutes ago, and they arrived with a boat. Now a larger rescue vehicle has - has arrived here, too and they're making the second trip.
There are life jackets on that boat. They'll put it on the residents, make sure that they're OK.
We've seen others who have actually waded through when the water was a little lower and they were able to self evacuate. And - and they've said they've had enough.
MARCUS (ph): And we're here all night. And -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two other people climbing out of that house, Marcus (ph). You got - (INAUDIBLE) you got to just sort of picture yourself inside that family situation, six people inside that house.
We saw a young person and an elderly person, and that - the internal decision-making process of that family. They sent the youngest and the oldest out first, and now some of the others are coming out. And there's a total of two more after this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Marcus (ph), you know, considering that area is prone to flood, are any of the other residents (INAUDIBLE) other neighbors nearby, has there been any criticism of the fact that that area wasn't evacuated?
MARCUS (ph): Well, I mean, the - the people are told to leave, but - I mean, obviously. But like - like we've seen throughout the area, people who live in flood-prone areas say, oh, I've ridden out, you know, X amount of storms in the past. This one wouldn't be any different. And so, you know, you can't force them to leave because, you know - it is a mandatory evacuation, but they're not going to come by force and - and take people out.
So, you know, this is what -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. The difference here, of course - the difference here -
MARCUS (ph): This is - this is the worst case scenario - yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The difference here, Marcus (ph), is that -
MARCUS (ph): They - you know -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me - I mean to day that the difference here is that many of these tropical storms that have come up take a hard right turn along Long Island and go out east around the other end of Long Island. They very rarely come up - up the Hudson Valley there and into Westchester County. This has happened, and that's the problem we're having today.
MARCUS (ph): Right. And it's almost a repeat of Floyd because in - during Floyd, the hardest hit areas were Northern Westchester, and it was, you know, areas far away from the - the coast. And so Mount Kisco, Yorktown -
As we see a little girl there. She's OK. And two girls coming off the boat, so they've got two left in the house.
But there were 12 inches of rain. Some spots got 17 inches of rain. Unfortunately, a - a young girl was killed during Floyd in Duchess County, swept away by a river. So these are areas that are away from the coast but experience tremendous flooding.
Lizette (ph) asked a question about mitigating some of this flooding, and there has been, you know, talk of it and -
COOPER: And you've been listening to WABC, our affiliate here, where they've had a - several personnel being taken out of a home in Elmsford, New York, in - in Westchester County.
Here at Battery Park, which is one of the areas that had been of most concern to authorities in New York City, there had - there'd been some flooding, not huge amounts of flooding, and a lot of the water is already starting to recede. I'm standing in maybe a - a half an inch at most of - of water just, and in just in the - in the 10 or 20 minutes that we've been at this location we've seen the water start to recede as well.
There's still some choppy water out there, but there's - there's actually no rain right now going on, a little bit of a breeze. But it's actually not - not bad at all. And there's a number of people now who have started to come out, just kind of get a look at the water, who take a walk around, get out of their apartments for a - for a little while.
We're going to check in with Jacqui Jeras a little bit to see exactly where the storm is and what the conditions might like - be in New York throughout the rest of the day.
But let's check in with John King at Long Beach, who has seen some - some stiff winds all throughout the morning, some heavy, heavy rains and obviously some very rough surf. John, how is it right now?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it is windy right now. The rain has stopped, and we have a very similar situation to what you just described in Battery Park in the sense that we had some substantial street flooding here. A lot of that water now receding.
If we just pan out and show the boardwalk here in Long Beach, you see dozens of people who have decided that this is time to come out and take a look around. And I'm going to ask Jerry to continue to pan to his right, as you go past people, as you look out into the streets here, you see our vehicle is parked there. At one point the water was halfway up the tires, so you had more than a foot of water in the streets. Much of that has receded now.
COOPER: I think we'll - we'll check back in with John. I think we just lost him.
Let's check in with WABC, our affiliate, to see where they're at.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- lifejackets as well. You want to make this (INAUDIBLE) -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you have to make them - the people that you're rescuing safe, just in case something does happen.
But there is a strong current. This is called swift water, even though it looks like it's standing up here, but down over by - where the house is right now, that's right - right near the river. And, where the river is, you have moving water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've been - you've been around the town, too. I mean, there's extensive flooding. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is extensive flooding, yes. Yes. We have - even 287, there's three feet of water on 287, under the Norwood Road Bridge. Tarrytown Road, we have extensive flooding.
Our Manhattan Brook, which runs through the Fairview fire district, also, a lot of flooding with that. That goes along Fulton - down to Fulton Street and into the Bronx River.
And, yes, we do have extensive flooding.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Chief Murray (ph), thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.
As Nancy said, the water is still rising. As we see, they've gotten the last two remaining occupants from that house out. And you heard - you heard the chief say, they were given ample notice. They were notified by the police department to leave as early as possible and some folks just decided to ignore that, decided they could ride it out, and - and now we're seeing otherwise.
They got a call because there were two elderly occupants and - and children as well, and so they are now being rescued, brought across, which is about - about 100 yards, maybe 80 yards of Sawmill River, which has now breached its banks, come on to (INAUDIBLE) and - and really flooded to a level which residents say they haven't seen in - in years, certainly not since Tropical Storm Floyd and even longer than that.
COOPER: And that's WABC, our affiliate.
Soledad O'Brien has been in the meat packing district since early, early this morning. Soledad, how is it now where - where you are? You had seen some - starting with some flooding, some cars that had been stalled. Where are you at right now?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: We are on Horatio Street in the West Village, and we're just across the way from the West Side Highway. On the other side is the Hudson River.
So, let's start with the very worst, because this is really the early flooding that we saw, Anderson. And you can see cars stalled out right there, and down this way, these trucks really now probably six inches, nine inches of water there. That's gone down a fair amount. That's receded, actually. And this is kind of the worst where it is right now.
Earlier, we saw the banks of the Hudson overflowing and literally pouring onto the jogging path that runs along the Hudson River there. And so, with that - so part of it is that the tide has gone out a little bit, but also, it's that the - the rain is not coming down like we thought it would in the middle of the storm. Also, the winds aren't that high, and so it's really receded. So you're seeing a lot of that drop back down again.
And those walkways that were covered in water, literally two feet of water, probably about 90 minutes ago, you know, almost, you know, two hours ago, actually have gone back to not being flooded at all. So that's great news.
And then, behind us, a little earlier, Anderson, I showed you this - (INAUDIBLE), guys - which was water sloshing into these first floor apartment buildings, literally going in right at the window area, because there was two feet of water here. Look at that. It's completely receded. It has dried out again.
So, for people here - and this is the area they're very concerned about. This is evacuation Zone A. I mean, people are told -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get (INAUDIBLE) right now. (INAUDIBLE) into that water. Get out of it right now.
O'BRIEN: So cops have been rolling through here. And we've got family members, people now coming out, Anderson.
And I'll show you what this - this officer is mad about. The guy has got his kid kind of sloshing in the water, and they're not the only ones. There've been a number of people who have come out. The weather kind of balmy. This big puddle is pretty much the only big puddle here, and they would like to see people stay inside still. Obviously, bringing your toddler out to walk through the big puddle probably not the smartest thing to do in the aftermath of a tropical storm.
But it really is a sign, Anderson, that people feel very safe. It's - it's breezy, as you pointed out, but the bulk of the - the wind and the heavy rain and the massive flooding that we were seeing right here has really dissipated.
Back to you.
COOPER: And Soledad, it will be interesting to see how quickly sort of the city comes back to life, because, really, I mean, I don't know if you were around last night, but - but even, you know, trying to out and find a place to eat was very difficult. You know, Broadway shows are obviously closed today. A - a lot of public events are closed. The subway system is still closed.
So it will be interesting to see how quickly things start to come back online - the subway systems, the trains - how - how quickly, you know, buses start running again, how quickly you start to see taxis and also businesses start to open up. I think a lot of business owners are no - no doubt watching coverage very closely and going to be making a decision, you know, now or over in the next few hours about when they want to reopen. Because, right now at least, it seems there's a lot of people kind of itching to get outside, itching to get out of their apartments and - and kind of see what it's like because it's - it's certainly not as bad as - as they had anticipated and as we had anticipated.
That is certainly good news indeed, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Yes. That's very true. The World Trade Center Memorial folks have been tweeting out that they had no damage. People starting to send messages that things are fine where they are.
Around the corner - and I know earlier I saw you reporting, Anderson, about the guy with the deli who is open. There's also our guy with the deli that's open. And I said to him, you know, why are you still open? And he said he lives in Queens. Once they shut down mass transit, there was no way for him to get home, so he might as well stay open.
And there have been a number of people - most of the supers have stayed overnight in their building to make sure they could bale out the water that they expected to come on, and did come in for many building.
So I think we're seeing already, even in the last 10 minutes, there are 30 people I can see on the street in this little corner alone. I think people are beginning to feel like, OK, the danger has gone down a little. They can come out now.
But, again, if you slosh the puddles, the cops will stop you. There's no question about that.
COOPER: Yes. There's definitely a heavy police presence, which is always a nice thing to see on the street after an event like this.
Let's check (INAUDIBLE) - let's check in with Chad Myers, just to get a sense of is it OK to come outside? What is the situation? Where the storm is and how strongest is it still?
Chad, what - what can you tell us? If you could give us an overview.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There still will be winds for New York City and Long Island. In fact, you're kind of in the lull because you're in center - I wouldn't call it an eye because it's just a tropical storm. But you're in the center of where the winds are the lowest.
So, as the storm continues to move north into New England, the winds will pick up again. And I'll kind of show you where that center is, probably centered over Waterbury. And that is now pushed across Long Island, in a - in the hole right there. That would be the hole that is the center of the circulation. Again, not an eye.
But there are heavy rain, Anderson. Now this has transitioned into a flood maker, and it's also transitioned into a tree-knock-down storm because you have all of this water, all the ground is saturated. The winds are going to pick back up again, and because of the saturation and the tree root system - and New York City has had 12 inches of rain already in August before the storm, and now Central Park has picked up six inches of rain with the storm. That's 18 inches of rain in 30 days and the wind - a little bit of wind will take those trees and topple them, especially some of the pine trees with a little bit of a shallow root system.
The rain has moved up towards Rutland, up in toward Rochester and Manchester, and towards Schenectady. This is the rain shield now. But let me show you what the flooding looks like. And it's going to be a little bit difficult. I'm going to draw this map, and it'll be hard for you to see out there in the field. But this all the way back up to Rutland and Vermont, all the way down through Saratoga Springs, as far east as almost Wilkes-Barre, as far south as the Delaware water gap, all of New Jersey, and then back up to Poughkeepsie. That entire area, that must be the size of the state - the state of New York, but just not all New York - that is all flash flood warnings.
There are rivers out of their banks. There are cities and towns flooding because of the - just the enormity of the rain that's come down. We've seen between 10 and 14 inches of rainfall in the past 12 hours. You just can't handle that. Rivers can't handle that, cities can't handle that, and we were -
I was looking earlier. I was watching it - with people going out there and taking a rake or a broom and cleaning some of the drains so that the water actually could go down. That's the best thing you can do before the flooding starts, but you don't want to put yourself out there and get hurt.
One more thing I think everybody needs to be concerned with, still here in the parts of Connecticut, it's not quite over for Connecticut proper. Up here, into the sound, zoom in one more time for you so that I can get you real close to what I'm talking about. I know that in the city of New York and at the Battery we are already going back down to low tide.
But up here, right along the areas where LaGuardia is, Kings Point and all the way up toward Bridgeport, you still have about one more hour before high tide is over and then low tide starts. So water is still coming up here. And Kings Point right now is nine feet above the low water data from yesterday. It's a nine-foot surge from the low water. You have about a three-foot tide from regular water and about a four-foot tide from the water getting pushed in with the storm, and that is enough to probably cause some flooding.
I'm trying to get some pictures or any - any kind of updates at all from LaGuardia, but that's where that water could be right up to the runways, if not on the runways, up there in the northern sections of Queens - Anderson.
COOPER: And Chad, I got two quick questions - Chad, just two quick questions for you. They talked about, look, 12 hours of rain here in New York City. It's not raining right now. Is there going to be more rain throughout the day or has it changed?
MYERS: Not very much more rain, Anderson. There will be some coming in from the west, but the shield, we call the rain shield, has pushed well on up to the north, and there's not much rain coming in behind it.
On the back side of the storm is that - with the water and the air coming off the land, land is dryer than the ocean, so the wind that's coming off the ocean is getting pushed up into the land and making rain because the ocean is moist. The rain that's coming back here, or the air that's coming back around Pennsylvania and off Long Island and off New Jersey is now dryer air - although it's raining back there - it's dryer air than the ocean and it's not causing any rainfall.
I don't think you're going to see much more rainfall in New York City at all. You will still see the back side winds and gusts over 40 or 50, and that may knock down trees. But your rain is just about over at this point.
COOPER: It's interesting, because so much of what we were told in the run off to this or what was predicted about, you know, a full day of rain and also this - this storm really not hitting until kind of later in the morning, all of that really shifted in the early morning hours today.
What changed in this storm? I mean, there - there was so much expectation about - and fear about what might happen in - in New York City. We've seen, it seems like, the - the best possible outcome so far. Yes, we've seen some flooding in some areas in New York, I'm talking about, but certainly not as extensive as have been feared. So, what went right?
MYERS: What went right was that North Carolina got in the way. And I hate to say that for the people that got damaged or - or injured in North Carolina - and five were killed. But North Carolina got in the way of this eye. And, when that happened, when the storm went over our John Zarrella yesterday morning and it went - and it stayed over North Carolina, the outer banks here, for so many hours, it literally knocked the stuffing out of the eye.
The eye never could recover. The eye, when it got back into the water, even off Virginia Beach, it never became a tropical system again. It was almost transitioning into what we call an extra tropical storm, or just a - a cold, cold storm that we get with - with the hurricanes and blizzards. It's the same type of spin, but it was - it never got its eye back and it never got its - it never got its mojo back.
So the rain stayed on this side. We never got a back side of the eye, and because the back side never really regenerated, there's nothing here now, that the rain is completely gone.
There's a top to the storm. It's all the way up into Atlantic Canada. And there's no bottom to the storm. Where the center of the eye is right there, there's very little rain south of the storm and that's good for the flooding because at least the rain is over.
COOPER: And I - you know, a bunch of people in New York have already said to me this morning, you know, like, you know, what was the big deal all about. What's this hype? You never really know these things until the storm actually makes landfall.
I mean, and the pattern is always different. You can't really predict it too well. MYERS: That's right. There - if you want to go to the - the hurricane website, National Hurricane Center, it will describe to you what pressures are like in a Category 1, Category 2, Category 3.
Up until about 6:00 this morning, this storm had pressure capable of maintaining a Category 3 hurricane. In the ocean, in warm water, with that pressure, with the eyewall spinning around and nothing interfering, like land, that storm, Irene, would have again become a Category 3 hurricane.
It never had that opportunity because North Carolina got in the way. Dry air came across over Virginia and Maryland and got in the way. And although this was a very low pressure - the reason why we could never let the guard down for New York City and the New York City surge was because the pressure was low enough that at any time, if this storm decided to get its act together, it could have gone from the 60, 70, 80-mile-per-hour storm, it easily could have been a 110 storm again, like it was in the Caribbean and like it was in the Bahamas.
It had the - the pressure potential. It just didn't have the ability because of the dry air that was getting wrapped in and because of the effect that North Carolina gave it.
COOPER: Yes. Well, as you said, terrible for North Carolina, but certainly a lot of people in New York City breathing a sigh of relief.
And - and, as we said, as I was saying to Soledad, Chad, you know, we're all wondering now how quickly does the city start to resume life again. Does - do the subway start to run? And a lot of that will probably be decided in the next few minutes, in the next few hours.
Chad, we'll continue to check in with you. A great explanation. It's really cleared up a lot of my questions.
We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The rain is coming down more than it was before. The - the wind is probably going faster. I think this is just the starting of it. I definitely feel it on my head, just a tiny bit of rain.
I think that this is probably going to be my - I might think that it's the last of it, but, if it's not, I'll report back to you later. And that's about it. Back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of what was Hurricane Irene, now happily Tropical Storm Irene.
It's certainly a very different scene here at Battery Park than we had anticipated, than the worst possible predictions had been. There had - there was some minor flooding here in Battery Park, but those waters have largely receded in even the last 20 minutes that we've been on the air, so the waters have really receded. You still see some choppy water out there, but it is nothing, nothing compared to what people thought it could be had - had this storm been worse than it turned out to be.
And - and also, there's no more rain in the air. The winds have died down. So you're seeing a lot more New Yorkers now starting to come out to kind of take a look around and try and resume life.
And, on that end, we've just gotten word that the Holland Tunnel has now reopened. That obviously had been shut down as a precautionary measure in case there was widespread flooding.
There was also plans that if the winds had been sustained, winds over 60 miles an hour in New York, to shut down the bridges. That never occurred, though. The bridges are open, so now the Holland Tunnel is open.
I want to check with our own Rob Marciano, who all morning has been reporting from Long Beach. We saw some very heavy wind. That's where John King has been as well.
Rob joins us now. Rob, how is it there?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's - things changed, much like they had in your location. No doubt about that.
The winds are still very strong and gusty, but the rain has stopped. The skies are bright. And people have come out of - out of the woodwork, so to speak, to check out some of the damage.
It's a long storm. (INAUDIBLE) that we're seeing just an hour ago. That has subsided as well, and some of the street flooding is beginning to recede.
(INAUDIBLE) with the police and fire department, who said, you know what? They feel like they dodged a bullet. No - no real emergency calls, at least in Long Beach last night. No calls for help, no cries for help, and no rescues that had to be - had to be made.
But certainly (INAUDIBLE) talked to some of the locals here. I want to bring in one - one of those. Robin Clark (ph), you've lived here your entire life. You got to dig the goggles. Wish I had a pair of those a couple hours ago. How did you make out during the storm?
ROBIN CLARK, LONG BEACH RESIDENT: Pretty well, actually. I think we dodged a bullet. No major trees down, a little flooding in our basement, we lost power, but hat's about it.
MARCIANO: Now you're - you and your family are long-time residents of Long Beach. You've - you've been through quite a bit of storms. How did this one rack up?
CLARK: This racks right up there. When I was a kid, I remember the ocean coming up Riverside Boulevard, flooding the streets, and we saw that this morning at the high tide around 8:00 A.M. So this ranks right up there, with the - the one I witnessed in the '60s.
MARCIANO: All right. A little historical perspective. Thank you, Robin. And thanks for letting me hold on to you. Any sort of stabilization is welcome here.
And - and our residents here are breathing a bit of a sigh of relief, you know? It was really looking hairy there for a while when eyewall - right after the eyewall of once was Hurricane Irene looked like it was going to really start to beat us this place up real bad.
We had that building, you can see, it's kind of tilted. That was actually - it's been ripped off its foundation. About 50 years to the west, that's the headquarters of the lifeguard unit here in Long Beach, and that is now pinned up against the boardwalk.
The dunes that were built, the protective dunes that were built for the past couple of weeks, they were totally washed away by the incredible surf that was pounding the shoreline just a few hours ago - Anderson.
COOPER: Rob, how big were the - were those dunes that got washed away?
MARCIANO: Anderson, I'll toss it back to you.
COOPER: OK. Well, we just had a police vehicle -
MARCIANO: They were 12, 15 footers, pretty wide as well, probably 20, 25 feet wide. But, you know, the power of the ocean, it - it doesn't - it doesn't take much.
COOPER: We have obviously a delay with Rob, so a little bit of miscommunication there.
Rob, we appreciate the reporting. We'll continue to check in with you.
A police vehicle was just actually driving around in Battery Park, announcing on a - on a microphone, a loud speaker, saying citizens of New York, go back inside. The storm has not ended. There's obviously a number of people who have already started to emerge from their homes and kind of walk around, people walking their dogs, getting - and just kind of wanting to see what they can of the - the tail end of this storm.
But talking to our own Chad Myers a short time ago, the - the rain here has largely ended. Chad's saying it's unlikely that we're going to see this 12 hours of rain that earlier in the day we had anticipated.
That had been one of the big concerns of having sustained winds all day long with this slow moving storm. But early on - early on this morning, the storm began to pick up speed around 6:00 A.M. when I went on the air, the storm was going about 17 miles an hour. By two hours later, it was about 27 miles an hour. So it picked up speed.
And as Chad was talking about, because of the damage it did in North Carolina, the eye was never able to reform once it went on land in North Carolina. It was never able to coalesce again and keep the strength of the storm up. Certainly good news for all those folks north of North Carolina who did not experience the kind of storm that they had feared, that we had feared and that it could have been had that eye - those eye walls, that eye been able to reform.
Gary Tuchman, I believe is standing by for us. Gary, where are you now? What's the situation there?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Newport, Rhode Island. And the worst has ended where you are, but it's beginning here in Newport. This is a city - a resort city because there are more than four times the amount of the normal population here this summer weekend. Normally, 25,000 people live here. About 100,000 people are here this weekend. And this is a very popular city to have weddings and especially in the summer.
Last night in the hotel where we were, there are three weddings, these poor brides and groom, I felt terrible for them, while their guests couldn't come. And now they can't get out because there's a mandatory evacuation order and they've asked everyone who hasn't left to stick tight here.
This is a very vulnerable city because the beaches face to the south. And this hurricane/tropical storm is coming from the south. You can see it across the street, this Greek Orthodox Church. I want to tell you about this, because during Hurricane Bob 20 years ago, the water went up in the steps. During the great hurricane of 1938 that killed more than 600 people, this church was almost destroyed. It was like 14 years old back then. It's now 87 years old. The great hope and the expectation is that this church will survive this, too.
One other religious note while we're talking about religion, the Bishop of the Providence Diocese here in Rhode Island has told Catholics they have dispensation not to attend mass today. So like in New York, we hope that things aren't going to be as bad as expected. But it's all just beginning here in the beautiful city of Newport, Rhode Island.
Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: So, Gary, I can't see your shot. Do you have a lot of wind there? Do you have a lot of rain at this point?
TUCHMAN: Yes. The rains have just started to pick up about 15 minutes ago. It was coming down torrentially. Now the showers are coming down, the winds are picking up.
But like we said, Anderson, I mean, a few days ago we thought we're going to be talking about 100-mile-per-hour winds up here in New England, too. Now, that's not going to be the case. But they've had serious flooding problems here in Newport just from simple nor'easters. There's a lot of concern here.
There are people, Anderson, who actually they made the decision not to evacuate. This is a great boating city. They call it the sailing capital of the world. There are boats in the marina just to our west. And right now, many people are on their boats overnight. They are on their boats overnight. It wasn't that bad overnight.
The worst is yet to come. But they are staying on their boats. They want to protect their boats and they have nowhere else to go, because in many cases they live in other parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states.
COOPER: Right. Wow, being on a boat in this would not - would not be a pleasant experience. Gary, appreciate it. We'll continue checking with you.
We're going to take a short break. We'll also talk to Chad Myers coming up just to give a sense of the history of this storm, what happened to it and where it's heading next. We'll be right back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We come from hardy stock.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We aren't moving.
CARROLL: You're not moving.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
CARROLL: Clearly that is the case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's it. That's the best reality show you're going to get.
CARROLL: But in all seriousness, are any of you concerned about the storm?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only our children.
CARROLL: I'm sorry, ma'am. What?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only our children. My son said he's going to have me committed. But he lives in Georgia, so what does he know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not privileged about this. We take this very seriously, but the alternative is a nightmare.
CARROLL: The alternative being in a - being in a shelter? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not only being in a shelter. Not knowing where we would be, not knowing where we will be. Our health does not permit most of the opportunities that have been offered to us. And I think that's serious. We haven't heard anything from the top level that takes that into account.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of now Tropical Storm Irene. We're in Battery Park, an area which had been the focus of a lot of anxiety, a lot of concern. There was flooding here, but it is nowhere near as bad as people - as it could have been, frankly. And a lot of the floodwaters now have receded.
I want to show you just - it does seem now we hadn't had much rain over the last hour or so, but where it is starting to get a little misty, a little bit of rain here, the Statue of Liberty, I don't know if you can see it, there's someone standing there taking a picture of it. The visibility now has deteriorated just in the last five minutes or so that was much more clearly this one (ph).
I want to bring in Chad Myers. Chad, it does seem like now winds are actually kind of picking up. Is this just kind of a - one of the bands, the back bands of the storm?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Technically you're right in the eye, although the eye was so big I can't really call it an eye. It was called the center of the tropical storm, because it lost the definition as a hurricane. But you were in the center. So that's now you're going to see the wind shift from the other direction.
You're going - you've been in a number of eyes, Anderson. And the winds come in this way for a while. On the back side they're around this way. And New York, all the way from about - almost Montauk, all the way over to New York City was in the center of that eye. So now the calm is over. And that calm will begin to come in that will be over from the west as the winds blow in that way.
And you're probably even seeing more mist in the air as that water gets picked up and picks up some water here and throws it because really there's not much rain on the radar at all.
But the eye is over for you. I'll call it an eye, just because that's really what it is. But it's the center, the center calm is over. And the winds are going to begin to pick up again, probably in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 miles per hour for you. This is still certainly not over. And that's why the police are out there in Battery Park saying go back home, this is not over.
You have to understand, although there was not a lot of initial damage, when you get the first part of the eye, you can knock things down and things get loose. And sometimes there's glass around and they're shingled around. And then it gets calm and people go, oh, let's go outside and look. And then, 15, 20 minutes and one hour later, the back side of the eye comes through and then blows all that debris around and people get hurt because they think it's over when in fact, it certainly isn't - Anderson.
COOPER: So the police are right. Police should if they can stay indoors even though it's not really raining, as you said. It is largely kind of a fine mist. And I hadn't realized that it's not raining, it's winds just picking up water. But you recommend even though the storm hasn't been as bad as people worried, to continue to stay indoors?
MYERS: Well, if you get winds of 50 miles per hour in Manhattan, whether they're from the east or from the west, on the east side or the north side or the west side of a hurricane, think about what that's going to do to TriBeCa and Lower Manhattan and also into Midtown Manhattan for those buildings.
And I'm not talking about the upper buildings in the 70th floors and how the winds will be higher up there. I'm talking about the wind tunnel effect that happens anywhere from here Time Warner Center is, on the south side there of Central Park, all the way down to about 46th or 42nd Street, those wind tunnels just blow and will pick up things. You'll pick up even newspapers and old things that people left on the ground and they will become projectiles at 50 miles per hour.
And the same thing will happen downtown at that Battery because of all those buildings along Wall Street. And those projectiles will hurt people.
COOPER: And Chad, right behind me, there's a police vehicle which has just now been slowing going around saying please leave the park to people. We're allowed to stay here, but encouraging people to kind of move along because there have been just in the last 20 or so minutes, a lot of people who have been, you know, coming here with cameras, with their dogs and just kind of hanging out. So the police just want to try to encourage people as much as possible to go back home for that - for that very reason, Chad.
At what point do you think, Chad, it's OK for people to start to come outside?
MYERS: I wouldn't want people out there. Let's say I'll just go talk about my 6-year-old. I wouldn't let my 6-year-old out there until at least tomorrow. There's no reason to be out there. With a wind gust of 50 or 60 miles per hour, it is still a tropical storm. There's no reason to be out there and put yourself in harm's way.
That's what you'll get. By being outside you're putting yourself in harm's way. What is over now is the storm surge and that was the big threat. That was the concern that we're going to push water into the harbor. The water was going to go up onto Battery Park. The water was going to go high enough to get into the subway tunnels and we were going to flood the subway. That was probably about two foot - we're two feet short of that.
That was because the high tide and the maximum surge didn't line up. That was great. By the time the maximum surge was coming, we were getting to low tide. So water was actually leaving the harbor when water was trying to get pushed in and it was just kind of level. Things leveled out.
Had that surge, that maximum surge, that eye moving over the island, then in exact time of the high tide, the water there in Battery Park would have been two feet higher. And that two foot would have been just enough to get water probably back into the World Trade Complex area and into some of the subway tunnels. That appears to not have happened. I haven't heard about anything like that.
But now with the wind still blowing things around and that water was up there, I'm sure there are boards hanging around. There's probably some plywood hanging around, a 50-mile-per-hour wind picking up a piece of plywood will send it flying.
And so as the back side comes in, the eye is gone now. The winds are going to pick up for you for the next 12 hours.
COOPER: All right. Chad, good explanation. Appreciate it.
Let's check in with Mary Snow. Mary has been down in Battery Park from early this morning. She saw the water first coming in. And, Mary, where are you now and what are you seeing?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we made our way over to the east side. And we're at Grant Street along the FDR Drive. And, you know, we've been taking a ride around. We haven't seen much damage along the way until we got here.
Take a look at it. We're in front of a high-rise apartment building. And a total of five trees came down, completely uprooted, large trees, just came right down. The good news here, we talked to police, fortunately no one has been injured which is really - these pictures, though, are pretty remarkable when you see these trees just toppled over.
One actually toppled over on top of a bus station, an empty bus station. Here's another over here to my left, a tree that had fallen down. So crews are here now cleaning up the debris, trying to move these trees, and people are coming out taking a look. Kind of dramatic scene, as I said, as we were driving around taking -
COOPER: We just lost Mary Snow obviously. We'll try to make - get back in contact with her and check in with all our correspondents all throughout the region.
Also farther north, as we just heard from Gary Tuchman earlier in Newport, Rhode Island, where the storm is still on its way and where they are bracing for that. Our coverage continues in just a moment. Be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of Tropical Storm Irene.
Let's listen in to our affiliate WCBS. They're interviewing Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie. Let's listen.
KRISTINE JOHNSON, WCBS HOST: -- Irene came into the area. You had some strong words for people that were still milling about on the beaches. This morning we're seeing evidence of people checking out and wanting to see the damage that they may have had on the various beaches in and around their areas. Your message to those people, those curious people that want to check things out.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, NEW JERSEY: Listen. Have a little patience. Allow us to go down there first along with county officials to check out the conditions. And believe me, I have no interest in keeping people away from their homes a minute longer than I have to. And so for those who want to get back down to the coast, to Cape May, Atlantic Ocean and Monmouth counties, I want to get you there as quickly as I can, but I want to make sure you're safe.
We've worked really hard by evacuating people and so are they, we've all worked together to make this is a minimal problem in terms of loss of life. Let's not make a mistake on the tail end here when we're close to making sure this is a successful response to this event. Let's not do it by - by doing something stupid here at the end.
So I'm going down this afternoon to check it out along with county officials and state officials. And as soon as I can, I will give the all clear sign to get people to go back home.
MAURICE DUBOIS, WCBS HOST: Governor, I'm wondering about those seniors. There were some hundreds of seniors who refused to leave Atlantic City yesterday. What became of them? Were you able to get them out of there?
And also, what about the status of the shelters statewide? How did people do through the night and how many people are you accommodating?
CHRISTIE: Well, we got - Maurice, we got an extra hundred of those seniors out last night, but about 500 remained. As of right now, they seem to be OK. They seem to have weathered the storm all right. We have County Emergency Management folks looking in on them as we speak. And so far the reports we're getting back are positive. But we haven't - we don't have a full report on everyone yet.
And in terms of the shelters, we have over 15,000 people at 45 different shelters across the state and all the reports that have come back have been positive. People have had cots to sleep on. We've had food and water for them and they've been able to get some rest. And I think everything has been safe through the hard work of the National Guard and the state police who have been working at those centers as well to provide safety and security.
We've called up over 2,000 national guardsmen who are out there working now and will continue to work the rest of this week and the state police have done an extraordinary job fanning around the state to provide safety and security to folks in the shelters and across the state in harm's way.
JOHNSON: When the time does come, Governor, and you do eventually give the all clear for people to return, what kind of measures are in place to keep traffic under control? I'm sure that that's probably a concern. You don't want a ton of people all heading down all at once and then creating problems that way.
CHRISTIE: Well, basically when we give the all clear, what we'll say to folks is please don't everybody get in your car at once and go. Take a deep breath. Some of you go tonight, some of you go tomorrow. And we'll try to gradually get that in.
But in the end, those people are going to be making their own decisions. If everybody decides the rush down there today, well, you know what it will be like? It will be like a Friday evening on the Garden State Parkway going to the Jersey Shore over the summer.
So people have put up with that in New Jersey for a long time. So if that's the way it works, that's going to be up to them. But we want to get those roadways open, as soon as we can safely, so we can get people back that to their homes.
But first, I want to check out the damage at the Jersey Shore, make sure it's OK for folks to come home.
DUBOIS: You started to touch on public safety before. I guess a lot of people would be hoping that everyone is behaving themselves, Governor.
CHRISTIE: Well, you know, so far we don't have any reports of lawlessness around the state. I'm really proud of New Jerseyans who have pulled together and helped each other so dramatically during - during this crisis. It's really been wonderful to watch.
But I'm not the least bit surprised. Because all of us are really tough, gritty, compassionate people in this state, and when we're at a crisis, we all stand together. So far we don't have any reports of any significant lawlessness. I'll continue to get reports in as we go through today.
But I would urge everyone out there as they start to head home now to make sure that they're mindful of all that. And if they see anything unusual, call their local police and report it.
JOHNSON: Have you had time to even think about the economic impact, particularly when it comes to tourism dollars, Governor?
You know, the Labor Day weekend is just around the corner. Now that there's quite a bit of cleanup to do, you know, is the state going to offer up some help to some of these business owners so that hopefully they can reopen their businesses and make some money? Obviously, you know, a happy business owner makes for a happy New Jersey resident. CHRISTIE: Sure. The Lieutenant Governor is going to be leading a business call with the business community in the shore area to try to start to assess what their needs are. We have a federal emergency declaration which means federal resources can come in and help. We have a state emergency declaration to do the same.
So, Kristine, I'm confident that we're going to be able to handle what comes. But I think also what we need to do is make sure that it's safe. Once it's safe, believe me, I'll be out there a lot talking about how people should come to the Jersey Shore for Labor Day weekend if we can do it in a safe manner.
And if we can, then it looks like the weather next week ironically is supposed to be very nice. So if it turns out we can keep - get these things cleaned up and ready to go, we'll be certainly shouting it from the rooftops and hopefully people will come back and enjoy one last summer weekend at the Jersey Shore.
DUBOIS: And, Governor, we know you have to go, you've got a lot to do obviously today. Just wondering how you weathered the storm, where you were? How about your family and what your impressions were as it made its way through?
CHRISTIE: Well, last - last evening, I went home to our personal residence in Mandon (ph). Had dinner with Mary Pat and our four children and then left with my oldest daughter Sarah to head down to the Governor's Residence in Princeton. And we stayed last night through the storm at the Governor's Residence in Princeton and then made our way over here to the Regional Operations and Intelligence Center this morning at about 6:30.
It was a circuitous route to get here, a lot of flooded roads, a lot of downed trees blocking roads. But the Christies weathered the storm just fine. I checked in with Mary Pat about an hour ago, she and the three kids in Mandon (ph) are doing fine. And my daughter Sarah is right here with me and she's doing fine as well.
JOHNSON: Governor -
COOPER: That was Governor Chris Christie being interviewed by our affiliate WCBS.
I want to bring in the Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management, Commissioner Joseph Bruno. He joins me now. Commissioner, how did - how are things going in New York City right now?
JOSEPH BRUNO, COMMISSIONER, NYC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (via telephone): Well, on the west side, we're seeing some relief from the - from the storm. We still have some winds here. We're going to see more until probably around 12:00. But actually the skies as I'm looking at are no longer raining here in Brooklyn where we're located. And it's bright.
However, we - we have some major winds come through. We have a number of areas of the city are inundated by some surge and by the rain. But overall, I think we've gotten through this.
We sheltered 10,000 people. We're evacuated the Rockaways and the low-lying areas, Zone A we call them, for a Cat 1 hurricane. And we move all those people out on time and I'm very happy with that. It worked out quite well.
COOPER: Yes. It's certainly good news the storm was not as bad as it could have been even in the early morning hours as it could have been later in the day. There are no doubt going to be some people who are saying - who will say, look, you know, this was much ado about nothing, it didn't turn out to be so bad. To them what do you say?
BRUNO: Yes. Well, for one, this storm is an historic storm, extremely dangerous coming directly at New York City and actually hit New York City. Yes, we've gotten some benefit from (INAUDIBLE) at this point. But I'm not the optimist, I'm the pessimist. That's my job to make sure that if we have some of this damaging or potentially damaging, we act.
And so, we have a lot of damage in the city. We have thousands of trees down. We have - or limbs down. We have lots of debris. We have still flooding in parts of the area. We're still in high tide. We have yet seen the effect of surge. We have our system down in certain places and we have some damage in our electric system.
So we've got 50,000 people without power. That's pretty good in a city of this size. So we did well, but we prepared well, also.
COOPER: And what area do you think was the hardest hit at this point?
BRUNO: Well, it looks like the hardest hit is where we predicted, which would be along the Coney Island to Rockaway area, from Brooklyn out to Queens. We do see certain parts of the east side of Manhattan. There's some over-the-top flooding. Howard Beach which is, you know, in the general area (INAUDIBLE) of Brooklyn seeing some flooding right now. And Staten Island, of course, also had a lot of flooding.
But, you know, we certainly are pleased, one, that this - we're now on the down cycle of the high tide. We had (INAUDIBLE) off the high tide, which means it would have been higher and it flooded outside which finally going toward low tide which will come in around 2:00. So things are getting better for us.
COOPER: The first time in the city's history, I believe, that areas have been evacuated, cities have been shut down. Looking back now, what do you think worked and what didn't work in terms of preparation? Is there a lesson to be learned moving forward?
BRUNO: Yes. I think what worked very well was the preparation for health care facilities. We evacuated about 47, I believe, health care facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities and one psychiatric hospital. The great part of it, we brought together the teams, the operators of all these facilities, all their associations all the state and the local government health departments and those involved in transport.
The fire department was one of the leads in the whole thing. So we had it together, they've been together for days doing their planning and executing. And so I think that worked very well (INAUDIBLE) with the hospitals.
Also our shelter system which we have the capacity to handle 600,000 people, we opened it up with the capacity of about 70,000 which was enough. We could have expanded it more. That really worked beautifully. Our employees came in.
The other thing, the last thing I'll mention, the people of the city listened to our mayor. He said evacuate and they did. And to me that is a very important part of this. People complied with the mayor. And while we've never done it before, they complied because they're very knowledgeable now that these are dangerous times and Mother Nature can be very cruel.
COOPER: And in terms of, you know, people who are now listening to this, watching this in their homes wondering, OK, when can I go back outside, when is it safe? What do you say?
BRUNO: Yes. What we're saying now is let's at least wait until 12:00 noon to see the winds are all gone and we have, of course, still to pick up a lot of debris. By 12:00 noon we should see a real lessening of the storm. I'm looking out, we're seeing that start to happen now. So, you know, I think in that area people can start looking out. But they have to be careful. There's still a lot of flooding. Traveling around is not going to be good. They probably should not travel right now.
We certainly have to get all of our health care facilities back into their original locations before we can do that. We're going to have to do assessments of the structural stability. So people should stay inside and enjoy the day. There's lots going on on TV and good books and all that.
COOPER: And, finally, I know it's not your department. But any idea when the subways may reopen?
BRUNO: Yes. We don't know the answer to that. I know that the mayor will be holding a press - I know Jay Walder, head of the MTA will be there. He'll give his assessment. I don't think that the surge was as bad as we anticipated. That should help get the assessment done and to give us real news on what's going to happen.
My view is the surface (ph) transit probably will come back before the subways.
COOPER: Commissioner Bruno, I know it's been a long - a long weekend for you. Appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
BRUNO: Certainly. Thank you very much.
COOPER: We'll take a short break. Our coverage continues.