Return to Transcripts main page


Hurricane Sandy Aftermath; Politics of Hurricane Sandy

Aired October 30, 2012 - 18:00   ET



Happening now: the horrific aftermath of a killer storm. A New York neighborhood reduced to rubble by fire at the height of Hurricane Sandy. In New Jersey, a direct hit leaves scenes of devastation. The governor calls it all unthinkable. Rescues are still under way right now. And public transit in America's largest city paralyzed as floodwaters inundate portions of New York's vast subway system.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin this hour in New Jersey, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. Hundreds of people have been rescued, but thousands may still be stranded.

CNN's Brian Todd is in Teterboro, New Jersey, for us.

Brian, what's the latest there?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, New Jersey has just taken a body blow from this storm.

We're first going to show you pictures from Governor Chris Christie's aerial tour of some of the damaged areas along the coast and a little bit inland. You see scenes of just complete devastation, flooding all over the place, damaged houses and businesses, just, you know, for street after street, neighborhood after neighborhood. And of course, you know, one of those areas is the one that we have been dealing with in our region of New Jersey, three towns, Moonachie, Little Ferry, and Carlstadt, three towns very close together, completely engulfed in floodwaters from about midnight on.

That's when the Hackensack River, from a tidal surge from the storm, basically breached a berm or a levee. We're not sure exactly which one it was, but it was something, you know, an earthen fortification. It got breached by a tidal surge, and within minutes, those three towns were completely engulfed in water, four to six feet on the street, again, in neighborhood after neighborhood.

We have some sound now that we have gotten from two people. One of them is Grace Pasquale an elderly resident of Moonachie, New Jersey, who's lived there for at least a decade. She will tell us about what she lost. The second person you will hear from is Kathleen Donovan. She's the Bergen County executive talking about some of the devastation she saw, but first let's hear from Grace Pasquale, a resident of Moonachie, New Jersey. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE PASQUALE, NEW JERSEY: Thank God I got in. The second floor, so my kitchens are full. And my living room is so full. So I lost everything, my sofa, my kitchen, everything.

KATHLEEN DONOVAN, BERGEN COUNTY EXECUTIVE: If you have ever seen the aftermath of a flood, it's all the debris that's left behind. It's people who are in misery because they didn't expect it. It was not something that anyone ever had been through, and anybody alive today, so it was totally unexpected and scary.

And it was 1:00 in the morning and it had been raining and had high winds all day long. They had just been through a terrible ordeal.


TODD: And that terrible ordeal, unfortunately, is not over.

We're told up that until right about now, Wolf, rescues were still going on. But officials have told us that now at about 6:00 Eastern time, when it's starting to get very dark, fairly suddenly, they're going to have to stop the rescues. It's too dangerous to go back in there. The floodwaters are still around. Some high clearance vehicles that have been used to pull people out actually have had to turn back.

The good thing is, fortunately no one was killed, we're told, a very few very minor injuries, but again rescues still going on right up until about now, when they will have to call it off -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They will have to continue those rescues. A lot of people are still in danger.

Brian, thanks very much.

And New York's massive subway system is also shut down, with extensive flooding in some stations and buses still are not running. One transportation official says Hurricane Sandy "wreaked havoc on our entire system."

CNN's David Mattingly is working this part of the story for us.

David, looks like it's a transportation mess in New York City. What can you tell us, first of all, about the subways?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this storm seemed to accomplish the impossible.

It took this city that is constantly on the move and stopped it cold. Right now, what we're hearing is it could be days before the subway trains start running again. There are seven tunnels that go under the East River connecting Manhattan to the boroughs outside. Those tunnels took on water, and now they're pumping that water out. But it's more than just an operation of getting rid of the water and drying things out. This saltwater is going to be an awful lot of damage to their equipment down there, so it's going to take some time to get service restored to those tunnels.

In the meantime, bus service might be starting back up later today and into tomorrow, into the rush hour tomorrow morning, but it's going to be on a limited basis. They're saying that with this limited system, it's also going to be free for now. But at this point, commuters don't have a lot of choices. There are only about 4,000 taxis right now available.

They're expecting that number to go up, but right now, for commuters, there are not a lot of choices, and as you can see by this station behind me, it is dark right now and the subway system not ready to roll, and may be days before it is ready to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What about people who want to drive in and out of Manhattan? Can they do that?

MATTINGLY: There are quite a number of bridges and tunnels that have been reopened. One notable exception is the Holland Tunnel. I have to tell you, coming in this morning from Connecticut, a trip that would normally take about an hour, hour-and-a-half took us about four hours, just to maneuver our way into Manhattan, because of all the bridge and tunnel closures.

But most of those are open now. Most of the roads are cleared of the debris. We ran into a lot of that as well, going through some neighborhoods. But as you can see, there's not a lot of electricity in some parts of Manhattan, so the stoplights aren't working. There's still going to be problems for people who do try to commute tomorrow morning.

BLITZER: What about the airports? When will they reopen?

MATTINGLY: La Guardia was flooded last night. There was some spectacular video. When the storm surge came in, planes weren't able to land, they weren't able to take off. So was Newark. So was JFK. We're hearing that La Guardia will be closed again tomorrow. Still waiting on final word on JFK and Newark.

But at this point, that has rippling effects all across the country, with air travel not just here in the New York area. So, again, right now, we're looking at the beginning of the recovery, Mayor Bloomberg talking right now, saying that this is where things start to look up, starting to move up. We have hit the bottom, and now everything is starting to move toward that recovery.

So expect to see things happening quickly when it comes to transportation, but as far as New Yorkers here, the regular commute is not going to feel right for quite some time.

BLITZER: Yes, city's going to be in trouble for a while. All right, thanks very much, David Mattingly.

Just a little while ago, we got a firsthand account of what it was like in New Jersey as the hurricane was hitting. Kate Bolduan is here, picking up this part of the story.


Keith Paul was one of the last people to leave the historic resort of Seaside Heights, New Jersey, just across from Toms river, and Wolf talked to him last hour.


KEITH PAUL, NEW JERSEY: I live four houses from the Barnegat Bay. And Seaside separates the Barnegat Bay from the ocean by about three, four blocks. And I'm right across from Toms River, and everyone has gotten flooded. It's coming halfway up their houses. They have just high-wheeled trucks driving in to get the people out, National Guard around. It's destruction. It's devastation around here for a lot of people.

BLITZER: We're showing our viewers this National Guard video showing the sand that has come up, destroying, really covering so many parts of this area. You're an eyewitness to that. Describe what it's like.

PAUL: Well, I'm telling you, I have lived here for 39 years. I have been through several hurricanes going back to Gloria, and I have never seen anything like this at all.

When I was over in Seaside last night, and we just started seeing the Berkeley Sweet Shop rip apart, and the pier go down into the ocean, we knew it was time to get out of there. And we got out of there. Within two minutes of leaving, the light poles came down across the bridge. If we didn't leave when we did, we would have been stuck there. And I had a wife and a 1-year-old child at home, so I needed to make sure I got home.

BLITZER: Seaside Heights, so are there still people out there stranded, as far as you know?

PAUL: As far as I know, there's only a few. They did a really good job of getting everybody out of home.

When I left yesterday, you barely saw anybody there, except for a couple of the business owners checking on their businesses, and that was pretty much it at the time. From what I understood from the chief, they were 95 percent evacuated at that point.

BLITZER: So, what happens next? What do you plan on doing over the next few days?

PAUL: I have got to be honest with you. There's really not much you can do. You really can't drive anywhere around this town. There's poles down, there's trees down across wires with transformers blowing up on the street.

You go out and walk around, it's dangerous,because if you hit a puddle and it's got electricity, so there's really not much you can do right now until things start to get cleaned up a little bit.


BLITZER: All right, let's stay in New Jersey right now.

CNN's Michael Holmes is in Toms River for us.

Michael, you're just inland from the shore. What's going on? How bad are things there?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a day today, Wolf, of basically rescuing people who had been isolated in their homes by the floodwaters, and there's still a fair bit of water around, but things are slowly being cleaned up.

As I just heard there the gentleman there say, there were trees everywhere around Toms River. We're seeing them getting cut up now and seeing some of these cars that have been stranded in water removed. Those barrier islands, though, that was where most of the damage was done. And this, remember, was a mandatory evacuation zone.

And so many people, we were over there yesterday, and we spoke to people who said, we're local, how bad could it be? We're not leaving. Well, they found out how bad it could be. And they were being evacuated today by the police. We spoke to the police chief too. He said most people are off there now, and it's all under control.

But, you know, I spoke to a patrolman who helped bring those people back, and he was there last night too. And some of the stories he told about how it all went down there and what it was like were quite chilling. Have a listen.


CHRIS RAIA, NEW JERSEY PATROLMAN: It was total chaos over there. We had a complete breach over there. I don't think there was an area over there last night at all that was not covered by water.

HOLMES: And it looks like it's covered by sand as well.

RAIA: There's a lot of sand. There are some sand dunes that are actually on Route 35. There's a house over on Route 35 that just flowed right over there. There's cars everywhere.


HOLMES: Yes, certainly, the hardest hit there.

I have got to say, Wolf, we were out during the storm last night with the local police. And although we're seeing evidence of FEMA today, National Guard, and that kind of support coming in, the local cops, you got to hand it to them. They were out, they were helping people, rescuing them in the middle of all of this last night, really did a real, you know, steeling jobs, the local guys.

It was rather impressive, but the cleanup just getting under way and there is a lot to clean up, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly is. Michael Holmes on the scene for us, thank you.

And to our viewers, you can be part of the recovery effort yourself. You can help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Find out how to do so. Go to

BOLDUAN: And still ahead, more dramatic rescues, premature newborns whisked away from a major New York hospital that lost power at the height of the storm. CNN's Sanjay Gupta has details on that and how they're doing.

And also something we don't usually associate with hurricanes, snow. We will show you the blizzard conditions Sandy brought to West Virginia.


BLITZER: Look at this, a tragic fire in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens in New York City, where wind and fire created an inferno right at the height of Hurricane Sandy, at least 80 homes, 80, 80 home have said destroyed, including the home of a United States congressman.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick is on the scene for us.

Deb, it looks like total devastation in that area where you are. Tell our viewers what happened and what's going on now.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, it looks like somebody dropped a bomb, this entire area here completely incinerated. Everyday objects are barely -- you know, unrecognizable.

This is a post. We think it may have been some sort of a swinging door, though it looks like it also could have been a lamp. The thing is, this car over here, for example, also caught fire. Everybody was prepared for the floodwater. As a matter of fact, a number of the cars here got flooded. But what they weren't prepared for was the fire.

And once that one fire, once that one home caught fire, what ended up happening is, you saw almost like a peach shape, the wind going in a particular direction, and all the rest of these homes simply ignited, and because they're so close together, they just burned one after the next after the next, and you have got just a couple of feet in between the different homes.

So they're so close. There was basically no way to stop the fire, and, plus, you had floodwaters up to five feet high. And you could just see, look, you have got license plates completely burned, unrecognizable.

But we spoke to a number of people. They were coming in and out all day just to see whether they could salvage anything at all, and they couldn't salvage anything, actually. But they're tough people. You have got a lot of retired police officers, a lot of firefighters who live in this area. They're going to be -- they're going to rebuild, but right now they have just got to figure out who lives wear.

Take a listen.


PETER JOYCE, BREEZY POINT RESIDENT: This all here, it will all have to be flattened. Blocks down there, they will have to be flattened. The only good thing is the people in Breezy, they are very resilient. They have been here their whole lives.

This is, like I said, generations after generations. You have two, three, four generations that have been here. They're not just going to walk away from it by any means. There is a Breezy Point co- op, which is very strong and viable. So it's just a daunting, daunting task to start this process.


FEYERICK: Wolf, they call this place Breezy for short. It's a place where a lot of folks just come and they spend the entire summer, even if their primary home is just about 20 minutes away, which in some cases it is.

And it's just a fun place, where everybody knows each other. One woman said, this is paradise. This is paradise.

And don't forget, it is not just the fire damage that we're talking about. Over on the bay, on the areas closest to the water, those homes got pounded. We are talking -- it's almost as if someone took a huge sledgehammer and just started pounding these homes, the fronts completely disintegrated. You have got homes that are off their foundation, others that are just sunk into the sand, the beach completely eroded. They will have to rebuild all the beaches in this area, you know, along with parts of the Rockaway and other parts of Long Island, because the beaches have simply vanished.

The rebuilding process will be very, very difficult, very tough, but right now, people are just trying to make sense of this and trying to understand the reality that for those who live here year-round, they're going to have to find another place to go -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a devastating, devastating scene. Thanks very much, Deb, for that.

BOLDUAN: Those images are just amazing.

Still ahead, from fire to snow. We're heading to West Virginia next.


BOLDUAN: Sandy brought blizzard conditions to the mountains of West Virginia where winter storm warnings are still in effect. A couple feet of very heavy, wet snow is blanketing the area, knocking down trees, and of course, that also means power lines.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in Kingwood, West Virginia.

Martin, what's it look like now?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this is just the opposite side of Sandy now. Instead of the surf and the rain, it is the snow and the wind. And it is blasting this part of western West Virginia.

I mean, just take a look at the depth of the snow here. A lot of this is not just snow that's falling, it's all because of the wind that's blowing, and it's causing a lot of this banking that's occurring here. That's a real problem.

We want to show you a drive we took, because this also shows you another unique problem of this particular storm in this particular place. Take a look.


SAVIDGE: You can see for the most part here that the plows have been doing a really good job of keeping the streets clear. They're using salt. So, at 33 degrees, that stuff works really well.

Here is your danger, though, the weight of the snow bringing down tree branches. Not only do they block the road, but they also will drag down power lines. It is the problem. You can see off there to the right. There is another branch that has come down. Looks like somebody has cut it already. But at any given time, these trees, as beautiful as they look, as painted as they are with the snow, it's actually hundreds of pounds of extra weight on there.

And they're leaning ever so precariously over the road, and though it might look attractive, you realize that's a lot of kinetic energy that is just waiting to explode and release in some way.

We have seen it in a couple of spots where the trees just explode and in a blast of white snow and then the tree limbs come shattering down on top of you. So these areas in particular are pretty dangerous for a lot of different reasons.


SAVIDGE: We were told that the blizzard warning for Preston County, that's where we are, was supposed to expire at 6:00. Now we're told that is not going to happen. Instead, they have now extended the blizzard warning for another 24 hours, not just here, but all 12 counties that are under that blizzard warning.

We will get a lot more of this stuff coming down, a lot more power outages probably occurring. The National Guard's now been called out. They're going door to door in some communities to check on the welfare, because there are a lot of people, like in this town, that have no electricity and now face a very cold, snowy night -- Kate. BOLDUAN: Yes, more snow, no electricity, and those temperatures, a very, very bad combination. Martin Savidge in West Virginia for us this evening, thanks so much, Martin.

BLITZER: What an amazing drive through those trees.

BOLDUAN: What an amazing video.

BLITZER: Thank you, Martin.

Atlantic City pounded and pounded by the Atlantic Ocean, along with its famous boardwalk, we're going there live.


BOLDUAN: President Obama has signed disaster declarations for New York and New Jersey and emergency declarations for many other states. He was briefed on the crisis in the White House Situation Room earlier today, we're showing you a photo there, and then paid a surprise visit to a Red Cross office here in Washington, where he ordered a streamlined federal response.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My instructions to the federal agency has been, do not figure out why we can't do something. I want you to figure out how we do something. I want you to cut through red tape. I want you to cut through bureaucracy. There's no excuse for inaction at this point.

I want every agency to lean forward, and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they need -- where they're needed as quickly as possible. So I want to repeat, my message to the federal government, no bureaucracy, no red tape, get resources where they're needed as fast as possible, as hard as possible, and for the duration.


BOLDUAN: The White House says the president has canceled campaign events tomorrow and will instead travel to New Jersey to see the disaster firsthand -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney is also focusing in on the disaster and he's facing some pointed questions about past remarks he's made about FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us now. He's covering the Romney campaign in Tampa, Florida.

What's the latest, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Mitt Romney just arrived here in Florida just a few moments ago, but earlier today, he did get out in front of the cameras in Ohio for a campaign event where he tried to put the focus on storm relief efforts.


ACOSTA (voice-over): It was billed as a storm relief event. So Mitt Romney supporters carried bags of groceries through security checkpoints turning this Ohio gymnasium into what looked like a food pantry.

And when the GOP nominee took the microphone, he set aside his usual jabs at the president. Instead, Romney called on Americans to do what they can to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There are a lot of people that will still be looking for goods even though we have gathered these things as you know. But I know that one of the things I have learned in life is you make the difference and you can.

ACOSTA: The Republican candidate said the donated supplies would go to hard-hit New Jersey, where the governor and top Romney surrogate, Chris Christie, was on the morning talk shows, giving the president high marks for his handling of the storm.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The president is incredibly helpful in that regard. He's been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state, and not once did he bring up the election.

ACOSTA: As soon as Sandy was bearing down on the East Coast, Democrats were pointing to this GOP debate from June 2011, when Romney was asked whether the state should take on a larger role in disaster response, instead of the current system in place led by FEMA.

ROMNEY: Every time you have an occasion that takes something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.

ACOSTA: Campaign aides appear to suggest Romney would maintain FEMA, but added in a statement, 'As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, would you eliminate FEMA if you were president?

ACOSTA: At a storm relief event, Romney was asked a half dozen times by reporters if he would eliminate FEMA, but he did not respond.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.

ACOSTA: FEMA's image was badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina. After the botched federal response to that storm, then-President Bush's FEMA director, Michael Brown, was savaged by critics for having little disaster experience.

Back in that Ohio gymnasium, Romney supporters said they felt a responsibility to do what they can to help. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the right thing to do.


ACOSTA: And the Romney campaign says it has received word from the American Red Cross that it will receive those donated supplies that were gathered at that event in Ohio earlier today.

And Wolf, I did ask a senior Romney adviser if the GOP nominee had any problem with President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, looking at storm damage tomorrow in New Jersey. I got one word: none.

BLITZER: No problem at all. All right, Jim Acosta, thanks very much. Looks like a little bit -- little bit of a bromance developing between the president and the governor. That could last 24 hours.

BOLDUAN: I was going to say, if it is a bromance, it's going to be very short-lived. Maybe they're just trying to get through this disaster first.

All right, dozens of patients evacuated when a New York City hospital becomes flooded and loses power, including newborn babies carried down nine flights of stairs. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has new details, coming up.


BOLDUAN: Anyone who wasn't taking the threat of Hurricane Sandy seriously yesterday has probably changed their view dramatically. CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll is in -- is on Long Island, talking to residents of Lindenhurst, New York.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thousands of people here still without power, and residents in Lindenhurst still under a mandatory evacuation. You can see the reason why. Dozens and dozens of homes here still underwater.

PAUL FERRARI, LINDENHURST RESIDENT: And I never expected anything like this.

CARROLL (voice-over): Despite all the warnings and all the forecasts, it is still hard for people like Paul Ferrari to take in all the damage Hurricane Sandy left in its wake here in Lindenhurst, Long Island.

FERRARI: Now that I'm here, I'm kind of surprised. A little shocked. A little humbled, because it was -- it was quite the storm.

CARROLL: His feelings today, a stark contrast to his mood early yesterday, when we ran into him during one of our live reports.

(on camera) Paul, won't you come on over here and talk to me here for a moment? (voice-over) That's him in the SCUBA gear. Today, no gear or gimmicks.

FERRARI: Such a change in, like, tone, I guess, mood, or whatever you want to say. I don't know what the right word is. You know, it's like kayaking earlier and SCUBA dive and have some fun and enjoy the storm. And then, now it's like the reality is just -- everything's just destroyed.

CARROLL: His home, not destroyed, but badly damaged by floodwater.

(on camera) But at least the water is out of here.


CARROLL: And everything you have on your bed.

FERRARI: It did recede out. I still have water in my dresser drawers.

CARROLL (voice-over): For some of Ferrari's neighbors, the damage is much worse.

(on camera) You went to your home and it -- it was destroyed?

ALEXANDRIA DEMETRIOUS, RESIDENT: Yes, it's ruined, it's a mess. There's three feet of dirty water and -- I'm in shock. My house is just completely destroyed. So -- I've never seen anything like it. I grew up here; I grew up on Sixth Street. And this is the worst I've ever seen.

CARROLL (voice-over): A short boat ride down the street, Danielle and Jason Hitner come home to assess their damage.


CARROLL: Toppled furniture, waterlogged floors, and walls.

DANIELLE HITNER, RESIDENT: This was his room, you know. It's like, we worked so hard to make that room so cute.

CARROLL: There is still so much water here. Exact numbers on homes damaged or destroyed still not available. That will take time. And for some, so, too, the reality of the devastation here.

(on camera) And part of the reason why there are no specific numbers as of yet is we're being told it's still too difficult for a lot of the emergency crews to get back down into some of the areas like this one and get proper numbers, because the water is still too high in some areas. So it's still going to be several days before they get specific numbers on how many homes were destroyed or damaged due to floods -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Jason Carroll reporting. What a heartbreaking story that is.

BOLDUAN: Heartbreaking.

BLITZER: Let's dig a little bit deeper right now. The latest on Sandy from our severe weather expert, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

What do our viewers, Chad, need to know about this storm right now?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is still not done. It is still going to rain where it's raining now. And even maybe turn over to snow in some of those almost 35, 34 degree areas. And then it could snow for another 24 hours. Big, heavy, thick snow that can get on power lines, get on trees and it can bring down -- bring down those power lines as soon as those branches start to break.

I want to back you up to 6 p.m. on Sunday. And here's where the Lindenhurst issue started. It's when all of the wind around Sandy was doing this. It was piling up water. Not high, but you think even if it was just 6 inches higher than normal, because of the way the waves were spinning and the way the wind was pushing it.

Think about, as you try to cool off a cup of coffee, you blow on the cup of coffee, and the waves of the coffee kind of go to the other side of the cup. That's what's going on here. The waves are going to this side of the United States. And now we're going to push it ahead to landfall. We're not seeing, now, this water do this anymore. We're seeing it do this.

And it was right into New York Harbor, New York City, and into Long Island Sound. And then this here, that's the surge that we've been showing you all up and down the Jersey shore.

Move it ahead to where we are now, a little bit north of -- it's just north of Pittsburgh at this hour. And the big winds were either from Mt. Washington -- that's the record there, at 140, for this storm. Now, you have to understand, the record for Mt. Washington is 231. So this really wasn't what Mt. Washington can get. Islip at 91, and even Surf City, New Jersey, at 89 miles per hour.

The storm totals for rain, east in Maryland, 12.49, and yes, it is still snowing. Redhouse now, that's 26. We just updated that. That's now 29.

Let me show you something else now. This storm is so wide -- we talk about how wide the winds are. Let me show you Chicago. This is Lake Michigan. Blowing water from the north shore of lake Michigan, way up by Lake Superior, waves all the way down the shore and eventually right there, this is Chicago. You go a little bit farther to the southeast, waves are pounding and flooding the shoreline.

Even at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, and Blakefront Airport yesterday had wind gusts to 66 and 67 miles per hour. And that was 500, 500 miles away from the center -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It was a monster, monster storm. Still problems out there.

By the way, Chad, we've just confirmed, 18 people died as a result of this storm in New York City, bringing the total in the United States to 33 deaths.

MYERS: Tough.

BLITZER: Very tough. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, still ahead, some newborns, some of them critically ill, had to be evacuated from a major New York hospital during the middle of the storm. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta updates us on their condition, next.


BOLDUAN: Some heart-wrenching video to show you of newborns on respirators being carried out of a flooded New York City hospital. Each one of them carried down nine flights of stairs by a nurse, and you see, manually squeezing air into their lungs, in the midst of the storm.

The babies were just some of the dozens of patient who had to be evacuated when the hospital lost power and began to fill up with 10 to 12 feet of water.

BLITZER: We now know that 64 of those who were evacuated were taken to Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Joining us now with the latest, the president and CEO of Mt. Sinai, Dr. Kenneth Davis. Also joining us, our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

First to you, Dr. Davis. What was it like when these 64 patients from the NYU Medical Center arrived at Mt. Sinai?

DR. KENNETH DAVIS, PRESIDENT/CEO, MT. SINAI MEDICAL CENTER: Well, they started to come, just before midnight, and we were able to slowly bring them to each of our -- each of their units. Each of our units.

BLITZER: This is a difficult procedure. How many of the patients were in critical condition? What was going on?

DAVIS: Well, there are about 30 patients who were in intensive care units. So they were very critical patients.

There were another ten patients who were women who had just -- who had just given birth or were about to give birth. So these were some very critical circumstances.

Keep in mind that NYU had decreased their census from some 750 patients to the 250 that remained for the hurricane. So those were the really difficult patients that they couldn't discharge. So by and large, all these people were seriously ill and needed health care.

BLITZER: Sanjay -- Sanjay, go ahead. Yes, go ahead, Sanjay. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And NYU is right along the East River, and they say they got about 10 feet of water within 45 minutes. But the reservoir -- a lot of people can't see this. The reservoir is right over here, as well. How concerned were you about reservoir flooding?

DAVIS: We were very concerned about that. During Hurricane Irene, we watched, I watched. The waters rose in our sub-sub-basement near our generators. Fortunately, as the tide receded, the water receded, and we were fine during Hurricane Irene.

But beginning on Sunday night when I came here, and all through Monday, our engineering team was acutely concerned with what might happen if the tide came in as high as it might, the flood surge as big as it might be.

So we had done a tremendous amount of preparation to make sure we had adequate sump pumps and that we had insulated all the wiring that might somehow get exposed to that water. Because we didn't want to have a replay of the near call that happened during Hurricane Irene.

GUPTA: How did you -- when did you get a call? You had to OK this transfer. It was a big procedure, as Wolf just mentioned. How did it work for you?

DAVIS: I got a call something around 10:30, from our command center. They said, "We've just gotten a call from NYU. Are we prepared to take their patients?"

And I said, absolutely. We had already taken their patients during Hurricane Irene, because they had voluntarily evacuated at that time.

This time, we knew it was going to be less orderly, and perhaps a little more frightening. But we couldn't say no. So we took as many patients as we possibly could, to the best of our capacity. But we're still a big hospital that has a lot of patients here. And...

GUPTA: Where do they go? Because I mean, hospitals usually are running pretty full.

DAVIS: Our ISUs are filled with all our critical patients. So we had delayed surgeries during the hurricane. And as a consequence, our recovery areas, which we call PACUs, were empty. We were able to accommodate those critical-care patients in our PACUs for about 24 hours as we then developed space, the rest of our hospital, to accommodate those intensive care patients.

The mothers and the babies, we were able to accommodate. Our new natal intensive care clinic has the ability to be somewhat elastic. So we were able to bring on the staff that was necessary to take care of those neonates. So we were able to assimilate them into our hospital now, and you know, we're going to take care of them for the foreseeable future.

GUPTA: Lots of moving parts, Wolf, as you can tell, to get this done, but lots of preparation, as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: What was the most frightening moment for your team of medical professionals, Dr. Davis?

GUPTA: Sir, we can't hear Wolf anymore, if you're talking. I apologize. Can you hear us, Wolf?

BLITZER: I can hear you guys, but unfortunately, it sounds like you can't hear us. So I'll let me thank you both of you for all the work that you both do to save lives.

You know, that's an amazing situation, Kate, when you see how they cooperate. The NYU Medical Center, they were in deep, deep trouble. They had a lot of patients in critical condition, expectant mothers, babies, intensive care, and...

BOLDUAN: And also dealing with the weather conditions that were coming in, as well. They're in the middle of Manhattan, as well. So they are dealing with...

BLITZER: It's raining, it's windy, and all of a sudden, they're transferring 64 patients in the middle of the night. I applaud those doctors...

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

BLITZER: ... and nurses for doing what they were doing.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Kenneth Davis, great to have him. Thank you so much.

So parts of New Jersey's most famous seaside resort has been ruined by the sea itself, of course. Let's get a look at the damage a little closer in Atlantic City and its historic boardwalk. For that, we'll go to Mike Galanos of our sister network HLN.

You've been there, Mike. What are you seeing in Atlantic City right there on the boardwalk today?

MIKE GALANOS, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right behind me, directly behind me, that scrap wood you see there, that is what was parts of the boardwalk here. This is the northern part of Atlantic City. Again, the Atlantic ocean just pounded away right behind me. The ocean is just over some of that scrap wood, maybe about 100 yards.

And you actually had people -- if you can see these buildings -- if we can take a look at these buildings once again. There's two buildings. I had a chance to talk to the person, it's a husband and wife and daughter living in that center building there. And they tried to ride out this storm.

This gentleman was telling me the story, and I saw the damage firsthand. There's yellow tape there now. It's just too dangerous. There's a strong scent of gasoline coming out of those buildings.

But this man said at 7:30 in the morning yesterday as this storm really began to wallop this area, the Atlantic Ocean basically was knocking on his front door and blew open his front door by 8:30 in the morning.

So now here is this guy trying to pound up plywood to board things up. He and his wife and their daughter, they're trying to take up whatever valuables, things are just irreplaceable up to the top floor, and they stayed and they waited. He's getting sprayed with water. He's soaking wet. And finally a neighbor convinced him, just to the right of me here, to get out of there, and that's what they did.

He was just shell-shocked. I would have liked to have talked to him on air, but as he told the story, at some points, the emotions just got -- just got the best of him. So, you know, thankfully there hasn't been the massive loss of life here, but property and scrap wood that was the boardwalk, that's what people were dealing with.

BOLDUAN: And it's amazing. It looks absolutely just like scrap wood right there behind you. Mike Galanos, thanks so much, Mike. We'll talk to you soon.

BLITZER: It's a tough situation. We're watching this very, very closely, though. There's a lot more going on, including Hurricane Sandy's impact. It's been horrifying and heartbreaking. The response to the disaster has been heroic.

Chad Myers is joining us right now with a little bit more on what's going on.

Chad, we're watching this hurricane still unfolding, the tropical storm. It's still a serious weather condition.

MYERS: It still has 45-mile-per-hour winds. And wind gusts, even higher than that. And we're piling up snow. Some of this heavy snow, this thick snow you can make a great snowman with. But it also sticks to the trees and sticks to the power lines and is bringing those power lines down.

Our Marty Savidge saying he's just hearing crack now, just like pops in the middle of the night, where one tree is coming down, and you know it's coming, and you know that somebody's power line just came down.

We do, though, believe that everything is calming down. It is winding down. Nothing is going to get worse from here, except maybe your snow totals.

You still, though, have river floods going on. Not flash flooding, so much. But rivers that are still out of their banks, because we've had places where 10 to 12 inches of rainfall have come down in 24 hours. That will flood absolutely anywhere.

They're the pictures you're seeing there on your screen. That was the Jersey shore. The Jersey shore truly took a beating. And we knew that it would. All the way from Sandy Hook all way down to Cape May and then the New York shore along Long Island, you know many, many houses that have been knocked down or literally just not even a frame of where they were -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Chad. Thanks very much. Much more of our coverage coming up right after this.


BLITZER: All right. Look at this. This is new video we're just getting in from the MTA in New York City. It shows flooding inside the submerged subway station at the South Ferry Whitehall Station in Battery Park. Just look at the water that is there. This is the subway station. Thousands and thousands of people would use this every single day. They're not going to be using it for a while, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And Wolf, as we're looking at this, it reminds me -- I was reading what an MTA official was saying. It was pretty obvious that saltwater does not mix with these subway stations.


BOLDUAN: It's very corrosive and can be very damaging, not just the flooding, but the after effects of how corrosive saltwater can be on all of the metal, especially some of the older equipment that they're dealing with in these subway stations. So something that we'll obviously be watching.

BLITZER: It will take a while to clean up these things.

BOLDUAN: Amazing images coming in. Wow. Pretty amazing.

Something else we're taking a look at. Even the Space Shuttle Enterprise took a hit from Hurricane Sandy as it hammered New York. The wind collapsed the structure we're showing you here that covers the shuttle on the deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

CNN i-Reporter Heather Shapiro lives nearby and took this photo from the window of her 21st-floor apartment. You can see the damage, that structure collapsing around that. Obviously another thing we're going to be looking at very closely.

BLITZER: We thank all our i-Reporters for sharing their video and pictures with us and all of our viewers.

Hurricane Sandy's impact on the United States has been devastating, and heartbreaking, and the response has been heroic and inspiring. Here are some unforgettable images from our i-Reporters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, evacuate! Yes, a boat, ready to go!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That crane just broke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you can see, the river is really getting quite up -- it's kind of come over the edge of the venue -- look at that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This used to be a running path.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impossible to tell. But there's no -- there's no difference between where the East River is and where the FDR is.



BLITZER: Wow. Those are dramatic pictures.

BOLDUAN: Long, long recovery ahead.

BLITZER: Well, all of our viewers, stay with CNN throughout the night. Complete coverage of this disaster. Thanks very much for joining us.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.