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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Sandy`s Path of Destruction

Aired October 31, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: We`ve got to leave it right there. On the other side, the mayor of hard-hit Seaside Heights. Next.

All right. Tonight, thousands of people are still waiting to be rescued from the devastating wreckage left by Superstorm Sandy. Floods, fires, massive power outages. It is very much a state of emergency as we speak. And we`ve got live coverage from all over the East Coast starting right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The massive storm ravaged the East Coast, leaving death and unprecedented destruction in her wake.

Now, dramatic rescue efforts are underway in some of the hardest-hit areas as families desperately search for missing loved ones. Tonight, we`ll take you live up and down the East Coast with our team of reporters. And we`ll talk to people who are suffering from Sandy right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More scenes of chaos across the northeast today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I looked out the window and I said, "Oh, my God, we`ve got to get out of here. The water is up to the garage door."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s nothing you can do. I mean, there was water surrounding your house. We couldn`t get out. We got trapped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve never seen anything like it. Never.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news. Millions of people are left reeling after Superstorm Sandy, the aftermath. That`s what we`re dealing with right now. Rescue teams working around the clock without sleep to save thousands of people who are stranded.

Good evening. Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live right now.

We have seen widespread devastation across 15 states. Streets and homes flooded with dirty water. Homes ripped apart by wind. Cars toppled. You can see directly into these houses. Take a look at that.

Dramatic rescues happening up and down the East Coast right now. People putting their lives at risk to save thousands of others trapped inside their homes. Sometimes only -- the only way to get to them is -- take a look at this. This is video supplied by the New York Police Department. They are air-lifting people from their rooftops.

And as you watch, as you can see, the helicopter blades at the top portion of your screen. These are just some of the absolutely extraordinary rescues that are going on right now. They continue to go on.

Remember, almost six million people remain without power at this hour. The death toll, 54 dead. It`s stunning.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were sitting in the car up to our necks in water. And we had to climb out the windows and swim out to higher ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is something you see in other states. Just doesn`t happen here in New Jersey. You know, you`re just -- you`re in shock. Everybody is in shock. We never thought it was going to be this bad ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Some people didn`t think it was going to be this bad. Some people didn`t think that day three, and we`d still be with six million people without power.

Again, 54 dead in the United States alone; 9,000 people spent the night in shelters last night across 15 states. More people facing another cold, dark night. And it`s getting colder.

People in tears over their losses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t believe it`s missing at the top of the steps.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You`re alive, and you`re OK. This stuff can be replaced. We can take care of it. It`s just stuff, right (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know.

CHRISTIE: I know you`re upset. And you have every right to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s overwhelming. We want to know what`s going on in your neighborhood. What thoughts, concerns, questions do you have? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. We`ll try to answer your questions.

Straight out to a man who can answer a lot of questions, mayor Bill Akers from the very hard-hit Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

Of all the video that I have seen, Mayor -- and thank you so much for joining us, sir -- the video of Seaside Heights and the surrounding area is some of the worst. And I believe we`ve got some aerials to show of -- it`s extraordinary. It really defies the ability to process that many homes.

And so we can tell you that New Jersey -- New Jersey in general is hard hit.

And we lost the mayor. And probably because, well, take a look at what`s happening down there. If you were the mayor of that town, you essentially are running left and right.

Mike Galanos, you`re in New Jersey. The president of the United States today said New Jersey is the hardest hit of all the states. The devastation is extraordinary, especially along the barrier islands.

We`ve got some other video of Ocean County. This is all part of Ocean County. We`re going to show you a little bit more of it. It`s -- it`s beyond comprehension. Fires, the shattered boardwalk, it goes on and on. It`s almost impossible to process this much destruction at once, Mike.

MIKE GALANOS, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jane. That`s what people are going through. They`re trying to process that, as well.

We were on Long Beach Island. That`s south of Seaside Heights. Equal devastation, Jane. We crossed the bridge. We thought we were going to be able to go in and see some of it firsthand, but the authorities turned us away because of those ruptured gas lines, downed power lines. It`s just too dangerous.

So we went back, and we ran into a community that`s right near Long Beach Island called Beach Haven West. And people were lined up, because they wanted to get to their houses. But same situation: ruptured gas lines, just not safe.

But we were able to get in there. And we saw some people who rode out the storm. And just what you`re talking about, Jane, ocean waves that had just came, and the water, the storm surge just crashed through homes and garages and first floors of houses. And people just left picking up the pieces. And they`re trying to tell you the details, and as they do they just stop and the tears begin to flow.

And one woman, a beautiful woman by the name of Kristen Modelli (ph), she said that she tried to ride it out. And you know how she was trying to stay away from the water, Jane? She was in her reclining chair and then reclined it up. And she`s looking around, and she said, "I can`t believe this. This is surreal. This is my life. And it`s being inundated by water."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, and there`s also this tragic case in the Staten Island area. The worst of all possible situations and you can certainly relate to something like this happening, Mike. A search for two small boys. They disappeared right in the middle of the storm.

Police say 2- and 4-year-old Connor and Brandon Moore were literally ripped from their mother`s arms by flood waters after her SUV stalled out while she was trying to escape the storm. She tried to carry them away on foot. Search crews are desperately combing the surrounding area looking for these precious boys.

But, Mike, that`s an example. People, again -- what I take away from this is people have forgotten the power of nature. They have forgotten. Because we live in this sort of information age where we don`t deal directly with nature as much as we used to in, let`s say, during the time of the agricultural era. OK? We`re not dealing with nature as much. We`ve forgotten the force. But this, two precious boys missing tonight because they were ripped from their mother`s arms, Mike.

GALANOS: And, Jane, that`s the people who are here. The people who road it out, that`s what they`re talking about. This one man told me as we walked through his garage, and he`s given me just this incredible vantage point of the back of his house that`s basically been blown apart. He just looked at me and said, "I could not believe the power, the power of the water."

And he showed me a boat that started six blocks one way. And it was tied to a dock. Ended up two blocks the other way. So an eight-block trip. He said that boat that`s sitting there, that`s that guy`s block that`s six blocks down.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike -- Mike, I`m going to jump in, because we`re delighted to have Mayor Bill Akers back, mayor of Seaside Heights. I know you`re very busy, so I want to get right to it, sir. Try to describe, if you can, the level of devastation of your area.

BILL AKERS, MAYOR OF SEASIDE HEIGHTS (via phone): The town is no longer ever going to be the same as anyone would ever remember it. Our boardwalk`s totally gone. Foundations of properties are cracked. The -- there is no electricity. No sewage service. There`s no -- we have -- we`re set up in a command center at the police department with an emergency generator that -- that keeps this part of town going.

But we do have some good people doing -- doing an unbelievable task just trying to search through everything right now to restore service as soon as possible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we are looking at aerials. And the aerials really tell the story. It`s not one house. It`s not 20 houses. It`s not 100 houses. But in your town and surrounding towns it`s just mass devastation. What -- how do -- how do you decide what to do first?

AKERS: Well, first it`s always going to be human life is always the most important thing to make sure that we`ve done the proper thing to get everyone out. And we`re going to finish that up tomorrow with state police along with the prosecutor`s office along with our department. We`ll finish knocking on door to door to door.

Everyone that is still here has to leave. Before we can ever hope to restore power, there`s going to be -- there`s going to be dangerous situations. We have gas leaks. When you`re restoring power and you have ruptured pipes, it could be devastating. Fires could start. So we`re going to make sure that everyone that is here has to be out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Mayor, how are you...

AKERS: So that`s the first thing. Then we have to open up arteries to our town. We have to be able to get essential services to us. And that`s what we`re doing at this time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How are you going to keep things secure? Do you have, still, massive power outages? I would assume, but I don`t want to assume. And if so, obviously, there`s some really beautiful homes. They have a lot of valuables inside them. How are you going to keep them secure?

AKERS: Like anything else, you do it to the best of your ability with the manpower that you have. Our officers have been working nonstop. It`s an incredible job that they`ve been doing. We have a few cars available to us. We are using those force. We also have foot patrols and bicycle patrols. We have the help of other agencies such as the state police right now. So we are patrolling to the best of our ability. But it`s -- it`s awful difficult when it`s -- you`re going out, and it`s total darkness. And I mean, you can`t see five feet in front of you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I understand it`s getting colder. I was outside just a little while ago. It is getting colder. Is that making it a little bit more difficult for those who have been displaced? I would -- I would think so.

AKERS: Absolutely correct. There are no services for them. I mean, there is gas still here. The main lines have not been shut off. We are capping local -- as we find the leaks, we cap the leaks. But -- so if you have gas heat, there`s a chance that you can have heat.

I mean, in the building, in the command center, we`re fortune enough that the generator keeps those services going. For the people that are in their homes, most of them are without any essential services.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mayor, thank you. I know you`re very busy. I appreciate you taking the time. And we certainly hope the people of Seaside Heights and surrounding communities that are also devastated make it through this and come out the other end.

It -- I just got to show one picture. And this is in the area. It`s fire coming up from underneath the sand. And this is obviously some kind of gas main under there, I would think, that had ruptured. And then the fire takes off from there because there`s -- the beach is dotted with fire. I`ve never seen anything like that. It`s just unbelievable. And it gives you just a hint of the infrastructure problems that we`re going to be facing.

When the dust clears and everybody thinks they`re going back to normal, we really are going to face a massive infrastructure problem. We`re going to deal with that in the coming days.

The very latest from Bellevue Hospital, which is being evacuated as we speak, on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One of the worst hit areas is Hoboken, New Jersey. It`s right on the other side of New York City. And in fact, it`s in a basement. Like Jersey City Heights is above it. And so it really became sort of a gathering spot for something like half a billion gallons of water. And I`m talking dirty water.

I want to go out right now to Jordan Hutt. I understand, Jordan, that you are stranded inside your apartment in Hoboken. Paint a picture. What is going on there?

JORDAN HUTT, HOBOKEN RESIDENT (via phone): Hello?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can you hear me? Hi, Jordan. Hi.

HUTT: Hi. How`s it going? Well, right now my block, fortunately, doesn`t have any water flooding as bad as some areas do. But we were able to kind of survey the area yesterday. And pretty much the back of Hoboken is completely filled with water. Some blocks three, four, five, six feet deep.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I understand that this is dirty water. We`ve heard from other people this is nasty water. However you want to picture it.

HUTT: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How is -- how is that to cope with? Because some people estimate it`s half a billion gallons of dirty water.

HUTT: Right. When you see the water up close and you kind of go up to it, you can kind of tell it`s not your average lake water. There`s kind of some oil in it. You can kind of tell it`s really contaminated. I mean, it definitely has an odor to it. So you definitely want to stay as far away as possible, especially with all the live wires that they say are going on inside of it. Just kind of really a booby-trap.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, how are you doing in terms of what kind of possessions did you lose, if any? And what are you doing about that? Have you contacted your insurance? Are you documenting it? Because we`ve talked to insurance experts, and they say whatever you do, take photos, take video. Establish what you`ve lost before it`s cleaned up or moved away.

HUTT: Honestly, again, I, you know, feel extremely fortunate to say that I`m on the second floor, and I don`t have a car here. So really no immediate damage was done to any of my possessions. So again really fortunate in that area.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Well, good for you. I`m glad. And it sounds -- you know, everybody that we have spoken to has had this amazing attitude. Thank you, Jordan. And just the resilience, the grit, the optimism of the helpfulness.

Honestly, tragedies like this -- and it is a tragedy -- can also have a rainbow in the sense that people realize, well, things aren`t what matter most. What matters most are families, our community, our health.

I`ve been reminded of that. My mother had to evacuate, because she lives next door to the dangling crane in midtown Manhattan. She`s been with me now for -- since Monday night. There, she lives right next door in to the building immediately next door. And she`s probably watching this. Hi, Mom, if you`re watching.

She`s been staying at my house. We`ve been roomies since Monday night. And you know, it`s really brought us closer together. We were kind of laughing at it, that it was kind of fun and that we had a chance to be together in this crazy world where we`re always rushing. Maybe there`s something to be taken out of this that might have a positive.

More on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got breaking news out of Bellevue Hospital on the east side of Manhattan. Hundreds of patients being evacuated as we speak.

Straight out to senior CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, tell us what`s happening now.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, exactly as you described. There`s been this widespread evacuation sort of -- excuse me. An evacuation. Obviously, people really walking through the streets there, as you see, Jane, that there`s no path around here.

Jane, I don`t know if you can see this. I don`t know how familiar you are with Bellevue Hospital. But it`s the oldest continuously running hospital in the country. And it`s eerie for me to see it sort of completely dark. You`re seeing it behind us.

Lots of ambulances. There were about 50 ambulances stacked up here earlier today to do this whole evacuation of this hospital.

And I`ll tell you that there are emergency generators to try and make the hospital run. What happened was they pumped a bunch of water out around some of the pumps.

(AUDIO GAP) was a disaster (AUDIO GAP) and that was the part that prompted this evacuation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, I have to ask you a couple of questions, Sanjay. I have covered Bellevue. I was a reporter in New York City years ago, and I went to Bellevue on numerous occasions, and sometimes when people were -- were institutionalized -- they said, you know, you`re too dangerous to be out on the street -- they would send them to Bellevue. And I`ve covered those stories. Are we talking about some of those patients, as well?

GUPTA: Well, there were about, I think, a total of 700 patients. (AUDIO GAP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. Listen, your mike is dying. But I`ve got to tell you that this is extraordinary. I did grow up in New York City. I did report as a local news reporter years ago. And Bellevue Hospital is one of the grand institutions of New York City. And the idea that 700 patients are being removed from Bellevue Hospital, it`s -- it`s like extraordinary. It`s absolutely extraordinary.

And all because of the East River. Yes, it`s on the banks of the East River, near the East River anyway. And that river decided to visit Bellevue`s basement.

More on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Speaking now, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, the state hardest hit during Sandy. Let`s listen.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: They are urging their utility companies to send crews and equipment to New Jersey. South Carolina, as well. Governor Haley is sending 185 people up as we speak. And so we have an enormously difficult task to perform here restoring power.

The president also committed to getting utility crews and equipment from any place they`re available in the nation and having FEMA transport those people and their equipment to this state, in order to begin to restore power immediately.

Bob has (ph) sole focus over the next number of days is to move these numbers downward and to move them downward quickly. He`s on the phone with each of the utilities, discussing what additional resources they need so we can provide them, along with our partners in FEMA, in order to get the job done.

Now, I`m honored and sincerely grateful to all my colleagues, governors across the country. Let me also say, as I`m remembering here, Governor LePage in Maine has agreed to urge people to be sent from Maine, and Governor Haslam in Tennessee, as well.

We have commitments from other states to send servicemen, tree clearers, equipment and trucks to work with our utility companies, some of which are on their way now. The more manpower and equipment on the ground, the faster we can move.

In the meantime, as that`s working, generators. We have over 100 generators from FEMA at Lakehurst, and we`ve developed a list of key facilities -- water treatment plants, wastewater facilities, and hospitals -- who need generators. They are being distributed as we speak by FEMA personnel across the state so that water treatment facilities, wastewater treatment facilities and hospitals will have the generation power they`ll need until full power is restored by the utility companies.

I specifically spoke with the president and Craig Fugate today for their assistance in moving those generators immediately. They didn`t hesitate; directly conveyed their order that these generators get placed tonight to our places on the ground by our regional FEMA representative. He has done that, and from the process of happening now. And that will help us to make sure that everyone`s going to have clean water, and we can begin to safely operate the wastewater treatment facilities that did not have backup generation power themselves.

Next, diesel fuel. All these generators running around the state, the ones that we already have and the ones that we`re putting up, need diesel fuel to run on them. We needed more diesel fuel, and gasoline to get these trucks around, and because gas stations are closed and there`s no power, it`s impossible for us to be providing those. FEMA again has come forward at the order of the president with over half a million gallons of diesel fuel that will be delivered here in the next 24 hours, distributed in three different places around the state for generators and for trucks that need to be fueled in order to continue the work of restoring power in the state.

I would also like to see --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`ve got some more breaking news that we`re hearing from the New York Department of Health and Hygiene that there is a potential -- I want to be very, very careful about this. I want to get more information. But there is a potential water problem they`re looking into. We`re going to get some more information on that and bring that back to you.

Let`s see what we have here. This is just in to my Blackberry. Waste water in New York City waterways -- ok, this is a notification issued. And it says "From the City of New York notification issued at 7:15 p.m. due to flooding and power related shutdowns caused by Hurricane Sandy, waste water treatment plants and pumping stations have discharged untreated waste water into New York City waterways. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene advises that direct contact with the Hudson River, East River, New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay and various other waterways for recreational activity such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, wind surfing or any other water activity that would directly entail direct contact with the water should be avoided until further notice."

So basically do not go swimming or kayaking in the Hudson River or the East River or anywhere near there. But I don`t think that`s something that most New Yorkers are thinking about doing right now. 8.2 million New Yorkers are worried about getting their lives back on track.

But I have to say I think it`s an important warning given that the New York City marathon is coming up this coming Sunday. It is not being postponed. And so I think that the warning has to go out there even though most people are probably not going to go kayaking in the Hudson River at a time like this.

But I want to tell you, take a look at this. Governor Christie of New Jersey was talking about the damage to his state. Look at this. The amusement pier at Seaside Park just pretty much washed out. These huge rides -- these are huge rides, they look like toys. And some of the rides including the roller coaster are now in the ocean literally. Look at that -- the same roller coaster.

A new example of the destructive power of Sandy, this one just caught me by surprise when I saw it live or I saw it for the first time on television earlier today. I`m watching and, whoa, what`s going on there? This is Huntington, New York.

Uh-oh, uh-oh is right. Whoa. Uprooting of a tree caught on tape. That is something I have never actually seen before.

Toms River, New Jersey, some of the waters we`re happy to say are receding. But they`re still high enough to hinder rescue efforts and some of the roads are too littered with debris for rescue vehicles to even get through to people who might be stranded.

I think that right now we`re going to go to Abigail Bassett, CNN producer. You`ve sent us some extraordinary video and photos of basically people paddling about. We just heard from the City of New York do not go kayaking or anything like that in the Hudson or the East River. But you`re in Babylon, New York. And some people are using canoes and kayaks, Angela (SIC) to get around.

I think we`re going to be able to put some of your footage up. There it is -- Abigail.

ABIGAIL BASSETT, HLN PRODUCER: Yes, hi.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi.

BASSETT: We are in Long Island, we ended up yesterday our street was flooded. So we took out our two kayaks just to see how deep it was to see if we could get our car out. So that`s actually probably what you`re seeing.

Today I actually had the opportunity to go around with the West Babylon fire chief and take a look some of the harder hit areas in the Babylon. And some of the stuff I saw was unbelievable. There were houses that were completely burnt down because the water was waist-deep high and firefighters couldn`t get to it. There were homes on the bay that had no back windows, no back sides because they`d been taken away by the water.

The amount of devastation on Long Island has been actually really surprising. And I think it surprised a lot of people that lived out. We`ve lived out here for a long time, our neighbor has been living and working on the water for the last 40 years and lived through Gloria. And he made the decision not to evacuate. And, you know, ended up with a good foot of water in his house. It`s been a surprise to a lot of us out here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to ask you, Abigail, given this report that I just read, this announcement that waste water treatment plants and pumping stations have discharged untreated waste water into New York City waterways, do you have any concern? Even though I know you`re in Babylon, do you have any concern about you and other people maybe getting around the area in kayaks or canoes? The health issue?

BASSETT: You know, we keep an eye on the reports about whether or not the water is safe. There are -- you know, there are a lot of oil tanks that broke loose during the flooding. And there are some propane tanks that are floating. When we went around today with the fire chief, he was actually doing some checks and counting off propane tanks that had come loose, you know, obviously to prevent any kind of damage down the road.

But in general, you know, people are staying pretty safe and, you know, not going trekking into the water. Mainly it`s subsiding in a lot of places right now -- there`s still really large puddles especially down by the water. And there`s still no power south of Montauk highway.

They just recently turned off the natural gas that runs down there. So in order to get that restored they`re going to have to go house to house, which is going to take quite some time to get that back up because they obviously don`t want to turn the natural gas on without making sure that everything else in the house is turned off and safe.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Abigail, just very quickly, I`m looking at all this video and I`m not seeing people. Are there people who have no idea that their houses have been destroyed because they just haven`t seen their particular house?

BASSETT: As far as I know, most of the people that had major damage to their homes are aware of it. You know, we ran into some homeowners today that were coming down to check on their homes for the first time. And they were pretty devastated. I ran into a man who was actually collecting broken cookie jars from his backyard. He spent his lifetime collecting them. And he was, you know, kind of happily finding pieces of them and trying to put them back together. But, you know, meanwhile his house is in ruins. And likely you know not going to be standing in a few days once the clean up begins just because it`s in such dire straits.

But I think most of the people that have been affected by this storm are pretty aware of the damage. And, you know, even some of the damage you can`t really see. There`s people like us who have flooded garages, damaged crawl spaces, you know --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

BASSETT: -- there`s water in places you don`t expect.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Abby, thank you so much for that excellent report and for sending us that video and those photos. I`m glad that you are ok. More on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Extraordinary rescues going on. This one the New York City police department provided us this video. They are literally taking a helicopter and rescuing this person from a roof. And there it is. The evacuee goes up in the chopper to safety. That`s heroism.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

CHRISTIE: It was the same time last year. You`re right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now I got nothing of my husband, my son, no nothing (inaudible). It`s all ruined down there -- every ounce of it. Ruined -- nothing, nothing.

CHRISTIE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That poor woman has lost everything. And she should contact FEMA. Go to our Web site HLNtv.com, how to contact FEMA, all the information is right there.

Meanwhile New York City has a million people who are still without power tonight. And there are power outages all across 15 states; a total of almost six million people without power as we speak. So that always raises the potential of criminality when there is pitch darkness. When people are leaving their homes unlocked because they`ve been evacuated. That`s why the National Guard has been brought in.

I want to go to Curtis Sliwa -- somebody I`ve known for a long time who is the founder of The Guardian Angels. Curtis, I know you`re out there trying to keep our city, New York City and all the cities around the country that were impacted by Sandy safe. I`m pretty pleased thus far.

I think about a dozen teams or whatever have been arrested for alleged looting thus far. I mean in New York City alone you`re talking about 8.2 million people. I think that`s pretty extraordinary. What say you, Curtis?

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, THE GUARDIAN ANGELS: Well, what has happened is some of the outer areas what we referred to as the outer boroughs of New York City, they`ve had some instances of looting in places called Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. But at the core of the city, which everyone is most familiar with, Manhattan, there`s been little if anything. That`s because of an incredible police presence.

But most importantly, Jane, a lot of people cannot work. They can`t get to work because they`re dependent on mass transit. So they`re actually at their place of residence, whether it`s an apartment, whether they live in public housing or it`s a tenement or it`s a private house or they`re at a commercial establishment even if they don`t necessarily have the goods to sell yet because transportation is just now recovering.

A lot of New Yorkers still looking after one another -- you know, we`ve been down this road before. We`ve had all kinds of problems particularly in the aftermath of 9/11. And this has a bonding effect in which we keep after one another as if we`re brother and sisters protector.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You and I go way back in New York. In fact, I interviewed you back in the early `80s when I was working as a reporter at WCBS. I was also in New York as a teenager in 1977 when there was a blackout. And people took to the streets, there was rioting.

It`s a totally different mood today in New York, Curtis, I think you would agree with me. There`s sporadic arrests (ph) and you`re seeing some signs of it there on that duress and you see from the video provided by WABC -- this is nothing. I mean it could be so much worse.

You have about 35,000 New York City police officers. But again you have 8.2 million people, right, Curtis?

SLIWA: Absolutely. At the very time 77 I was a night manager at McDonalds` in the Bronx and I remember when the lights went out, people just poured into the streets. They started ripping off store gates. If the store was selling sneakers or gold any kind of technology, they were looting the store. And, Jane, they didn`t just loot the store back then. They started to burn it down. In fact, our city was engulfed in flames in many of the commercial areas for two days --

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. Curtis, I`m only mentioning that --

SLIWA: We had a blackout and everyone came out into the streets and they were singing kumbaya. And a lot changed not just from the improvement of public safety but really 9/11.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Yes.

SLIWA: Soon as we got hit, it`s almost like New Yorkers many times we get a case of being so jaded and skeptical getting into our own little I and me worlds, but it really brought us together. And I think every time there`s some kind of calamity, some kind of setback, we put our own personal needs aside and we really start to extend our eyes and ears out. And we become literally on point to protect not just ourselves but everyone else.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Curtis, I got to say, nothing is a better example of that than the New York City marathon is going on as planned this coming Sunday. And it`s going to be tough because obviously you`ve got something like 10,000 downed trees in New York City alone. But the show must go on. And the mayor says it`s going to happen.

50,000 people had been expected initially including 20,000 international runners. We`ll see how many show up. We`ll see how many people are there handing out water. But it might be the very thing to bring New York City together to everybody -- get on that route of 26.2 miles and cheer everybody on. It could be the galvanizing moment that New York City is looking for to say we have conquered yet another crisis.

More on the other side.

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This is the line for the gas station.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Take a look at this -- Middletown, New Jersey. This is the line for gas, people lining up. This is an extraordinary, extraordinary line. It`s so long. And people lining up for gas for their cars, for their generators, it goes on and on and on and on and on and on - -

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: 66 miles south of Manhattan is Belmar, New Jersey, which is suffering tremendously tonight. We have the mayor of Belmar, New Jersey, on with us, Mayor Matt Doherty. Thank you for joining us, Mayor. What can you tell us about what is going on in Belmar tonight?

MAYOR MATT DOHERTY, BELMAR, NEW JERSEY: Well, we`re still in a recovery mode from Hurricane Sandy. We`ve been rescuing people for the last 48 hours from their homes, surrounded by water. We have families that are still on the second floor of their home and our water rescue team, made up of all volunteers, have been going out during the day and at night getting to those families and bringing them to safety.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And when you think of rescuing people, you usually think of people and we`ve got some rescue video we`ll show you just generic rescue video from all parts of the tri-state area -- people waving, people wanting to be rescued, people on their rooftops. Do you also have to go into each and every home and business and make sure there`s somebody that wasn`t hit in the head with a brick, who`s passed out on the ground that needs to be rescued?

DOHERTY: We had a mandatory evacuation for the entire town and we`re going in rescuing the ones who remained behind. What we`ve done to supplement that is also have our fire department go door to door knocking on doors and checking on people. And some folks want to remain in place, and they don`t want to be rescued. That`s fine.

But we`re definitely checking on everyone. It`s a labor-intensive process, but it`s important for the safety of our residents.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And people don`t realize how labor-intensive. You go to a house. First of all, some of the houses might be locked. You`ve got to deal with that as well. I don`t know exactly what the process is, but you can`t assume, right? Just in a flood zone, in an area that`s devastated that, well, the door is locked, nobody is inside. Right, Mayor?

DOHERTY: That`s absolutely correct. So it makes for a slow process, but again a very important process. We have had no fatalities in our town and we`re proud of that. That`s in large part to our first responders, our fire department first aid and water rescue teams that are out there going around the clock.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. This has been pointed out, but it bears repeating. It`s that all the firefighters and the police officers have their own families and they also live within the communities and their homes may be devastated; and nevertheless instead of worrying about their own possessions and their own families, they`re out rescuing other people`s lives and that is extraordinary. We need to commend and acknowledge what they have done.

Thank you, Mayor. More on the other side.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Courtesy of the "Today" show in the middle of all the sadness and destruction of Superstorm Sandy, a bright spot in Times Square. The Great White Way is closed, but not for long. Broadway shows reopen tomorrow night. Broadway Actor Jacob Brent called together his friends on Broadway, these dancers and the singers and the stars and the stranded tourists got to see a spontaneous Broadway musical flash mob right in the middle of Times Square in hurricane-torn New York City.

It bears watching one more time, don`t you think?

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that is the spirit of New York. We`re happy to see Broadway is back in business tomorrow night. Those Broadway shows are going to kick off again. And New York is showing the true grit that it is known for and that old showbiz saying, "The show must go on" is true.

Nancy Grace next.

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