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CNN NEWSROOM

Hurricane Sandy's Coverage;

Aired October 28, 2012 - 17:00   ET

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


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Hello, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Almost the entire mid-Atlantic and northeast sea board staring down the mouth of a monstrous storm that is Hurricane Sandy. Is charging north now and a new advisory released just moments ago may give us a better idea of where this storm is heading. Where it might make landfall.

Let's check in with our meteorologist Chad Myers.

So, we have been talking about the king of Delmarva Peninsula, maybe other portions of the northeast like New York, Connecticut, et cetera. Any idea where that kind of cone is narrowing?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Every time the storm gets closer. You start to see the cone get smaller because you would expect that, because the cone is a cone. It gets wider the farther you get away. So, the farther you get away in time, the bigger the width of the air could be. Now, the air is getting smaller and smaller. And now, the air is somewhere between Ocean city of Rehoboth, all the way up to New York City where the center of the cone being somewhere north of cape may, Atlantic city.

But I just don't want you to focus on those cities. You have to focus on the entire width of the cone, left turn, right turn, does it make that turn left in time? That's what we worried about. It's that left turn. Because it isn't going left right now, and sometimes they wait, you know. Sometimes computers aren't perfect, and why aren't they perfect? Because we don't have a lot of data out here.

The Atlantic Ocean is a kind of a vast empty space, where we love to know where the winds are going, but we don't have perfect weather out there. We don't have weather balloons out there. We have drop sons out of NOAA weather radio or NOAA weather airplanes. But it is not perfect. So, the closer we get to land, the more the perfect the forecast would br.

Here it is, category one, about an 80-mile-per-hour storm, right now as it makes landfall tomorrow night. And if there's any change to the forecast at all, I would say that's a little bit faster. The numbers probably bring in landfall the eye, around 8:00, 9:00; 10:00 tomorrow night. It couldn't be a little faster than that.

But don't focus on 8:00, because a lot of the storm will be onshore, half of it will be onshore, even before the eye gets there, wherever it gets. So, you have to understand that things are going to start to go bad from here. This is how good it's going to get for the next 36 to 48 hours. And by 8:00 tomorrow night, that's when it surge is going to push on the right side. And that is why no matter where with we are in here, this sides of it is so dangerous because the wins are coming in here. And that wind filed will push all the water up into New York Harbor, on up here into perk, on in the Amboise; on up all the way here in to Toms River, and then, all of this has wind this way, the winds in Washington, D.C. will be 55 or 60-mile-per-hour, but from the in the opposite direction, from the north and from the northwest. And it offered a lot of rains are going to come down with it. And as it interacts with the next storm system, there's a low here, when those two actually combine, then we will start to see the snow on this side, because it's cold over here, the snow will come in, and this will wrap up. This will not, for anyone, from New York to Vermont, New Hampshire, all the way down to North Carolina. And this will not feel like a hurricane. When it's a hurricane, it feels likes 75. It feels like it's tropical. Thos will be a cold storm, you get wet, winds are going to blow 60, maybe more where you are, and temperatures are going to be 45 or 50. This is going to be a brutal storm to be out in.

WHITFIELD: You're saying nor'easter like?

MYERS: Absolutely. That's what this is going to turn into. This is almost a perfect storm like we had back in 1991. The difference with the perfect storm is it caused billions of dollars in damage. The perfect storm never made landfall. It stayed out in the ocean. It never made landfall. So, there really wasn't that impact of coastal surge. This storm does make landfall. It will be of course until surge. We just don't know quite how much.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness.

All right, thanks for the warnings on that. And we will check back with you.

Meantime, a big warning coming from the president of the United States earlier today. He made a visit to FEMA headquarters and he said the resources are in place to deal with the storm and he expects fast response to any damage once that storm does hit. But he added people really need to be prepared.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You need to take this very seriously, and follow the instructions of your state and local officials because they are going to be providing you with the best advice in terms of how to deal with this storm over the coming days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The president also held a conference call will governors and mayors of all of the areas that are in the storm's path.

So emergency management officials in North Carolina, they too are heating some warnings. That state is getting hammered already with heavy rain and strong winds from hurricane Sandy's outer band.

CNN's George Howell is on the outer banks right now. Even though, that storm is a few hundred miles up the coast, you're feeling the effects of that storm in kill devil hills, George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Definitely, Fredricka. And we are also keeping in close contact with emergency management officials here in their county.

The latest from them, obviously the winds are strong out here. We're talking wind gusts anywhere from 40-mile-per-hour plus, and I can tell you the plus is in effect right now. These wind gusts if you're not careful can knock you back. So, the winds are coming in. It's that healthy rain mix with sand at times.

Also, when you look at what's happening out on the Atlantic right now, very rough waters, they are keeping a close eye on that, on this side, as long as the winds continue to come from the west to the north. They're worried about storm surge on this side or as we speak on the south side, they are worried about that the winds are shifting, moving water around and then pushing it back out on to the sound, on the north, on the northern side of the outer banks, they're looking at three to five-foot storm surge, now as it could get up to seven feet. That's what they're watching out for along the outer banks.

And we also know that they cancelled -- ferry services have been cancelled in several different places. Also, highway 12, Fredricka, the only way in and out of the outer banks, there is over wash on highway 12 and several places which mean people are holed up until the storm passes through.

WHITFIELD: All right, George Howell. Thanks so much. Appreciate that from Kill Devil Hills with the rain is coming down pretty aggressively.

So, the Delmarva Peninsula which is made above parts of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, it too is getting hammer by Sandy. Parts of ocean city, Maryland, in fact, are already under a mandatory evacuation order.

And Sandra Endo is live there from - it is usually a pretty nice vacations pot. Today, it's picturesque because you've got some enormous surf picking up?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, yes. You can see the waves behind me. They are pretty fears right now and it is not even high tide. But, that's what officials here are worried about, when that high tide approaches and the affects hurricane Sandy. The combination between those two means storm surge. And the national weather service has anticipating that the storm surge from hurricane Sandy could rival hurricane Gloria back in 1985 which destroyed and damaged the boardwalk here in ocean city.

So that's certainly, something local officials will be keeping a watchful eye on. And right now, the mandatory evacuation order is in effect for downtown Ocean City. Residents have about a couple of hours to get out of town and the deadline remains in effect. And clearly this is a very rough area right now, already. We are feeling the winds, we're feeling the rain and there's also a voluntary evacuation for local lying areas as well. They're telling all visitors to get out of Ocean City. They have closed down route 50 coming into Ocean City already.

So they're very prepared for this. But, you know, talking to the mayor, he says that every storm is different and the personality of Sandy is one that this storm is going to hover and linger for a long time and that's a real concern here.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sandra Endo. Thanks so much from Oceans City there on hurricane Sandy. Appreciate that.

All right, our hurricane coverage continues as the storm surges. It is going to be a very long night tonight for many people along the eastern seaboard. The worry now is what happens if power goes out in a very big way? It happened just a year ago, leaving millions in the dark.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, hurricane Sandy continues to barrel its way along the east coast, threatening the Delmarva Peninsula in particular in particular, which includes Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, that could be hit especially hard by this storm that threatens to promote quite the storm surge.

Joining me right now on the phone is Delaware governor, Jack Markell. Governor, I understand that you are under the boardwalk at r Rehoboth's beach. Give me an idea what it looks like there?

JACK MARKELL, DELAWARE GOVERNOR (via phone): Well, it's - put it this way. Even thought the storm is still hundreds of miles away, and you know, the center of it is still hours away, it's rough. I mean, it is rough for the normally is, even at the height of the storm.

WHITFIELD: How concerned are you about evacuation, about people, sometimes we see complacency especially when they hear category one and you are in a coastal place like a Delaware, people feel like oh, I have been through this before, so they are not taking it up seriously.

MARKELL: Well, we are concerned and the message is if you live in an evacuation area, the time to live, is now. And in fact, it is a - it ends at 8:00 tonight as DM B (ph) evacuation period. So, you got to get out in the next few hours. The problem is if you stay, you could very well be cut off. And that's, you know, you put yourself in harm's way. You could put others in harm's way as well. So we're really recommending people get out.

WHITFIELD: So in many cases you have evacuation round center open which means many of the routes heading right toward the coastal area and the beaches are closed. Is that the case here in Delaware?

MARKELL: Well, we haven't gone to one way traffic, but the evacuation -- for people who want to leave, the evacuation routes are open. But, we are already seeing flooding. In fact, we had to looks right between Dewy and Bethany beach, that road is closed so there are other evacuation routes for people, but now is really the time.

WHITFIELD: All right. We have already seen some flooding, hopefully very slight. But still, you know, quite pertinent, right?

MARKELL: Yes. We're seeing more flooding the way it would - than, you know, you normally, and particularly since storm is not here. We have opened seven shelters across the state. So, you know, providing that and you know, they're already starting to get people there which is good. Businesses in the evacuation area have to close by 6:00 p.m. tonight, but bottom line, again, people in the evacuation areas. It's time to get out.

WHITFIELD: And what kinds of concerns do you have for, you know, the beaches for those hotels. You are there at Rehoboth beach, the businesses that you know, generally will be relying on this surge. But of course, they are not going to right now.

MARKELL: I can't quite here you. But you know, there are some essential businesses that are staying open. But for the most part, the businesses in the evacuation area are closing and people are leaving.

WHITFIELD: All right, and given that its fall, it's kind of you're off peak season anyway.

But, Governor Jack Markell, thanks so much. Appreciate your time and stay safe.

All right, people along the east coast did bracing for the hurricane surge, but the utility companies are trying to get ready. Last year millions lost power and preparations are under way just in case there's a repeat.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: As the east coast braces for hurricane Sandy, one of the biggest concerns is keeping the power on for millions of people in the path of that storm.

David Owens is the executive vice president of the Edison electrical institute. He is joining me right now from Washington. Good to see you.

DAVID OWENS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, EDISON ELECTRICAL INSTITUTE: Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: So, preparations have become indeed a collaborative effort with this storm, but to what extent?

OWENS: We have what we call a mutual assistance program whereby utility crews throughout the United States work together. So, when one utility has a difficulty, other utilities pitch in and send crews. I would like in this hurricane, thus substantial storm, if you for example compared it to hurricane Ike, when we had over 50,000 workers that were there to restore power, we're going to have far more than that. We have people come in as far west as California and in fact we are flying in personnel from those regions required in trucks, because we think that this storm has great severity and we're very, very concerned. We have not probably experienced anything like this. They say this is a storm for 100 years and we're certainly prepared to deal with it in that context.

WHITFIELD: So, you mention reinforcements from California. I also understand from Canada and even Mexico.

OWENS: From Canada, from Mexico, from Texas. We mobilize together as an industry in order to bring electric service back to our customers. It is a partnership that we always had. This partnership is existed since 1955. And so, we're dedicated to the safety of our customers and restoring power to them.

WHITFIELD: And this is a major undertaking in large part because of what we just saw, maybe just this past summer. The people in the mid- Atlantic area were without power for a very long time because of a storm. And then, it was just last year with hurricane Irene that brought a lot of power outages for a very lengthy time to the state of Connecticut.

OWENS: That's right. I would contrast this storm from the ratio that we experienced this summer, whereby, it came upon us all at once. We didn't have the opportunity to stage our crews. This time we have several days warning, we're staging our crews, we are prepared.

But again, this is going to be a very, very severe storm. We are hopeful that we won't have extended outages. But we can't control Mother Nature.

WHITFIELD: OK. Mr. Owens, meteorologist Chad Myers with me now to give the question for you.

MYERS: Yes. This is going to be a big storm as shown us. It's going to be windy for a long time. And so, people are going to lose power at the beginning. And then, we are going to be very impatient. But the winds are still going to be blowing 60. You won't put crews out there to put power lines back up until what mile per hour? You're obviously not going to put men in bucks at 60?

OWENS: That's right. We will wait until the wind dies down, as well as the severe rain. We understand we are going to have very severe flooding. The safety of our crews is paramount. And so obviously, we are only going to have those crews seek to restore service.

You first have to assess the damage and we believe that there will be substantial physical destruction of our infrastructure. We are going to have to assess that damage. We are going to have to bring energy back to our essential facilities first, our power supply facility, our transmission lines. We have to bring back our critical loads, our hospitals, our police, our fire departments, our main arteries where people can shop, can get food and other essentials. So we have experienced storms in the past, but this is going to be a storm of tremendous punch, of tremendous magnitude. WHITFIELD: All right, when you talk about assessing the damage, we are talking about assessment that doesn't take just hours, sometimes that takes days as well.

OWENS: It certainly does.

WHITFIELD: All right, David Owens, executive vice president of the Edison electrical institute. We know you got your work cut out for you. Thank so much for taking time to come on. Appreciate that.

OWENS: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: All right, as you heard Mr. Owens say, you know, this is likely to be a historic storm. What exactly does that mean to folks up and down the east coast? We will update you after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back, Amtrak northeast service cancelled tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. And then in New York, mandatory evacuations are underway in zone A areas, including Staten island and the Rock Away.

Let's bring in meteorologist Chad Myers to talk more about zone A, a lot of folks maybe don't even know they live in zone A, in the New York area. But, Mayor Bloomberg making it very serious, saying we're cutting off hot water and heat in those areas. So, you better find a place to stay tonight,

MYERS: And it will be cold.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

MYERS: This won't be a hurricane where at 75 degrees. This is going to be 45 degrees. Winds are going to be blowing at 60. And all of the sudden, you have all the storm surge coming in. So, the low areas called zone A, hopefully, you know where you are. I hope you know when you bought your apartment that you are in this or you are not in this.

But, let's go tight into this. This is breezy point Coney Island up to little bit up there. There's the JFK airport, you see between run ways. There is the JFK. And we turn to Battery Park. Battery Park city all the way up Manhattan, all the way up the Hudson there, and then to the east river here, this would be south street seaport, the financial district.

And then, over to the other side, now that would Brooklyn Queen talking just up the east river and down a little farther is the Red Hook, that's right there. These are all the low-lying areas that will be inundated with the expected surge and then across Staten Island.

There are some much of stuff there. And there, even with zone A, you have to understand that we are only showing that borough there, that's New York, OK?

WHITFIELD: Yes.

MYERS: This flooding isn't going to stop because it is not going on the other side of the river. There is going to be evacuations from New Jersey as well. We just don't have them plotted on there because we don't have a PDF file for that just yet. But, if you are anywhere, if you would know that you live less than 10 feet above sea level in the New York metro area, Connecticut, Long Island, New York City, Hoboken, you need us to get out of there. It's just that simple, because that's how high the water is going to be.

WHITFIELD: Right. And for example, that Staten Island ferry, it stops at 8:00. So you better have a contingency plan.

MYERS: There are so many people that are going to be stranded in places that they don't want to be, you know. But you wanted to be on the 8:00 (INAUDIBLE) train from D.C. to New York. It is not going to be there for you. And there is -- the transportation night mare now continues. And then, you are going to be in places, or you are going to be stuck in places where you don't really know the topography and maybe you don't know that you live in zone A. Literally, I mean, all these people, are going to be trance planted in places they don't want to be, they think they're going to be there, and they're starting to hunker down in the next 24 hours with this storm.

WHITFIELD: Yes. it is very serious, because we are talking about the storm surge in large part that is threatening these low-lying areas.

MYERS: And I believe surge is going to start at Cape May and maybe even up into the (INAUDIBLE), certain maybe in Philadelphia as the water runs up the river. But you start and you take a look at the right side of where the eye makes landfall and you're going to see anywhere from wild wood, northward, all the way up to sea bury where our reporters. And you have all those barrier islands. Those barrier islands are going to be over washed with water. You are going to, literally, see things disappear that used to be on those islands. If you're not on stilts, some of those homes are going to go away.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness.

MYERS: And it's - and I think it was really telling, I wasn't here for the interview, but I heard it in my ear that when you talked to the mayor of Rehoboth? There was at the governor, I might --

WHITFIELD: Yes, it was the governor of Delaware.

MYERS: -- of Delaware, right.

WHITFIELD: And he was in Rehoboth.

MYERS: And he said, we had no idea it would be flooding already, which means that this surge may even be worst than we think because they were not ready for it. And I wanted to ask him, I could run out of -- was it storm surge from the ocean, was it rain water flooding? But it truly doesn't matter. If it's flooding, you're in trouble if you're there. There's so many parts to this. And we have all night to go through this. And we will be here all night. I want to talk to you about what happens in Boston, what happens in Connecticut, what happens in Rhode Island, what happens along Long Island sound. And we worked our way all the way down because every place will be different. You know, what happens in Wilkes bury is not going to be the same as what happens in Boston. The effects will be different depending how cold the air is on one side, how warm it is, how much wind, and how much flooding, in West Virginia, how much snow.

WHITFIELD: And which is why people really need to pay attention. And if they have NOAA radios, the battery operated radios, stay informed.

MYERS: Your local national weather service office will be able to tell you more about your local area than I can. I can tell you the overall scope. I can try to do that in five minutes. I can't go state by state, city by city, you know, it would just take too long. So, your local authorities know everything about where you live and the local conditions are going to be. That's where you need to listen.

WHITFIELD: Well, you are laying it out. It really is going to be a transportation nightmare as well. You talk about the storm surge and it also means that railways are not going to be working like people want them to. Roadways, we know that there are a lot of cancellations of flights as well. We are going to check with Josh Levs who has a lot more on that from our hurricane desk right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, we're keeping a close eye on hurricane Sandy as it charges up the east coast. This is the latest word from the national hurricane center. Sandy is churning out in the Atlantic, about 270 miles south east of Cape Hatteras. And we believe it's also about 530 miles according to our Chad Myers from the New York City area. And, as it makes its way from the north Atlantic to the northeast, that system will be colliding with a cold front between Virginia, and Connecticut, sometime tomorrow night. And thousands of people in the low-lying areas right now are already evacuating from North Carolina all the way up to Maine. People who are staying put are stocking up on supplies, preparing for widespread power outages as well that could last days.

So, New York, already updates now that the subway and commuter train service has been suspended tonight beginning tonight at 7:00, mandatory evacuations of low-lying areas are in place. The stock exchange will remain open, but only electronic trades, nothing in person. We want to update you because I actually think that's not correct, that's going to be closed as far as we know. Broadway performances have also been cancelled.

Then, on to New Jersey where a state of emergency is already underway, mandatory evacuations are in place in parts of the state. All state offices are closed tomorrow and the New Jersey transit is shutting down at 4:00. And then, in Virginia, we understand that schools have been cancelled in Arlington. The National Guard has authorized up to 500 personnel will be put in place. The state of emergency has been declared there as well.

And then, in Maryland, also state of emergency. Voluntary evacuations are underway in low-lying areas, except mandatory evacuations are in place for places like Ocean City.

And we also understand that that early voting that had kicked in Virginia and Maryland yesterday, well in Maryland, no early voting for the general election taking place tomorrow. And then Washington, D.C., public schools are closed tomorrow, sandbags are being distributed to residents and then Pennsylvania, it, too is looking at this storm and putting precautionary measures in place. Disaster area, an emergency disaster declaration has been put in place for Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

A state of emergency has been declared and we heard from Governor Duvall Patrick that Amtrak service in the northeast will be suspended in the northeast starting at 7:00 p.m. this evening.

So, lots of precautions being put in place all along mid-Atlantic, as well as the northeast. So planes, trains, busses all grounded for a good amount of time.

Josh Levs is keeping a close watch on things from the hurricane desk.

Josh, bring us up to today.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I will. And last time, you covered in a lot of ways. I will tell you that it keeps on growing. I got even more for you. This just came in. Let me set the scene for all of you right here.

I'm at the CNN hurricane desk and what you're seeing around me, are people who are reaching out to every state, every city, every area in this country that could be impacted by what's going on with this hurricane as it approaches land.

Let me give you some of the latest details we have. Before we go into transportation, Fred, this is really interesting to me. The U.S. nuclear regulatory commission is now it is sending inspectors to al the nuclear power stations that are in the path of hurricane Sandy.

Now, any time I say nuclear on the air, I want to give you a big caveat about it. That doesn't mean that means that they are predicting any kind of disaster. What they're doing is sending inspectors to be at these facilities just to make sure everything is OK and to be able to act quickly if the worst were to happen, if they were to be a problem at nuclear site. So, to the commission is saying that.

We are talking transportation here. This is going to impact not just all of you who are in the path of the storm itself. But, who else around the country too, who wants to fly somewhere, who has any travel plans. I will tell you the latest we have gotten now this came in from the southeastern Pennsylvania transportation authority. They are announcing that they are shutting down their bus service for a while as well some folks in -- the entire section of Pennsylvania will be affected as well by the entire transportation system, rather.

Now I want to give you some numbers, just to help understand how many millions of people we are talking about. So, let's go to the screen we put together here. It's going to help you understand how many millions of people we're talking about being impacted.

The New York City subway system alone has 4.3 million riders every day. And that's been closed. The metropolitan transportation authority, the system in New York and New Jersey has about 8.5 million riders a day. That's closed. And I have confirmed with Amtrak, something you were just talking about, Fred. Amtrak does say that for tonight and at least through tomorrow, they're closing the northeast corridor and that is three-quarters of a million riders a day.

Now, let's go to the next one. I want you to guys see what's happening with planes, all over the country, a lot of planes are being shut down. We have been checking it with the airlines more than once an hour just to get these numbers. American airlines at least 1,500 flights cancelled. Delta and U.S. airways, last I check in and give specific numbers that said a lot of lights being cancelled. United airways, 3,700 flight s cancelled. And JetBlue, 1,000 flights cancelled through Wednesday.

We are keeping up today on all of these here on air and also, on CNN.com. And while talking about CNN.com, I want to show you something that just popped up, Google is now working with New York. And we will see whether they were worked in other place as well.

This is an interactive map that shows evacuation areas in New York. Watch what happens if I click right here. Those red dots that appeared are evacuation centers. So, if you're in the New York City area, you need an evacuation center to go to, that's what you do.

Now, this is the biggest reason I'm showing you this now. Watch what happens when I click storm surge probability. This is a look at the current forecast for the kind of storm surge that we could be seeing and obviously we're hearing a lot of great information about this from the national hurricane center and from Chad Myers as well.

Now, if you're in a position to take photos or videos safety, you can contribute to our i-report coverage of what we got going on. I'm not going to show any i-reports of anybody who violated a mandatory evacuation order. Do not do that. We check with people first. Make sure you didn't take any risk.

If you're in a position though, to take images safely, contribute to our i-report coverage right here. We're getting some powerful shots right here. (INAUDIBLE). They are showing us different parts of the country that are being impacted already. I'm really struck by that one because you can see a flooded area with apparently a family that was all set for Halloween that is out (INAUDIBLE) in North Carolina. In the meantime, keep it with us on CNN.com. I also got a lot going on with on twitter right now, very often. I'm tweeting like crazy right now @joshlevscnn. And Fred, we will be back in a little bit with even for more breaking details.

WHITFIELD: OK. Great! And we are going to be right back too with more on the mass transit shutdown in New York City, right after this as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, desperate times calling for desperate measures, that's how authorities in New York City are responding to hurricane Sandy. They are suspending public transportation in the city of millions just hours from now.

And to keep people safe, joining me right now on the phone is Joseph Lhota, chairman of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

So Mr. Lhota, I'm talking about bus service that's going to be suspended starting at 9:00 p.m., and subways which are going to be shut down at 7:00 p.m., is that right?

JOSEPH LHOTA, CHAIRMAN, NEW YORK METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (via phone): Yes, at 7:00 p.m. - Hello, Fredricka. 7:00 p.m. tonight, we're going to be begin the shutdown of the subway system. No guarantee though, that you will be able to get a ride on the subway past 7:00 p.m. tonight, but we are going to go all the way through to 3:00 in the morning when it will be completely shut down.

WHITFIELD: OK. So, I understand hurricane Sandy is about 530 miles away from New York City. Why is it and how did you come about these hours as the best recommended time to kind of stop MTA?

LHOTA: What's really important to understand in this decision that was made to do it now is not necessarily where the hurricane is right now. We're pretty confident that we're going to be having a water surge as well as high winds. What we really needed to do is to make sure that all of our people were safe. All of our passengers were safe.

But what's more important, if we had surface on Monday morning and brought everything into New York, I can tell you right now, we would not be able to get them home. And that in it, is the problem. 8.5 million people are on the MTA every single day and you can't have that many people stranded in New York.

WHITFIELD: And how concerned are you about all of those evacuations, zone A to evacuate -- mandatory evacuation, we heard that from the mayor just a few hours ago, how concerned are you that --

LHOTA: I'm not concerned. We're working very, very closely with the city in the evacuation process, right now, that's only about 325,000 people. Believe it or not for the MTA, we cannot handle that level, as long as the folks are prepared to move, we're prepared to help in that process. WHITFIELD: All tight. Clearly, 325,000 people, nothing compared to the 8.5 million people who count on you every day. All right, Joseph Lhota. Thanks so much. Chairman of New York's Metropolitan transportation authority, all the best. Thanks for your time.

So all states along the east coast particularly mid-Atlantic up to the northeast taking the threat of hurricane Sandy very seriously, the governors and mayors of so many of those states are keeping everything posted as best they can on preparations, evacuations, closures.

Nick Valencia is here to kind of break it all down, of course. We were talking about a very concentrated metropolitan area from as far south as North Carolina all the way up to Maine.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And we heard from the Connecticut governor earlier today and it seems like the worst-case scenario, there Fred, maybe the one that was most likely to play out. There was little if any good news that came out of this press conference already mandatory evacuations report at Stanford, Connecticut. The governor there, Governor Malloy, took it a step further. He said historic flooding and possibly some major damage there as a result of hurricane Sandy, take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR: We are talking about extensive flooding, maybe the worst that we have seen in 70 years. The most significant threat we're facing now, right now is the fact that we will be experiencing four high tides from the time the storm starts until it ends, with the worse one, being late tomorrow night.

The amount of water the storm is expected to push into Long Island sound is far more than the sound the shoreline can handle. The numbers that we are starting to look at right now suggest in a worst- case scenario that we will see water surges unlike Connecticut has seen in more than 70ers referencing the 1938 storm.

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VALENCIA: He brings up that 1938 storm which causes hundreds of deaths and was risk of very big problem there in Connecticut.

But, you know Fred, the problem is that we're dealing with residents who have gone through this before, right? Fatigue's there, people who have been in the eye of the storm and there were similar predictions there, there was wind damage, it was rain, this time it is storm surges. So, we're seeing from these local governors and officials some sort of - of more aggressive approach to get the word out. In fact, on Chris Christie, even before his news conference, took to twitter to try to get the message out. I believe we have one of his tweets. New Jersey transit, he is saying, will begin gradual system wide shut down of all bus, rail, light rail and access link service that starts at 4:00 p.m., goes to overnight hours of 2:00 a.m.. So, you see all after being used here to get the news out to residents, Fred. WHITFIELD: And what about Newark mayor Cory Booker, he's a very big tweeter.

VALENCIA: Yes. He is a big tweeter and he was also very blunt enough for it up front with the audience and with the residents they are doing, his press conference, you know. He said that the biggest concern there for him is the people that aren't prepared.

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MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: The biggest thing that we're concerned about right now is individuals not taking this storm seriously enough the human error that often comes from a lack of preparation or a lack of sobered understanding of what is going to happen to the state of New Jersey. And many of the crises we have had to respond to in the past, most marked people not adequately preparing for the crisis.

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VALENCIA: Different methods in avenues being used to spread this information far and wide. In New York, they're actually sending messages to residents' phones. We talked to a resident there earlier today. She got a message on her iphone of these mandatory evacuations that we are talking about it in zone A that is going to affect hundreds of thousands of people. Also, a little while ago, free web access from "the New York Times" and "the Wall Street Journal" to spread information that people that want to go on there, but hopefully, they are watching us for the latest information here on CNN.

WHITFIELD: All right. So the access to information, it's all there.

VALENCIA: It is out there.

WHITFIELD: All right, Nick Valencia. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

VALENCIA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, weather conditions indeed are deteriorating along East Coat. We will bring you the very latest on hurricane Sandy, where it is and where it might be headed, next.

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WHITFIELD: All right, more on hurricane Sandy now. We are talking about it being a couple hundred miles off the coast of North Carolina, about 500 miles off New York city's coast.

So, let's check with meteorologist Chad Myers. All these cities from North Carolina all the way up to Maine are very concerned about what Sandy might bring. Storm surge is a big concern.

MYERS: Of course, because the water is so heavy. Even standing out at the beach and getting knocked down by a three-foot wave when having fun on the beach is nothing like what you'll feel with the weight of this water where the water is 12 feet or higher.

Plus, we have full moon. The full moon will make the normal tides a couple of feet higher than normal or then a low tide. So that's good for the low because that will make the water go down when we have the low tide, at least a little bit, and then it is bad for the high tide because then you have the high tide added to the storm surge.

There's the storm right now and you made reference to about Kill Devil Hills, that's about 300 miles from there, maybe a little bit less and 500 miles from New York City. The forecast is for it to do something like that and then like that.

But the cone is still here and here. So, let's get to it because we always have to talk about the cone until it makes landfall. Nothing is in stone until it makes landfall. It is raining now in Annapolis, raining in D.C., and Bowie, all of the areas here in eastern North Carolina.

The anywhere from about storm anywhere from about long branch all the way down to the border between the Delmarva there that's Delaware and to Virginia. And the cone gets smaller. Notice how small the cone is when it is very close to where it is. And the cone gets bigger as it moves away.

And the problem, another problem is there's another low pressure system swinging in from the southwest here that will grab this thing and spin it around. It will almost stall it for a couple of days. It moves it a little bit from here to here. But, if you think about rain and this shield, and it rains for 48 hours there, we are going to get flooding.

We are also going to keep the wind going 50 or 60 miles per hour. And then you're going to see the trees get knocked down because, well, the ground is wet. All of a sudden the trees are blowing 50 and the trees will come down and so, are the power lines. There will be millions of trees down and there will be power lines down with it.

There's a couple forecast models still up for New York City. A couple here still down here, that will be Wilmington, that right there. That's Rehoboth. And then, you just talked to them, the governor down there in Rehoboth. And then, right through here, most of the mass of them across New Jersey.

It isn't that it is going to miss something. It is going to hit something. And it is so big that if you think of the center, like you think of a cat two, three, or four in the center, that's not the issue. This storm is 500 miles wide on both sides of the storm with winds over tropical storm force.

So, the winds will gust to 60 in Maine. They will gust to 60 in Washington, D.C. Eighty here across parts of New Jersey and even through here because of the big high pressure back here and the low will be here, the wind is going to howl through Detroit. It will howl down Lake Michigan and you could see some lake-effect snow there, but an awful lot of snow through parts of West Virginia. Some of the new computer models are saying 60 inches of snow. And now blizzard warnings just posted.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Well, given you talking about the circumference and the width of the storm, no matter what with the whole spaghetti map, one place may not get a direct hit, it still going to get the impact of that storm because it is just so wide and seemingly so monstrous.

MYERS: Yes, you know, there is nobody from Maine to Virginia that's not going to feel something. And it is just a matter of where you are into the center, whether your winds will be east, north, south or west. And they are going to be blowing hard. They are going blowing hard for days and the power is going to be out for days in many spots.

WHITFIELD: My goodness. All right, thanks so much, Chad Myers. Appreciate that. We are going to keep you posted throughout the evening.

We have much more right after this.

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WHITFIELD: All right. We continue to watch hurricane Sandy. It's roughly about 200 miles off the coast of North Carolina, roughly 500 miles from New York City. But places from North Carolina all the way up to Maine are bracing.

In fact, we have a few updates. D.C., a federal offices will be closed to the public tomorrow. We already know that Washington, D.C., public schools are closed.

More on hurricane Sandy, straight ahead. We know that mass transit from buses in New York will be closed or will shut down starting at 9:00 this evening and 7:00 for the subway system. That's impacting a whole lot of people.

Much more ahead on NEWSROOM with Don Lemon.

This is a monster storm because it could take so many different directions. And so, as a precaution, states and cities are taking all kinds of measures to make sure that people are safe.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

WHITFIELD: And people can't be complacent because that is what happens often times.

LEMON: And they should be. And you heard some of the people saying, the mayors saying, if you -- it is almost too late to get out now in some places if you haven't gotten out. But, my God, you have been here what, since 2:00 on the air.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and you have a long haul too for the evening. Things will be changing on the dime, we know that.

LEMON: Yes. We have a lot of people out there. So, thank you, Fred. Have a great evening.

WHITFIELD: Have a great evening.

LEMON: Yes. Yes. Great evening.