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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Continuing Coverage of Hurricane Irene's Trek up the East Coast

Aired August 28, 2011 - 00:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And it is midnight Eastern time. You're watching CNN's breaking news of Hurricane Irene. I'm Kyra Phillips, thanks for staying with us.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Martin Savidge.

PHILLIPS: Hurricane Irene is slowly turning up the east coast. As we've been telling you, the Philadelphia airport has ceased operations until Sunday afternoon. New York's transit system is shut down. We've also been talking about Boston subway service, it has been suspended.

SAVIDGE: And we're talking about only a category I hurricane but Irene moves at such a snail's pace and that makes it especially dangerous. At least nine people have lost their lives since Irene made landfall this morning, 2 million homes and businesses now without power tonight.

PHILLIPS: Now the hurricane has spun off at least two tornadoes. This one hit Lewes, Delaware, damaging more than 30 homes, five homes were destroyed in North Carolina earlier today by a tornado there and then a tornado watch is now in effect for parts of New York.

SAVIDGE: The center of the hurricane just off the Maryland coast near Ocean City but that storm is so large that it's outer rain bands can be felt from North Carolina to New England. The worst of the storm is expected to reach New York City by Sunday, I think morning actually. We say afternoon here but Sunday morning as a category I.

PHILLIPS: And we've got CNN correspondents, of course, strategically positioned all up and down the east coast to give you the latest and most crucial information as Irene continues to move.

SAVIDGE: And Poppy Harlow is awaiting the storm in New York City where there has been a great deal of concern. Poppy, how are things at this hour?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York put it, Martin, the storm is coming, conditions are deteriorating fast. I want to take you -- we are just on the edge of Central Park here. This is Central Park South, right by Fifth Avenue, CNN Bureau here would usually be very full on a Saturday night. Obviously not the case at all.

I want to give people a sense of where we are right now. The mayor has just told everyone in New York there's a tornado watch for all five boroughs, tornadoes often come with hurricanes. That is in effect until at least 5 a.m. They say conditions are deteriorating very quickly. What's also important is you'll know zone A, lower Manhattan where we reporting earlier today, Staten Island, were all supposed to get evacuated, some 370,000 New Yorkers.

For those that chose to stay and not evacuate the mayor's message is stay where you are, stay put. It is now too late to evacuate. You have to do the best you can with where you are. We're getting a lot of rain here as you can see. The wind has yet to really pick up here but, again, the storm is felt all the way from North Carolina to New York.

I want to show you some very interesting pictures of how this city is preparing for what is coming, whether it hits us as a category I, whether it hits us as a tropical storm. Let's pull the photos up guys. This is interesting. The Long Island Railroad, Amtrak, they are preparing. They are putting these long white tubes in place that they call Aqua Dams and what they do is they protect from a storm surge. If we see a storm surge of a number of feet coming towards the -- towards Manhattan, coming towards the tunnels, coming towards the railroad tracks, that will protect them from severe, severe flooding.

So, an interesting look at how Manhattan is preparing for all of this guys. What we're hearing now is that the worst of this storm is going to start hitting this city in about four hours' time, 4 a.m. Eastern time. We're going to be live with you throughout the night. We're going to venture down from here all the way downtown as far as we can get. We'll bring you live reports at the top of each hour and send it back to you. As the wind picks up we'll get in the car and we'll head downtown.

SAVIDGE: All right Poppy, thank you very much. We'll stay in touch with you.

PHILLIPS: All right, we've been taking a lot with Jeanne Meserve. Boy, she has been putting in some long and treacherous hours. She's in Ocean City, Maryland, where she is really getting the brunt of it now. Jeanne, it's picked up.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, it really has. I just talked to the emergency operation center here and -- excuse me -- excuse me I'm having an audio problem, let me turn this down. I just talked to the emergency operation center here. They told me that the sustained winds here are now 48 miles per hour with gusts up to 60 miles per hour. About eight inches of rain have fallen already.

They told me that an offshore buoy here is measuring average waves between 15 and 20 feet. We can see a little bit of the damage that the storm is doing. If you look beyond me here you can see that some siding has come off one of the houses adjacent to us but I must say at this point in time we haven't been able to see a lot of other physical damage, perhaps because we haven't been able to move much from this location.

The city tells me that at this point in time there is some minor flooding here. They don't know how extensive its going to be. They had braced for something fairly serious. Obviously, they won't have a full assessment until daylight. There also are some power outages in the city. Our hotel is dark and operating on emergency power for instance.

They say, interestingly enough, but because there are no people in Ocean City, there is no one to call in the outages so they don't have a clear sense of exactly how widespread the outages are. And, the power company, in any event, won't be doing any response in this kind of weather. Also, police and other emergency vehicles staying off the streets for the most part. They are taking emergency calls and deciding on a case by case basis whether to respond. Back to you guys.

PHILLIPS: Ok, our Jeanne Meserve there in Ocean City, Maryland. Jeanne, please keep up updated and continue to stay safe.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Karen McGinnis now joins us. She's tracking Irene in the CNN Hurricane Headquarters. Karen?

KAREN MCGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we had our latest update from the National Hurricane Center at about 11 o'clock. We'll be seeing another one in the next hour or so but Jeanne certainly is getting whipped around by, perhaps, the strongest portion of the system which is along the northern and the western edges here. The center of the system now just to the south/southwest of Ocean Shores, Maryland, a (INAUDIBLE) the northern edge and this western edge, that's where we're seeing some of the heaviest bands.

It's also where we are looking at a tornado watch which is currently in effect across this region. I'll show you that in just one second. But there you see some of the embedded cells and this has actually picked up a little bit of speed over the last -- as of the last update from the National Hurricane Center. It is moving toward the north and the northeast at just about 16 miles an hour. Now, beforehand, it had been moving at about 13 miles an hour.

So, the fact that it's moving a little more quickly tells us that some of those rainfall totals that we were looking at on the order of 6-12 inches, well they may be revised just a little bit. But, nonetheless, we are going to see a higher than normal astronomical tide right around mid-morning, just about the time this hurricane is going to sweep across the northeast and into New England.

And, I want to show you this. We'll give you a closer view coming up a little bit later. Right over here, right around Perth Amboy and into Staten Island. That's where we're looking a lot of that water just kind of piling up and where you see this orange shaded area that's where we're looking at perhaps the highest tides, perhaps 6 or 8 feet, sometimes it could be up to 11 feet above what we would normally expect for the high tide to reach for this time of year.

I want to show you what's happening as far as our tornado watch is concerned. It does encompass a portion of Maryland, extending on up to just to the border of Massachusetts and we have seen a couple of cells, one in Lewes, Delaware, which they were reporting some damage associated with a very short-lived tornado. That's the kind of thing that we will see. We're not going to see these long track tornados that we typically see across the great plains and typically during tornado season.

These are very, very different and this the rotation from this warm moisture that's moving on shore. As you've heard over and over that water is just kind of piling up. As it does pile up and there you can see some of the images coming in as we look, I believe that is the Chesapeake region if I'm not mistaken, you can correct me if I'm wrong on that, but they are looking at some of these rainfall totals between 6 and 12 inches of rain.

I will tell you that in places like Boston they have seen about three times their normal amount of rainfall for the month of August. That's not a three month rainfall total. That's just for the month of August. So, you see an additional, perhaps, 6-12 inches of rain and we've got some serious problems and you've also probably heard about the trees being very compromised, the root system is very loose, you get a wind and those trees are going to come down fairly quickly.

Also, for Philadelphia and a lot of these I-95 corridor regions where the airports are going to be severely affected over the next 24 hours we've already seen that. It looks like this system as it begins to push across this region over the early morning hours, we're going to see, not just air traffic but all kinds of traffic that's going to be particularly hampered. They're saying the George Washington, the lower level, has already been closed off and you can imagine why due to the storm system that's going to be moving through there. We'll have another update coming up in just about 20 minutes. Kyra, Martin, back to you.

SAVIDGE: All right Karen, thank you very much. Now we're going to check in with one of our affiliates, who is it?

PHILLIPS: WUSA and it's coming to us from Ocean City, Maryland. Let's listen in.

(VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...12 inches of rain (INAUDIBLE) with 6 feet of surge and that intense wind they really thought there was going to be some flooding. I haven't had a chance to go (AUDIO GAP) down where there's a sea wall that there was some water coming over the sea wall down -- lower down in Ocean City and then we got a worry later about the water coming in from Bayside but that's what we're seeing from our vantage point at this point. Let's take it back to you Derek and Anita.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) how do you find the temperature now that it's after midnight. Is it still warm? Rain?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: Let's go from there and go to our affiliate WKYW in Philadelphia.

(VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hitting Atlantic City very hard. Check out these just wild waves in Atlantic City. Now this was still when it was daylight outside. The situation has gotten much worse there in Atlantic City. Our Robin Rieger has been there since 2 o'clock yesterday morning now, I guess, and she has just seen the weather deteriorate in such a big way there but this is the strong surf that we saw earlier and as we watched throughout the day we saw the tide come up very far, the winds really started whipping up, the rain was coming down hard and then we started to see flooding and then our crew there had to take shelter at the Convention Center to get themselves and their -- their live truck out of harm's way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've done a terrific job as all our crews have. This was the scene earlier in -- in Avalon. Our Walt Hunter is there now but you can see some of the waves crashing over the jetty, this when it was still daylight. The conditions in Avalon grew pretty desperate earlier this evening although it has been quiet. We checked in with...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: All right, let's now check in with WCBS and its coverage of hurricane Irene.

(VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A fire truck kind of going by. It's hard because, you know, again, there's no power so I can't really see much of anything but it looked like, you know, flashing lights going by. We saw like, it looked, I mean, -- it looked almost like a big bus and I don't really know what that was for but it was driving around as well. We heard about a couple of hours ago the bullhorn telling people they had to leave. So, you know, now we're not seeing, well I can't really see so I don't know if anyone is still coming down here to experience the wind. That's what we had about an hour ago were the thrill seeker people who wanted to come and -- and throw themselves into this wind because it is -- it is incredible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's got to be a little disconcerting though, Kristen, I mean, here you are in the dark, the wind is howling the rain is coming down sideways, the water is collecting and here you are in Long Branch, New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's that like?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you know, it's one of those things as a reporter you try to have a -- a line, you know, where you know that you're doing something for a story. You know what, as we're talking, sorry about that, the light truck literally just did quite a move right there which was -- talk about disconcerting ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: And you were listen to our affiliates as they cover this story as well. We will continue to do the same. Lower Manhattan is the area that's under the focus and the area of concern. We'll check in there.

PHILLIPS: And we're going to talk with retired General Russel Honore as well. You remember him from hurricane Katrina. He said a lot of changes have been made as hurricane Irene continues to form its track and he will tell us what he thinks the various states are doing well or whether there needs to be some work.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: As hurricane Irene still threatens the east coast, we follow our affiliates who are following the storm in their local communities and continue to bring their coverage as well as our own.

PHILLIPS: That's right, and as New York braces for Irene, police are trying to reassure the public that everything is going to be ok.

SAVIDGE: Yes, we spoke with the New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly who says that officers are out in force.

(VIDEO CLIP)

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT COMMISSIONER: We've deployed, you know, a large number of police officers for this. We'll keep them out on patrol for, specifically, that reason, order maintenance. That's if, in fact, that you do leave your home and leave your -- 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 -- we've devoted a lot of resources in that regard to two of the areas where evacuation was mandated.

SAVIDGE: How about the fact that 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 it lessens the pressure and the effect on the -- 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 -- 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 happened during the work week so we're -- we're thankful for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: That was New York's Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, saying they're ready. However, as we know and General Honore sure knows that you can say you're ready but you don't always know what is about to approach and if, indeed, you can handle it. So far, what do you think with regard to New York and it's preps?

RETIRED GENERAL RUSSEL HONORE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So far, so good. Again, the game changer if that area is threatened get their feet wet, in other words two to three feet of water get in there and people become isolated, electricity off, people trapped in buildings, transportation systems stop then you will always have that situation where people will try to take advantage of a situation, go into store. Now you've got police more concerned with security than they are with search and rescue as we saw and we have seen in disasters since Katrina.

SAVIDGE: Let me ask you this, you know, there has been some criticism, some of the public backlash in New York saying, look, this is too much being made about too little a storm. But, when you are in command of the city as the Mayor is, you don't have that luxury. You have to plan for the absolute worst, right?

HONORE: Absolutely, that's what leaders have to do. This is not a popularity contest. This is a contest to do the right thing for the people to protect them and, in this situation, we've seen the shift in the last couple of years of leaders like the Mayor making a decision to close the city down rather than to leave it exposed and try to go along with business as usual and a storm is approaching.

Look, before Katrina, we had a football game in New Orleans on Friday night and football game in Baton Rouge on Saturday morning. Katrina came Sunday night. Major disruption to the evacuation plans for the great state of Louisiana and the people of Louisiana. We still got 80% evacuation.

So, the lessons from that that we continue to talk about is, look, let's focus on the storm, let's stop the commerce now, let's stop the games, let's stop the Broadway plays, and let's get people evacuated and that's what they did. It comes with a risk but it's the right thing to do.

PHILLIPS: Well, and here's what's tough too is the Mayor already said they dealt with, as he put it, very reckless behavior. The two kayakers that were out there wanting to, you know, check things and it took NYPD resources to go and rescue them and pull them into a boat and get them out of there. And you had to deal with a lot of foolishness as well, you know, during Katrina. I mean, how do you convince, you know, people like that that look, you know, we don't have time for this as emergency response people and, you know, you're putting your life at stake.

HONORE: Absolutely, you have -- you'll find that aberrant behavior in every disaster. The first responders learn to deal with it but, that being said, the people that are out doing those type activities, they're not watching television. They're out for the thrill. The good news is there's only a few of them and, on this case, it's two people they caught. Trust me, there are many more people out there taking risks that just haven't gotten into a position where they needed help yet.

SAVIDGE: Yes, all right. Lieutenant General Honore. Thanks very much. We'll have you back next hour.

PHILLIPS: That's right. Stay with us. More on hurricane Irene right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: And 25 minutes past the hour of midnight on the east coast you're looking at the affiliate coverage as they follow hurricane Irene as it approaches New York City which is likely to face its greatest threat since the 1930s as a result of this storm. Our Chris Lawrence is in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, the state with more than a half million homes and businesses without power tonight. Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Marty, and just like this storm is different in every location that you go to, it also seems to be very different by the hour. Last hour we were getting just pelted with some really intense rain and the -- and the wind was really whipping up. Now, we're feeling the wind start to die down a bit and the rain lessen up. I'll step away, I can show you, I mean, obviously, we're still getting some gusts and like that but those sustained winds that we were feeling just an hour ago, we aren't feeling right at this minute.

Now, that, since we don't believe we've hit the brunt of this storm yet by no means do we think we're out of the woods. We think this is just sort of a temporary lull, perhaps in between some of those bands. But the real concern here, obviously, is the storm surge. If it comes, high tide here in this area is expected to be about 3:30 in the morning and, so, the concern will be some of the soil erosion that you can see a lot of homes are built up on the cliff and -- and how much water will be pushed through the Chesapeake Bay. Marty?

SAVIDGE: A real concern, Chris. The flooding that is expected in that area is going to go down when? I mean, is this something that will last a couple of hours or something that could go on for days?

LAWRENCE: I think a lot of it really depends on how the winds blow because that's really going to determine exactly, you know, where that water in the Chesapeake gets pushed to. You know, when we saw, you know, years and years ago in this area tropical storm Agnes, you know, that dumped a lot of water but -- but it was mainly because the rain was concentrated further inland and a little north and so it ended up sort of flooding the Potomac River.

In all actuality, you know, keeping the majority of the rain closer to the shore is actually better in a sense that you've got a lot of beachfront, a lot of soil and sand that can better soak up that rain rather than an area like, you know, like people are bracing for in lower Manhattan, an area of concrete and skyscrapers, areas like that where -- where the rain and the accumulation of water can cause some real trouble because there's no real ground to help soak it up.

So, you'd ideally like to see, if the rain has to come in great force, you'd like to see it concentrated more along the shore where, at least, you can hope that the beach and some of the soil there can help soak up some of those effects. Now, too much, obviously, would -- would overwhelm even -- even that barrier and so, the -- the danger here is not so much, no one -- no one is thinking at this point that there's going to be any sort of catastrophic wind damage here but the damage -- but the concern, really, is the damage that -- that high rising flood waters could do. If we get 4-8 inches of extra water in here, exactly how fast will that come in and what kind of flood damage could it do to the area around here.

SAVIDGE: Chris Lawrence in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. Thanks very much.

PHILLIPS: As we know, New York is expected to get hurricane force winds and rain by tomorrow morning, we've been talking a lot about pushing forward about where this storm is going to go. We're going to take you live to Long Island, New York, also Atlantic City, New Jersey. Stay with us for more breaking news coverage on hurricane Irene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: Breaking news coverage of hurricane Irene continues here on the CNN Newsroom. I am Martin Savidge.

PHILLIPS: And I'm Kyra Phillips. Thanks for staying with us here at CNN World Headquarters.

SAVIDGE: The center of hurricane Irene just off the coast of Maryland near Ocean City. The worst of the storm expected to reach New York City about 4 a.m. as a category I. So far, at least nine people have died since it made landfall this morning. More than 2 million homes and businesses are without power.

PHILLIPS: And hurricane Irene has spun off at least two tornados now. This one it hit Lewes, Delaware, damaging more than 30 homes there. Five homes were destroyed in North Carolina earlier by a tornado and then a tornado watch is now in effect for parts of New York.

Well, Irene could be the worst hurricane to hit New York City since 1938 and lower Manhattan is definitely bracing itself for the high water.

SAVIDGE: Yes, CNN Producer Ann Roche talked to us by phone from the area, which is an evacuation zone.

(VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROCHE, CNN PRODUCER: 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, you know, average ordinary citizens.

SAVIDGE: And, Ann, explain to us what's the concern here. Obviously, it's the water but the water coming from what direction? ROCHE: The -- 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 the very tip of Manhattan, Brooklyn 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 are seeing below us in the lower portion of the shot.

SAVIDGE: 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 from the World Trade Center Ground Zero site, there's a lot of glass there. Some of the windows are boarded up. A 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 window so there could be a lot of glass flying around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Well, from all our producers to correspondents to affiliates, we have an advantage that we can link in with a number of local affiliates covering this hurricane as well. Let's go ahead and listen into WCBS.

(VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over that -- that railing right there, a lot of us have been down to Battery Park, so, that -- that -- that grabs your attention doesn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think about this Maurice, I'm 6'3" - 6'4". I'm about the same size as you, so, three feet over this. Hello, really, over my head? And, you know, they've -- they've got vegetation -- take a look over here, you know, they've got a lot of plants and beautiful things but the buildings are up -- up above and if you can pan just to your left Greg, you know, there are buildings right over here and some of these windows, just to your left Greg, some of these windows, you know, they can become an area of concern, depending on how high this water actually goes. So, yes, that does get your attention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You better believe it. Ok, Scott Rappaport, thank you so much for us tonight, or this morning that is, in Battery Park City. I think -- I guess, you know what, we have a couple of extra seconds. Scott, if you're still there.

SCOTT RAPPAPORT: I am here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: All right, that is watching WCBS in New York. We are going to check in with Atlantic City right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: Well, at its current track, hurricane Irene will hit New York's Long Island on Sunday and right now we're going to check in with WCBS, one of our affiliates. Talk about resources. They've got reporters going live driving through the streets of New York. Apparently, this guy is in midtown Manhattan.

SAVIDGE: Well, he was. Right at the moment we said that, boom, away went the signal.

PHILLIPS: It -- it went out. They knew we were going to take it live and he didn't want his conversation all over the country. Ok. Where should we...

SAVIDGE: Susan Candiotti is now joining us. She's on Long Island where that storm is expected to begin lashing heavily tomorrow morning but you're already feeling it there Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, I'm glad you're coming to me because I'd just as soon start talking now so we can take some shelter in a little bit, but, this is definitely the strongest wind gusts we have felt since we've been out here since early this morning. The rain coming down, not only straight down but also sideways.

It's getting a little more difficult to see where the camera lens is right now. But, looking ahead, you could see, you know, a couple of hours ago I think I showed you there was just a little bit of street flooding now and it's getting a little bit bigger. We are expecting that to get worse as the -- as the night goes on. But, again, just to give you an idea of where we are in Long Beach is just barely above sea level and many parts of the city are actually below sea level.

Walking over here, you can kind of make it out, that's the Boardwalk, which is the highest part of (INAUDIBLE) barrier island. And, remember where we are it could very well be the point of impact here for hurricane Irene come the morning light. But, for now, standing on the street side, we were up on that Boardwalk earlier, you could see, obviously, everyone is off the street. It's really coming down now and if -- if you point up now, we're going to be keeping an eye up on the power lines as well to see whether they hold up.

All the street lights are still on so we haven't lost power here yet. That's a very good thing. Everyone, a number of people anyway, have heeded the mandatory evacuations because it is such a low-lying area here. We'll wait to see how -- how the evening wears on and keep covering and reporting back to you but, for now, definitely the worst we've seen it so far. Marty and Kyra, back to you.

SAVIDGE: Susan Candiotti, thank you very much. Go take yourself inside. Try to get a little shelter. You know, what she doesn't mention there is that not only is that rain cold but it hurts. It stings.

PHILLIPS: Yes, and Jeanne Meserve has told us the same thing today, she said it was just belting her in the back of the head. It's pretty amazing what they've been doing for hours now. It's 12:42 Eastern time and it's going to be getting worse...

SAVIDGE: It is.

PHILLIPS: ...in parts of the country, in parts of the east and the Jersey Shore, casinos are closed now, the Boardwalks have become pretty desolate. A band of senior citizens actually stood their ground refusing to obey evacuation orders, 93 of them I believe. CNN's Jason Carroll has been watching all of the developments out of Atlantic City.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Atlantic City really taking a beating. Conditions here have steadily gotten worse with each passing hour. We're already experiencing tropical storm gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. Actually, earlier today we were standing out there on the beach but the section of the beach that we were standing to has already given way to that angry surf that we've seen.

Actually, this is the Boardwalk here in Atlantic City. It is empty, deserted. All of the eleven casinos in the city have been shut down in preparation for hurricane Irene and, in fact, you can see the casinos have boarded up their front windows. They've also put sandbags down there as a precaution. One of the officials out here telling us that they expect the water to actually reach where I'm standing right now. That's why they put out a mandatory evacuation but that certainly doesn't mean everyone has evacuated. We caught up with a group of seniors who say they are not leaving.

(VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We come from hearty stock. We ain't moving.

CARROLL: Ok. You're not moving?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

CARROLL: Clearly that is the case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's the best reality show you're going to get.

CARROLL: But -- but in all seriousness are any of you concerned about the storm?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh yes, sure.

CARROLL: I'm sorry, Ma'am, what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only our children. My son said he's going to have me committed.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not frivolous about this. We take this very seriously. But, the alternative is a nightmare. CARROLL: The alternative being in -- being in a shelter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not only being in a shelter, not knowing where we will be. Not knowing where we will be. Our health does not permit most of the opportunities that have been offered to us and I think that's serious. We haven't heard anything from the top level that takes that into account.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: There are 92 seniors in all at that apartment building and emergency officials are especially concerned because they say if the situation arises where those seniors need help they may not be able to get there to give them the help that they need. So, hopefully, that situation does not arise. As for the situation here on the ground where we are the worst of hurricane Irene is expected to hit here at about 4 a.m. That's when the eye will pass through here. Back to you.

SAVIDGE: That was Jason Carroll. Now we have breaking news. Karen McGinnis is joining us.

PHILLIPS: Yes, Karen, what is this about a dam in Maryland?

KAREN MCGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're looking at St. Mary's Park. It's a State Park, part of the Calloway County Park System there, about 12 parks. We can zoom in a little bit. Here's Washington, D.C., here's St. Mary's Lake Maryland. This is in the State of Maryland. We'll zoom in a little bit more and I'll show you this area right here, which is where we're looking at.

This is part of a dam associated with the lake and, give me one second here, here's the dam, here's the lake, and they're saying that the folks downstream from this dammed lake, they've already seen seven inches of rainfall. There is great threat to lives here because they've already seen seven inches, as I've mentioned, but this hurricane is -- as it makes its way toward that mid-Atlantic and northeast coast, it's going to drop additional rainfall so the dam is very near to its breaking point.

They have issued a code red emergency for this region and they are saying that potentially this dam could burst should they see additional rainfall and that certainly is very likely, given that this storm system is just winding its way up the coast and should be affecting a lot of these major metropolitan areas in this northeastern corridor, especially along I-95. Now, the National Hurricane Center is going to be giving us another update coming up as of 2 a.m. but right now, associated with hurricane Irene we have do winds reporting of 80 miles an hour but the rain has been the big problem so far as we have seen in coastal North Carolina, some 14 p lus inches in some areas. Back to you.

SAVIDGE: All right, Karen McGinnis, following that and we will continue to follow that through the early morning hours.

PHILLIPS: Right, and the potential threat there. Ok, Poppy Harlow now on the phone with us with new information about power outages in New York City. Apparently, she has been cruising through the city. Poppy?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, I just want to give people a visual here. I have never seen New York City in my ten years of living here so deserted as it is right now. We are driving downtown. We're pretty much in lower Manhattan right by the tunnel that would take you to New Jersey, right by Canal Street, approaching the bottom tip of Manhattan but it's never been as deserted as I'm seeing it now.

The winds have intensified a lot since I spoke with you at the top of the hour. The rain is very, very heavy. We see a lot of emergency vehicles on the streets. I have not seen one person yet on the street for my entire 50 block drive downtown. In terms of power outages, here's what we can tell you. Con-Edison, the big power provider here in New York City said at this point we've got about 9,700, so almost 10,000 power outages already.

Most of those are in Staten Island which, of course, is zone A that was evacuated but a lot of people didn't leave. They are going to make a decision in the middle of the night tonight somewhere probably between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. whether or not they have to completely cut off power from all of lower Manhattan.

The reason they would do that is to prevent any long-term damage if there is, indeed a storm surge and that flooding. They'll make that decision later on depending on how bad that storm surge is. What we also know is that there's been some pretty serious flooding in Hoboken, that is part of New Jersey, right on the Hudson River, right across from Manhattan. They've had to evacuate one shelter there due to flooding, Kyra.

So, the situation here has gotten a lot worse in the last 40 minutes. We're going to try to get to the tip of Manhattan, the southernmost tip, Battery Park City, which, again, was evacuated as well. I live right down there. I was evacuated. We're going to try to get there for you at the top of the hour, about 1 a.m., and give you a live report from there.

PHILLIPS: Ok, sounds good. We'll be waiting for it. Poppy Harlow there in the streets of New York.

SAVIDGE: Next, we're going to take you, though, to Virginia where several deaths have been reported. Also, it may be the worst place you can be during a hurricane, trapped on a sailboat. That rescue just ahead.

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SAVIDGE: Irene first came ashore in North Carolina, blasting the state's outer banks and, even though that hurricane has since moved up the east coast, it left behind huge problems. Our David Mattingly is in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, tonight. David?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Irene is the storm that just won't quit. Here in the outer banks we've experienced over 30 non- stop hours of rain, almost as many hours (INAUDIBLE) this hurricane is not done with the outer banks yet. Tonight, the problem is flooding and this isn't flooding from a storm surge off the ocean like we would typically see. This is a reverse storm surge.

This is water that is in the sound, that body of water that is between the barrier islands and the mainland of North Carolina. Communities along this sound are now experiencing flooding because as this hurricane began to move north the wind shifted, pushed water up and out of its banks into communities around on that sound. So, right now, we are seeing roads that are blocked, impassable because of the water that has flooded them, a state highway, a federal highway.

We're also seeing some communities that have been severely affected by the flooding, some neighborhoods have been flooded as well. Authorities don't k now exactly how many houses have been hit but we do know that water has encroached into some houses in some of those low-lying areas.

So, here on the outer banks, they are not done with this hurricane yet or even assessing (INAUDIBLE) is still going on here. It is hoped that that water will start retreating soon and (INAUDIBLE) in most cases but that's when damage crews (INAUDIBLE) out and do an assessment (INAUDIBLE) what has been done and what needs to be done to get this island safe again for its residents to come back. David Mattingly, CNN, on the outer banks.

PHILLIPS: Well, this is the kind of weather that can definitely make going a few yards feel like moving a mile. Case in point, a sailboat stuck just 200 yards offshore in Norfolk, Virginia. The people on board had engine trouble and then emergency crews couldn't reach them initially because of the high waves. But, it was actually the weather that helped turn things around for rescuers who saved a man, a woman, and their cat. Captain Mike Marsala of Norfolk Fire and Rescue explained what conditions were like when rescuers got there.

MIKE MARSALA, CAPTAIN, NORFOLK FIRE AND RESCUE: The vessel was slammed against the rocks. There are some jetties that run parallel around the beach. So, that made it very difficult with the high winds and the treacherous surf, we weren't able to deploy any swimmers or we couldn't launch a boat.

On the fortunate side, the winds and the current eventually carried the vessel over that jetty and moved it in a little closer and once it turned onto its starboard side it actually blocked some of the seas and that allowed us to -- to go ahead and deploy our swimmers and get the -- the couple and their cat off the boat.

PHILLIPS: So, Captain, when you reached these individuals, what did they say to you? How did they react to you?

MARSALA: The crews that were there, once they got there and got the crew -- the crew off the boat, they were very grateful, joyous to be back on solid ground, were very appreciative that Norfolk Fire and Rescue was able to get to them. It was kind of concerned at first that we weren't going to be able to get to them. The other relief was the rescuers as they watched for -- for quite some time trying to develop a plan on how to get those people off the boat. Naturally, they were relieved, you know, once everybody was brought ashore.

SAVIDGE: Yes, you know, I'm curious why were they out there. I mean, clearly, they knew the storm that was on its way. What were they doing in the water in the first place?

MARSALA: They left Portsmouth yesterday morning. Their intention was to go to Annapolis. They were trying to outrun the storm. Unfortunately, they had some engine trouble and they weren't able to return back into port so they went ahead and anchored up. Their intent was to try to ride out the storm and it just became too much for them.

PHILLIPS: How bad would you rate these conditions compared to times past?

MARSALA: Very treacherous. We have a lot of Northeaster storms that come through. These guys today when they were executing the rescue they were dealing with 5-6 foot seas and they were dealing with winds, at that particular time, that were 45-50 miles an hour with 60 miles an hour gusts.

PHILLIPS: Well, the Captain also tells me that the people rescued lived on that boat and they were headed to a shelter and their cat was taken to an animal shelter. Well, from North Carolina to New England, Irene is making its mark.

SAVIDGE: In the town of Newport, Rhode Island, what is usually a bustling tourist center is all quiet as people brace for something they rarely experience. A hurricane. CNN's Gary Tuchman is there.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Newport, Rhode Island, is just hours away from the worst of hurricane Irene. This region, New England, this state, Rhode Island, this city, Newport, is not used to hurricanes. The last time a hurricane came here was exactly 20 years ago last week. That was hurricane Bob. The most famous hurricane of 1938. That hurricane killed more than 600 people, injured 1700 people.

They get Nor'easters here but they're really not used to the hurricanes. There's a mandatory evacuation order in effect in this resort town but a lot of people just haven't left in parts of this town and people haven't left because there's really no where to go. This is really so much different than most hurricanes we cover. Most hurricanes we cover come to one or two spots and you can evacuate to the north, to the west, to the south.

But here, the north is where the hurricane is going, the west is where the hurricane is going, it's going everywhere so a lot of people are staying. This town has 25,000 year-round residents. During these tourist weekends and this is a big weekend, more than 100,000 people are here. A lot of people still remain but we can tell you at this point there's a lot of relief that this particular storm is not as windy as they thought it would be. There is still a lot of concern about flooding. You see that church across the street. That's a Greek Orthodox church. Factor in that big hurricane of 1938 the water went over the steps. That church was only 14 years old when that happened. It's now 87 years old and we're fully expecting it will survive after this hurricane too. Irene is on its way and Newport, Rhode Island, home of many beautiful mansions and beautiful sailboats and beautiful boats. They call this the sailing capitol of the world. This city is getting ready. This is Gary Tuchman, CNN, in Newport, Rhode Island.

PHILLIPS: All right. Breaking news coverage of hurricane Irene will continue. I'm Kyra Phillips here at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Thanks for joining us.

SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge. CNN's coverage of hurricane Irene continues right now with Natalie Allen and Drew Griffin.

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