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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Levee Break In New Jersey; Superstorm Sandy Devastates Northeast; Interview with Peter King; Interview with Cory Booker; 50 Homes Burned In Queens Fire; Medical Center Evacuated; HMS Bounty Sinks Off North Carolina Coast; Sandy's Travel Nightmare; Deadly And Destructive

Aired October 30, 2012 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. You're watching a special edition of STARTING POINT. I'm Soledad O'Brien coming to you live this morning from the lower east side of Manhattan. This morning, Superstorm Sandy, as she is called, has been continuing to rain havoc on the East Coast. Certainly happened here in New York City.

Today there are rescues under way. Thousands of people in danger, potentially, in three towns in Bergen County, New Jersey, after a levee break there.

Right now an enormous fire is burning in the Queens section of New York -- 50 homes have destroyed.

A transformer explosion to tell you about ripped through the night as people described a powerful explosion, very loud. Look at those pictures. Update you on what happened at that Con Ed plant.

And 260 patients including babies from the NICU evacuated from a major hospital in New York City, historic record-breaking flooding consuming Manhattan and parts of the northeast, as well. Homes are under water and more than 6 million people are in the dark this morning.

Transportation is at a standstill. It could be days before things get back to normal. CNN is covering the aftermath of the storm, and Superstorm Sandy's next path, like no other network can.

It is Tuesday, October 30th, and special coverage begins right here on STARTING POINT.

Lots to get to this morning. Let's start with breaking news. Rescue efforts are now under way in three New Jersey towns. A levee break is what they believe has happened. It sent four to five feet of water gushing into the streets. Zoraida Sambolin has the latest on this breaking news for us. Good morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Good morning to you, Soledad. That break happened just after midnight in Bergen County. Authorities say they're using boats and high trucks in an attempt to rescue people in the towns of Carlstadt, Little Ferry and Moonachie. We talked to the chief of Little Ferry Police Department, Ralph Verdi a little earlier about some of the dramatic rescues that are taking place right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH VERDI, LITTLE FERRY CHIEF OF POLICE (via telephone): We've got a couple houses where low-lying areas, people were up on the second floor. They had to take them out the windows. We had several medical emergencies. We had to take from the house, put them on a boat, bring them to land that was dry enough to tie them over to medical personnel and transform them to hospital.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: They've been plucking people off of the rooftops, as well.

In another developing story we're following this morning, about 24 homes on fire in Breezy Point, Queens, 50 homes already burned to the ground. Floodwaters and dangerous winds are keeping firefighters from getting close enough to put out those massive flames that you're taking a look at. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right, obviously we're following that, Zoraida. It looks like 24 homes are still burning this morning, as well. Lots to follow this morning.

OK, let's tell you what happened at NYU medical center. They were removing babies from the NICU, sometimes taking those pictures, 260 in all, had to be brought down the stairs for those infants who are on respirators they would hand respirate them before they were able to relocate them into other hospitals. Also we have pictures of Sandy, Superstorm Sandy, as she's called, as she makes her way north, having really blown through New York city.

Lots to follow as we see where she's heading next. She's officially what they call a post tropical cyclone and the national weather service says that still means high winds, 70 to 90 mile an hour still possible in the tri-state area. So Sandy left quite a trail of destruction here in United States, 16 people dead, 6.5 million people are without power and insurers are estimating something like $10 billion to $20 billion in damage.

All right, let's tell you where we are this morning. I want to walk you through this. The sun's coming up a little bit. So it might give you a better sense of what's around us. You can see there are some downed branches. But the big issue here in lower Manhattan, we're on East Houston Street at Avenue D about a block from FDR Drive which you'll remember from pictures yesterday flooded yesterday afternoon.

So look around me, no lights on. That is because, Con Ed power plant had a transformer explosion. People in the area describe it as being scary. It was loud, it crackled, and all of a sudden it just blew up and it was terrifying. Immediately after that it went dark. Lower Manhattan is without power.

There are still some people who ran into a guy this morning who went to visit his mom. She's in this building right back there and said she wasn't going to leave. She's in her 70s and she was going to stay with the neighbors.

A few minutes ago we also saw some families, some schools were evacuation centers. Those folks were gathering up their belongings leaving the evacuation center and trying to check out the damage to their homes.

Asbury Park was a big focus of our attention yesterday. That's where Rob Marciano was set up for us yesterday, and he is there again today. Rob, the devastation, even before this landfall, was massive in Asbury Park. How is it today?

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, it's visual today. Once the sun comes up here we'll be able to shine the light on some of what's happened here. The water just started to recede briefly, but still lots of puddles across this area. Where the storm surge came in was basically on this side of the building, and then the boardwalk was overtaken.

Look at this damage right here. This is a combination of storm surge, water, and then the winds whipping around, and just tearing apart this brick building and these pylons here. You're talking about well- structured brick and mortar type of building torn up by this storm. Here's some of the leftover water.

The way things work alone the Jersey shore, when you get something that -- you get a storm surge that overtakes the boardwalk or a sand dune, or a levee of sorts, or a barrier island, it piles up, because we're back down at sea level here so it takes some time for all of this to drain. So you've got that to deal with, meaning you can't really get around town very much.

And then underneath that water you might have stuff like this. I mean there's debris all over the place. This is left over from actual fence that was blown around. And then a couple of these right here, these are actually street lamps that have been torn of street poles, just two of these in a 15-foot span. You can imagine just what it looks like not only in this town but up and down the jersey shore.

Good news to report from Asbury Park, no reports of serious injuries or fatalities. But power is out and obviously debris and damage just about everywhere. I have to believe, Soledad, that this scene is really mimicked up and down the Jersey shore. We're still about 100 or so miles from where the center of Sandy made landfall, but obviously the winds here, well over hurricane strength and likely in some cases last night, stretching into 100 miles an hour. It was a hairy, hairy scene as that storm surge came over the boardwalk, and when sun comes up we'll take a look over there and see how much damage was done to that.

But there's some old, very historic buildings here in Asbury Park, and judging from what this building took on, it doesn't look too terribly well right now. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: It's going to be a mess when you get to see the whole picture. Thank you, Rob, appreciate the update. Let's get to John Berman in the lower part of Manhattan where they were expecting a storm surge of something like ten feet plus. They got much more than that. John, what's the latest there?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": They got 14, Soledad, 14 feet, a 14-foot storm surge, which is simply unprecedented here. It's four feet higher than the record which was set back in 1960. Where I'm standing right now, was really just part of New York harbor last night when that surge came in.

Let me show you where the water is right now. It's about two hours from high tide again right now and you can see, you know, we have four feet to go before the water gets backed up here, hopefully it will not come back over this wall again tonight. But you can see how low it is compared to what it must have been last night in this area where I'm standing right now. It simply swamped this entire area.

And this side of Manhattan where I am didn't have it nearly as bad as where you are. Out in New York harbor, which is out that way they measured a 36-foot wave -- 32 feet, 32 feet, which is six feet higher than the record, which was set back during Hurricane Irene. I was driving down here this morning, the entire lower part of Manhattan blacked out. Con Edison says 250,000 homes inside New York city itself without power. The subways as you've been saying, shut down completely. Six of the tubes, six of the tunnels from Manhattan to Queens and Brooklyn flooded. They do not know when they'll get them pumped out over the next four days, they hope. Again that flooding really did wreak some havoc here, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it has. We're going to have a chance later this morning. As the sun's coming up we can see the damage, John. This side there are lots of submerged cars. I'm actually looking at someone's tire standing in the middle of the street. That can't be good. We'll update folks on the damage on this side of Manhattan.

Let's go to Ali Velshi. Ali was in Atlantic City yesterday and they're watching what's happening with him, where he was just being battered by the high winds and the surf, as well. Ali, I'm glad to see you in one piece, frankly. How's it going where you are?

ALI VELSHI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: There's still a lot of wind as you can see. I'm still being buffeted by a lot of wind, but the water is gone. Eight hours ago I was standing here in water that was as high as my waist. It was the ocean. There was vegetation from the ocean in it and it overtopped the banks and overtopped the boardwalk which is about three quarters of a mile behind me. You can see those red lights over there. The water is gone.

Now, moments ago, a convoy of trucks with National Guardsmen pulled out from here. They are now beginning their survey of Atlantic City. Just spoke to a utilities operator who said that it does not look like there was serious damage in the Atlantic City area. There are trees down, there are some power lines down, things have blown around a bit. But it does not look like serious damage.

Remember, Atlantic City is substantially more built up than many of the areas on the shore. While there are great homes, great, strong homes, there are a lot of smaller homes all the way down to Ocean City, Maryland, Cape May, places like that. So we're going to get a better sense of it once the sun comes up. We're going to head to the shore and get a sense of what sort of damage there's been around here. About 500 people said to be in shelters in Atlantic county. The roads back to Philadelphia should be fine. Philadelphia's got some flooding, 60 miles west of here.

The other thing is there's an ongoing tiff between the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, and the mayor of Atlantic City. The governor said the mayor didn't follow the instructions properly, didn't work hard enough to get people out of the city. We had both of them on air last night, pretty much calling each other names. So I imagine there will be some phone calls this morning about what should have happened.

But bottom line, our initial assessment of Atlantic City right now, Soledad, is it may -- it may have dodged the worst of it despite how bad it looked last night.

O'BRIEN: It surely looked bad. Thank you, Ali, certainly appreciate it.

We're going to head now to -- who's up next? Peter King, Congressman Peter King, looks like he's ready for us. Peter king is out in long island, and obviously long island took a big brunt of this storm. Congressman King, thank you for your time.

First,tell me exactly the damage that you've seen. I haven't had a lot of live reports on what has happened in long island outside of my hometown, Smithtown, which I know has lost power. Can you tell me what some of the worst damage is?

REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: Yes, that's right, absolutely devastating. For instance, long beach has lost all its sewage, all its water supplies, and it's basically very difficult to get to. Hospitals have been shut down. People stayed behind, and a number of firemen were stranded trying to get them out. In places like Massapequa, there are a number of fires. At one time 12 firemen stranded, had to send military vehicles down. Pretty much like Wyndhamhurst are under water, Babylon is really hit very, very hard. On Long Island more than 80 percent of the customers are without power, of 1.1 million customers, over 900,000 have lost their power.

It's probably devastating a hit as Long Island has ever taken. Have to say that people in Suffolk County are bearing the brunt of this. They and the first responders are doing a phenomenal job. But it was really very harrowing. Through the night, and this morning, basically, they're still asking everyone to stay off the roads. Just, again, it was just exceed the worst expectations for Long Island.

O'BRIEN: You know, we're looking at pictures from yesterday, as you're talking, and you can just see the floodwater and the damage there. We talked about the rescue workers helping people into vehicles to get them out of there. So what are the expectations? I know the water is receding here where I am in Manhattan. But, I know it's very hard this early on to give a number like how many days people will be without power. But is there an expectation, four days or a week or two weeks? KING: Right now expect seven to 10 days before power is restored. Of course they couldn't do anything at all yesterday or even this morning yet because of the winds. It's only going to be this morning they can start with restoring of the power. It's going to be a long process. They are in place to do whatever they can as quickly as possible, but it's important for people to realize that this is going to be a long, hard process.

And also, to get -- unless it's absolutely necessary for people to stay off the roads, because there still are wires down, it's important to get the trees and everything removed from the roads, and as people are out there, much harder to get that done. But it's, again, it's going to require an all-out cooperation from the public. And again last night, I know that probably too early to be showing you, but all those people who refused to evacuate, not only did they put themselves at risk they put many, many first responders at risk, areas where firemen almost lost their lives.

O'BRIEN: Yes, yes, no, they decide not to evacuate until they suddenly decide they need to be evacuated and then everybody has to wade in and go and get them.

Congressman Peter King for us this morning. Thank you, sir. We appreciate your time. Long road ahead for you to recover where your constituents are. So thanks for talking with us.

I want to get to Zoraida Sambolin. She's got an update on some of the other weather-related news.

SAMBOLIN: You're looking at a live picture. And this is a partially collapsed crane in midtown Manhattan. This was knocked down by strong winds from Superstorm Sandy. The crane is dangling from the 70th floor of that luxury high rise that's under construction. The building is 157. It is slated to be 90 stories tall when it is finished. Here's what the crane looked like before, on the left, and then after. The concern right now, of course, is that crane plunging to the ground. New York's mayor Bloomberg says the crane was just inspected last Friday, and everything seems to be fine. But, of course, the heavy winds created a problem there.

Take a look at this -- a sudden rumble, then a cloud of debris when the facade of a Manhattan apartment building is ripped off. This is all happening as Sandy's intense winds tore through the area, left apartments completely posed. One firefighter had minor injuries. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right, Zoraida. Thank you very much. Those are really dramatic pictures to take a look at this morning. Let's get right to Jennifer Delgado at the extreme weather center in Atlanta. Jennifer, where is Sandy going next?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Sandy's going to be moving very slowly over toward the west. As it does it is still going to be squeezing out more rain out there as well as some snow. As I show you on the radar. Here is where this center is left, the area of low pressure that is left of Sandy, about 90, 100 miles to the west of Philadelphia. Now we are dealing with rain out there. For areas, including New Jersey, Washington, D.C., as well as into Maryland, and we're also talking about snow for areas like West Virginia. Of course we're talking about a blizzard there.

As we zoom in a bit more for you, Soledad, you see that spin right there? There it is for you. Again want to point out near Baltimore, snow. There's not snow, and there is not any sleet, we're just talking about rain. But it is going to be windy day out there, Soledad, with those wind gusts up to about 50 miles per hour. It's going to be dangerous, but also make conditions feel a lot cooler than the actual temperature. Right now we have 50s out there. I know it feels a lot chillier than that.

O'BRIEN: Yep, it does. It's cold. It's starting to rain where we are. We're obviously past the storm and about to get the brunt of this storm. Jennifer Delgado, thank you very much.

All right, still ahead this morning we're going to have a chance to talk to Mayor Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. We spoke to him yesterday as he was preparing for the storm. He's wildly active on twitter. We'll talk to him about how his night went and how things look for his city today. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching our coverage of Superstorm Sandy. We're updating you on some of the aftermath has the storm has rolled through. Let's get right to Cory Booker the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. We had a chance to talk to him yesterday as he was preparing for the storm hit. Now we'll see how they're doing today in that city. Mr. Mayor, thank you for talking to us. How is Newark, looking?

MAYOR CORY BOOKER, (D) NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: It's tough, Soledad. The majority of the city is blacked out right now without power. We have just tremendous storm damage, wires down, trees down, damage to people's property, severe flooding in areas of the city still. We still have a lot of work today to begin to try to get this city cleaned up, hopefully get power restored, which I don't want to give any false hope. It could be days for that.

O'BRIEN: I was going to ask you, because you know that's what people really want to know. They want to know when will they have their power back. Are you able to give anything more specific than just days?

BOOKER: No, unfortunately not. But last night after midnight I talked to President Obama, I talked to Governor Christie, been talking to numerous people here on the ground, who are in charge of that. Everybody knows the urgency. Everybody knows, especially when you have dense populations, and a lot of people are really reliant for medical reasons on power that you get a sense of urgency to get this done.

I don't have any more specific updates. I just do know that everybody from the federal, state, local level, that's one of the major missions today, secondary obviously to keeping everybody immediately safe, because there are many, many hazards in the streets, many downed power lines, so many flooded areas, and people still principally important and we're asking people to stay home. To stay out of the way so power crews, emergency responders, and others can get their work done.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a quick question before I let you go. We're looking at pictures from yesterday in Atlantic City where the flooding was very bad. What happens to Election Day? You know it's a week from today. You may not have power. I mean you don't have the flooding that Atlantic City has, but that flooding in Atlantic city is not particularly unusual. What's going to happen to the election?

BOOKER: You know, I think that obviously, you know, the function is critically important. All of us are just trying to make sure everybody is safe and secure. Still have a few days to worry about that and I'm pretty confident all throughout the state of New Jersey, as we focus on what's most important, which is people's safety, security, restoration of power, I'm sure that as Election Day gets closer we're going to find ways to make sure that it's as functional as possible, people are able to vote.

O'BRIEN: Mayor Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Thank you for your time. We certainly appreciate it.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, two breaking stories to bring to you. We're taking a look at a levee that has been breached. We know that people are being plucked off the roofs of their homes. We'll update you on what's happening in those three towns in Bergen County, New Jersey. Also we'll take you to Queens, Breezy Point in Queens, where a fire is raging out of control. 50 homes have already burned to the ground. Another two dozen are on fire. And the firefighters' efforts are being compromised by the storms.

We're back in just a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Lots of breaking news to get to in the wake of Superstorm Sandy as she made landfall late last night. Let's walk you through what is happening here.

We know in Bergen County, New Jersey, there are three towns that are at risk. People being evacuated off the homes in Moonachie, a trailer park there, apparently, folks are tweeting pictures to us.

And I want to share some of those pictures with you. It got between four and five feet of water in Moonachie. Also Carlstadt and Little Ferry the other two towns that have been affected.

And people have been plucked out of their second floor windows or off the top of their trailer home -- trailer park homes. They're being rescued at this hour by rescuers who are putting boats and high water vehicles out there to try to save people.

This has been going on, apparently the levee breach happened around midnight and the rescue efforts happened starting around 2:00 in the morning. This is happening in the southern part of Bergen County, in New Jersey. We continue to monitor that.

Then let's take a look -- I should mention these pictures are from a firefighter and ambulance driver, his name is Bob Munoz sending us those pictures.

Spoke to Jeanne Baratta. She is from the Bergen County Police Department about that rescue operation. Here's what she told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE BARRATTA, BERGEN COUNTY POLICE CHIEF OF STAFF (via telephone): When all is said and done we're talking about hundreds, possibly 1,000 people that we may have to go and rescue. And yes, there's a trailer park in Moonachie and the people are on the roof of those buildings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: OK, our other breaking story we're following this morning, Breezy Point, Queens, that's the rockaway section of Queens, there is a massive fire that is burning. Fifty homes have already been burned to the ground.

Another 24 homes are, like that. They are on fire. Firefighters have been attempting to put this fire out, but obviously very difficult because of the flooding, and the weather conditions there.

And in addition, there are some issues with water pressure that is making it very difficult for these firefighters, some 200 who are on the scene now to get in there and fight this fire.

They are -- they are obviously keeping an eye on watching what is happening with this fire, as well as our other breaking news story. Want to take you to the satellite loop.

Sandy is now officially a post-tropical cyclone. It's no longer technically a hurricane. The National Weather Service is telling us winds of 70 to 90 miles an hour are still possible in the tri-state area.

We're watching that for you, as well. Sixteen people killed in the wake of Sandy in the United States, 6.5 million people without power. And insurers are estimating for us the damage will be somewhere between $10 billion and $20 billion when it is all tallied up.

Craig Fugate is the director of FEMA. We spoke to him yesterday about what they were expecting. Mr. Fugate, we appreciate your time this morning. Thanks for talking with us. Walk me through the areas that have now been affected and where FEMA's resources are.

CRAIG FUGATE, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, we're working the pretty much everything from the Carolinas all the way up. The way the storm's going we still have impact.

Last night after conversations with both governors of New Jersey and New York, President Obama took the extraordinary action to issue a major disaster declaration based upon the impact that had occurred.

What that means is now not only are we providing direct response, but also financial support to state and local governments for response. Individuals in these immediate declared areas can start registering for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or going to disasterassistance.gov and start the registration process.

We know there are people in counties that have not yet been declared. We will be adding on additional counties throughout the day, and probably over the next several days. Really are still in response mode.

And what people can do to really help right now if you're in the area, if you're not somewhere that's safe, stay inside. Going outside is probably the one thing the responders would ask you, stay inside, stay safe. This is a very much response situation.

As you're pointing out, this is not over. We still have more weather to deal with. Hopefully, people will be able to stay safe until we can get to the other side of this storm.

O'BRIEN: So are you saying that in New York and Connecticut have been declared disasters, this means that funds will be freed up? How much money are the people who you know in the areas around us have lost a lot. How much money will they be able to get to --

FUGATE: Let's be clear. This is New York and New Jersey for the counties that have already been declared. We have provided assistance for Connecticut but not for individuals yet.

It's New Jersey and New York, and federal assistance will be primarily directed to those that have the uninsured losses, as well. Small business administration disaster loans and that assistance, probably the first part is going to be people who have lost their homes or can't stay in their homes is rental assistance. Getting some place to stay after the storm.

O'BRIEN: Craig Fugate runs FEMA. Nice to talk to you, sir. Thank you very much for being with us.

Want to get right to Rob Marciano. He is in Asbury Park in New Jersey. Not so far from where landfall was made last night. Rob, describe for me what you're seeing this morning now that the sun is up or at least it's daylight let me put it that way.

MARCIANO: Yes, well, I can tell you that the clouds are at least trying to break. The wind is obviously continuing to blow. We've got a lot of debris littered here across town.

I stopped a gentleman who is driving by in a pickup truck, Jason Burke, he is a local. You lived here all your life. And you're here now out trying to or basically clean up and assess the damage. What have you seen so far?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just got calls from the OEM having a meeting in Asbury Park. They called in some loaders with grapples to move trees, debris, I'm just going to assess some of my accounts here that I think are in real bad shape.

I've been getting calls through the night that everybody's in real bad shape mostly from Texas. Like I was telling you before, we don't have any power anywhere. So nobody's got the ability to look and see what's going on or find out, you know, whether it's safe. It's not safe.

You know, and the people are texting us, watching it in different states that do have power are the ones that are actually giving us the best information that we can gather. So I just came out because I got called, but otherwise I'd be staying home myself.

MARCIANO: You lived here all your life. You've been through Irene. You were here during the 1992 nor'easter. How does this compare?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is bad. This is as bad or as worst as I've seen. I haven't gotten around to everybody. But the amount of trees down, wires -- last night I came out to check on a couple things, and I went home because transformers were exploding all around me a little bit west.

Here it's more debris, but anywhere where they have trees, power lines are down. Trees are down. Roads are blocked. Took me ten roads to do a one-road pass right now because it's that bad.

MARCIANO: We appreciate you stopping by. Know I got a lot of work to do. Good luck to you.

All right, so that's Jason Burke, lived here all his life and so an important point he wanted me to stress, if you have family that live in the storm zone and you're watching us, text them the information that we're putting out there.

One thing you want to stress is, especially here in Asbury Park and other shore communities, don't go outside just yet. The power lines are down. There's still a lot of water covering the roadways.

You don't know what's under that water, a lot of debris obviously. It's still very dangerous. Whatever information you may have outside of the storm zone, text your loved ones inside of the storm zone.

Even though you can't make a call, even though they don't have power you might be able to get that text through -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Rob, great advice, thanks. Let's get right back to Zoraida Sambolin at Time Warner Center with an update on some of the other storm related news. Hi, Z.

SAMBOLIN: Hi, Soledad. Well, it looks and sounds like fireworks, but those sparks are flying from a pole carrying power lines. This is the story of Queens and of course, it's the result of Superstorm Sandy. Con Ed reports the storm has left more than 600,000 customers without power, and that is the most in their history. Boy those are amazing pictures.

Right now firefighters are trying to save two dozen homes from going up in flames. This is Breezy Point, Queens. Some 200 firefighters are on the scene of the 6-alarm blaze. It has already destroyed 50 homes and that fire broke out at the height of the superstorm last night.

The 260 patients at the NYU Langone Medical Center including babies and the elderly in intensive care evacuated because of Sandy, massive flooding and a failed backup generator forcing ambulances to transport everyone to nearby facilities.

This was last night. It started about 1:30. Some of the patients had to be carried down 15 flights of stairs with 12 feet of standing water in the elevator shaft, very scary moments for them there.

And the body of a missing crew member from the doomed replica call ship "HMS Bounty" has been recovered. This is off the North Carolina coast. One crew member remains missing at this hour.

The Coast Guard says 14 others were rescued from their life raft by two Jay Hawk helicopters after the ship took on water and as you can see there, sank. Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: All right, Zoraida, thank you very much. Let's get right to Martin Savidge. He is near Kingwood, West Virginia, where they are dealing with a different issue than what we've been talking about for a lot of the morning. They are dealing with snow. Martin, good morning.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad. Yes, exactly right. What we're dealing with here is blizzard conditions. This is Preston County. It's one of 12 counties in the state of West Virginia, higher elevations in particular, that are under a blizzard warning.

Maybe you can see the flag in the background there, indication of the wind. We've got a triple threat going on right now. We've got a high wind warning, we've got a blizzard warning and then on top of that, if you can believe it, we have a flood warning, as well.

We're getting the conditions here that are pretty treacherous. Let me just show you the snow. This is the really heavy, heavy, thick stuff. And so this is the stuff they're trying to push around.

This is the stuff the people are trying to get through. We've got maybe about 8 to 10 inches here. Projections are some elevations could see two to three feet before it's all said and done.

Blizzard warnings are going to stay into effect until about 6:00 tonight. Power wise in this state they're doing not as bad as others, about 140,000, only one fatality. But this is going to get worse -- Soledad. O'BRIEN: All right, Martin Savidge for us, this morning, in West Virginia where snow is the big issue. Thank you, Martin. Appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning, we'll be talking with the governor of New Jersey. He said his state took it right in the neck in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. We'll talk with him about what he is dealing with, some of the massive damage that they're dealing with.

Richard Quest will update for us the travel nightmare that Superstorm Sandy has caused and continues to cause. We'll update you on that, too. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching continuing coverage of the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Massive damage here in New York, we're going to talk more about that.

First, we want to talk about the damage and disaster to travel. Not only here in the United States, but internationally, as well. Richard Quest has that for us. Richard, good morning.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDNET: Soledad, this is the way it looks in the United States at the moment. The Midwest traffic building up, as you can see, Chicago, Detroit, down towards the south.

But in the northeast itself, very little air traffic, virtually none and for one good reason, New York, Kennedy, Laguardia and Newark, they are closed. The runways, as you know, flooded overnight.

You can fly, you just don't want to be landing hundreds of planes on runways that were flooded and are perhaps dangerous. So as long as these big three are closed you can expect all travel in the region to be very badly affected.

In Washington, Dulles, and National they are showing serious delays. There will be some flights into Boston later in the day, same for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The information that you need to know, if you are traveling, airlines, Delta, United, U.S. Airways, American now say they are extending their times when you can rebook for no change fee or a full refund Wednesday through Thursday.

But you need to book and travel by November the 7th. Soledad, the core story on the travel front this morning, things are getting back to normal slowly, Boston and Washington, south and north. In New York, it is going to be a disaster area around those airports for some time to come.

O'BRIEN: So when do they expect, because obviously in some of the regions like LaGuardia is a good example, the airport has been shut down because of weather in addition to the challenges of flying in because of the weather system, if you know what I mean. When do they think they're going to have LaGuardia up and running again? When will they actually get back to a normal flight pattern? Is it Wednesday or Thursday?

QUEST: Well not even saying. They're not even saying. They've got to inspect the runways. They've got to inspect the navigation equipment, the ILS, all the various bits of technology that make it safe. And that's even before you get to the point of when the weather allows you to actually land the planes safely.

O'BRIEN: That's a long way of saying not any time soon, isn't it? Richard Quest for us this morning. Thank you, Richard. Appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning, we're going to be talking to the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He says it was his state that took it in the neck. We're going to update you on what's happening there, in New Jersey, talking with the governor straight ahead. We're back in just a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. As we take a look at the aftermath for the state of New Jersey in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, we want to get right to New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie.

He said his state took it on the neck. In fact, there's a rescue effort still going on this morning in Bergen County, New Jersey. Three towns have been severely impacted by a berm breach.

From what I understand it's something like a levee. Let's get right to the governor. Governor Christie, thank you for talking with us. Walk me through what exactly you know happened.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: Sure.

O'BRIEN: It looks like we're having -- it looks like we're have in having -- go ahead. Yes, I can hear you now.

CHRISTIE: What happened in Moonachie this morning there was a natural berm that was holding back water. That berm was overwhelmed by the tidal surge. It wouldn't be correct to call it a levee or dam. It's not that sophisticated.

It's a natural berm that was overwhelmed by tidal surge that was extraordinary up the Raritsen Bay and up the Newark Bay, which eventually made its way up to New York City, causing some of the devastation you're seeing in New York as well.

It flooded the town of Moonachie. We've already rescued hundreds of folks out of there. We'll have to rescue hundreds more out of the day today. So far in Moonachie, we have no loss of life that I've been informed of. Hopefully, we'll keep it that way.

O'BRIEN: My goodness, I certainly hope so because some of the description of what people are doing to try to stay alive in the trailer park in Moonachie, trying on the roof and trying to get rescued and plucked off their roofs in the middle of the night. That's terrifying.

CHRISTIE: It's terrifying. A lot of brave first responders went in there, in the middle of the night, saving people of the tops of their trailers. There were at least two or three trailer parks in Moonachie. Those were the folks that were most in danger. A lot of other folks in other homes were able to get to higher floors and be rescued that way.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's talk about some of the other damage that we've seen. As you well know, reporters are all over your state. Let's talk about Atlantic City. You were kind of angry over the mayor of Atlantic City because he didn't evacuate the lower lying areas. What exactly happened there?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, Soledad, what happened was I had said -- I ordered the evacuation of Atlantic City. The mayor was sending a mixed message, telling folks that they could shelter as a last resort in the city of the Atlantic City.

A number of people chose to do so. That was the wrong thing to do. I had ordered the evacuation. Now we're in the midst of doing urban search and rescue on a number of folks in Atlantic City who were left behind there.

We started that at sunrise this morning. We're going to be continuing that all day to evacuate the final people out of Atlantic City.

O'BRIEN: What's the price tag of all of this going to be? I'm looking at pictures from Atlantic City, Asbury Park. I mean, really it's bad across your state, very, very bad. What does this come to, financially?

CHRISTIE: It's incalculable at this moment. I've not been able to tour my state or even get a handle on it. I'm expecting to see a devastated Jersey shore. That will be extraordinarily expensive to fix.

And we have 2.4 million households without power. To give you some perspective, Soledad, that's a million more households than lost power during Irene last year. So the infrastructure damage here is extensive, extensive.

O'BRIEN: OK, so then what happens -- I know this is a week out but what happens on Election Day? Obviously, you need power and you need to be able to get people in transportation to and from the voting places.

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, my lieutenant governor is overseeing the election process. My secretary of state, they have already been working on contingency plans for Election Day a week from today.

And, listen, I'm hoping we'll have power restored a week from today to all the appropriate polling places and people can make their way and vote on November 6th as planned. Right now, Soledad, I'm much more concerned about preventing any other loss of life, getting people to safe places. Then we'll worry about the election. The election will take care of itself.

I spoke to the president three times yesterday. He has been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state and not once did he bring up the election.

If he's not bringing it up, you can be sure that people in New Jersey are not worried about that primarily if one of the guys running isn't.

O'BRIEN: Governor Chris Christie joining us this morning. Thank you, sir. We wish you the best of luck as your state has a little bit of a ways to recover and certainly as that rescue operation is still going on in Bergen County in New Jersey. Good luck to all those people who are involved and those being plucked off their roofs this morning. We appreciate your time.

All right, coming up, I want to shoe you some pictures, very dramatic pictures. A tanker, apparently, has washed on shore. Let's put up this picture. Take a look at that. This is in Clifton. We'll tell you what happened and the story behind this ship washing up on shore straight ahead. Stay with us.

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