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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Hurricane Irene Erodes Maryland's Beaches; Ocean City EMS Pulled Off The Streets At Height Of Storm; New York City Awaits Irene

Aired August 27, 2011 - 21:00   ET

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


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And really, you know, we heard from John King earlier today. He was traveling and he said that the roads were fairly empty. So it really was pretty quiet and people, even though they may be staying here, they were preparing, getting supplies ready for the storm.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Mary Snow live in New York, we'll be talking a lot more over the next few hours. Mary, thanks.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN's breaking news coverage of Hurricane Irene. I'm Martin Savidge at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

PHILLIPS: I'm Kyra Phillips. Thanks for staying with us for your hurricane coverage. A massive Category 1 storm is what we're talking about. And it is slowly churning up the East Coast. It it's large, dangerous and relentless. At least nine deaths are now blamed on this hurricane, more than 1 million customers have lost power.

SAVIDGE: Right now Irene is closing in on Ocean City, Maryland. Like every other beach resort along the mid-Atlantic, it is just about deserted. Winds have decreased slightly to 80 miles an hour but it will remain a hurricane as it pushes north toward New York.

PHILLIPS: Irene is especially dangerous because it's moving slowly. We've talked about this all morning, all afternoon. It's almost certain to create a crippling storm surge. As you just heard Mary just mention, New York transit officials earlier today shut down the city's mass transportation system as a precaution. Live pictures now from Times Square, similar moves have also been made or will be made, we're told, in Philadelphia and Baltimore.

SAVIDGE: And joining us now on the telephone, Jeanne Meserve, who is in Ocean City, Maryland.

Jeanne?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Martin and Kyra, still dark where we are in Ocean City, the lights went out a bit ago in this part of the city. We saw a couple of explosions to the south and think there were probably some transformers that had some problems. But this appears to be localized. We can see other buildings to our west and to our south that still do have power on at this point in time.

As for the storm itself, we're still getting very heavy wind, but for the moment there is no rain falling. I just went out and took a brief walk on the street to see what conditions were like down there. And where an hour or so ago there were standing water, now for the most part now the streets are drained. That's not say, at all, that the worst is over at all. We're expecting the storm to come onshore in a more serious way in the hours to come.

In addition to the rain, they're worried about the ocean. The waves here have been huge. They have been ferocious. They have been eating up the beach and traveling up the dunes and occasionally over the dunes, that were built by the Army Corps of Engineers to try protect the real estate here. This is a vacation town, a beach town. The ocean front is very well developed with many, many hotels and small businesses.

But in addition to the ocean side, there's some development on opposite side of the island, which faces to the west. And there's also water on that side and, in fact, some of the flooding that the mayor tells me is already happening in the city, is occurring because water cannot get out of that bay and is coming up onto the streets of the city. Thus far, as far as we know, the flooding is not widespread but it is expected to grow wider as the storm surge continues and the rain resumes here in Ocean City. Back to you.

SAVIDGE: And, Jeanne, I presume -- I think you reported earlier -- that the emergency personnel had been pulled off the streets for now.

MESERVE: That's right. They were pulled off a while ago because of the deteriorating conditions, particularly the wind. What the mayor told me at the time was that they would be evaluating emergency calls on a case-by-case basis. We've been listening to the police scanner. Those calls are still coming in. They run the gamut from children who have been bitten by bugs and appear to be having an allergic reaction to other things relating to alarms going off or the smell of smoke or the smell of gas. They are still getting a series of calls at the emergency center here. They are evaluating them on a case-by-case basis. And making decisions carefully about which ones to respond to at this point in time, and which can wait until conditions are safer for the first responders.

SAVIDGE: Jeanne Meserve in Ocean City, Maryland. Thanks very much. We'll stay in touch.

PHILLIPS: Talking about the water rising also, and the erosion in Chesapeake Beach that is where Chris Lawrence is joining us now live out of Maryland.

You've got some new information, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, here, you know, here we're not that far from Jeanne, we're on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay. We're more on the other side, the western edge of the Chesapeake Bay.

And I can say, you know, although we are still getting rain, you know, Jeanne mentioned that it had pretty much stopped raining there briefly. We're still getting rain but not to the extent we were. I think as we pan around, the wind is still whipping up. And, you know, we do get occasional gusts that bring a lot of rain in, but not to the extent (AUDIO GAP) an hour ago. I wonder if our meteorologist Chad Myers is standing by.

Chad, maybe if you could help us to sort of make sense of this. Does this mean sort of we're kind of caught between bands of the storm at this point?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That is exactly right. There is another band right across the bay on the Eastern Shore, north of the Choptank. And it is going to come across the Chesapeake Bay right at you within the next 30 minutes. So what you see now will be doubled, your wind speed will be doubled, your driving rain will be at least twice, maybe three times as hard driving from sideways at that point in time. You're now getting closer to the eye. You're pass to the eye -- the closest you'll get is about six hours from now. Things still get worse from now for the next six hours. Then they get better. But as that rain band comes in, Chris, you know this is going to start getting rather whippy out there for you.

LAWRENCE: That's right. As we continue to just look around and pan around and show you, you know, some of the rain coming down and some of the effects of the wind. One of the things, Chad, that a lot of people here, including the mayor, have been very, very concerned with is that you have so many homes here that are built on a cliff. They've been very worried about soil erosion, just because it it's not so much the wind they tell me. But they say they're just really worried about the combination of the storm surge, and then the high tide that will come in about 3:30 in the morning.

MYERS: Well, the good news where you are now is that the surge will not come up the Chesapeake like it will be in the Tidewater. The Tidewater of Virginia, down here-move this around for you, get rid of this so I can actually drag this farther up. Let me get to the pan. Hold on, guys, push the word "pan" so I can pan around.

Down here in the Tidewater, Virginia Beach, this is where the water is coming in. Right now I have five-foot surge all the way through the Tidewater here. But, now, that water is not going to get all the way up to you, up here in the Chesapeake Beach area, because by the time it tries to do that, the winds will be from the north and it will actually push the water away from you. So your surge will be nothing compared to what they're seeing now down in Hampton Roads, in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and all the way down. At five feet, another high tide, three feet above that is an eight-foot surge coming for them but not for you, Chris.

LAWRENCE: Yes, in some ways, that's very good to hear. I know people here who we've been talking to are sort of hunkered down here with us, a lot of families, a lot of people who are in town for weddings, and had family in town. They'll be happy to hear that.

The one thing they will not be happy to hear is to know we haven't even felt the true brunt of this storm yet, that everything we're experiencing is a preview for what's to come. One of the (AUDIO GAP) has been that storm surge. The one good point I will say, as I look around here and we've been sort of walking around, is that up till now, Kyra, Marty, we have not lost power. I hope that I haven't just jinxed ourselves, here in Chesapeake Beach.

(LAUGHTER)

SAVIDGE: We hope that's not the case, too. Chris, thanks very much.

We want to get back to Chad. He's got an update on the hurricane itself.

Chad.

MYERS: Brand new update just out of the Hurricane Center. Still an 80-mile-per-hour storm. I know I've been getting all kinds of Tweets about this, telling me how bad this storm looks, how there's no red, there's no purple. But you know what? It's back over water again. It's not hot water, but it's still warm, and it isn't land. I believe the storm could regenerate at least a little bit tonight and be still that same storm that we expected in New York. It did lose a lot of energy over North Carolina. It truly did. But now as it spins around tonight, I believe there's a new threat developing. Tornado watch was issued, all the way up to New York City. Now I have four tornado warnings, the latest one out of this Mt. Holly, New Jersey, area. It's for the Surf City area. Now, Surf City kind of a big area at Toms River, about 20 miles south of there.

But the issue is you're not going to be able to see these storms coming. I want you to just stay in a safe place. Everybody sleeps in a safe place away from windows tonight. Maybe you just camp out in your house somewhere. Camp out in the bathroom somewhere. Because these storms-and you said it, you said it earlier, five houses were demolished by this small tornado. OK, so it's not a Tuscaloosa-sized tornado or Birmingham or Joplin, Missouri. But it only takes one house, if it's yours.

SAVIDGE: Right. So very true. Thanks, Chad.

PHILLIPS: You were talking about how it lost energy there over North Carolina, but it did cause a lot of damage, including deaths. We're going to take you live to both spots, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: We want to show you some live images now from two very different places. On the left, Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, where the Chesapeake Bay Bridge has been closed, and the weather is looking grim.

PHILLIPS: And then on the other side of the screen, Times Square, New York. As you know, New York is expected to get those hurricane-force winds and rains tomorrow. We've told you about the mandatory evacuation order that was issued for some of the low-lying areas there in New York City.

Also, Martin, we reported 1,900 National Guard troops dispatched by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

SAVIDGE: And we have also seen a tornado watch has been put out for New York City. Let's check out Amber Lyon. She's in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Amber, how are things at the hour?

AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just to put things into perspective, a couple of hours ago my producer and I tried to walk out exactly I am standing right now. We almost had to crawl out of our hotel, the wind gusts were so powerful. And I am able to stand here pretty easily right now. I'm about a football field away from the ocean, and storm surge was creeping up onto the boardwalk. And at one point there was a lot of fear that the water was going to come across the boardwalk and rush into these streets and flood parts of the city. But we're not seeing that right now, not seeing the debris. The eye of Hurricane Irene is directly east of Virginia Beach right now. So for the next hour we'll see the last of the major wind gusts and storm surge and things will start to die down a bit around here.

Good news, too. We're starting to see some of the power come back on. The power in our hotel turned back on. At one point the majority of the city was without electricity. As we all know, when we think of the city of Virginia Beach, it's definitely a tourist destination, Martin and Kyra. It hasn't stopped some tourists from coming down here just to witness this hurricane. Earlier we were in the hotel bar, the Catch 31. And we were talking to a guy who just enjoying a burger and fries as he was overlooking the ocean and watching the hurricane because he had never seen a tropical storm before.

SAVIDGE: A burger and fries with a side of hurricane. How about that?

PHILLIPS: How's that for an order?

SAVIDGE: Yes, a little light on the hurricane.

LYON: You know, he's never seen a storm, and for him it was a vacation. A thrill, an adventure-cation, I guess you'd call it.

SAVIDGE: It's very true. If you've never seen a hurricane, they are amazing forces of nature. If no one got hurt and there was no damage. But unfortunately that's not the case, but that good news to hear, Amber, it appears the worst is past, where you are. And it is the second report of the evening where things do not seem as bad as they feared.

PHILLIPS: Even Chad saying it did end up being-having a lot less force than everybody expected there in Virginia, North Carolina. As we continue to follow the live pictures, where it doesn't look so great now as we know, our Chris Lawrence was saying it wasn't as bad as he expected. We are monitoring live pictures from there at Chesapeake Beach to New York City, out of Virginia Beach, Ocean City why where Jeanne Meserve is. And, you know, Amber was talking about one perspective of the hurricane, this guy sitting in the bar enjoying it. Alexandra Steele, you actually have another perspective on this hurricane, a little different from the guy with the burger and the beer.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, no alcohol here, but I'm going to show you something I bet on these planes there will be plenty of drinking going on because I bet it is quite scary.

We've talked so much about travel and the unprecedented nature of travel and all the airport closures in the Northeast because of a hurricane, certainly very uncommon. Kind of want to give you a new, interesting perspective. This is called flight explorer. What we're looking at, all of these blue, these are planes in the sky at this very moment. Right now we have about 5,000 planes. Of course, this is the hurricane. This is the Outer Banks to give you a little perspective. And this is Long Island. So as we go a little tighter, look at this, the western periphery of the hurricane. Look at these planes, flying right on the western -- can you imagine the drinking going on, how bumpy this is-talk about turbulence. Can't wait to hear from some of these people once they land.

Also, let's take you to Atlanta, the world's busiest airport, right now about 80 flights flying to Atlanta. Certainly it is a Saturday night and a little bit lighter than normal. Now let's take you to Boston. Boston, the airport is still open. How many flights going there? Only about six at this hour into Boston.

And also, of course, all day long we've known all of the New York airports have been closed, closed due to incoming traffic and incoming planes. Why? Because once people get there, there's no way for people to get around and they would be stuck because there is no mass transit. Into Boston, of course, five planes into New York, no planes flying here, the airport certainly not seeing any business at this hour. So kind of an interesting perspective. I'd be very curious, Kyra, to talk and see and hear from those people coming in on this incredibly bump ride. Can you only imagine?

PHILLIPS: Oh, that's some pale faces and knuckles --

SAVIDGE: Yes, white knuckles and heavy on the Scotch, please.

PHILLIPS: Exactly. Alexandra, thanks.

David Mattingly is in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, for us there, part of the Outer Banks.

How is it now? We were watching this morning. It was pretty intense. We could barely see you. It's calmed down quite a bit.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, we've been hearing reports tonight of people saying the storm was not as bad as it could have been. That may be true, but it was still a very serious event here in North Carolina. As of tonight, we have 500,000 people without power, 5,000 people living in shelters, 4, possibly 5, fatalities associated with this storm. And at this hour the problem is flooding. More than 24 hours after the storm made landfall here in the Outer Banks we're seeing some significant flooding for communities along the sound. That's that large body of water between the Outer Banks, the barrier islands here, and the mainland of North Carolina. Communities along that sound experiencing flooding, some houses being flooded, three, four feet of water in some areas, we're told. Also roads being cut off, flooded, impassable right now by floodwaters. One resident who had to wade through the waters to get away from his house tonight told me that the water came up in a matter of just an hour, with the winds shifting we had winds pushing the waters away from these communities while the hurricane was working its way north.

But as soon as it got up above us here, to the north, the wind shifted and all of a sudden it was pushing all of that water it was holding back. And now it came rushing up to these communities, had flooding the homes, blocking the roads, catching people by surprise when they thought this storm was just about over. Now we're going to wait until tomorrow morning. Damage assessment teams all over the place are going to be fanning out to find out what they've got to work with here. What they've got to do to get everybody back on their feet.

But there's a long way to go, a lot of work to do now because of the widespread damage here. Here where we are in the upper areas of the Outer Banks, county officials are telling people that they will not be allowed back on this island tonight until they've had those damage assessments done. They want to make sure the residents here don't come back until they're ready for them, to make sure all the roads are safe. Still, a lot of work to do after a very long and arduous problem with this hurricane. It was really an endurance contest for everybody who had to ride this out. Now it's a waiting game for the people who evacuated, waiting to come back and get their property back together, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Question to you quickly, David. General Honore was saying one of his big concerns there in North Carolina, and also Virginia, are the elderly, the disabled, the poor that did not have the means necessarily to get out. Is there a concern there? Have you heard from emergency management types or response types that they may not know what they'll be going into when they come in to assess the damage. It's very possible people could have been trapped or in bad conditions?

MATTINGLY: All right, Kyra, some good news. Communities around here, their emergency management people have been networking, going to conferences, learning about what to do to take care of everyone in emergencies like this. This particular county started for the very first time a program where they were offering assistance to people who needed it to get out of here. This would be people with medical problems, the elderly and others who maybe just didn't have the transportation, or a place I place to go. They were concentrating on these individuals making sure they all knew there were these programs and services available to them.

Surprisingly for this county here in the Outer Banks, all but about 50 people took advantage of that, and most of them were exchange students from other parts of the country. They were working here on the Outer Banks when the storm came in. They didn't have cars. They didn't have a place to go. They didn't have family to go to. So they took advantage of this program to take them off to shelters. I talked to some of those students, one from Jamaica. He said he had lived through Category 5 storms on his home island, and he says he knows that this is something you need to respect. So he was very happy that that program was available.

PHILLIPS: David Mattingly there in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. David, thanks.

SAVIDGE: Sounds very much like another program that is a lesson learned from Hurricane Katrina there.

Coming up, we're going to take a break. But when we come back we're going to check in with Mayor Bloomberg to see how things are in New York. And also check in with Lower Manhattan where there's a real concern for flooding.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: There are very big concerns for a very big city, New York, which will see Hurricane Irene tomorrow morning. And the real area of concern in that city is Lower Manhattan. Ann Roche, a CNN producer, on the telephone. And she is watching as things, well, evolve down there.

Ann, what are you seeing?

ANN ROCHE, CNN PRODUCER (via telephone): Hi, Martin. We're at Lower Manhattan, we are at the very tip of Lower Manhattan. We are within the evacuation zone. Right now we're seeing -- what you're look at, first of all, let me describe the picture of what you're looking at. That's the view on West Street, and that is looking north on West Street. And those tall buildings in the background, that is One World Trade Center and just to the right of it is Seven World Trade Center.

Over the past hour or so we've been seeing an uptick in the level of rain that's falling and the wind. But the thing that is interesting here, Martin, is that even though we are in the evacuation zone, we are seeing vehicles, vehicles that are not emergency vehicles, but that look to be those of just average, ordinary citizens.

SAVIDGE: Ann, explain to us what is the concern here? Obviously, it is the water, but the water coming from which direction?

ROCHE: The concern here is the water coming from the south, which would be to my right. I'm going to have Producer Nick Parker pan over to the right. It's a very dark shot. But what you'll be seeing is at the very tip of Manhattan, Brooks and Battery Tunnel, and beyond that, that's New York Harbor. And the concern is that the surge of water will come up through New York Harbor and flood this area that you're seeing below us in the lower portion of the shot. And if Nick will pan down just a little bit, we see these emergency vehicles that have just arrived on the scene, or construction vehicles, I should say, and they're setting up new barriers there. That's something new that is happened within the past 10 minutes or so.

SAVIDGE: And are people that you've managed to see, or speak to, are they worried? Are they sort of taking this as it comes? What's their attitude?

ROCHE: The attitude has been very much taking it as it comes. I can tell you we're in an apartment building and on our floor there are a few people who have remained here who are not leaving. And they are very -- they're taking it as it comes, taking it in stride, and just waiting it out. And earlier today we were on the streets. We talked to a lot of people before the rain started happening, before the winds picked up. And everyone just really seemed to take it in stride. They are prepared. A lot of people in the hardware stores and a lot of people in the grocery stores, you know, getting their last-minute supplies. I think it's sort of wait and see right now.

PHILLIPS: Ann, you're a New Yorker, Mary Snow was out on the street interviewing a number of people. Just about 30 minute ago we heard from a guy that said, look, Bloomberg is totally blowing this out of proportion because he blew it on the blizzard, bottom line. You know, you are a New Yorker, what's your take? I mean it is very easy to see what happened in Katrina and, hey, as a mayor, you would wan to take all these precautions and not have it turn out like a Katrina.

ROCHE: Yes. I think my take is, you know, as New Yorkers and as a New Yorker myself, we all tend to think we can ride these things out and we will rise above them. But you know, better safe than sorry, I think.

We've never seen anything like this in Manhattan before, in New York City before. So if it's -- a blizzard is something (INAUDIBLE) deal with every year. A hurricane and possibly floodwaters like they're talking about in lower Manhattan, that's something very different. So I think, you know, take the advice.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Yes. Well, what about the winds? I mean, we were talking about the water, but wind has to be a concern, as well, with all the very tall buildings you've got and a lot of glass.

ROCHE: Absolutely. And there's a lot of glass down here in lower Manhattan, especially (INAUDIBLE) World Trade Center/Ground Zero site. There's a lot of glass there. Some of the windows are boarded up. The majority of them that we've seen today are not. The buildings around -- the building I'm in does not have a lot of tape or boards, or any boards on the windows. So there could be a lot of glass flying around.

SAVIDGE: All right, Ann Roche, producer for CNN, lower Manhattan. Yes, we're just looking at the very -- very interesting picture, that one there, as you watch what looks like the clouds (INAUDIBLE) just whipping past what must be a camera on a tall building.

PHILLIPS: Do we know where that's coming from, guys?

SAVIDGE: Yes, I was going to say the Empire State Building.

PHILLIPS: Empire State Building?

SAVIDGE: But just a fascinating look at the weather, as only you can get a perspective in New York City. Again, you have to be very concerned about the weather that's moving in, but you can't help but also be amazed to look at it, especially as it impacts that huge urban center, like it's doing there. Really, really neat pictures.

PHILLIPS: You mentioned all the high-rises and the winds. I mean, the way -- I mean, you think about -- it's like a vacuum. You know, when the -- as the wind increases and goes in between those high buildings...

SAVIDGE: Yes.

PHILLIPS: ... and it lowers the pressure -- I mean, that's exactly what can cause all those windows to pop out. And that's why -- a big reason why the mayor's taking those precautions in various areas, as well, not just the flooding that we've talked about, from the subway system to parts where Anne was showing us, but also the wind and the damage it can do to those high-rises and blowing out the glass.

SAVIDGE: Chad Myers joining us once again for an update on the storm itself -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Talk about a couple things here, talk about the tornado warnings that are still in effect. There are two, one for Dorothy, New Jersey, and the other one for Warren Grove, New Jersey. The storms continue to come off the ocean and they are spinning.

To New York City -- you are also in this tornado watch area, which means any storm that comes near you that could be spinning could also get a tornado warning on it. Right now, it's just, watch out. Right now, it's not, OK, we're warning you. Not yet. This watchbox is big. It's the first -- it's part one. It's the part two, when we say warning, that's when you have to go running, or at least get away from the windows. So that's what we have for you right here.

Another thing I want to talk about, I want to talk about how much water might get into New York City. This is a slosh model from NOAA. It tells us how much water could possibly get into the harbor. That's yellow. The yellow over there, five feet, five feet of extra water. This is also water coming in here from the sound.

So all of a sudden, you have water trying to come down the East River from the sound, and water trying to push back up the East River from New York harbor. And at that point in time, you're going to get some flooding. We certainly don't know yet how much flooding, but here's what the map of the evacuation area looks like. The evacuation area and that map and that color yellow and orange means, Get out of there. If you're in this area, you need to be out. And this is what is expected to flood at five to seven feet.

Battery Park, right through here, the picture we were just showing you, right looking down the street, the entire area here of Battery Park City, this is all an evacuation area. And over here toward the World Trade Center there, that is also an evacuation area, and all the way along kind of the West Side. That's all part of the plan for water.

Now what about the plan for wind? Wind is significantly down the tunnel. Weren't you just saying that, Kyra? Wind tunneling effect...

PHILLIPS: I was thinking about the Bernoulli principle. Remember? We learned that when we were in school, right?

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: When the winds are -- are -- you know, it lowers the pressure as the wind speeds up, and then that causes the suctioning, right?

MYERS: You have an airplane wing...

PHILLIPS: Correct me if I'm wrong!

MYERS: You have an airplane wing. The wing goes like that. There's more distance for the wind to travel, so there's lower pressure, and that's how a plane flies. Let's hope that's not how the windows fly.

But OK, so we have the tunneling effect. And this is down maybe like the first 10 floors. But what happens up above when there are just a couple buildings sticking up? Well, the Hurricane Center put out something today for all of us to look at, and for you, as well.

Let's just say, because this is probably a pretty good number, that down here, down at the base of the World Trade, or also down at the base of the Empire State Building, ground level, about a 60-mile- per-hour wind. You go up to the 30th floor, and you add 20 percent -- 72 miles per hour there. You go up to the 80th or 90th or 100th floor, 78 miles per hour.

So that picture we were just seeing from the observation deck -- you're seeing it right there -- that observation deck wind is significantly more than what you're seeing on the ground.

That said, what else is on the ground? What else is down here? Well, it's New York City. There's debris, there's stuff, there's rocks, there's stones, there's everything that people left around. There's garbage that is probably getting knocked over, garbage cans getting knocked over. If you take a 60-mile-per-hour wind and you throw a stone or you throw an apple at the window going 60 miles per hour, that's going to do more damage, I believe, because you're going to have a projectile hitting the windows. And so there's not really a happy medium anywhere. There's going to be some damage, I think, in New York City to some of the glass.

At this point in time -- I've talked to some engineers. They all believe that a 78-mile-per-hour wind, most windows in New York are above that. They are above a 78-mile-per-hour threshold, and everybody there should be safe. If you can see outside when this eye gets there, if you can see outside, you're in the wrong place. Get in the closet, get in the bathroom, someplace else in case the windows break. Here it comes, guys.

PHILLIPS: OK. Hold your breath. Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: Sure.

PHILLIPS: Well, as you know, we've been talking a lot about New York -- well, where the storm was and where it's -- where the hurricane was, where it's headed, New York City. General Russel Honore here to talk about how he thinks, actually, that New York is doing a pretty good job at preparing, and as we look at these live pictures out of Maryland, how they've done a pretty good job as it's been coming through.

SAVIDGE: Right. We'll talk to the general right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: (INAUDIBLE) the governor of Maryland, Mark O'Malley, speaking now. Let's listen.

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: ... -that the threat from the surge inside the bay, that that surge is not anticipated to be greater than, say, a three-foot surge. However, Ocean City will, of course, get pounded. The beaches will take a pounding, as the storm works its way up -- as the hurricane works its way up to Ocean City.

And there also is a greater threat anticipated from streams and creeks and your smaller rivers because of the huge amount of rainfall that is coming from this storm. So -- but the good news is that the winds, as they turn around on this thing, will actually be creating a condition that has kind of a reverse tide to it as the storm passes through.

So if I haven't totally confused you, let me turn it over to Richard Muth (ph) and see -- Richard, anything I've left out, any questions we have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, sir. Good evening, everyone, once again. Or course, right now, we now are still going through the worst part of the storm as far as damage is going to go, and we expect...

SAVIDGE: And we've just been listening to a briefing coming from state officials there in Maryland, where they're reporting on the positive of what is the negative, which is Hurricane Irene, saying that the winds could actually help in certain circumstances. But they are still bracing for what is to come.

PHILLIPS: And that's where we bring in retired lieutenant general Russel Honore. He's been looking back, also looking ahead. We want to focus on New York now. You were probably listening to Chad talking about the concern of the winds, also the water, in particular with New York, where that water can come in, where there can be a problem -- there's the Hudson River, right, where it opens up into the Atlantic. That's a concern. Also the Battery area. Tell us what you're looking at.

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the impact of the storm surge. At the end of the day, that water's been churning and it's pushing into those inlets. The preventative measures to save the electrical power grid means there's no power in the city in that projected area. So people are sitting there with -- listening to their battery-powered radio, unless they're fortunate enough to have a generator.

All that could have a significant impact in days to come because when that water get into the underground system, where we have the metro systems running through there, streets will be damaged. And now you've got millions of people in and around that area.

So the call that the mayor made is the right call. No doubt about it. I've been looking for a mayor to do that for years, to be able to stand up with the risk of saying, We're not going to have football games this weekend, we're closing the theaters and we're closing mass transit. That's the way it should work because of the enormity of the number of people that live in this concentrated area. But this is going to be a problem for days to come if the water gets to what is predicted in that model Chad showed.

SAVIDGE: We know that the governor of New York has access to the National Guard. If you were going to use the National Guard troops, say, in a major city like New York, how would you use them?

HONORE: Primarily to help open the roads and to use the high- clearance vehicles to go in the area and try to evacuate people because as it is in many of these cities, those high-clearance vehicles will be able to get there quicker, as opposed to small boats, and get more people out quickly.

That's how the Guard is prepared, as well as to establish -- clear routes that may become damaged as a result of trees that are down. The people in New York, they've never seen a tree they didn't love, and they're all over the place and -- because the roads will become closed. So mobility, evacuation, search and rescue, as well as to help take care of people in shelters.

PHILLIPS: What do we know about that seawall right there, you know, at the Hudson River where it empties into the Atlantic? Because there is the concern, right, as you were mentioning...

HONORE: Right.

BOOKER: ... that that gap -- you know, considering the size of it, if that pressure builds, it could pop that seawall. Is that a possibility?

HONORE: You know, levees, seawalls, all of those are vulnerable. Look at the tsunami. Mother Nature can overmatch any of those. And the reason that seawall is there is because to try to protect as many people as you can. If it breaks, another nightmare story.

SAVIDGE: All right. Lieutenant General Honore, of course, we'll continue to rely on your expertise. Thanks very much for joining us.

And we'll take a break, be back with more coverage of Hurricane Irene afterwards.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: All right, New York (INAUDIBLE) to get those hurricane-force winds and rain tomorrow. Our Mary Snow joining us live, where it sounds like, looks like it's picking up -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is steady rain here, Kyra. The brunt of the storm, though, what New York is bracing for, expecting to really feel the impact tomorrow morning. And it's high tide around 8:00 AM tomorrow, and that's really what the city officials here are concerned about, the potential for flooding.

And we're here in lower Manhattan, and this is an evacuation zone. There is concern about flooding here, residents told to leave. Every once in a while, we'll see a police car going through with announcements on loudspeakers, reminding people about that evacuation. You'll see occasionally a person coming through.

And we just found Malachy Darcy, who is a building manager of one of the buildings behind me. And Malachy, you came out to kind of inspect and see how the water is going. How about the evacuations? Did most people leave?

MALACHY DARCY, BUILDING MGR., LOWER MANHATTAN: Yes, most people. It was actually a lot smoother than I had anticipated. And we only have 24 people that for various reasons couldn't leave -- basically, pets. I have somebody that had two children that just had surgery. And -- but everybody was compliant.

SNOW: Did you meet a lot of resistance?

DARCY: Initially, yesterday, yes. But I think once people listened to the mayor, and you know, started to process and get more information, they were more willing to cooperate, understanding that by them staying, they're putting other people in danger. So I think that just solidified them cooperating.

SNOW: What's your biggest concern right now? You said you've been informed that power is going to be cut to the building, right?

DARCY: Sure. This is my biggest warning. That's why I walked over to take a look. We have a tri-level parking garage underneath the building, and a lot of our power equipment is down there. Actually, Con Ed just informed us a little while ago that they're going to be shutting our power at 2:00 AM indefinitely because of the danger of the salt water, et cetera. So that's where we are with that. Power is off at 2:00 AM, no elevators. We're on candle and flashlight.

SNOW: All right. Well, good luck. And that is Malachy Darcy, just one of the New Yorkers who's going to be here through the night -- Kyra and Marty.

SAVIDGE: All right, Mary, thanks very much. Now we want to go over to Long Beach, which is on Long Island, and our Susan Candiotti, because we want to know what are the concerns on Long Island now from this hurricane, Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Marty, much the same as they are, of course, in Manhattan and most other places along the Northeastern coast, where Irene has been pounding. Certainly, it's flooding and low-lying areas, as well as the -- any damage from the wind and the high surf.

We're on the boardwalk at Long Beach, and one reason we're here, Marty and Kyra, is because this could be where Irene makes landfall, right here in roughly this spot. Of course, we'll have to see. It could jog one way or another.

It also gives us a very good vantage point here to see and keep an eye on the surf, which is getting stronger and stronger with each hour. As Mary mentioned, we're still a good, you know, 11 or so hours away from high tide. So certainly, that's going to get much closer.

And you can also see the sand dunes. They have bulldozed a lot of sand up here to try to create an extra barrier. Believe it or not, the boardwalk is the highest point in Long Beach. It's 15 feet above sea level. Many parts of the city are below sea level. And in fact, some of the highest spots, aside from the boardwalk, are maybe only 3 or 4 feet above where the ocean comes in.

This area is under now a mandatory evacuation order for the low- lying areas on the south shore of this barrier island, on the north shore, as well. And then, of course, there's the mainland, Long Island. And also, you see some of these high-rises here. Along this area, they're restricted to only build about 10 feet high. But with each floor, you know, in a hurricane, the winds get stronger and stronger the higher up you go. So everyone's on standby here. Many people seem to have abided by the evacuation order so far. Back to you, Marty.

SAVIDGE: All right, Susan Candiotti, thanks very much. We did see people on the street, though, behind her.

PHILLIPS: Yes, we did. My guess is they're pushing it to the very last minute.

Well, we hear a lot about storm chasers during tornado season. Well (ph), also chase hurricanes. We're going to talk to one of them about what with he's seen today. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: All right, we're going to take you back to North Carolina, where Irene first made landfall. Storm chaser Mark Sudduth joins us on the phone from Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks. And Mark, what are the conditions like there now?

MARK SUDDUTH, FOUNDER, HURRICANETRACK.COM (via telephone): Well, they're getting a little bit better, still really windy, but the rain has calmed down. It was quite an interesting end to the day, though, down near the Roanoke Sound, where it spilled over. That storm surge came in due to the wind, and quite a dramatic scene down there along highway 64 coming out to the Outer Banks.

SAVIDGE: You've been streaming the video of Irene's effects all day long. And I'm wondering how you would rate Irene, say, compared to other hurricanes that you've tracked.

SUDDUTH: Well, it certainly is not a Katrina, by any stretch of the imagination. Every one of these are different. This one has been most unpredictable, mainly in its intensity, trying to guess what's going to happen. And so it's just kept everybody on their toes because you get a forecast of a very strong hurricane and people have to react to that. But it's hard because the hurricane would weaken and do unexpected things.

And it really carried that today, I think, with most of the rain and the strongest winds being over interior North Carolina, instead of right out along the coast. So Irene definitely keeping us guessing all along, mainly for intensity, though.

SAVIDGE: Sure. And of course, we're all very happy to hear that the winds were not quite as bad as was feared. So Mark Sudduth, thanks very much for joining us. We'll continue to stay in touch with you.

PHILLIPS: Well, as you know, Irene is set to hit Rhode Island tomorrow, and that's where we find our Gary Tuchman. He's actually live out of Newport, there. Gary, what can you tell us? What's happened so far? How are people preparing? And where exactly are you?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, mandatory evacuation goes into effect at midnight, two hours from now, Kyra. But here at the area where the Newport harbor is, where all the boats are -- this is one of the greatest boating cities in the world -- there are a lot of people who are not only not evacuating, they're sleeping on their boats tonight, including these two right here. This is Dan (ph), the father, Finn (ph), the son, the 12-year-old.

Dan, how come you're staying on this beautiful 50-foot sport fishing boat in the middle of a hurricane tomorrow?

DAN, STAYING ON BOAT DURING HURRICANE: Well, Gary, we didn't have much of an option to move the boat. And with the storm surge that was predicted, we could have pulled it out of the water or kept it in the water. And the way this marina is built, I felt it was a safer shot to keep it in the water.

TUCHMAN: You say safer, but you don't say safe. Are you a little worried about yours and your son's security? I mean, in a worst-case scenario, this thing's going to be bouncing up and down a lot in heavy rains and a lot of wind.

DAN: Well, you know, we go 100 miles offshore to fish in pretty serious conditions, so honestly, I feel we're very safe here.

TUCHMAN: What do you think, Finn? Is it OK with you to be on this boat overnight in the middle of a hurricane?

FINN, STAYING ON BOAT DURING HURRICANE: Yes. Actually, I feel that it's safer in the water than out of the water because of the surge. I mean, things can go bad with the surge. I mean...

TUCHMAN: Well, I think it's safer in Nebraska.

(LAUGHTER)

FINN: Probably.

TUCHMAN: Yes, OK. Well, anyway, you guys, I hope you are safe.

I want to give you a look. There are lots of people here who have boats here in the harbor. These are all people who are sleeping on their boats tonight. And this is the evacuation area in Newport.

And we're not ones to cast, Kyra, value judgments about evacuations, but this is a very different case. I mean, it's such a huge area, and to evacuate here, you've got to drive hours away to get out of the potentially dangerous area. So there are, frankly, a lot of people who are staying here in the Newport, Rhode Island, area, one of the great cities of America. Back to you.

SAVIDGE: And you've got a lot of historic homes, I know, there, Gary. So what are the concerns there? Some go back hundreds of years.

TUCHMAN: Martin, not only historic homes, some of the biggest homes in America, huge, gigantic, beautiful mansions that are vulnerable. This city was founded in the 17th century, so you have homes that are 150, 200 years old. You have old churches. You have churches that were almost destroyed during the great hurricane of 1938, that more than 600 people were killed in southern New England and Long Island. So yes, there's a great history here.

But there hasn't been a hurricane for 20 years. A lot of people aren't used to it. There's a lot of boarding up, but also a lot of people, not only residents, but tourists. There's 25,000 people who live here year round, but this weekend, this is the last big weekend before Labor Day, there are more than 100,000 people in town, and very few of them have gone home.

There was a wedding party just behind me about two hours ago, people celebrating and dancing and having a good time. So even though the streets are relatively quiet, a lot of people are not leaving.

PHILLIPS: Well, and there was a mandatory evacuation order in the low-lying areas, right, Gary? I mean, did they -- did the majority of people just not go?

TUCHMAN: Yes, right here. This is the mandatory evacuation area. And you can see, I'm sitting on a 50-foot fishing boat with Dan and Finn here. So no, a lot of people aren't leaving. They're going to -- and I will tell you, I mean, if we had the winds that were originally forecast, I bet you Dan and Finn might be going, too, if it was 130-mile-an-hour gusts coming here. Now we think it's going to be 80 or less. So that's made a big difference.

But the fact is, there's a mandatory evacuation order. We say this hurricane after hurricane, that people don't get arrested for not listening to the mandatory evacuation orders, but they run the risk of not getting any help if they need it. But all these people, the people who you saw standing up there, and Dan and Finn, they're sticking it out overnight. And it gets bad here around between about 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM Eastern time tomorrow.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Well, looks pretty good there now. Gary Tuchman, Newport, Rhode Island. Thanks very much.

PHILLIPS: Thank you for staying with us. It is going to continue until the wee hours of the morning.