Return to Transcripts main page


Sandy: Staggering Devastation; Hurricane Sandy Left Different Effects on People

Aired October 31, 2012 - 21:00   ET



DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST (voice-over): Destruction seemingly everywhere. On a scale that takes your breath away. From big cities to the beaches, there`s nothing left in some places, except for the people who are stranded, without food, electricity, and in some cases hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every ounce of it ruined.

PINSKY: There are massive evacuations right now at one of the biggest hospitals in the country, and all of it might just be the beginning of a long and desperate road back.


PINSKY: Good evening. Is this not incredible?

Tonight, we`re going to try to look into the individual stories that create this collective experience. I want to understand more about what people are experiencing and what is likely to happen down the road and what we might need to do to prevent this.

As a physician, there are some stories tonight that have captured my attention. I`m going to have Sanjay Gupta here later to report on these hospital evacuations.

You guys may not realize this, but this is not as simple as carrying sick people down the stairs. This is a ballet that needs to be undertaken, something that is extremely difficult. something that requires professional monitoring, continuously.

Just think about a dialysis patient. They need power to run the kidneys. They have blood exchanges. This all needs to be maintained. There may be unstable patients in the ICUs that really can barely move out of an ICU has to be transferred to another hospital.

I want to take a quick call from Donna in South Carolina. Donna, what do you got?


PINSKY: Hi, Donna.

DONNA: My friends and I are stranded in (INAUDIBLE), North Carolina. The only way off the road -- the only off the island, the roads are washed out. Houses dropping in the ocean. We had to be rescued by the fire department.

PINSKY: Are you out of the island now? You said the roads were washed out. Did you have to have a helicopter rescue you? How did you get out?

DONNA: We`re still on the island. We`re still -- we just actually made it to our cars today and one caught on fire. So --

PINSKY: One of your cars caught on fire?

DONNA: We don`t even know if we have -- yes. We don`t even know if we have our vehicles.

PINSKY: All right. Donna, so here you are. You`re able literally to speak to the country right now from an isolated island, isolated by this storm. What do you do? What does the next three days hold for Donna and her family?

DONNA: Oh, my gosh. I have no idea. We`re here on vacation. We`re originally from New Jersey.

PINSKY: Oh. You actually may have it better off in North Carolina than New Jersey it turns out, as desperate as it sounds.

DONNA: No, no, no, like, where we are at, we`re out on, like, a sandbar. So we got hit almost probably as bad as the New Jersey shore. It was really, really scary.

PINSKY: Were you supposed to evacuate and didn`t? Why did you end up stuck?

DONNA: No, actually our vacation started Saturday and we kept on calling. They kept on saying oh, no, we`re fine.

PINSKY: Oh, my goodness.

DONNA: Come on down. And once we got here, that was it. We were done.

PINSKY: OK. Donna, I have a couple questions. Do you have food and water?

DONNA: Actually now we do, because we walked, like, through, you know, to the store to get extra things.

PINSKY: OK. All right. Hold on. The control room, if you would hang on to Donna`s -- get her number so we can check in with her to make sure things are going OK.

I`m going out to HLN`s Mike Galanos who is in Toms River, New Jersey.

Mike, you actually tried to get into part of the Jersey Shore that`s completely cut off. I think we`ve seen these pictures throughout the day of these ruptured gas lines burning through the sand. What happened when you tried to get in?

MIKE GALANOS, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is Long Beach Island, Drew, we tried to get into. We crossed the bridge, thought we were going to be able to make if and see devastation firsthand, but there are these ruptured gas lines and also downed power lines so the authorities just said, no, it`s just too dangerous, we don`t want anybody roaming around out there so we had to turn around and go back.

Ran into another community, though, Drew, and just interesting to see people. It`s Beach Haven West, very near Long Beach Island. It`s a small community just devastated. Every house, three, four, five feet of water and people couldn`t go in to see their houses.

So, not only do you go through the storm, now you have the anxiety of where do we go, what do we do next?

PINSKY: Now, Mike, when you walk through these towns or however you get through them, are they empty? Are there any -- is there anybody that? Do you hear any personal stories of people that have tried to sort of get through the storm at these particular locations?

GALANOS: Yes, you know, authorities did let us go into Beach Haven West and we saw a gentleman, it was his sister-in-law and he, they tried to ride it out. They didn`t think it was going to be that bad. We just were driving by and see this guy wringing out water out of his carpets.

We go in and I talk to a lady, her name was Kristin. You know, it`s so interesting, you can relate to this, as people recount the story, and she`s telling me how the water kept rising. She`s like, it`s got to stop, it`s not going to keep coming.

And she said at one point this is surreal. So she sat in her recliner and reclined it to try and get away from the water. In other words, and she`s sitting there thinking, this can`t be happening and she had that moment where this was so surreal, she was frozen, then she got into action and she got whatever valuables she could and got to higher ground and she and her brother-in-law rode out the storm.

She was talking about, the emotions hit and then the tears started to flow then she composed herself one more time. That`s the way she says, she has good and bad moments.

PINSKY: Mike, I got to tell you, I magic words are, I can`t believe this is happening. Last night on this show, Anderson Cooper was talking about his house in Long Island. The ground floor is full of sand and water. He said, I didn`t think this could happen to me.

The fact is even when it`s happening, people go into a certain amount of denial and this has got to stop, it can`t happen, and it keeps coming.

Investigative journalist Rita Cosby is in Hoboken, New Jersey. You say, Rita, the situation there is dire.

RITA COSBY, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: It`s very dire, and by the way, Dr. Drew, speaking about it can`t happen to you, I was in an apartment right across from the crane in New York City. So I am homeless, myself, as of a few days ago, and staying in hotels and place to place.

So it is kind of surreal. Here I am a journalist covering these things for so long and now experiencing it, myself.

PINSKY: Rita, I want to interrupt you. Rita, I`ve got to stop you. Because you`re telling a story that is really painful and everyone is maintaining an awfully good attitude about this.

Are you an exception because you`ve just got a job to do, or are people maintaining a pretty high morale?

COSBY: You know what, I think there is some frustration, and just sort of confusion. I mean, this situation I was in is because they`re worried that that crane is still going to whip into the building across the way. I had five minutes to get out, the apartment I was in. Five minutes to pack whatever I had. And there`s a sense of, you know, am I going to be able to go back in there again?

It is -- it`s funny, you know, I feel so much for the people because you have to think in those one minute -- I didn`t get any warning. We were not expected to evacuate. And then, suddenly, this crane they thought might come in.

PINSKY: Right. I heard that story. That`s right there in the middle of midtown. Tell me what you`re seeing in Hoboken.

COSBY: What I`m seeing in Hoboken is just a lot of sadness and a lot of frustration, Dr. Drew. Ninety percent of the people here have no electricity and that means no power, no hot water, no heat. And 20,000 people are essentially stranded. We just came back, just did a tour.

We`re here with the National Guard. The National Guard has about 10 trucks. And they are going house to house, knocking on the doors. To people saying, are you inside? Do you want to come out?

Some people are staying. Some people are saying, I`m OK. There`s a lot of elderly people and a lot of people with some emergency situations. We saw a woman who needed dialysis desperately and they rushed in an ambulance.

And the National Guard came in. They were all carrying her out. It was quite a massive effort and quite a dramatic effort and they were rushing. She was quite sick at the time.

So, it`s going to get desperate here. What I`m concerned about, Dr. Drew, this is now day two. They`re saying now that the substations here were flooded. There is so much water it almost looks like a little Venice, if you will, in some parts of Hoboken.

They are saying the power may be out here for another seven to 10 days. Then things are already feeling a sense of desperation. Imagine how difficult it`s going to be for these people. It`s nothing compared to what I`m going through.

These people -- they`re surrounded. It`s going to be very difficult as the days go through. Seven to 10 more days is a long time as you know.

PINSKY: And, Rita, last night, we had a report from Hoboken, they were showing us the sewers came up above ground, all the contents. Are there concerns about infectious disease in that community?

COSBY: Big-time. That`s a great point, Dr. Drew. They`re extremely concerned about the water. In fact, they said do not go in the water above two feet. And there`s a lot of water about. What it is, it`s a combination of the water of oil. That sewage is coming up, also rain. And then also you had the Hudson River coming in.

They estimated, this is a staggering number, 500 million gallons of water are basically sitting still above Hoboken at this hour. They`re trying to pump it out, but it`s taking quite a bit and they are saying, do not touch the water.

The good news is, at this point, they`re saying the drinking water is safe. They are not concerned about that yet. But they are saying definitely be careful stepping in the water. They say it is heavily contaminated and they wish people would not flush.

Of course, people are still going to do it, but the water I can tell you, I just was out back over there, it`s really disgusting. It`s going to be a big concern. These diseases and issues coming up.

PINSKY: Yes, for sure. I want to say thank both of you, Rita and Mike. I hope you stay around for ongoing reporting during the show. Thank you for getting out there and taking the risk.

And, Rita, you`re basically homeless and going out and doing a reporting job.

So, thank you, both, Mike and Rita for getting out there and getting in the middle of all this.

Next up, Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the scene from yet another hospital in New York City. They are evacuating that hospital now. There they are.

Be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s another patient there. Oh, wait, is that -- I think it`s a baby. Oh, my goodness, guys. This is a -- this is an infant. This patient here obviously a much more serious situation, there what appears to be oxygen tanks. Here`s another woman coming out here.


PINSKY: Patient evacuations at NYU Langone Hospital, including 20 preemies that had to be relocated to other hospitals.

CNN`s Sanjay Gupta followed tiny baby Emma. Watch this.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Monday night, this baby, 13-day-old baby Martinez, a preemie, weighing just two pounds, suddenly need to be urgently transported.

(on camera): At 7:00 p.m., there was no water inside that hospital. At 7:45, there was 10 feet. The power started to go out and then the generators failed. And all of a sudden, the patients and the doctors found themselves in a worst-case scenario.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had no choice but to go back home and just sit and wait for today to get here. And it was a very long night.


PINSKY: Sanjay, this is very dramatic stuff, but I want people to understand from our perspective as physicians, it`s more than just carrying patients down a set of stairs and into an ambulance. There is so many mechanical and biological issues that have to be attended to and risks that have to be assessed. Such as, like, say an unstable patient in the ICU who really shouldn`t be moved but has to now be moved.

GUPTA: Absolutely, Drew. And, you know, you and I probably have a unique perspective on this because we`ve seen it, and, you know, even moving these patients within the hospital. Intra-hospital, can be challenging. You know, little baby Emma there, Drew, you know this, but, you know, these little babies -- they`re not even good at regulating their body temperature, their fluids.

You know, I remember when I was a resident, in order to move one of these patients, it was a very coordinated effort and you always plan for the worst-case scenario. They didn`t have a lot of options here. As you know, Drew, they had to do this in the middle of a storm. So, all those babies are doing well.

PINSKY: Which is amazing. Sanjay, what you`re saying is when we have to get an x-ray on a baby and move them to another part of the hospital, it`s a challenges operation. And here they are moving buildings.

Do other hospitals just openly accept these patients? Was there any problems finding beds for them?

GUPTA: I asked that question, Drew, to Dr. Kenneth Davis. He`s the CEO of Mt. Sinai. They took a significant number of these patients last night. I said, you know, how did it work? He said, I got the call about 10:30 and I said yes immediately, and within an hour, the patients started arriving. There was no hesitation.

Now, to your point, Drew, and I know what you`re driving at, is these hospitals are usually pretty full. They tried to discharge patients in anticipation of Sandy, but still there was not a lot of room. So operating rooms, recovery rooms, operating rooms, pre-op areas, those suddenly became areas where patients could stay. The NICU, the neonatal ICU, completely full. You know, there were just patients everywhere. Sometimes in spaces that were reserved for one patient, they had two incubators instead. So just very full.

But, again, that`s what it took. And in the end, you know, the babies, some of them as little as two pounds, they all did well.

PINSKY: And, Sanjay, we are watching ambulances stream by behind you. I assume those are patients being evacuated right now as we do this interview. Is that correct?

GUPTA: That`s right. You know, we got the word about 1:00 or so this afternoon that Bellevue had ultimately made the decision to completely evacuate, to remove all of their patients to different hospitals. It`s been going on, you know, all day long. They anticipate it to go on through noon tomorrow, about 500 to 700 patients being moved.

I will say, Drew, unlike the patients we`re talking about, the critically injured, those patients were moved yesterday. These patients are not as severe, so the process, they`ve had more time to be methodical and, you know, move a little bit more slowly today than in the days past.

PINSKY: And, by the way, they`re not in the middle of a hurricane right now.

Christine in Arizona, you wanted to ask us something here? Christine, go ahead.


PINSKY: Christine?

CHRISTINE: It just shocked me today to see that -- I know we have to get our financial system in order, but the priority it takes to have Wall Street running and going and 8.2 million people with no electricity, and them evacuating Bellevue. It just tore my heart apart.

PINSKY: Christine, there are a lot of shining stories, like examples of heroism and real positive stories. I mean, Sanjay is reporting on one right not where hospitals opened their doors when they had no beds to the needs of another hospital when they called out for help.

And then you`re seeing this coordinated effort, this ballet of moving dangerously ill patients then the less ill over the course of a few days, such that people --I want to ask Sanjay when we get back after the break how they establish the continuity of care. How do you turn over the care of these complicated patients to not just another hospital but to another medical team?

Be right back with more after this.


PINSKY: I`m back with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

You can see he is outside a hospital where there is active evacuation of patients that`s been going on since yesterday.

Ambulances are just streaming by behind you, Sanjay. I appreciate you joining us tonight.

Now, here`s the question I have for you.

GUPTA: Sure.

PINSKY: In addition to these hospitals opening up space for these patients, hospitals are generally, medical staff particularly, and nursing staff, are already too busy. How do -- did they just increase the availability of their own staff or did the Bellevue staff get temporary privileges and head on over and follow their patients?

GUPTA: That`s exactly what happened. In fact, it happened last night and tonight again. Langone, for example, the doctors, they at least -- they went with the patients. They got them at least settled in, stabilized and a handoff. Drew, you`re familiar with this when you essentially tell the patients` history to the doctors who are now going to be taking care of that patient. It`s not so much temporary privileges as it is sort of making sure there`s a continuity of care or some sort to these patients, Drew.

PINSKY: Yes, it`s a far very complicated dance than I think people understand. I mean, there`s a -- it`s not as simple as reading the record of the patient.

You need to hear from the physicians, taking care of the patient, what they`re thinking, what they are anticipating, what their land mines are for this patient, what kinds of -- sort of problems they`ve had that may not be directly reflected in the record or just going to another hospital is just going to add risk to these patients.

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. I mean, you can -- something can get lost in that translation and there`s something else I want to point out. Drew, maybe this was obvious to you. It wasn`t as obvious to me, but there`s this whole discussion about electronic medical records, right?


GUPTA: Where the records are all digitized in some way. There`s two problems that occurred, as I found out talking to these doctors and staffers last night. One is even though a hospital could literally be blocks away, their EMR, or electronic medical record system, can be completely different.

PINSKY: What do they do? Did they print them out?


GUPTA: Here`s the obvious problem. Yes, a lot of it was just printing up and going back to the old-fashioned way.

But here`s the other problem. There was no power.

PINSKY: Oh my goodness.

GUPTA: So, electronic medical records are very dependent on power and as a result you`re really relying on the doctors and the nurses` knowledge.


PINSKY: Wow. I don`t know if the public can appreciate how big an issue that is. Maybe I`m an old-fashioned guy. I still write a lot of my records.

And this story just put a little bit of rocket fuel behind that belief. This is a big deal, Sanjay. Those are -- electronic medical records are fraught with unintended consequences and here`s a massive one.

Thank you so much for reporting there from that hospital. We will -- of course, I hope to be able to check in with you again as this story unfolds.

GUPTA: Got it.

PINSKY: And we`ll also be checking in with Rita Cosby in Hoboken, New Jersey. Take a look at this.


PINSKY: Welcome back. Thank you for joining us this evening.

Again, we want to hear your stories. Call us. 855-373-7395, with concerns you have for the people there in New Jersey, New York, New England, Virginia, the Carolinas.

This is a devastating, devastating event.

HLN`s Mike Galanos is in Toms River, New jersey.

Mike, how long do you suspect before things are even remotely close to normal there?

GALANOS: You know, a lot of the residents were asking that question to some of the authorities and their best guess, you know, they`re talking seven to 10 days and they`re not even sure we`re going to let these folks get back into their house. I want to share one story when you talk about people trying to grapple with this.

This elderly lady comes driving up. Her priest drove her to her community because she had to get in her house and she comes walking out with her keys out and she`s blocks from her house and she looks to me asking me if she can get in. She had to have some clothes. She`s got to see her house. Get some clothes. All she had was the clothes on her back.

You know, that`s the kind of desperate situation people are in. But to answer your question, week to 10 days, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: You can really understand that, Mike. I mean, people`s lives are in their homes, in their houses. People want to get back and maybe collect pictures or see what has happened. I mean, it`s such a powerless feeling people must have.

Let`s two to Carmine in New Jersey. Carmine?


PINSKY: Carmine, I`m great. Thanks for joining us.

CARMINE: Yes. It`s been three days of -- really been surreal here. And I mean, it`s just unbelievable. People just charging their cell phone phones on their car batteries and basically, you know, waiting for gas in lines. I mean, it`s just been -- completely decimated. People are just very, very anxious just to find out what`s going on with their homes down at the beach and it`s just been just a total devastation here in my neck of the woods.

PINSKY: Thanks, Carmine. It`s our thoughts go out to you. Let`s go to Laura Lee in Missouri. Laura Lee?

LAURA LEE, CALLER, MISSOURI: Hi, there, Dr. Drew. Thank you for taking my call.

PINSKY: Sure, Laura Lee.

LEE: I moved out about 26 years ago. I lived on the island. Born and raised there. So, I got family there. We had a tornado here a while ago. I never heard what I heard from my cousin. She said, the town where she works at has power but she does not. Her boss calls and said, we expect you to be there tomorrow. You know, what kind of recourse does she have if the company says, be there at work, and she can`t because she`s got down lines, no water, no electric?

PINSKY: I think -- you know, I hear sort of rumblings of people feeling guilty for not getting to their job or for, perhaps, staying back with their family to make sure they were secure and safe. I say just sort of -- forget that.

You know, if she needs to be safe, take care of herself and take care of her family, that`s where she needs to be. Work comes second. And if her employer doesn`t understand that, I`m not so sure it`s somebody you want to be working for. I don`t what legal recourse she has. I`m certainly not an expert in that particular area.

LEE: I mean, I feel real guilty because I got trick-or-treaters coming up to my door right now. I`ve got lights on. Heat, good food. I feel really bad for everybody on the east coast.

PINSKY: Yes, of course. People need to -- listen, people need to take care of themselves, take care of their family. And yes, of course, we want to return to work and to normalcy, but right now it`s about the -- what all these things, these experiences are, they re-prioritize everything. It becomes about family, it becomes about important relationships, it becomes about getting food and shelter and clean water. This sort of thing.

So I`m going to go back out to -- speaking, I want to go back out to mike. Mike, where are people going? Are they in shelters? Do they stay with friends? Is there just -- is there some sort of recommendations for how people stay safe tonight?

MIKE GALANOS, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Drew, you just nailed it. What I saw and heard today, a mom and daughter who was able to stay with her sister. You know, family coming together. Your know, family nowadays, what do we get together, maybe on the holidays. Now, this family is drawing closer together through all this.

And you know, the daughter that I talked to, 28 years old, you talk about a normalcy. She just was looking at me going, I just want my life back. She`s like even the things that bother me. Dealing with the bills, little things that annoy you, I want that back. She wanted to go home and carve pumpkins and basically turn the clock back. But, she knew she could.

PINSKY: Wow. It`s Halloween. Karen in Illinois. Karen, you got something?


PINSKY: Hi, Karen.

KAREN: My question is, I`ve been watching all the shows and all the stories on CNN and all the different channels about the storm before it even occurred. And now I find myself glued to the TV, not able to sleep. Just constantly watching all the shows about the baby being transferred from the hospital and now the new hospital that`s going to be shut down. And before I didn`t really feel bad, but now I find myself crying when I heard personal stories, and I just want to know if you watch all this a little too much, is it possible it could bring on depression into your own life?


KAREN: If you watch all the stories?

PINSKY: Karen, I don`t know to make this recommendation, but turn off your TV right now. This is not going well for you. This is not a good thing for you to be traumatizing yourself with these particular stories. Listen, I think the important thing is to understand that you`re OK, your family`s OK, and you`re looking at some extreme situations. There`s opportunities to learn here and that people. And that people - there are going out and reaching out and trying to help all the people that are in need right now. It`s a helpless feeling. It`s the helplessness that bothers us so much and we just get focused on these stories.

I think, for you, my dear, the best thing is to hug your children, stop watching TV for a little while, and take, you know, again, re-prioritize. Look at what`s important. The important relationships, cherish them tonight.

Rita Cosby is in Hoboken. We were having technical trouble reaching you before. You`re back. Thank you.

Give us some stories -- we just heard this young lady telling us she`s actually getting depressed from listening to these stories. Let`s hear some uplifting stories, Rita. Have you heard any stories of hope that are out there tonight?

RITA COSBY, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Some incredible stories of neighbor helping neighbors. Even some of the things that I saw firsthand, we were just touring, as I was telling you, the area, that`s really water logged here, and it`s half of the city is actually water logged. It`s about 50,000 residents, half of them are surrounded by water at this time here. And we saw some neighbors, even as we were coming up, they`re like, we`re OK, we`re OK, we`re young, we`re fine, please go to apartment so-and-so. There`s an elderly woman there, I`m worried about her. They would hop in the vehicle with us, point out where it was. Then the crew would come down. And you could just tell that there`s such dedication, truly neighbor helping neighbor and everybody really seems to be chipping in. Know right now what`s amazing with all of the damage and everything that`s happened here, no deaths, and so far no looting. Everybody really is respecting each other and trying to help.

And also the National Guard folks and the local authorities, I`ll tell you, they have been incredible. They have been here working, checking to try to rescue people at this point because it is still a rescue operation. And they have been working since about 4:00, 5:00 this morning and I still see the trucks keep going. Same guys that had been here since this morning and just people are helping one another. That`s been so inspiring.

PINSKY: And Rita, I just, real quick, what do you hear from the National Guardsmen? What do they tell you? Are they happy to be there? Happy to be --

COSBY: You know what, they are happy to be here.

PINSKY: Yes, I bet.

COSBY: They are. You know what, this is what they do. And they said, you know what, how great they feel that they`re here in this country doing what they can and you can just tell, they`re really in it. Not one complainer. I have not met one person complaining today.

PINSKY: There you go.

COSBY: Everybody who has been helping is so happy to do so.

PINSKY: There you go.

Rita. Thank you. And Mike Galanos, also thank you as well.

Next stop, I`m going to (INAUDIBLE) you guys. I`m going to speak to a woman who lost her childhood phone in hurricane Katrina. And she has some thoughts and offers hope for the survivors of Sandy.

Be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once again, the same time last year.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: Yes, it was same time last year. You`re right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now I got nothing. My husband, my son, no nothing. It`s all ruined down there. Every ounce of it, ruins. Nothing. Nothing.


PINSKY: So devastating. That was governor Chris Christie comforting a resident of Sayreville, New Jersey today. And by the way, hats off to Governor Christie. He`s done a fantastic job through this whole thing. And he`s starting to get tired. Get some rest, man. We need you through a what is going to be marathon here, not just a sprint.

Joining me now, as I had said, via Skype, Kathleen Koch, she is a former CNN correspondent, herself, who lost her childhood home to hurricane Katrina and chronicled her story in "rising from Katrina." Kathleen, what do you say to survivors who feel like they lost everything?

KATHLEEN KOCH, FORMER CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they`re not alone. I think they have to seek comfort in that first of all. I think Rita was really expressing that, that people pull together at times like this, that that`s one of the ways to get through it.

Another way, you know, you just mentioned the governor. The mayors of these towns. They are going to have to provide such strong leadership. I`m really seeing that already. I was listening to an interview on CNN this morning of mayor bill acres from seaside heights, New Jersey, and I heard him talk about how blessed he was. Little town of almost 3,000 is flattened, but he said, I`ve got great first responders and they were out there in the storm with regard to their own safety. They were saving people`s lives, taking care of the citizens and I`m just so blessed.

And you know, Dr. Drew. That was the adjective. I heard people on the Mississippi gulf coast use, most often to describe themselves after Katrina. So, got to look for the small blessings, this little victories wherever you can find them. And that`s another thing that can help get you through.

PINSKY: That`s a good note. Again, it is other people that give life its meaning and get us through terrible tragedies and to be in one piece and have the people you love with you is a blessing.

Let`s go to Bonnie in New York. Bonnie, you have a question or a comment?

BONNIE, CALLER, NEW YORK: Yes, good evening, Dr. Drew. Thank you for allowing me to go on the air.

PINSKY: You bet.

BONNIE: I live on Long Island, you know, which obviously is devastated. It`s almost black to say, you know, that`s the least of the comments about what`s going on here. I am very fortunate. I`m on the same transformer as a hospital. So I have electricity. You know, I went out today to give out my water. I became very prepared after hurricane Andrew. I was down there vacationing. So I understand what`s going on here.

I, however, have to give a huge shout-out to EMS. I, myself, and EMS, and what these people are doing is beyond belief. I watched you and the other doctors explain. It`s ETPCR, electronic patient care reports which, unfortunately, because it`s new, takes a little bit longer to give full reports from doctor to nurse to EMS to patient. And what these people are doing, and how fast they are moving these patients, I`m astounded. I couldn`t be more proud to be part of that profession.

PINSKY: Well, thank you, Bonnie. And thank you for being a part of it. And thank you for providing water to your community. I mean, you`ll understand specifically what the needs are. And you`re absolutely right. I mean, this is -- people that don`t do this work, it`s hard to understand just how complicated it and how much potential there is for problems, for missteps.

But thank you, Bonnie. Thank you for that help and thank for your the comment as well.

Cindi in Pennsylvania, you got something?

CINDI, CALLER, PENNSYLVANIA: Hi, Dr. Drew. Thanks for take my call.

I`m here in Pennsylvania and I have had the television on for almost a week straight and there was a lot of preparation given for this storm. And, unfortunately, what I`ve heard, I feel so horrible for the people in New York and New Jersey.

Pennsylvania did get hit pretty hard, too, and we didn`t have the flooding, but we have in our area, there are downed trees everywhere and there are thousands of people without power. And it`s just amazing to see what`s happened in the aftermath on television.

PINSKY: Yes, and Cindi, we forget how dependent we are on power. That it is such a big issue to be learned here.

Kathleen, I see you shaking your head vigorously. Let me before we go to break ask this, Kathleen, this one question of you.

A lot of people forget that Mississippi, many towns along the coast there just cease to exist. A lot of focus on New Orleans, but Mississippi really just stuff was just vanished.

KOCH: Well, exactly, because Dr. Drew, what happened is we don`t have levees there. In New Orleans the levees collapsed. What Mississippi was hit with was roughly a 30 foot storm surge about the size of the tsunami that hit Japan and so, you know, what you`re seeing in New Jersey and New York, homes that are swept from their foundations, homes that have had the lower level destroyed, Mississippi gulf coast where I grew up and all that was left of my childhood form were slabs. Slabs for about the first half mile from the water inland along the entire 80 miles along the Mississippi gulf coast.

But this disaster, it`s different. Everyone is different. And people are going to get through this. But it`s not going to happen overnight. Mississippi gulf coast, I think we`re looking at ten years before we really recover from hurricane Katrina. This disaster certainly is going to take New Jersey, New York area many areas.

PINSKY: I think that`s an important thing to point out. But, to remind ourselves, again, as you said, Kathleen, people use the word "blessed." They reprioritize when they`ve been through something like this.

KOCH: And you know, we`re not defined by the stuff. We live in a society, Dr. Drew, and its times like this when we realize it`s not our stuff that makes us who we are.

PINSKY: That`s right. It`s the people we love. It`s the people we care about. It`s the important relationships. But if you have medical problems, it is some of the stuff. And that`s one of the things I`m pointing out here tonight, that there are things we really do need for our survival and we have to really pay attention to those needs when they are challenged, let`s say.

KOCH: You have to prepare and pay attention.

PINSKY: Exactly. Exactly. That`s why listen to the leaders to take the appropriate action when these recommendations are made.

Kathleen, thank you very much for joining us.

Now, remember this video from Monday night? We`re going to go back and check in with the man who shot this. See how he and his family are doing.


PINSKY: Fifteen states were rocked by super storm Sandy. Mark Downey and his family are from Bayonne, from the peninsula in New Jersey. And we have been following Mark`s story throughout the storm. Take a look at this piece of tape here.


MARK DOWNEY, BAYONNE, NEW JERSEY: Ah, see now we do have some lights. We have a generator. We`re getting ready for dinner. That`s Jenna. That`s my lovely wife, Lisa. Here`s the beautiful generator. And there`s the baby.

I walk from two nights ago, see the branches down. Here are my girls. Hello, Avery. It`s our little version of trick-or-treat.


PINSKY: So, Mark, it looks like normalcy is being restored for your family in spite of the extreme circumstances. And you guys had, then, extra stress with your wife, my understanding. I just found out this evening that she has a visual deficit where she`s not able to see, Retinitis Pigmentosa. That has must have been extra scary for her and for you.

DOWNEY: It is, Dr. Drew, because we have extra lighting in each room to help her see. And now, we have, you know, our generator has no more gas so she can`t see. This is a real strain on her.

PINSKY: And am I right the kids are kind of rolling with this? This is almost fun for them? They seem to have a great attitude. You`ve done a great job of keeping your kids feeling secure. Ad you know, exactly, we described last night, you need to do with the kids to let them know life is going to be normal, they`re here, family`s here, they`re secure. They`re safe.

DOWNEY: You`re absolutely right. A lot of that comes from my wife. She`s been very strong through this. I`ve been trying to do the things I can to keep my family safe and get what I can and, you know, we`re so lucky throughout this whole thing. That`s for sure.

PINSKY: Mark, I really appreciate your updates.

I`ve got -- I brought Rita Cosby back. She is in Hoboken.

And Rita, you must have been driving away in your car. I asked you to please come back on and share a couple thoughts before -- I appreciate it again so much.

COSBY: On my boat. On my boat.

PINSKY: By the way, you`re homeless tonight. That`s the part I find amazing. You were in the shadow of the crane that almost fell down. Now you`re out in the sewage in Hoboken. But, thank you for that.

But, let me say before we go, I want to say, are people -- is there enough we can say about the people, the emergency responders and the National Guard? You rode along today with the National Guard. What are your thoughts for them as we wrap up tonight?

COSBY: You know, they are just incredible. And I`m so glad you`re talking about these great uplifting stories. I`ll also tell you there`s a woman, some volunteers, there`s a woman who walked about an hour and a half to come here and volunteer today. Think about that. I mean, people coming from all over the state knowing that this city is in tremendous need. And that is inspiring. Again, neighbor helping neighbor. And just, you can tell, people really pulling together in this very difficult time.

The mayor here said to me, also, Dr. Drew, she said, this is a desperate time, but we are going to pull through. And everybody was applauding her after the news conference. So, it was really -- it was beautiful.

PINSKY: Rita, the leaders have really stepped up this event. I got to tell you. Now, Rita, are you going to go back to the city tonight or do you stay out in the New Jersey area?

COSBY: You know what, I don`t know yet. I don`t know where I`m staying tonight. So if you know of any places, just let me know, OK, Dr. Drew?

PINSKY: OK. Well, I want to thank the homeless Rita Cosby for having the courage to give us the report tonight. And I bet the National Guardsmen will have some ideas for you. I`m just suspecting. I`m just guessing.

But listen. Stay safe tonight. Get somewhere warm. I know the temperatures are dropping. Thank you so much for the report. Interesting tonight, we sort of changed gears from hearing these really desperate stories, our caller from Illinois who said she`s getting depressed from watching the stories of hopelessness. I hope she changed her attitude a little bit. If she didn`t tune her TV out after I told her to. Little bit of a change in attitude seeing some of these uplifting stories.

We`ll be back, just seconds.


PINSKY: Now, if you would like to be of help to Sandy victims in any way, no matter where you`re watching from, head on over to That`s It is number one on the Web site`s top ten. Check that out. There it is. Volunteers need.

Let`s go on out to Ed in New Jersey.

Ed, I`ve got less than about 40 seconds here. What do you got for me?

ED, CALLER, NEW JERSEY: I`ll be quick, doctor. I live in a little town called Sea Isle City. We are about 20 miles below Atlantic city. And we were evacuated on Sunday and when we returned today, about 2:00, we live across the street from the beach, and we have an unobstructed view of the bay. When we arrived, we thought we`d be devastated here and it`s a tribute to our township because when we got in the roads were clear, there was no sand anywhere. Our home has glass all around it, no glass was broken.

PINSKY: Great, Ed.

ED: And we think the storm came very close inland.

PINSKY: I got to go, Ed. Unfortunately I have to go out. Thank you for a little more positive reporting for us.

Thank you to everyone who joined us tonight, and stay tonight. And stay tuned.

Watch HLN`s special coverage of super storm Sandy. It continues right now with Vinnie Politan and Kyra Phillips.