Return to Transcripts main page
PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
New Jersey Hardest Hit by Sandy; Flooding in NYC Subways; Homes Destroyed by Fire
Aired October 30, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Good evening. You're looking live at the extraordinary sights, some three feet of heavy snow in West Virginia, a blizzard in October. The result of superstorm Sandy which is continuing to cause chaos along the east coast.
And here's Hoboken, New Jersey, still flooded by Sandy and New York City, a city divided tonight between light and dark. No one can answer the big question, when will all the New York lights come back on?
And take a look at this. New video of what superstorm Sandy for subway station of the tip of lower Manhattan. It shows you just how extensive the damage is and why the entire subway system remains closed tonight, more than 24 hours after Sandy blasted ashore.
We'll have all the latest on the fate of the subway and when it may be up and running again in a few moments. Plus this dramatic video, up to 10 feet of the water in the basement at NYU Langone Medical Center. Nurses actually carried sick newborn babies down nine flights of stairs while manually pumping air into their lungs. Quite extraordinary. I'll talk to a doctor who headed the evacuation.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the state hit hardest by Sandy, search and rescue missions have been going on all day long. President Obama will travel there tomorrow to view the damage along with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The governor surprised many people today when he called the president, and I quote, "outstanding and incredibly supportive." Words he probably wouldn't have used at the height of election battle last week.
Governor Chris Christie now joins me from the State Emergency Command Center.
Governor, thank you for joining me. I watched these extraordinary scenes over New Jersey today. Really quite unprecedented. I've never seen quite like it. Have you ever seen anything like this in your lifetime?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: No, I haven't. In fact, Piers, today I toured the Jersey coastline both by helicopter and I landed in two spots on the Jersey Shore. And I can tell you that I have never seen devastation like this in my life. Not here in New Jersey. You know, you see sights like the Seaside Heights boardwalk, where the program "The Jersey Shore" is filmed, the boardwalk is gone. It is gone. Amusement rides, a roller coaster, a log flume, in the ocean. It's incredible. Homes destroyed. It's an awful thing.
MORGAN: New Jersey people are known for their resilience, they're tough people. You yourself are a tough guy and I have seen that many times. But how do you deal with something like this? How do you rally them, how are they reacting on the ground?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, today people are devastated and so my job today is to let people know that I understand how they feel, I share their feelings, but that we've got to suck it up and move on. And that's what we're doing. And I gave out a lot of hugs today, Piers, on the Jersey Shore, because there are people who are really hurting.
But I also told them we're going to rebuild and we're going to start making the assessments towards rebuilding tomorrow. Today is kind of a day of sorrow for people here, when the sun came up and we saw what this storm wrought on our state but today is the only day of sorrow for New Jersey.
We're now going to mix sorrow with determination and we're going to move forward as a strong and resolute people to make sure that we rebuild our state and we do what needs to be done.
MORGAN: Have you found it a very emotional day since you've seen what's been going on?
CHRISTIE: Sure. I mean, listen, on that area in northern Ocean County, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, that was the Jersey Shore of my youth. Where I went as a kid with my parents on vacation and where I go now with my children. And so to see so much of that destroyed was a very emotional experience for me today. No doubt.
MORGAN: You've taken charge as you've always done in these situations, in a very impressive way. People have been surprised that you've been so outspokenly supportive and praiseworthy to the president. I'm not surprised, knowing you, but explain to me why you were happy to do that so close to an election when some might say politically that wasn't the best thing to do today.
CHRISTIE: This is much more important than any election, Piers. This is the livelihood of the people in my state and when the president does things that deserve praise, I will give him praise. And when the president does things that deserve scorn, I will give him scorn. And I think people know that about me. But I am not going to play politics with this issue. This is so much bigger than an election.
This is the livelihood of the people of my state. And what they expect me to do is get the job done. And when someone asks me an honest question, I give an honest answer. How has the president been to deal with? He's been outstanding to deal with on this and I look forward to seeing him tomorrow so he can see for himself what this hurricane has done to my state.
MORGAN: Well, I congratulate you on that position. I think it's time that leaders like you took that position. I think the president has behaved impeccably over all this. But I think this whole issue of Washington being at war with each other, this is a prime example of how politicians should behave and come together in times of crisis for America.
Let me cut to the quick here, Governor. What are the crucial things now for people in your state who are watching this, who want to know what to do? What should they be doing when they watch this tomorrow, the next day and so on, for the rest of this week?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, this is going to be a difficult week. We still have 160 state roads closed. We still have 2.6 million households without power. So this week I'd ask them for their patience. It's not going to be easy to move around the state. It's not going to be easy to operate in your own home without power. But we're slowly but surely going to get power back on. But it is a monumental task.
To give you some sense of scale, Piers, 2.6 million households without power. That's 1.2 million more than lost power during Hurricane Irene. I mean this is -- this is a monumental, monumental task that we have in front of us. So I'd ask them this week for their patience and then the week after that, we're going to need their resilience as we begin to go back to work and rebuild our state.
But we're going to continue to work, we're doing search and rescue missions now, still. We've been doing them all day. We've been saving hundreds of people from places across New Jersey and law enforcement is committed to continuing to do that until nightfall again tonight, and then we'll start again tomorrow morning.
MORGAN: You have a young family, are they all OK? Where were they when all this was going down? Was it at the family home? And what do you say to your children? What does any parent say to a child when this kind of catastrophe happens on their doorstep?
CHRISTIE: Well, first off, you give them a hug and you say don't be scared, mom and dad will protect you. That's the first thing you do. And second, my family was at our family home in Mendham when we lost power finally late yesterday afternoon. The state police moved them down to the governor's residence in Princeton, where once we arrived, we shortly thereafter lost power there as well.
But at least we were all together and I came from the operations and intelligence center last night over to the governor's residence and we spent the night together there last night. And we'll spend the night together there again tonight.
MORGAN: And as I say --
CHRISTIE: No power but at least we'll be together.
MORGAN: What would you say -- what does a parent say, what should parents be telling their kids in New Jersey now?
CHRISTIE: I think they look at their children and, you know, children are obviously scared about this. So I said this in my press briefing the other day, I said -- spoke directly to the kids of New Jersey and said, don't be scared. The adults are taking care of this problem. We will take care of this problem. We will keep you safe. That's the most important thing. Kids want to know if they're safe. First and foremost.
And I don't think the message should be any more complicated than that. This is an adult problem for adults to solve and cope with. And we should just let -- lower children's anxiety by telling them that the adults in their lives will keep them safe, and there's nothing to be scared of.
MORGAN: There are so many awful places that you could take the president tomorrow to show him the scale of the devastation. Have you worked out yet where you intend taking him?
CHRISTIE: Not quite yet. We're still working on it, Piers. But the White House has been very cooperative in terms of taking our input on places where the president could get the greatest insights into the true measure of the devastation in our state. So we will work with the president, I'm sure we'll keep up with a place that's acceptable to the White House and then that's where we'll be tomorrow.
MORGAN: When you come into politics and you become a governor or even higher level, you know that you're going to get hit by natural disasters. But did anything really prepare you for this kind of thing?
CHRISTIE: No. I mean even going through Hurricane Irene last year and that freak October snowstorm I thought prepared me for natural disasters, but nothing prepares you for what I saw today. What I saw today was the changing of lives, Piers. The ruination of homes, of neighborhoods. Places that were a part of my growing up as a son of this state.
Those places will never be the same. We'll rebuild them, for sure, we'll rebuild them but they'll never be the same. And there's a bit of sadness, a tinge of sadness in that.
MORGAN: I know you hardly had any sleep and you've been full on this really for a few days now. Have you had a chance to speak to Governor Romney?
CHRISTIE: Yes, I spoke to Governor Romney on -- I think that was either Saturday night or Sunday night, Piers. I can't -- days, when you don't sleep that much, days run into each other. But one evening over the weekend, either Saturday or Sunday night, Governor Romney called me at home and just asked for how things were going, what was going on. I believe that was on Sunday night.
MORGAN: Well, I hope you get some rest tonight, Governor. You've done an outstanding job there. And I salute you and the whole team that you have there of first responders and all the emergency services. I really think that they've been faced with an unprecedented disaster as they have here in New York and I really salute you for the work you've done. I hope you carry on doing it and you have all our thoughts and prayers with you.
CHRISTIE: Well, Piers, I really appreciate that. And you can count on the fact that I'll carry on doing it. It's what the people hired me to do and that's what I'm going to do. Thanks for giving me the chance to come out tonight and talk to you and your audience about what's going on here. You know we've got a bunch of tough, hard-edged people in this state and we'll be back.
MORGAN: Good for you, Governor. Nice to talk to you.
CHRISTIE: Thank you. Good talking to you, too, Piers.
MORGAN: Governor Chris Christie, a tough guy and a good guy.
Let's go now to Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who joins me on the phone.
Mr. Mayor, how are you?
MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK: I'm doing all right, obviously we're dealing with a lot of challenges statewide. Those of us here in Newark, New Jersey, especially, our hearts and our prayers are with the people who face the biggest brunt of the devastation in southern New Jersey.
MORGAN: Yes, it really is absolutely appalling. I was struck by what the governor there said about the president. Somebody tweeted to me just now, Steve Gigli (ph), said, this ability decorum and team work between Governor Christie and Barack Obama is exactly how our government should work all of the time.
I couldn't agree with that more. I really feel like it's been a massive breath of fresh air to see a Republican leader like Chris Christie so prepared to be openly praiseworthy of a Democrat president. What did you think?
BOOKER: Well, look, you know, they hear it on the front lines of this crisis, where you see he emergency workers reaching out to residents, where I've seen cooperation between port authority police, my fire department. Nobody stops and asks you what your religion is, nobody stops and asks you what your political party affiliation is. Folks are just rolling up their sleeves, getting to work. And so what you're seeing in the field, what you're seeing with residents, what you're seeing with emergency responders, is what we should be seeing with all our elected leaders as well.
The president of the United States, our governor and really, dozens of local elected leaders of all parties across the state, we're all pulling together.
We're all in the same foxhole, we're all fighting the same enemy here. And it's not refreshing, frankly, that's the standard that built America in the past that's going to help us forge forward in the future.
MORGAN: We're hearing that there have been as many as six fatalities now in New Jersey. That death toll may well rise. There are many areas people still can't get to. And what are you hearing about people who may be trapped or areas where these services have simply not been able to get to them?
BOOKER: Well, that's the crisis. And that's what has me concerned. The storm may have passed but the challenges continue. So I've got high-rise building with seniors who might be dependent upon power and electricity for medical machines. People who have medicine that requires refrigeration. We've got to get to those people, we've got to get them secure, we've got to get them to hospitals.
We still have flooded areas. We still have a lot of challenges. So this is going to be a long process of stabilizing, getting out of what I consider the state of emergency, and then continuing to forge forward to get ourselves back to a sense of normalcy. But there's a lot of work to do. We're going to have right here in Newark, literally hundreds if not thousands of people working through the night trying to make sure that this city is safe and you can imagine with what some of my brothers and sisters are facing in cities further down south -- down south.
There's a lot of work to do and we just have to give a lot of tribute to the people that are working around the clock making sure that we can get to a point of safety and security for every resident of our state.
MORGAN: Yes, well, I wish you all the very best as always. Mayor Booker, please stay in touch with us. And anything we can do to help you, let us know.
BOOKER: Thank you very much. And I appreciate again, the media is a critical component to being there for residents and informing them, and letting them know what's happening during these times of trial. Thank you.
MORGAN: Great. Speak to you soon. Thank you very much.
In New York right now, the city's entire mass transit system is still crippled by Sandy. It may be days before service is restored to millions who rely on it.
David Mattingly is at Bowling Green Station in lower Manhattan.
David, we saw some extraordinary scenes near you in Battery Park last night. Erin Burnett was up to her waist in water at one stage. That clearly has receded but I was hearing Mayor Bloomberg this morning sounding pretty apocalyptic about the worst ever power outages, the worst ever subway damage, you know, generally the worst ever storm that New York had ever seen.
The subway's 108 years old. What kind of condition do we think it's now in? DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's really a tough question to answer. The transit authority officials can't even give us an answer about that because they haven't pumped all the water out to inspect all the damage that might have been done. And they're saying it could take days for some tunnels to be pumped out, could be hours for other tunnels to be pumped out. But all of that water, millions and millions of gallons of it, has to be pumped out before they can get in there and inspect everything and then they have to see what kind of replacement equipment that has to be brought in, what has to be repaired. It's going to be a very long and slow process.
Think about this. There are seven tunnels that go under the East River. All seven of those tunnels took on water. So those tunnels, they are going to be out of commission for some time but again, at this point, they're still just pumping the water out. In fact, the station behind us here, the Bowling Green station, just a couple of hours ago before it got really dark here, some workers came out, they took the sandbags away, they took the barriers away and actually seemed to be surprised to walk down there and find out it was relatively dry.
So a little bit of good news on this spot but just a couple of blocks away, the station there, they're pumping water out of it. There are very large hoses being brought out, a constant stream of water coming out into the street. It's going to be a long and slow process -- Piers.
MORGAN: David, thank you very much for now.
Sandy wiped out an entire community, more than 80 homes burned to the ground. A live report from the scene of devastation coming up.
MORGAN: Welcome back to breaking news on Hurricane Sandy which is still ravaging the east coast. Want to go now to Hoboken in New Jersey. It's across the river from here in New York City.
CNN's Gary Tuchman is there. And he says what's happening there reminds him of Katrina.
Gary, tell me why you believe that.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Piers, this is a city of 50,000 people right across the Hudson River from New York City. And yes, it does remind me of Katrina because behind us, we have 50 percent of Hoboken flooded and there are, according to the mayor, thousands of people in their apartments and homes who can't get out right now. So we actually went on a front loader with the mayor. They're using front loaders to rescue people. They're trying to prioritize the rescues.
What's different about this than New Orleans, and what we saw in Katrina in 2005 when we went down streets in boats, is that there are no casualties. That's the good news. No casualties so far but they're still not 100 percent sure. People can't leave their homes, not only because the water is deep but because there's live power lines in the water.
So as we're going down the street in this front loader we see people waving from their windows, children, men, women, and most of them seem to have smiles on their faces because they've seen the water recede.
In New Orleans the water kept getting higher. This water is receding but people are in their windows waiting to be rescued. They're hoping by tomorrow they can get most of these people rescued. But we saw are some people trying to leave on their own and some people seemed to be a little bit confused. We saw three people trying to drive their cars out of the water. The cars got stuck, they tried to start pushing their cars.
At that point one of the policemen who was on the front loader with us went out into the water, picked up one woman on her shoulder, brought her to the vehicle and the mayor and I helped put the woman inside -- inside the vehicle, the front loader.
MORGAN: I see.
TUCHMAN: And then two more men were rescued a short time afterwards, Piers. But that's what's happening right now behind me. There are literally, according to the mayor, thousands of people still in their apartments. She's called for the National Guard to come here and help and the National Guard now a short time ago, they are on their way to Hoboken to help out.
MORGAN: Quite amazing scenes. New York is very much a city at the moment with two halves. In Manhattan, on the upper east where I have an apartment, it's pretty normal. People going about their normal lives. Anything below sort of 38th Street, it's total chaos and blackouts and flooding and clearly, where you are, just over the water, the same kind of scenario. So it's a really strange kind of double life going on now for New Yorkers.
But for now, Gary, thank you very much.
TUCHMAN: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: I want to go to a neighborhood that's been devastated by Sandy, a tiny community in Queens, New York, called Breezy Point, where as many as 100 homes were burned to the ground.
Deborah Feyerick is there for us tonight.
Deb, it's a pretty awful situation down there. It's just been razed almost to the ground. I've seen pictures earlier. They were saying 80 homes but I believe it's nearer 100, is that right?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really is. We spoke to the fire department official earlier this afternoon. He actually -- his father has a home here and he did the math and he said you know, you've got about seven blocks, 30 homes per block, and his math, he said conservatively it's probably more than 100. So they are really trying to figure out how many homes were devastated.
Piers, you've got to think about this. They expected the flood, they expected the high water, they expected the power surge. They never expected this fire. And we just want to show you something, Piers. Take a look inside. OK? This is the car. Think about the intensity of the heat of that blaze to do that to that car. As we were waling around, everything is just obliterated. It is incinerated. We see a couple foundations, we see a couple of metal objects but for the most part, clothing, furniture, all that, no evidence whatsoever, Piers.
MORGAN: And we still don't know if the cause was a power line that had been downed or a transformer, is that right?
FEYERICK: Yes. That's exactly right. And when you think about this particular fire, whatever started that blaze in that one home, because of the direction of the wind in a southeasterly way, it took all the homes, once that one house caught fire, because they're so close to one another, you really touch them, every other house caught fire, too, Piers.
MORGAN: At the moment they're saying that there were no fatalities which seems quite extraordinary. Do you think that will stay the case, that everyone got out, there's no one's died here?
FEYERICK: A lot of people were evacuated. A lot of people evacuated themselves. They listened to all the warnings. But look, the search and rescue teams still have to come out. They sent some preliminary search and rescue teams out earlier today. They were in thick suits. They had a little dinghies. And they were going from home to home. But look, you know, Piers, we're talking about these burned-out homes but the ones along the bay, they were devastated.
They have been knocked from their foundation. Some of the fronts have been completely sheared off. So it's not just these homes that have been destroyed in this community but also the ones that took the direct impact of this powerful, powerful storm, Piers.
MORGAN: Very sad for them. And it was only in September that the same neighborhood apparently experienced a pretty bad tornado. So our thoughts and prayers with all of them over there.
Thank you very much indeed, Deb, for now.
Coming next, safe in the storm. Babies rescued from a flooded hospital. An extraordinary story. I'll talk to the doctor who led the evacuation.
MORGAN: Here in New York, at the very height of the superstorm, a harrowing evacuation of a Manhattan hospital. Scores of patients including newborn children and children in intensive care, taken out of the NYU Langone Medical Center after backup generators failed.
With me now is Dr. Bret Rudy of the Pediatrics Department from NYU Medical Center and Andrew Rubin is the vice president of the center's Clinical Affairs and Affiliates.
Welcome to you both. What an extraordinary night that must have been for you. Let me start with you, if I may, Dr. Rudy. You and your team, if I get this right, 64 of your patients were evacuated in the middle of the night to Mt. Sinai, 1200 staff working through the night with 100 volunteers but it's who they were helping that really I guess catches the eye. Four newborns on respirators carried down nine flights of stairs as nurses manually squeezed the bags to get air to these babies.
How are they all doing is the obvious question now, I guess?
DR. BRET RUDY, DEPARTMENT OF PEDIATRICS, NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER: Well, I think we -- by great team work and by really focusing on patients' safety, all of the children were transported safely and made it to the receiving hospitals without any incident, which is what we were intending to do.
MORGAN: Ten mothers went to Mt. Sinai, two of whom gave birth during the night. Three were in labor. This is a very dangerous situation. My wife gave birth last year. I can't imagine anything worse than in the middle of the night, your baby being rushed on a respirator with nurses manually squeezing bags, because the adult respirators have batteries, through the middle of the night in a hurricane to another hospital.
Have you ever had anything like this?
RUDY: I have to say this is the first time, but we have highly trained staff. So we're always prepared for any emergency with any baby. So every staff is trained to be able to bag a baby in order to keep them well aerated and oxygenated. And that's why, through the use of our very highly trained nurses, physicians and assistants, we were able to get all these babies to the receiving hospitals very, very safely.
MORGAN: Are you confident now that everyone's going to be OK as a result of all the moving that went on last night?
RUDY: Yes. We did a very careful review of every patient before we transported them out. We had, as I said, a very skilled team of physicians, nurses and, as you pointed out, many, many volunteers from throughout the medical center that actually helped us through this process. And we made it through without any significant incidents for any of the patients.
MORGAN: Andrew Rubin, you are, as I said, a V.P. of medical center, clinical affairs and affiliates. The obvious question, it seemed to me last night, remains so now, is how could a busy New York hospital have its backup generators fail when it's had a week at least to prepare for what everyone was saying was going to be a storm of huge magnitude?
RUBIN: First, before I answer that, let me just say how proud I am to work for NYU Langone Medical Center, where we have physicians like Dr. Rudy and staff and nurses and volunteers and the New York City Fire Department and Police Department, who did an extraordinary effort in incredibly difficult circumstances, evacuating all our patients in 12 hours safely.
It is a miracle. They did a terrific job. We are a massive, huge complex. We have many generators. They are tested all the time. This was an unbelievably powerful storm. Many, many things happened that were really beyond anyone's control. And that's what just happened. It's a -- it's a very unfortunate set of circumstances. But thank God we have such an incredible team of people who were able to do heroic work.
Right now, we're assessing all of our infrastructure. Our goal is to get back online as soon as possible. Our patients, our staff, our doctors want to get back to work. So priority number one right now is assess the infrastructure. Our buildings are safe but assess the infrastructure, see what damage was done. We had ten feet of water -- 12 feet of water in our basement, and get the hospital back up and running, get our doctor offices back up and running.
MORGAN: What we're hearing is that trustees and, indeed, some board members had raised concerns about these generators. And it does seem baffling, as I say, that a New York busy hospital like this could end up having to ferry newborn babies in the middle of a hurricane up and down Manhattan, simply because a hospital like yours, with all its facilities and all its resources, couldn't get a generator to work.
I mean, is there some big investigation going on now?
RUBIN: Well, I really didn't come on to talk about the generators. But I can tell you that our generators, we have many. They are tested all the time and in full compliance with all federal and state regulations. And quite frankly, prudence tells us to test them all the time. Our generators were working. This was an unprecedented storm --
MORGAN: but they weren't working, were they?
RUBIN: They failed.
MORGAN: If they failed, they're not working, are they?
RUBIN: They started working. And then when the storm waters seeped up the river, things happen with some of the generators. It was a terribly unfortunate event.
But again, the focus here is we got the patients out safely. The staff did a terrific job. We're very, very pleased with the outcome. And now we're in recovery mode to get the medical center back up and running.
MORGAN: I understand why it's your focus. But obviously I think the focus, I would imagine, for the mothers involved last night will be very much what the hell was going on, and why were we having to be moved because of faulty generators. The question I would want to know from the hospital, if I was involved in any way, is how do you have any confidence this won't happen again? RUBIN: Well, again, I'm not an engineer and I'm not really here to talk about the generators. But I can tell you we have a wonderful institution, great buildings, very, very well running generators. We had an unprecedented storm with an extraordinary amount of water overtaking the city. And we had some problems with those generators.
MORGAN: Mr. Rubin and, if I may say, Dr. Rudy, you and your team last night did an extraordinary job. I think everyone is incredibly grateful, not least of all the mothers of those babies as they were being shipped around. They owe you a great debt. Thank you for your service last night.
RUBY: Thank you very much. I do have to say, and to reiterate, we had an amazing group of individuals at NYU Langone, from the most senior administration down to all the aides and the medical students, the residents, the physicians and the nurses that all pitched in to make this a successful effort in a very unfortunate situation.
RUBIN: We will get to all of our patients and let them know we're back online as soon as we can.
MORGAN: OK. And let's hope the generators get fixed. Thank you both very much indeed.
RUBY: Thank you.
MORGAN: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Sandy historic. The superstorm has been deadly and disruptive across New York City.
With me now on the phone, the city council speaker, Christine Quinn. Christine, how are you?
CHRISTINE QUINN, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: I'm OK. How are you guys doing?
MORGAN: We spoke last night in the middle of all this mayhem. Let me start with the hospital, NYU, because I find the answers there pretty unsatisfying, I must say. The focus to me should very much be on these generators and how a backup generator to a major New York hospital could fail. What do you think of this?
QUINN: I think there are obviously enormous questions that NYU needs to answer. I understand why they cannot give us those answers today, because they need to get the hospital back up and running. But they are questions that have to be answered. We were assured, we being the city, that the hospitals within Zone A had capacity to get patients out before the storm, stop taking in anything that was not emergency procedures, and that they had sufficient backup generators.
That was the representation that they made to the city. Why that didn't happen at a very significant institution -- do you know what I mean? This is not a small neighborhood hospital, not that it would be OK there, but I think you get my point -- is a big question that is obviously going to be very high on all of our lists to get an answer to once we -- as we move forward.
MORGAN: Yes. Well, we need some answers.
QUINN: Thank God everyone made it. I want to echo the doctor's thanks to the staff and the fire and police. But there's an underlying question here that has to be answered.
MORGAN: I totally agree. Let's move on very quickly to a couple things. One is the crane which is only three blocks away from CNN here. It's on 57th street. It's One 57th, this 90-story building which is going to be the tallest residential building. We're watching pictures here of it tonight still dangling.
It's an 80-ton arm that's dangling 1,000 feet in the air over a densely populated area of Manhattan. Now Mayor Bloomberg says the crane is stable and will eventually strap with the boom to the building. So it should be safe and the streets can be reopened. Is that your understanding?
QUINN: My understanding was that's on a list of questions to be answered, too, right, as we get into the next couple of days. What I have been told is that it stayed up, hat they couldn't go up and do more earlier when the winds were higher, but that they believe it is in a stable position and that they will get up there soon to fully brace it down.
MORGAN: Finally, very quickly, if you don't mind, I'm told that tonight there's been a decision on the airports, that JFK and Newark will both be partially reopened tomorrow. Laguardia is flooded and will still stay closed. Have you heard that?
QUINN: I just got that notification as well, that JFK and -- excuse me, JFK and Newark will partially open tomorrow and that Laguardia is still flooded. Obviously people need to check very closely with their carriers. But I did get that information as well.
Look, whether it's somebody without power, the subways or the airport, everybody is moving as efficiently as they can to get everything back up and running. Our bridges are back open, our buses are running. Power is beginning to roll back on.
And what I will say is there's just a ton of city workers and others out there working around the clock to get everything back up and running as quickly as we can. We're lucky that there was such good preplanning, that we closed the subways, that we powered down the part of our Con Edison, because that prevented us from being in a worse situation.
MORGAN: Yes. I think the preparation was terrific and I think the work since it happened has been terrific, too. Christine Quinn, thank you very much.
QUINN: Thank you very much. Bye.
MORGAN: Coming next, a small town under water after a levee breaks. The mayor joins me live.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MORGAN: Back with breaking news on Hurricane Sandy. We go now to Mayor Mauro Raguseo of Little Ferry, New Jersey, a town completely flooded by Sandy after a levee broke last night. He joins me by phone.
Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining me.
MAYOR MAURO RAGUSEO, LITTLE FERRY, NEW JERSEY: Good evening, piers.
MORGAN: Your town has 10,500 people. You have been hit very, very hard. Astounding flooding that we have seen from there in the last 24 hours. Here's the big question, I guess. The town was not under an evacuation or flood warning, I understand. So how and why do you think this happened?
RAGUSEO: Absolutely. We were informed at around 2:00 a.m. by e- mail, while we were sitting at OEM headquarters, the police station, that there was a levee break in Moonachie in the meadowlands area. That would explain to us the incredible surge of water that just absolutely overtook us.
But we have many, many questions. I'm going to demand answers. I'm told the Army Corps of Engineers will be in again tomorrow to do further inspection. And one thing is for certain. This can never happen again. As the Meadowlands was developed, flooding became more and more prevalent through the years.
And the federal and state government will have to do more. They are going to have to make major improvements to that levee and drainage system in the area, because the status quo is just absolutely unacceptable. It could be a good thing. But we need to make an equal amount of investment in our drainage and levee systems. My town has been devastated.
MORGAN: I understand that you yourself have been one of the victims. You bought a house six months ago which has been lost to the flooding, is that right?
RAGUSEO: Absolutely. I got married six months ago. And my wife and I moved into a house in the borough that I have lived in for 25 years, and made improvements. And it was absolutely devastated the other day. My wife was at home while I was at borough hall, manning the desk with the OEM council. And I got a call. It was horrifying.
She was just screaming because water was coming in from everywhere. The current in the room was just spinning out of control. And she had to be evacuated. It was the most horrifying experience of my life.
I wasn't home. I was at borough hall. Luckily she's safe. But my house has been devastated. But I'm just so glad that -- so happy, so thankful that she is OK.
MORGAN: Yes. Well, I echo that sentiment completely. Please send her our very best. Tell me this, people in your position who have lost their homes to this flooding, are you completely covered by insurance or is there an act of God clause with these things which limits some of the payouts? How does it work in reality?
RAGUSEO: Well, we're going to try to figure this out in the next couple days. I'm hopeful that FEMA will be helpful. In towns like Little Ferry along the Hackensack River, your -- many homes are required to have flood insurance. But I'm told that that may not cover what's inside, the contents. And that may just deal with structural issues.
Of course, you're supposed to have homeowners insurance as well. And we do. But these questions remain to be answered. I'm hoping that when FEMA sets up shop soon, they'll be able to discuss all the options with many of my residents, 640 who have been evacuated, who actually were rescued today by the Swift Water Team and our volunteers here in Little Ferry -- 640.
MORGAN: Amazing. There's a terrific rescue effort going on there. I congratulate you and all your staff. Thank you very much for joining me.
RAGUSEO: Thank you, Piers. I just want to thank all the volunteers again and everybody for all their help, from the county executive, county OEM, sheriff's department, state, federal, the governor's office, and all the people in Little Ferry who have come together. We may be a small town, but we got big hearts. We'll get through this.
MORGAN: I certainly echo that sentiment again. Our very best wishes to you with that rescue operation. Thank you very much.
With the election just one week away -- election, I know we've barely mentioned it for two days now. We'll take a look at what this storm means for the White House race.
MORGAN: President Obama visiting the Red Cross today. With much of the East Coast battered by Sandy just seven days before the election, how does it all impact the race? Joining me now is Nate Silver, author of "the Signal and the Noise; Why Most Predictions Fail But Some Don't." Nate, welcome back.
NATE SILVER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Thank you.
MORGAN: Been an extraordinary few days for the election campaign. Who would have thought a week before an election that it would all disappear off the news agenda. But obviously Hurricane Sandy took over. My instinct for this, watching it all, is that President Obama gets a lot more air time as the incumbent president in the time of a national disaster. And if he is seen to have done a pretty good job, and Chris Christie, Mitt Romney's right hand buddy, has been out there today saying what a great job he's been doing --
MORGAN: That has to be good for him, doesn't it?
SILVER: Well, we have to see how the cleanup goes, and if Obama makes a mistake later on. But I would agree that usually in the short run, crisis environment tends to help the incumbent president. And the fact is that we only have the short run now. So if there is fallout in the long time, then it might occur after he were re- elected.
But I still think voters are mostly basing this on the economy. Maybe you have one percent of voters who are out there, undecided. So it's an interesting event. But look, if Romney had it in the cards to win, before I'm not sure it would shift things enough against him.
MORGAN: Also, I guess it will still come down to swing states. And in many of those, what may be more important for both candidates is their inability to get to both places like Ohio through these last few days.
SILVER: Sure. And Romney is spending time in Ohio. And Ohio is really where this election comes down to, where the average poll right now has Obama up by two, two and a half, three points in Ohio. If you go back through history, how often do candidates overcome leads like that? It's actually pretty hard.
It's a small lead, but when you have so few undecided voters left, when you have a third of the state has already voted and turned out, it's pretty challenging. And that's Romney's biggest hurdle right now, is entirely Ohio.
MORGAN: You have been described as a potential one-term celebrity pollster by somebody this week. Dylan Baz (ph), I think, wasn't it, "Politico." How did you react? You are a bit of a rising superstar, because if you get it wrong, you're got Obama a 75 percent chance of winning. If he were to lose now, will you resign? What happens to pollster experts like you?
SILVER: Well, this is why we give probabilities. Earlier this week, there was a weather forecaster who said there was a 30 percent chance that Hurricane Sandy would be bad enough to flood the New York subway system. Now to me, that seems like a very prescient prediction, where he warned people days in advance there was a chance this occurring.
We give Mitt Romney a 30 percent chance of becoming president. As New York found out this week, a 30 percent chance will come up quite a bit. I think some of the critics that I've had are not very good at doing math and probability. In politics, people tend either toward one hundred/zero explanations, ie one side is always right, or everything is 50/50. And we exit -- the real world exists on the margin, where things are not 50/50 and not certain. I think if Obama has an edge in the polls in Ohio --
MORGAN: Are you seeing anything in any polls in the last 24 hours -- have there been any, in fact, which suggest that the hurricane as a disaster has had any impact yet? SILVER: It's too early to say, because a number of the more reputable pollsters suspended their polling because of the hurricane. So we might learn a lot, say, on Thursday and Friday. But for right now, I think we shouldn't make too much of noise. By the way, a lot of people are out of power, too, so you could have some helpful effects, but if you can't reach people in New York State, for example, they tend to be Democrats and they wouldn't appear in the polls as much.
MORGAN: Nate, good to see you again. Thank you very much.
SILVER: Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming next, where the superstorm is heading next. It's already causing a massive amount of snow in West Virginia. A storm chaser joins us live with the latest.
MORGAN: As President Obama said today, the storm is not yet over, by a long way. And the people of West Virginia can certainly tell you that. They're dealing with three feet of snow tonight.
Storm chaser Reed Timmer is on the phone.
Reed, you've been following this. Extraordinary changes in the situation with this storm from violent flooding now to violent snowfall in West Virginia. Tell me about this.
REED TIMMER, STORM CHASER: Yeah, the feeling in West Virginia was really eerie. Last night, we were chasing it. There were lightning strikes everywhere, thunder. And then suddenly all the lights went out in the town and they had a complete blackout. That's when things got really scary and it became a serious deal.
They will probably -- they probably won't have electricity for at least a week down there.
MORGAN: And where do you see it going now, this storm? Is it easy to predict over the next, say, 36 hours?
TIMMER: It's kind of wobbling and spinning down right now. It's becoming more vertically stacked, we call it, than -- I think it's begun an overall weakening trend. The wind field is expanding, but the precipitation shield overall was showing it dissipating, when I was looking at it. but that doesn't mean there won't be significant snow, especially on the westward facing slopes of the central Appalachians.
But there is actually a severe thunderstorm warning right now up in New Hampshire into Maine. So that's even more unusual.
MORGAN: Yeah. Reed, thank you very much for that update. I appreciate it.
TIMMER: Thanks, guys. MORGAN: That's all for us tonight. Tomorrow, the always outspoken Michael Moore will be here to talk about next week's election, the superstorm, the response and much more.
"AC 360" starts now.