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CNN NEWSROOM

Hurricane Sandy Cleanup Continues; Presidential Campaign Resumes

Aired November 1, 2012 - 15:00   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour here on a Thursday. Thank you for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. I want to get to the jobs number that came out today and what it really means for the big picture. And the big one that comes out tomorrow.

Plus, how both President Obama and Mitt Romney are spending the final days on the campaign trail, but first, this --

Day three of the recovery in the northeast. Sandy has now been absorbed by another weather system, but the superstorm is really redefined what waterfront really means in New Jersey and New York. Look at this with me. Sandy created a new inlet in Mantoloking, New Jersey cutting this barrier island now into two.

Our affiliate News 12 New Jersey actually spoke with a homeowner not of the island, of the house here in this rush of water, but of the home that was next door.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA, HOMEOWNER: There's nothing. I mean, right now there's -- it's just water where the house would be. There's not even sand where the house was. There's waves where the house was. Since there's nothing for us to go back to, to sift through, whether it's three days or three weeks, you know, all we would be looking at would be a sandpile.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Sandpile.

Since this video was taken, crews have already built up a road so at least some trucks can pass. And this is just one example of how Sandy has reworked New Jersey's landscape. Look at this now with me.

Seaside Heights, New Jersey. This is before. This is the before and you're going to see the after, after Sandy arrived. But for all the devastation, you hear the survivors. They're grateful for their lives. Sandy's death toll is now at 88 in the United States, 157 total. Those numbers keep changing here.

Among the dead, little boys, ages 2 and 4, we just got word in the last hour. Their little bodies were found a block or two from where the water swept them out of their mother's arms on Staten Island. There is also concern the number of casualties could rise from new problems like gas leaks. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLIE WALTER, NEW JERSEY: You had to be careful because you could hear the gas leaks. It's a sound and you could smell it. It is really strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: When it comes to gasoline here, people standing in line for hours, car after car after car, look at this. Folks, this is New York, New Jersey. Meanwhile, 7,000 people in nine states spent the night in shelters. Here's a number for you; 4.8 million, those are the customers without power.

This video, this is pretty unbelievable. Right side of the screen, this is Manhattan. The left-hand side, this is Brooklyn. Time-lapse video shows you the moment, look at the darkness on the right, when the lights went out in the city. Still some positive signs of progress, 14 of the 23 subway lines in New York's waterlogged system, they are up and running again.

But, you know, when Sandy hit, a Staten Island man was ready with a camera. He was not just ready for what happened next, though.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh! Oh, my God!

(SHOUTING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got that all on film.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Sheer terror in the voice. Later, the devastation is overwhelming. Other people, they're grateful to have their lives.

Brian Todd, he has this story from Staten Island -- Brian.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm in the New Dorp Beach neighborhood of Staten Island, a neighborhood that was completely devastated by Sandy. We are on the property of Rudy Mienert. This is Rudy's house.

Rudy is with us.

Rudy, kind of if you can just show us what happened here.

RUDY MIENERT, NEW YORK: OK. When the storm surge started to occur, some of the water coming up carried these containers that were across the street in the church parking lot.

TODD: They were all the way over there...

(CROSSTALK)

MIENERT: Yes, by the green fences. One of them came into my neighbor's yard here, as you see, and knocked down his terrace. Another came through my front fence here and bounced off a couple of trees and hit my wall of my house.

TODD: Can you show us some of the damage over here?

MIENERT: Sure. Damage on the house?

TODD: Yes, please.

MIENERT: Well, one wall's completely gone. The other one's just barely standing up. Just the center beam is holding up the second floor of the house right now.

TODD: Were you in here when I happened?

MIENERT: No. I had left just as the surge started. It was happening. I decided to gather my things and go.

TODD: Can you recover anything in this house, do you think?

MIENERT: Not really. There's not really anything. The furniture's all waterlogged and soaked. Everything else is damaged. So between the water damage and what's gone, there's actually thing that are gone. Everything's gone.

TODD: All right. Rudy, good luck. Thanks for talking to us.

MIENERT: Thank you very much. Thank you.

TODD: This neighborhood down here, what Rudy talked about, this container, we can kind of show it to you as I step across this puddle here.

Photojournalist Chris Turner will come with me. That red container down the street is what Rudy's talking about. That came from all the way down there where the church is, hit his house he says and went all the way down the street. You can take a look at the devastation down this street. Incredible, as this neighborhood tries to recover and they say that it is going to take them a long, long time to do that.

Brian Todd, CNN, Staten Island, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: It is as far as the eye can see. Brian Todd, thank you so much for that.

Now to Hoboken, a town just across the river from New York City, one square mile. This is Hoboken. And at one point after Sandy smashed in to it, officials say 50 percent of the town flooded. Rescuers had to use a front-loader just to help some of the people who were trapped in their homes get out. Neighbors helping neighbors.

And many like the couple I'm about to talk to had to get out on their own.

On the phone with me now is Ryan Santonacita and his girlfriend, Catherine Walsifer.

Both of you, we're looking at a picture of here. You're looking happy here. I'm sure you're glad to be both A-OK right now.

But, Ryan, I know you're the one, you live in Hoboken. Can you first before we talk about how you got out, describe the floods, describe the water for me? How bad was the smell?

RYAN SANTONACITA, New Jersey: The water came about four, four-and-a- half feet, but it still was about 30 minutes before it reached that level.

It was pretty it was pretty quick for the most part. I was just surprised at how fast it came.

BALDWIN: How fast?

SANTONACITA: I'm sorry?

BALDWIN: How fast?

SANTONACITA: Within 20, 30 minutes, there was about three-and-a-half, four feet of water out in the street. Luckily, you know, we were on a third-floor apartment. So we just watched it, but, you know, I have seen -- I have lived in Hoboken for three years.

It's rained. I saw pieces of Irene and it was nothing compared to how quick the water came up. And it was just -- like a basically just a wave that filled the back streets.

BALDWIN: And we are looking some of at these pictures, and some of the video I know is from our affiliates. But, Catherine, you sent us some of these pictures. From what I understand, you live in Manhattan. You went to Hoboken to ride out the storm with your boyfriend, Ryan, here and at what point do you two say, all right, we're going to get out and to do that we have to wade through the water?

CATHERINE WALSIFER, NEW JERSEY: Well, we didn't want to leave. I didn't think I could make it through the water when it was up to my waste.

So, we had to wait until yesterday morning until it dropped a little bit and receded and we could make it through without, you know, really touching the water because it was filled with so much gasoline and oil. It was just kind of dependent on -- we were fine. We had water and we had food and we were OK. We just didn't have power. It was just a matter of waiting for the water to go down.

BALDWIN: When you're wading through the water, Catherine, you mentioned the oil and the gas, what did it look like and what did it smell like? Catherine, you with me?

WALSIFER: Yes. It's hard to hear you.

BALDWIN: Catherine, tell me as you were wading through the water, what did the water look like? How did it smell?

WALSIFER: It smelled awful. It was filled with oil, filled with gasoline. It was, you know, not fun to walk through, but we were fine once we made it to close to Washington Street and we had parked the car in a garage and we were totally fine getting out of Hoboken once we made it through the water.

BALDWIN: Ryan, where are you all now? You all are fine?

SANTONACITA: Yes. My parents live about 30 minutes north of Hoboken and they were fine. They just had a few downed trees, but they had power so we drove there. It was about -- traffic wasn't too bad either.

BALDWIN: And so, just final question, as you all are wading through this, and we're looking at pictures on rafts through this water, did you see your neighbors doing the same thing? Are most people trying to get out if they can?

SANTONACITA: For the most part everyone kind of stayed put. No one really wanted to venture out. There are a few people that did, but I think for the most part everyone erred on the side of caution, which was better, so for the most part everyone kind of stayed put.

BALDWIN: We're glad you all are OK despite this awful-smelling water, says Catherine.

Catherine Walsifer Ryan Santonacita, we appreciate you both. Best of luck to you here. Thank you for calling in.

WALSIFER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, we will talk to a doctor to explain exactly how complicated the evacuation process was at Bellevue Hospital in New York. It is incredible what these doctors and nurses and hospital staff had to do.

But coming up, President Obama and Mitt Romney not pulling any punches on the last few days out on the campaign trail. Don Lemon is in the state each man wants the most. To Ohio we go, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Five days. Let me say it again. Five days to go until the election. Both the president and Mitt Romney, they are out and about today on the campaign trail. And it's down to the wire. And today, neither candidate is pulling any punches. Take a look at this video.

Here's the president. He was arriving in Green Bay, Wisconsin, earlier this morning. I want you to listen here as the president mocks Mitt Romney's claim to be the candidate of change. Here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's saying he's the candidate of change. Well, let me tell you, Wisconsin, we know what change looks like.

And what the governor's offering sure ain't change. Giving more power back to the biggest banks isn't change. Leaving millions without health insurance isn't change. Another $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy isn't change. Turning Medicare into a voucher is change, but we don't want that change.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Refusing to answer questions about the details of your policies isn't change. Ruling out compromise by pledging to rubber- stamp the Tea Party's agenda as president, that's definitely not change. In fact, that's exactly the attitude in Washington that needs to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Now to Virginia, where Mitt Romney, he goes on the attack here. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want four more years like the last four years? I mean, do you want four more years where 23 million Americans are struggling to have a good job? Do you want four more years where earnings are going down every year? Do you want four more years of trillion dollar deficits in Washington?

CROWD: No!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The president hitting Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, Romney in Virginia, all you know by now important swing states.

But let's head to what's treated as the pivotal swing state, Ohio. Take a look at these numbers here. This is where Ohio stands as of this moment here. This is at least according to polls. Here is the latest CNN poll of polls, has the president with a three-point advantage over Governor Romney in the state of Ohio five days and counting.

CNN's Don Lemon shows us how the ground game is going in the Buckeye State.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The front line on the Ohio battleground -- cold, soggy and gray. But neither snow nor sleet nor bad directions --

(on camera): Are you lost now?

SEAN HENNING, ROMNEY SUPPORTER: Oh, yes.

LEMON (voice-over): Shall keep these volunteers from their appointed rounds.

(on camera): Why are you doing this?

HENNING: I do it to support Governor Romney.

LEMON: When college sophomore and first-time voter Sean Henning isn't in class or working, he's driving, walking --

(on camera): Is this your next one?

HENNING: Yes.

LEMON: Knocking and talking to voters.

HENNING: When you are going to vote, if you are going to go in early or like or on Election Day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going on Election Day.

LEMON: Is it worth it? It's cold, it's rainy, some people slam the door in your face, others don't. Some people are receptive but is it worth it?

HENNING: In the long run hopefully it will be. If I see my man, Romney, as the President, yes.

LEMON: A President Romney is the last thing Bethany wants.

She says she has a pre-existing medical condition. So she put on her boots, put her jewelry business on hold last summer to volunteer full time to make sure President Obama and his health care plan stay put.

BETHANY, BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTER: You voted for the President for re- election?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney doesn't have what it takes.

LEMON: Both campaigns say in these critical final moments, they need people like Beth and Sean.

OBAMA: See your taxes go up --

LEMON: -- and other dedicated volunteers because of a barrage of negative ads and robo-calls have run their course.

(on camera): So it's about personal contact?

MATT CAFFREY, OBAMA VOLUNTEER: Yes, yes.

Person to person, not robo calls. Not mass mailing, what's important to you and -- and what can I say about that subject. LEMON: You don't get more personal than Gayle and Matt Caffrey.

GAYLE CAFFREY, OBAMA SUPPORTER: So do you live in Mexico now?

LEMON: When they're not out knocking on doors, these neighborhood team leaders rally the Obama troops from home, working the phones each evening after work.

M. CAFFREY: We are very well organized. We have been doing this. A lot of us participated in '08. So it's like a veteran army, going to fight another battle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Like a veteran army.

Don Lemon getting a break from the cold and the rain now at the only place where people can vote here, vote early, I should say, Montgomery County, Ohio.

I heard people cheering earlier, Don. I guess that means that was a first-time voter. How's it going today?

LEMON: They're excited when I told them that I was doing a live shot for your show,actually. I'm sure they love you.

So every time a first-time voter comes in, Brooke, they give them a big round of applause. They yell out, we got a first-time voter. I don't want to yell too loud, because they may start applauding, but that's what happens.

It's going great. Look at it. This is where people are coming in. They come in and then there's like an overflow room, which is an auditorium and a pretty big room there where -- and some of the first- time voters learn about what you should look for and all those things and how to fill out the ballots. But this is where they come in. How are you doing, John?

John is a judge here and he's watching everything. And then you can just look around here, Brooke, in there. People are voting all through there. We're trying not to bother them. We will come back out here this way so that we don't bother the people who are actually back there voting

But it's going well. Early voting, Brooke, quickly started October 2. And they say they -- every day they get between like 1,500. The highest is about 2,200 per day. And so far, the tally is pretty close to 74,000 so far.

BALDWIN: Hey, so quickly, when you're talking to some of the people that cast their vote, do they realize the tremendous importance that is the state of Ohio?

LEMON: They do. And I think that's why they have had such success now with early voting. If you see all these people, that's why they realize this time even more critical than last because there's even a razor razor -- a sharper razor's edge so to speak than last time, than 2008.

So, yes, they get it, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Any indication? I'm sure both camps are spinning it, but as far as momentum goes here in Ohio, what is the story?

LEMON: Oh, you answered your own answer. Both sides say, yes, we have got the momentum. But I do think, Brooke, this time, I think that last time, you know, Democrats had the edge, President Obama, 2008, early voting.

But I think the Republicans and the Mitt Romney campaign have realized this time they need to get people out early. Plus, the secretary of state sort of leveled the playing field this time because he sent early voting applications to -- absentee applications to every single registered voter in the state to sort of level the playing field. So, this time, it's really up for grabs. We don't know.

BALDWIN: Don Lemon, we thank you. I know you will be doing the show tomorrow from Ohio, so we will look for that. Don Lemon, thank you very much.

Hey, speaking of the president, we have some breaking news here. President Obama has just learned he has landed a major endorsement from a surprising source. That's on the other side of the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Now here we are, five days before the much-anticipated presidential election. We now have some news. We have now learned that the president has landed the endorsement of the one Republican, now independent mayor of New York City, Mr. Michael Bloomberg.

Let me just look down at the note because this is what we're getting from the mayor. "The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast in lost lives, lost homes and businesses brought the stakes of Tuesday's presidential election into sharp relief."

Talks a lot about because of Sandy specifically and because of climate change issues, urgent problem, they say, threatening our planet, Mr. Mayor Michael Bloomberg now officially endorsing the president of the United States.

And now, since Sandy hit, the National Guard has been a lifeline for the patients of New York's Bellevue Hospital. This hospital's a huge hospital. It sits right along the East River. And troops have been carrying fuel up 13 flights of stairs to keep the generators going. And now they have been just as vital here carrying patients down those stairs.

Just last night, Bellevue had to fully evacuate because of Sandy and CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta watched this delicate transport from outside the hospital -- Sanjay.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we are outside Bellevue Hospital. For more than 24 hours, there's been an evacuation under way here, completed now, some 700 patients out of the hospital, moved to city hospitals all around the city, an amazing, amazing process to see unfold.

As you can imagine, Brooke, just simply getting patients down from a big hospital like this, carrying them down flights of stairs, none of the 32 elevators are working. At the same time, a bucket brigade of fuel going up those stairs to keep the generator, the generator working. It requires about 40 gallons an hour and the only way to keep it working was to get this the bucket brigade of fuel up.

Transporting patients under normal Chris Christie can be difficult, but under these situations, it's very, very challenging, but it seems like everything went very well.

Now, a lot of people asking how could this happen with all that we know of storms and blackout of 2003? We posed that question to the head of the Hospital Corporation. Here's what he had to say.

ALAN AVILES, PRESIDENT, NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITAL CORPORATION: This was an unprecedented event.

We weathered Hurricane Irene 14 or 15 months ago with the same emergency preparations and it didn't come close to endangering the hospital. This hospital sits 20 feet above sea level. We're actually 15 feet higher than NYU Hospital next door because the terrain just rises slightly here, so it was obviously not anticipated that we would get a storm surge of this magnitude.

GUPTA: And now the question, Brooke, as you might imagine is where do the sick patients go? This is not expected to open for two to three weeks. And 125,000 patients here are seen in the emergency rooms of Bellevue, so that's an area where officials are now going to be directing a lot of their attention -- Brooke, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Sanjay, thank you.

Bellevue Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals really in the country, as Sanjay pointed out, got the power knocked out because of the generators, the floodwater pouring in to the basement and wiped out the basement fuel pumps that would have been powering those generators.

People at the hospital we talked said they have never seen anything like this. More than half of the hospital's 725 patients transferred and then the remaining 260 transferred today. How in the heck did this work?

We will talk to Dr. Alex Isakov, who is the director of Emory University Office of Critical Preparedness and Response.

Dr. Isakov, Welcome. Thank you for coming in and bringing some props to explain to us exactly -- walk me through the process, with these doctors and the nurses and respiratory therapists. How do they keep the patients alive?

DR. ALEX ISAKOV, EMORY UNIVERSITY OFFICE OF CRITICAL PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE: Well, Brooke, thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: Yes.

ISAKOV: First of all, as Sanjay has mentioned, this is a nightmare scenario for the hospital, for the patients at Bellevue...

BALDWIN: Truly.

ISAKOV: ... 700 patients, some of them very critically ill, having to move them to places where they can be best cared for.

Patient transport happens every day under controlled circumstances, but when the power goes out, when all the monitoring equipment that you're requiring has maybe an hour or two of battery life left and patients who are dependent on lifesaving machines and monitoring equipment that have to be moved to another place, it's a delicate procedure.

BALDWIN: Doctor, I recognize -- this is a blue bag.

ISAKOV: It is.

BALDWIN: It's a blue bag. These are patients. Let's say you have an unstable ICU hospital, and intra-hospital transfer is daunting enough, let alone down 13 stairs. So how does this work?

ISAKOV: Listen, usually, we're counting on a nice stretcher to move a patient, maybe a team of professionals to move them, elevators that work and lights.

BALDWIN: In this case...

ISAKOV: Now you have an austere environment and the patient still needs to be moved and they still have all the monitoring and lifesaving equipment attached.

(CROSSTALK)

ISAKOV: One example...

BALDWIN: The patient is intubated.

ISAKOV: The patient is intubated. Here's all the patient that will fit on your desk, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK.

ISAKOV: And here, a simple, simple procedure in one respect is the patient still needs to be ventilated while no longer on the ventilator machine, relatively easy to do until now you're transferring from the ICU bed to the stretcher and then from the stretcher down the hall. And then I heard you mention trying to carry them down stairwells.

BALDWIN: Right.

ISAKOV: If you dislodge this endotracheal tube...

BALDWIN: What happens?

ISAKOV: Then the patient doesn't get the oxygen they need and isn't ventilated anymore. Now you have a real medical emergency. This is just one piece of the lifesaving equipment...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: How are people trained for this?

ISAKOV: People are trained to transport patients regularly. How do people train to do that in the dark, in the cold under these austere circumstances? They just use their professional training and then do the best they can.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: What about the babies? We were hearing the NICU babies, the neonatal intensive care unit.

ISAKOV: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: Same thing?

ISAKOV: Same thing. The great news is those neonatal intensivists, the professionals that care for them every day, are there. Now you're just in a very different scenario. But you have to do all this carefully so you don't dislodge this lifesaving monitoring and treatment equipment.

BALDWIN: It's incredible. Kudos to all of those medical personnel and staff...

ISAKOV: Absolutely. They really deserve it.

BALDWIN: ... at Bellevue and NYU Langone.

Thank you, Doctor. We appreciate it from Emory University, Dr. Alex Isakov.

ISAKOV: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And now as we mentioned here just before the break, the huge, huge news, five days before the election, the president being endorsed by once Republican and now independent mayor of New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. We will talk to Wolf Blitzer about potential ramifications, positives, here for the president after this quick break.

Stay with me. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Here we are in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Northeast absolutely devastated by this superstorm.

We are now learning because of the response to Sandy and because of concerns to climate change, the mayor of New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now officially endorsing President Obama.

Wolf Blitzer, I just want to go to you and ask -- I mean, I interviewed the mayor about a month or two ago and asked if he'd offer up any kind of endorsement. I thought he would stay on the sidelines. Apparently not.

Does this surprise you?

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": He was on the sidelines four years ago. It is a surprise coming this late, but he wrote this long article just now and I've just been reading it, Brooke, in which he makes the case that, given what happened in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut over the past few days, the results of this superstorm, the potential that he believes that global warming could have a potential impact.

He thinks the issue is so important that there's a significant difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney on this issue. He has now formally gone forward and explained why he thinks President Obama should be re-elected.

Among other things, he doesn't like what he says is the flip-flopping that's been coming from Mitt Romney in the past. He writes he has taken sensible positions -- referring to Romney -- on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights, health care, but he has reversed course on all of them and is even running against the health care model he signed in to law in Massachusetts.

Then goes on to explain why he believes the president while by no means perfect has taken right decisions on a whole bunch of issues and, as a result, he feels more comfortable and he says the president deserves another four years in the White House.

So, it's a significant endorsement coming from the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg.

BALDWIN: So, how significant, though? Because I feel like in talking to some political types and I've asked, how significant are endorsements? And they say they're not necessarily game-changers.

In this case, this is the mayor of New York City. How big could this be for the president?

BLITZER: Well, the president's going to carry New York state to begin with, so that -- it doesn't necessarily have a huge impact in New York because, it goes without saying, the president will carry New York. He'll carry California. Mitt Romney will carry Texas. You know, those states are not in play right now, so in terms of an immediate impact -- but I think that in some of the battleground states, he's widely admired by some independent voters, people who don't like necessarily Democrats or Republicans.

They look to see who's the best candidate and I think Michael Bloomberg does have some sway, potentially. If it's a close race in Ohio or Florida or Virginia or Colorado or Nevada, maybe anything could have an impact on swaying some final undecided voters and I think Bloomberg could have an impact.

Not a huge impact, I think you're right on that matter, but if it's close, anything could have an impact.

BALDWIN: OK, Wolf Blitzer, we thank you. We'll see you at the top of the hour for "The Situation Room."

I want to get back here to the aftermath of Sandy. We have seen, you have seen the absolute destruction over the past couple of days, but nothing more shocking than the pictures from Breezy Point, New York.

Look at this, where not just the floodwaters, but fire has consumed home after home after home. More than 100 before the fire stopped and, when you look at the images, can you imagine staying in your home as that fire swept through watching through your window, trying to save whatever you can?

That's exactly what my next guest did. He is Jack Nacmias. He joins me on the phone. Jack, are you with me?

JACK NACMIAS, BREEZY POINT SURVIVOR (via telephone): I'm with you.

BALDWIN: Jack, I have read ...

NACMIAS (via telephone): can you hear me?

BALDWIN: Yes, I can. I've read that you described Monday night as "hell," as "the worst night of your life."

When we're talking about where you were with floodwaters and with fire, sir, which was more hellish?

NACMIAS (via telephone): There was floodwaters. I was able to save my house. I had a generator on the second floor and everybody around me got destroyed and then what happened was it was like the "Titanic."

All the four windows in the basement broke. The water went into the basement. The sump pumps couldn't keep the water getting out of the house and so we rode out the night on the second floor with the generator going and we were able to ride out the storm.

And I was able to save my house and we're lucky to be alive, but I was foolish for staying. I should have left.

BALDWIN: You say you were foolish to stay. Jack, let me be clear. When you say we, just for our viewers, so it's you, it's your wife, it's your kids, it's your wife's grandmother. Is she 96?

NACMIAS (via telephone): (INAUDIBLE) mother-in-law, Ann Gartner (ph), my wife (INAUDIBLE), my son James and my brother-in-law who's disabled, Thomas. So we were all in the house and it was hell.

The water, we just watched the water come and come and come and we couldn't leave if we wanted to. Our cars floated away. We had 400- or 500-feet away from where they were. They just floated away.

BALDWIN: But, Jack, as you -- as you're watching the floodwaters, you and your family bringing the family up to the second floor of the home. At what point do you hear the explosions outside, look out your window and see the fire?

NACMIAS (via telephone): We were watching the fire and we were just saying, oh my God. But we're lucky where the area where we live is called Lasagna Lane, so it's very spread out.

The fires were in the walks and the houses are very close to each other. They're like five, six feet away from one house to the next.

I have a huge piece of property, so I couldn't -- it would be very hard for fire to jump. So I was extremely lucky and I was, you know, manning the pumps and manning the generator and kept us alive and in good condition.

So, I mean, thank God for that.

BALDWIN: Thank God for that is right. Jack Nacmias, we're so glad you and your family are OK. I'm sure you lost some precious items, but nothing more precious than your lives. Jack, thank you. Thank you for calling.

NACMIAS (via telephone): We're alive. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Parts of the New York subway system offline, but some say that didn't have to happen. The subway lines could be running if only this certain something was put into place. This, it's called a subway plug.

Coming up next, a closer look at how these plugs might have prevented the flooding.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Right now, water's being pumped out of the New York City subway system, but perhaps, perhaps this flooding could have been prevented altogether and this is how.

Look at this with me. This is this giant inflatable plug developed by the Department of Homeland Security to protect subway tunnels from terrorist attacks, if, say, a tunnel was flooded with poisonous gas.

Let me bring in Sandra Endo. She's here with more on these massive plugs and, before I ask you exactly how this works, the obvious question is, why wasn't it used?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, good question, Brooke. Well, they're still a couple of years away from being able to be used in real-life scenarios. That's because these inflatable plugs are still in the developmental and testing phase.

About five years ago, the Department of Homeland Security was looking for a way to protect subway tunnels from terror gas attacks and DHS officials we spoke to say they spoke to professors at West Virginia University and National Labs and came up with this idea, basically a huge fabric balloon that you could inflate inside a tunnel to create a tight seal.

They realized almost from the start that this could not only stop gases and smoke, but also stop water.

Now, the plugs need to be tailor-made to fit individual subway tunnels which are typically between 14-to-20 feet in diameter and this prototype plug is roughly 16 feet in diameter and 32-feet long.

It takes three minutes to inflate and then you pressurize it, adding air or water and, of course, you would need two of these plugs at both ends of the tunnel and several of the developers say that they're confident it could have made a difference in those floods that are impacting New York City right now, Brooke.

BALDWIN: So, in those next of couple years when they're -- these things are ready to roll, they will be used in the event of floods or terrorist attacks. Correct?

ENDO: Yeah. That's the goal. Exactly. They say it's just another tool in the tool box they can use to really counter natural disasters or any type of terror attack.

BALDWIN: How much do they cost? How many would a city like New York need?

ENDO: Well, that's a good question. The Department of Homeland Security has already spent about $5 million so far on the project and that prototype that you saw there costs roughly $400,000 and, of course, you would need two to protect one tunnel and they're hoping that the cost will go down if they're built, en masse.

Brooke?

BALDWIN: Sandra Endo, thank you.

Courting undecided voters in the battleground state of Colorado, we are not talking red, not talking blue voters but purple voters who could go either way.

You will meet one such voter, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Want to take a moment now to look at fight for Colorado. We are talking about a battle for nine electoral votes.

Keep in mind, Colorado voted in 2008 for Barack Obama and in the previous three elections voted for the Republican and, as Ed Lavandera now is about to show up, the battle for Colorado's largely a battle for the suburbs of Denver.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you're exhausted by all the political spinning, drop into Corky Grimm's bike shop in Lakewood, Colorado, where the spinning is nonpartisan and designed to get you somewhere.

I love the old bikes you've got around here.

CORKY GRIMM, OWNER, GREEN MOUNTAIN SPORTS: Yeah, we've a few. That's a '67 Schwinn.

LAVANDERA: But it's impossible for Corky to escape politics. He lives in Jefferson County, a suburb of Denver, and is perhaps the most contested area in this battleground state.

And for an undecided voter for Corky Grimm, there's only one way to avoid the political tsunami swirling around him.

Have the campaigns found a way to get to you while you're on your bike rides?

GRIMM: No. Well, except for the yard signs.

LAVANDERA: That's your only moment of political peace.

GRIMM: That's right. Exactly.

LAVANDERA: There are 64 counties in Colorado, but just a few of them are swing counties.

Here in Jefferson County and nearby Arapahoe County, these are suburban counties that wrap around Denver and the key to getting Colorado's nine electoral votes could very well rest here.

This is the battleground within the battleground, a perfect political recipe exists here, equal parts Republican, Democrat and independent swing voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan count on your vote this year?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

LAVANDERA: The presidential campaigns are doing whatever it takes to get out the vote, millions of phone calls, canvassing neighborhoods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all going to go knock on some doors. One more door, one more vote. LAVANDERA: Republican political consultant, Dick Wadhams, says President Obama or Governor Romney must win over these suburban voters.

DICK WADHAMS, FORMER COLORADO GOP CHAIRMAN: And that's why these swing voters in Jefferson and Arapahoe Counties are up for grabs.

Because as much as they are concerned about social issues, as socially liberal as some of these voters are on abortion and gay marriage, for instance, first and foremost, they're most -- I think they're most concerned about the economy.

GRIMM: Oh, look at you riding the big bike.

LAVANDERA: For Corky Grimm, it is all about the economy. He opened his Green Mountain sports bike shop 15 years ago, but in 2010 he says sales dropped from a million dollars a year to $500,000. He struggled to pay bills.

Did you think you were about to go under?

GRIMM: Oh, yeah. One foot on the banana peel, the other in the grave or something like that.

LAVANDERA: Business has bounced back a little, but Corky doesn't feel secure yet.

So, when you make your decision on who to vote for, what's this all going to boil down to for you?

GRIMM: You know, I have to look at who's done anything for small businesses.

I think it's going to be one of those things that the economy has to get better because people will not have the money to spend. Bikes are not necessities.

LAVANDERA: When is your moment of revelation going to come here in the next few days about who you're going to vote for? Are you -- are you ...

GRIMM: I don't know.

LAVANDERA: ... going to be riding your bike, waiting to see ...

GRIMM: I hope so.

LAVANDER: ... some vision on the street or something like that? What are you waiting for?

GRIMM: I hope it's not a Mack truck.

LAVANDERA: Corky Grimm will escape the political spinning with a spin around the famed red rocks overlooking Denver.

GRIMM: I do my soul searching on my bike and stuff like that because then I don't have the phones ringing. I have a couple of, you know -- you get that endorphin buzz and you get cleaned out and then you can think about a few other things and, so, it's more than likely that's when it will happen.

LAVANDERA: Like any good race, it's coming down to the wire.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN:: Ed Lavandera, I have a feeling people in this country are looking for their moments of political peace.

But, with that, here you are in Denver and, while I have you, just so we can look at the map. So, you have Denver. This is where most of your Democratic voters are. You have Colorado Springs to the south, staunchly Republican and from what I gather here, really it's, as you point out, the battle of the battleground.

In between Denver and Colorado Springs and on the other sides of Denver, these two key counties, Jefferson County and Arapahoe County. Is that right?

LAVANDERA: That is right. As I mentioned, that's equal parts Republican, Democrat and independent swing voters. That's why you've seen all these different campaigns spend more than $60 million so far since April in political advertising around here to try to influence those swing voters.

But, as we've talked to people here, Brooke, over the last couple of days, at this point it's not so much about trying to switch over undecideds or get their vote. Right now, the main focus is on turning out the vote.

And, so far, 1.1 million people have voted early here in Colorado out of 3.6 million registered voters. But I'm told to really watch those numbers tomorrow afternoon when the secretary of state's office puts out the final report on just how many people voted early. It will all be about turnout here in Colorado.

BALDWIN: We will look for that for you tomorrow. Ed Lavandera in Denver. Ed, thank you.

Some more numbers we're going to be looking for tomorrow, the big jobs report certainly will have some sort of political impact. This is the last -- this is the final Labor Department report before the election.

Coming up we'll give you an early indicator -- maybe an indicator, we'll ask -- on what these numbers might reveal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The former president of Penn State University has been charged in the sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. He is Graham Spanier and he was charged today with perjury, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children in an alleged cover-up of Sandusky's actions. The same charges were also filed against former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley. They were charged earlier with lying to a jury.

You know the deal with Sandusky. He was convicted of sexually abusing boys and sentenced to 30-to-60-years in prison.

Also this here, some important jobs numbers out today and they indicate U.S. employers may be adding new jobs in bigger numbers than expected. Take a look for yourself here.

This is according to a report released by the payroll processer, ADP. Private employers added 158,000 jobs in October. That beats the forecast from economists by about 15,000 jobs, but now we wait.

We wait for tomorrow for the Labor Department's official numbers which give us that all-important October unemployment rate. That is the final one before Tuesday's election. Preliminary numbers indicate jobless claims fell by 9,000 last week. We'll look for that and we'll talk about that tomorrow.

A number of New York City police officers and fire crews will be busy this Sunday. Nope, not with Sandy relief efforts, but with the marathon. The New York City marathon, an event many say should be canceled. Hear how the event's director is responding.

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BALDWIN: With a backdrop many people are likening to a post- apocalypse, the New York City marathon will go ahead this Sunday.

The race starts in Staten Island just eight miles from the place where some of these photos were shot -- you'll see here in a second -- then Breezy Point, the neighborhood that was absolutely destroyed by fire, a hundred homes.

The route then winds throughout boroughs, some areas without power, and this whole race ends in Central Park where crews are still cleaning up after a half a million dollars worth of damage to trees alone. Look at that.

A lot of criticism over this decision to hold this race this weekend with some fearful it will take away resources such as police officers, firemen.

Race director Mary Wittenberg told CNN today, though, that there's good reason not to delay the race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY WITTENBERG, RACE DIRECTOR, ING NYC MARATHON: I would liken it more to a telethon. You know, how can we help raise more money, raise more support for this city, for the relief effort and at the same time really show the world the spirit of this city?

You know, we often talk about the marathon as the triumph of the human spirit. I think this shares the triumph of New York City.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Forty-seven-thousand runners, this marathon attracts.

On that, thanks for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Now to Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brooke, thanks very much.