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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Hurricane Isabel Comes Ashore

Aired September 18, 2003 - 21:00   ET

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

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Hurricane Isabel roars up the East Coast and bears down on the nation's capital at this moment. The storm shut down the federal government today and hit North Carolina so hard, the president declared part of the state a disaster area already. We'll hear from transportation secretary, Norman Mineta; the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown; Rico Short, Federal Aviation Administration operations manager; plus meteorologists and reporters up and down the East Coast. All next on a special hurricane Isabel edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
One announcement. Announced previously as our guest for tonight, former President Jimmy Carter will be with us tomorrow night.

With us in this first segment and with us throughout the program, in New York is Dave Price, the weatherman on the "CBS Early Morning Show." We thank Dave for joining us. On the phone is Norman Mineta, the secretary of transportation. In Washington, Michael Brown, the director of FEMA. And then Rico Short -- in the command center in Herndon, Virginia, is Rico Short, the FAA national operations manager.

Secretary Mineta, what's the role of the Department of Transportation in a hurricane?

NORM MINETA, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: Well, I think the fact we've been tracking this for over a week-and-a-half from the mid- Atlantic, we have really the responsibility or initiative, in terms of preparedness, to make sure that relief supplies and other kinds of equipment are available at the three staging areas in New Jersey, North Carolina and Ohio. And we provide all of the transportation for the movement of those -- that equipment and relief supplies.

Secondly is the whole issue of assessing the various transportation modes. And the Department of Transportation, of course, has the unique capability to deal with all transportation modes. And we have regional offices, whether it be Federal Highway, Federal Railway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Transit, and we work very closely with the regional offices of FEMA, in terms of making sure that we're coordinating those assessments. And then the third part of it would be the recovery phase of it, and that we start tomorrow.

KING: Yes.

MINETA: And all supplies, food, are responsibility of DOT, in terms of movement. Of course, we provide financial assistance to states, in terms of highways, airports and transit systems. And then we also provide design, engineering and technical assistance to these people as soon as possible.

KING: So if Amtrak stops running for a period of time, that's your decision or theirs?

MINETA: No, it's Amtrak's decision. And initially, they decided to stop the service south of DC to Richmond. And then late today, they decided to also pull the service between New York City and DC.

KING: Now, Rico Short, what's the situation regarding the air? Rico, do you hear me OK?

RICO SHORT, FAA NATIONAL OPERATIONS MANAGER: Yes, Larry. I hear you loud and clear. Good evening.

KING: OK. What's the situation regarding air travel?

SHORT: Well, currently, Larry, I'm concerned with the Northeast, is obvious. Washington metropolitan airports, in particular Washington Reagan is closed. Washington Dulles and Baltimore International Airport -- they're operating on a very, very limited schedules, at this point. As far as the New York airports, Larry, our trans-cons, we are basically re-routing them north over the top of Isabel. As long as we can get above 25,000 to 30,000, there's no problem with any traffic out of New York headed westbound.

KING: And Michael Brown is director of FEMA. Have we had any major emergencies yet?

MICHAEL BROWN, FEMA DIRECTOR: Well, Larry, right now, we have approximately a million people that are without power. We have, I think, approximately 4,000 people who are stranded on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. And we have a serious flooding situation throughout the Northeast. I'm expecting a lot of flooding in North Carolina, Virginia. We've had some evacuations in Virginia. As the storm -- as Isabel continues to move north, I think we're going to see a lot of additional flooding in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and possibly western New York. The ground is just so saturated.

The good news is the storm's moving quickly. The bad news is, even though she's moving quickly, Isabel is packing a lot moisture with her.

KING: Have we had any deaths, to your knowledge, Michael?

BROWN: None yet. We've not heard of anything. We have staff reporting in at midnight tonight and again at 3:00 o'clock tomorrow morning. So far, we've been very, very lucky.

KING: Dave Price, as a weatherman, how do you rate this? Is it a bad one? It's going to be rated down to a tropical storm soon. How do you look at it?

DAVE PRICE, "CBS EARLY SHOW" WEATHERMAN: Well, you know, what? We rate it as it could have been a lot worse. I mean, when you consider, No. 1, we had a good deal of warning that this was coming. No. 2, you see how everyone prepared. Municipalities got out the word. And No. 3, even though it's a 2, Larry, it was a two when it came ashore, winds were upwards of 110 miles per hour just before it hit the shoreline. One more mile per hour and we would have called it a Cat 3.

But the good news is, even though there was a significant storm surge, it hit the land, it's moved quickly, and that's probably the best thing to happen to us. Now with speeds of 24 miles per hour and, hopefully, with the latest update, it's going to be downgraded to a tropical storm. But we'll watch.

And now our concern and the concern with any hurricane -- one of the most deadly factors in a hurricane is the aftermath as a result of flooding. The FEMA director just a little while ago talked about the fact that the ground is saturated. It was very, very wet summer throughout a lot of the East Coast. So when all this water comes up onto shore and, indeed, goes into those places, there's nowhere for it to go. There's nowhere for it to be absorbed. So as a result, you could see a lot of deadly results as this storm moves inland, believe it or not. The story continues after it moves away from the coast and to the north and northwest.

KING: To quote Yogi Berra, it ain't over until it's over, and even then, it isn't over.

PRICE: That's the truth.

KING: OK. Norman Mineta -- as we see scenes -- we're going to see scenes of Richmond, Virginia, the aftermath. Richmond really got plowed today, or early this after -- or late this afternoon. Norman Mineta, all this that you set up, the set-up of FEMA answering to you, the FAA -- is that new?

MINETA: No, we work very closely with FEMA, and so we've been doing this over a long period of time. It's just that FEMA is now part of the new Department of Homeland Security. So we're actually doing the same thing. We're dealing with the same people, like Michael, and it's just that they're now in the Department of Homeland Security.

I was going to mention that, in terms of aviation, as I recall -- and Rico, we've had something like 5,700 flights that have been canceled by the airlines since midnight last night. And that's affected some 20 airports. And Larry, as you indicated, Richmond was closed earlier this evening. And Reagan National was closed earlier today. But they're hoping to open up tomorrow morning.

KING: Now, Rico, when -- the FAA makes the decision as to when airports reopen and when planes start to flying again, and then airlines make the determination of who goes when?

SHORT: Yes, that's correct, Larry. And what we do is, we work with our system users. We had good collaboration, and as the gentleman mentioned earlier, we had a lot of forewarning, a lot of cancellations. So again, we're going to use that same collaboration in reopening the airports, Larry.

KING: Now, I understand, Michael, CNN is reporting that we have one death reported. Have you -- can you confirm that?

BROWN: I've only heard the news reports, also, that there was a death. There was a drowning somewhere off the Outer Banks. That's the only one that we've heard of, but no confirmation of it yet.

KING: Now, we have a report of a motorist died in Interstate 95 north of Richmond when the vehicle hydroplaned in heavy rain, according to officials at the state's emergency operations center.

BROWN: Well, see? And that's one of big concerns, as all of us have talking about, is the aftermath of the hurricane. Approximately 60 percent of people who die in hurricanes die because of the aftermath. What we're going to see, I'm afraid, over the next several hours, 24 hours or 36 hours, and more so as it moves on into further to the Northeast, is that as these flood waters rise -- I mean, with only six inches of water moving across a highway, someone can drive across that, think it's just fine. That's enough water to actually move a car. And next thing you know, you're in a swift water current somewhere, needing to be rescued.

Most of the water that's going to hit through the northern Virginia, DC and Pennsylvania area is going to occur between 9:00 PM tonight, now, and 3:00 o'clock tomorrow morning. So a lot of people who may get up tomorrow morning and think everything's fine because it might be blue skies somewhere does not mean that the flooding hasn't receded or gone away yet. So the idea of staying prepared and staying alert is probably just as important, if not more so, now because people tend to get a little complacent and think, Oh, the storm's already moved out of my state. Don't fall into that trap.

KING: Dave Price, where is this storm headed?

PRICE: Well, you know what? We have a pretty good idea where it's going to go. At this point, it's going to take a north-northwest path. It's going to run through DC, the Chesapeake area, roll through central Pennsylvania and then up over Lake Erie and on into Canada. But Larry, because the system, the storm is so massive, it's so wide, you know, you have hurricane-force winds or tropical storm-force winds which extend several hundred miles around it. And all of that area, or much of it, is also seeing some heavy rain in and wind-driven rain.

And that's why, as everyone said earlier tonight, no matter where you are, we shouldn't just concentrate on the eye of the storm or the wind speeds. We need to concentrate on where this is heading and the area completely around that eye -- the total girth, if you will, of the storm.

KING: Kris Osborn, our reporter, is in Richmond, Virginia, which got hit pretty good today. What can you tell us, Kris?

KRIS OSBORN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hello, Larry. Well, certainly, this community -- this is the museum district in downtown Richmond -- has taken some hits. There have been some large trees that have fallen. You can probably see behind me there, that huge tree essentially just collapsed onto the house behind it. It's not an unfamiliar scenario in this neighborhood. There have been some downed power lines. There's been some heavy gusts of wind and rain. Some debris, Larry, and some small branches have been flying about, along with acorns and twigs and things of that sort.

Some people have been coming out on their porches and weathering the storm. A lot of these homes, of course, are made of brick, so they've been holding up pretty well. But as you see in the case of this tree behind me, the wood on the porch of the house was completely essentially decimated by that tree. So many, of course, concerned that the situation is what it is, but always glad it's not worse.

KING: Thank you, Kris Osborne in Richmond.

Norm Mineta, before you leave us, any -- is it too early to assess damage?

MINETA: In terms of amount of money, no. We have no assessment of that. But in terms of our ability to have all the modal administration moving in, we'll do that right away tomorrow.

KING: And Rico Short, when will planes be flying, do you think, normally?

SHORT: Well, again, Larry, we'll make an assessment tomorrow morning during our strategic planning telcon starting at 5:10 AM in the morning. And we'll make that determination, along with the airlines, at that particular point.

KING: Should matters be better by the weekend, Michael?

BROWN: I think so. Things will be better in the sense that we'll be able to move all of our assets in and we'll be able to move a lot of teams in. And we actually hope to start moving teams in to North Carolina late tonight, early in the morning. And so we'll just track the storm and move those teams in wherever we need them. As the governors make the request to the president, the president will approve those requests as quickly as possible. He has -- President Bush has said when the governors ask for it, get those things expedited and take care of the folks, and we're going to do that.

KING: Outstanding job, as always. We thank Norman Mineta, the secretary of transportation, for being with us by phone, Michael Brown of FEMA, Rico Short of the FAA. Dave Price remains with us. We'll be back with lots more coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Dave Price of CBS remains with us in our New York studios. In Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, is Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel. We'll be checking with Jim in just a moment. We'll also be checking with Ed Lavandera in Topsoil (sic) Beach, North Carolina.

But first, let's go in this segment to Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, with the ever-present, waving-in-the-wind Jeff Flock. I don't have to ask you if it's windy. What's the rest of it like?

(LAUGHTER) JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you, you know, I was listening to Dave Price make a hell of a good point. This is a massive storm. We were among the first people, Larry, to experience the first effects of this storm. Now, 14, 15, 16 hours ago, it was blowing like this. And now, that long later, and it's still blowing. And of course, the worst of it's past us, but it just gives you a real indication about how tenacious this storm is and how big it is. So these kind of effects -- and you see down on the beach here in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. These kind of effects are going to be felt ongoing north for quite some time. It's going to be a hell of a story.

KING: After you do a report like this, where do you go?

FLOCK: After I -- Well, I'm glad this wasn't much of a bigger storm because there was only two hotels left on this island open. And the biggest one had two stories. So if we really had a big storm come through here, it wouldn't have been a good place to go. But we got a place, and it's got power, too, so I'm a happy camper tonight, Larry.

KING: Thank you, as always. The amazing Jeff Flock. I said that he was in Kill Devil Hills. Jim Cantore's in Kill Devil Hills. Ed Lavandera's in Topsail Beach, North Carolina. And what do we get from your vantage point, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, I want to re- emphasize the point that Jeff was making. We're about 50 to 60 miles south from -- of where he is, and this -- when you're on the southern edge of the storm, you're supposed to be in a -- perhaps a more safe place to be. But even though the eye of the storm passed through North Carolina here at 1:00 o'clock Eastern time, we're still seeing some very strong winds. The rain has let up considerably, but it's still very impressive to see just how strong the wind blowing at this hour.

KING: We understand that hurricane has just been downgraded to a tropical storm. What does that mean, Jim Cantore?

JIM CANTORE, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: What that means is winds have now dropped below 74 miles an hour, which is a minimal hurricane, and this thing's on its way down. But as you're hearing, even down on the southern side of North Carolina, as this thing unravels and becomes what we core of a mid-latitude storm, it is still going to be a wind- maker, and that is going to be an issue right through tonight.

KING: So if you're in the middle of it, Dave Price, and someone says, Well, now it's a tropical storm, that don't mean any -- you don't get relief from that, right?

PRICE: You know what -- a major concern when a storm hits an area and moves into regions which typically don't get these hurricanes or strong storms -- people don't understand the intensity with which this wind is going to blow. So you have thrill-seekers. You have people who come out and say, Oh, it's a tropical storm. What's that?

Well, as my colleague, Jim Cantore, was just saying a little while ago, 74- mile-per-hour winds. That's the top amount of a tropical storm. That's the cut-out, or the cut-off I should say, between a tropical storm and a hurricane. Still very, very dangerous.

You know, take a walk in a wind at about 20 miles per hour, and it simply blows a lot of what you have on -- baseball caps, hats, glasses, right off you. Now, double that, triple that, quadruple that, and you're still talking about a very dangerous situation where pieces of roofs, pieces of construction, street lamps, signs, et cetera, et cetera -- I mean, you're looking at pictures right now of winds much stronger.

But through much of this area, and in fact, in major cities, when you have 60-mile-per-hour wind gusts, as is possible in areas like where I am, in New York City, you have that tunnel effect, and it can create very treacherous situations even called a tropical storm. It doesn't matter what you name it. When you have winds this strong, you're talking about a dangerous situation.

KING: Well said. Jim Cantore, has the worst passed you by?

CANTORE: It has, thankfully, but not without harm. That's for sure. You're missing three to six feet of the sand behind these dunes, which have been a great thing here at Kill Devil Hills. Where there haven't been dunes, there's been tremendous overwash and damage. The power is out almost all over the Outer Banks tonight. Especially down toward Hatteras Island, there's no power whatsoever. And there's a curfew until noontime tomorrow. So got a lot of cleaning up to do around here.

KING: Ed Lavandera, what about where you're at? Is the worst past you?

LAVANDERA: Oh, I think the worst has passed us, and considerably. There -- the bridge onto this island had been -- has been closed down for most of the day, as well. We're starting to see the power is on here on this island. You can see street lights that are on. The hotel where we're staying at also has its power, as well. So from that standpoint, we can't complain, considering that there are so many people without power tonight.

KING: All right, we'll take a break now and come back with more. We thank Ed for reporting with us. Jim Cantore will remain. So will Dave Price. We'll be checking in with others, as well, throughout this hour. And as we go to a break, a shot of the capitol of the United States, a deserted capitol of the United States tonight. Everybody is somewhere else. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to this Hurricane Isabel edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Jimmy Carter tomorrow night.

Remaining with us in New York is Dave Price of CBS. In Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, is Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel. Joining us now in Washington is Wolf Blitzer, who may be the only man left in Washington. We have just received word, Wolf, that all federal offices in Washington will be closed tomorrow, Friday. Effectively, the government will be closed until Monday. What can you report from the District?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Larry, basically, what's going to happen -- all 350,000 people are going to be without work -- are not going to have to go to work because the federal government, effectively, for the second day in a row, shutting down. It's a four- day weekend for all but what they call essential -- critically essential personnel, maybe national security people, emergency people. But everybody else is going to be off work.

It's -- right now, it's quieted down a little bit here in Washington, but I have to tell you, in the greater Washington, DC, area, Larry -- and you know this area quite well -- I'm talking about northern Virginia, suburban Maryland, Bethesda, Rockville, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring and the District of Columbia -- almost 350,000 people are without power right now, and there's no indication when they're going to get that power back. So it's a serious situation.

A lot of trees are down. There's a lot of flooding, and people have to be very careful. That's why Metro, the subway's going to be shut down at least tomorrow morning. We don't know when it's going to reopen. Reagan National Airport is down. Dulles Airport is down. All of this for the time being, until they get some daylight and see what's going on.

KING: Jim Cantore in Kill Devil Hills, how would you rate this storm?

CANTORE: I'd rate it as a lucky one because of the fact that, at one point, it was a monster, category 5, sitting out there. And you've seen the trouble this has caused to the East Coast, much like a nor'easter has in the past. I think we're lucky this thing weakened.

KING: So this -- in other words, it could have been a lot worse.

CANTORE: Oh, absolutely. I mean, at one point, we had winds sustained at 165 miles an hour. We...

KING: Oh, we lost Jim Cantore there. We hope we get it back before the bottom of the hour.

Dave Price, what's going to happen in New York City?

PRICE: Well, I think we're going to see sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. Gusts could be, oh, another 10, 12, 15 miles per hour higher than that. We're going to see some rain. And I think to the eastern end of the metropolitan area, out to the eastern end of Long Island, up through New England, probably less rain, less precip, but still very windy conditions. And our concern through the tri-state area is as you head down to places like the Jersey shoreline, we're certainly talking about beach erosion, and we worry about the effect that flooding might have on not only the coast, but again, as you head inland to some of those counties in New Jersey. But New York City tomorrow's going to be a rough go. I got to tell you, I think La Guardia, Kennedy, Newark Airport, White Plains, Islip, even up to Hartford, potentially, could have some very significant delays tomorrow. But the good news is the federal government got ahead of this one, and they've been planning this for the last week-and-a-half because we've had technology to kind of give us a better idea where this storm might be headed.

KING: Wolf, any word on when the Washington airports might open?

BLITZER: They're going to reassess tomorrow morning. There were hundreds of flights that were canceled today. And as you know, Larry, there's an enormous ripple effect that if they close the airports on the East Coast, in the Northeast, along the Atlantic seaboard, there are going to delays, there are going to be cancellations in the Midwest or the West Coast, in the South because equipment's not going to get there and it's simply going to be a huge problem.

So everything we're hearing right now, Reagan National tomorrow morning, probably 10:00, 11:00, they'll take a look and see how the situation looks, and then slowly but surely, they'll try to get life back to normal.

KING: We thank Jim Cantore for being with us. We're going to take a break. Wolf Blitzer will remain. So will Dave Price. We'll be joined by Carl Parker of The Weather Channel at their headquarters in Atlanta. Other journalists will be checking in. And we'll take your phone calls. It's hurricane Isabel night on LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with this special Hurricane Isabel edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

We can now report two dead -- an electrical worker in North Carolina, a motorist in Virginia.

Dave Price, the weatherman of the "CBS Early Show," who's been with us throughout, will remain with us. He's in New York. In Atlanta, at the Weather Channel headquarters in Atlanta is Carl Parker of the Weather Channel. In Washington is Wolf Blitzer of, of course, CNN. And we'll be checking in with callers momentarily.

I want to get Carl Parker's thoughts on this. Would you agree with your counterman, also of the Weather Channel, who tells us we were lucky on this one? Would you agree, Carl?

CARL PARKER, WEATHER CHANNEL METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. Obviously a very serious situation with the power outages and now the fatalities, and there's a lot to be concerned about with this storm even through tonight. But all in all, it's not nearly as bad as it could have been. When you consider that the storm was a 165-mile-an- hour storm at one point, if that storm had come on shore, you'd be talking about widespread destruction. It would be absolutely awful along the lines of what we saw with Hurricane Andrew. KING: Jeanne Meserve is in Virginia Beach. What's the story there -- Jeanne? Has it gone by you now?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the wind is still whipping pretty strongly, but I think the worst of it definitely is over here in terms of that.

I just talked to a Virginia public safety official, who said they're really having trouble getting a handle on just how extensive the damage in the state is, because it's dark. They believe there has been a lot of rain, in excess of 10 inches in some parts of the state. State troopers have been pulled off the road because the conditions are so dangerous. Emergency workers for a while here in Virginia Beach were pulled off. They are back out on the streets (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Some of the things this state official told me about this. This is a state reliant -- or region of the country reliant largely on bridges and tunnels. Those are largely closed because of the high winds. And one of the tunnels, the one that runs between Portsmouth and Norfolk we're told flooded tonight. Apparently, there was some kind of a mechanical malfunction, and that is now a tube full of water, as he put it.

One of their big concerns has to do with power. As he described it to me, trees are falling down all over the place. Hours ago, there were a million customers without power. They think that number has undoubtedly gone up since then, but they don't have a new estimate to share with us yet.

It's really been quite a colossal day down here in Virginia Beach. We've only had this small snapshot of the storm, but we've seen roofs go, we've seen windows be punched in, we've seen a lot of flying debris and we've seen the surf just do incredible damage.

It turns out state officials say now the storm surge actually passed by here early this afternoon at about 2:00. It was about 9 to 11 feet. As they have had some extensive flooding here and some parts of this city, they say the water has been waist-deep.

Back to you -- Larry.

KING: Thank you, Jeanne Meserve in Virginia Beach.

Let's take a call. Berlin, Maryland, hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are six miles out from Ocean City, and about an hour and a half ago, we had a tornado warning. And I have a two-part question. First of all, how are the tornadoes formed in the middle of a hurricane? And secondly, since we already have such gusty, strong winds, what do we look for. for seeking shelter for a tornado? KING: All right, Dave, you take the first one and Carl the second.

PRICE: OK. The first thing is, remember, a hurricane is just an area of extremely low pressure, and there's a lot of circulation around that center of low pressure. And what happens is when the hurricane starts to break up or moves onshore, there are very strong winds, which actually just become tornadoes. Quick in effect, deadly in result, and that's what spawns them. They're strong winds coming off, spinning off this hurricane, which create their own mini areas of low pressure.

And, again, oftentimes they're very, very quick, and that's why...

KING: Carl?

PRICE: ... you see a lot of tornado warnings and watches whenever you have a hurricane or a tropical storm which moves onshore.

KING: Carl, part two.

PARKER: And I'm sorry the question was?

KING: What do people do with the threat of this with regard to shelter when you hear about the threat of a tornado warning in the middle of a hurricane?

PARKER: Well, boy, there's not a whole lot that you can do. For one thing, these tornado warnings are going to indicate very short- lived tornadoes. So, the best thing to do, obviously, is just to get into the center of your house, get to the lowest floor, to an interior room and away from the windows. And that's really all that you can do.

It's not like a Plains tornado in which you might have some time to actually react or do something. But in almost in any case when a tornado warning is issued, you need to get into the center of your house and into a room which does not have a lot of wall space and put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible.

KING: Wolf, the president is in Camp David, right?

BLITZER: Right. The president was supposed to leave today. He left yesterday in order to get up to the Catoctin Mountains about 70 miles or so outside of Washington in Maryland. He's there with King Abdullah of Jordan. He was supposed to leave today also. He left very early this morning to get there. They moved up their schedule. They didn't want to be in Washington when this storm got here, and they got out just in time.

KING: To Tampa, Florida, we take another call. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Larry. I have a two-part question regarding most times it's been said that people on the coast would be the people you would think to be most in danger, but it seems like people inland are oftentimes that are in the most danger. Is that true?

Also, my second question is the reporting of the actual event itself. Is it a mixed bag of feeling when you're thinking to yourself, well, it's an exciting moment, there will be a part of you that's thinking of your own personal safety and also the safety of others. Does that override you and common sense kicks in?

KING: All right, Carl, inland or by the water?

PARKER: Well, over the last 30 years, the primary cause of fatalities in hurricanes has been inland flooding. Prior to that, it was storm surge before we had a really good idea of what was going on. But in the last 30 years, it has been inland flooding.

KING: And, Dave, you know it's coming to New York. You start worrying about self?

PRICE: Sure you do. You know what? But like any big story, you get a certain adrenaline rush from being out there, from being either first to report it or with the most information. And often, the only way you get that is on-scene. I mean, you saw Jeff Flock earlier getting Mother Nature's the version of dermabrasions (ph) -- sand running into his face, being hit in the back of his head by his own clothing. But earlier today, I was watching Jeff, and said he wouldn't be anywhere else. He loves to do that.

And, you know what? Some of this reporting is actually instrumental now. Thanks to this kind of technology, we can tell people, town to town, city to city, and often block to block and local television, what's going on and what's coming in their direction.

So, yes, am I concerned about safety when I'm out covering something like this? Absolutely.

KING: Sure.

PRICE: Would I stay inside, sit next to a computer instead of being out there? No way.

KING: Wolf, do you get to stay around all night, or can you go home?

BLITZER: Well, I could go home, except we don't have power where I live. That power went out a few hours ago. A lot of people don't have power, more than a million in Virginia. As Jeanne Meserve reported, about 350,000 people without power here. I'm staying with friends tonight because it's dark where I am.

I'm beginning to think, Larry, you don't want to hang around with me, because a few weeks ago, as you remember, I was in New York City. The power went off there. The power is off now here in Washington. I might not be the best friend to have.

KING: That's when we call him "bad luck Blitzer."

To Nashville, Tennessee, hello. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in -- in 1960, I was in Hurricane Donna. And my question is: What was the category of that storm? And how does it compare to this hurricane?

KING: I remember Donna, but nobody on this panel is old enough to remember it.

Dave, what category was Donna?

PRICE: You know, what, Larry? I can't give you an answer on that. It was a strong storm, but I don't even know it was.

KING: It was a baddy.

PRICE: I'll try and get it during a commercial break. But I'll tell you this: The caller wanted to know how it compares. Every hurricane has its own personality and is particularly unique. And, in fact, that's one of the reasons they started naming hurricanes is so you could remember it easily by its characteristics.

KING: When did they change to also naming them after men?

PRICE: I think, if my memory serves me correctly, it was in the late '70s after the...

KING: And it used to be only women.

PRICE: ... equal rights movement really took hold. In the late '70s, they started switching off between women's names and men's names.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

PRICE: And then, they retire the names of particularly deadly or damaging hurricanes.

KING: Carl, do you remember what Donna was?

PARKER: I really don't remember, except to say that it was a very strong hurricane.

KING: I remember one hurricane when I lived in Miami that went up past us and then turned around and went down. You ever hear of that?

PARKER: I never heard of that, no.

KING: Yes. It went up and then reversed -- the winds affected it, and it went back down. We thought we were clear, and it went back down over us.

Denver, Colorado, hello. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello.

KING: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wanted to know if amateur radio operators are as widely utilized in this hurricane as in hurricanes past for emergency communications?

KING: Wolf, do you know?

BLITZER: I assume they would. They are always -- those ham operators have always been very helpful for a lot of people who are in trouble, especially when the power goes down, when they have some opportunities to communicate. And there have been occasions, as a lot of our viewers know, Larry, that those operators, those operators have saved lives and people in trouble. They have gotten the word out. Emergency personnel have gotten this scene. It's a little old- fashioned technology, but it still works

KING: Dave.

PRICE: Very reliable. In fact, there's a ham network and an emergency ham network in New York City. I know about it from personal experience, because my brother is actually a part of it. And they actually have drills which they go through to prepare for instances just like we're experiencing now.

And Wolf can attest to the fact not only in weather situations like we're seeing, but in national disasters, such as 9/11, and in world situations, where you're reporting or trying to get information out of war-torn countries. Ham operators often play an integral role in getting that information out.

KING: Wow!

PRICE: It is old technology, but it often proves the most reliable when conventional methods are down.

KING: And, Carl, are there still a lot of them?

PARKER: A lot of radio ham operators?

KING: Yes.

PARKER: Oh, yes. We hear from them all of the time. We often hear from them especially in the Plains when we have serious severe weather outbreaks. We get all kinds of incredible information from ham radio operators out there, and certainly when hurricanes are land- falling as well.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more phone calls and our continuing coverage of Hurricane Isabel. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now have a third death to report in Annapolis, Maryland. A tree or a power line hit a car and killed the driver.

And also, the crack staff, we credit them with the "CBS EARLY SHOW" came up.

Donna was a 5. Donna was a baddy. Donna was a 5. Before we get back with our panel and more phone calls, let's check in again in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, with the wind-blown Jeff Flock.

It's not any better, is it -- Jeff?

FLOCK: I'll tell you, and, you know, it's funny. You had mentioned Hurricane Donna. That is my first memory as a child. I grew up on the coast of New Jersey, and I've sort of traced my interest in storms back to Donna. It's ironic that you should bring it up.

You know, one bad piece of news since we last talked, I said I was happy because the power had stayed on. Since we last talked, the power has gone off to the entire island. So, you know, we're just in as good a shape as Wolf is tonight, and you know, we're not going to get a shower for all of this sand that has embedded itself in me. So, there you go.

KING: Hang tough.

Kris Osborn, what's the -- they got some aftermath reports in Richmond?

OSBORN: Yes. Hello to you, Larry.

Well, emergency officials with the Emergency Operations Center in Richmond and in the Richmond area say they are conducting damage assessments as we speak. As the storm moves into the northwestern part of Virginia, they are getting a lot of reports of flooding. And one of the things they do in that center is have a number of different federal and state officials monitor computer models of the trajectory, if you will, of the storm.

And they also look for communication with various localities to get reports of things of things like flooding. They are getting a lot of reports of flooding, particularly in the coastal areas such as Hampton Rose.

Additionally, one of the things is this storm is said to be moving very quickly, about 20 miles an hour or so. The upside of that is the longer, of course, it lingers, the more likely you're going to see flooding.

Additionally, the light of day, of course, Larry, will reveal the extent of the damage.

KING: Yes.

OSBORN: But there has been, as has been mentioned, a lot of downed trees, a lot of downed power lines, a lot of closed roads, and certainly some concerns -- Larry. KING: Carl Parker at the Weather Channel in Atlanta, this was reported to be a big hurricane season. Are we expecting a lot more?

PARKER: You know, I really don't think we will see too much more. The Cape Verde season will effectively shut down pretty quickly, as the winds are much stronger in the eastern part of the Atlantic. These giant storms that come into the U.S. often start way out in the western part of Africa as little seedlings, and then they move across the Atlantic Ocean growing stronger and stronger, as they move across the ocean. But you need light winds and several levels of the atmosphere for these seedlings to develop.

And in the case of the Cape Verde season, which is the islands that are way over in the eastern Atlantic, the winds are becoming too strong now. So, we really don't think we'll see anymore of Cape Verde storms; however, the season does go to November 30, and we still could see some storms into the Caribbean and also into parts of the Gulf.

KING: Orland Park, Illinois, I'll take another call. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, good evening, Larry.

KING: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wonder if one of your guests could have any information on Williamsburg. I have a granddaughter living there, and I haven't heard anything on the radio or TV.

KING: Have you heard any, Kris Osborne? Are you with us in Richmond? Have you heard -- Williamsburg is not far from you. Have you heard anything about Williamsburg, Virginia? Kris is gone.

Has anyone heard anything about Williamsburg? Dave?

OSBORN: I'm here.

PRICE: I think -- is Kris there? If not, I'll take it.

KING: Oh, hold on. Is that Kris?

PRICE: But Williamsburg is, again, part of that area which is going to receive heavy rains and high winds. And, again, key there, listen to your municipal governments. Monitor television if you have it.

KING: Yes, but she's in Illinois and she has relatives in Williamsburg.

PRICE: Yes. OK, but, yes. For her, she should know that they're receiving heavy rains and high winds. But if you're in one of these areas, listen to any information source you can, and follow those instructions and you'll get through it just fine.

KING: Flock -- Jeff Flock, is it getting worse?

FLOCK: Well, you know, it's not really getting worse, I guess. But, you know, it comes and goes a little bit. And, you know, this is only, what? 40 or 45-mile-an-hour maybe? This is kind of nothing. This is like stick your head out of the car window when you're driving down the expressway.

But, as you can see, this is the effect of it. You wouldn't want to spend a whole lot of time like that. And the fact is, they have spent a dozen or 14 hours like that, and probably a few more before they're done.

KING: Ed Lavandera, what can you tell us in another report from Topsail Beach, North Carolina?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, this is an island that has been essentially a ghost town for the last 24 hours or so, and you're not seeing any cars drive up and down the main road here on this island. The bridge coming into this island has been shut down to traffic and motorists trying to make their way on here.

We imagine at some point, though, here in the next few hours that the authorities will begin to allow that, because quite frankly the power is on here. Many people who boarded up windows and prepared their homes and businesses for the brunt of this storm will be happy to hear that even though it's been a tough day here, everything has held up very well.

KING: Thank you so much, as always, Ed.

Carl Parker, thanks so much for spending time with us. We appreciate your input.

PARKER: Thank you for having me.

KING: Dave Price will remain; so will Wolf Blitzer. And we'll be right back with more phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. And, of course, we'll have continuous coverage around the clock with Aaron Brown picking it up at the top of the hour. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's go right to Jeanne Meserve in Virginia Beach, who has with her a Red Cross volunteer, we understand -- Jeanne.

MESERVE: Larry, as you know, the storm is winding down. That means the recovery effort is gearing up.

With me is Liz Longshore of the American Red Cross.

Liz, tell me regionally what the story is in terms of shelters.

LIZ LONGSHORE, AMERICAN RED CROSS: We have hundreds of shelters open in West Virginia and into the North Carolina area, with over 18,000 people residing in that to seek refuge from this storm.

MESERVE: And what do you have ready to go tomorrow?

LONGSHORE: We have 100 ERVs, our emergency response vehicles, that are stocked with food and water that are ready to move out, and over 2,200 volunteers from all over the nation that are ready to move in to help the people in this area.

MESERVE: But you just can't move in yet?

LONGSHORE: We will not move in until it is safe. But in shelters, the immediate disaster calls and needs of these people are being met.

MESERVE: OK, Liz Longshore, thanks so much for joining us.

That, of course, will supplement the recovery effort of the federal government, the state and localities. They, too, have prepositioned supplies and personnel all up and down the coast in anticipation that this would be a very severe storm.

And, Larry, just one other note. Here in the city of Virginia Beach, they're declaring a curfew. It goes into effect in just a few minutes' time. It will be in effect until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. They want people to stay in their homes, shelter in place, stay off of the streets.

Back to you.

KING: Thank you, Jeanne. Outstanding reporting.

Let's go to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Hello.

Hello? Are you there? Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do hurricanes form?

KING: How do hurricanes form, Dave?

PRICE: Well, you know what? They are nature's way of recycling. They form in the warm waters of the ocean, in the Atlantic. And what they do is they typically suck the warm air up, form an area of low pressure, kind of suck that water up, and then kind of begin to spin around, and that creates the low pressure. And that center is called an eye.

And, as it -- you can think of the warm water as its fuel. And then it is moved in the ocean based on the jet stream or the Coriolis effect, which is the circulation of the earth. And slowly but surely, it wanders and winds its way, and eventually, in some cases, it becomes a hurricane, and then moves towards a coast, or sometimes it spins back out to sea because it's either blocked by an area of high pressure or the jet stream pushes it out.

It's moved by so many different things that that's why it's so often hard to predict where it's going to go. Good question.

KING: Is a typhoon a hurricane?

PRICE: A typhoon is a hurricane. Again, the same terminology...

KING: Yes.

PRICE: ... often different parts of the world.

KING: Miami, hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went through Hurricane Andrew, and I just want to say, these folks certainly look like they were really prepared with good evacuation, great plans. They were very proactive. What can we do when we live in an area where we don't have as many evacuation routes, shelters etcetera? Whose attention do we take that to?

KING: By the way, Hurricane Andrew, the worst hurricane ever in terms of damage -- financial damage -- $26 billion Hurricane Andrew cost.

What do people do, Wolf? Do you know?

BLITZER: Well, people do have good warnings, and in this particular case, the technology was there. The advance warning was there for the last several days. Everyone knew this was coming. The governors of these states -- Governor Easley of North Carolina, Governor Warner of Virginia -- they were right on top of this situation, and by all accounts they told me they got great cooperation from FEMA, which is now part of the new Department of Homeland Security, which is, of course, run by the new Secretary Tom Ridge.

The new bureaucratic structure seemed to work. The National Hurricane Center had good information. They have those planes that fly right into the eye over the hurricane that got the information. And people got advanced word so they could move out in time.

KING: So, there was plenty of time. And so, you're hoping that with this kind of equipment that we now have, people like this will not get stuck.

BLITZER: Well, there's always going to be some problems. And, of course, if you don't have the highways and you don't have the good local personnel to direct people in the right direction, you're going to see what we saw a few years ago with Hugo and other hurricanes gridlock on these highways. They become one-way routes, but they don't move, because people were not given the kind of advance warning they should get.

KING: Yes. Last call, Bolton, Ontario. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I was just wondering, who is responsible for the health care expenses occurred in this hurricane?

KING: Dave?

PRICE: Well, who is responsible for their health care expenses? KING: Insurance?

PRICE: I suppose it's a matter of where you're injured.

KING: Yes.

PRICE: If you're injured in your home and you were supposed to evacuate, I think you're out of luck. And the same thing unless you're injured at the workplace or you're injured as part of a government recovery effort, it's your own health insurance. It's up to you.

BLITZER: Larry, I would add this.

KING: Yes.

BLITZER: The Red Cross and the Department of Health and Human Services, they've got emergency personnel, as well as all of the states, the local communities. So, if you don't have health care, people are going to take care of you in this kind of an environment.

KING: Thank you all very much. Dave, thanks for being with us for the full hour. Outstanding work tonight.

PRICE: No problem. Larry, my pleasure. See you in the morning on "The Early Show."

KING: And thanks for (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for that number -- see you. And thanks for coming up with that number 5 on Donna.

And Wolf Blitzer, as always, have a safe night, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Larry.

KING: As we go to break and we'll come back in a couple of minutes to tell you what's coming up tomorrow night, a darkened Washington, D.C. You're not kidding. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It's been that kind of night.

Tomorrow night, the former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. It's been 25 years since they signed the Camp David Accords. Jimmy Carter tomorrow night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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