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THE SITUATION ROOM

Southeastern New Hampshire Floods; Some New Jersey Communities Issue Voluntary Evacuations; U.S. Preparedness For Influenza Pandemic; Companies Fix Computer Memory Prices

Aired October 13, 2005 - 15:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kyra Phillips. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the U.S. and around the globe to bring you the day's top stories.
Happening right now, it's 3:00 p.m. in the Northeastern United States, plagued by days of rain and deadly flooding, with no letup in sight. Thousands of people bracing for the worst.

It's 10:00 p.m. in Baghdad, where early voting has already begun in a referendum that could determine the country's future. Our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, is there.

And it's 9:00 p.m. in Brussels, where European Union officials are expressing growing concern about bird flu, now confirmed on the border and possibly inside Europe itself.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Rivers rising, roads are washed out, and it just won't stop raining in the Northeast. From Virginia all the way to Maine, days of wet weather are causing all sorts of problems, including travel trouble and even deaths.

CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen standing by with the forecast.

But we begin with CNN's Mary Snow. She's live in waterlogged Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, the water is continuing to rise here in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, which is in northern New Jersey.

We are in about four inches of rain here. But it is a much deeper. And what is happening is, this community is along the Ramapo River, which continues to rise. It's already about four feet above flood stages. Some of the people in these homes are staying put, saying they're going to ride it out. Others have left on their own, saying that they have gone to hotels to -- and left over the past couple of days.

Flooding started last Saturday. But what happens now is that there's about two to three more inches expected in this community. Police say that they have not ordered a mandatory evacuation. They're meeting this afternoon to find out whether or not they're going to have to take that next step. You might be able to see behind me, too, water is continuing to flow. And what some residents say here is that they fear that, by tomorrow morning, where we're standing now is going to be one big river.

They also point out, long-term residents say they have lived here for 15 years or so. They have had about three floods in the past six months. A number of people I spoke with today said they are ready to leave this area.

Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Mary, just to give us a feel for where you are -- maybe we can see a wider picture. Show us down the neighborhood.

SNOW: Sure.

PHILLIPS: I mean, how high is this water expected to rise? Do you know in the past what type of effects this neighborhood experienced?

I mean, you're already sort of seeing debris working its way around you, even where you're standing.

SNOW: What's happening here -- we will try to pan over here to show you some -- some -- where the water level is.

Garbage wasn't taken out. So, now that is beginning to float. And people are saying that the water has not gotten into their homes. But even a truck coming by, wading water through here, is potentially hazardous. And it could -- could potentially go into homes.

What people are worried about is that this could start flooding their homes, that this is something they have been through in the past couple of months, where they -- it's not been totally under water, but they're worried about this particular river. There's a dam not far from here. And because it has been raining now for about seven days here in New Jersey, they're really not quite sure what to expect.

PHILLIPS: Are the people in this neighborhood, are they -- are they staying put? Or has everybody pretty much -- where you are right now -- have they left?

SNOW: A number of people have left, Kyra. And I just ran into a man who just came back from New Orleans. He was there for animal rescue. And he said, you know what? I decided to leave. He got some food. And he said, I have learned not to take any chances. Others are staying here. But they're not sure how long they will stay here.

PHILLIPS: Mary Snow in Pompton Lakes, thank you so much. We will check in with you.

We also want to check in with meteorologist Dave Hennen -- he's in the CNN Weather Center -- to see what's in store for the region, long-term effects. Dave?

DAVE HENNEN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Kyra, more on the way. Unfortunately, we have not seen all of the rain that's going to fall over the Northeast. We have seen seven straight days. And it looks like another couple of days before it ends. Look at the plume of moisture coming in off the Atlantic Ocean that has led to flooding that is widespread. There are flood watches and warnings in effect for much of the Northeast at this hour, including areas just west of New York, now under flood warnings.

And here's our precipitation calculator, if you will. This is our computer model, forecasting what's going to happen over the next 48 hours. This takes us into midday on Saturday. Where you see the white areas, that's the areas that are expecting over three inches of additional rainfall on top of what has already fallen.

And you can see, the worst of it may begin to move a little bit further to the north. New Jersey, another couple of inches of rainfall on the way, but the worst of the flooding expected to shift northward over the next couple of days, as the system continues to pour the moisture in from the Atlantic.

Just got some new numbers for you. These are storm totals so far. Look at Central Park, over six inches of rainfall -- La Guardia, over five inches of rainfall -- even Newark approaching five inches of rain -- and more on the way.

We have this tropical connection, Kyra. That is moisture coming all the way from the equator and then getting spun into the Northeast -- more heavy rain on the way for later on tonight, as the next system kind of pulls into the Northeast. And the greatest flood potential will continue over the next 24 hours to be from New York, back to Hartford, but then shifting northward, back towards the Capital District, up through the Hudson River Valley, over the next couple of days.

We will keep you updated.

Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Dave Hennen, thank you so much.

Let's talk about Iraq now. Much is at stake this Saturday, when Iraqis will vote on a new constitution. If it is approved, national elections will be held by December 15 to select a new government, which much take -- much -- or should take office, rather, by December 31. But if the proposed constitution is defeated, the current parliament would be dissolved.

Now, those mid-December elections would be held as planned. And that new parliament would have one year to draft a new constitution and hold a second referendum.

CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is in Baghdad for Saturday's vote. She joins us now live. Christiane?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, indeed. Well, some early voting has started. And that is amongst the prison population, mainly, prisoners. Those who are detained, those who have not been tried or convicted of any crimes and who have registered to vote are allowed to cast their votes. And some have done so in various parts of the country.

Also, those who are hospitalized and couldn't actually come to the polls are having an opportunity to cast early ballots.

The issue, of course, is what is going to happen on Saturday? In terms of security, the U.S. military, much like the -- what they did back in January, during the actual elections, for this referendum, they are call -- they are creating, really, a total security clampdown, about four days' worth of shut-down borders, shut roads, trying their hardest not to allow any traffic, any insurgent activity on the streets.

The thing that's going to be different this time around, on the day of the referendum, say all the military that we have had reports from, is that it will not be U.S. military in the lead, rather, Iraqi military, although, of course, the U.S. military is doing its bit as well, and will be on hand.

The bigger question is, what happens politically and in terms of the insurgency and violence after the referendum? If it passes, what does that mean? Will it cause greater and continued instability, if the Sunnis feel that they're left out and if, as expected, the Shia Kurd coalition, if you like, wins?

If it's defeated what, in turn, does that mean? Obviously, physically, what it means is new elections, new constitution writing, and, as we have said, this new referendum, which they came to agreement on yesterday.

What's happened is that, in order to try to get the Sunnis involved, at least one party, and perhaps two, are agreeing to go ahead, in return for possible amendments in the constitution in the future and a possible new referendum held in the future.

But -- so, at the moment, things still fairly uncertain -- many, many people, many observers, wondering just whether or not this is going to have any material effect on the insurgency. As you know, all the great turning points that have been pointed to here in Iraq over the last couple of years, whether it be the transfer of sovereignty, whether it be the initial hearing, the court appearance, of Saddam Hussein, whether it be last year's elections, all the optimists hoped that those would lead to a much more calm, stable situation and the ability of democracy and reconstruction to take proper hold.

Well, it hasn't happened that way. The violence has got worse and the killing continues. So, people are waiting to see what will happen after this referendum.

Back to you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Christiane, we will continue to check in with you. Thank you so much.

Meanwhile, the White House is trying to assure Iraqis and Americans that everything is secure for Saturday's vote. President Bush spoke to 10 handpicked U.S. troops in Tikrit via videoconference earlier. And they assured him that security is tight, with Iraqi forces ready to take the lead -- Christiane mentioned that as well.

So, if the constitution is approved, what it will mean for U.S. forces in Iraq?

CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie McIntyre -- joins us live with that.

A lot of talk about troop withdrawal -- if it can happen or not, Jamie. But when you see the front pages of all the newspapers, you see troops very concerned about the polling stations and fully involved in trying to protect them.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's why the referendum is so important, because it's a key test of the two criteria for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, the formation of a government with popular support. That would be something that would happen if the referendum passes and the constitution is approved -- also, the performance of the Iraqi security forces.

We -- we -- you have said they're supposedly planning for most of the security. And so, it will be a big test of those two things. If those two things go as planned, then the U.S. could contemplate some substantial troop withdrawals next year. But they're crossing their fingers at this point, because that is what the exit strategy hinges on.

PHILLIPS: Jamie, yesterday, the news that we were talking about, this letter, allegedly written by Zawahri, you know, Osama bin Laden's -- one of his chief deputies. What is the Pentagon saying about it?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, today, a -- a Web site claimed that al Qaeda in Iraq claimed that this was a hoax perpetrated by the U.S. government -- today, the government again standing by that letter, saying, according to a spokesman for the national -- the director of national intelligence, that they have the highest confidence that that letter is legitimate, that it was verified by several sources over an extended period of time.

PHILLIPS: OK.

MCINTYRE: And they say it shows that al Qaeda is suffering at the hands of the U.S. campaign and is under some strain.

PHILLIPS: Jamie McIntyre, live from the Pentagon, thank you.

Coming up, shoot-out on the streets of Russia -- police stations attacked -- an entire town sealed off. We have the story.

Plus, the Senate majority leader subpoenaed. Find out why Bill Frist may be facing serious trouble over a stock sale.

And, a little later, bird flu spreading from Asia to Europe. What happens if and when it hits the U.S.? We will talk about it.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Five days after Saturday's massive earthquake in Pakistan, the pace of relief finally picking up. The United Nations aid chief visited the hard-hit Pakistani-controlled region of Kashmir today. He found the situation to be, in one word, desperate.

CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance joins us now by videophone. Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, thanks very much.

It's been six days since that terrible earthquake struck this South Asia region, killing at least 23,000 people. That's just here in Pakistan. Attempts to rescue survivors are still, of course, under way. Rescue teams are still here, sifting through some of the rubble in various towns in these very remote areas that were so badly struck by that earthquake.

But as time goes on, of course, hope for finding more people in this rubble diminishes. What the effort is now switching to is the next phase in this relief operation. And that's why Jan Egeland, the U.N.'s chief emergency relief coordinator, has been in the region, attempting to assess. He's been touring this region, seeing that what they need most of all are tents, supplies of medicine, and food, to get that -- those supplies out to those remote areas where there are still thousands of people that haven't even been yet visited by the Pakistani armed forces or by any of the relief teams.

And so, it is really a race against time to try and get those people some shelter and some food and the kind of medical -- medical supplies they need.

Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Matthew, when we have been talking with Becky Anderson, she described to us the apartment complex behind her. What exactly is behind you, what homes, apartments? What type -- of businesses? It looks like they're taking debris, some type of banner from behind you.

And, also the rescue workers, tell us about the type of equipment that they have been using. Becky was talking about the most important thing, their ears, listening for people as they work their way through the rubble.

CHANCE: Yes. Absolutely. These are the -- the methods these rescue emergency teams use to try and locate any sign of life. They're listening. They're sending in heat-seeking probes. They're using sniffer dogs as well.

This is the town of Muzzafarabad, the capital of Pakistan- controlled Kashmir. These buildings behind me are local government buildings. As you can see, like all the other -- or like many of the other buildings in Muzzafarabad, these have been totally destroyed -- a huge loss of life here. Perhaps half of the number of that 23,000 have been killed here in Muzzafarabad and the surrounding area. Rescue teams, as you say, continuing to work here. But, again, what we're seeing in Muzzafarabad, more than the rescue teams -- and they're beginning to move away now to -- to -- to allow for the relief teams to come in and to start providing that much-needed emergency food aid and medicine, and, of course, above all, tents.

And that's what Jan Egeland -- Jan Egeland was saying. More than anything else, the international community needs to come up with more of the helicopters, tents, medicine, to get to those outlying areas to try and save the lives of those people who may have survived the earthquake, but are now faced with these very exposed conditions in these extremely remote areas of...

PHILLIPS: Thank you...

(CROSSTALK)

CHANCE: ... northern Pakistan.

PHILLIPS: Matthew Chance, thank you so much.

We want to go to Fredricka Whitfield now, live from the CNN Center in Atlanta, with a closer look at other stories making news. Hi, Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Kyra. Hello to you.

Russian officials say police have largely beaten back militant attacks in southern Russia. They say fierce fighting in the city of Nalchik has killed 44 people, including 20 Chechen rebels. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops to blockade Nalchik. Several rebels -- rebels are holed up in a city building. And there are reports that hostages are being held at a police station.

Syria's interior minister was laid to rest today. Ghazi Kenaan died yesterday of a gunshot wound to the head. Syrian officials say he committed suicide. But some Arab media outlets expressed doubt. Hours before he died, Kenaan called a Lebanese radio station to rebut allegations that he was involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stops in Paris tonight, after visiting Tajikistan. In Kazakhstan today, she met with the country's president. Rice said democracy in the former Soviet republic is very important to Washington. She strongly denied claims by Kazakhstan's opposition that the U.S.' main interests in the country are oil and the war on terror.

China is moving ahead on a promise to give Taiwan two rare giant pandas. Pictures and resumes of the 11 panda finalists were displayed at a news conference today. The winners, one male, one female, will be chosen for their looks and personality. They'll go to the Taipei Zoo. The relations between China and Taiwan have thawed recently, although Beijing still claims sovereignty over the island.

Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Fred, thank you so much.

Still to come, bird flu spreading, first Asia, now Europe. What will happen if it hits here at home? We are going to take a closer look.

Plus, a Texas fugitive captured. Find out how this fierce fighter got nabbed.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: "This Week in History", at the age of 35, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was named the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. The announcement was made on October 14, 1964.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Professor, do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to help you God?

PROFESSOR ANITA HILL, WITNESS: I do.

ANNOUNCER: In 1991, Anita Hill testified against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, accusing him of sexual harassment.

And, on October 12, 2000, a boat filled with explosives blew up alongside the USS Cole in the Port of Aden in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed.

And that is "This Week in History".

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: He's the top Republican in the Senate, a possible presidential contender. Now Bill Frist also is the man who has been slapped with a subpoena. That may make his current legal and ethical problem a bit more complicated.

Our congressional correspondent Ed Henry is here with all the details. Hi, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Kyra. That's right. CNN has confirmed from a source close to the case, that, in fact, the majority leader has been subpoenaed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in conjunction with their investigation of whether or not he engaged in insider trading. This stems from his sale this summer of stock in HCA. That's the hospital company founded by the senator's family.

The senator sold his shares right before the stock dropped about 9 percent. That obviously raised questions about whether he had any inside information -- the senator's office releasing a statement today reiterating he had no such inside information. They feel he will be vindicated by this case.

It's too early to say what will come of this SEC investigation, as well as a separate criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. But the bottom line, it's another political headache for the Republicans. You already have the House -- former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay indicted twice by a grand jury in Texas -- the Senate majority leader facing two investigations himself.

Heading into the 2006 elections, this is part of the reason why you're seeing Republicans very nervous about losing control of Congress.

Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, of course, Ed, everybody's asking now, or at least those that are interested...

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: ... what does this mean about a run for the presidency?

HENRY: That's right. Beyond 2006, Bill Frist, as you suggested earlier, eying a presidential run. Clearly, a lot of Democrats, but also even some Republicans, whispering now, they think he's toast. They think this is another nail in the coffin for him in a 2008 run.

But I can tell you, advisers -- not surprisingly, advisers to Frist insist, it's way too early. They feel that, three years down the road, a lot can happen. Again, they feel he will be vindicated by these investigations and that it's happening in 2005, not 2008, so he has plenty of time to recover.

Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Ed, this is sort of a random question. But do we, by chance, know who Frist's financial adviser is?

HENRY: Well, no. He had someone who is running his blind trust. And his office says, you know, that he basically had nothing to do with the day-to-day management of that. Critics have suggested that, in fact, it was not a blind trust, per se, that in fact he knew that HCA stock was in there. That's adding to more of -- of the finger- pointing about this. But it -- clearly, it is an issue that he does not want to be dealing with right now.

Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Ed Henry, thank you so much.

Well, Apple is hoping it's the next big thing, but will the new video iPod catch on to its audio predecessor?

CNN's Ali Velshi has the "Bottom Line" from New York. I miss you, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Kyra, I miss you, too. PHILLIPS: I know.

VELSHI: It's good...

PHILLIPS: It's ...

VELSHI: ... to see you.

PHILLIPS: Well, it's just not the same without you here.

VELSHI: I can't sort of reach just out and be next to you, though.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: That's the problem.

PHILLIPS: I know. I can come up and touch the screen. Will you move around if I...

VELSHI: I absolutely will.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: Like, if you tickle me or something, I will -- I will giggle.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: Kyra, do you -- you have an iPod?

PHILLIPS: No. You -- well, you and I kind of talked about this. I tried to steal David Bohrman's, because...

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Right, that little tiny one.

PHILLIPS: Yes, the little tiny, itty-bitty one.

VELSHI: Yes.

PHILLIPS: We -- we have sort of the -- I guess we have got the old model, which is about the size of our -- our audio belt.

VELSHI: Yes.

PHILLIPS: Yes.

VELSHI: This is mine.

PHILLIPS: Right.

VELSHI: It's -- it's encased in rubber, because most things I have are encased in rubber.

PHILLIPS: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: But this is the old -- this is the photo iPod. It's 60 gigs. The little -- the -- the one that we had yesterday was tiny.

Now, the new video iPod is -- is more this kind of size. But it's -- it's this whole move toward personalizing your entertainment experience. And I heard you talking yesterday to somebody about getting TiVo. So, you don't do the TiVo or video recorder thing, where you can record something, like THE SITUATION ROOM, and watch it at...

PHILLIPS: No.

VELSHI: ... your own...

PHILLIPS: But I need it, because, you know, I have too many VHS tapes...

VELSHI: Yes.

PHILLIPS: ... and too many wires in the house. So...

VELSHI: And that's -- this is what Apple has done. It's convinced people who otherwise didn't do these things, particularly on the downloadable music side, to do it, because they make it easy.

My mother has an iPod. She skipped the whole CD thing. She went right from cassette Walkman to an iPod. The -- and -- and the reason Apple succeeds in this is because they have made an interface that is easy, as you know. It's just -- it's easy to figure out. It's easy to download. And what others don't have is -- is that appeal.

I think Jacki Schechner is with us. And one of the things that Jacki would know about is that has -- Apple has a cult appeal. It's got -- it's easy to use. And people love using it and love saying that they have one of these iPods. And that might be one of the best things for Apple. Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Oh, there's so much information. There is actually no shortage of gadget guys and self- proclaimed tech geeks online.

First of all, I had no idea your mom was so hip. That's very, very cool.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: Mmm-hmm.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: ... he talks to her.

SCHECHNER: It sounds like she's hipper than Kyra.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHECHNER: Who knew?

(LAUGHTER)

SCHECHNER: But I wanted to show you online, actually, what we had. Some of the people that were talking about this -- there was a tremendous amount of buzz before this new iPod came out.

There are sites like this, macrumors.com. They were saying that, 30 minutes before the media event online, that there were photographs that were coming out at applexnet.com. These were sort of the prototype photos that they were showing online. People were really excited.

Then, from a site like gizmodo.com, they were posting what clearly looks like a promotional photo. But they have a reviewer, one woman who turns around and says, you can play an entire movie on it. Here's where the battery life is -- how much you can play music, what it will run -- I think it's like two to three hours for video. So clearly, the more media you use, the more battery you're eating up.

Some interesting stuff, too. It's other rumors. They think there's going to be another set of products as soon as next week. Why? And this is so crazy. They are analyzing the staff meetings. Clearly, there's a staff meeting before a big announcement. They get Apple people together in stores to talk about what the new products are going to be. And because there's another meeting planned for Saturday the 15th, they think there's going to be a new product launch of some sort. People get very, very excited online.

Another thing, too, that is coming out online -- and this is very interesting as well -- are the rights issues that are going to be involved in downloading video, downloading some sort of media from your television stations and that kind of thing that you can have with you on the go.

And I just wanted to show you from Buzz Machine by Jeff Jarvis. He's incredibly optimistic. This is a blog. He says this is all about breaking free. So, some sense of movement now that you have got your iPod and your video capabilities, guys.

PHILLIPS: Well, Ali, what do you think? Is it going to take off?

VELSHI: Jeff is really into this breaking free stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: And that's why he likes the satellite radio. The fact is, for those of us who didn't grow up thinking you had to be free, we listened to what was -- whatever -- whatever was on the radio or whatever cassette we put in our Walkman -- it might take us a little while to get used to the idea that you can watch, listen to, do anything you want, whenever you want. A lot of people think that this iPod video is going to appeal to kids, kids who are used to having Game Boys in their hand, used to doing things on their schedule, when they want. We will have to see. They need to sell -- Apple needs to sell a lot of everything.

And -- and, as -- as Jacki said, the rumors of those meetings, the idea is that Apple is an innovator. And the cool kids like being associated with Apple.

PHILLIPS: He's a cool kid, isn't he?

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: Ali is definitely a cool kid. Jacki...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHECHNER: Clearly not as cool as his mom...

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: That's true -- who he, by the way, was talking to last night, as we noticed.

VELSHI: That's right.

PHILLIPS: She was...

VELSHI: She said she really enjoyed the two of us anchoring together.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: Thanks, mom.

VELSHI: I have asked her to put a call into the boss.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: Outstanding. She's a tough woman. She'll make things happen.

Thanks, you guys.

SCHECHNER: Sure.

PHILLIPS: Well, just ahead, more on the dangerous weather in the Northeast. More rain in the forecast -- the situation poised to go from bad to worse.

And it's not what you'd expect to find in the middle of Houston -- how gator wranglers roped in a big catch.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: We swing back to the flooded Northeast where the rain just keeps coming down. Southwestern New Hampshire has taken a big hit from the remnants of Hurricanes Stan and Tammy. At least three people are now dead. A dozen homes in that town of Alstead were actually washed away. The state estimates damage in the tens of millions of dollars.

Now, some New Jersey communities issued voluntary evacuations. And northern parts of state have gotten nearly five inches of rain in 48 hours. The state activated its Emergency Management Agency today. Several New Jersey rivers have reached or exceeded major flood stage.

Now, it's the kind of worst-case weather scenario that rescue crews train for.

CNN's Brian Todd has more on that. He's live in Fairfax County, Virginia. Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, we're in an area of Northern Virginia right now that does get a considerable amount of flooding. And we're here to illustrate the dangers of driving on flooded roads which, officials tell us, actually causes most of the deaths that occur during hurricanes and tropical storms.

This is an area here. It's called, ironically, Difficult Run. And it may very well be about to get more difficult.

I'm in about a foot and a half of water right now. If you can see, the water comes right past me, right up to the road. It is not overflowing yet. But they say it may very well do so tonight because it's been raining steadily and drizzling all day. This area of Browns Mill Road and Fairfax County does get flooded a lot. The water washes right over here.

I'm joined by a Captain Mark Feaster of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Captain, thanks for joining us. You had some incredible information about -- how much water like this would it take to take a typical car right off the road?

CAPT. MARK FEASTER, FAIRFAX CO. FIRE AND RESCUE: Well, typically, one foot of water moving at six miles per hour will wash your sedan off the road.

TODD: What about some of the bigger vehicles?

FEASTER: Well, even the military Humvee -- 18 inches of water has been known to float them completely right off the road.

TODD: What do you tell people when -- we see cars coming down here roughly at an average of about 35 miles an hour. What do you tell people as far as what they need to know when they're on a road like this? There are going to be cars coming down here maybe tonight or tomorrow where it's going to be flooded. What do you tell people to do when they encounter standing water like that?

FEASTER: Well, the first thing is, pay attention to any signs that are up on the road. And always remember that you're responsible for your own safety. If the water is across the road, the best thing to do is to not to go through it, especially if it's moving. But if you cannot see the bottom, if you cannot see the lines on the road and the shoulders on the road, do not press your luck. It's not a good idea.

TODD: All right, Captain, thank you for joining us. And hopefully some of the folks driving up in the northeastern part of the country will take that advice.

If you take a look over here, you see these trucks and cars coming by at speed. This water could very well wash tonight over to this area of the road where there's another washout area -- and a real danger of flooding on this road.

That's it from here, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Brian. You're making me just a little bit nervous. Do me a favor and step over to your right, maybe about a foot. Thank you very much.

TODD: OK. Will do.

PHILLIPS: All right, Brian, we'll check in with you.

We also want to talk more about the flooding situation with Internet reporter Abbi Tatton. Abbi, what are you following for us?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra. You can see just how bad it is in some of these areas with this site here from usgs.gov. This shows you the water levels, the stream-flow conditions, in real-time, constantly updated. If you zoom in here to the flooded Northeast right now you can see the black areas are where the water levels in rivers and streams are extremely high right now -- causing that flooding.

Another useful tool is here from fema.gov. This is a hazard mapping site where you can punch in your address, you can punch in your city, and it will give you information on how susceptible you are right there to floods in general -- not related to any specific weather conditions right now. You punch in your address or your town as if you were getting online directions. And we did it here -- not for a specific address but for the town of Keene in New Hampshire.

The blue areas there are special flood hazard areas. Did it for another one in New Jersey right now. This is Medford. You can see all of the areas there around the roads.

Now, this site from fema.gov doesn't just do the flooding. You can also do layers for hurricane information, for fire hazards. This is the hazard site of fema.gov where you can see the information for your specific area.

Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Abbi, see you in a little bit.

Up next, is the deadly bird flu virus on the rise? It's been spotted in Turkey and now Romania. Could the U.S. be next?

And baby makes 16. Meet an Arkansas family that just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: European Union officials growing increasingly worry about bird flu. The deadly virus has now been confirmed in Turkey, and is suspected to be in Romania. Bird flu is also a major concern in this country, and the topic of our "Security Council."

Joining us, John Barry, author of "The Great Influenza," and -- of course, about the 1918 pandemic -- and from Minneapolis, Michael Osterholm. He's the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research at the University of Minnesota. Gentlemen, glad to have you both.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: John, I want to start with you. Your book -- the president of the United States reading this book. What do you think about that? Did he call you?

JOHN BARRY, AUTHOR, "THE GREAT INFLUENZA": He hasn't called me. I have talked with Secretary Leavitt of HHS, but in the past.

PHILLIPS: Why do you think the president's reading your book?

BARRY: Well, I think Mike Leavitt convinced him it was a serious concern. And you know, there's some background in there that I think hopefully would be useful.

PHILLIPS: Well, historically, do you think that what we see and we read about in your book about the deadliest plague in history from an economic standpoint, social standpoint, could we see the same thing happen in the United States because of bird flu?

BARRY: Well, I mean, it's -- all influenza viruses are actually bird flu. I mean, they're all -- jump -- I mean, it's a very rapidly mutating virus which allows it to jump species, so all of them come from birds.

And certainly, it not only can happen again, it will happen again. We don't know if it will happen tomorrow or in 20 years, but throughout history, there have been three to five times a century a new bird virus will jump to humans and turn into a human virus that can pass from one person to another.

Whenever that happens, nobody's immune system will recognize that virus, so it will spread explosively across the world. Now, they're not all lethal viruses, outbreaks like 1918. We had one in 1968, for example, that most people who lived through don't even know occurred.

However, even the mild 1968 virus would still be serious. And CDC predicts that a virus like the '68 virus, a mild virus, would still kill between 89,000 and 207,000 Americans. So it would be a still be a pretty heavy blow.

PHILLIPS: Well, Doctor, let's talk about how soon this could happen. Do you think, looking at where we've seen evidence now the suspected cases, the reported cases, the reported cases in humans -- you look at the map. The reality here, could we see it in the United States? And could it happen soon? And how will it get here?

OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, let me just start out by saying I'd recommend to every American to read John's book. It is a very telling example of what happens when a pandemic occurs, and I think it is a lesson for all of us to remember.

In terms of what we expect now, as John pointed out, these viruses from time to time do emerge out of birds into humans and cause this kind of thing we call a pandemic. Why we're worried now is that the virus situation in Southeast Asia, which is still confined largely to birds with occasional human cases, is getting closer and closer to a virus that would be readily transmitted between humans and that's what will start the pandemic.

PHILLIPS: Well, let me ask you, too, when we talk about lifting this patent on Tamiflu so other companies can make generic versions to boost the supply, and have cheaper versions of the drug, Roche actually coming forward saying Tamiflu is complex to manufacture, it can take up to 12 months to produce. And then in another statement, the company says because of its expertise, that no one can do it faster. Do you agree with that?

OSTERHOLM: Well, the Tamiflu issue right now has unfortunately become a focus of our preparedness. Do we have it or do we not? And I think that's a big mistake. We don't know if Tamiflu, frankly, will work against this kind of flu virus in the way that we currently use Tamiflu, meaning within 24 to 36 hours after becoming ill, taking the drug, and reducing the symptoms and the seriousness of the illness.

There is some data that would suggest unless you have Tamiflu before you even get sick, that it may only have limited assistance to you. That's important because right now if everybody tried to make all of the Tamiflu they could, you would still only provide the world with a few percent of the population having access to the drug over the next several years.

So I don't think we should get too distracted from this to understand that the real implications for this pandemic will have nothing to do with Tamiflu regardless of any of the answers to the questions you just asked.

PHILLIPS: Well, Shelley Hearne, executive director of Trust for America's Health, says that - quote -- "we're not prepared. It's the ugly truth. If our emergency response failed so badly for a Category 5 hurricane, imagine what would happen if a Category 5 viral storm hit every state."

What do you think, John? We've heard the president talk about the military now. It sounds like a last resort sort of ... BARRY: It's clear we're not prepared. We have not taken flu seriously over a period of years. To give some credit to this administration, people in the HHS have, since they came in, in 2001, been trying to get ahead of the curve. They haven't succeeded in doing that. But now with full attention on the problem, you know, we're devoting many more resources than we were before.

PHILLIPS: What type of resources?

BARRY: Well, money, obviously. You know, research, you know -- Mike is really an expert on public health. He can probably speak to some of these things better than I.

PHILLIPS: Well, you bring up a good point, Doctor, when we talk about money, Tamiflu orders placed. And I know you're questioning -- I mean, that's basically all we've heard about when it comes to an anti- viral, is Tamiflu. We haven't really heard of anything else.

So let's talk about orders. The U.S. ordering 4.3 million, yet France 13 million, U.K. 15 million. You would think that we'd be leading, at least in some type of preventive maintenance.

OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, let me just point out that we have made more orders since the ones that you have just talked about. But the point of it comes back again, is the supply chain.

Right now those countries that have made those orders won't receive that product for years to come. We just don't have the capability, whether it's vaccines or drugs today, to do anything in the next several years that will make a really big difference in a worldwide pandemic.

PHILLIPS: Well, what if something happens -- what happens if all of a sudden in two weeks something happens?

OSTERHOLM: Well, you ...

PHILLIPS: Is it a quarantine? Quarantine situation?

OSTERHOLM: You've hit the nail on the head. No. Quarantine is not the answer with a virus like this that's so highly infectious. You know, I tried to describe this in the July/August issue of "Foreign Affairs." What we need to do, if tonight we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, it's about keeping those people who are not going to die, which even under a worst pandemic scenario says 98 out of every 100 of us are going to make it through.

But how do we get food and water to us? How do we assure those essential services, the kinds of health care that will just get us through? How will they be there? That's what planning's about. And what I worry about, Kyra, is the media is so focused on such simplistic answers like do we have Tamiflu or don't we? There's much deeper, much more important questions about preparedness that we just haven't even addressed.

PHILLIPS: What is it that we haven't addressed? Because you're right, it's very confusing for many Americans. And ...

OSTERHOLM: Well, again, just let me emphasize we have research done on vaccines, but given the amount of virus we would need to make the current vaccine -- meaning what we grow up in chicken eggs -- we, in the next year, could protect at most 88 to 100 million people around the world. That's less than 1.5 percent of the people.

You can't build vaccine factories overnight. It will take us literally years to do this. So what we're talking about is just hunkering down and saying, how do you get through a pandemic if it occurs tonight that doesn't really involve much of vaccines?

It's not going to involve much of drug. It's going to involve all of our communities out there saying will the food supply stop if we shut down global travel? Will we have masks, which right now are all made offshore? Will we have antibiotics? Will be have other drugs, cancer drugs, which many of them are made offshore? Will we have all of those everyday goods and items that we take for granted?

That's what we need to really emphasize in preparedness right now. And then if we have the luxury of five or seven years before the pandemic hits, we'd better do a lot to have a Manhattan-like Projects to improve on vaccines and drugs.

PHILLIPS: Well, I'm telling you what. We're going to take a break. What about the two of you coming back in the 5:00 hour since you say, Doctor, that the media isn't hitting on the right issues? I'm bringing you back. Don't move, all right? John Barry, I don't think you can get better publicity than the president of the United States and also the famous doctor here talking about your book. Thank you so much.

BARRY: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: All right, gentlemen. Stay put.

Well, stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security. We are all over that.

And up next, just what you needed or maybe not -- a new kind of credit card. We have all of the details.

And an alligator camped out in a Houston ditch? Find out what it took to get the gator out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Fredricka Whitfield, joining us now, once again live from the CNN Center in Atlanta with a closer look at other stories making the headlines. Hi, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Hello to you, Kyra.

A possible medical breakthrough. Researchers say they've found a gene that helps cause Tourettes Syndrome. The disorder is marked by muscle and vocal tics, and may affect one in 100 people. Researchers say a gene called SLITRK-1 appears to cause Tourettes. Other genes may be involved, as well. The study appears in tomorrow's issue of the journal "Science."

A developing situation in Arizona. Twenty-six schools are in lockdown in the Gilbert School District. Police are investigating reports of two attempted abductions. Authorities say a man tried to snatch a girl on her way to school today. She ran away. Shortly after, a man told several girls to get in his car. They fled, too. Police are looking for the suspect.

All in a day's work. An alligator trapper roped a big catch. He pulled a 10-foot alligator out of a drainage ditch in Houston, Texas. A game warden will turn the alligator loose. It was first spotted a couple of weeks ago. People tossed a chicken to it, trying to nab it. It's not clear how the gator, however, got in the ditch. I have a feeling, Kyra, it may have something to do with hurricanes. What do you say?

PHILLIPS: Oh, yes. All those high waters. I know I wouldn't want to be walking in certain areas right now, that's for sure. Thanks, Fred.

PHILLIPS: Well still ahead, do Americans really need another reason to rack up more debt on credit cards? Ali Velshi will have the "Bottom Line" on a new kind of card.

And President Bush stages a scene -- or stages a scene-setter, ready for a big vote in Iraq this weekend. But did it do him any good at home? Tom Foreman will be along to take us "Inside Politics."

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: It's almost time for the markets to close and the closing bell. Let's check in once again with my good friend, Ali Velshi. Hi, Ali.

VELSHI: Good to see you again. OK, we know you got an iPod, we know you don't have a TiVo, but you do have a personal computer, right?

PHILLIPS: Oh, of course. I don't go anywhere without my laptop. And I just went wireless!

VELSHI: Finally.

PHILLIPS: I'm in 2005 now.

VELSHI: I've got something you can connect with. Well, this is important if you had personal computer back a few years ago. If you had a computer from Dell, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Gateway or Apple back in 2001 and -- 1999-2002 -- pretty much covers everyone -- listen to this. You were suckered. The second largest antitrust fine in history was handed down today in a price fixing scheme that ended up costing American consumers money. It's about this. Computer memory. I've got some in my hand. This is D-RAM. It stands for Dynamic Random Access Memory. This is the most common type of memory that's used in personal computers. It's used in digital recorders, printers, video recorders, cell phones, all sorts of stuff like that.

Now, the price of a computer or a music player like an iPod largely depends on the size and price of the memory. Now, think back to 2001. The tech bubble had crashed, demand for computers had slowed down. And that should have resulted in lower prices. But D-RAM prices, memory prices, kept going up. Made some people think the memory- makers, the companies that made the memory, were conducting some monkey business by agreeing not to undercut each other on price.

So the U.S. government launched an investigation and came to the conclusion that Samsung and its two biggest competitors conspired in e-mails, phone calls and meetings to fix the prices of computer memory between April 1999 and June of 2002. Dell and Apple responded to this by raising the prices of their computers to compensate. The other computer-makers reduced the amount of memory they were offering for the same price. But, either way, if you bought a computer back then, you paid the price.

Now, last year, the number two and number three memory-makers plead guilty. Korean-based Hynix and Germany's Infineon both agreed to pay fines, $185 million and $160 million. And today Samsung, the biggest memory-maker in the world, agreed to a $300 million fine after pleading guilty of price-fixing. No word yet on whether any of us who bought computers back then -- and I am one of them -- are getting any of our money back.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

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