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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

New York Marathon Canceled; When Will Power Be Restored?

Aired November 2, 2012 - 19:00:00   ET

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


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, tensions rise on the East Coast as storm survivors struggle to rebuild their lives. Millions still do not have power or fuel. And we`ve got the breaking news for you tonight that the New York City Marathon has just been canceled. Reaction coming up. We`ve got all the details starting now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, frustration, anger, desperation rise in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Millions left without power and heat. Lines for the bus and gas station stretch for miles. Anxiety and emotion as people search for pets and shelters try to cope without power or supplies. Another storm may be brewing now.

Why is all this happening? And how can people start to rebuild? We have all of that tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Days after Superstorm Sandy, there are still some without power. Tempers are flaring.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long to get to the front of the line?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. Oh, my God! (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our tree!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need help. I mean, it`s a lot of people out, you know, don`t have a home to go to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s nothing. I mean, right now it`s just water where the house would be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s a shame what`s happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame no one is prepared.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the iconic New York City Marathon, under pressure from the victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Lots of breaking news right now. Take a look at these generators sitting outside Central Park. I shot them with my own cell phone camera this morning at the finish line. They became the symbol of New York City`s misplaced priorities, as critics expressed outrage that these generators weren`t sent to hard-hit blacked-out areas. The firestorm of outrage just became too much. And that`s why a little while ago this very famous race was canceled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY WITTENBERG, CEO, NEW YORK CITY MARATHON: It is with incredibly heavy hearts today, tonight, that we share that the best way to help New York City at this time is to say that we will not be conducting the 2012 ING New York City Marathon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And those of us...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And some of those officials look like they were fighting back tears. With so many New Yorkers, however, still struggling in the dark and the temperatures dropping. Those generators and the fire storm of bad publicity that they caused ultimately pushed New York City`s mayor to pull the plug on this marathon.

The fact that this famous marathon that has been going on since 1970 was going to happen just became absolutely the biggest controversy surrounding this tragedy.

Moments ago I was out on the streets of New York City and I got reaction to the cancellation. Here`s what some people had to say to me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The New York City Marathon has just been canceled. What`s your reaction?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess that I`m disappointed for the people who have trained so hard, but it seems like a necessary thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`ve brought a lot of money into the city. They say that generates $340 million, economic activity. People want to run the marathon, let them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can hear the wind that`s still howling out there. Sandy`s death toll now up to 97 people. Power still out to more than 3 million people across 15 states.

And it is going to be a cold weekend. Highs will only be in the 40s in most areas. Make no mistake: people are still suffering on the East Coast.

Watch this lady make a desperate plea to one of New York`s U.S. senators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to die. You don`t understand. You`ve got to get your trucks here on this corner now. We`re going to die if we get killed with the weather. We`re going to die. We`re going to freeze.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It`s just killing me what these people have to go through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go straight out to CNN`s Deborah Feyerick on Staten Island.

Your reaction, the reaction of the folks who are around you in Staten Island, which was the starting point of this marathon that has now been canceled, to the news that it`s not kaput, it`s not going to happen this year.

Deb, can you hear me?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And Jane -- yes, Jane. You know what? Here`s one of the big things. And you see this debris pile around me just in back? OK. This debris pile is basically in front of every home on every block in the hardest hit areas. And the devastation is so extraordinary that until you get out here and look at it, you really can`t understand the magnitude of this tragedy that has hit these people.

The temperature right now, it`s at least 15 degrees colder than it was when the sun was shining. But there is no sun. Because don`t let these lights on me fool you. It is pitch dark in these areas. That`s the reality that these people are dealing with, Jane.

And one man said, how can you start a race just blocks from where two little boys were found drowned? Those are the two little boys who were swept from their mother`s arms at the height of this storm.

The Verrazano Bridge would have been closed for a full 24 hours. That means supply trucks coming in or out would not be able to get to Staten Island, unless they went around to New Jersey. There was a question of priorities. What about all the police officers? The mayor said that it was, you know, just a couple would be diverted. But in fact, those police officers are needed here.

And that`s what the people were telling me when I was speaking to them today. They said, "Look, we don`t have enough hands here." There are some National Guard handing out food, handing out some water. But there are no generators. There are no cleaning supplies. There`s nobody even to have volunteers to help these folks clean out their homes. And that`s why you see piles like this of rugs and carpets and -- and couches, and they`re really dealing with this tragedy.

But, Jane, it is unlike anything I`ve seen. Out to Breezy Point where those 110 houses burned down, take that and multiply it, because the magnitude here on Staten Island is just overwhelming, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And absolutely. I think one of the reasons this became a political firestorm is that the starting point of the race would be right next to where the devastation is.

And as you mentioned, Deb, the very bridge that they would run over is the bridge that the people of Staten Island needed free and clear to have supplies brought in. So they want those buses, instead of bringing runners in, to bring supplies and volunteers to help them.

FEYERICK: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, here it is. The very moment New York City officials and marathon organizers bowed to political pressure -- this is pretty extraordinary -- and changed their minds and announced that they are canceling, not postponing, they are canceling this year`s New York City Marathon. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD WOLFSON, NEW YORK DEPUTY MAYOR: And those of us who love this race recognize that it wasn`t the marathon if it wasn`t a unifying event. It wasn`t the marathon that we knew and we loved if there were people who were pained by the running of it. And so, in very close collaboration with Mary and her team, we decided that it would be best this year to cancel it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go out now to Tom Holland, who was set to run the marathon. You had your number. What is your reaction to the cancellation? And by the way, Tom, we`ve been hearing that people just landing -- literally, landing from parts all around the world are looking at their cell phones and getting the news it`s canceled right after they land in New York City.

Tom, can you hear me?

TOM HOLLAND, INTENDED TO RUN MARATHON (via phone): Are we talking to Rob? Rob Knoll (ph)?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rob -- Tom Holland, can you hear me? What`s your reaction?

HOLLAND: I can hear. If you`re talking to Rob, Jane, obviously it was the right decision. The decision to cancel the marathon is correct for all the people that are suffering. All the tragedy that has occurred and the resources that would have been wrongfully diverted toward the marathon, that should be used toward the proper purpose.

The problem with the decision making is that there wasn`t honesty. They didn`t tell us from the beginning that they might cancel it. They said it`s on. Mary Wittenberg said, "The marathon`s on. Come to New York." We landed in New York, and we found out it was canceled. That`s disappointment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And this is the gentleman who just landed. He is just calling us and saying he wished he had known. That`s the point. They should have made this decision sooner. Now everybody`s mad.

More on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sandy`s death toll now up to at least 96. Power is still out to more than 3 million people across 15 states. And it is going to be a cold weekend. Highs will only be in the 40s in most areas. Make no mistake: people are still suffering on the East Coast.

Watch this lady make a desperate plea to one of New York`s U.S. senators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to die. You don`t understand. You got to get your trucks here on this corner now. We`re going to die if we get killed with the weather. We`re going to die. We`re going to freeze.

SCHUMER: It`s just killing me what these people have to go through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So will residents really have to wait another week for the power to come on? Straight out to Jim Clancy, CNNI correspondent. You`re in Long Beach, New Jersey. I understand that the situation is tough out there. What are you seeing?

JIM CLANCY, CNNI CORRESPONDENT: Well, you`ve got no electricity. You`ve got no water. You`ve got no gas. You have nothing out here. It`s completely dark. It is completely empty.

And today we saw Air and Army National Guard troops along with the Ocean County prosecutor`s office forming up teams. They even got help from the Coast Guard because this area is so inaccessible, Jane, to come in and search for any possible survivors.

This end of the island, the far southern end of the island, hasn`t been searched because when you look under these houses, this wasn`t a great architectural plan for the houses to be up really high away from the storm`s threat. No, there used to be sand all in there. That`s what washed away, and these roads have been completely blocked.

So they came in today. They broke their way into some places where they suspected people could have been -- were injured. They didn`t find anyone, but they`re marking off each house systemically, going through this whole area. This is called Hole Gate. And they`re checking to make sure that nobody who wants to evacuate is being left behind.

I did talk to one man today, Jane, who`s not evacuating. He says he doesn`t want to get out because he wouldn`t be allowed to come back. But he still he says he thinks it`s a good idea. There`s no infrastructure here. There`s nothing for people. The place is empty, and that`s the way it ought to stay until they can restore some of those things that are being so missed by New Yorkers like you just heard -- Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, Jim, one of the new dangers we`re hearing about -- and I`d love to hear what`s going on vis-a-vis this from your perspective -- is now that the water`s receding, we`re hearing reports of a new danger of gas mains that have cracked, and there`s the possibility of gas leaking as well as downed power lines that can also pose a safety problem. What do you know about that?

CLANCY: Well, right here on this island, Long Beach Island, they`ve cut all the electricity. They`ve shut off all of the gas.

The problem with that is it`s going to then take weeks to restore it. You know, they can`t just turn the gas back on. They`ll have to go out and individually check each home to make sure there`s no leaks.

You`re right, that`s a problem up and down the Jersey shore here, these gas leaks. Because in areas where they haven`t been able to turn off the gas, they can`t re-energize the electric lines, Jane. If they do, it could trigger an explosion, because the gas accumulates.

Homes ripped off their foundations, gas lines broken. That gas comes right up through whatever trapped water there is there and accumulates inside a house, making it a ticking time bomb, really, if somebody were to go in there and there could be any kind of ignition -- Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jim, we have somebody here with us, a very special guest, to help us. I`m delighted to be joined tonight in studio by Bob Vila. You are the original host of "This Old House." We all know you from that. And you`re also the star of the show "Home Again."

Now, Bob, the epicenter of this crisis, people`s homes. People have homes that are devastated; they`re flooded. Some people don`t have flood insurance.

Let`s talk first of all about this issue of gas and what people can do if they come back to their house and they smell any kind of gas, they`re worried about gas or electrical. What are your thoughts?

BOB VILA, HOST, "HOME AGAIN": Well, remember, we`re talking about that portion of the -- of the nation that`s most severely affected by this storm. The coastal areas here in New York and Staten Island and New Jersey and Connecticut all on the shore.

There`s 50 million people that have been touched by Sandy. It`s really concentrated here, though we have to deal with these tragedies and these issues of homelessness, et cetera.

The issue of gas posing an enormous threat I don`t think is that big a deal. You know, I saw the pictures Tuesday of gas bubbles coming up through flooded areas. And I immediately went, wow. And then other areas we`ve seen actual fires in the sand on the shore.

But the fact is that the majority of these houses have been knocked off their foundations. They`re no longer tight. They`re not tight to the weather at all. So it`s difficult to find one of these houses that would actually be able to concentrate enough gas for there to be an explosion. Remember, for there to be an explosion, you`ve got to have something to ignite it. And you`re not going to have anybody lighting a cigarette or, you know, making a spark.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s hope.

VILA: Let`s hope. But I think it`s unlikely that you`d have any tragedies of that nature from pockets of gas.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s reassuring. And we`re going to talk to you in a little bit about what people who have flood damage should do. A lot of people don`t have flood insurance.

Now, here`s another sad reality from Sandy. Long gas lines. Long, long, long. We`ve got lots of new video today of people in New York and New Jersey waiting in line for hours and hours to fill up their cars and their badly needed power generators. Some of them operate on gasoline. These lines go on and on.

And people, drivers and people who are looking for gas with their little canisters for their generators, they have no choice. They have to wait. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was on line at three gas stations. They all closed down when I was in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is your fourth try getting gas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I missed a day of work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, there`s a man in Queens, New York, who was arrested last night, accused of trying to cut in line for gas. And he allegedly pulled a gun on another driver who complained. The alleged gun-toting line-cutter could get 15 years in prison if convicted.

And I want to show you one other thing. Take a look at this YouTube video shot on Long Island. That`s New York. This line for gasoline is a quarter of a mile long. And it just goes on and on.

Now, I want to go to Kaylin Rocco (ph), one of our producers on this show. You`re in Lincroft (ph), New Jersey. You`ve been on the gasoline beat, checking out stations. What are you seeing tonight, Kaylin (ph)?

KAYLIN ROCCO (PH), HLN PRODUCER (via phone): Well, Jane, the fuel situation in New Jersey doesn`t seem to be getting much better. Very slowly, one by one, gas stations are getting power back and opening up. But there`s still an issue with having enough fuel to get to people waiting in lines for long hours.

I`ve heard from some people that they`re calling gas stations nonstop to find out when they`re getting a new delivery. But there`s no way of really knowing in these circumstances if they`ll get fuel at that exact time.

Some people are staking out gas stations, so to speak. Others are waking up at 5 in the morning to wait before the new fuel comes in. But there`s still a limit at many places on how much you can buy, and you may only be able to buy the fuel with cash, which is another issue entirely because banks and ATMs are out of service in so many places in New Jersey.

So really, there are a lot of factors contributing to the dire situation here in terms of gas in New Jersey.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it does sound dire. Thank you for that reporting, Kaylin Rocco (ph) in New Jersey.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to die. You don`t understand. You got to get your trucks here on this corner now. We are going to die if we get killed with the weather. We`re going to die. We`re going to freeze.

SCHUMER: It`s just killing me what these people have to go through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Some people tonight are in extremely desperate conditions. Their homes have been destroyed.

Just to give you an example, we`re getting some new numbers in. FEMA, the federal government essentially, has given out more than $18 million, most of it for rental assistance. That means people have nowhere to live. They`re getting federal money so they can rent a house.

I want to bring in Bob Vila, the original host of "This Old House" and the star of "Home Again." You know more about houses than just about anybody in America. One of the shocking things I read from the FEMA administrator, quote, "A lot of folks who flooded did not have flood insurance." Why not?

VILA: Well, there`s a lot of homes that have been built in the last 50 years that are essentially at the beach. I mean, people before World War II would have summer cottages, but they weren`t necessarily out there on a sand dune.

And when you have, you know, colonies of these houses that are built where nature did not intend us to build, you are going to have situations where they wash away.

And because of climate change -- and I am a firm believer in the realities of climate change and as long as we don`t control our greenhouse emissions and everything else, we`re going to be looking, like Governor Cuomo said, at these once-in-a-century storms every year.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let me get back to my question. Why do the people who live at the water on the beach do not have flood insurance? We`re hearing this from the FEMA director. A lot of folks who flooded did not have flood insurance. That is -- that`s called burying the lead right there. That`s a big issue.

VILA: No, it is a huge issue.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why not?

VILA: It`s a combination of answers. I think one of the answers is that a lot of these houses shouldn`t have been built there, as I was saying, in the first place, because they are going to wash away. Private insurers certainly are not going to issue any kind of insurance coverage on houses that they figure are so risky that they can`t take the risk.

In terms of government programs for flood insurance, I think -- I think the majority of homeowners around the coast do qualify for that type of assistance.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you quickly: if somebody doesn`t have flood insurance and they`ve got a house that is decimated, what do they do? Do they hire a carpenter and say, "Get to work"?

VILA: Well, it`s such a devastation that it isn`t like anybody can just go back into a neighborhood like we`ve seen here, where half of the houses are off their foundations, and hire a carpenter. It`s got to be a much more concerted effort.

That`s why FEMA is putting out all this money to help people relocate. It isn`t necessarily going to mean that you`re going to go out and rent a house for the next 12 months. You might just have to get yourself into a motel or hotel room for the next 12 weeks or two weeks until you can start rebuilding your lives.

But all these houses that we`re looking at out there that are off their foundations, you can`t just fix them overnight.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable.

On the other side we are going to talk about all this extreme weather. What`s going on? The experts next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has been a series of extreme weather incidents.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Devastation is unprecedented. Like nothing we`ve ever seen reported.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The frustration is not being able to get to these people who are obviously in harm`s way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the height of the storm all you saw was transformers blowing and sections of New York City just going black.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never thought it would be this bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trying to grasp the magnitude of all the devastation, the issue of climate change is raising its head. And not in a subtle way either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, more problems from Superstorm Sandy as new dangers are exposed like gas leaks in New Jersey that are posing serious dangers for fires and explosions. Plus, people are losing their tempers. They`re just fed up over the short supplies, the unbelievably long lines for things like gasoline.

Listen to this one exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in line at three gas stations. They all closed down when I was getting close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is your fourth try getting gas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I missed a day of work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The 900-mile wide Superstorm Sandy devastated the East Coast -- We all know that already. Rain, wind, flood, even snow down in West Virginia, millions of people still without power and at least 96 people have died. This is a tragedy.

People have called it the storm of a lifetime. But why is this happening? New York`s governor and New York City`s mayor had an opinion. Listen to their opinion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: There has been a series of extreme weather incidents.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK CITY: Look, there have been very strange weather patterns, very severe storms where they normally have not occurred.

CUOMO: That`s not a political statement. That`s a factual statement.

BLOOMBERG: That much is recorded. You can look at the film, ok?

CUOMO: Anyone who says there`s not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m very delighted to have with me Bryan Walsh, the senior editor with "Time" magazine. You have an amazing cover story -- "Lessons from the Storm". So what are the lessons from the storm? Is this a wakeup call for America? Has Mother Nature finally gotten our attention? If so, what is she trying to tell us?

BRYAN WALSH, SENIOR EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, I certainly hope so. But there are a couple lessons here. There`s the lesson of resilience for your city, for your electrical grid. I mean we`ve seen millions of people lose power. We`ve seen vast parts of New York City wash out, we lost (ph) the subways.

And that should make us think well, how do we build a city more resilient to this? How do we -- do we need tidal defenses? Do we need seawalls that can actually prevent this from happening the next time there`s a big storm?

And then other lesson really is it has to do with climate change. Now scientists will differ in exactly how much climate change has to do with the storm, but we do know that these kind of big events are going to become stronger most likely and more frequent in the future. And you know, it should tell us that we need to deal with that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ben Strauss, director, Program on Sea Level Rise, Climate Central. Climate Central is your group. There`s a tremendous resistance amongst people to accept the idea that their actions could have created this, the aggregate of all of our actions could have created this or contributed to this. Why do you think there`s such a resistance for people to connect the dots between their own behavior and this apocalypse weather?

BEN STRAUSS, CLIMATE CENTRAL: Well, it`s incredible to imagine that we could affect the weather. After all, the weather is biblical. The weather is something we`ve always looked to as something outside of ourselves and outside of our power. But the very great way the scientific evidence shows that we are in fact now affecting the weather.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me just say this. There is -- I`ll speak as a recovering alcoholic and there is a program metaphor when it stops being fun and it`s only pain, then you make a calculation in your subconscious that, oh, this isn`t fun anymore. I better do something different. And that`s called hitting bottom.

And I had that experience 17 years ago when my fun partying became very painful and I said I`ve got to change. So do we have to change as a society? We`re a ravenous and wasteful society. Americans throw away nearly half -- nearly half of all of their food every year. Only eight percent of the total plastic waste generated a couple years ago was recycled. Ok. That`s just for starters.

Let me talk about fossil fuels, ok. Fossil fuels are a major source of concern. And this is the reason why I am a vegan. I am a vegan because we are consuming fossil fuels at an alarming rate. I`m not just talking about transportation. We`ve got to take a look at factory farming. The United Nations has done an in-depth study and it said that meat production is one of the leading causes of climate change. I mean, it`s extraordinary.

I can read some facts here. Livestock now consumes much of the world`s crops. And by inference a great deal of fresh water, fertilizers and pesticides.

So let me ask you, Ben Strauss, you`re with Climate Central. Do you have any kind of a plant-based diet platform in your organization?

BEN STRAUSS: We do not have a plant-based diet platform or any policy platform in our organization because we`re really focused on the science of climate change. But I can tell you that it is correct that our agricultural system is making major contributions to their carbon pollution that is warming our climate and helping to drive these more frequent and more extreme storms.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I get frustrated -- I get a little bit frustrated, maybe you can help me with this, Bryan, because so many of the extremely smart people, we talk in these big ideas and we talk about these sort of big concepts, but the bottom line is there are very simple things that we can do differently each and every one of us, recycling more, driving a more fuel efficient vehicle or walking, eating less meat, not using plastic bottles or plastic bags that could have a huge impact. People don`t seem to be getting it down to that micro-level.

WALSH: Well, it`s hard to make that connection between something as small as where you live or how you travel around to something as big as a superstorm like Sandy. But it`s definitely true that when we talk about climate change, it is essentially the aggregate of all these activities everyone`s doing.

You can take steps yourself, but in many ways the biggest step you can take is politically. If we`re going to solve this problem, it`s going to take big political choices to do so. And you know, we obviously have an election coming up. We have not talked about climate change in this election. Hopefully that`s something Sandy would change at the last minute.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you, not enough was discussed on climate change.

Chad Myers, CNN meteorologist.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What say you? People are saying we don`t know. What are the facts here about rising sea waters and warmer climates?

MYERS: Well, we know for a fact that the water where Sandy was, where she grew, where this storm got much stronger here, it was one to two degrees warmer than it should have been on a 40-year average. Why? Well, probably climate change, at least a little bit, right?

We have to understand we`re not talking big giant steps. We`re talking baby steps. That`s how we get to where you want to be. We need to take these little baby steps like recycling plastic, you know, from eight percent to way, way higher now. It`s getting that al into people`s minds.

So, yes, I do believe Sandy would have existed any way. No question this would have been a hurricane any way. It started in the tropics -- nothing to do with global warming down there. But when it got up here, it was probably 10 percent stronger than it could have, should have been had that water not been one to two degrees warmer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t even like to use the phrase "climate change" because I hear people tuning out when they hear that word and that combination of two words.

Ben Strauss, again, you`re with Climate Central. Why is it that there is that sort of denial mechanism that kicks in? People do not want to talk about this.

STRAUSS: Well, I think it feels so gigantic that it`s a little bit intimidating. People might think what can I do? How can my small steps actually make a difference? And I also think that there are a lot of economic interests in our society which are aligned with the activities that increase the problem. And that also grows the resistance.

But one of the really challenging things about climate change is that where global warming or climate disruption -- call it what you may -- is that even what sounds like a small amount of warming, one degree, two degrees, can double or triple the frequency of extreme weather events like we`re seeing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And with so many millions of people living in coastal areas right now, I mean this is something to consider -- just small changes. It`s a drop in the ocean, but it`s an important drop. So I hope that we all just sort of think about it. And first thing is awareness.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re talking about the most innocent and voiceless creatures who are victimized by Sandy. They don`t know what`s going on. They don`t know that this is a superstorm. They just know they`re frightened. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People should definitely take their pets with them no matter what. If it`s not safe enough for them, it`s not safe for their pets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what if your beloved pet has gone missing because of the storm? How do you track them down?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is not a waste of time. When people are already stressed, sometimes they just want to be near their pet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Desperation setting in as many East Coast residents in Sandy`s path prepare for the worst, cold nights, no electricity, long lines at the gas pumps. And in some areas supplies are running short.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When is the government coming? President Obama, please listen to us down here. We are going to die.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Another growing problem, animals separated from their human companions in the chaos and destruction of Superstorm Sandy. Not only is finding a lost pet a huge challenge, animal shelters and hospitals are overwhelmed. And they are suffering to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON ROGGOW: When we got here Tuesday, the water was about chest level. So we couldn`t even open the doors that we just walked through. You could see the water up through the stairwell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Flooding, running out of food, no power, just a few of the concerns of people who run veterinary clinics. I have with me tonight Tiffany Lacey, the executive director of Animal Haven, which is a shelter in downtown New York. You`ve been without power since Monday due to Superstorm Sandy.

Here we have video from your shelter. Look at these poor little animals being evacuated -- 30 dogs, 30 cats. Well, actually they`re being moved from room to room, but they`re actually there in the dark. What is going on?

TIFFANY LACEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ANIMAL HAVEN: yes. It`s been since Monday night. We`re on day five basically of no lights, no help. Everything below 39th street is what we`re calling in our own terms "the dead zone". We have no cell phone service, no Internet or anything to tell people to come and help us.

And we`ve had to call up all of our volunteers. We normally have an army of 250 volunteers that help us run the three-story facility in Soho and I`ve just had to call upon staff because it`s just too dangerous to have volunteers come in and out.

It`s so dark in our shelter. The cats are doing ok. The dogs I`m most concerned about. They are in the dark pretty much 24/7. We`re trying as hard as we can to walk them as much, but it`s not the best situation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I know because I have with my mom she has one dog, I have two, but they`re a pack, three dogs. And they were terrified, as well as a cat. My mom is evacuated. She`s living with me now. At first they said we`re just taking you to the lower floors and then they said get out. We had to do almost a special-ops to get back in there and get the cat. Thank God to the super -- Ulysses, thank you dude, for getting that cat out.

Now, the worst thing of course is if somebody has lost an animal --

LACEY: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But first of all tell me what these little guys are going through right now?

LACEY: Well, basically we`re a three-story building and we keep our larger dogs, these are the dogs I`m most concerned about through this whole thing, we keep them in the basement area. So we`ve got to take them out. They stay in pitch black pretty much the entire time they`re at Animal Haven other than when we walk them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We also have Mallory Diedrich on the line from Morris Cove, Connecticut. Mallory, I know you`re in agony right now. You`re searching for your little dog Sophie. This is a seven-year-old yorkie who vanished during the storm. And we`re going to show you some pictures of Sophie -- there she is. Look at that little angel. Mallory, tell us what happened.

MALLORY DIEDRICH: Actually, we survived the storm just fine. Morris Cove was very lucky even though we`re right around the corner from the East Haven Shore. Morris Cove did not experience any flooding.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What happened to your dog?

DIEDRICH: The dog -- we had her all through the storm all the way through Tuesday. We were doing repairs in the yard. A piece of our fence went down in the back. And we fixed it up. And everything was fine.

And we decided to go for a walk to the local convenience store to look for batteries and whatnot. And when we came back to the house, we discovered that we only had two dogs instead of three dogs.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break we`re going to dive more into Mallory`s predicament and Sophie. We`re going to try to help find her.

Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Humane Society has a disaster response team working in several states, but there are so many animals affected. We`re going to try to find one little guy -- little girl actually. Sophie -- Sophie is missing and her mom is heartbroken. Let`s find her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGEL DELGATO: I lost three snakes. I lost four dogs. It was kind of powerful, because I basically raised all of them for the last almost nine and a half years.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How did you lose them?

DELGATO: When the cops came in to remove everybody out in their houses what they did was they didn`t even give me time to go grab anything. I didn`t grab a jacket. Somebody donated this jacket. What happened was that they told us to leave and leave everything behind no matter what. That they`ll survive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I was talking to that young man at Central Park today, he hopes that his dogs got out alive because he couldn`t find them in the basement, but guess what, the Pets Act was passed in 2006 and it was created to prevent situations like that from every happening in the wake of the Katrina disaster where so many dogs died, approximately quarter of a million.

This is a law that makes it absolutely mandatory for any state, that includes New York, New Jersey, et cetera, that gets federal funding, FEMA funding to include plans for pets in emergency procedures.

I want to go out to Nikki Dawson, director of disaster services with the Humane Society. You`re helping animals in New Jersey. This young man claims that authorities told him to get out now. Leave your dogs behind. They can`t do that anymore, can they, Nikki?

NIKKI DAWSON, DIRECTOR OF DISASTER SERVICES, HUMANE SOCIETY (via telephone): Well, they shouldn`t be doing that. That is what pre-planning is all about and that`s what we encourage municipalities, counties and states to do. And so many communities have done a fabulous job in establishing pre-planning events so that we can evacuate people with their pets before the event and provide temporary shelters for them after the event.

However, some areas are not quite as proactive as others. And those are the areas that we are trying to work with. It`s just unfortunate that we are still experiencing emergency management officials who will not allow people to bring their pets with them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I would suggest to say, "You can`t do that to me." And what would you say, Tiffany?

LACEY: Well, I would say -- yes, exactly. You take your pets wherever you need go. I mean no one wants to leave their pet and no one should be leaving their pet anywhere.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If the authorities say you have to leave your pets, you have to go, you say no.

LACEY: Right, yes. I mean I`m not going to leave my pets. At this point in time in New York City, that is every shelter, everywhere people are going, you are allowed to take your pet. That should just simply not be the case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think it has to get down to the rank and file. Mallory, Sophie, what are you going through without your missing Sophie emotionally?

DIEDRICH: I have been unable to think about anything else except trying to find her ever since we figured out that she was missing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s heart breaking.

DIEDRICH: I`ve posted signs in a two-mile radius. I have spoken to residents. I`ve walked around the neighborhoods endlessly. I have trespassed. I`m talking to emergency personnel on the roads. People are informed about her, but the problem is she is a very frightened little dog and she is going to hide. It`s unlikely that somebody might see her out somewhere.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side, what you can do if your pet is missing. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nikki Dawson, you`re on the ground helping animals. What`s the scene now in New Jersey?

DAWSON: We have -- the Humane Society of United States has enacted a toll-free hot line for any resident who evacuated and could not bring their pets with them. That number is 1-855-407-4787. That is for the state of New Jersey.

If you evacuated and could not bring your pets and your pet is left behind in your home needing rescue, call that number and we will send out one of our search and rescue teams to retrieve that animal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s amazing.

Nancy is next.

That`s great news.

Nancy next.

END