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New York Mayor Updates Storm Conditions; NYC Schools Open Despite Snowstorm; GOP, Dems Work Together to Pass Debt Ceiling Increase; Emergency Apps for Winter Weather

Aired February 13, 2014 - 11:30   ET


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: Now let's talk about what sanitation has put in the field since the early morning hours this morning. There are 475 salt spreaders that were out. Let me check with John, starting at what time roughly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It probably started around 3-something a.m.

DE BLASIO: Three a.m.? So around 3 a.m. salt spreaders started in large measure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. Salt spreaders started a little after midnight.

DE BLASIO: Midnight. I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were on position at midnight and started.

DE BLASIO: So 475 salt spreaders were out in anticipation of the snow.

Nineteen-hundred plows have been out since the early morning hours as soon as we had accumulation. Of course, the plows require accumulation to do their work. Once there was sufficient accumulation, they went to work all over the city.

So combined we have over 2,300 pieces of equipment out.

We've had 12-hour shifts that began at 7 p.m. last night, about 2,300 workers per shift. They'll be relieved -- they were relieved, the 7 p.m. shift was relieved at 7 a.m. by another 2,300 workers.

Now the sanitation department has done a couple of things this time very aggressively, to their credit. I want to thank Commissioner Doherty. They recognized the particular nature of this storm. So we have right now 800 emergency snow laborers who are in and working. They're working to clear catch basins, crosswalks, bus stops and fire hydrants. So 800 workers have been brought in and are out working now.

Also, extra efforts were made to address the tertiary roads starting early this morning. So a lot of strong effort by the sanitation department across the board.

Now, I remind all property owners to do what I have ritualistically done every morning and clear your own walks. Sanitation does its job and does it well. But it depends on property owners to do their job and clear walks so everyone can get around. And it's very important, in particular, if you have a fire hydrant on your property to clear around the fire hydrant to help the FDNY.

As usual, PlowNYC has been activated so New Yorkers can track snow- clearing work,

And as usual, the other agencies that can do so much to support the work of sanitation are doing so. That includes the department of parks, department of environmental protection and the department of transportation. DOT, in addition, is focusing on pedestrian overpasses. Seventeen crews are clearing priority pedestrian overpasses. And these overpasses were pretreated yesterday in anticipation of today's storm.

We know that some of these overpasses have snow and ice that accumulated over recent days, and they'll take extra work. So we're going to continue in that effort until they are fully clear.

Our tow truck task force is activated and is available to remove any disabled vehicles. So far things have been relatively smooth. But that task force is available for quick deployment wherever we have any disabled vehicles.

Now a couple of announcements about these next days, because we have an unusual situation here. The storm is starting early this morning, continuing into the night, even into the early morning hours tomorrow. Then we have a weekend. Then we have a federal holiday and, obviously, a city holiday on Monday. So alternate side parking suspended today, suspended tomorrow, suspended Saturday.

We know there will be a lot of work here to do this clean-up properly. So we want to get ahead of it. Monday, obviously, being a holiday, there will not be alternate side, as well.

I've said it a thousand times. I'll say it again. Parking meters remain in effect.

And in terms of garbage and recycling collections, again given the magnitude of this...

BERMAN: All right. We've been watching New York's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, talking about this snowstorm. He expects anywhere from 10 to 14 inches of snow to fall here by the time it's all done. He says he's at 2,300 piece of equipment out there since the snow started falling, clearing it away, talking about the plans for the next few days, Michaela. Not yet talking about the one issue that are on a lot of people's minds here, which is the schools, which were not closed. And a lot of kids, Michaela, didn't make it in today.

PEREIRA: No. And that's the topic that we're going to bring up with Kelly Wallace, who's going to join me out here in the snow in just a second. Brave lady put on her snow boots. We're going to talk about it. Coming up @THIS HOUR, more on the snow, the weather, and what are we doing with our kids here in New York City? Are they supposed to go to school right now? We'll be right back.


PEREIRA: Welcome back. At this hour, it is still snowing. We actually decided it's freezing rain. I'm Michaela Pereira outside, right at the foot of Central Park here.

Kelly Wallace, our digital correspondent, is here with us. She's going to talk to us a minute about our kids. Because one of the things we're concerned about is the fact that kids in New York City are expected to go to school today.

One of the over-arching things is the weather is impacting a whole lot of people; 700,000 people are without power from Louisiana to New York. We know thousands of flights have been cancelled or delayed. We know that this is impacting so many people. Ten deaths already because of this storm.

Here in this city, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently became mayor. And boy, he's had a year already to deal with, inclement weather after inclement weather. He just spoke a moment ago about the decision that is sort of weighed when they try decide whether the kids will go to school or not; whether to keep the schools open. Let's listen to what the mayor had to say.


DE BLASIO: From a number of perspectives including that of public schools parent, and I have been one for the last 14 years. Our job is to make a decision that's always a tough decision. And with always, by definition, imperfect information. But it's our job to make that decision and make it as quickly as we can to give the maximum notice to our parents.

We knew, based on the reports of the National Weather Service, that we could have as little as three inches of snow on the ground by the time kids walked in the door of their schools. And we could have more. We could have four or five or more. It was a gray situation.

We did know, however, one thing that's been consistent is that it would be warmer temperatures. And that has been consistently true. And based on our knowledge of what sanitation could do overnight, we were convinced that kids could get to school this morning. And we always emphasize, in making these decisions, when you think about 1.1 million kids. So many families depend on schools as a place for their kids to be during the day, a safe place, place they are not only taught, get nutrition and safe from elements. So many families have to go to work. The members of these families have to go to work. They do not have a choice, and they need a safe option for their kids.


PEREIRA: Mayor Bill de Blasio there, talking about the decision that was made to keep the New York City schools open.

Kelly Wallace, let's bring you into the conversation. You know, I think still a lot of people are going to be like, you look at the weather. You see the forecast. You see the amount of snow that's expected. Of course you're going to shut the schools down.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: I know, but you did hear the mayor. And he said it's a tough decision. A lot of working families have to go to work today, right? They are expected to get to the office. If they decided, right, that the roads they thought would be clear enough, a lot of kids rely on, you know, public transportation -- subways and buses -- to get there. And they're factoring in all of those things, which might not be popular, but they're weighing that in for why they kept the schools are open.

PEREIRA: Another point that I hadn't considered, and it really makes a lot of sense when the mayor says it, is that so many of these kids are relying on that lunch meal to be served, a hot meal at school.

WALLACE: Exactly. They're relying to get a lunch, to get, you know, breakfast. A lot of people criticizing them for it. But you know, as they said, they weigh a lot of factors before making this call.

PEREIRA: OK. So that's the deal. We know that the -- there's, you know, teams and teams of people out here busy clearing the roads, trying to get salt on the roads. And we know that's happening now up and down the coast, where the weather is inclement.

Kelly Wallace earned her cup of hot chocolate today. Thanks for coming and standing out in the snow with us.

John Berman back in the warm, dry, studio. Obviously, this is a concern, though, when you think about the fact that, you know, there's a lot of kids that are sitting at home, crossing their fingers for a snow day. I think your kids got a snow day but not -- not all across the state. Some of the schools stayed open.

BERMAN: No, but on the flip side, Michaela, my kids did get a snow day. They've had so many so days that they're starting to take away vacation days.

PEREIRA: Is it -- what, is it six now that they've had?

BERMAN: They're on No. 6 now, I think, and they're starting to take away vacation days in April. And after that, they're going to extend the school year in August, it feels like to me.

All right. Michaela, Kelly, we'll see you in a second here.

Ahead @THIS HOUR, Washington D.C., dealing with the snow. But the city is abuzz with a display that few have ever seen. Sure, Congress raised the debt ceiling, but it's the way they did it that has everyone talking. Is it a sign of bipartisan future or a new sign of turmoil?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: News about Obama care. More than 1 million people signed up for insurance through the Obama care health exchange in January. That brings total sign-ups to 3.3 million. That's according to figures released by the government.

That jump in enrollment obviously a significant shift following the disastrous rollout of the Obama care Web site. Still below what they thought they would actually have at this time.

There's another big story in Washington besides Obama care, besides all the snow. It has people buzzing today. It is the bizarre aftertaste left from one of the most bizarre episodes that Congress has seen in a long, long time.

The Senate managed to pass a measure to raise the debt ceiling, which means the U.S. will be able to pay its bills for another year. But the way it happened, with Republican leaders in the Senate at the very last minute joining with every Democrat to break a filibuster from Ted Cruz of Texas.

Anna Palmer, the senior Washington correspondent from And Anna, a lot of Republicans not happy at all with Ted Cruz. "The Wall Street Journal" ran a pretty scathing editorial today which called Ted Cruz the minority maker.

ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO.COM: Well, he's certainly a rival rouser, right? And he's made his reputation as a first-term senator to kind of force the hand of people like Senate Minority Mitch McConnell. That is unheard of in the Senate.

And so what you saw yesterday was they had to keep the vote open for an hour. You had McConnell and Senator John Cornyn, who are both facing tough reelection challenges with primaries on the right, who had to join with Democrats, something that they definitely did not want to have happen.

BERMAN: So how does this affect them? Those Republicans that voted with the Democrats, what trouble do they face in the elections coming ahead? Mitch McConnell has got a tough primary.

PALMER: Absolutely. Right now, he is trying to go to the right on a lot of different issues. And he's avoided some of these kind of tumultuous votes that could help peg -- you know, have Republicans on the right peg him as somebody who's, you know, in Washington and doesn't understand, you know, what being a true conservative is. You've already seen some of the conservative groups, like Heritage Action and, you know, other groups that have come out and said that this was a bad vote; they don't like it. This is not what they wanted to have happen.

BERMAN: But Democrats have some risks here also. This debt-ceiling debate, it's over now. You know, this debate is over until 2015. So now once again, they're facing the image of Obama care. Yes, there were some numbers that a lot of people think are encouraging in enrollment. But you also have the fact they're extending the employment mandate. It does seem like Obama care is an issue that they will have to deal with in the elections.

PALMER: The debt ceiling was the gift that kept on giving for Democrats. Right? It was something that every couple of months we faced and you saw the dysfunction of Republicans on display over and over again.

And so, when you look at issues coming up: immigration reform; if you look at unemployment insurance. Those aren't going to happen. And even when you look at some of the fast track trade deals that really seem like they could have gotten done, there's disagreement on the Democrat side about how to move forward on that.

So instead of having kind of Democrats being unified on this, you're looking at a little, potentially, some disorganization there.

BERMAN: Yes. You brought up a key point: immigration reform doesn't look like we have a lot else on the table. Doesn't look like it will pass. Some people wondered, if they passed the debt ceiling, if this was some new bipartisan model to get things done. You don't seem very hopeful about that.

PALMER: Well, certainly not when President Barack Obama said that yesterday, maybe the fever was breaking.

And you have had some positive news, right? We've had the Farm Bill pass. You had that two-year budget deal.

But as far as looking at the next several months, we're going right into campaign season. It is hard to see how you could get any kind of real significant movement on immigration reform in the next couple of months.

BERMAN: It should be fun. All right Anna Palmer, thanks so much. Always great to see you.

PALMER: Thanks a lot.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @THIS HOUSE. So let's say you get stuck in today's winter storm and you have to deliver a baby. Guess what? There's an app for that. No joke. That's coming up next.


PEREIRA: @THIS HOUR we are outside our New York City studios. And tight at this hour it is raining, snowing, raining, snowing. Brett Larson...


PEREIRA: ... our technology analyst, is here because, look, you might be stuck indoors...


PEREIRA: ... thinking, "Oh, technology, entertain me. Help me, aid me in some way to survive this." LARSON: Yes.

PEREIRA: You've got some great apps.


PEREIRA: We'll start with the one, Waze.

LARSON: Waze. This is a great idea. It's a social traffic app. So when you're actually stuck in traffic and you open it up...


LARSON: ... it asks you a few questions: how slow is the traffic, how long have you been stuck here? But it also knows the people around you and what they've been going through.

PEREIRA: And might give you real-time sort of feedback.

LARSON: Yes, so it's the best. It's that exactly. It's I'm sitting here. Maybe the guy five cars down is like, "I've been here for ten minutes. It's terrible."

PEREIRA: "There's a snowplow stuck, go around" kind of thing.

LARSON: Right. It gives you a really good peek at the road ahead of you.

PEREIRA: Next up, Go2Aid. Tell me about this.

LARSON: This is great. This is going to be great if you're stuck inside, if the power goes out, if you're stuck in your car. It gives you tips on different things to do. If you have hypothermia...

PEREIRA: Oh, like first aid!

LARSON: Yes. Like what are the symptoms of hypothermia?

PEREIRA: That's the one that teaches you how to give a -- give birth to a baby?

LARSON: Not yet. No.


LARSON: But we're getting there. But this is going to be great if you, you know, you're stuck inside, you don't want to go to the doctor.


LARSON: Or you just want to check and make sure maybe it's nothing; maybe it is more serious.

PEREIRA: We also know that over 5,000 flights have been impacted, canceled, delayed, not fun. You know of an app that can sort of alert us ahead of time.

LARSON: Yes. Flight Aware. It's if you're flying anywhere, you have to have this app. You can search by flight. You can search by route, too, which is really important.


LARSON: Because if you absolutely have to get somewhere, you can see, well, are any airlines able to get through this? You can also see in real time the weather on your route.


LARSON: So it gives you a good indication of am I going to get there and what's there when I get there?

PEREIRA: Because it is changing, we know. As the day progresses, it's changing a little bit.

And last but not least...

LARSON: Wikihow.

PEREIRA: Wiki, Wikihow.

LARSON: I love Wikihow. It's got a winter survival how-to guide...

PEREIRA: Oh, great.

LARSON: ... that includes everything from the important stuff, what do you do if you get stuck in your car in a snowstorm?


LARSON: And also some other important stuff: what if you get stuck in your car and you have to deliver a baby?

That can happen.

PEREIRA: We report on those stories.

LARSON: We actually did that.

PEREIRA: I'll ask the question: Do Saint Bernards really, actually walk around...

LARSON: yes.

PEREIRA: ... with the barrel of whiskey around their neck?

LARSON: Right.

PEREIRA: Is that a question Wikihow can answer for me?

LARSON: Probably. If not, Google can do it.

PEREIRA: OK, so we'll have all of those. Maybe we can see if we -- I wonder if we can actually put those on our @THIS HOUR Web site.

LARSON: We should.

PEREIRA: Because that's -- those are really good.

LARSON: That's great (ph) stuff.

PEREIRA: The way the winter has been shaping up, this is not like it's the only storm of winter 2013/2014.

LARSON: It's good to be prepared.

PEREIRA: It is good to be prepared.

LARSON: And it's raining.

PEREIRA: And he was prepared to be outside in the snow. And now it's raining.

LARSON: Yes, John.

PEREIRA: Appreciate Brett Larson. You're a great addition to the family here @THIS HOUR.

LARSON: Thank you.

PEREIRA: And by the way, you can tweet us now, @ThisHour on Twitter. We want to hear how you're surviving. The inclement weather is all the way up and down in the coast. The folks in the west, meanwhile, they're still dealing with that darn drought.

OK. So John Berman...


PEREIRA: ... we've got some things to talk to you about. Do you want to explain to people?

LARSON: Like why are we out here and you're in there?


BERMAN: What's going on? Yes. No, I was listening.

PEREIRA: John -- thank you.

BERMAN: I thought you were going to talk to me about some stuff there. No, you were talking about the fact that you know...

PEREIRA: Yes, the thing I was going to ask you.

BERMAN: Go ahead, go for it.

PEREIRA: The thing I was going to ask you is how is it that I'm out here and you're inside?


BERMAN: Well, ask Brett Larson, because there's apparently an app for that. You can ask Wikihow and tweet that. You know, put it out there. Say why is it that Michaela Pereira is outside? No.

Our bosses said you're the Canadian. We're going to put the Canadian outside there. And you know, I think so far it's gone very well. You look great out there.

LARSON: And I'm a Californian.

PEREIRA: A year ago I was in 80-degree weather in California, just reminding you of that.

BERMAN: You make a lovely, lovely couple.

All right, guys, Brett, Michaela, so great to see you out there. You guys warm up.

Thank you everyone for joining us @THIS HOUR. Ashleigh Banfield starts right after this.