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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Republicans Ask McGreevey to Step Down Immediately; Hurricane Charley Leaves Devastation in Wake; Julia Child, 91, Dies

Aired August 13, 2004 - 20:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: The power. And the fury. A class four left hook wallops Florida, three million people told to run for cover. Tonight, facing down the monster and a long, dark night ahead. .

And a tribute to the chef who changed the way you ate, drank and made merry. The incomparable Julia Child.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Good evening. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. A lot to share with you this evening. We begin with Hurricane Charley. Yes, it is still a hurricane strength storm even though it hit Florida's west coast many hours ago. Charley was a category four storm with 145-mile-an-hour winds when its eye made landfall this afternoon near Punta Gorda where these pictures were taken.

The mayor of nearby Fort Myers rode out of the storm describing it as very serious, frightening, and devastating. President Bush has already approved a disaster declaration.

Right now, Charley is spinning across the state heading for Orlando and Daytona and the Atlantic Ocean. Tomorrow, this very dangerous storm will threaten the Carolinas and points north. We're going to cover all of these angles this evening of this still developing story. Anderson Cooper in Tampa which dodged a bullet when the storm center turned away. Meteorologist Orelon Sidney who is at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta but we begin tonight with Susan Candiotti in Orlando. The storm's center will be there soon. Good evening, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Paula. Yes, we expect it to hit here anytime between now and 11:00, they tell us. We are just within the last few minutes, beginning to feel some of, we presume, the outer bands of that storm as winds are expected to reach anywhere between 80 and 110 miles per hour according to officials, a category two storm here. Now, they have issued a mandatory evacuation order for (AUDIO GAP) and mobile homes. We came from one shelter just a little while ago that was working at (AUDIO GAP).

ZAHN: Well, you have to please be aware of what we're going to be up against tonight. Susan Candiotti trying to report about the mandatory evacuations. Clearly the weather wreaking havoc on our satellite signals this evening and our ability to bring that to you live. We're going to try to get back to her. In the meantime, let's check in with Orelon Sidney to give us a broader sense of what is at stake here for folks not only in Florida but in the Carolinas as well. Orelon, how bad can this get?

ORELON SIDNEY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I can hear you. It looks like we're going to continue to see a very active evening, Paula. I'm having a little trouble, I'm sorry, with my IFB so I'm hoping I get this through to you.

We are seeing right now the storm move to the north-northeast at about 25 miles an hour. This is still a category three hurricane. 115-mile-an-hour winds. It is moving to the north-northeast at 25. And, of course, on the eastern side, you got to add those two together. So you can see these are very dangerous winds headed towards Kissimmee and Orlando moving through those areas now.

We're looking at the storms just south of Fort Meade, Florida. 55 miles south/southwest of Orlando. Get this. The storm surge expected along the eastern coast of Florida and Georgia, four to seven feet as this storm system works its way off the coast we think later tonight somewhere around Daytona Beach.

The good news is the storm surge across the west coast is beginning to subside. They had from 10 to 15-foot surge that's now subsiding. Here is the lightning data. You can see that things are certainly quieting down as far as thunderstorms go along the west coast but continuing to spread northward here along the eastern coast so not over yet not by a long shot.

And here is a look at some of the rain we've seen. In excess of three inches here just to the southeast of St. Petersburg. Definitely an inch or two easily along the path of where the heaviest rain has been, but it's not over yet. The storm will make its way off the coast later tonight, but probably impact the eastern U.S. seaboard on Saturday and Sunday -- Paula.

ZAHN: Orelon Sidney, thanks so much for the update. You've got a very long night ahead. On the telephone with us now is the mayor of Fort Myers, Florida, Jim Humphrey. His community took a direct hit from the hurricane earlier today. Good of you to join us, sir. Give us a sense of what kind of damage your community is looking at this evening.

MAYOR JIM HUMPHREY, FORT MYERS, FLORIDA: Well, as you said, we have experienced the power and the fury of a category four hurricane. It was very damaging and, frankly, very frightening to us, because the eye came across at Captiva Island, which is approximately 10 miles away from the downtown area of the city of Fort Myers. It was some storm that -- I just returned from an assessment and now that the winds have gone down to see much property damage.

We've had some of our beautiful oaks within our historical area, over half of them are down. Our beautiful palm trees along MacGregor have been hit hard and we, of course, quickly went over to the Edison home. As you know, we were the winter home of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had a home next to Thomas Edison, so we were very concerned about those homes because of their age. But they have fared very well. The yards and the trees around the yard did not fare so well, but the homes are intact and we're pleased to see that because so much damage to the homes and the automobiles that were parked in their driveways and so it will take us some time to clean up and, of course, we still have no power. And do not expect it, even though the crews are out now and I'm pleased to see that clearing off the highways and trying to get power.

ZAHN: Mr. Mayor, how long do you think it will take before everyone has power in your community?

HUMPHREY: Well, that's a good question that we're trying to assess now. Over 200 employees with Florida Power & Light from the East Coast have traveled over to try to help the FP&L here, so we're hopeful in the next few days, that we can do it.

The last major storm we had was Donna in September of 1960, almost 44 years ago and it took about five or six days before power was restored. We hope to do it much quicker than that now because we have the crews, we were prepared for it. I will tell you we were surprised to the extent of seeing that storm turn east like it did into us when we thought it would be going along the Gulf instead of coming in at us at this stage, but -- so we are now have the extra burden of repairing from those 110 -- over 100 mile an hour winds.

ZAHN: You talked about your community being caught off guard by the change in the track of the storm. You were among those who rode out this storm in your home. You are no stranger to hurricanes, but please describe to us what that was like.

HUMPHREY: It was frightening, Paula. I will tell you -- and I encourage all of those in the north where the storm is reaching, even if it's a category two, if they -- I encourage you to evacuate and go to a shelter, please do it. Because it was frightening with the trees coming down, the wind blowing hard and the wind and the rain, just horizontal and you just thought, any day, one of the windows would come out. So, yes, this -- we stayed here because of the elevation of my home and we have two stories and this was kind of a command center for me. But I would not do it again if I'm told that we're about to have the eye of category four storm within ten miles of us.

ZAHN: Well, I am very happy that you are fine tonight and we wish you the best of luck as you try to restore all of these very important services to your community. Thank you for your time. I know how busy you are, sir.

HUMPHREY: Thank you.

ZAHN: And then in Punta Gorda, Florida, reporter Glenn Selig (ph) of WTVT went to the scene of a building that collapsed in a business park. We're going to take a look now at what he saw.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is some of the damage that was left behind of the 100-plus-mile-per-hour winds that came through here. If you're just joining us, we rode out this storm in Charlotte County. We were actually in the area where the eye came over. We're in the heart of this storm as it came through and this is the destruction that it left behind.

This is a business park. At one point, a thriving business park. This, what you're looking at, was a storage facility that was within this business park. People brought their cars, their boats, their belongings to this facility, hoping that it would be safe and would be able to withstand this storm and would survive. But as you can see, it didn't. In fact, there's many boats that were destroyed, some nice-looking boats and many businesses and as you can see, there is pieces of wood, pieces of the building strewn throughout.

And on this particular building, you can see that the side walls and the front walls have actually buckled, but the roof has collapsed and has caved in. And as we've been here, people have started to come by either to look at the damage themselves or have come by to check out their belongings.

Stop sign that is, obviously, usually pretty firmly in the ground, just bent over. We saw poles that were bent in half. That's -- that should give you an idea of how strong, how ferocious this storm was when it came through.

Look at that. These people are coming back to see this type of damage at a facility has they thought for sure with a concrete block and everything would be able to withstand.

Stop signs just knocked over. Pieces of buildings all over the place.

There was a gas station that we went in and shot some video when we first came in and that place was half destroyed.

These are buildings that this is new facility that has just been reduced to rubble. It totally collapsed.

This was an amazing storm as it came through.

Here is somebody who parked their car here thinking that it would be safe.

What we're seeing a lot of is pieces of wood and the danger here is there is nails, exposed nails and wiring and electrical wiring. These are some of the things that folks around here need to be careful about.

This is looking from the outside in. This is a door that somehow managed to stand, but the roof collapsed. And this is a perspective from inside the building looking out. This is where the roof should have been or should still be, but it's gone. Hurricane Charley took it away.

And there are scenes like this throughout Charlotte County.

This was some storm that we experienced as it came through. And I'm not surprised, I can tell you, at seeing the damage, because you could feel it as it came through. These were strong, strong winds.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And those pictures vividly showing us just how powerful a pack this storm is showing us this evening. Reporter Glenn Selig of WTVT at a building collapsed in Punta Gorda just north of where the hurricane made landfall.

Coming up, Tampa holding its collective breath and Charley storming ashore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CILATTE, WINK CORRESPONDENT: We've heard the phrase rapidly deteriorating weather a lot this afternoon. We wanted to show you what that looks like from up here!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Hurricane Charley, a category 4 storm, still bearing down on Florida this evening. Lots of things to tell you about tonight, as we said earlier, President Bush already has declared parts of Florida a disaster area. Joining me now from Tallahassee is Florida lieutenant governor, Toni Jennings. Thanks so much for joining us, lieutenant governor.

TONI JENNINGS, LT. GOVERNOR FLORIDA: Thank you.

ZAHN: How do things look from your perspective this evening?

JENNINGS: Well, it's still early in the storm. The storm made landfall late this afternoon in the southwest Florida area in Charlotte County. We have had reports of property damage. And we will be assessing that quickly as soon as the storm moves out of there.

It's moved through the central part of the state. That's where it is right now. Still with very high winds. It's anticipated it will go through the Orlando area and exit the state around Daytona Beach.

So we still have a number of hours here where it's a very dangerous storm. And we are continuing to emphasize to our residents and to our visitors that happen to be here in the state when this storm hits, to stay inside and stay safe. We can fix houses, we can replant trees, we can fix roads and put up power lines, but fixing people are a whole lot harder.

ZAHN: We just heard from one of our reporters at the top of the broadcast about the mandatory evacuations and we understand people are not following through with that. What is your chief concern about that tonight?

JENNINGS: Well, actually, we did have some very good mandatory evacuations starting yesterday. We started at the outer coastal areas and worked our way inland. The storm has changed course a little bit so we are now in the center of the state.

It is the period of time for people to stop moving. They need to be in shelters. They need to be in a safe place. They need to stay in their homes. If they're in the the northern part of the state where the storm may be in a few hours, if they're in mobile homes, they need to get out of those.

But it's at that point in time for the next few hours, people need not be on the roads. That's going to be a very dangerous things. We've done all of the evacuation we can do.

ZAHN: But in spite of that, as you said so far, the track of the storm has been pretty unpredictable. There have been people really caught off guard tonight.

JENNINGS: Well, if they've been caught off guard, it's because they haven't been listening. We started on Wednesday and Thursday really talking about where this storm was going to be. The evacuation orders came out yesterday. And we worked them through the day.

So, you know, we still have a lot of people in Florida that believe it can't happen to me. Well, in our state, it is not if there will a be storm that will hit your area, it is when.

ZAHN: Lieutenant governor, we know you've got a lot to do as this, you're still bracing for what could even be the bigger brunt of this storm. Thank you very much for your time and good luck to you.

JENNINGS: Thank you.

ZAHN: Now, we are going to check in with Gary Tuchman, our man on the ground in Daytona Beach tonight, to see how the storm is impacting those folks. Hi, Gary. We can see you and we can see a lot of rain on the ground.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it just started raining very hard, the lightning is starting to come. We're hearing the thunder. The winds have started to pickup. And Daytona Beach, nevertheless, is very crowded right now. And that's because many people decided to evacuate the west coast of Florida and come here to Daytona Beach to the east coast because they never dreamed the hurricane would end up here, but that is the forecast for the eye of the hurricane to cross on the Gulf of Mexico on one part of Florida and cross the Atlantic Ocean right around here in Daytona Beach.

So the hotels are virtually 100 percent full, which is very unusually when we cover hurricanes, we're usually the only ones in the hotels. Authorities here in Daytona Beach have told people who live in mobile homes to evacuate. However, they said to the guests, at this point stay put. This is a big surprise. Please be careful. Stay in the hotels.

Right now, we're next to the famous Band Shell here on Daytona Beach. Behind the beach beach famous where people drive their cars on the sand. Not allowed to tonight, obviously.

And behind me, it's very hard to see because it's gotten dark outside is the pier. And we mention the pier because back in 1999 when Hurricane Floyd came by, half the pier disappeared. The hurricane did not score a direct hit, but half the peer collapsed into the ocean from Hurricane Floyd.

So right now, people here are staying in their hotels. A lot of people are having parties on the balconies in the hotels. We can tell you at this point, that the authorities are very concerned because the last time they had a direct hit from a hurricane was 1979, we're talking 25 years ago Hurricane David.

The last time they had a situation like this was Hurricane Donna back in 1960, crossed the Gulf of Mexico and came here to Daytona and that was a category 5 hurricane. So people here are being very careful right now.

It's hard for me to hear you, so I'm going to throw it back to you -- Paula.

ZAHN: All right. Gary Tuchman, we certainly can understand that. Once again, the lieutenant governor of Florida warning that the worst could possibly yet to come where Gary Tuchman is. We don't want to make it look like he is irresponsible doing his job there this evening. When the winds pick up and the storm track gets more severe, he, too, will be heading for one of those hotels for shelter.

We're going to take a short break right now. When we come back, we're going to take you to Tampa, Florida, where Anderson Cooper is on the ground. He will describe to us what happened there. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And welcome back. This is what Key West, Florida looked like earlier today as Charley was bearing down on the west coast of Florida. We now can tell you tonight hurricane warnings are posted up to North Carolina. Governor Bush is calling the damage in his state significant. At this hour, at least 700,000 people without power. This is considered, Charley, the most powerful tropical weather in Southwest Florida in some 40 years.

So far, Tampa, Florida's record is more or less intact tonight. The city has not taken a direct hit from a hurricane since 1921, and even though forecasters expected Tampa to be ground zero today, fortunately, it suffered only a glancing blow.

Anderson Cooper is there tonight in the wake of the storm, and it looks like you're witnessing a spectacular sunset this evening. Good evening, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is remarkable. Good evening, Paula. It is a remarkable evening here. This is a site I don't think anyone in Tampa expected to see tonight. They were expecting to bear the brunt of this storm. There is a beautiful sunset behind me. If people in Tampa were holding their breath all day, I think they are now breathing a sigh of relief tonight.

The surge of water did not come. The 10- to 15-water surge that they had expected never arrived. The water really never even broke over the banks. There was rain, there was a lot of wind, but really nothing too out of the ordinary. Just felt like a strong storm here in Tampa. What a difference, of course, further south from here.

But the city is still largely evacuated. There was a mandatory evacuation. Hundreds of thousands of people have left the city of Tampa. It is largely deserted. Stores are still closed in some parts, electricity is off, water is off. But slowly, life is probably returning to normal. As people see these images, they will be returning to Tampa. The storm has moved further east to us now, heading more towards Daytona Beach. But what a remarkable change of events, for all our technology, for all our ability to predict the paths of storms, Mother Nature can still surprise us, Paula.

ZAHN: Well, that was a surprise certainly welcome where you're standing this evening. Anderson Cooper, thanks so much.

The storm that we call Charley this evening has been around for a week now, it may be in the history books for much, much longer, though.

Miles O'Brien has the biography of a storm that isn't quite finished yet.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also keep an eye here on another tropical disturbance, very strong-looking wave.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From those humble origins a week ago, Charley zipped through the Caribbean, leaving some damage behind in the Cayman Islands and Cuba. As it advanced on Florida, Charley got an upgrade from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and the third Atlantic hurricane spawn this year was born.

Charley's two older siblings were underachievers. Hurricane Alex grazed the Carolina coast a week ago, a category 2 storm with fairly minimal damage.

And Thursday, the second member of the class of 2004 failed to graduate to hurricane status. Tropical Storm Bonnie dumped heavy rain along the Florida panhandle.

And then along came Charley. By late in the day Friday, a million Floridians looking a category 4 hurricane in the eye prepared to evacuate or had already left.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: This morning, I have requested from the president of the United States a presidential disaster declaration.

O'BRIEN: One hundred forty-five mile an hour winds were not the only threat to Florida's Gulf Coast. A surge of seawater kicked up by Charley was poised to overrun the barrier islands and low-lying coastline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You choose to live by the water, occasionally you're going to live in the water.

O'BRIEN: All this along a stretch of coastline that's gotten off easy from Mother Nature in this past century. It's been 80 years since Tampa Bay has been slugged by a major storm. The Fort Myers area last had a major hit 44 years ago, and since Hurricane Donna came to town in 1960, so have eight times as many residents. Like virtually all of the Florida coast, more people potentially in harm's way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: That was Miles O'Brien reporting for us tonight.

Coming up next, the storm that hit New Jersey. The aftermath of Governor McGreevey's sensational confession. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: The pressure only increased today on New Jersey governor James McGreevey. Yesterday, of course, the married Democrat made a stunning admission that he is gay and that he had an affair with a man.

The governor said he would resign as of November 15. Well, Republicans in New Jersey demanded he leave office immediately.

And, today, we heard from the person sources identified as "the other man."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): The spectacle of a political career derailed by a secret double life wasn't all that New Jersey's resigning governor had to confront.

JOE KYRILLOS, CHAIRMAN, N.J. REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE: There are some awkward stories for him and for New Jersey this morning.

ZAHN: Even as James McGreevey went public with his private painful struggle, a gay man married with children, there were allegations of corruption, extortion and nepotism in his administration. And, today, these accusations from former advisor Golan Cipel through his lawyer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was the victim of repeated sexual advances by him. Such conduct and Mr. McGreevey's behavior caused me such emotional distress and turmoil.

ZAHN: Cipel is a man McGreevey brought back from a trip to Israeli to be his six-figure security advisor. Law enforcement sources say that Cipel resigned under a cloud of controversy, then threatened to sue McGreevey for sexual harassment unless McGreevey was willing to pay up. But Cipel's lawyer said it was his client who was victimized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was only at the insistence of the governor's representatives that I agreed to meet with them before filing a lawsuit. To hear their unfounded and baseless allegations of this supposed, and I quote, extortion.

ZAHN: Other problems for Governor McGreevey. His top fundraiser, Charles Kushner, whose company, according to Kushner's lawyers, sponsored Cipel's visa.

Kushner faces federal charges of illegal fund raising and is also accused of using hookers to tamper with witnesses.

Because of all that, his critics say McGreevey can't leave office soon enough.

KYRILLOS: I am joined today by Republican leaders in asking the governor to do the right thing, to go beyond what he did yesterday and resign now.

ZAHN: But Democrats are hoping to keep McGreevey in office until November 15, to avoid a special election.

RICHARD CODEY (D), N.J. STATE SENATE PRESIDENT: If you know the governor like I do, and I think most of you do he will, over the next three months, put the pedal to the metal.

ZAHN: The conventional wisdom is that male politicians could survive just about anything but being found in bed with a dead woman or a live man.

But history has proven that politics is a lot more complicated than that.

In 1983, U.S. Representative Jerry Studs of Massachusetts admitted having sex with a male teenage page. His colleague, Dan Crane of Illinois, admitted to the same with a female page.

DAN CRANE, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I'm paying the price today.

ZAHN: Crane cried, apologized and never returned to politics.

Studs refused to apologize and was reelected for the next 13 years.

Representative Barney Frank, also of Massachusetts, admitted hiring a man in 1985 who ran a male prostitution ring out of Frank's D.C. apartment. He has won ten elections since then.

Representative Jim Colby of Arizona was about to be outed as gay, so he came out and survived.

Republican Representative Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin survived being outed on the floor of the House. Michael Huffington spent millions running for Congress, using the fame of his wife, conservative pundit Ariana Huffington. He lost, they divorced and then he came out. She doesn't hold it against him.

ARIANA HUFFINGTON, COLUMNIST: We have this being played out against the background of the fact that in this country, we're still making it very hard for gay people to live other lives honestly. And we are making it particularly hard, of course, if they want to be in public office.

GOV. JAMES MCGREEVEY (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you.

ZAHN: And while McGreevey's first and second wives and his parents and his children are standing behind him after the sex scandal, it is not clear that his constituents will.

His poll ratings were already plummeting following the corruption charges, and now there is this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And joining us now from Trenton, New Jersey is Joe Kyrillos, chairman of New Jersey's Republican state committee and a member of the state senate. And with us here, New Jersey Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky, who knows the governor quite well.

Welcome to both of you.

Mr. Kyrillos, you have asked for the governor to do the right thing. He says he will step down from office on November 15. Isn't that good enough?

KYRILLOS: Well, let me say that I really feel for the governor on a human level. And I'm getting some echo here, Paula, so I hope you can hear me OK.

And I'm sure this is very painful. I know it's painful for him and his family. Having said that, it really is the right thing for the people of New Jersey for him to leave now. And I say that for -- for a few reasons.

First and foremost, because of the kinds of things that we're going to hear in the days and weeks to come, like from Mr. Cipel's lawyer, some of which you played tonight. It's going to be very, very difficult for him to govern effectively. And three months is a very long time when you're operating a big state government like ours.

Second, we have a very clumsy system in New Jersey where the acting governor comes from the ranks of state senate, of the state senate, so the senate president is also the governor. It's a system that ought to be changed.

And, finally, we think that it's important for the people to have a say in this, and we ought to have a fair and free election this November so the public can decide its governor. ZAHN: All right. Julie, you just heard the three points Joe made and the three reasons why he believes the governor should step down immediately. Why shouldn't he?

I mean, the point he was making, basically, if he's not going to have -- be able to govern from November on, why should he hang around now up until November?

JULIE ROGINSKY, N.J. DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Several reasons. One is we're having a very orderly transition here in New Jersey. We have a couple of months for Senator Codey, who's the incoming acting governor, to take the reins of power from the governor, Governor McGreevy and find out exactly what's been going on.

He's been a partner in a lot of Governor McGreevey's policies, like stem cell research, property tax relief. But the real issue here is that Governor McGreevey is doing the honorable thing by stepping aside. But he's also doing the responsible thing by taking the time necessary to have a smooth transition in government.

ZAHN: But his critics are saying, in taking his time, basically what he has done is avoided a special election, that the timing of this was a pure political motive.

ROGINSKY: I don't agree with that, and with all due respect to Senator Kyrillos, great chairman of the Republican Party in New Jersey, no, Governor McGreevey did not do anything wrong governmentally. He's admitted to a consensual adult affair.

These allegations that we've heard from Golan Cipel's lawyer today are just allegations. And as it is right now, Governor McGreevey is doing the responsible thing as the governor of New Jersey, but also as a man who's doing the responsible for his family to protect their privacy further from all this intrusion.

He's taking the time to make sure that the state of New Jersey has a very responsible, smooth transition in the coming months.

ZAHN: Joe, let's talk about the latest development this afternoon...

KYRILLOS: Yes. Right.

ZAHN: ... that we talked about in the report leading into this, and that was the news conference held by the attorney of the governor's alleged lover. What was your reaction to the substance of what he said?

KYRILLOS: Well, you know, Paula, this stuff is just too hot, too spicy, frankly, for most of the people of New Jersey. It's an awkward, painful episode that they deserve -- don't deserve to have to live through.

And you know, we can go back and forth whether the governor's done anything governmentally wrong or not. That's not really the point here. The point is if he can't govern in November, he certainly can't govern now and -- because of the kinds of news that you're going to report, frankly, the kind of which you -- we heard today. And you played the clip as I've mentioned. That's why we need to move on.

The governor really needs to move on with his life, and we wish him well. And New Jersey needs to move on with its civic life, as well.

ZAHN: What do you think the governor confronts in the weeks to come when you have his alleged lover out there through his attorney saying, "I was the victim. This was not a consensual sexual affair"?

ROGINSKY: Well, you know, that's Mr. Cipel's allegations and, you know, time will tell if, in fact, he does file a lawsuit, whether that's, in fact, the case. I'm not sure that that is, in fact, the case.

Again, it is something that is up to the court to decide. If Mr. Cipel, in fact, even files a lawsuit, which we're not sure that eventually -- you know, that he even will.

And Senator Kyrillos must have a crystal ball that the rest of us don't have, because frankly, I'm not so sure that all the stuff he's talking about coming out will come out. Let's wait and see. This is premature.

The government of New Jersey is functioning quite adequately, just the way we functioned when Governor Whitman stepped down early to take a position with the EPA, and acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco, the senate president, a Republican senate president, stepped in.

I didn't see Governor -- Senator Kyrillos talking about any sort of early elections then, much as I didn't see him talking about any early elections for speaker when the former Republican speaker got accused of sexual harassment a few years ago.

ZAHN: All right. We are going to have to leave it on that note, you two. Thank you both for joining us tonight. Joe Kyrillos, Julie Roginsky, appreciate your time.

KYRILLOS: Thank you.

ROGINSKY: Thank you.

ZAHN: We are going to turn now to a close friend of Governor McGreevey who has been with the family over the past couple of days, George Zoffinger, CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority. And I asked him to respond to critics who say the November 15 timing was a calculated political decision.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE ZOFFINGER, FRIEND OF GOVERNOR MCGREEVEY: I could tell you, having been there yesterday and, obviously, been involved so much today with regard to this issue, that the politics of this matter is not what Jim McGreevey's thinking about right now. This was a personal matter.

So I think this is more about Jim McGreevey trying to deal personally with the issues that he revealed yesterday and trying to make sure that the state of New Jersey isn't brought through a lot of turmoil with regard to -- with regard to that issue.

ZAHN: In spite of his own personal actions, has he shared with you any bitterness over what has sparked his public acknowledgment of those alleged affairs...

ZOFFINGER: That's such a good question, because you know, if I was him, I think I would be somewhat bitter. He's dedicated 20 years of public life. He's, you know, had to hold a secret, which can you imagine the amount of stress and anxiety that he's had over 20 years of public life to hold this secret.

And I think if I were him, I would be bitter. I did not see that in him. Just the opposite. I saw a great sense of relief. The fact that he was able to go out and, you know, tell his family -- he only told his family two days before.

To go out and tell the public that, you know, that he -- that he is a gay man. I think he's shown real relief from being able to do that. And not bitterness.

ZAHN: How is -- How is the governor's wife holding up?

ZOFFINGER: I think, you know, Dina, I think, is holding up very well. She's a very strong individual. I think the entire family is very resilient.

Listen, I saw the family both before and after the announcement yesterday. There is a lot of love. Jim McGreevey loves his wife. He loves his children. He loves his parents. His parents showed a lot of love to him, as did Dina.

And I think, you know, it's the sad part of this entire story. We all have issues and families that, you know, are sometimes very difficult to deal with. In this particular case, I can't imagine anything more difficult than telling your wife what Jim McGreevey had to tell his wife.

Having said that, I think that they -- I hope that they will find, you know, that they are able to get through this and that, you know, as the governor said to many people yesterday, he said, well, this will pass. And, you know, he's got to get on to the rest of his life.

ZAHN: Is it your understanding, then, that Dina will stand by the governor?

ZOFFINGER: It is my understanding. I think they're going away this weekend. I can tell you that. They're going to be by themselves, you know, with their daughter. You know -- you know, I certainly hope so. ZAHN: Well, George Zoffinger, I know none of this is easy for you to talk about, having been a longtime friend of the governor's. We appreciate your joining us tonight. Thanks so much.

ZOFFINGER: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: And coming up, we change our focus. We remember the incomparable Julia Child, the chef who gave the words "TV dinner" a whole new meaning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIE CHILD, CHEF: Oh, here comes my mother-in-law. I'll give her a liver omelet. That will fix her up good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Hurricane Charley bearing down on the state of Florida this evening, a Category Four storm. The president of the United States calling -- or excuse me, his governor calling the damage significant, calling large parts of the state a disaster area.

At least 700,000 people are without power tonight. This is considered the most powerful tropical weather in southwest Florida in some 40 years. The storm came ashore just before 4 p.m. earlier today, just south of Ft. Myers, Florida, an area called Punta Gorda, which is now where we are going to go.

We find Glenn Selig, reporter from WTDD on duty there.

Earlier this evening, you showed us some of the tremendous power of this storm. What can you assess now about the actual total damage figure in this community?

GLENN SELIG, WTDD CORRESPONDENT: It is devastating from what we've been able to see.

Take a look behind me. This is just a sampling of some of the problems. This is actually a place where people thought their boats and cars and belongings would be safe. Instead, it was destroyed.

In fact, the story behind this boat and the Mercedes, which is difficult to see because it's dark now, which is right beside it is this couple decided to store their belongings in this facility.

And they actually hunkered down with their belongings here, but then when the storm started to come through, they got out and went to a nearby hotel. Luckily, they got out in time.

This type of destruction is scattered throughout this entire business district. The power is out here, as it is to many parts of this area.

This was a ferocious storm. We were actually in the eye of the storm when the storm came through. These were winds that were greater than 100 miles per hour.

And, in fact, we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, and we rode it out. And part of that hotel, the entry area collapsed while we were inside that hotel. And we were watching things -- watching the storm go through.

This was a storm that packed a powerful punch and, obviously, left a lot of destruction in its wake. It's hard to tell exactly how many -- how much damage there is throughout this area. We're hearing lots of emergency vehicles, but significant damage.

Back to you.

ZAHN: Glenn Selig, thank you so much for the update.

We just wanted to remind people that this storm is a long way over from finishing its damage in the state. There are now hurricane warnings posted up to North Carolina.

As you look at this picture, it gives you an understanding of where Charlie is moving at this hour. By midnight tonight, it is expected to cross the east coast of Florida near Daytona Beach and then move north towards Georgia and the Carolinas.

A long night ahead for all these folks along the eastern seaboard.

We're going to make quite a change in focus right now, because we think it is important to remember a special person tonight, Julia Child, who was a 6'2" person with a voice like a crazed opera star, and we all loved her.

Child died Thursday at her home in Santa Barbara, California. She was three days from her 92nd birthday.

Starting in 1963 with "The French Chef" on public television, Child taught Americans how to cook, how to enjoy food and not to be afraid of fancy cooking.

And on the way she became an American original who never pulled a punch in the kitchen, never bought into the food is the enemy fad, never giving up cooking with butter and cheese and meat and eggs. That's why we loved her.

And even though she wrote the book on French cooking, she was never a snob about food. Once, when she was asked what her ultimate meal would be, she said red meat and a bottle of gin.

Joining us now, someone who knew and worked closely with Julia Child, Sarah Moulton, Food Network chef and executive chef for "Gourmet" magazine.

Welcome.

SARAH MOULTON, FOOD NETWORK CHEF/EXECUTIVE CHEF, "GOURMET": Thank you, Paula. ZAHN: What are you going to remember about Julia Child?

MOULTON: Oh, gosh she was so important. I'm going -- I'm going to think of her every time I make a hard-boiled egg because that was her -- on of her things that she was very particular about.

She's with me every time I go on TV. She taught me how to smile, which as you know is not always so easy on TV. She taught me to strive for perfection, to work hard, to keep learning and she just had so much fun.

You know, while we're talking, I want to say that before I came here, Stephanie Hearst, who's been her personal assistant for over 15 years, called me up and said that the friends and family of Julia have deiced that tomorrow night they'd like to ask the whole country at 8 p.m. to raise a glass and toast Julia.

ZAHN: No matter where you are?

MOULTON: Eight o'clock.

ZAHN: A glass of what, gin?

MOULTON: Well, actually...

ZAHN: And red meat?

MOULTON: Well, actually, I'm surprised about the gin and steak, because I would have thought it was wine. A glass of wine or a glass of whatever you're drinking.

ZAHN: What was the secret to her success?

MOULTON: It was her personality. I mean, goodness, she was certainly a good cook, but she was really funny and really unusual.

ZAHN: She let us in.

MOULTON: She sure did, and she wasn't afraid to make a mistake on national TV.

ZAHN: And that is, I think, the hardest thing for anybody on television, you want it to be perfect.

MOULTON: Right. Of course.

ZAHN: And she understood, probably, the more warts and all, the more the audience would love it.

MOULTON: Well, I don't know if that was just who she was. I have to tell you, I cooked a lot with her in her kitchen. Those things happened in her kitchen. That Dan Aykroyd piece was based on something that really happened.

ZAHN: Oh, no! MOULTON: Well, it was cutting right in the middle of a dinner party. We were getting ready to do a big dinner for Simon Beck, one of her partners on the book, and I was a nervous wreck. Twelve people were coming and Julia was cutting a butternut squash and hit her finger and had to go off to the hospital. And she comes back with a big bandage on.

That wasn't what the Dan Aykroyd piece was on -- based on, but it was based on another incident.

ZAHN: I remember them parroting her voice.

MOULTON: Right. You know, the feeling was, if Julia Child is willing to make a mistake on national TV, you know, drop it, burn it, whatever, then why should you be nervous about going into your own home kitchen and cooking up a little meal?

ZAHN: So come clean tonight. Was there anything she couldn't do in the kitchen?

MOULTON: Nothing. I mean, and she would never let that stop her. She was unstoppable. I mean, she kept reinventing the wheel and rethinking things.

And she really -- she was a proponent of French food because that's when she learned about, but she understood and she made us at a time when we were all eating canned goods and frozen food that food is not just fuel, that it's also about dining and pleasure and it's very sensuous. She was very sensuous.

ZAHN: She really got fed up with the food police, didn't she?

MOULTON: She would say it. She would go to these big conventions with 2000 people who were totally in low fat. And she said, "That's ridiculous. Butter is wonderful. Cream is wonderful." You know, "What's your problem?"

ZAHN: We're going to miss her.

MOULTON: We are so.

ZAHN: I wish more people were preaching that credo. She was great for our hearts.

MOULTON: She was a great lady.

ZAHN: It certainly was comfort food, wasn't it?

MOULTON: Yes.

ZAHN: Sarah Moulton, thank you...

MOULTON: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: ... for remembering Julia Child with us this evening. When we come back, more on tonight's big story. The latest on the destruction and the storm's destination. Hurricane Charley, still packing a punch tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Before we go this evening, we wanted to take a minute to update you on Hurricane Charley. It is still a Category Three hurricane with 115 mile an hour winds.

Right now, the center of the storm is passing through central Florida near Orlando. It is expected to cross over Daytona in just about an hour or two past midnight. You can never really tell with these storms. The speed of it moving may change.

Saturday, it will be in the Atlantic, threatening the Carolinas and the eastern seaboard.

In Charlie's wake, devastation.

Joining me now on the phone from Fort Myers is Mike Theiss. He is a freelance photographer, hurricane chaser, who has spent the last few hours in the eye of the storm in Charlotte Harbor.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Mike. I understand as experienced as you are, you almost got killed today. What happened?

MIKE THEISS, HURRICANE CHASER/PHOTOGRAPHER: Well, I wouldn't say that I almost got killed, but I almost -- I did get myself in a little bit of a hairy situation.

A roof collapsed that I was in this building taking shelter, and I did have a large telephone pole with a big transformer laying right behind my car and windows blown out of my car. Lots of debris. It was a really wild scene.

This hurricane really intensified, and this -- the bottom dropped out of it and it reminded me just like Hurricane Andrew, which when I was a young kid, I did experience that in south Florida. And a lot of the damage that I have seen at Charlotte Harbor, it just reminds me. It's just like Hurricane Andrew.

ZAHN: What have you seen?

THEISS: Excuse me?

ZAHN: Describe to us what you have seen so far.

THEISS: You mean what?

ZAHN: In terms of the damage. In terms of the damage.

THEISS: Well, it's -- there is solid concrete structures that I have seen walls just completely blown over and blown through. Almost everything in a very small confined area, where the eye wall came through, there's no roofs on anything. Every single telephone pole is knocked over.

It's just complete, you know, devastation, cars upside down. Like I said, if anybody can remember what Hurricane Andrew looks like, just picture that. But probably on a little smaller scale, but it was very bad, and I just happened to be in that very small area that was, you know, the worst wind and the worst destruction.

ZAHN: Sounds like you were very lucky, given the fact that that storm shifted very quickly. A final question tonight about whether your job is over, or do you plan to follow Charlie as it heads north?

THEISS: Well, actually, I'm probably going to follow it up -- I'm not going to follow it up. I'm just going to get a lot of aftermath interviews and different things for my stock footage company. But I won't follow it up north, though.

Basically I try to get it at the landfall, because that's -- of course, the ultimate winds are there and -- but I will stick with the story, probably for a few days, as it is a very large story.

ZAHN: Mike, I understand, obviously the word was out that there were mandatory evacuations. What was your experience? Did people take these warnings seriously?

THEISS: Well, I'm going to tell you my experience was I actually stayed in Ft. Myers last night and people there, they said, well, it's going to hit Tampa. It's going to Tampa, you know?

To be honest, I don't know. From what I saw, people didn't take it seriously. I think that they -- the west coast of Florida, you know, it's not -- it's just not as common over there as the people on the east coast of Florida are much more prepared. And I think this is a wake-up call, just like Hurricane Andrew was a wake-up call. And I think people are going to be more aware now.

I can tell you that, you know, the National Hurricane Center and all the officials were very good as far as warning people. And they, you know, they -- nonstop, "Please evacuate. Please leave. I'm telling everybody, please leave your safety."

ZAHN: Right.

THEISS: And they did get the word out and you know, hopefully everybody's OK.

ZAHN: Mike, we appreciate you sharing your story with us tonight. Good luck to you, sir.

Just a quick reminder to those of you watching CNN tonight, we will be on live with our coverage. Once again, the hurricane expected to hit the east coast of Florida a couple hours after midnight tonight. We will be there. Please join us for the latest on Hurricane Charley

"LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Thanks for joining us tonight. Have a good weekend.

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