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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Breaking News Coverage of Hurricane Irene As It Moves Up the Eastern Seaboard

Aired August 27, 2011 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kyra Phillips. Thanks for staying with us through the night and into the morning.

Hurricane Irene has already claimed nine lives since making landfall this morning in North Carolina's Outer Banks. More than one million homes have lost power, and it's churning up the Atlantic seaboard as we speak.

SAVIDGE: The massive storm is now moving north, pounding the resort town of Ocean City, Maryland. Irene's expected to remain a Category 1, with hurricane-force winds of 80 miles per hour all the way to New York City. It is expected to arrive there Sunday afternoon.

PHILLIPS: And for a Category 1 hurricane, Irene is deceptively dangerous. The greatest threat is a crippling storm surge caused by the non-stop wind. And that's because the storm is moving so slowly, barely moving, 13 miles an hour. Some places, that storm surge could be as high as 10 feet.

SAVIDGE: We want to check in now with Chad Myers at the CNN Hurricane Headquarters for the latest on the storm.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The 11:00 o'clock update is here. If you're keeping track at home, 36.9, 75.6. It is still an 80-mile- per-hour storm. And I was just checking some of the recon, which means the hurricane hunter aircraft flying through it, still 100 miles per hour aloft.

So this storm, although it looks awful on satellite, it still looks very good on radar. And there's an awful lot of rain still coming down, and that rainfall is saturating the ground. It is running off, and the wind as it goes over that saturated ground will knock trees down from New York City through Philadelphia, Bucks County, back as far west probably and south as Baltimore and even into D.C.

I know it doesn't look that great on the satellite, but let me tell you, there's an awful lot of rainfall here. And all these cells that are kind of rotating in here across parts of New Jersey are all rotating. We've had at least five tornado warnings just in the past hour, kind of centered around Philadelphia, but all the way to Wilmington, all the way to the Pine Barrens. And these storms as they come onshore could rotate with tornadoes. We had 30 to 40 homes damaged in Lewes, Delaware, from a tornado at 6:35 this afternoon.

And there's the wind. That's our Chris Lawrence cam. That is Chesapeake Beach, right on the Chesapeake Bay. We also have Jeanne Meserve in Ocean City. And the winds are picking up at all those locations because the eye, guys, is still getting closer.

SAVIDGE: All right, Chad. Thanks very much.

PHILLIPS: Well, let's stay on the note of New York City, shall we? Police commissioner Ray Kelly on the line with us now. Commissioner, can you hear me OK?

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER (VIA TELEPHONE): Yes, I can.

PHILLIPS: Update us. We saw the presser there with the mayor, and basically, concerned about the tornado watch until 5:00 AM, correct? And also driving home the point that if you haven't left, to stay indoors. And that's the final warning.

KELLY: Yes, I think that, you know, the message has changed in that regard. The mayor is saying, you know, if you're in those areas that he directed be evacuated, then it's not time to evacuate. It's time to stay there, to shelter in place as best you can. It would be more dangerous now to leave those locations. So that was the mayor's changed message, you might say.

SAVIDGE: Commissioner, how high is the concern for lower Manhattan and the potential for flooding?

KELLY: Well, certainly, that is a significant concern. You know, it could be as much as a 8 to 10-foot increase in the level of water there. So you know, that would put in jeopardy a lot of significant facilities that we have in that area, and certainly, the power grid if it gets, you know, wet, in a significant way and it's powered up, could do significant damage. So that's why there's discussions about at least the possibility of turning the power off.

PHILLIPS: And worst-case scenario, if, indeed, one of these areas, low-lying areas that we have talked about, will flood, what will be your first course of action?

KELLY: Well, obviously, if, in fact, it affects the power supply, you know, for Con Ed to do everything they possibly can to return the power. We think that the flooding really has a -- you know, the greatest risk of flooding is to affect the infrastructure. We don't see it as putting, necessarily, you know, lives at greater risk. It's going to impact on electrical systems, on power supplies. That's going to be of primary concern. Of course, putting those things back on line is a very, very heavy lift.

SAVIDGE: And public transportation. Once this storm goes by, how quickly do you think you can get that back up and running?

KELLY: Well, the MTA, Metropolitan Transit Authority, are the experts in that regard, but we know it took them eight hours to turn the system off. So it takes at least eight hours and probably significantly more time to re-power the system.

You know, the mayor is hopeful that, you know, the system could be restored ideally some time Monday, but I think it -- you know, it doesn't look good for Monday morning rush hour. I think it's just -- you know, common sense indicates that that's going to be a very challenging time for us.

PHILLIPS: Are you concerned about the panic? If things get pretty hairy, things that we saw in Katrina, like the looting and the violence -- are you prepared for those scenarios, and are you concerned about that? Are you worried about that?

KELLY: Well, sure, we have to be concerned about it. That's our job. We've deployed, you know, a large number of police officers. We'll keep them out on patrol for specifically that reason, order maintenance. That's -- if, in fact, you do leave your home and leave your valuables, it's understandable if you're concerned about that. And we're trying to allay those concerns by having police resources in place.

You know, we're a big police department, but we've devoted a lot of resources in that regard to the areas where evacuation was mandated.

SAVIDGE: How about the fact this is a weekend? I presume that is a great help for you?

KELLY: Yes. I mean, you know, the fact that people are not going to work, obviously, that lessens the -- you know, the pressure and the effect on the business community. I mean, we know that businesses certainly are impacted as a result of this, but it would have been much greater if, in fact, it happened during the work week, so -- you know, there are other businesses, entertainment businesses, that sort of thing, that are affected on the weekends. But I think the effect would have been much greater if it had happen during a work week. So we're thankful for that.

PHILLIPS: New York police commissioner Ray Kelly -- sir, thanks so much for calling in.

KELLY: Thanks. Bye-bye.

SAVIDGE: We're now going to go check in with our two correspondents, Chris Lawrence and Jeanne Meserve, both in the state of Maryland, but separated by about 80-some miles. And there is Jeanne. Let's -- and there's Chris. Chris, let's start with you since we're looking at you there. How are things, and how have they changed since last we spoke?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Marty, it's cold, wet, miserable, about what you would expect to be standing out in the middle of a hurricane, or one that is fast approaching.

I think the difference from maybe an hour ago that we've seen here is the strength of some of the gusts of winds has definitely increased a little bit. But the amount of rain has really increased from an hour ago, where it's just a steady downpour.

I'm just going to step away a little bit and show you a little bit of the area, again with the rain just continuing to come down and just continue as sheets as that wind starts to whip through the area.

The concern here is not so much catastrophic damage from this wind. They don't think that's going to happen. In fact, I remember standing outside about six years ago, down near New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina, and even in the hours before Katrina hit, I remember, there was no way you could stand out like this. You know, the winds were just way too powerful.

That's not what we're seeing with this storm. But again, every area is affected very differently. My colleague, Jeanne Meserve, again, is about 80 miles away, but she's on the side of the storm that is getting hit along the Atlantic Ocean.

And Jeanne, I'm just wondering, you know, what are you experiencing there in terms of the wind and the rain?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, Chad promised us that it would get worse, and indeed, it has. We're now getting quite a bit of rain in addition to quite a bit of wind.

I wanted to bring you a little bit of news. I just got off the telephone with Governor Jack Markell, the governor of Delaware. We've been talking about reports of a tornado touching down in his state. He says there are several other reports of tornadoes touching down, but nothing confirmed at this point in time.

He also told me that there is a hospital in Dover, Kent General Hospital, which is experiencing some flooding at this time. There are patients in that hospital, and he says they are working very hard to pump that water out before it affects the electrical system. At this point in time, they do have electricity, but obviously, they want to maintain that because they have patients in that hospital who are in need, I'm sure, of the sorts of machines that require a steady supply of electricity. Even if there are emergency generators there, they want to keep solid electrical power into that facility, if they can.

He told me they've had a lot of beach erosion, that there are a lot of roads that are impassable, that there has been some flooding, as well. But right now, the big concern up where he is, these reports of tornadoes touching down.

Here in Ocean City, it continues to be very rough. We went down and walked the dunes down here. We did see that at one point, where there was a pathway over the dunes, water had indeed come over at one point, and there had been a little bit of erosion. But the main body of the dunes in this specific area -- and we can only talk to what we can see -- the dunes so far appear to be holding fast. Of course, we have many hours ahead of this storm. And Chad, you can tell us a little bit more about that.

MYERS: Jeanne, the eye of the storm, literally the eye, only about 60 miles to your south, right down here. Jeanne Meserve is right there, just outside of this red box. That's the tornado watchbox. And that's there because all these big cells are coming off the ocean, spinning into now northern New Jersey up here. That's about Long Branch right there, Sandy Hook. And every one of these storms as they come on shore could spin enough to cause tornadoes. It's the same thing that happened in Lewes, Delaware, about six hours ago.

Jeanne, the rain is all the way back from about now Wilkes- Barre/Scranton, down through York and Lancaster, and even into Harrisburg, as far west as Hagerstown, Maryland, and as far west as Charlottesville, Virginia. The rain now raining in Maine. It is raining literally from Maine to North Carolina.

This will not be remembered as the windiest storm, but it will be remembered as the wettest storm in a very long time. The wet ground and the wind combined will knock down many trees.

And Chris, I know you've already had some debris around you. What are you seeing now?

LAWRENCE: Yes, again, I think when that wind started to pick up, Chad, we did see starting -- some stuff starting to blow off. You can see some of the debris down here that's just been blowing off, some of the -- a couple shingles (INAUDIBLE) some of the trees.

I had a question that really struck me, Chad. When I was listening to Jeanne's report about -- talking about some of the tornadoes that may have touched down in Delaware, and I'm just wondering, for people at home, you know, it struck me -- I didn't know you could have tornadoes in the middle of a hurricane.

MYERS: In fact, yes, the right front quadrant is typically the area where the tornadoes are. Now, tomorrow, that will be Easter, Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. But for tonight, it's this area that's spinning.

The entire body of the hurricane is spinning. That gives all the storms as they come on shore a little bit of a twist. And then as the twist hits the ground, there's something called friction. The friction slows the ground -- it slows the air along the ground, and that causes the entire storm to spin a little bit. And that spin -- now, it's not a Tuscaloosa, Joplin, Oklahoma City-type tornado. It's not an F-3, F-4, F-5. But we just showed you some pictures right there. That's what the damage looks like from an F-1 or 2, zero, 100- mile-per-hour hurricane and a 100-mile-per-hour tornado. That's basically what we had. The storm now down to an 80-mile-per-hour storm, but the tornadoes are going to be all night long.

Jeanne, what do you have now for me? MESERVE: Well, we have a little bit more wind. It's really gusting in here powerfully. We're without power here. We're working on emergency generators where we are and the power that our truck generates.

Let me tell you the latest figures I have from the areas where I am. The last I heard from the state of Maryland, there were about 160,000 people, customers, rather, without power, most of those in Prince Georges, St. Marys, and Anne Arundel Counties. Also, the governor of Delaware tells me that there are now 17,000 customers in his state without power. So the power outages are moving north right along with Irene.

Now back to Kyra and Marty.

MYERS: Jeanne, I'll pick it up real quick. Can you see the ocean? And is there erosion going on? Is the beach essentially gone?

MESERVE: Yes, this beach is probably -- when -- before the storm started, there were dunes and then there was a stretch of probably 40 yards of sand. We can't see any real erosion. I can tell you that water is covering that 40 yards. It's coming right up and licking up against the sand dunes, and as I mentioned, occasionally coming over.

But in terms of real erosion cuts in the immediate area where we are, we have not seen that, although the governor of Delaware did tell me there had been some erosion, some beach erosion, up in his state.

MYERS: Jeanne, be careful out there. Chris, you, as well. As the wind picks up tonight in your locations, and also up to Atlantic City, the winds may pick up to 80 miles per hour. That's the center of the eye, still an 80-mile-per-hour storm, and everybody needs to be careful out there. You guys outside for sure, people at home, just stay inside -- Marty, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Chad. Thanks so much. We will talk more to you, obviously, about the projected path of this storm and check in with all our reporters state by state, in particular, Maryland and New York. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: We continue to cover the story on the network level, but our affiliates continue to cover it on the local level.

PHILLIPS: That's right. Let's take you straight to WCBS, reporting live on Hurricane Irene. (INAUDIBLE) expected to get hurricane-force winds and rains early tomorrow morning.

CHRIS RAGGE, WCBS CORRESPONDENT: ... just a little bit and show you some of what the wind is doing to some of the side streets here. And you can see the leaves blowing around. We've seen some branches down already. Power, as you can see, is off. And if you look over to the right, we've got a branch down here. And then again, I'm just going to have you come right back to the middle (INAUDIBLE) MAURICE DUBOIS, WCBS ANCHOR: OK, that's Chris Wragge for us in Spring Lake on the Jersey shore. They're barely going 18, 20 miles an hour on the road there. It's really slow going. And the power is out. We'll check back in with him in just a moment.

Let's go to the telephone right now. Sheriff Shaun Golden of Monmouth County, what can you tell us tonight about the situation in your county, sir?

SHAUN GOLDEN, MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ, SHERIFF (via telephone): Good evening, Maurice and Christine (ph). Yes, well, looking at Chris there traveling through Spring Lake, that's what we're experiencing throughout the county. The winds have really picked up here. We have high winds, some downed trees. Right now, we're reporting about 12,000 residents without power for JCP&L.

So the roads are starting to flood. We have a lot of puddling and floods going on. And you know, that's what we're concerned about right now. Now, our residents have heeded the warning, and you know, the roadways are pretty clear. And as you can tell by Chris's report, law enforcement is on top of those that may be out and about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what are you saying to those folks that still are out and about? I mean, other than just warning them, what other things can you do?

GOLDEN: Yes, I mean, obviously, we want them off the road because at some point, it's going to become a rescue situation, and we don't want to waste our resources, quite frankly, on -- or at least jeopardizing our public safety users to have to go out there when we've been warning people. And for the most part, our residents in Monmouth County have been fantastic and they've really been cooperative in vacating those low-lying areas and seeking shelter and being prepared for the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's talk about those power outages, 12,000 people out of a population of roughly how many? And is this somewhat in line keeping with your expectations for power tonight?

GOLDEN: Yes, well, we were expecting it. I mean, we have trees that are just -- the root system's been saturated. You know, in August -- we've had double the amount of rain here in Monmouth County in the month of August. We had a torrential downpour last weekend. And we've had areas in the county last weekend that flooded that normally don't.

And now we expect 10 to 12 inches of rain. So that combined with the coastal surge -- and particularly, we're concerned about up in the Raritan Bay area. You know, we expect a 7 to 8-foot tidal surge there at high tide tomorrow morning, along with the storm. So you know, those are all factors that are coming into play. So we expected it to down trees and to affect power. And you know, 12,000 customers -- we have, you know, 650,000 people in residence here.

PHILLIPS: One of the advantages for working for CNN, we have tremendous relationships with affiliates around the country, so we're able to dip in live to all the other stations that are covering storm, as well, on a local level. You were just listening to WCBS out of New York there, Chris Wragge out on the streets of Spring Lake. And as we heard, they were getting an update of how they're already feeling the rain and the hurricane-force winds coming in from Irene.

SAVIDGE: Now we want to check in with Gary Tuchman in Newport, Rhode Island. And last we spoke to Gary, he was aboard a 50-foot yacht. So how are things now, Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not a yacht this time, Marty. Now, as we await the arrival here of Hurricane Irene, I'm standing on the steps of a Greek Orthodox church. And I'm not just loitering here, I'm here for a reason, to show you when Hurricane Bob came here to southern New England 20 years ago, the water came up to the steps. And the famous hurricane of 1938, when more than 600 people died, the water went even higher.

This church was built in 1924. It was only 14 years old when the water went way high on this church. It's now 87 years old, and we suspect it will survive Hurricane Irene, too.

This is a very historic city. The street I'm standing in the middle of right now is called Thames Street -- spelled T-H-A-M-E-S. Now, you may say, Well, I've heard of that, but it's in London, the river. They call it the Temms (SIC). Well, here they call it the Thames. It's the name of the street.

It's a very unique city, very historical. This is the city where George Washington sent his letter of tolerance of religion to a synagogue back in the 1700s, happened to be the oldest synagogue in North America. This is the city that had the first U.S. post office, the first roller rink. It's also a city where there's beautiful mansions, some of the largest mansions in the United States. It's also the city where John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier, who became Jacqueline Kennedy.

So this is a wonderful place, but it's a place that is not used to hurricanes. They just haven't gotten very many, the last one, as we said, 20 years ago. Before that, the 1950s, then 1944, then 1938. You're talking about four or five times a century. So they're not used to it.

There's also a lot of tourists here. There's 25,000 year-round residents, more than 100,000 people here this weekend for a big tourist weekend. A mandatory evacuation order takes effect in 35 minutes for most of Newport, but most people aren't leaving because, frankly, there's nowhere really to go because it's a huge area that's in the hurricane warning zone. So most people, including the tourists, are sticking out and are hoping for the best.

And one more thing, Marty, one more thing, Kyra, just a piece of trivia I'm going to tell you on this evening before we call it a night, before the hurricane comes here, something that most people don't know. And that is, do you know that Rhode Island is not the official name of this state? This is not a joke. The true name of this state is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. That is the official name of this state.

SAVIDGE: Probably couldn't fit it on the license plate.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: It would be a little too long. In case our viewers didn't know, Gary Tuchman was a history major. That's why we travel him around the world. He gives us all the flavor!

SAVIDGE: Gary, when do they expect the worst of the storm to strike where you are?

TUCHMAN: Yes, the worst moment will be between 1:00 and 3:00 PM, they expect. But by around 10:00 AM, they expect the rains to be coming down hard, the winds to be picking up, and they expect it'll go to about dinnertime, 6:00 PM. So right now, it's Saturday night.

This is a hopping town, Marty and Kyra. I mean, last night when we were here, I mean, you couldn't even walk on these sidewalks without bumping into people. And you can see there are a lot of people who imbibe in this town, including these two people behind me.

(LAUGHTER)

TUCHMAN: But there's not as many imbibers tonight as there were last night. Most people are inside their homes right now, awaiting the arrival of a woman named Irene tomorrow.

PHILLIPS: Well, we'll be following it minute by minute. Gary Tuchman, thanks so much.

SAVIDGE: And when we come back, we will go back to Maryland, where residents there continue to feel the effects of Irene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: As we continue coverage for hurricane Irene we can tell you now that the Philadelphia airport has ceased operations. New York's transit system has been shut down. Boston's subway service has been suspended. This is all due to this approaching woman by the name of Irene.

SAVIDGE: It is only a category I hurricane but Irene is very slow-moving and that makes it especially dangerous. At least nine people have lost their lives since Irene made landfall this morning, 2 million homes are without power tonight.

PHILLIPS: And the hurricane has spun off at least two tornados as well. One has hit Delaware damaging more than 30 homes. Five homes were destroyed in North Carolina by a tornado there. Now a tornado watch is in effect for parts of New York.

SAVIDGE: And the center of the hurricane is just off the Maryland coast near Ocean City but the storm is so large that its outer rain dance can be felt from North Carolina to New England. The storm's expected to reach New York City by Sunday afternoon as a category I.

PHILLIPS: Chad Myers in the CNN Hurricane Headquarters to update us now on the entire track. Where do we even begin Chad?

MYERS: Let's go hour by hour or three hour increments and we'll take you up with the wind field because the wind is small but yet mighty enough to push water into New York Harbor. So, I just looked at the tidal gauge at Battery Park. That tidal gauge is two feet above where it should be already. That means there's already a surge in New York Harbor because of the wind and the storm is still 250 miles away. So, for the next 15 or almost hours this storm is going to pour more water into New York Harbor and that's the risk of the flood down around Battery Park.

So, there we go, there's the category I. It's just offshore here on Southern Virginia here, part of the Delmarva. The yellow, that's all 60 mile per hour wind or more. We'll view ahead to 3:30. That 60 mile per hour wind is in Atlantic City. There's even some 70 mile per hour winds, that orange, just offshore. New York City will get that. You're already at that point. At 3:30 in the morning you're 40 miles per hour and going up. By 6:30 in the morning, all along Long Island 60 miles per hour and rising.

Now, the wind is going away from Norfolk, going away from North Carolina. Down here the wind is just about done but all of this wind is going to be blowing on shore and taking that water and shoving it right into Long Island and right into the New York Harbor where Lady Liberty is and then the water has to go up somewhere and it's going to try to go up the Hudson and up the East River and that's not going to go very well.

That's going to make the water rise and we even have some 70, almost 75 mile per hour gusts, right there. That's the end of Long Island and then on into Providence, Rhode Island, and then there will be another storm surge here in Connecticut and Rhode Island proper, right up in Narragansett and right into Providence. This is the Boston wind. Portland, Boston, you get 3:30 tomorrow afternoon you are over 60 miles per hour.

In fact, guys, there will be over 55 million people that have wind gusts, wind gusts here, the northeast over 50 -- 55 million people will have the potential for damage at above 50 mile per hour winds. It is an amazing storm. It won't be known for the wind though because it never did get to that category IV like it was forecast to but it will be known for the rain and the flooding and the surge big time.

Here's some tornado video that we have. Now, we know about 6:30 this afternoon we had a tornado that touched down in Lewes. This is just south of where the Lewes Ferry would go over to Cape May. Thirty houses almost (INAUDIBLE) forty houses were damaged. This is the worst damage we could find and that's pretty significant. I know we talked about tornados and hurricanes being small but that to me looks like something at least 120 miles per hour. That's close to an F2 damage although I don't know the quality of the structure. It sure looks like a regular house. Looks like a stick built house. It doesn't look like some mobile home that's just kind of out there that can be damaged by 100 mile per hour wind. So, there you go. This is what we're dealing with and we'll deal with this all night long across New Jersey. Eventually with the tornado watch, New York City, tornados are possible in the city and do not believe that the high buildings or the -- the -- the center of the heat island of New York City will stop tornados because that has nothing at all to do with it. Tornados are possible all the way through the tri-state tonight.

PHILLIPS: Do you -- we were talking about Staten Island. You didn't even mention Staten Island, right.

MYERS: I -- I didn't mention Staten Island. Do you want me to get to that?

PHILLIPS: Do you mind?

MYERS: No, I don't mind at all.

PHILLIPS: They were saying that that could -- you could get really hit hard.

MYERS: Sure. We talked about this. We talked about Manhattan and how everywhere that you see orange is going to have some water on it that will be salt water. It's not going to be rain water, it's going to be salt water. But, because of the way the wind is going to blow into New York City we are going to see an area there right on the south side of what's called The Bite and that is here, bring this down, get rid of that, bring this down, and the wind will blow into the Staten Island area.

And right now, as the wind blows this way, this is how the water's beginning to pile up and Staten Island being right there, you take that water and you're going to push it right to the Amboys and right where -- right where the Amboys and Staten Island come together, right there on the south part of -- of the harbor, you are going to see, I think, with the -- the four foot tidal surge from the tide itself and the storm surge being almost eight feet, a 12 foot swell on the south side of Staten Island and there are a lot of people that live within 12 feet of the ocean down there.

PHILLIPS: Got it. All right Chad, we'll keep talking.

SAVIDGE: And when we come back we'll get the latest from our iReporters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: It's been a while since we checked in with Amber Lyon. She is in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I think when last we spoke to her things were getting better. And the image is a little distorted but go ahead Amber, give it your best shot. Amber, can you hear us?

AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, things have calmed down a little (AUDIO GAP). Things have calmed down a little bit and (INAUDIBLE) (AUDIO GAP) then we get a huge (INAUDIBLE) off our feet but yes, I (INAUDIBLE). Martin?

SAVIDGE: Go ahead, we hear you fine, it's just -- all right, you know, it's interesting we say that the weather has improved but the signal has not, so.

LYON: Hello, can you hear me?

SAVIDGE: Yes we can Amber but you're coming and going. Are you there now?

PHILLIPS: All right well just -- we can -- 600,000 people without power there in Virginia, they got hit pretty hard and, obviously, they still are dealing with conditions there as we can see unable to connect with Amber? Should we take it over to Alexandra Steele, the latest?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Ok, all right.

PHILLIPS: All right, what do we have? Do we have more iReports

STEELE: Yes, we do. You know, you talked about it. Of course, we're having trouble with seeing her but what we're seeing, of course, the worst is yet to come for areas in Connecticut. Now we've talked a lot about evacuations in New York City. We haven't talked as much though about evacuations in coastal Connecticut where we have seen them.

Now, Maggie Hornung is one of 6,000 evacuees from Westport, Connecticut and Maggie your home is just inches from the Long Island Sound. Mandatory evacuations for you. You have left. Have you ever been asked to mandatorily evacuate before?

MAGGIE HORNUNG, WESTPORT, CONNECTICUT EVACUEE: About a year and a half ago we were -- there was a mandatory evacuation.

STEELE: And did you go then?

HORNUNG: No, we actually decided to -- to stay. We thought it might be exciting. We have floor to ceiling windows and, you know, we felt like we were in a pretty solid house but we decided to stay and watch the water lap against the windows. But then it started coming under the sliding glass doors and that's when I think it got a little bit more threatening.

STEELE: So, this time Maggie you chose to leave. You have four young kids under 13. You're all kind of nestled together inland in a hotel in Greenwich, Connecticut. Is everyone scared tonight?

HORNUNG: You know, they're still waiting, I think, for the worst to come and it's really just windy and there's a lot of -- we've had a lot of rain. But, you know, everyone...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

HORNUNG: Hello?

STEELE: Yes, we were hearing you. I think we're hearing someone else also.

HORNUNG: Oh, ok.

STEELE: All right, so, Maggie, the kids are all there in the hotel. What's the hotel seem like? Obviously, is it crowded or empty?

HORNUNG: It's actually, it's sold out and I know because we tried to get an extra room. It's pretty packed.

STEELE: Well, there are curfews in areas near you, in New Canaan, for example. So, as you look out and before the sun set tonight, were a lot of people on the roads or were people really heeding the warnings in Fairfield County?

HORNUNG: No, I think people were really waiting and just preparing for -- their homes and I was out earlier tonight at around 6 p.m. before I got here and the roads were really deserted.

STEELE: So, what did you do with your home? Again, just inches from Long Island Sound, huge windows there. Did you board them or did you just leave it as is and just see what happens when you return?

HORNUNG: No, we did not board them. It's a -- it's a newer home. I think we kind of feel like mother nature is going to take its course and, hopefully, the worst that we'll have is like last time with maybe some water under there and we lined the bottom with towels and we'll see what happens.

STEELE: Yes, it's just a wait and see. All right, Maggie Hornung, thank you so very much and, again, we talk so much about New York City, also the evacuations. Take a look at this iReport from Brian Delzani. You can see this. This is in Connecticut and look at this. There's no bread, there's no milk, the shelves are bare. So, really people have left and just waiting to see as really the worst approaches. We're just hours from it. Back to you guys. Kyra, Marty?

PHILLIPS: All right, Alexandra, thanks so much. When we come back, we have reconnected with Amber Lyon live in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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SAVIDGE: Welcome back. We continue to track hurricane Irene, where it is headed and where it has been.

PHILLIPS: And we're going to talk about Virginia Beach, Virginia. Three people have died there. More than 600,000 people without power. That's where we find our Amber Lyon joining us via the beach there. Give us the latest Amber.

LYON: Well, earlier we thought things were calming down but now we're starting to see quite a bit of drizzle and still some wind gusts. It's been pretty consistently like this kind of weather all afternoon and something that we were really worried about earlier is we're about a football field away from the ocean over there and over here at the center of Virginia Beach and there was quite an intense storm surge that kept creeping up here on the Boardwalk and it had a lot of residents nervous that that surge was going to come across here and end up flooding downtown but, as you can see, that didn't happen.

We're not seeing a lot of debris out here and things, overall, continue to calm down. But, as you said earlier, about 600,000 people still do not have power tonight and some estimates that that power may not be turned on for about a week. Kyra? Marty?

PHILLIPS: A week?

SAVIDGE: Wow.

LYON: A week, yes.

SAVIDGE: Yes, that's a long time to be without...

LYON: Up here at our hotel we have a generator so -- so we're doing good.

SAVIDGE: ...yes, yes, but for a lot of other people that would be a long time to be without electricity. So, this storm actually is going away from you, right? I mean it is, in theory, supposed to be getting better?

LYON: Yes, it -- it is overall. I mean, we're just hitting the bottom part of Irene and -- and, I've got to tell you, what we're experiencing right now is nothing like what we experienced when we showed up here in the early evening and there were times when my producer and I were walking out of our hotel to check out the conditions and we could barely even walk because the wind gusts were so strong. We had to hold onto one another and support each other just to move down the Boardwalk. So, definitely, improved conditions out here now Martin.

SAVIDGE: And we know that National Guard troops were put in place. We also know the Navy ships out of Norfolk were -- were sent out to sea. You mentioned the hotel. Are there a lot of other people in the hotel there with you?

LYON: Yes, there are quite a few residents who were scared to stay in their homes, they just didn't trust the integrity of the structure of their homes so they came here to ride out the storms. We also found people who came down here to kind of do a type of adventure tourism and witness the hurricane because they'd never seen one firsthand so they're sitting at the bar right now, just looking at all the sights and wind gusts out the window and -- and enjoying themselves and it's quite a lively scene, actually, in our hotel.

SAVIDGE: Yes, it usually is.

PHILLIPS: Yes.

SAVIDGE: It usually is. PHILLIPS: Especially in a time like this, all the reporters usually. Amber Lyon there in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Thanks so much. Well, on its current track, hurricane Irene is going to hit New York's Long Island on Sunday and that's where our Susan Candiotti is.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi Kyra and Marty, well, we've been waiting here for the past couple of days on Long Island. You know, Long Beach is about 25 miles or so to the east of Manhattan and this is where impact could come with hurricane Irene. If you look down this Boardwalk here, which is a featured part of Long Island, it runs just over two miles. Population here about 34,000 or so and, obviously, this has thinned out. You saw a lot of people walking occasionally down this Boardwalk to kind of get a look see around.

Mainly they come out here to take a look at the ocean here. Of course the surge has been going up quite a bit over the last few hours but not high tide yet until early Sunday morning. But, if you look over here, it's a good idea of what they've been doing in trying to prepare for this, pushing up the sand. You've seen this done in so many other places. This is not unlike those others where they're building this up to try to create more of a barrier to prevent the flooding that you hear about that is affecting so many areas.

As you look down this way, we can tell you as well that there are restrictions as to how high they can build buildings along this Boardwalk, only 10 stories is the limit and we're not seeing too many lights on so, perhaps, that's an indication that either people are in bed by now or they've evacuated because as we have heard time and again in these low-lying beachfront communities along this barrier island there's going to be a surge -- storm surge that's going to come up. There is going to be flooding in low-lying areas and then as the hurricane sweeps around, they're also going to get inundated on the north shore of this barrier island and onto the mainland, no doubt, and low-lying areas of Long Island too on the north shore of the main of this barrier island and also in the Long Island as well.

So, we're waiting the storm out, Kyra and Marty, all night long to see as it gets more powerful. Wind gusts not so bad right now. That's going to change. Back to you.

PHILLIPS: Ok, we'll keep talking with you. Susan Candiotti there in Long Beach, New York. Susan thanks.

SAVIDGE: David Mattingly is in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, part of the outer banks where Irene first came ashore. Let's check in with him now. David?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Marty, get this. We have been getting rained on here now for 31 straight hours and almost as long we have been seeing tropical storm force winds. This hurricane is not done with the outer banks yet. Tonight, we (INAUDIBLE) and new pictures to show you. We have roads that are closed, roads that are flooded, neighborhoods that have been flooded.

We don't know how many houses have been impacted by this. Authorities haven't quite taken a complete count yet but, at this point, the problem that they're having is not water directly from the Atlantic Ocean. This is a reverse storm surge. This is water that is from the sound, that big body of water between the outer banks, the barrier islands and the mainland of -- of North Carolina. Communities along that sound are now dealing with flooding because as the wind shifted when this hurricane was going north, the wind shifted and pushed that water onto land into these communities.

So, right now, they're watching that water. At this point, it's believed in many cases it's starting to slowly retreat but, again, there's still damage being done by Irene, still things to be worried about as this storm continues to move out of here. But it's been an incredible endurance contest for the people who live here just for the duration of this storm, it's been incredible how long we've been feeling the effects (AUDIO GAP) yesterday through last night and all the way through today and into tonight.

You can see how blustery it still is here, how much rain is still falling behind me. This is one storm that just won't quit. Marty?

SAVIDGE: David, quickly, what's the electricity situation like?

MATTINGLY: A half million people in North Carolina are without power. Strangely enough, we are in a hotel right here on the outer banks on the beach and we haven't lost power at all. That's just one of the unusual things about hurricanes. You just never know where the damage is going to be. You know it's going to come. You just don't know how, when, and where.

SAVIDGE: David Mattingly. Very true. I mean, you see that when the power goes out in certain areas and yet where he is you'd think the brunt of it he'd have no electricity but he's got it.

All right. David, we'll continue to check in with you as we continue to check in with the rest of our correspondents that are strategically placed all along the coastline watching Irene either approach or leave, depending on where they are located, in just a moment.

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