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Aftermath of Superstorm Sandy; Levee Break in New Jersey; Dozens of Homes Burning in Breezy Point; NYC Crane Collapse

Aired October 30, 2012 - 06:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Morning. Welcome, everybody. You're watching a special edition of EARLY START as we continue to monitor Superstorm Sandy, the storm sweeping through New York. Massive damage to talk about. It continues on. This storm has not gone away. It continues up north. Going to tell you exactly where Sandy is going and look at some of the damage in her wake.

First though, we want to tell you about some of the breaking news that comes from this storm. Rescues under way in New Jersey right now in the southern part of Bergen County after a breach in a levee has 1,000 people possibly in danger.

Also enormous fires burning right now in Queens, New York, in the breezy point section of Queens, New York. Fifty homes already burned to the ground. Another two dozen are at risk.

Historic record-breaking flooding is consuming New York City and parts of the northeast, as well. Homes now under water, 6 million people are in the dark with power has been lost.

Transportation is at a standstill. It could be days before things get back to normal. CNN's covering the storm like no other network. It's Tuesday, October 30th, and special coverage of Superstorm Sandy begins right now.

Welcome back, everybody. Let's get right to some breaking news this morning. There are people in three New Jersey towns in Bergen County, the southern part of Bergen County, who we're being told might need to be rescued from their homes because there has been a levee break.

Let's get right to Zoraida Sambolin. She has the latest news on this breaking story. Zoraida, good morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Soledad. That break happened after midnight in Bergen County. Authorities say there are four or five feet of water in the streets right now.

And they're using boats and high trucks in an attempt to rescue people in the towns of Carlstadt, Little Ferry and from Trailer Park in Moonachie where people are said to be standing on their rooftops waiting to be rescued.

CNN has a crew on the way. You can imagine it's cold there, as they await that rescue. We're going to get more details for you. Another big story we're following for you this morning, 24 homes burning out of control at this hour.

Take a look at these pictures. This is Rockaway Park, Queens. Fifty homes have already been burned to the ground. More than 100 firefighters are on the scene right now. And the flooding is making it impossible to get close enough to fight the flames. We also have a crew on the way there and we'll get you more details as soon as we get them. Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: Wow, Zoraida. Those pictures just in to CNN are amazing. That fire is completely out of control. Those firefighters really stuck, unable to get in there to get it under control. Zoraida, thanks for that update.

All right, this storm has in a big way brought New York City to its knees. The city's transportation, as I mentioned, shut down. Has been shut down since Sunday night, is expected to be shut down for many more days, maybe as many as four days or three days.

Let's take a look at the satellite loop. We know that Sandy is now what they call officially a post-tropical cyclone. The National Weather Service says that the damaging winds of 70 to 90 miles an hour are still possible in that tri-state area.

Fifteen people are dead in the wake of this storm here in the United States, 6.5 million people are without power. Insurers are now looking at a bill of between $10 billion and $20 billion in damage.

CNN is covering the aftermath of this epic storm. We've got Mike Galanos. He is reporting from Atlantic City, New Jersey this morning. John Berman is in Lower Manhattan. Brian Todd is at Rehoboth Beach, in Delaware for us this morning.

Sandra Endo is still in Ocean City, Maryland. She's been there since Sunday. We're also going to be talking this morning to Philly's Mayor Michael Nutter.

We're going to talk to Delaware's Governor Jack Markell. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley will be our guest, as well. That's a little bit of a lineup that we have for you this morning.

All right, let's tell you where we are this morning. The wind has picked up pretty significantly. I guess that's kind of the bad news and also bad news for the folks here in Lower Manhattan.

'm in East Hudson and Avenue D so on the far east side, lower east side. The other bad news, as you can see around me, except for the lights that we've brought in, there's no power here. That is due to a power plant about 14, 15 blocks north of that exploded.

So they shut it down. By shutting it down they've knocked out power intentionally to this area here. This is a flood zone area, which means area "A" they call it, which means people here were already asked to leave their homes. Some didn't.

Earlier this morning, we spoke to a gentleman who was going to check on his mom, 74 years old. She decided she was going to wait out the storm. She didn't want to evacuate. These buildings, pitch black, but she's in her building with her neighbors and they've got candles going and they've just decided that they're going to stick it out for as much as they can.

The water is receding and that's good news, as well. Where I'm standing right now, this was under water 10:30 last night. It's gone back out behind me. I guess I should point this way. That's FDR Drive.

You saw some very dramatic pictures of the FDR Drive under water. There's still water back there a little bit. But every hour it is receding more and more. There were cars that were submerged back there.

As soon as the light comes up we'll move down this way a little bit more to give you a better picture of what's happening here on the lower east side in Manhattan.

Let's get right to Mike Galanos. He is in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He's been following this story from there for us this morning. Mike, good morning.

MIKE GALANOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. And same with you in the situation here in Atlantic City the water has receded. Where I'm standing now the water was lapping over my feet and as I was walked back and standing in it last night a few short hours ago, it was a foot deep, foot and a half, two feet and continued on, and as you continue walking you're heading into the ocean here.

That's when it was at its worst last night, 8:00, 9:00, the storm surge and the high tide met with the wind and rain. It was absolutely brutal. That's why New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie wanted mandatory evacuations.

He is not that happy with Atlantic City's Mayor Lorenzo Langford because Governor Christie is saying he gave the folks here comfort to stay. Most got out of here, 500 or 600 people had shelters here.

And then the Cherton Hotel where we were staying, that became a makeshift shelter for some families who thought they could ride it out. Some had pets. The next thing you know, their dogs and families and people just trying to make that a home as they continue to ride it out.

The wind continues to howl here and we're waiting for daybreak in Atlantic City just to see how bad things are -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Mike. Thank you for the update. Certainly appreciate it. Want to get now to a phone call with Chief Ralph Verdi. He is from Little Ferry, New Jersey. He is the chief of police there.

Thank you for talking with us, sir. Want to update everybody on what's happening in this breaking news story in Bergen County, the southern part of Bergen County, New Jersey. We know that there are three towns, one including Little Ferry, have been affected by this levee break. Any more information on exactly what happened?

CHIEF RALPH VERDI, LITTLE FERRY, NEW JERSEY CHIEF OF POLICE (via telephone): At this point, Ma'am, all we know is that a levee located in Moonachie broke at the height of the storm. Start getting extreme heavy floodwaters somewhere around 9:00 p.m.

We had to evacuate our shelter that we had set up. We used those people to a building, which also began to flood. Now the shelter in Bergen County -- set up a shelter Terboro and shipping people there.

We are still doing rescues, boat rescues from houses. We have between four to six feet of water in different sections of town. And right now about 75 percent of the town is affected.

O'BRIEN: So talk to me a little bit about some of those rescues. I know that Moonachie is really the focus there. There's been a trailer park that's completely inundated so people are on the roofs of their homes waiting to be rescued. Can you tell me a little bit in more detail about some of the rescues that you've been a part of?

VERDI: Myself, I've been in here working from the inside, but I know the different fire departments and police departments that are assisting us with boats have made rescues, the same thing, we've had a couple houses where low-lying areas, people were up on second floor, they had to take them out the windows.

Had several medical emergencies we had to take people from the house, put them on a boat, take them to land that was dry enough to turn them over to medical personnel and transfer them to hospital. It's been an extremely difficult night. Power is still out and we're doing the best we can.

O'BRIEN: I'm sure it is. Thank God for the rescue workers getting in there helping these people. This sounds so reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, which is a storm I cover that same idea of people on top of their roofs waiting to be rescued. Has anything like this ever happened in this region?

VERDI: We've had several floods over the years. I could think back to nor'easter of '92, which was pretty bad. But nothing that came through this fast. When that levee let go the water gushed through streets and parts of town that never got water before. So I'm really feel strong that -- and devastation, it is our town in real trouble right now.

O'BRIEN: My goodness, well, we'll certainly think of you. How many folks do you think have you pulled out and how many folks do you think you still need to rescue from these three towns?

VERDI: Ma'am, I couldn't speak for others. Here in Little Ferry we're just continuing. We have lists and lists of people who have to be removed from their homes and apartments. And again, we're doing the best we can. So far we know of no injuries. So that's one thing we can be thankful for. But as far as the other towns, I couldn't even tell you.

O'BRIEN: Well, thank goodness for no injuries is great news. Chief Ralph Verdi, Little Ferry, New Jersey, chief of police. Thank you for your time. I know you're very busy. We appreciate the update and get it out to our viewers. Thank you.

Want to check in now, across town from where I am is John Berman. Storm surge was the big story in Lower Manhattan and their greatest fears came true. John Berman has got that for us -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: An unprecedented storm surge, Soledad. That was the story here, 14 feet high, four feet higher than the record, which was set back in 1960.

And out in New York Harbor they were measuring waves 32 feet high if you can believe. Six feet higher than the worst they've ever seen. Now this was the -- this is the evacuation zone in here.

Some 370,000 New Yorkers told to get out of this zone where I'm standing, and also where you're standing, Soledad. Many did stay. We're seeing people start walking and biking by here on occasion. But if they did stay, they're without power.

The whole lower part of Manhattan, as you've mentioned before, without power with that transformer explosion. No word yet when that power will come back on, some 250,000 people without power right now.

But the floodwaters here were worse than they even expected. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, city officials said they knew there would be a storm surge that would be epic. It was beyond epic, really, 14 feet -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, John Berman updating us with what's happening in Lower Manhattan. He's literally across town from where I am. I'm also in Lower Manhattan, but on the far east side.

Let's go right to Zoraida Sambolin. She's got a look at some of the other stories weather-related stories making news this morning. Hi, Z, good morning.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. Well, a collapsed construction crane is still dangling this morning. It's high above midtown Manhattan. We're going to take a live look here.

On the left is what the crane looked like before the collapse and on the right we're going to get that up for you is what it looks like now as it dangles dangerously from a luxury high rise building.

The fear here, of course, is that it could plunge to the ground at any time. Last night, Piers Morgan, talked to a crane expert about the potential danger here.


THOMAS BARTH, CRANE EXPERT (via telephone): There are several different scenarios. You see that boom hanging down? Let's say the house swings around, and the boom gets into the arms that are holding the crane up? That comes out of the building. If it hits that, there's a possibility they could be -- they can break. Then the crane's coming down.


SAMBOLIN: Let me tell you a little bit about the building, if we can put the picture back up. The building is called 157. It is to be the largest residential property in Manhattan. About 90 stories we understand when it's completed.

The building -- the penthouse in there went under contract, this was a super luxury building, for about $90 million. And the crane that's dangling up there is about 158 feet tall. It has a 108 foot boom and a 50 foot jib.

It was actually facing the building. With the winds, it somehow came loose and how it's dangling over the side. Mayor Bloomberg said on Friday they did take a look at that and they deemed it safe at the time.

They do have a lot of experts working on the structural engineers trying to figure out how they can secure that. They're still concerned about the winds. But they do have the situation kind of under control.

They have cordoned off an area. They have evacuated a hotel in the area, and some other buildings, as well, in order to ensure safety, but still rather unsafe situation there. It's right near Carnegie Hall, to kind of put that in perspective for you.

A sudden rumble then a cloud of debris when the facade of a Manhattan apartment building is ripped off. Just incredible pictures there. This all happens as Sandy's intense wind tore through this area. It left apartments completely exposed and one firefighter did suffer some minor injuries there. Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: All right, Zoraida, thank you very much. We've got to take a short break. When we come back in just a moment we'll continue to update you on our breaking stories.

We've got a fire that is burning out of control in Queens, downed power lines that sparked that massive blaze. Fifty homes have already burned to the ground.

We're also monitoring the southern part of Bergen County, New Jersey. Rescue efforts under way since 2:30 this morning. They are now plucking people of the roofs of their homes in the cold temperatures. People who -- a levee apparently has broken and is flooding the town of Moonachie. We are going to update you on what's happening there as well. Short break, we're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was talking to us yesterday as the storm was approaching. Today, the storm has come in, and passed.

Let's talk to him a little bit about how his city fared.

Nice to talk to you, sir. Thank you for being with us. Give me a little --

MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, (D) PHILADELPHIA, PA (via telephone): Good morning, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: -- information on how your city is doing.

NUTTER: Sure. Well I think the short version is we got through it. And pretty much all plans worked well. We've got trees down, unfortunately, which comes from, of course, intense rains and heavy winds, roadways that are blocked because of trees. And some damage to a variety of properties.

But, overall, we have nearly 400 people in shelters. So folks did heed those warnings, and the morning today is really all about assessment, cleanup, and try to get the city back in operating order.

So city is closed today. Schools are off. And mass transit will not be in operation, at least in the morning into the early afternoon.

But citizens are safe. We have the flooding on the Delaware, record flooding on the Delaware. And so, we're monitoring that, and you know, with the cleanup, as well as Schuylkill will continue to rise and crest about 2:00 this afternoon.

But again, overall, we really did come through it well. Proud of my citizens, and great public servants out there doing the job.

O'BRIEN: We're glad to hear that. It's good to be able to report some good news.

Quick question for you before I let you go, give me a time line of how quickly you'll be able to get power to the people who are missing it, to be able to reopen your school and get the city back? Some of the pictures you're looking at are downed power lines. I mean, it looks pretty messy.

NUTTER: Yes, we've got 65,000 without power right now and over 500,000 in the region. Our utility PECO Energy is an expert at getting people back up and running. We've seen that time and time again.

So I would expect through the course of the day, we should see significant decrease in those numbers. But, as you well know, it will take some time. This is tedious work. It's dangerous work. And once the sun comes up, and everybody could see really what's going on, that should help to speed things up.

But what we ask right now is really mostly patience, and just an understanding that we're doing our best and we'll do it as quickly and as safely as possible.

O'BRIEN: Mayor Michael Nutter. He's the mayor of Philadelphia. Thank you for talking with us, sir. Appreciate your time.

NUTTER: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Let's head back indoors. Christine Romans has an update of some of the financial impact of this massive storm.

Christine, you heard in Philly it looks like, knock on wood, and so far the damage has not been terrible. But still, it's going to cost money.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is. And you're going to see several days, Soledad, of basically depressed commercial activity. So a lot of people who rely on the day-to-day work in these towns are going to have a few days before things, business is going to get back to normal. And that really includes transportation, as well, Soledad.

Here in New York, the MTA says it could take up to four days to get water out of New York City subway tunnels. Seven East River tunnels are flooded. The MTA chairman says the city subway system has never faced this kind of disaster in its 108 years.

And check out this picture of a train station flooding, tweeted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Port Authority saying it shows floodwaters gushing into a commuter train underground station, up through an elevator shaft in Hoboken, New Jersey. It's unclear when the trains will resume service. There's still a lot of water there.

And speaking of floodwaters, this is what it was like inside the vent building at the Holland Tunnel yesterday. Officials closed the Holland Tunnel yesterday afternoon as the threat from sandy loomed. But as you can see, Soledad, there's a lot of work to be done, a lot of work to be done overall here.

Also we talked about money. For the first time in over a century, the New York Stock Exchange will be closed for a second day in a row due to weather. The last time you had the NYSE closed for two days because of weather, it was 1888 and it was a blizzard.

The NASDAQ, also bond markets are closed today, as well. And stock futures are being traded electronically for about the next three hours until 9:15 a.m. Eastern. Future, Soledad, for the Dow, the NASDAQ and S&P 500 are all down a little bit. But you will not have regular trading today of some of those major financial products, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You won't have a lot of regular lots of stuff today --

ROMANS: Right.

O'BRIEN: -- as lots of the city is shut down.

Christine Romans, thank you for the update. Come back in just a moment. We're going to talk about snow. Yes, this storm, remember we talked about the reason this is a superstorm is because it's actually joined up with other systems. One of those systems bringing snow to parts of West Virginia. We'll update you on what's happening there.

We're back right after this commercial break. Stay with us.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to our special coverage of the devastation that is caused by Superstorm Sandy.

You've seen the storm causing massive flooding. But it is also causing snow.

Martin Savidge is right outside Kingwood, West Virginia.

And these are the things we know about Sandy. She is fierce and she is wide. You are surrounded by snow.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Yes, we are in the middle of a blizzard here. We're in the higher elevations of the mountains of West Virginia in Preston County. It's one of 11 counties in this state currently under a blizzard warning.

Actually, this area is under what you would say a triple threat. We've got a blizzard warning, we've got a high wind warning and we've got a flood warning all in effect right here. It's only going to get worse and it will go, at least that blizzard warning, until about 6:00 tonight, we are told.

The only way you're seeing us is the head lights of our vehicle. The power is out here. About 120,000 people in the state without electricity. But the big problem, you can see, it's just piling up behind us. The mountain is already forming in the back of this parking lot here.

This is really wet, heavy, thick, difficult snow. We've got huge chunks of it here and it's coming down faster than the plows can really take care of. The other problem, of course, with that heavy, wet snow, it's pulling down the power lines.

There was plenty of light when we first got here. Now it's totally dark. No lights out in the stores. So we know that the power in the media area has gone out.

But, again, the winds are going to build. The snow is coming down faster than the plows can move it, and it's like this in much of the higher elevations of West Virginia.

What Sandy looks like here, it's not a flooding event. It is a whiteout event -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Martin, we saw a graphic that went up next to you that says one person is dead. How are folks holding up?

SAVIDGE: Well, they're doing well. I mean, actually, this state is faring better than some of them. But, you know, this is really where they're going to start feeling it. They've got about 30 counties that have closed down schools today because of the potential danger of both flooding and snow. They're also telling people not to go out if they don't have to go out.

So I think that the real danger is going to be traffic accidents. That's the one fatality they've had so far in the state. They hope that people will just heed the warnings and stay inside. But right now, out here, once the sun comes up it's going to look even worse than it does.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Well, Martin Savidge, live for us in West Virginia. Thank you for that. We appreciate it.

We're going to have much more on our coverage of Superstorm Sandy's destruction when we come back.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. It's 6:30 in the morning on the East Coast. And we begin our coverage with some breaking news to get to.

There are thousands of people across three New Jersey towns who might need to be rescued from their homes because there has apparently been a levee break. It happened just after midnight in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Right now, they're using trucks. They're using also boats. They're trying to rescue the folks in the towns of Carlstadt, in Little Ferry and Moonachie.

A little bit earlier this morning, I spoke to the chief of Little Ferry police department, Ralph Verdi, and he talked a little bit about some of the rescues that are under way.

Here's what he said.


CHIEF RALPH VERDI, LITTE FERRY, NJ CHIEF OF POLICE (via telephone): We are still doing rescues, boat rescues from houses. We have between four to six feet of water in different sections of town. And right now, about 75 percent of the town is affected.


O'BRIEN: So what we are told is absolutely devastating, that there are people who are on top of their roofs of their home, if they are in a trailer park in Moonachie, for example. Apparently that has been inundated with somewhere four and five feet of water. Those folks have now climbed onto the roofs of their homes and they are waiting to be rescued. They have called for help from other counties to help, as well, and it is really cold out here. So one can imagine just how horrible it must be for the people. We've got a CNN crew heading there. We will bring you pictures of what is happening there across those three towns in the southern part of Bergen County, New Jersey, as soon as we can get our crews there.

All right. Another breaking story to tell you about: 24 homes are on fire. It's happening in Breezy Point in Queens. That's the Rockaway section of Queens. Fifty homes already have burned to the ground.

Floodwaters and also the dangerous winds are keeping the firefighters from getting in there. Some issues as well with the water pressure, we're told. They can't get in to put out those flames, big problem for them.

Look at those pictures new this morning. You can see how that fire is just burning out of control. That is the Breezy Point section of Queens in New York.

Take a look at Sandy now and the satellite loop. It's officially what they're calling a post-tropical cyclone. According to the National Weather Service, winds of 70 to 90 miles an hour are still possible in the tri-state area.

Sandy has already killed 15 people in the United States. There are 6.5 million people are without power this morning. We had predictions that there would be as many as 10 million people. So that number could grow.

And insurers are estimating for us that the damage will be somewhere between $10 billion and $20 billion. We know that President Obama has apparently signed an order that will free up federal dollars for folks who are dealing here in this section of New York where I am, who are dealing with the aftermath of this storm that has now passed through.

So a little bit of good news where we are, which is that it stopped raining. The winds are not as high as they were hours ago. Not even in the last two hours when it was still pretty breezy.

Also the water is receding. This area where I'm standing right now, I'm on East Houston Street and Avenue D, so for the far lower east side of Manhattan. It's actually that the water has receded a lot. A couple of downed trees but there's not very much damage behind me.

But straight back there is FDR drive. That was completely flooded -- which meant all of this was flooded, as well. But as every hour goes by this morning, the water is receding more and more.

We're hoping to be able to get a shot for you when the light comes up a little bit. There are cars down there that were submerged when the floodwater came in. We're going to get a chance to get down there a little bit later as it gets lighter out and you can see what we're talking about.

I want to get right to Mike Galanos. He is in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Obviously, Atlantic City, hard-hit. We saw some of those pictures as early as yesterday afternoon.

Mike, what are you seeing this morning?

GALANOS: You know, kind of echo what you had to say, Soledad. A lot of water has receded, because where I'm standing now, the water was lapping over my feet and the further back you go, and I was standing in that, as well, last night, as this storm hit in full -- I mean, it was a foot, foot and a half, two feet deep, as you continue to walk back.

And the mayor of Atlantic City said the same thing. He took a drive to check on one of the shelters, couldn't get back. He said when it was high tide, 78 percent to 80 percent of Atlantic City was under water. That was the concern here.

Two or three feet earlier in the day but as high tide hit, the storm surge hit later on in the evening, it was five to six feet deep. Most folks got out of here. There were a few hundred in shelters, 500 or 600 in shelters. The makeshift shelter next to me, the hotel where I was staying, the Sheraton, Soledad, and I just had a chance to talk to some folks, hospital workers, who knew that they were going to probably had to stay. They live nearby and they kind of tried to make the best of it, they were all together as friends.

But there was one lady, and I asked how her home was and she just looked at me and tears were beginning to well up in her eyes and she said, "My home's under water," and she did not expect that. I don't think anybody expected that just to be this severe. And as they walked off, she was trying to dry her eyes. The new realization, indeed, her home is under water and what's next -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness. That is so sad. And there are so many people who are dealing with that in the aftermath of this storm, just seeing the devastation. We'll get a better picture of it, as you mention, Mike, as the sun comes up. We can really see what's happened here.

Let's get to Brian Todd. He's in Rehoboth Beach, which is in Delaware. Want to see what the damage is where he is this morning.

Hey, Brian. Good morning.


Right now, the concern is power outages in Delaware. Nearly 44,000 customers in this state without power this morning, and officials are concerned about their well-being for a number of reasons. But a primary reason is because of temperatures in Delaware have dropped fairly significantly overnight. It's a lot colder this morning than it was last night when we were out here, even during the storm.

So, the concern of the people without power is pretty prevalent here. And the governor, Jack Markell, told me last night that his concern about power outages was that the power crews may not be able to get to them as fast as they want to because of wind gusts. Now, wind gusts this morning are not too bad. So, hopefully, the power crews in Delaware will be able to deploy fairly quickly. But the governor was concerned about that.

One thing that they are grateful for this morning is that the boardwalk and the beaches have held. There's a little bit of a breach here, some of the dunes were breached. But overall, the rebuilt beaches here in Rehoboth have held and the boardwalk is mostly intact, Soledad. They were really worried about that.

O'BRIEN: That is excellent news. Glad to hear that.

Let's get, in fact, to Governor Jack Markell. Since Brian Todd was mentioning him, let's bring him right in. He's joining us now.

Nice to talk to you, sir.

GOV. JACK MARKELL, (D) DELAWARE (via telephone): Good morning.

So, first, Brian was saying that the power outages are your big concern. What can you tell us about that? And really what people want to know, as you know, is when will it be back on?

MARKELL: Well, as Brian mentioned, at this point, about 44,000 homes or businesses without power. It has been a significant storm, serious flooding and the like. But we are -- as he mentioned, the big concern was how long it would take for the utility crews to get out there. And back and forth and they've got a lot of people here, they're ready to go as soon as weather conditions make that possible.

I said even though the weather model didn't have us squarely in the center of the path, we have -- we appeared to have escaped some of the worst consequences of this storm. Although we have a lot of places flooded out and the power issues.

O'BRIEN: Any idea -- I mean, I'm looking at pictures now which we really saw yesterday afternoon of the rush of water coming in to some of the streets, and into frankly some of the businesses. Is anyone giving you a number estimate of how much damage that your state has suffered here?

MARKELL: Not yet. We've got people out literally as we speak checking out damage -- emergency officials, local police, state troopers, highway crews, and the like. But, you know, the good news is as the winds subside, they end up being a little bit less than predicted, and just looking at some of the devastation in other states, obviously our thoughts and prayers go out to them, as well to those Delawareans who are suffering through this.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question about FEMA. As you know one of the issues in this political climate has been big government versus small government. FEMA is obviously part of big government, because FEMA writes checks for people who have been hit by devastating storms.

Would it be possible for the states to cover -- you're a governor, would it be possible for your state to cover the devastating damage if it had been, let's say, worse in the state of Delaware? As you know, Governor Romney, has mentioned that he thought the states could pick up those costs, and he could remove some of the costs of FEMA from the -- from the government, federal government to the states?

MARKELL: You know, I think that's ridiculous. I mean, because the FEMA has resources that they can centralize, and make available to states, that states couldn't replicate. I mean, whether it's having generators staged in a nearby state. So we don't have to have our own but we can tap into that if we need.

So we've been really, really impressed by the response of FEMA and by their, essentially what happens is they embed with our own emergency management agencies, so it's as seamless as it can possibly be and it's terrific work.

O'BRIEN: Governor Jack Markell joining us by phone. Nice to talk to you, sir. We're glad that you're safe and your community wasn't as hard-hit as many had predicted. So, we're glad to hear that.

All right. We're going to head back in to Zoraida. She's got an update for us on some of the stories making news this morning.

Hey, Z. Good morning again.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, Soledad.

Let's take a live look at the picture of the partially collapsed crane in Midtown Manhattan. This was knocked down by those really strong winds from Superstorm Sandy. The crane is dangling from the 70th floor of a luxury high rise. It is under construction right now.

The building is 157. It is slated to be 90 stories tall when it is finally finished.

And here's what the crane looked like before. It is on the left of your screen, and then after on the right. The concern right now, of course, is the crane plunging to the ground. New York's Mayor Bloomberg says the crane was just inspected last Friday. Reportedly, there have been numerous complaints about the building, construction, including one questioning its structural safety, as well.

We're going to continue to monitor that situation. They have evacuated that building, in particular, partially and have evacuated the area, as well. And I know there are engineers working on this and hopefully they will be able to make that situation safe for folks on the ground.

So, it may look and sound like fireworks but those sparks are flying from a pole carrying power lines. This is the story of Queens, the result of Superstorm Sandy. Con Ed reports the storm has left more than 600,000 customers without power. This is the most in their entire history.

And about 260 patients at the NYU Langone Medical Center, including little babies and the elderly and intensive care evacuated because of Sandy. There was massive flooding and a failed backup generator, and so ambulances had to transport everyone to nearby facilities. This was all last night. It started about 1:30 in the morning.

Some of the patients, listen to this, had to be carried down 15 flights of stairs, with 12 feet of standing water in the elevator shaft, as well. Those folks are working fast and furious. There were some children in the NICU that were on respirators and the nurses were actually manually pumping lung into their airs as they got them into the ambulances.

And the storm is shattering records. The storm surge in Lower Manhattan peaking at 13.88 feet at 9:24 last night. That is nearly four feet higher than the record set in 1960 by hurricane Donna. That is according to the National Weather Service.

And record wave heights as well reported at 11:26 last night. This is in New York harbor, 32.5 feet. And that broke the previous record by 6 1/2 feet. And that was recorded during hurricane Irene. And that of course was just last year.

Wow, Soledad. That is a monster, monster storm.

O'BRIEN: Well, Zoraida, those are very scary-looking graphics, aren't they? Zoraida, thanks for that update.

Ahead this morning, going to take a short break. But still ahead, we're going to talk to a family that was trapped by the floodwaters. They've got photos to show us of what they went through. We'll update you with their story. Straight ahead. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: We've been calling it Superstorm Sandy. But where is she going next? Jennifer Delgado in our Atlanta Extreme Weather Center with more on that. Hey Jennifer, good morning.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad. Yes, we are still tracking that and we do know from the HPC the last winds were at 65 and that's sustained. As we show you on the radar, right, notice what's happening. Here is the center of what's left of Superstorm Sandy, again, moving over towards the west. Located about 90 miles away from Philadelphia. Look at all this rain out there, still.

For Boston, Maine, we're looking at lake-effects, snow affecting parts of Ohio, and look at that, spreading towards areas, including Indiana. As we zoom in a bit more for you, notice where Washington, D.C. is as well as into Baltimore, some of that rain down there, trying to get a little bit of that, possibly some sleet in there. Today, we do have a day where we're going to be seeing winds gusting up to about 60, 65, anywhere you see in this graphic. And this is going to create a danger especially for those high profile vehicles, taking down power lines. That could make the problems even worse for, say, some of those power outages.

Now the other part of the story, the snow that's been coming down in West Virginia. We want to show you, we're still expecting potentially another 12 inches, 20 inches of snowfall for areas, including West Virginia. The temperatures, they feel like the teens there. So yes, it's cool across parts of the Mid-Atlantic, as well as New York, where we're seeing temperatures in the 50s and 40s. But imagine those people in West Virginia, where they don't have power and it feels like 18 degrees right now. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Oh, it is bad.

DELGADO: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: All right, Jennifer. Jennifer Delgado for us this morning. Thanks, Jennifer. Appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning, going to bring you the story from Hoboken, New Jersey, a family in their high rise get trapped. They're stuck. They're on the 14th floor with two small children and they can't get out. We'll update you on what's happening with the Rosen family and show you some of the pictures they've been sending us as they weathered through this storm, straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The Rosen family in Hoboken, New Jersey, decided to weather the storm in their apartment. It might have been not such a good idea when they discovered that they were trapped with floodwaters surrounding their apartment building. They were unable to even push the doors open to get out. Let's talk now to Jeremy Rosen, his wife Amy. They've got two small children, too: Nate, who's 3 and Sydney, who's 1.

Nice to talk to you, Jeremy. Why don't you walk me through your thinking. Why stay when I know a lot of people around you in Hoboken had decided to evacuate?

JEREMY ROSEN, TRAPPED RESIDENT, HOBOKE, NJ (via telephone): Well, you know, we evacuated after Hurricane Irene, and you know, we know Hoboken very well. I've lived here over ten years. And this area, even though it's so close to the Hudson River, it's a lot higher than some of the other areas like Lower Hoboken. So I was confident that the water would stay below, the Hudson River would stay below the fences, and that we would be safe.

Unfortunately, at high tide, between 8:00 and 10:00 last night, the water just started crashing over the wall. It was very scary. You know, the afternoon, which was kind of spent with my family and teaching them words like "hunker down", and sort of enjoying nature, really turned to fear when our entire building was surrounded by water, and when we went to the lobby to try to assess the damage they told us we couldn't open the doors because there was about a foot of water above where the door would have opened.

O'BRIEN: So your garage completely flooded, I know. You had a foot of water on the outside. I'm showing while we talk some pictures that you shot off of your balcony. I think we have some photos, as well. So you have two small children and then you started thinking this is actually now very scary. Did you regret your decision? What did you decide to do? ROSEN: Well, fortunately, you know, during the worst of it, the kids were already asleep. You know, our building, we have a large building. I felt safe inside the building. You know, I don't regret my decision to stay in Hoboken. I think it's -- I still think it's a very safe area. Obviously in retrospect, if I had known that the river would have gone crashing over the wall, we probably would have fleed (sic). But, I think the fear was really between myself and my wife. My kids are -- they were fast asleep, and thankfully they're unaware of the amount of danger that we put them in.

O'BRIEN: You're on the fourth floor. And I know you're no longer trapped. My understanding is that the water has receded a little bit. You've had a chance to get out of your building and you've had a chance to walk around a little bit. Is that right?

ROSEN: Yes, that's correct. Interestingly, the area that I live is right by the 14th Street ferry station. And again, one of the terrifying sights was that it was completely submerged last night between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. This morning, it was eerily quiet. This is an area where you could have hundreds or thousands of commuters taking the path or the ferry or the bus, and for about 20 minutes I was the only person outside. And even though the water level was down, there was no water on the street, there was debris everywhere.

O'BRIEN: Hmm. Wow. Jeremy Rosen, we're glad to hear that you're safe and your family's safe. Thank you for talking with us. Hopefully next hurricane you'll be evacuating and you won't make a decision to stick it out. Thanks for talking with us. Appreciate it.

We've got to take a short break. We're back in just a moment. We'll continue to update you on the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and where she's headed next. Stay with us.