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Trouble Abounds after Sandy; Will Sandy`s Aftermath Affect Election?

Aired November 5, 2012 - 19:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, HLN ANCHOR: JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL starts right now. She`ll, of course, be talking politics, as well. And don`t forget to tune in tomorrow, first thing in the morning. We`ll be talking voting all day.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, seven days after Superstorm Sandy ripped through the East Coast, still more than 1 million people are facing another freezing cold night with no power, no heat. What is being done to help them, and how is this going to impact tomorrow`s election? We`re talking about all that next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, frustration and anxiety spill over as East Coast residents struggle to put their lives back together after Superstorm Sandy ripped through the area last week.

Tonight temperatures plummet. Another storm approaches the already devastated areas. People are struggling without power, without heat, with very few supplies. So what`s being done to help them tonight?

Plus with the upcoming election, how will the people in the hardest- hit areas vote?

And gas lines still stretch on for miles. When will we see relief? We`ll bring you the very latest live.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t scare easily. This time, I was scared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are still struggling to pick up the pieces after Sandy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ran out of gas looking for gas. So I walked here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to die. If we get killed with the weather, we`re going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s starting to get cold. People are in homes that are uninhabitable. It`s going to become increasingly clear that they`re uninhabitable when the temperature drops and the heat doesn`t go on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s still a sense of sadness. The emotions are still raw. And we`ve only begun the recovery efforts.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, tempers flare and patience runs short as the East Coast is left up picking up the pieces and trying to start to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy. It has gotten so bad, the Marines are being sent in to help, literally.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live.

Sandy has now claimed at least 110 lives in the United States alone, and 1.2 million people are still without power on this bitter cold night in the northeast, where it`s in the 30s now and dropping. They are struggling without the most basic necessities and losing patience, waiting in long lines for things like gasoline.

Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve been staying in the line for eight hours. This is ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the lines are absurd.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ran out of gas looking for gas. So I walked here.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now the million people without power are facing the threat of another storm, all without heat in cold and wind. Even the Marines dispatched to help are truly shocked by the amount of damage there is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s been an amazing amount of damage. I`ve seen homes burned down to the foundation. Homes knocked off the foundation. I just can`t believe that a storm could bring this much damage to an area like this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But many people worried about how to get through the cold night still want to vote. We`ve got breaking news for you. New York just announced they`re going to let storm victims vote in any polling place. Is that a good idea or is there a potential for fraud there? We`re going to debate it tonight.

Give me a call: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to CNN`s Deb Feyerick, who`s in the devastated New York City borough of Staten Island tonight, which by the way, is home to half a million people. And you`re talking to people who have lost just about everything. Deb, what`s the latest there tonight?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, and they have, so many people -- we were driving through town, walking through town. We saw boats that were washed ashore, basically touching the electrical wires. We saw homes that were being gutted because the storm brought so much water into these homes that now they`re being stripped down to the very studs. The floors are ruined; the walls are ruined. The couches, the furniture, everything in massive piles. People losing decades of their lives that they`re having to throw out because it`s simply unsalvageable. Some of these homes completely unlivable.

You mentioned the cold weather. And I want to talk right now to Alina Blakelock (ph). You and also -- you come in, too. Because you`re with this. This is a great story. You had to be rescued from the roof of your home. Tell me specifically what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We -- 7:15, I received a phone call from my girlfriend. She said, "Alina (ph), it`s coming." I run outside. I see the wave coming through the streets. I was trying to get away with my car, but literally in five minutes, the car had been half floated.

We run with the kids upstairs. We`re sitting in the attic for 12 hours. And we`d been rescued by boat, the Coast Guard. They rescued me and my three kids and my boyfriend. We all come into the boat. We`re all freezing cold. The house is being flooded all the way through the roof. The water was 15 feet up.

And I thought, if I have to jump into the water, I will. The only thing, I was scared that the old cars -- they were all around. If my child had been killed by a car. And now like, we have house has been flooded. The water from somebody else`s pipe. The DP (ph), fire department, everybody.

FEYERICK: But here`s the thing, and you, the water, just so we can explain to you -- all of you out there. One of the problems was is that a lot of the homes, the buildings department is going home to home. They`re inspecting these homes, because a lot of them, Jane, are so devastated that some are unlivable. They`re putting stickers up. Some say that you cannot go in them. Some have been condemned.

One-story homes, the big problem there, people didn`t have an upper floor to go to like Alina (ph). Alina (ph) came here. And once she was here, she met somebody from the mayor`s office. And you were able to make a call.

So it seems like that water pipe that Alina (ph) was just talking about, they`re going to be able to shut that off so at least possibly it can be saved?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I called the Department of Environmental Protection. They`re there right now. I want to take Alina (ph) so we can go explain the situation and hopefully get something resolved there.

FEYERICK: And this is what we see happening, Jane. And that is you`ve got people from the mayor`s office, people from FEMA. But the folks like this, sometimes they just don`t know where the help is. Alina (ph) came here.

Do you think you`re going to be able to rebuild after this, Alina (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, because obviously these two people, they have been in my house and my house is not rebuildable, because the foundation cracked in six places. We have -- we have everything like in pictures. Obviously, I slipped (ph), I need medical attention seven days a week. And now they canceled all the services. I was in the hospital for three days on morphine because of the pain. I lost all medication. And I have three kids now and no place to go.

FEYERICK: And that`s what`s incredible. And this is Joseph -- you broke your finger and Joseph -- has this been scary for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I -- I`ve never experienced something like this in my whole life. This never happened in Staten Island before. A lot of people telling me, this can`t be possible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened at night? Like you forget everything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At night -- at night -- at night, I thought I was, like -- I was dreaming. I didn`t even -- I didn`t even think it was real, because we were up in the attic like stuck like crazy. I was so scared.

FEYERICK: OK, Joseph and Alina (ph), thank you. And thank you for sharing this story. We`re going to let you guys go so you can finish up.

And as you can just see, Joseph right here, he`s wearing some coats. Folks have been so nice. They`re been dropping off coats and blankets. And so Joseph is now decked out in some coats.

And what`s amazing, Jane, is that people would not have been -- all these supplies that finally did arrive on Friday, again, five days after the storm. But they did get here. But those supplies couldn`t get out to this community were it not for volunteers, hundreds of them, coming to this location and others and driving their own cars and getting the supplies to the people who need them most, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Deb, that was an extraordinary story. I am so happy they are alive. But my heart goes out to them for having nowhere to go. And it`s just -- it`s unthinkable.

This is a borough of New York City. It`s really unthinkable.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is the height of civilization, and it`s a place where these people have nowhere to go, and they are in the freezing cold.

And let me tell you something, it is cold. It is cold out there. It feels like 31. It`s 39, but it feels like 31. And it`s dropping.

Now, some of Sandy`s storm victims are just impossible to forget. Janet Misuri (ph) lives in Old Bridge, New Jersey, and she became sort of an icon and a symbol of this entire crisis when she poured her heart out to Governor Christie. You may remember her speaking to the governor.


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

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It was the same time last year. You`re right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing. My husband, my son, no nothing, they passed away. It`s all ruined down there. Every ounce of it ruined. Nothing, nothing, nothing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, Janet joins us exclusively by phone. Thank you, Janet, for taking the time to talk to us.

First of all, it`s cold out there. What are you experiencing right now? If you could describe what you`re going through at this moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): We just don`t have -- you know, we don`t have anything, no electricity, no hot water, no -- you know, it`s cold. And just walking around, that`s very, very dark. And it`s sad to see that we had so much before, with you know, great neighbors. And we don`t have that now. So many people are leaving their homes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are you leaving your home or are you staying inside...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we`re staying. My husband and I are staying. We actually have a generator now. But we want to stay. And we want to try to rebuild. But we`re very cold and we just want our home to be back to the way it was.

I mean, it was very hard for the last five days with my children not being here. I had a phone call, 5:30 in the morning asking us to come home.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Janet, first of all...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just want to know if FEMA could help us.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, first of all, I think we have a phone number as well as a Web site that...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve done that. I`ve been on that. Every time you call FEMA, it hangs up on you. When you try to talk to somebody live. And it will not help you.

I`ve lost everything on my first floor. And it`s like every time you try to talk to a live person, they say, you`re going to be hung up on and you cannot get to anybody. And I have everything exposed. I have no furniture, no refrigerator, no stove, no anything. All my china, water was pouring out of the cabinets when I was going to get them from my cabinet.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Janet, I want to say, be careful. A big dangerous fire when you`re in a home that`s darkened. And be careful. Listen to the authorities, if they say evacuate. And I hope that you get the response that you`re asking for from FEMA. Maybe try the Web site. But it`s a valid concern. That number should work.

More on the other side.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve got to get some help!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s old ladies in my building that have got nothing. Nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are we going to get some (EXPLETIVE DELETED) help?

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: Everybody is working as hard as they can. The state government, federal government, the city government. We have an enormous number of city employees who`ve been working essentially 24/7.

People are always going to not get as many things as they want as fast as they want. This was a tremendous storm. And we have to deal with it. And that`s what we`re doing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tempers flaring as gas lines are just getting longer and longer. I mean, they`re going on for hours and hours and hours. People desperate for a few gallons of gas to fill their cars or generators. And they are standing in line with their little red cans. They`re waiting in line in their cars. Patience is running thin.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve been staying on the line for eight hours. It`s ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lines are absurd.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ran out of gas looking for gas. So I walked here.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. In New Jersey, there`s gas rationing just like there was in the 1970s. You can only go to stations every other day, depending on the last number or letter on your license plate.

Straight out to investigative reporter, HLN contributor, Jon Lieberman. Jon, what is the bottleneck? Why is there such a problem getting gasoline to the New York and New Jersey residents who desperately need it?

JON LIEBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Jane, there`s a few things actually. And unless you`re in this area and experiencing this, it`s almost hard to fathom. Because as you say, it harkens back to the `70s.

The problem is this: No. 1, electricity was a big problem. The fact that many gas stations lost electricity. Many are still out of electricity.

You also have to keep in mind that the gas wholesalers, the ones who sell it to the gas stations, also lost power. So that`s No. 2.

Now, the port of New York is partially open now. That should help get some supply in.

But when you look at New Jersey, another problem off the bat was that gas is only full service in New Jersey. And so a lot of these stations didn`t have employees -- enough employees to weather this storm literally. And so you saw these big -- these big backlogs of lines.

So you put all of these factors together, and also you put in it panic factor, which is that we`re not just talking about a shortage of gas here. You put that in with everything else that people are experiencing. They`re cold. There`s no electricity. They can`t get to work. And so now you have the psychological issues of hopelessness and helplessness, and you just put gas shortage on top of it and it`s horrible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is horrible for these 1 million people -- actually, it`s 1.2 million people without power tonight. I mean, it`s -- look, the temperatures are dropping. Thirty-nine degrees. With the wind chill, it feels like 31. That`s in the New York metropolitan area. Many people don`t expect power back anytime soon. It makes the situation desperate for some.

Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is starting to get cold. People are in homes that are uninhabitable. It`s going to become increasingly clear that they`re uninhabitable when the temperature drops and the heat doesn`t go on.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So we`ve been talking to Janet Misuri (ph) out of Old Bridge, New Jersey, and she was the one who became famous for spilling her heart and her grief to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Janet, you are there living in the dark in your home. Why don`t you just leave, given that it`s gotten very, very cold and there is always the danger of fire if you stay in your house and you`re trying to light candles and -- it`s a bad situation. Why don`t you just leave?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it`s my home. And I don`t want to leave my home. I`m worried that whatever I do have left, I don`t lose it.

With my husband even, he`s so afraid that, you know, he went back to work. He went and bought me a shotgun just to have it, just for my safety, because he`s afraid with me and my children, that if somebody comes into the house, this is all we have.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We did speak to the mayor of your town, Janet, and they said, quote, "We have police officers stationed through all the impacted, and they`re there 24 hours a day." So they`re telling us that your house is safe, that they`ve got police surrounding it. It`s not going to be looted or robbed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a couple of days I was out just throwing my garbage out. And there was a gentleman trying to go through my scraps, taking my stuff from my home, just for him for scraps.

And my cell phones weren`t working. I had to go up to an officer to ask him to use a phone the one day when they were here. But the last two night, we did not have officers patrolling the area.

I don`t know. They promised me different things. I mean, I`ve been complaining and asking. Hopefully, they have changed it. And hopefully I, you know -- I`ll feel more safety that way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, Janet, we hope -- I understand. And our hearts go out to you, and we hope you`re safe. Take care of yourself.

On the other side, we`re talking to marathoners who are volunteering. Stay right there.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was at home, and there`s this crane on the top, on the very, very, very top. And they said that it was going to fall. And they took us out. There were firemen and some police. And they insisted that we go out immediately. They didn`t even give us time to go back. The only thing I came out with was my toothbrush and my toothpaste.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s my mom. She lives directly under that huge crane that was dangling. She was out of her apartment for a week. So she lived with me. And there she is heading home with me this morning with the cat strapped to her walker. Ha-ha! And she had an entourage of friends, as well. There she is, heading back into her apartment after a week vacationing with me.

But, you know, at the age of 96, I`ve got to say, she`s a trooper. Mom, you have true grit. And we did have a lot of fun together. It was a lot of fun. But it was so cute to see her there with her cat strapped to her walker and clutching the dogs heading back.

Now, this is nothing compared to -- it was a horrible inconvenience, but it was nothing compared to what people suffered in Staten Island and parts of Long Island, parts of New Jersey, the Jersey shore. Volunteers are now rushing into those hardest-hit areas to do whatever they can to help out.

In devastated Staten Island, there was a volunteer who was part of this whole operation that was set up to give out much-needed clothing and other supplies. And here`s how she describes the scene. She`s somebody who lives in the Bronx, actually, and went to Staten Island to help out. Listen to this...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re in Staten Island. And we`re sorting all these clothes. It`s about 8 p.m. at night, 8:30, something like that. And there`s a lot of damage and devastation in this place. Just some of the volunteers that are working to sort clothes, shoes, coats, jackets, socks for people who need it. It`s a lot of work. We need more volunteers.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And one volunteer who joins us now, Dr. Jordan Metzle (ph). You organized a whole group of would-be marathoners to go to Staten Island to help. What an amazing turnaround. Instead of being bitter that the marathon was canceled, you opened your heart and you put all these folks together as volunteers. God bless you. How did you do that and why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Jane, this was an amazing experience in terms of the runners` story.

First of all, the scope of the devastation, living here in Manhattan, when we -- when I kind of saw this on TV, nothing can really prepare you for what it`s like when you`re in these areas.

But within New York City, we have this amazing event every year, the marathon. And as many of your viewers know, there was a lot of concern about the marathon -- should it go on, shouldn`t it go on? But it was eventually canceled. There were a whole bunch of runners here that were, you know -- they were here, and they had a lot of energy and fitness and they didn`t really know what to do.

So as soon as it was canceled, several runner friends and I got together and we set up a Facebook page. And I was in my office. I`m a sports medicine doctor. I finished my practice about 6. I stayed in my office till 1 a.m. in the morning on Friday, working on this Facebook page. When I went to bed, about 1:30 in the morning, we had about 250 "likes" on our page. I woke up, we had 1,100.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By Sunday morning, we had over 5,000 "likes." And we expected about 300 people to show you. We had about 1,300 runners...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... from all over the world to come in and give help and assistance.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s incredible. Listen, we have to leave it right there. But, wow, what a great response. You know, it`s not what you`re handed; it`s how you play it. And you played it with kindness and compassion.

More on the other side.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has been one week since Superstorm Sandy slammed into the northeast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The damage is unimaginable. The toll on human life and the financial devastation are still being tallied.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Devastation is unprecedented. Like nothing we`ve ever seen reported before.

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

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The states hardest hit by the superstorm are the most likely to face the biggest challenges on election day.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our hearts go out to the people who are suffering.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m devastated over this -- devastated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both the state of New Jersey and New York have said they are also tweaking the rules to help voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could Sandy affect the outcome of the election?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Frustration and anger erupt in the tri-state area. More than a million people are still in the dark right now -- cold homes, waiting for power, temperatures dropping into the 30s and those less fortunate living in shelters, no place to call home. All their belongings lost.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to die. If we get killed with the weather -- we`re going to die. We`re going to freeze.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The slow process of rebuilding causing panic and frustration. It`s gotten so bad, they`re sending in the Marines -- literally.

Plus, there`s the big question of what happens tomorrow with the election? How are people in devastated areas going to vote? New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just announced that voters displaced by Sandy can vote in any polling place in New York.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Just because you`re displaced doesn`t mean you should be disenfranchised. I`m signing an executive order today that will allow affidavit voting where you can go to any polling place if you`re displaced, go to any polling place, sign an affidavit and you can vote in that polling place.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s debate it starting with Roland Martin, CNN political analyst. Any polling place -- so, is this a good idea? Or could it allow people to just saunter in to any polling place, there`s almost 2,000 polling places in New York City alone, and vote there and then vote somewhere else? How are they going to cross-check this?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, that`s why you sign the affidavit, to be able to do so. Also understand when you have the voter registration rolls when you go in and vote you actually have to sign as well. So you have a check-off procedure.

This is a fantastic idea because this is unprecedented -- frankly natural disaster. Because you have power situations, what happens if you go to your normal voting location and they have no power there? Now you`re left to figure out where in the heck should I go? This makes all the sense in the world by the New York governor. So I applaud him for doing so.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Political correspondent, Keli Goff, do you agree? It`s a good idea or not?

KELI GOFF, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me say for the record I drew the unlucky lotto ticket on Sandy not once but twice because I evacuated and the place I evacuated to lost power and my original apartment building is also where I`m actually supposed to vote.

So I`m incredibly sympathetic to the challenges that we here in the northeast are going to face in terms of voting. I think this is a great idea but I also think the reality is that we`re going to see a lot of legal challenges on a lot of these races.

You know, I applaud the elected officials for thinking outside the box -- Governor Cuomo, Governor Christie -- in terms of voting by fax, voting by e-mail, voting by affidavit.


GOFF: But we`re going to see a lot of challenges, Jane, after this election. That`s the reality.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s talk about New Jersey because for the first time, citizens in New Jersey can vote remotely, like the military would normally overseas. Governor Chris Christie trying to make it easier obviously for people displaced by the storms and for first responders who are working hard in the recovery efforts.

So here`s how his plan works. Ok. Get a pencil because it`s complicated. People will need to submit a ballot application by e-mail or fax to their county clerk. Then, once approved, the clerk will e-mail or fax a ballot to the voter. The vote must be sent back no later than Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern by fax or e-mail.

Now, Roland Martin, this is something military and overseas voters have been able to do. But they apparently had maybe a little preparation time. It sounds incredibly complicated to me. It sounds like a lot of people are just going to throw up their hands and say, whatever.

MARTIN: How? I mean, ok, what you just described is basically what we do every day. Somebody`s going to send you a PDF. All right. You`re done with the PDF, send it back or fax it back. I mean that`s not hard at all. So I would hope, frankly, the FedEx Kinko`s out there and other places would say, please use our fax machines to fax your ballot back.

So it`s really not that complicated. But think about what`s the alternative? The alternative is that you might have a finite number of places where you have massive numbers of long lines, cold weather, a nor`easter on its way. And so this makes sense to try to figure out some way to get people still to be able to cast their ballot. So, look, it`s the end route -- it`s not the most perfect thing in the world but it`s a great option.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Keli, why not do e-mail voting for everyone? I mean we bank on e-mail and why do we have a voting app and just leave it at that? Then we would have much higher voter participation.

GOFF: Well, let me say this. The weather here in New York is turning so cold right now, that I would absolutely love nothing more than just have to not leave my building and just vote by my Blackberry or an iPhone, right.

So I`m sure we`d all love that. But look, there is actually precedent for this. Alaska has actually had voting by e-mail and fax for a while now because it`s such a huge state and it`s not easy to --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Uh-oh. All right.

Jon Leiberman, HLN contributor -- we lost you there for a second. You`re dying to jump in. Jump in.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, yes, I was just going to say. So I did this today because I don`t have power and I`m displaced. So you get this first, as you mentioned. This is the actual application to be able to receive the e-mail ballot.

And I think Roland said it the best. Is this a perfect solution? No. Could there be some hacking issues or legal challenges because of the way that the -- you know, because there`s no paper record of if you e-mail? Sure. But it`s the best solution right now.

But I`ll tell you, I`m already getting e-mails. I`m sure Roland is, too. I have an e-mail right here from a woman who lives in Brooklyn who said that she just found out this morning that the polls were moved out of her building without notification and the seniors in her building can`t walk to another polling place because they`re not healthy enough and there`s a lack of gas to drive them there. We are going to see a myriad of problems.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, we are. And Tom Sater, one of the problems could be the weather. Could this new storm that`s approaching affect the election?

TOM SATER, HLN METEOROLOGIST: The only area of concern affecting the election could be Florida. I mean light snow in northern Wisconsin, but they`re used to that. They`ll still go to the polls in shorts.

But thunderstorms in a critical area such as maybe Tampa to Orlando - - this is what we`re watching. I mean it`s going to be hot for voters in California. Last I checked L.A. was at 93 degrees, just one degree from a record that goes back to 1891. Extremely hot out west.

This is the energy we`re watching diving down now from Missouri. So rainfall -- I would say, don`t wait to vote till the rain passes in Florida because the volume of voters are going to be there. Vote early in South and North Carolina.

The storm system in Florida, we will not know until the storm actually develops off the coast what the track will be. The track means everything, Jane. We`ve been talking about this for a week. There`s no doubt we will have a storm. We could have some very strong winds. There`s unprotected shoreline as everyone knows, additional power outages. We won`t know more until tomorrow.

It`s like putting together a puzzle of a face. We know the hair color, the eye color and the skin tone. But we don`t have the piece for the mouth. We don`t know if it`s smiling or frowning. Let`s hope this moves away from the shoreline tomorrow.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s hope the storm is saying bye-bye --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, Tom.

More on the other side -- we`re talking animals affected by the storm.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Perhaps the most voiceless affected by the storm, the animals. Take a look at that little face -- separated from the companions and his home. And he`s wondering, he doesn`t understand. He doesn`t know about weather patterns or storms. All these little guys know is that they`re not where they`re supposed to be.



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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are still some people that are holding out, some elderly, with their pets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we shouldn`t be near the water, your pets shouldn`t be near that water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How`s the dog doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dog`s doing great, man. He`s getting a lot of attention.

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


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is so true. And if it`s not safe for you, it`s not safe for your companion animal with the cold weather. And it`s getting colder. And some areas, not expected to get power back until much later this week. A lot of people being forced to find somewhere else to stay and they can`t always take their pets with them because maybe they`re staying at a friend`s house or a hotel that doesn`t take pets -- whatever.

Listen to this --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, we`re in Union Beach, New Jersey, one of the areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy. We are helping owners that are being forced to evacuate. We`re taking their pets in so they can go to a place where they`ll be safe.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Humane Society and other volunteers furiously trying to help as many animals as they can. A lot of people don`t know what the rules are for their pet when they have to leave their home.

Rule number one, if you have to leave home, take your pet with you. In fact, there is a new federal law that was passed called PETS. It says any state that wants FEMA money must accommodate the pets. So if any person in authority says you cannot take your pet, you tell them, oh, yes, I can.

I want to go to Tonya Marchiol -- you are extraordinary because you`re a celebrity runner. You had planned on running the marathon. And when the marathon got canceled, you decided to take all that energy that it would take to run 26.2 miles and put it into rescuing animals made homeless by this storm. Tell us what you`re doing.

TONYA MARCHIOL, CELEBRITY RUNNER: That`s exactly right. So basically I`m the spokesperson for North Shore Animal League America. And that`s what I was running the race for. And as soon as I heard that the race was canceled, I called them and told them that I was coming up to help no matter what they needed.

They`re an incredible organization. They`re the largest no-kill shelter in the world. What they`ve done to help the victims of Sandy is they`ve set up their mobile units. They have mobile units that go all over and rescue animals. And they set up their mobile units right next to the Red Cross so that the people at the shelter could actually take their animals right there and see their animals while they`re being protected at the shelter.

So -- it was amazing. They had over 150 animals in the mobile units. And then I actually went up to Long Island and worked at North Shore Animal League America. And they have over 700 animals that are up for adoption right now. I walked dogs and cleaned cages and played with the puppies.

Of course, you know, I love doing it because I`m an animal advocate. But it`s just really sad because there`s so much that you don`t think about. It`s not just the humans. It`s the pets and it`s the people that - - you know, my pets are a part of my family. And so --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course -- mine, too.

MARCHIOL: Yes. I would not leave --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They`re my children.

MARCHIOL: They are my children, too. And so I absolutely would not leave my pets at home. And I wouldn`t know what to do without my dogs. So just the fact that these people are at the Red Cross shelter, they can walk right across the parking lot and see their pets and know that their pets are cared for.

The other thing that North Shore did which I really commend them for was there were shelters that lost power. And North Shore had a huge generator. So they took in other shelters` shelter animals. So they`re helping out as much as they can with the animals.

You know, there were tons of volunteers up there. A lot of the runners that were running on behalf of North Shore went up yesterday and helped out and just really made a difference.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I love it. And I love how things have changed since the horrors of Katrina when three quarters of a million animals died, drowned, shot or became homeless because that was a debacle when it came to forcing people to leave at the point of a gun sometimes if they wanted to take their animals and told them, no, you can`t take your animals. One little boy crying as he had to leave his little dog, snowball. And that became the iconic photo that led to the passage of the PETS legislation that says that they can`t tell you, you can`t take your pet anymore. So don`t believe it. If somebody says it --

MARCHIOL: I commend them for that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. If somebody says it, you say, huh-uh. Call your supervisor, I can take my pet. It`s the law.

Now, there`s an alarming report circulating online tonight claiming that Animal Care and Control in New York euthanized more than 200 animals in the wake of Superstorm Sandy because so many strays were brought in. Well, we did some major digging today. And I`m very happy to report that the authorities tell us in no uncertain terms these stories are completely false. I want to stress, officials say there`s no truth to the claims of mass euthanasia.

In fact, New York City Health Department which oversees Animal Care and Control told us there`s been no -- no euthanasia whatsoever. No animals killed. I hate the word euthanasia -- that it is, is kill the animals. No animals killed since the storm started because authorities in New York understand it may be difficult for people to find their pets. They`ve run off.

We`ve covered him some pets have been lost or they`re scrambling to save their house and they`re going to get their pets. So that`s excellent news.

I want to go to Niki Dawson, director of disaster relief for Humane Society. You`re in Monmouth, New Jersey. What are you seeing there in terms of -- we can`t just sugar-coat it. There obviously are pets that are misplaced and homeless and panicked and running around.

NIKI DAWSON, DIRECTOR, DISASTER RELIEF, HUMANE SOCIETY (via telephone): Absolutely. We have teams on the ground not only in Monmouth County but also Ocean County which was incredibly hard hit. We have temporary emergency shelters that are set up in those counties as well as Nassau. We`re working very closely with our good partners there in North Shore Animal League. And they`re doing some phenomenal work.

And we are doing search and rescue. And that means going into the homes of people who have reported leaving their pets behind. They`re very worried about them. They want to get their animals back and reunited with them. And our teams are going in and rescuing those animals and taking them to the emergency animal shelters where we`ll be housing them until the owners can reunite with them for as long as we can.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And the most important thing, if you have a pet, get a microchip because anywhere they go, across the country, across the world, they`ll scan it and they`ll know where that little fellow or little girl belongs.

On the other side, the founder of


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I was in Central Park and so many of the marathoners decided to help out instead and go take that energy and volunteer. And take a look. Those backpacks are filled with supplies. A lot of these folks went to Staten Island and spent their time, instead of running, helping.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re looking at animals in shelters in the wake of hurricane Katrina in 2005. These were the lucky ones. But about a quarter of a million dogs and cats and other pets were killed or lost or left homeless because of an outrageous, I would call it obscene reaction, where basically there was no consideration given to the animals.

David Meyer, founder of, things changed a lot since then. That was a national shame. Action was taken. Now what would you say now that people are allowed to take their pets, it`s the law, if any state is going to get FEMA funds? What should they do if they`re in a situation where they got to evacuate, they have their dog or cat and they don`t know what to do?

DAVID MEYER, FOUNDER OF ADOPTAPET.COM: Well, people need to, of course, take personal responsibility to take their pets. They can`t assume there will be someone there to help them. Hopefully they prepare. They have pets with id and microchip, they have leashes, they have crates when needed. They hopefully got transportation. But you know, not everybody does. Some people have just too many pets. There`s local agencies that can assist them. There is animal control agencies. Certainly when the government come to assist, as you mentioned, they can`t be told they can`t keep their pets.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, of course, the key at all times, spay and neuter your animal. And adopt, don`t shop. And one of the best places to go to adopt is Adopt a Pet. They have plenty of pure breeds if that`s what you want. You literally put in your zip code and your animal of choice comes up in your neighborhood.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re a group of friends, running friends from Oakville (ph), Ontario, Canada. We love the Big Apple. We can`t wait to come back next year and run the 2013 New York marathon.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Some of these folks I talked to when I was in Central Park this weekend. And it was amazing because they had flown in from all over the world to run the marathon. It was canceled. None of them were bitter. A lot of them decided to run their own race. They even invented their own medals and gave each other medals. Some of them ran the entire 26.2 miles. Some of them just ran a couple laps around Central Park.

The great thing was that everybody I talked to said we totally understand. We understand that it would be inappropriate for us to be celebrating and having a good time at the starting point where there was devastation in Staten Island. So hats off to all the runners for being really of such good spirit. It was so inspiring to see that everybody was just so understanding and celebratory in a respectful way. I just -- it left me so happy.

Finally tonight, speaking of happy, we want to welcome a new member to our team. Our associate producer Danny Fell and his wife Rachael welcome their first child, Amelia Rose, October 30th and weighing in a very healthy 9 pounds and 2 ounces. Fantastic -- congrats.