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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Hurricane Coverage; Giants Sweep Tigers for World Series Win

Aired October 29, 2012 - 04:30   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Morning. Welcome, everybody. A hurricane of epic portions is barreling toward the northeast United States. I'm Soledad O'Brien and I'm coming to you live this morning from Columbus Circle in the heart of Manhattan. Right now, 50 million people are bracing from what could be an onslaught from a once in a lifetime hurricane named Sandy.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Sandy is 1,000 miles wide, packing gale- force winds. I'm John Berman alongside New York Harbor where officials are worried storm surge 11 feet high could swamp this city, causing catastrophic damage.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN: And the race for the White House blown right off the front pages. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Hurricane Sandy forcing candidates to cancel campaign stops and creating havoc for voters as well. CNN's special hurricane coverage starts right now on EARLY START.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: Hey, everybody. Good morning, welcome. You're watching CNN special live coverage of Hurricane Sandy. I'm Soledad O'Brien coming to you live this morning from Columbus Circle, which is right in the heart of Manhattan.

We are tracking this morning this storm which is being called a once in lifetime storm as it continues to bear down on the northeast, specifically New York and New Jersey. Now, if you take a look at the radar, and that's where we'll start this morning, we can see that this storm is massive. It's intimidating as well. Nearly 1,000 miles wide with hurricane-force winds extending out from the eye for roughly 175 miles. Now, as predicted, Sandy has already started veering toward the coastline now. It's expected to make landfall we know in southern New Jersey either late today or early tomorrow and expected to affect some 50 million people.

The hurricane's already been doing some damage in North Carolina. The massive energy from the storm drove 12-foot waves into coastal homes. The threat's expected so remain for days now. Subways, schools shut down in Washington, in Philadelphia, in New York as well. Markets closed, too. Wall Street completely shut down. Last time that happened was back on 9/11 back in 2001.

CNN has Hurricane Sandy covered like no other network on television. You heard from John Berman; he's standing by live this morning in Battery Park City in lower Manhattan where they are expecting a serious storm surge. He'll be talking about that. Rob Marciano is live for us this morning from Asbury Park in New Jersey. Ocean City, Maryland, we've got CNN's Sandra Endo standing by there for us. George Howell is monitoring for us what's happening, those conditions in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

Throughout the morning we're also going to have a chance to talk emergency officials across the northeast, in Norfolk, Virginia; in Philadelphia; in Newark, New Jersey, and Atlantic City and Connecticut. The governor there, Dannel Malloy, will be joining us this morning. Also, Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley, will be our guest as well. He'll be joining us from Reisterstown in Maryland.

So, lots to talk about. This monster storm, we know, packing 75-mile- an-hour winds right now. And if the forecasts hold, as they are expected to do, New Jersey is now expected to take the brunt of it. Let's get right to meteorologist Rob Marciano. He's in Asbury Park in New Jersey as we mentioned. So Rob, first, how are the conditions where you are? And what are the predictions for what we're going to see in the next 12 hours or so?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we say this every time a hurricane approaches as, you know, conditions will be deteriorating. This is such an unusual situation, unusual storm, such a huge storm, as you pointed out, that conditions have been bad since yesterday afternoon. As a matter of fact, last night it was windier than it is now. So we'll get that sort of ebb and flow going on throughout the day. But as the center get closer, and it's still very far away at 400 miles away, things will really start to go downhill in a hurry as we get toward this afternoon.

All right, let's go over the specifics of this storm, the satellite and the statistics. Seventy five-mile-an-hour winds; that has not changed. A Category 1 storm. We talk about historic proportions of this. It is the second lowest pressure at 950 millibars that we've seen this far north and it's also the second largest tropical storm since we've been keeping track of that kind of record since 1988. We may break the pressure record of 1938 historic Long Island Express hurricane, because there's a chance this continues to actually strengthen as it gets closer to the shore.

Here's the forecast track. This hasn't changed. Our computer model's for the last few days have really done a phenomenal job after really putting out weird some solutions a week and a half ago. But it looks like it will make landfall about 50, maybe 100 miles south of where I stand, about 100 miles or so south of New York City. That puts the greater metropolitan area on the bad side of this storm. The right side, northeast side, where brunt of the heavier winds will be and biggest amount of storm surge.

Where's the rain right now? Right now it's across the D.C. area, stretching south towards the North Carolina coastline where they continue to get pounded by wind and waves there. At 400 miles away, moving to the north at about 10 mile an hour, well, you do the math. Later on today, we're going to start to see some of this action. Actually, it will begin to accelerate towards the west as we go through time. I want to talk briefly about a storm surge to the north, that's where it's going to be the worst. That would include New York Harbor. It would include Connecticut, Long Island Sound. That's where the highest storm surge may very well be because of the long fetch of easterly winds where that wind will be pushing that water up against the coastline. We could see 6 to 11 feet of surge there. It looks like it will be higher than Irene. And that's what has folks worried in New York Harbor; also have folks worried here in New Jersey. Here's what Governor Chris Christie had to say about his warning to the state yesterday. .

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: So don't be stupid. Get out and go to higher, safer ground. The margin for error for me being wrong and you going and staying at a friend's house for two days I think is significantly better than winding up with severe injury or death for yourself or for your family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: You know, some public officials caught some heat after Hurricane Irene, at least along the immediate coastline. A lot of folks felt it was overblown, but I stand by their warnings because it's better to be safe than sorry. And this is bigger and in many instances badder than Hurricane Irene was just over 12 months ago. Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: All right, Rob, thank you. And Chris Christie is completely right. Just go and go to higher ground just for a couple of days. Bring some stuff. If you're wrong, fine. But this is not shaping up to be something that will be anything like Irene, frankly.

New York City, of course here we're bracing for the impact. Mass transit in the city was shut down last night. That means that the subways and the buses and the rail systems all were brought to a halt. 7 p.m. is when they told people they were going to stop last night. Central Park, which is right behind me, 5 p.m. last night they were kicking people out, said the park is closed. They had a lot of damage from Hurricane Irene from just trees being overtopped there and toppled over.

Meantime, thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate low-lying areas in five boroughs, particularly in Manhattan and in Brooklyn. And that includes Battery Park City; that's where John Berman is in lower Manhattan. John, how does it look where you are this morning?

BERMAN: It's really an empty, eerie calm here, Soledad. Some 370,000 people have been evacuated from the low-lying areas, including where I am, Battery Park City. Also Brooklyn, behind me, Staten Island, those areas all evacuated. People going to crash with friends, staying in hotels or going to some 70 to 76 evacuation centers that have been set up around the city. They had to leave before 7:00 last night, really, because that's when the subway shut down so it's harder to get around here. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he's not going to force people from their homes here. He's just asking, really begging people to get out. Why? Because if they stay, they put themselves at risk; they also put emergency workers at risk if they have to come in and try to rescue them after the fact.

The big concern here is the storm surge. They're saying 6 to 11 feet high. That's a full two feet higher than we saw during Hurricane Irene. Irene did cause some minor flooding here but that extra two feet could cause serious, catastrophic flooding here. What they're saying is it could lap up over the edge right here where I'm standing. This is one the barriers, the storm walls right here. That water could easily get up, cover where I'm standing right now and flood this entire area.

One of the things they're concerned about is electricity. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said one of the things they might have to do is shut down completely two electrical networks that run through the underground area in this part of the city. That could affect at least 17,000 people. But you can imagine how that would get higher and higher as the day goes on.

The real problem, again, the storm surge. It's a full moon so the high tides are even higher. High tide where I'm standing, around 8:50 p.m. tonight. Michael Bloomberg said this will be a slow, steady rise throughout the day with the worst of it really coming at that high tide point at 8:50 p.m. tonight. That is what they're most concerned about. The mayor says it is best to be safe. Get out now if you're still down here in this area. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right, John. Thank you. And of course, another thing to mention, it's cold. That's often unusual when you're covering hurricanes. And that means that if you lose the power for people, they're looking at temperatures in this region along the northeast in some places 30 degrees. So without power, that is a big problem for people. And they're estimating 10 million - 10 million -- people could lose power from this storm.

All the things we're watching and monitoring for you this morning. Listen, ahead this morning, when our special coverage of Hurricane Sandy, we're going to be talking to Anna Kate Twitty; she's with the Nassau County chapter of the American Red Cross. Her part of Long Island is expected to take a direct hit. We're going to talk to her about what the Red Cross is doing to best prepare for the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy. Also this morning, we'll be talking with some of the governors of states that have been affected already and what they're concerned about as the brunt of Hurricane Sandy rolls through. Got to take a short break. We're back in a moment with special coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN special coverage of Hurricane Sandy, which is approaching the northeast Coast. Listen, emergency services personnel are telling us they are prepared to respond as necessary to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The National Weather Service is forecasting that the brunt of the storm, much of the storm, could in fact hit Long Island this afternoon, late this evening.

Anna Kate Twitty is the spokeswoman for New York chapter of the American Red Cross, the Nassau County, New York, chapter. And she joins us by phone. Anna Kate, thanks for talking to us. Talk to me a little bit first about your preparations right now.

ANNA KATE TWITTY, RED CROSS SPOKESWOMAN (via telephone): Absolutely. Thanks for having me this morning. The American Red Cross has launched a multistate response to help people in the storm's path. We've mobilized hundreds of volunteers and we have multiple shelters set up across seven states and we anticipate that number to continue grow. We have prepositioned relief supplies such as cots, blankets and food, ready to go into affected areas once this storm has passed.

We also have over 1030 emergency response vehicles that will go into the communities once it is safe to do so. We're encouraging people right now to locate, identify a shelter if they haven't already evacuated. Listen to local authorities and find a Red Cross shelter. You can do this by downloading our Red Cross hurricane app or visiting our web site at redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS and make sure that you find a safe place in your house if you don't seek shelter, but we have Red cross shelters available across these states.

O'BRIEN: Ann Kate, let me ask you a question about how many people you are preparing to be able to house in some of these shelters?

TWITTY: Absolutely. And it dpends on each location but most shelters can hold up hundreds of people. We expect that we will over the next coming days and weeks shelter thousands of people. And we have trained disaster volunteers that have mobilized from areas across the country to make sure that we provide a safe place, a warm meal and emotional support to folks that have come and that are residing in our shelter.

O'BRIEN: All right. Quick, final point for you. Folks can go online to track down where these shelters are if they had to?

TWITTY: Absolutely. They can visit our web site at redcross.org, call 1-80-RED-CROSS or we have a new, free Red Cross hurricane app for iPhone and Android users which has preloaded emergency content, also shelter locations and real time weather alerts. We encourage people to go through those three means. And tune in to your local media outlets for ongoing shelter locations.

O'BRIEN: Anna Kate Twitty. She is with the Long Island American Red Cross, Nassau County specificall, advising us what they're doing there to prepare. Thank you for that.

OK, the southeast coast of the United States was the very first to feel thAT brunt of Hurricane Sandy here for folks in the United States. The hurricane kicked up powerful waves along the Outer Banks of North Carolina all day on Sunday, hit the area with strong winds and heavy rain. George Howell is in Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina for us this morning. It's a community on the Outer Banks. So George, describe for me a little bit about what you're seeing right now. GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, good morning. We're talking about an area that's been under these conditions for the last 72 hours. We're talking about strong winds that are coming through, wind gusts tonight -- rather this morning, anywhere from 30 to 40 miles an hour. There's also a real great concern, Soledad, about the storm surge from this storm. Just two days ago we walked the beach here along the Outer Banks. That beach is no longer there. You see how quickly the Atlantic has risen. Many of the same same conditions people will be dealing with today in New York City.

Also, there's concern on the other side of the Outer Banks, the sound side. As these winds continue to shift, it pushes water into areas that are prone to flooding. That's a real problem. They're keeping an eye on that.

Soledad, one other thing that's very important to talk about, the U.S. Coast Guard, they've identified a tall sailing ship that's about 90 miles from where we are, about 250 miles -- rather, 160 miles from the eye of this storm. It's a ship that's lost propulsion and right now there are 17 people on board that ship. That ship is at the mercy of the ocean. The Coast Guard has identified the location, they found the ship, they've regained communications with the crew and right now it's a matter of trying to get out there and get to them. Btu again, a developing situation just off the coast of North Carolina. Something the Coast Guard and of course we will be keeping a very close eye on, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Obviously. All right, George Howell, monitoring all those things for us this morning. Thank you, George. Appreciate that. Still ahead, the Jersey Shore is racing for the - and bracing for the brunt of this storm. The hurricane is creeping closer. We're expecting landfall some time this evening. We're going to take you to New Jersey to update you on what's happening there straight ahead. We're back in just a moment. You're watching CNN's special coverage of Hurricane Sandy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome back, everybody. Let's start with some pictures, live pictures from Virginia Beach, Virginia, where you can see the wind is picking up and also there is some choppy waves in the backdrop there. We're monitoring what's happening today as we continue with our CNN special coverage of Hurricane Sandy. We are going to track Sandy's every move as it makes its way to where we are expecting it to make landfall in New Jersey a little bit later this evening.

There's a new advisory expected out at 5:00 this morning. We're going to bring that to you live when it happens. Right now we know the storm is packing a 75-mile-an-hour punch. And if the forecasts hold, as I mentioned, we're looking at New Jersey as the place where they will get a major, major hit. Meteorologist Rob Marciano is in New Jersey this morning; he's in Asbury Park. He is monitoring the conditions there and also the forecast as well for us. Rob, good morning. MARCIANO: Good morning, Soledad. Here we are, about 40 miles or so due south of New York City and about maybe 20 or 25 miles south to the inlet to New York Harbor where this surge could certainly be historic. But the waves across New Jersey have been pounding. We stand on Berkeley Hotel, which has - there's a lot of history here in Asbury Park, as you know, from the heyday of the '20s to a lot of ebbs and flows in economic cycle. It's on the surge of another economic comeback.

We're a couple hundred miles, a couple hundred yards I should say from the ocean. And last night during high tide cycle, the water was well above the normal side, probably about 3 feet above average, right up lapping up against the boardwalk. So later on today and tonight when the high tide cycle peaks again around 8:00, 9:00, which is by the way around when Sandy should be making landfall just south of here, we expect a storm surge of at least four, possibly as high as eight feet. So that would mean that water would come up and over the boardwalk and possibly flooding these streets back through the rest of Asbury Park.

Up and down New Jersey, that's a similar situation that's going to happen along the coastline. On top of that, inland flooding and devastating winds that Sandy's going to bring. Government officials and governors across the northeast corridor have certainly been warning their constituents. This is what Governor Chris Christie had to say to New Jersey yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: So don't be stupid. Get out and go to higher, safer ground. The margin for error for me being wrong and you going and staying at a friend's house for two days I think is significantly better than winding up with severe injury or death for yourself or for your family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: Always a straight talker. He was a straight talker during Hurricane Irene with similar warnings. Irene, you know, as far as folks who lived near the cities, you know, they felt it wasn't that big of a deal. Obviously, a multi-billion dollar disaster, especially further inland. So better to play it safe than sorry.

And it looks like not only here across New Jersey, but up and down the East Coast and especially there in lower Manhattan, Soeldad, people are heeding the warning. You had about a 4-inch storm surge from Irene as John Berman pointed out, likely to be higher than that here. So I think we'll have serious problems across some of these cities's infrastructure, not only in New York City but also in New Jersey, when this thing makes landfall tonight. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Rob Marciano for us this morning. Thank you, Rob. Rob will continue to monitor what's happening there in Asbury Park and also the forecast for us this morning. Want to get a look at some of the other stories that are making news today. Zoraida Sambolin is inside where it's warm. Good morning, Z. SAMBOLIN: It is warm in here. Thank you, Soledad. And mindful of the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy, both the Romney and Obama campaigns have suspended e-mail fundraising in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina and also the District of Columbia. Both candidates canceled campaign events in Virginia as well.

And the storm could also create havoc with early voting in states that are in its path. Maryland's governor already canceled early voting in his state for today. In Virginia, the governor said polling centers will be a top priority for restoring power if it is lost there.

And the San Francisco Giants are world champions for the second time in the last three seasons. They swept the Tigers away with a 10- inning Game Four win in Detroit. This was last night, folks. Giants' third baseman Pablo Sandoval was voted most valuable player in the series and he says there is no I in MVP.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PABLO SANDOVAL, GIANTS THIRD BASEMAN: It's a team. It's a team. I say thank you to my teammates to give me the opportunity to be here. You know, the two last series. You know, winning six elimination games is tough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Well, the Giants finished with seven straight postseason wins. And now the seventh World Series title in team history. Hooray for them. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right, Zoraida, thanks very much. We're goint to continue to check in with Zoraida for some of the stories that are news that' are not Hurricane Sandy. However, CNN is the place to turn to to follow the latest developments in this hurricane with our special coverage this morning. Lots to talk about.

We know that this storm is approximately 1,000 miles wide. And it is now converging on the New Jersey coast. We're going to be monitoring that with team coverage this morning from North Carolina to New York. Also, all eyes on lower Manhattan as well. There are predictions there could be 11-foot waves that could come crashing ashore from the storm surge. We're going to take you to lower Manhattan because if that did happen, that could be catastrophic. We're monitoring what's happening there as well.

You're watching our special coverage. We've got to take a short break. We're back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Breaking news now as we get a new advisory on Hurricane Sandy. We want to get right to Rob Marciano who is in Asbury Park, New Jersey, with a closer look at what this latest advisory is telling us -- Rob.

MARCIANO: It's frightening, Soledad. We're up to 85-mile-an-hour wind now. So, and there's a possibility from reading some nuggets from the National Hurricane Center that it could strengthen some more. We knew we had that possibility. Still over the Gulf Stream where waters are still warm enough to sustain a hurricane. Also getting into an environment where it favored strengthening. That's what we've seen.

Here it is in the satellite picture. 85-mile-an-hour winds. That's a moderate strength category one storm with possible strengthening as we go through time. About 380 miles south of New York City, it's movement has picked up northerly about 15 miles an hour and we still expect that turn toward the west later on.

This thing is huge. Reading some technical stuff, the tropical storm force winds, the diameter of tropical storm force winds nearly 800 miles wide. That is huge. The second largest tropical system we've seen in the last few decades.

And also, hurricane force winds extend 150 miles out. The amount of damaging winds is about 350 to 400 miles wide. So, that's wind of over 55 miles an hour. That is a huge swath of real estate that will be impacted by damaging winds when this thing makes its way onshore.

All right. Here's the latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. Hopefully, our graphics are updated here. But it really hasn't changed a whole lot.

The only thing that's changed is that it may very well come on as slightly stronger hurricane or post-tropical storm strength hurricane, meaning right now we're getting into the colder air. That temperature contrast and that jet stream because of that temperature contrast is going to only add more fuel to the fire here in the next 12 to 18 hours. So, things continue to unfold along the Jersey coastline. The Delmarva is where we expect landfall or just north of that along the south Jersey coastline, we're probably about 50 to 100 miles from where this is expected to make landfall.

And Governor Christie yesterday had a number of things to say to his constituents in New Jersey, a very straight-talking governor. Here's yet another little sound bite from him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: We want everybody to stay off the roads. We can't emphasize this enough. Don't try to go out and be a hero or act as if there's nothing he's going on. Something is happening. It's important that we need to have you stay inside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: Coastal communities up and down the New Jersey shoreline have been evacuated. And from what we've seen so far here, Soledad, the citizens of New Jersey have taken heed to that warning given by the governor yesterday. Again, 85-mile-an-hour wind now, strengthening, category 1 storm Hurricane Sandy, and more strengthening possible as this huge storm makes its way towards the northeast coastline throughout the day today -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Rob, thank you for the update. We'll continue to check in with you throughout the morning.

We're in Columbus circle and you can see right over my shoulder is Central Park. Yesterday, around 5:00 in the afternoon, they started closing the park, kicking everybody out. Obviously, the big issue is the trees. They lost some trees in Hurricane Irene where the winds were nowhere near as high as Rob is just talking about.

Entire mass transit system as well for New York City has been shut down. That means there are no subways running. There are no buses running. There are no trains running. Thousands of people have been ordered out, evacuated from the low-lying coastal areas in Brooklyn and in Lower Manhattan as well.

John Berman is in Battery Park City.

Got some flooding there with Hurricane Irene, the last hurricane that we saw here. This time around, John, it's expected to be significantly worse, correct?

BERMAN: Significantly worse. They're saying the storm surge could be six to 11 feet higher. That's a full two feet higher than Hurricane Irene.

Why is that important? Well, there was a study out of Columbia University that said, had Hurricane Irene been one foot worse, the storm foot surge one foot higher, it could have cost an additional $50 billion in damage. That serious, the storm surge two feet higher. That would come up to my knees here. It would flood the subway system, flood the electrical grid.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that he's already considering shutting down two electrical networks here which would take out power to some 17,000 people. But it could be much higher than that. It's eerily calm and empty down here right now, Soledad, as well it should be.

The city ordered mandatory evacuations of some 370,000 people from the low laying areas here in Lower Manhattan, also the other boroughs. People are staying in about 76 storm shelters where they've gone to hotels or to crash with friends.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg really almost begged people to get out of their home. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) NEW YORK CITY: I can't stress enough that this is for your own safety. And that if you refuse to evacuate, you're not only putting yourself at risk but also the first responders who will have to assist you in an emergency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, again, the storm surge expected to be six to 11 feet high. The real trouble spot: the time to watch high tide tonight, around 8:50 tonight. We have full moon so high tides could be even higher. If that storm surge comes at the wrong time during that high tide with the full moon, that is when it could be particularly dangerous -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. John Berman for us watching what's happening in Lower Manhattan.

I should add to the long list of closings that I read to you earlier, also public schools, private schools are out of session. They canceled them for today, possibly tomorrow as well.

We want to get to George Howell. He's in Kill Devil Hills, which is in North Carolina, the outer banks. They have felt the brunt of Sandy already.

Update us on what you're seeing, George.

HOWELL: Soledad, good morning. You know, we're talking about an area here that has really been under these conditions for the last 72 hours. A lot less of the rain, the sand that we had yesterday coming through, but definitely still feeling the winds. This wind gusts anywhere from 30 to 40 mile per hour at times.

And there's a real concern about two things. First of all, storm surge. We know there was a beach a few days ago. We walked that beach. That beach is no longer there.

You can see how quickly the Atlantic has risen given this storm. They're expecting anywhere from four to six feet of storm surge on the Atlantic side. The sound side, there's worry about this storm is shifting directions, wind directions, pushing water into different places and causing flooding, as it did with Irene when it passed through.

One other thing, Soledad, of great importance -- just off the coast from us about 90 miles here from the outer banks, and 160 miles from eye of the storm there's a ship presently at the mercy of the ocean, a ship with 17 people on board. It's a sailing ship.

The U.S. Coast Guard has regained communications with them. They know where that ship is. And now, it's a matter of trying to get out there.

Again, this is a sailing ship that last propulsion. People on that ship are at the mercy of the waves so they're trying to get out to them at this hour.

O'BRIEN: Oh my goodness, George. What a horrible thing to be out in the ocean, in a tall ship, 100 miles from land --

(CROSSTALK)

HOWELL: -- and the waves.

O'BRIEN: And the waves.

HOWELL: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: And being completely without propulsion at this time.

All right. Hopefully emergency officials will be able to get them and rescue the 17 people on that ship. Thank you for watching that for us.

Lots coming up. We're going to talk to emergency officials who will tell us about their preparations this morning.

Also, we're going to be talking with the governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, will join us to talk to us about what's happening in Connecticut, what their concern about and what their emergency preps look like.

And Governor Martin O'Malley will join us as well live from Reisterstown, Maryland. He's a Maryland governor, obviously to tell us how Maryland is looking and what they are planning to do for the storm.

You're watching special coverage of Hurricane Sandy. We'll update you on everything that's happening. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're taking a look at some live pictures from Kill Devil Hills in the outer banks in North Carolina.

George Howell is reporting from there for us this morning. He's been watching developments there. He has reported for us that Hurricane Sandy has been camped out there a little bit and they've been feeling the effects. Not only high wind but also the storm surge, covering up at least one beach that he talked about.

We want to get right now to Sandra Endo. She's in Ocean City in Maryland, with the latest on how it looks there.

Sandra, good morning.

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

The mandatory evacuation order has been in effect since yesterday for downtown Ocean City. At all night long, we've seen unrelenting rain and wind. The wind gust is up to 45 miles per hour at some points.

Now, take a look. This is something new this morning. It's three hours from high tide and you can see the ocean. The waves are fierce, they're big, they rough. And this is the first time we're seeing them actually lap onto the sand dune here that's protecting the shoreline and the property line from the water. And, clearly, this is only going to get worse because, again, we are three hours away from high tide. Ands the rain is not giving up here. And again, we're about 100 yards from the property line that's certainly a big concern for residents and local officials here in Ocean City. They see the storm surge is really what is going to be the biggest threat in this area, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Sandra Endo watching things for us in Maryland there. Thank you, Sandra. Appreciate it.

We'll continue to get updates from Sandra, and everyone else who's covering the story for us throughout the morning.

We want to get right now to Jim Redick. He is director of Emergency Operation Center in Norfolk, Virginia, which is right by Chesapeake Bay on the eastern coast of that state.

Jim, it's nice to talk to you. Thank you for being with us.

Give me a sense of what your emergency preparations look like right now. What are you expecting?

JIM REDICK, DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY OPERATION CENTER IN NORFOLK, VA (via telephone): Sure. As far as emergency protective actions that we've taken, we've opened up shelters. We have four shelters right now with some folks in there. We opened parking garages and work with Norfolk public schools and private sector partners in terms of providing some safe havens on higher ground so those living in low-lying areas are able to park their vehicles there. We closed do flood walls and flood gates, and we're working with our community partners. We're working as one team here, public, private, not for private, higher education and military working together to respond to this incident.

The current status is, you know, the flooding areas in the city, but as was just reported, we're expecting a lot worse later today, around 9:30, 10:00 with high tide over seven feet. So, the winds are picking up. We're looking at, you know, just sustained wind of 39 miles per hour, tropical force wind levels and gusts in the 60s.

So, with the saturated ground and flooding, we're expecting more downed trees and power lines and power outages and the like.

It all sounds very dire as we've been monitoring not only the forecast and the weather patterns as well with out meteorologists. But as we check in with folks like you, who are in charge of security and precautions and emergency operations, are you feeling comfortable and confident with everything that you've got and how you prepared at this point?

REDICK: Sure, sure. You can't plan for every contingency and we have partnerships and the relationships in place to get through any thing that, any adversity come our way. So, we feel good with where we are. We have a good idea of what's coming. So, you know, Norfolk is pretty (INAUDIBLE). So, we'll be able to get to whatever Sandy brings to us.

O'BRIEN: All right. We're very glad to hear that. Jim Redick, he's director of emergency operation in Norfolk this morning. Thank you, sir. Appreciate your time.

We want to get right back to Zoraida. She's got a look at some of the other stories that are making news today.

Good morning, Z.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, Soledad.

Hurricane Sandy is having an impact on the presidential race. With just eight days until Election Day, both the Romney and Obama campaign have suspended e-mail fundraising in some states that are in the storm's path -- Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina and the District of Columbia. And both candidates cancelled campaign events that were scheduled in Virginia as well.

The major newspapers have made their endorsements. President Obama garnered the support of "The Blade" in Toledo, Ohio, "The Pittsburgh Post Gazette" and "Detroit Free Press". Mitt Romney was endorsed by "The Des Moines Register" in Iowa, the Richmond, Virginia, "Times Dispatch" and "The Press Enterprise" in Riverside, California.

And it is a San Francisco sweep. The Giants beat Detroit tiger last night to win the World Series in four straight. Game four went extra innings. San Francisco winning four, three and 10. The Panda, Pablo Sandoval was named the series MVP. He says this year's Giants were special.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: It's something. I say thank you to my teammates, you know, to give me opportunity to be here. The fight 162 gamers, fight in the two last series, you know, winning six, six, you know, elimination games is tough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: It is the Giants second World Series title. This all in the last three year -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Good news for them. Good news for them.

All right. Z, thank you very much for that update.

We'll continue to get to Zoraida for some of the stories making news this morning. In the meanwhile, we've got special coverage of Hurricane Sandy which is expected to make landfall in New Jersey some time this evening. We're monitoring advisories as they come in.

We're also going to talk about what's closed. Subways in New York are closed, schools are closed and markets are closed as well. Christine Romans will join us with a look at that, straight.

We've got to take a short break. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're taking a look at some live pictures from Ocean City, in Maryland. That's where Sandra Endo has been reporting for us.

You can see the waves and the rain. We continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Sandy as it makes its way toward landfall. Expected some time this evening in New Jersey.

Behind me, Central Park in the Columbus Circle in New York City, everything in the city has been shut down. The trains were shutdown last night. Central Park, people were kicked out at 5 p.m. yesterday. And schools in New York as well have all been shut down. Markets as well.

Christine Romans has an update on what is a very unusual thing, right, Christine? The last time this happened, this unplanned closing of the markets was 9/11, right?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's incredibly rare to see the New York Stock Exchange shut for physical trading on the floor, but also for electronic trading as well.

The last time we saw it for a weather-related event, Soledad, was 1985 and Hurricane Gloria. So, incredibly rare, only a terrorist attack and a very major, major storm shut down the trading floor. So, for Americans today, for investors today, they will not be trading G.M. or Google for that matter, because the NASDAQ is also closing. And the NYMEX, where we trade oil futures, that's in evacuation zone in Lower Manhattan, it will be shut as well.

So, one in five Americans lives in the path of this storm. So, obviously, they're not thinking about their 401(k) this morning. They're thinking about their property, which is why we saw this retail surge over the weekend as people prepared to protect their property. Some $87 billion of homes in the path of a storm surge, just the storm surge, at risk $87 billion. And that brings in the insurance companies into this part of the story as well. That will be part of the economic impact from the storm.

We'll be closely watching as all of this -- all of this area has to be insured and covered on the other end. Now, remember, this is a water and wind event. So that we'll be watching later into today and tomorrow to see just how much personal property is damaged because of this from the water and the wind.

Again, a very rare convergence of storms. It means the stock exchange is closed. You have a lot of activity over the weekend from the stores and the like. You'll see that taper of today and tomorrow and pick up again as people pick up what's broken and damaged.

And also, flight closures. A lot of the flights are offering -- all of the airlines, by the way, are offering fee-free changes. Insist on fee-free changes if you're changing tickets and don't even bother going to the airport.

So, that's where we sit with the economics of the story. You know, Soledad, it's so interesting. This can cut both ways, you can get a lot of economic activity on the way into the storm, and then nothing, and then damages, and then a lot of economic activity coming on the other side as you clean up.

O'BRIEN: Right. As folks were preparing here in New York yesterday, Christine, you know, stores were running out of things. I don't have a flashlight. Probably one of the few people in New York that lacks a flashlight. I couldn't find one. They didn't have any more flashlights so we're stuck without them.

And, yes, you're absolutely right, as people were waiting to see what the impact of the storm will be. You know, it's interesting, Hurricane Irene which for many people certainly here in New York City felt was in some ways overhyped. Although I don't know that you really can overhype what could be a devastating storm. That had a lot of damage. Like $15 billion.

So, even when it doesn't -- not perceived to be a massive storm, the cost can be huge.

ROMANS: And the water expectations are much higher for this storm than Irene. Irene was also a water event. You had you flooding up and down the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. So, this will be a water event. Water events are so expensive and so tricky.

You know, I will point out, today, you can't do anything at this point except for presumably you prepared, you're sheltering in place. Please find your homeowners insurance documents right now, put them in a Ziploc. If you need to leave your home, if a tree comes on your roof, you want to want to know your coverage, you want to know who to call.

That's something that you can do really while you're waiting for the storm to hit. Make sure you have all that homeownership insurance. Make sure you have all those documents in order right now.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I did that. I couldn't find a flashlight so I worked on that instead.

Christine Romans updating us on the financial impact of what this turn could be. Thank you, Christine. Certainly appreciate it.

Lots of closures to talk as we mentioned here in New York, the subways are closed, Central Park has been closed, no trains as well. Schools are closed. Lower Manhattan, big evacuations for Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. John Berman is there for us. He's going to update us on what's happening there -- 375,000 people have been evacuated from these low-lying areas.

We're going to update you on what's happening with this storm as we wait for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall. We're expecting that sometime this evening.

CNN the place to be to get the latest on this storm. We're back in just a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien. We're coming to you live from Columbus Circle in New York. You're watching CNN special coverage of Hurricane Sandy.

Right now, 50 million people are bracing for this epic storm. We are expecting it will make landfall tonight.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman live in the evacuation zone in lower Manhattan. A storm surge as high as 11 feet high, officials worry it could cripple America's largest city.

SAMBOLIN: And Hurricane Sandy causing both campaigns to change course. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. President Obama and Mitt Romney doing some last minute rearranging with eight days left until America votes. CNN's special hurricane coverage starts right now on EARLY START.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. You're watching CNN special continuing live coverage of Hurricane Sandy as this monster of a storm is closing in on the northeast. One Coast Guard official is seeing two possible scenarios playing out today. He says it could be bad or it could be absolute devastation. So both of those scenarios very, very bad, obviously.

Take a look right now at Hurricane Sandy, where it is, it's a Category 1 hurricane nearly 1,000 miles wide with hurricane-force winds extending 175 miles out from the eye. An estimated 50 million people in an 800-mile area are expected to be impacted by this storm. CNN has Hurricane Sandy covered like no other network.

I'm in midtown Manhattan right near Central Park. John Berman is standing by at lower Manhattan. He's keeping an eye on what is predicted to be a storm surge of up to 11 feet or so. Rob Marciano is covering New Jersey for us, that's where landfall is expected to be. He's in Asbury Park, New Jersey. In Ocean City, Maryland, CNN's Sandra Endo is reporting for us, following what's happening there. We've seen high winds and waves there as well. George Howell is monitoring what's happening in the Outer Banks, specifically in Kill Devil Hills, which is in North Carolina.

Throughout this morning, we're also going to be talking to emergency officials who are in Norfolk, Virginia and Philadelphia, in Newark, New Jersey, in Atlantic City. We'll be talking to the Connecticut governor, Dannel Malloy will be joining us from Hartford. Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley, will join us from Reisterstown in Maryland this morning as well.

We want to begin with Rob Marciano. As I mentioned, he's in New Jersey, at Asbury Park. A little bit of a ways north, I believe, if I'm not mistaken, Rob, of where landfall is expected. What are we looking for, timewise, for landfall for this storm?

MARCIANO: Timing hasn't changed a whole lot, Soledad. If anything, maybe it's moved up a few hours. We're looking at it tonight, some time tonight, 8:00, 10:00, maybe minute night for landfall to happen. South of us maybe by about 50 to 100 miles. You mentioned we're north of where we expect the center to make landfall. This storm will be so big and will be so different from other tropical storms we've covered, you don't want to look at just where it's going to hit because the winds are so big with this thing that hundreds of miles on either side of it, you're going to see damaging winds.

And the latest forecast, the latest stats, at the National Hurricane Center indicate that it has strengthened to 85-mile-an-hour winds. The wind radii continue to expand. The thing is 800 miles in width as far as tropical storm strength. They're feeling winds in Atlanta. They're going to be feeling winds across the Great Lakes. Waves on Lake Michigan may very well reach 20 or 25 feet. And we haven't even talked really about the snow. At least two feet of snow behind this thing in West Virginia.

An extraordinary event and, again, expected to make landfall later on tonight. It's about 380 miles south of New York City and conditions will obviously continue to deteriorate.

These are the kind of preps that are happening across parts of New Jersey. They're boarding up in Atlantic City. There's already been some flooding in Ocean City. Seabright, just south of New York City, at the entrance to New York Harbor, they're making preps there. That will be a very hard-hit area. The storm surge something along the coastline we're very concerned about here in Jersey, anywhere from 4 to 8 feet of storm surge expected. That will bring the water up and over the boardwalk here at Asbury Park. So up and down the coastline, coastal residents have fled in evacuation zones and Governor Chris Christie had some strong words for his constituents yesterday. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: So don't be stupid. get out and go to higher, safer ground. The margin for error for me being wrong and you going and staying at a friend's house for two days I think is significantly better than winding up with severe injury or death for yourself or for your family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: Always a straight talker and seems at least from what we've seen here people are certainly taking that advice. We mentioned the storm has strengthened, Soeldad. The barometric pressure has dropped to 946 millibars. That now ties a record for the lowest pressure north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, tying now the 1938 Long Island Express hurricane that almost 75 years ago that did so much damage to this area.

O'BRIEN: Hey, Rob, let me ask you a couple of questions. Right now, behind me in New York City, it's so early in the morning, this is not usually a bustling area this early in the morning, but what you don't even see are the cabs. There's nobody's on the street. So that's a little bit unusual. What kind of damage -- I know you talked about the impact on the coast -- what kind of damage are they thinking about with these high wind in a city? Nobody's really boarded up their windows and one thing, I look at these scaffolding everywhere and it makes me really nervous. What do you think?

MARCIANO: It should make you nervous. The higher up you go, you know, you add a category of storm if you go up about 30 stories. So that's always a concern when you talk about the winds with this thing. Now that it's interacting with a strong jetstream, the winds of hurricane force or greater, at least hurricane gusts, will be as far north as New York City, maybe as far north in some cases during some gusts as Boston.

So there's reason to be worried and there's reason for -- basically if you haven't evacuated an evacuation zone and you live in New York City or anywhere near the coastline, just shelter in place. Just hunker down and if you -- if your home is surrounded by some tall trees later on this afternoon and tonight, you're going to want to think about getting down to the lowest level of your home, into the interior section of the home, just in case a tree falls on your house. If you have a story above you to protect you, that's certainly going to be a wise choice to make. Lots of concern, Soledad, yes. From the city to countryside, people just need to be self-aware and take care of their business over the next 24 hours.

O'BRIEN: All right. Rob Marciano watching it all for us. Thank you, Rob. Appreciate that. Flash flooding also is something people are concerned about. Power outages as well. One number we've heard is 10 million people could lose power in the wake of this storm. Chesapeake Bay is already feeling some of the impact of the storm. People in flood prone areas have been ordered to get out there as well as other areas in the northeast. Sandra Endo is in Maryland for us this morning. Sandra, tell me a little bit about what you're seeing.

ENDO: We're here in Ocean City, Maryland, Soledad. They have had a mandatory evacuation order for downtown here in Ocean City as of last night. Right now, we are feeling rain, we are feeling the wind gusts, sometimes pick up until to about 45 miles per hour.

Here's what's new this morning. Take a look at the water. The coastline here, it's not even high tide and you can see those waves. They are fierce. They're the biggest we've seen so far. They're certainly approaching the protective sand dune right there. This is the first time we've seen it actually come up onto that sand dune. And there's about 100 yards from that sand dune to the property line here in Ocean City. So, that's certainly something officials and residents are going to be keeping a watchful eye on.

As you've been talking about, this storm surge is the biggest threat for areas like this one. They're talking about the long duration of Hurricane Sandy and the effects of this storm coupled with the high tide and full moon -- that could add up to a major storm surge. We're talking about flooding, possible power outages that could last for days. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Sandra Endo is in Ocean City in Maryland for us this morning. Thank you, Sandra, for the update. So here in New York where we actually haven't had any rain or even those big wind gusts that Sandra and George Howell have been reporting for us morning, but the impact of Hurricane Sandy has really been felt in a big way here in New York City in terms of closures. The entire mass transit system has been shut down here in New York; 375,000 people have been evacuated from the low-lying flood-prone areas in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. Life-threatening storm surge is predicted; that's a storm surge of 11 feet. John Berman's got updates for us in term of what's happening in terms of New York City. He's in one of those low-lying areas, Battery Park City. John, good morning.

BERMAN: Good morning, Soledad. As you said, just completely empty down here today. No taxicabs, no people walking on the street. I saw one lone cop wandering around just looking to see if there is anyone left out here, but no. Some 375,000 people, mandatory evacuations ordered for them in these low-lying areas in lower Manhattan and the other boroughs.

The big concern is the storm surge, 6 to 11 feet high. That's is about a full 2 feet higher than we saw during Hurricane Irene. Why is that important? Well, there was a study out of Columbia University that said had Hurricane Irene been one foot higher, the storm surge one foot higher, it could have cost an additional $50 billion in damage. The flooding could come easily up over where I'm standing, probably right about here. It would go into the subway tunnels, flood the electrical system. That is the concern here.

Now Mayor Michael Bloomberg when he ordered the evacuations last night practically begging people to leave their home. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLOOMBERG: I can't stress enough that this is for your own safety and that if you refuse to evacuate, you're not only putting yourself at risk but also the first responders who will have to assist you in an emergency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, we're not talking crashing waves here. We're talking a slow, steady rise in the water level. High tide tonight is at about 8:50 p.m. If the storm surge comes right at that time, that could be the worst. There's a full moon tonight; the tide's even higher. So this water level behind me, I think you'll be able to see it in a few hours, it's dark right now here, but it's pretty high right now. We have a tide at 8:30 this morning. It's about two feet below the sea wall here. So if that crashes over here tonight, that is when there could be real problems. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: John Berman watching that are to us this morning. Thank you, John. Appreciate the update.

So it was coastal residents in the southeast who were among the very first in the United States, the continental United States, to feel the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. Twelve foot waves pounded the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Some of the roads there also are underwater. Today at high tide they're expected there could be more flooding as well. Evacuations have been ordered for parts of the lower banks.

Want to get right to Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, which is in the Outer Banks and it's where CNN's George Howell is reporting for us this morning. Hey George, how's it looking for you?

HOWELL: Soledad, good morning. We're talking about an area that has really been under these conditions for the last 72 hours. We're seeing the wind gusts come and go but the wind gusts have backed of compared to the other day. Also less rain, less sand coming, that sideways rain, but we're expecting more rain showers as we're still under the effect of this storm system.

The two big things that officials are focused on this morning, first of all, the storm surge. You can't see it out there. You'll be able to see it, as John said, in a few hours. You'll be able to see where the water levels are. But, you know, there was a beach out there. The beach is gone. The Atlantic has risen quite quickly. And storm surge in this area could be anywhere from 4 to 6 feet. The further south you go, could get up to 7 feet.

On the other side, on the sound side, they're expecting a real possibility of flooding as they saw with Irene. Again, as this storm continues to change directions, wind directions, it's pushing water into different places, it could cause 3 to 5 feet of flooding.

One other situation, Soledad, very important, that's happening at this hour: the U.S. Coast Guard has identified a three-masted sailing ship. It's about 90 miles away from Hatteras, from where we are along the Outer Banks, about 160 miles from the eye of the storm. Right now we know that 17 souls are on board and the U.S. Coast Guard is trying to get to them to get them off. They regained communication with them but, again, this ship lost propulsion and is floundering at the mercy of the sea. So they are trying to get to the people and get them off.

O'BRIEN: Hey George, let me ask you a question about that. I know the details are very sketchy but I understand that that tall ship is from the movie in the 1960's "Mutiny on the Bounty," if I'm not mistaken. What were they doing out in the days with the storm approaching, 17 people in the water?

HOWELL: When I saw that picture, Soledad, that was the same question I had. We're trying to figure that out. We're talking about a ship that apparently has been out there for quite some time -- don't know how long -- but for some reason lost propulsion and from what we've read from the U.S. Coast Guard, it's taking on water and not able to move. So right now it's just a matter of getting to the people to get them off as quickly as possible. And these conditions, again, you see wind's picking up. This is not an early task.

O'BRIEN: No, it certainly won't be to try to rescue anybody who's out there now. All right, George Howell, monitoring that. We're going to get more information on that tall ship as well. Appreciate that update, George.

Atlantic City is where we'll be focusing next. They've shut down casinos there. Visitors and the people who live there as well have all been ordered to evacuate. We've a check on emergency plan in Atlantic City, New Jersey. That's straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN's live continuing coverage of Hurricane Sandy as it heads to the northeast to make landfall we're expecting sometime this evening. You're looking at Ocean City in Maryland right now where you can see waves and high wind. Rainfall as well. Sandra Endo is for there from us this morning. We'll continue to check in with her.

We to want get to get now to Catherine Barde, she's a spokesperson for the American Red Cross in Atlantic City in New Jersey. The state of New Jersey, Catherine, I know has already ordered casinos shut down. They've had to evacuate a number of people, the residents and the visitors to Atlantic City. How many folks do you have right now in shelters? .

CATHERINE BARDE, RED CROSS SPOKESPERSON (via telephone): At this time, I do not have the exact count. We have many, many shelters open up and down the Eastern Seaboard. And right now I am staying back with the essential personnel in Atlantic City and the city is, as you said, under mandatory evacuation. While the rain is pouring down and the wind is blowing hard, the highways are completely empty.

And today Red Cross is urging everyone to make their final preparations, as millions could lose their power for several days. And part of the plan, people should take time this morning to download our Red Cross hurricane apps and first aid apps to have emergency info at their fingertips. And this will include information such as the nearest shelter closest to them and updates on weather and also an "I'm safe" button that will let somebody know through the use of social media to their loved ones that they are OK.

O'BRIEN: So Catherine, are you finding that the folks, since they've told visitors to evacuate and they've told residents to evacuate, are you finding most people are heeding the warnings?

BARDE: Yes, absolutely. Last night at Atlantic City Convention Center, a designated evacuation point where people without transportation could take a shuttle bus inland, I spoke with an elderly woman who was packed with all of her essentials. And she boarded the bus she said, "It is better to evacuate safely to a shelter than to have regrets." She had been here with Hurricane Irene and just knew that when the evacuation orders came out from the emergency managers that they need to heed them. And it was a very orderly egress. This morning, looking out the windows, the highways are just completely empty.

O'BRIEN: And anybody who thinks this is going to be a redo of Hurricane Irene might have another thing coming to them because we're told by every measure this is going to be significantly worse. Catherine Barde is with the American Red Cross. She's in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Thank you for talking with us. We appreciate the information on your hurricane preps this morning. We've got to take a short break. When we come back, we're going to talk a little bit about what the impact of Hurricane Sandy is on the election. Remember, it's just a week from tomorrow, Election Day. We're going to talk about that straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Morning. Welcome back, everybody. You're looking at a live picture of the Empire State Building. Obviously, this is in midtown Manhattan. No fears at this point that buildings as inland in New York City will be at risk of major flooding from the -- because they're obviously not on the coastal areas, but 375,000 people from the low-lying coastal areas, south of that building right there, have been ordered to evacuate.

Now, we're about 20 blocks north in Columbus Circle in Central Park where we are watching what's happening, as well as we are expect Hurricane Sandy to make landfall some time this evening. Also, we've got some interesting pictures to show you what's happening all around New York City. The subways are shut down completely. These are incredible photographs of New York City subways and commuter rail systems. Very unusual to see them absolutely empty. There are something like a little over 8 million people who ride the subways and commuter trains. Obviously nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be found. The platform is completely deserted, obviously. New York City subway systems run 24/7, but not today. They've been shut down. Yesterday at 7 p.m., they told everyone they would be shutting down service and people would have to figure out another way home if they didn't get on those final trains. Very interesting pictures to look at this morning.

Let's get right to Zoraida Sambolin. She's got a look at some of the other stories making news for us. Hey, Z.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, Soledad. Mindful of the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy, both the Romney and Obama campaigns have suspended e-mail fund-raising in state in Sandy's path. So you have Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina and the District of Columbia affected there. And both candidates canceled campaign events in Virginia as well. And the storm could also create havoc with early voting in states along the East Coast. Maryland's governor already canceled early voting in his state, that is for today. Meanwhile, in Virginia, the governor said polling centers will be a top priority for restoring power if it is lost.

So two out of three ain't bad, right? The San Francisco Giants are World Series champs for the second time in three years after beating the Detroit Tigers last night to complete a four-game sweep. It is the seventh World Series title in team history. Congratulations to them. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Yep, absolutely. Congratulations to them. Thank you, Zoraida.

Still ahead this morning, we continue CNN's live continuing coverage, special coverage of Hurricane Sandy as it's expected to make landfall this evening. We will monitor every advisory and show you this picture of the radar loop as well, tell you what you can expect and how to prepare. That's all ahead. We're back in just a moment after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. You're watching CNN's live, continuing coverage of Hurricane Sandy. Right now it is a storm that's expected to impact some 50 million people.