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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Hurricane Sandy Wreaks Havoc on East Coast

Aired October 29, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: It is hitting as we speak. What officials are calling the most catastrophic event we have faced and been able to plan for in our lifetimes.

We have team coverage up and down the East Coast. Live reporters hanging on in the thick of Hurricane Sandy, the monster.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, breaking news as Hurricane Sandy wreaks havoc on the East Coast. Sixty million Americans in its path, the monster storm hitting landfall, causing unprecedented destruction. Tonight, a team of reporters in the thick of it, live up and down the coast. Storm chasers following the hurricane. And people stuck smack in the middle of Sandy`s path. The very latest live right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been here for a long time. And I`m going to tell you right now, this storm that`s coming in right now is scaring me a little bit.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This is not a time to be a show- off. It`s not a time to be stupid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s really blowing in Atlantic City. It`s one of those gusts we`re getting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you`ve been forecasting, the worst is yet to come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most catastrophic event that we have faced and been able to plan for in any of our lifetimes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you didn`t leave, you can`t leave now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s going to be extremely dangerous as far as flooding goes as the wind and the rain continue to pound us here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the worst storm that I`ve experienced in my 30 years here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news, as Sandy is in the process right now of crashing into the East Coast. And it`s only going to get worse.

Good evening. Jane Velez-Mitchell with live team coverage of this monster storm, what some people are calling the storm of our generation. We have reporters up and down the East Coast. Sixty million people in the path of this gigantic storm. And we`re going to hear directly from people trying to survive the wrath of Sandy.

We are all over it. We`ve got Ryan Smith at the tip of Manhattan, facing the rising waters. Mike Galanos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where there`s serious flooding. Bobby Van Dillen in Asbury Park, New Jersey. A lot of people feel New Jersey is getting the worst of it. And the latest on the storm`s path from our weather center with meteorologist Tom Sader.

People calling Hurricane Sandy something for the record books. Historic in nature. Crews in the field having a very rough time matching Sandy`s strength. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Picked up in the last half an hour. This is a band obviously that`s coming through. And this is by far the strongest. Look at that. Look at that, the wind and the water going down the street behind me. This is by far the worst of it so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right now, more than 1.5 million people are without power as we speak. And it`s going to rise.

Despite mandatory evacuation orders, many have simply refused to leave their homes. And it`s only making matters worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I`m very disappointed in the fact that some decided to disregard my instruction, in fact, my order. And I`m concerned that it might lead to the loss of life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sandy is striking at the heart of our nation, New York City, home to more than 8 million people, shutting down the world`s biggest subway system, bridges and tunnels on and off Manhattan island. The stock market closed today and tomorrow.

And then there`s this: a dangerous broken crane, hanging perilously high above New York City, forcing people living in 15 high-rises to flee their apartments.

We`ve got callers lined up all across the southeast to the northeast, ready to talk about what`s happening in their city. I want to hear from you. Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to HLN anchor, Mike Galanos, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Mike, a lot of people say, out of the dozen or more states affected, New Jersey is getting the worst of it. New Jersey square in the path of this storm. What is happening now and show us with your feet how high is the water on you?

MIKE GALANOS, HLN REPORTER: Jane, look at this. as we have some of the police personnel drive by, look at this if you can see this.

Jane, when we talked earlier in the day, maybe it was an inch or two. Now we`re talking about six or seven inches. And I`m away from it. If I continued to walk that way, I would be in a foot, two feet of water.

The mayor of Atlantic City said -- and this was during the day -- there are many parts of Atlantic City under two, three feet of water. And now, as the tide rises and the storm surge water comes ashore here, we`re talking about five, six feet of floodwater and who knows how bad it`s going to get?

That`s why, in effect right now, there is a curfew that began at 6 Eastern, 6 p.m. Eastern, lasting to 6 a.m.

They want everybody off the streets. And as a wave just came and hit me, so jack up a few more inches of water that`s just casting upon us here. And it`s just a dangerous situation, Jane. Five, 600 people in county shelters. And again, if you`re out here violating that curfew, they`re going to arrest you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Give us a sense, we all know the famous Atlantic City boardwalk. How far are you from what would normally be the water`s edge?

GALANOS: Well, if you -- OK, right in front of me, and I`m somewhat sheltered, at least a little bit, is the Atlantic City convention center.

Straight behind me -- and I don`t know if you can see the Bali sign. That`s the large red sign behind me. So we`re looking maybe a mile from the ocean straight back, Jane, if I were to walk straight ahead. That`s how far we are from the ocean. And we`ve seen the wind. It`s died down just a little bit. Kick up, practically knocked me over here throughout the day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable that the water has gone that high, a mile inland from the ocean.

And Mike, I`ve just got to say, you`ve been doing an extraordinary job today. Amazing, amazing. Stay safe.

Now let`s go straight to Ryan Smith, HLN anchor, "EVENING EXPRESS" anchor. You are at the tip of Manhattan in Battery Park City or in that area.

Now, here`s the question I have for you, Ryan. The water is approaching. There are barricades; there are flood walls. How high is the water getting above those flood walls, or is it?

RYAN SMITH, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me tell you, Jane, I can actually show you. The water has been picking up about a couple of feet every hour, two hours or so.

Let`s take a quick look right over here. You see this water right here, about six feet lower when I was out here seven, eight hours ago. It`s only about a foot and a half away from flooding over into Battery Park.

Now let`s bring it back over here. The concern is this is an evacuation zone. And the concern is that it will not only end up flooding Battery Park but will rise up to the street. So there`s a lot of concern over here, Jane. And as you see some of the tall residential buildings, Mayor Bloomberg saying earlier today, keep away from the windows. Jane, wind gusts coming about 30, 40 miles an hour at this point. This -- this storm is really gaining steam down here in Battery Park.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Of course, the danger, Ryan, is that, if that water jumps above the flood barrier there and where you are standing, it`s going to go into the world`s largest subway station. And that`s why the subway shut down at 7 p.m. last night. Again, the world`s largest subway system shut down 7 p.m. last night because, if those subway trains were in the water when that storm hit and they got flooded, then the subway system could be crippled for months.

SMITH: That`s right. And it could compromise the entire -- that`s right. It could compromise the entire area. And a lot of people around here, that`s one of the biggest concerns they have, Jane. They`re basically trapped in this area.

You know, Mayor Bloomberg mentioned this earlier today. You`re basically here. You can`t leave. And if you didn`t get out already, you can`t get out. There`s not much that can be done here, because there is such a threat of storm, wind and flood.

And so they did the right thing in many ways by shutting down the subway system, because it could be catastrophic. That`s one of the big concerns they have. The electrical problems and power outages that could result from this storm.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we have breaking news right now. Take a look at that crane. Hundreds of people have had to flee fifteen Manhattan high- rises, because of the crane you`re looking at. That`s a live picture of the crane dangling in midtown Manhattan. A construction crane, that one, has torn apart. It is dangling treacherously over Manhattan, right across from Carnegie Hall. It could fly into and even crush, perhaps, Carnegie Hall, perhaps, an apartment building.

The surrounding streets already look like a war zone. I was on the streets just a little while ago as it played out. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you been seeing what`s going on with this crane?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wind must have knocked out the entire unit. It looks like the wind just tore it apart like a pretzel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re moving us out because an NYPD police officer was telling me, they may have to let that crane fall. And so what they`re doing is they`re evacuating buildings in the area. They are afraid that, when that crane goes, it could be bouncing off buildings down here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. You get a sense of the winds. Rita Cosby, what is happening? And by the way, this is one of the world`s most luxurious high-rise apartments anywhere. One of the top floors sold for $90 million. One single apartment, $90 million.

Rita Cosby, you saw some of this crane -- this extraordinary crane incident. What happened?

RITA CROSBY, HLN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Jane, I`ll tell you, it was one of the scariest things. And, you know, I`m a veteran reporter. I was in an apartment right across the way from the crane. I was looking out, and I actually saw the crane shaking quite a bit. And I was concerned it was going to come off from the pin.

This was only -- this was about 2:30 this afternoon, 2:30, 2:45. Again, the winds hadn`t really fully kicked up yet.

And then suddenly, as I am watching, Jane, right before my eyes, I see the crane toppling. The arm of the crane, which is probably maybe 60, 70 feet long, breaking basically. It looked like -- I thought it was going to fall at that moment. But it literally just toppled over right in front of me.

And I was not too far away. I ran out of my apartment, because literally in that area, in the area where I was standing at the time, we thought, OK, this might be coming through the window. Ran across. And then suddenly in that apartment building, there was a loudspeaker that went on immediately that said, "Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate. Crane has disabled across the street."

Then the next thing you know, it was dangling. It was a scary scene.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me tell you something. If we could see that crane again, it`s at least -- it looks like nine stories tall. It`s a giant spear.

And I`ve got to tell you a personal story. My mom, she has a rented apartment. She has a buyer apartment. But she lives immediately next door. And she has been evacuated, and I`ve been dealing with that on and off throughout the whole night. She literally looks out the window and sees that building. It`s immediately adjacent to her.

And I told -- I called the people from the building and said, "What are you doing? She`s 96."

And they said, people have to leave for their own safety, Rita.

CROSBY: That`s incredible. Because I`ll tell you, in the building I was in, they demanded we get out. We had firefighters banging on the door.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. That`s what they did to my mom.

CROSBY: Yes. That`s what should happen with your mom.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They did that. They left. She had to leave.

CROSBY: And that building, by the way, is 1,000 feet tall. That crane is on right there -- the top build, the top floor, it`s 94 floors. The top of the crane is right there. But it`s the arm of the crane that is dangling. And that arm alone, Jane, just to give you a sense of how serious it is for folks in the area like your mom and all these others, that portion, they believe, weighs several tons. They had to physically bring it in on a flatbed when they brought the crane in about a year ago.

And the firefighters in the building, who are literally rushing, said it is too late to secure it because of the high winds. No construction company or firefighter can go in...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We`ve got to go to a break, but you -- you can see it swerving back and forth.

And by the way, my mom lives in a great building. She`s fine. She went to the New York Athletic Club, which is, like, one of the finest buildings in Manhattan, right down the block, and she`s hanging out there with my three dogs. Her three dogs, my three dogs.

More on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It`s really blowing in Atlantic City. It`s one of those gusts we`re getting. It wasn`t this way for the whole last couple of hours. It`s getting pretty strong now. This is about as strong as we`ve seen it. This is by far the worst of it so far. If it picks up more than this, I think you`re probably right, Chad. You can`t stand too well. Yes, there`s a good gust coming this way. You can`t see it well, but this type of wind, I wouldn`t be surprised to see windows blowing out at some point fairly shortly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is Ali Velshi, Atlantic City. In midtown Manhattan, something out of, like, a Batman movie, a giant spear nine stories tall dangling over 57th Street and Seventh Avenue right across from Carnegie Hall. It could fly like a spear into some of the other buildings.

And hundreds of people in 15 neighboring high-rise apartments had been forced to evacuate, literally flee their homes. Firefighters banging on their doors, saying, "Get out now. You`ve got to leave." How do I know that? Because my own mother was told she had to leave. She lives right next door.

Now, joining me now, HLN meteorologist Bob Van Dillen. He is live in Asbury Park, which is just north of Atlantic City.

Bob, they say that New Jersey is getting the worst of it. Bring us up to date.

BOB VAN DILLEN, HLN METEOROLOGIST: It`s definitely the worst. And I want to give you an update. As of the last half hour, I want you to look behind me and look over here. You see all that water coming up? That is the storm surge in Asbury Park. We`re about 50 miles south of Manhattan.

About 6:35, I turned around and saw the first wave go over that field of grass, and it was like a jail break. The rest of the water just kept racing on behind it. And now the street behind me, Ocean Avenue, is totally flooded out.

Now, if you look at that, look at behind me. This building in front of me, the door right there used to have two sets of plywood on it. It got blown apart as the water came racing on through. So the water`s coming on through there.

And there it is, the famed convention hall. We were just there for a live shot about an hour and a half ago, and we were standing there. And the waves were just barely touching it. Now the waves are actually breaking on top of it. And the flooding from the storm surge has made it all the way through one and a half blocks.

We had to race to move our cars. They were behind our building. We`re safe right here. We`re about two stories up. But breaking news in Asbury Park, the storm surge has just started about a half an hour ago. High tide is here in another hour and a half. So we`re not even at full high tide. Of course, it`s a full moon; makes the tides even bigger. Jane, it`s getting rough down here in Asbury Park. The winds easily hurricane-strength gusts -- Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Bob, let me ask you this. When I was heading into the studio, they said, well, the eye of the storm was about 30 miles off the coast. Now it was -- that`s like 25 minutes ago. So is the eye of the storm actually hitting right now?

VAN DILLEN: It should be. And it`s going to be right around Cape May, which is the southern tip of New Jersey or the Delaware Bay or somewhere in northern Delaware. That puts us, Jane, on the worst part of the storm. We`re talking two barrier islands in New Jersey, LBI and the one north of it. And we`re north of there, north of the Manasquan River. We are getting the heaviest part of that storm right now.

The wind is directly off the ocean. And that means that storm surge is going to sit there until the wind stops. That`s what`s keeping the water inland is because of the wind. Once the wind stops, and that`s not going to be for another 12, 18 hours, the water will finally recede.

But we`re waiting on high tide. That`s when it`s going to be worse tonight. Then we have another high tide again late tomorrow morning. Jane, we`re sticking it out here in Asbury Park.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and I`ve got to tell you, I covered a hurricane, Hurricane Hugo, in 1989. It was in the Caribbean. And one of the things that happens is that there are moments where it just calms down for a second. And a lot of people go out when it calms down for a second. That`s when they get killed because, boom, it starts up again.

VAN DILLEN: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So do not be fooled if there is a lull, people. Do not go outside, because it`s just a lull. It`s not the end.

I-Reporters are turning in reports up and down the Eastern Seaboard. George Nicholas shot this video near the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey. The water -- there it is -- can be seen rising over the waterfront walkway.

George is joining us now by Skype. What`s it like now? You have a perfect view through your windows of the city, of the water. What`s it like?

GEORGE NICHOLAS, I-REPORTER: Jane, I`ve got to tell you. I`m 35 years old. I remember Hurricane Gloria. I remember Bob. I remember Floyd, and I remember Irene last year. I have never seen the wind and the water come so high up along the Jersey City waterfront.

It is literally -- I don`t mean to be dramatic here, but I`m talking about epic if not biblical proportions here. This is something I`ve never seen before.

I`m going to show you right now, I`m going to open up the window just to let you hear. I mean, it is literally like a massive hurricane out there, if you can hear it. It is very, very bad out there right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s always -- wow! Wow. Look at that. There`s a grown man can`t close his door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can`t close the window.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I`m saying. He can`t shut the window. That`s how intense the winds are. Extraordinary.

NICHOLAS: Can`t even close the window. Hold on. Sorry about that. But it is very bad out there. The water has come all the way up to the lobby. It`s very bad out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t go out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable.

And, again, all of the mayors and the governors in all the 12 more states affected have said, don`t go out. But nevertheless, some people are still venturing out. And those people are putting others at risk.

The governor of New Jersey said he was disappointed because so many people refused to evacuate. But then, even worse is if you go outside. Stay inside.

More on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn`t do anything last year for Irene, and it wasn`t so bad. We decided to brave it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was here last year for this. It wasn`t as bad. It`s early. Right now, it`s over the bank already. It could be -- this could be a pretty bad storm. My brother and my staff are here already. I want my extra guys in. And we`re hoping that -- we`re going to, you know, brave it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That prediction came true. It`s a bad storm. It`s monstrous. It`s huge.

In fact, we`ve got some incredible shots from the International Space Station, basically giving us sort of a God`s view. Take a look, when you see it, of the size of this monster.

To give you an idea, Hurricane Katrina was 400 miles wide. Irene, 520 miles wide. Sandy, historic 940 miles wide in diameter. You can kind of see it there. It`s basically our entire Eastern Seaboard covered in white, which is clouds, wind, rain, et cetera.

Tom Sader, meteorologist, where exactly is the eye of this storm right now?

TOM SADER, HLN METEOROLOGIST: That`s a great question, Jane, because we`ve been waiting on the National Hurricane Center since 5 p.m. to let us know when landfall would take place. At 5 p.m., it was 30 miles offshore Cape May. Well, they haven`t put out that type of advisory yet, which goes to show you, I guess. It hasn`t made landfall yet. They are calling it a post-tropical storm.

But we`re living in historic times here. A couple of benchmarks to know about. Never before have we seen an area of low pressure drop as low as we are with Sandy. You`ve got to go back to 1938. It was the Long Island Express. This low pressure is stronger. That means it`s a stronger storm.

It`s 1,000 miles in diameter, which is twice the size of Texas. If it was a country, it would be the 20th largest country in the world.

Other than that, the other benchmark, storm surge. In Battery Park, New York, 1960, Hurricane Donna was a 10.5. I can tell you moments ago, King`s Point, New York, 12.4 feet. So that`s never happened before.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable, unbelievable.

SADER: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you for that update.

We`re going to go to Ryan Smith, who is at the tip of Manhattan, where the water is splashing over, with a very special guest, Police Commissioner of New York City, Ray Kelly. Take it away, Ryan.

RYAN SMITH, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Jane.

Commissioner Kelly, good to have you with us. Commissioner Kelly, first, as we`ve just seen now the tide level come up over the edge here in Lower Manhattan, what are your biggest concerns for tonight?

RAY KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: I think our biggest concerns are extended flooding and extended power outage as a result. Flooding in major power plants, flooding in basements of commercial and residential buildings.

SMITH: And we are seeing people walking around when the wind level calms down a little bit. This is a mandatory evacuation area. Are you concerned that folks are out on the street, thinking, hey, it might not be too dangerous when, in fact, the conditions seem to be getting worse?

R. KELLY: Sure. It`s unwise to do that. Things can come off buildings very easily. You know, there might be a lull for a few minutes. Then it picks up again. We`ve seen it here. So it`s just not a smart thing to do. People should stay indoors, no question about it. This is not a night to be out. It`s not a night to be out taking pictures.

SMITH: OK. Now, talk to me about the crane that is dangling on West 57th Street. A lot of people are concerned. What is the police tactic at this point in terms of taking care of that crane and making sure it doesn`t cause damage and possible injury to people?

R. KELLY: Well, it`s a multiple agency effort of emergency management, fire, police, buildings and apartment (ph). We`re all assessing it.

Right now, the crane is relatively stable. I know when it`s 80 floors above the ground, it sounds hard to say that. But it looks like it`s, you know, going to remain in position.

We have cleared out the sidewalk, of course. No traffic is going on 57th Street or 56th Street, for that matter. The steam lines have been cleared on the sidewalk. There`s no electricity running through the sidewalk, no gas lines. So in the event that it did fall, it shouldn`t cause an explosion. That`s what the initial concern of the first responders this afternoon was.

SMITH: But the buildings themselves have been evacuated? No one`s in danger?

R. KELLY: The buildings have been evacuated on 57th Street. That`s correct. And actually, a building on 56th Street, as well. Those people have been moved. There`s a hotel there. They`ve been moved to another hotel.

SMITH: Commissioner Kelly, thank you very much. Appreciate it -- Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are going to take a brief break. On the other side, a live report from Atlantic City, where it`s hitting now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: We`ve got breaking news just in, in the monster storm Sandy. Take a look at this video. A building collapsed -- the side of the building, the facade literally ripped off. This building -- and you can see into the various apartments. That is the level of intensity in midtown Manhattan.

Mike Brooks, you`ve got information on this extraordinary -- basically face rip-off of this building.

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, Jane, I was listening to what was going on, on West 57th street when they put a call out for a possible collapse. Fire department members got on the scene. And the whole front came off while they were there on the scene. They thought they might have had some firefighters trapped. But this is at 928 8th Avenue, that between West 14th and West 15th Streets down in Chelsea, Jane.

And they declared -- right away, the chief there on the scene declared a 1060 which a major emergency, which brings eight engine companies, five ladders, rescue companies to rescue the collapse. But right now, the initial searches were, Jane, no one was injured as of right now.

It`s a four-story apartment building; each one of the -- there`s an apartment on each floor. But luckily no one was inside the apartment apparently when it did collapse.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, I`ve seen a lot of building collapses. I was a reporter here in Manhattan --

BROOKS: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- New York, for eight years. I have never seen the side of a building ripped off like that where you can literally look inside and see the paintings and the furniture inside the building. Have you ever seen anything quite like this?

BROOKS: I saw one up in Harlem about two years ago. But I tell you, this is not a new building. This is a building that`s been there for quite some time which just goes to the ferocity of the winds. And you know when things start to shift, things like this happen. But thankfully, no firefighters, no members of FDNY and no people there on the scene were injured.

But they`re going to be there for quite some time because there`s still a big hazard there on that building. But, again, you heard what Commissioner Kelly said. It`s busy up on West 57th Street.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let me jump in because I want to show the crane again one more time. And essentially, this is a crane that is about nine stories tall in Midtown Manhattan. Mike Brooks, this could be, if it does disengage, something like a spear flying into other buildings. That`s why 15 high-rises have been evacuated in Midtown which I have never heard of, honestly, that kind of evacuation for a weather-related problem, have you?

BROOKS: No, I have not. There were 15 buildings as you said along West 56th and west 57th. There was one vacant building. They checked -- nobody was in that one. But I tell you Jane, I`ve never seen that.

And you know, that went to a fourth-alarm response for the FDNY, which is also huge. But yes, you`re right, if that think did come down with a gust of wind, it could go anywhere. And that`s why they decided to go ahead and evacuate. I`m glad that your mom is safe, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.

BROOKS: I know the building well. You know, I walked home one night when I was up there and I know the building well. But I`m glad no one so far has been injured -- but, again, abundance of caution of FDNY, NYPD --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

BROOKS: -- also Emergency Management -- they did what they had to do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let me tell you, my mom`s 96 and she refused to take her wheelchair. A lot of elderly people are like that. And for the elderly, for the infirm, for the sick, this storm is a nightmare.

The Jersey Shore getting battered by Sandy -- for homeowners, it`s absolutely devastating. Denise McCann lives right on the water in Ortley Beach, New Jersey. It`s just north of Seaside Heights, New Jersey. She sent us these photos of her next-door neighbor`s house.

So Denise you`re on the phone now, what is the situation there? It looks like this house right next to you is crumbling.

DENISE MCCANN, NEW JERSEY HOMEOWNER (via telephone): I don`t even know where to begin. I mean this is like something I`ve never seen before in my life. I have a friend of mine that`s been down here for over 60 years that has never seen anything like this in their life.

I`m at the bay. And the ocean is all the way past this house, which is a huge house on the bay. The bay hasn`t even surged yet, and it`s running past the house like a river going like 50 miles an hour. If you go out there in that river, you`re gone. I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you raise an important point. We think of it as being, well, the ocean. But it`s not just the ocean. It`s anybody who lives in a low-lying area at the bottom of a hill who lives near a river, who lives near a lake or any other body of water. Is that not true, Denise?

MCCANN: Yes. But we are just -- the beach is six blocks away from me. That`s where my house was. A friend of mine who was living there, the whole -- the dunes breached. There`s no more dunes there.

My house was seven houses away from the beach. His house was a block over. He has three feet of water in his house since about three hours ago. His car has submerged. But now we are six blocks away from the ocean. The bay, mind you, has not even risen yet.

This is the ocean that it`s running past our house here -- my friend`s house here in Ortley, on the bay, running past to the bay, which is right behind his house, like a river like you`ve never seen it run before. It is insane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s certainly a wake-up call to the nation that we should worry about our rising seas. More on the other side.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sandy has apparently ripped the side of a building in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, a very exclusive section of Manhattan, straight off of its face. Take a look at that. It`s like a dollhouse. You can literally see inside -- see the paintings on the walls, see the beds. Unbelievable.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a mandatory evacuation for all non- residents and a mandatory evacuation for people in downtown Ocean City. Like other hurricanes, usually those squalls come and go. The rain stops a little. The wind dies down. Not in this case. It has just been nonstop.

The rain does feel a little different. It is feeling like heavier pelting, like almost sleet hitting me in the face.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is one of our correspondents in Maryland. This storm wreaking havoc from North Carolina all the way up to Massachusetts -- a huge monster storm, but the thick of it, the worst of it has hit New Jersey.

Let`s go out to Mike Galanos, HLN anchor in Atlantic City, New Jersey, doing incredible work all day, all night. Mike, wait a second -- looks calmer now. What does that mean?

MIKE GALANOS, HLN ANCHOR: Reporter: well, it is calmer, Jane. Really right now, there`s a light drizzle. Those gusting winds that were almost knocking me over, those are gone. What we see now, though, what I`m experiencing now is really the silent destructor.

These floodwaters -- Jane look how high this is. Look at this. It`s probably -- since we talked at the top of the hour until now, it`s had to have risen at least two or three inches. And note the floodwaters with coming up, the storm surge, high tide is coming up at 9:00 Eastern.

That`s what authorities here in Atlantic City were so concerned about. That`s why they wanted everybody out of here, mandatory evacuations -- a mandatory curfew is in effect. It started at 6:00 Eastern. It will last until 6:00 in the morning. That`s what`s going on.

The mayor said he saw earlier in the day two to three feet of floodwater, fearing five to six feet in many areas as many areas are under water. So Jane I`m experiencing firsthand, as you look behind. I mean I feel like I`m in a lake or in a river. These floodwaters, this tide continues to rise.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are very lucky to have with us Bernie Rayno, expert senior meteorologist with AccuWeather. I think everybody wonders when there is a quiet period like that, is it over or is it a lull? Because I covered Hurricane Hugo back in 1989 and people got killed when they stepped out in the lull and then the second wave hit.

BERNIE RAYNO, SENIOR METEOROLOGIST, ACCUWEATHER: Yes, it`s not over by any stretch of imagination, Jane. Even though we do have the storm coming now onshore just south of Atlantic City, remember what we just heard at Seaside Heights, Asbury Park. The storm surge is going to continue because the winds on the northern side of the storm is going to continue to push that water in along the central and northern Jersey coast. We still have high tide coming within the next 15 minutes to a half hour.

This has been a catastrophic storm surge for the central and northern Jersey coast. The storm track coming in from the east is very rare. I`m not sure it has happened. It certainly hasn`t happened in the last 100 years. And unfortunately I think when all is said and done we`re not going to believe the damage that we`re seeing.

By the way, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., no, you`re not getting a storm surge in Philadelphia and New York City, per se, or I should say Washington, D.C. but the wind is going to continue to gust between 50 to 60 miles per hour. And the rain is going to be falling horizontal. And we`re going to start getting more and more power outages, Jane, with these wind gusts continuing between 50 and 60 miles an hour.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Already more than 1.5 million people are without power on the East Coast -- this monster storm that has 60 million people potentially in its path.

I have one quick question. It`s got to be very quick, Bernie but when is it going to be over? When can we say, the sun`s come out, now we do clean-up?

RAYNO: Well, we`re going to start -- the storm is going to start to weaken tomorrow. We should improve things as we get towards the middle part of the week. Clean-up will take much longer than it will with Sandy weakening.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, we`re going to talk to somebody who rescued dogs in Katrina about what is happening with pets during this crisis.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is a live picture of Atlantic City. This is more than a mile inland from the boardwalk and the ocean. You can see how deep the flooding is. And when it recedes, you`re going to deal with issues like mold, uninhabitable businesses and residences. This is a crisis.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have dogs, cats, birds, and a couple of hermit crabs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cops came around and they`re like if you don`t leave you`re going to be arrested. And so I was like, yes, time to go. And so I had to find a place that allowed me to have my animals. I wasn`t leaving them behind. Everybody was like oh, they`re animals. Leave them, (inaudible) they`ll climb out, they`ll find their way out.

You know, I have four of these little guys. And so I wasn`t leaving them behind.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: 60 million people in the path of the storm, and millions more animals. Toms River, New Jersey evacuation centers filling up. People are hunkering down with their pets.

I want to go to psychologist Pia Salk, spokesperson for adoptapet.com. Pia, you and I go way back. I know you rescued many, many animals during Hurricane Katrina. I was very pleased to hear the Red Cross and New York City Mayor Bloomberg today tell people take your pets to shelters. There are many shelters that will help your pets, don`t leave them behind, Pia.

PIA SALK, SPOKESPERSON, ADOPTAPET.COM (via telephone): Absolutely. People should definitely take their pets with them no matter what. If it`s not safe enough for them, it`s not safe for their pets. After that they need to definitely make sure their pets have ID on them before they leave the house, whether they need to do a makeshift tag or not, they need to have ID on them and have them in a secure crate. Those are the two most important things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think people have learned from the disaster when so many dogs died in Katrina, when some dogs were even allegedly reportedly killed by people because they were just abandoned there? Do you think that people have learned now not to repeat those mistakes?

SALK: I certainly hope so. And laws have changed. And I was heartened to hear that shelters were accepting pets as well. So there`s no doubt that people can find a shelter and that most shelters are accepting pets.

So if they`re told otherwise, people need to really be aggressive about this. In Katrina we had people told that they could not take animals on buses that were going to shelters that did allow pets -- so all sorts of miscommunication. At adoptapet.com/Sandy we are offering updates and information for people on all of this information. And I think anyone can follow and use #Sandypets to follow up-to-date information.

But I`m definitely hoping times have changed and people must, must, must take their pets with them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Adoptapet.com/Sandy.

And let`s take a look at that building that had the face of it ripped off in Midtown. Actually, it was the Chelsea section of Manhattan, a very exclusive section.

If you had left your dog or cat in that apartment and it had been ripped out, I`m not saying anybody did, but if they had, obviously the chance of that animal getting out ok is remote. So Pia, when people say well, it`ll be ok, what do you tell them?

SALK: People need to be absolutely as cautious as possible, even if they`re being overcautious. So do not leave a pet there. Make sure animals have proper ID on them. Because if they do get separated, which they often do at a time like this, they at least need to have a way to find them and reconnect them. These are the kind of things that people overlook, but they are essential in this kind of situation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And get your pet chipped so it`s got basically -- you can get scanned. They scan your pet. They can find you wherever you are.

Thank you, Pia Salk. You`re one of my heroes for rescuing so many dogs in Katrina. We hope we don`t need to rescue so many this time. More on the other side.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you been seeing what`s going on with this crane?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wind must have knocked down the entire unit. So it looks like a -- like the wind just tore it apart like a piece of pretzel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re moving us out because the NYPD officer was telling me basically they think they have to let that crane fall. And so what they`re doing is they`re evacuating buildings in the area. They are afraid that when that crane goes it could be bouncing off buildings around here.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: And in howling winds you could see this is a live picture of that crane -- 57th Street and 7th Avenue, right across from the famous Carnegie Hall.

This is going to be one of the most exclusive luxury apartment buildings in the world when it`s completed: the top floor -- or one of the top floors -- going for $90 million, a single apartment going for $90 million. But the big story right now is that that nine-story, approximate, crane is dangling. That tip is dangling. And if it flies off, it could seriously devastate surrounding apartment buildings.

That`s why hundreds of people in 15 surrounding apartment buildings, high-rises, have been forced to evacuate. And one of those people is my own mother -- so absolutely extraordinary.

Tom Sater, meteorologist, explain to me this. As we look at some of the storm, the intensity, most of these storms have a tendency to go out to sea. Is there any explanation for why this one headed directly toward the Eastern Seaboard?

TOM SATER, METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Unheard of. Unheard of -- doesn`t happen. We had a strong area of high pressure in the northern Atlantic that blocked the system. It was over a week ago we saw the computer models hinting at the fact this would turn in. We couldn`t believe it. Our eyes were wide open. Say it isn`t so.

But this tropical system has morphed. It`s no longer tropical -- it`s post-tropical, which means we don`t call it Hurricane Sandy anymore. It`s just a super storm. It`s now a combination of a tropical system, a nor`easter, and a winter storm.

Jane, the back end of this, the snowfall, is going to be unbelievable, where it`s two, three, three and a half feet of snowfall in the mountains.

Talk about power outages. The poor folks there are going to be without power for up to three weeks just so they can plow the roads. Heavy amounts of rainfall have been already historic. Atlantic City, 36-hour total, you`re over 7.7 inches of rain. And it`s just beginning, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More than a million and a half people without power, and that number is rising. It`s an extraordinary event. It is Mother Nature speaking and shouting, "Pay attention to me." She cannot be ignored.

Nancy is next.

END