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NEWS STREAM

Hurricane Aftermath; Continued Fighting in Syria; Terror in Nigeria

Aired November 1, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET

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


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong and welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

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STOUT (voice-over): And we begin in the United States, where houses are ruined and debris fills the streets in the northeast, as people try to rebuild after their lives after Sandy.

And we bring you the story of one victim of serious civil war: an 11- year-old boy, who lost his leg after a rocket hit next to his house.

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STOUT: Now Sandy is fading as its remnants move north over Canada. But on the U.S. East Coast, the work is just beginning. Sandy killed 56 people in the U.S. earlier. It claimed 67 lives in the Caribbean and one person died in Canada. Around 4.9 million Americans will wake up on Thursday with no electricity.

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STOUT (voice-over): And residents have started combing through the remnants of once-thriving neighborhoods. This is the scene in Long Branch, New Jersey. It's where houses, as you can see, they've been left in ruins. This devastating image is echoed in many areas hit hard by Sandy, like Breezy Point in Queens, New York, 110 homes were destroyed there when a fire broke out during the storm.

But things are slowly starting to return to normal. Many buses, trains and airports in the New York-New Jersey area will resume services on Thursday, but on a limited basis.

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STOUT: As we cover the aftermath of Sandy, we will take you to these affected areas. (Inaudible) New Jersey, which has seen some of the worst destruction and then to the barrier islands on the Jersey shore. Many communities there are now completely unrecognizable. We'll get an update from New York City.

But first, let's go to New Jersey. Our Jim Clancy joins me live from Belmar (ph).

And Jim, what kind of damage are you seeing there?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kristie Lu, it varies. We spent hours yesterday, traveling this coastline, looking at various communities along these barrier islands. It extends from places like Seaside Heights, where the devastation is just widespread. Entire areas of that city have been hard-hit, homes swept right off their foundations, planted in the middle of the streets.

Boats shifted hundreds and hundreds of meters away, including the pylons that were holding them up. You've got homes that have burned down in large areas because of gas fires, broken gas pipes, because these homes shifted off their foundations, have then been ignited by electrical sparks or other causes. And they have caused widespread damage.

There's a lot of efforts today to try to shut some of that off. But the devastation in places like Seaside Heights that was world-famous for a carnival-like scene on its boardwalk, well, that boardwalk is in the Atlantic Ocean and so, too, the roller coaster rides and Ferris wheels that were so famous in that community.

But you go to other places, to the south, like Ocean City. And there you find much less destruction. This storm was fickle. The bands of the storm caused widespread damage in some cities. But they hardly touched others at all. Still, there's some serious water damage that businesses are going to have to cope with as they try to get things back to normal.

We've seen crews going out today; the weather's a little bit milder today. The sky has cleared up. It's going to give a great opportunity to the cleanup crews to get out there and begin making this right, putting things straight -- "Swept Away" is one of the headlines today in the newspapers.

But it also adds in a subheadline that they are determined to rebuild. They're not going to do it in a day, even a week or a month. But they're determined that these barrier islands and the communities that they served are going to come back, Kristie Lu.

STOUT: Scenes of utter destruction there. And the people, they have lost so much. How is the community at Belmar (ph)? How are they coping in this crisis?

CLANCY: Well, you know, in all of these barrier islands, people have been hard-hit. Despair has set in for some of them. Some of them have lost virtually everything. They were only able to get out with what they had in their hands. We talked with one young man yesterday, who came from Seaside Heights. He didn't evacuate and as he told us, he thinks that was a mistake. Listen.

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RYZON BARNES, SEASIDE HEIGHTS RESIDENT: I stayed in the house because I thought that, you know, it would probably be like last year, really nothing. But I was wrong, because as the storm got worse and I stayed in the house, I realized that I probably made a mistake.

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CLANCY: So, Kristie, we have, what, 1,750,000 people without power. We've got desperate attempts to try to turn off the gas lines here. Meantimes, there are other gas lines that have formed. Fuel is in scarce supply. So, too, groceries. Lines are long at the supermarkets, lines are long everywhere and people are having to cope to live in the dark.

It's not a very encouraging time. Perhaps President Obama's trip along with Governor Chris Christie's visit yesterday helped to cheer some people up and encourage them, offer them that much needed federal aid. But there's still a long, long way to go. Back to you.

STOUT: You know, here's wishing the people there much strength and resilience just to get through this. Jim Clancy reporting live for us from New Jersey, thank you, Jim.

Now on the frontline of Sandy's fury, where New Jersey's barrier islands and entire neighborhoods have been destroyed after waves driven by the superstorm rushed ashore and wind ripped some homes from their foundations.

Michael Holmes, he saw the destruction first-hand.

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MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: From Ortley Beach to (inaudible) Ocean Beach and on, tiny, interconnected communities crushed by Sandy. Some parts were in relatively good shape. Others were wastelands of destruction, reminiscent of a war zone.

In Seaside Heights, one of the area's most recognizable landmarks, the amusement pier, battered by the wind and the water, the pier picked up and dumped ashore, the roller coaster sitting in the sea.

The wind and a wall of seawater shoved entire houses into the middle of the street. Cars were swallowed by sinkholes. The smell of leaking gas hung in the air and, here, fires caused by those leaks had reduced dozens of homes to ash.

The focus for first responders: going door to shattered door to check for those in need.

THOMAS BOYD, SEASIDE POLICE CHIEF: All we're worried about right now is saving people's lives, somebody that doesn't have oxygen, somebody didn't get their medicine. That's what we're keying on right now.

HOLMES (voice-over): These communities, holiday meccas to so many tourists, are in some placed unrecognizable. Ortley Beach's iconic Surf Club was pounded into pieces. Main roads are buckled, famed boardwalks splintered.

On the streets, those who'd remained and survived the tempest wondered and rued their decision to stay.

MELISSA GRIFFITH, RESIDENT: Came out Monday and we just couldn't believe the devastation. We're just sick to our stomachs and pray for everybody that everybody's safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're glad --

GRIFFITH: And we're safe.

HOLMES (voice-over): All day, more and more were evacuated to the mainland, many of them still in shock.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And as I was down in the basement, debris hit one of the windows and burst it open, so the water started rushing in. All I could hear was Jack (ph) saying, "Run, run, run!"

HOLMES (voice-over): This man, whose wife has Alzheimer's, gave in to her pleas to remain in familiar surroundings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went through the storm a year ago. And (inaudible). I really would have gotten out. I believed them but, like I said, with my wife, her condition, when you have Alzheimer's it's hard to change.

HOLMES: Now this is Chadwick (ph) Beach area. And here is a good illustration of what happened with this storm. You see that house there. But the ocean just poured right across the dunes, broke right through them and came rushing down all these streets like this. Sand, water, debris.

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HOLMES (voice-over): Those dunes that had protected the delicate islands seemed everywhere but on the beach. In some places, the sand is now a full 10 feet lower than it used to be. But the cleanup is already underway. Locals, though, won't be allowed back for at least several more days as the islands are made safe and secure.

It won't be till then that those locals can even contemplate in person the enormity of both the damage done and the task ahead -- Michael Holmes, CNN, on New Jersey's barrier islands.

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STOUT: So much damage done, and now that the storm has passed, people are going back into New York. And the island of Manhattan -- let's take a look at the traffic situation there. Mari Ramos is watching it all for us, and she joins us now.

Mari, a lot of anxious travelers and commuters out there. What can you tell them?

MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, there's different layers to this story as well. They are just so many traffic lights that are out, so many roads that are still impassable that it just makes it very, very difficult. And of course as people try to go back to normal, so to speak, and try to go back to work and things like that, it becomes very difficult.

Did you see this picture, Kristie? It's one of our more popular pictures on iReport. Here you see the bridge -- that's the Brooklyn side. And then right smack in the middle of the bridge, right there, it's dark. This is Lower Manhattan right over here. So this is just an illustration of how difficult it is to get into the city right now.

So the commuters are trying to do the best they can. Look at these pictures. This is from yesterday afternoon, and the people are walking. They're walking, they're riding their bikes. The buses are completely crowded. The traffic has been a nightmare. So many traffic lights are out and so many, like I said, so many roads that are still very difficult to get through.

But if you can't walk and you want to do this, come back over to the weather map over here, long lines. These are line in one neighborhood right there in Manhattan. Well, people are just having to deal with.

And this woman in this picture here tried to grab a taxi. There are new permissions for taxis right now. They are allowed to take extra people, even if -- normally in New York, if there's already somebody on board the taxi, you can't -- the taxi won't stop to pick up an extra person. But now they're starting to do that. So everybody's doubling up their efforts, so to speak, to try to (inaudible).

So the traffic congestion is pretty serious stuff, right? Not only are we talking about areas that are densely congested, but think about eight -- more than 8 million people every single day use public transportation in the New York City metro area. And so those people have no -- nothing to do, nowhere to go right now.

And there are more than 10,000 intersections in Manhattan alone -- can you imagine how many traffic lights are there? Now without power, and then some of them have been damaged and have to be completely replaced. So that's pretty serious.

And then I wanted to show you something pretty cool. This is from the New York City Department of Transportation. And this are their webcams. And I started kind of looking through these, and look at that. Almost all of them say this, "Camera is being serviced." These are all of the areas where there's no power (inaudible). So the cameras don't work.

I did find a different way to show you what was happening in the -- in the region, and that's through here. But I got to zoom in on Google Earth very quickly.

This, again, we're looking at Manhattan. There are some cameras that are working. This is in Central Park. But remember, this Columbus Circle, close to CNN Time Warner Center there, traffic is extremely light for this early in the morning.

And that's -- you can see that clearly right there. But they do have power in central and Lower Manhattan and upper side. But here in the lower part of the city, you can barely make out the picture. But there is a little bit of traffic that is starting to move through this area, Kristie, back to you.

STOUT: Yes, a clever way to check out the traffic patterns, but also to check out the extent of the power outage.

Mari Ramos there, thank you.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. Coming up next, superstorm Sandy temporarily disrupted the presidential campaign in the United States. Some partisan differences were put aside in the immediate aftermath, but with only five days to go until the election, campaigning is getting back in full swing.

And from Syria, the story of a young victim of the civil war and his fighting spirit after he loses a leg in a rocket attack.

And the cycle of violence in Nigeria is laid starkly there in a new Amnesty International report.

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STOUT: Now in Syria, opposition groups are reporting that rebels have killed 20 (inaudible) attacks on three army checkpoints. And wire reports say that the checkpoints were on the main highway between the capital of Damascus and the embattled city of Aleppo.

Now sometimes it takes the story of a single person or family to crystallize the misery of civil war. And Arwa Damon meets a young victim of the fighting in Syria whose life changed forever in one terrible second. And a warning: some of the scenes in this report are difficult to watch.

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ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like many other boys his age, 11-year-old Abdulrahman wanted to be a professional soccer player when he grew up.

But like so many others in his homeland of Syria, the violence shattered his dream.

ABDULRAHMAN, WAR VICTIM (from captions): There were fighter planes and there was a rocket that hit next to our house. And I went to see what was going on and another rocket hit.

DAMON (voice-over): He doesn't say much beyond that, at times, simply nodding, or smiling sweetly in response or seemingly lost in his memories.

Tears Omar can't control fall silently, the thoughts of what his baby brother endured are too much for the 21-year old.

OMAR, WAR VICTIM: Mom woke me up: "Stand up immediately."

"What's happening?"

She said, "Abdulrahman went out and the airplane is roaming, circulating above. And you need to get him back to the house."

DAMON (voice-over): Omar was too late. He found his brother in the hospital.

OMAR: Once he saw me, he shouted, "Omar!" Shouted with all his strength.

When I got closer, I saw his leg and just yelled. I started crying for around five hours.

DAMON (voice-over): Abdulrahman's leg was amputated in a makeshift field hospital, the basement of a mosque.

OMAR: (Inaudible) after he work up, he was just saying -- I was crying. I couldn't (inaudible). He said, "Please don't cry. If you love me, don't cry."

DAMON (voice-over): And that is when Omar made Abdulrahman a promise, that he would walk again.

OMAR: He started to hang onto that idea. So I'm going out and he's - - he kept saying to me, "When are we -- when are we leaving?" Yes, because once -- every time the fighting jet comes, he says, "When are we leaving? We should leave."

DAMON (voice-over): Omar is now an expert at changing his brother's bandages. He started to save money for a prosthetic, but realized that it was going to take too much time. He began asking around and a group of visiting Egyptian doctors told him about the Global Medical Relief Fund, a small U.S. NGO, dedicated to helping children badly injured in disaster and war zones.

Its founder, Elissa Montanti was quick to respond.

But first, the brothers had to get to Turkey. A car drove them as close to the border as it could. The driver's last words: "You're on your own now."

Omar's arms were aching as he carried his brother and their three bags across the muddy field. The brothers eventually made their way to Ankara in Turkey, but the boys don't have passports. Their visas to the U.S. were denied. And now they are waiting to see if the State Department will grant them humanitarian parole.

For Omar, watching his brother suffering is agonizing.

OMAR: He had nightmares and sometimes daydreams, bad daydreams. His one thing that he's going to get this time, I think it's to be aware of everything. I mean, to grow up his mind, I mean. He's not a child anymore.

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STOUT: It's such a tender and heartbreaking story. And for more on what lies ahead for Abdulrahman and his brother, I'm joined by CNN's Arwa Damon in Beirut.

And, Arwa, the brothers, we know that they're in Ankara. Who is looking after them?

DAMON: Well, they've managed to link up and actually stay with an association that provides housing for students and they're incredibly reliant, of course, on their charity and on the charity of others. And that's what's making this all so difficult.

Omar is really describing his anxiety at wanting to see this next phase, the phase of getting Abdulrahman the leg, the phase of him being able to see his younger brother, little brother, really be able to begin to heal and accept this new life that he is going to have to face, begin sort of this wait that they're going through in Ankara, waiting for the State Department to grant them humanitarian parole. It's growing increasingly difficult by the day, Kristie.

STOUT: And we heard Omar. He made his little brother a promise, a promise that he would walk again.

But what's next for Abdulrahman? What's next for him and his brother?

DAMON: Well, basically right now they're waiting for humanitarian parole. If that does come through, then the Global Medical Relief Fund will be flying them to the United States, will be providing them accommodation.

And they will, in fact, be taking care of Abdulrahman when it comes to getting a new prosthetic, as he's growing up when it comes to any sort of physical therapy that he may need until he stops growing at the age of 21.

But of course, the most important thing right now is for them to be able to get humanitarian parole. After that, of course, Kristie, they are struggling finally at this point, as is the Global Medical Relief Fund, because, of course, they're not the only case in Syria that needs this type of aid.

STOUT: Yes, I can't believe that they were denied visas by the U.S., as you say and as you've reported. They're still waiting for that humanitarian parole. And all the more heartbreaking about this story, Arwa, is that he's not alone, is he? As a child victim of this war, he is one of many.

DAMON: He most certainly is, and there aren't any real accurate statistics as to how many children have been injured in this war. But the death toll, one can just extrapolate from that, according to the local coordination committees.

There are around 3,000 children who have been killed so far under the age of 18, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a slightly lower number of 2,400. And the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is describing a very disturbing growing trend, saying that they're seeing more and more children under the age of 18 beginning to pick up weapons themselves.

That is not to mention the psychological impact of seeing loved ones and relatives killed in front of you that so many children are witnessing on a daily basis. The trauma of being displaced, the trauma for those of living in a refugee camp, the trauma of having everything that a child would deem to be safe and secure, their entire realities shattered at this point in time.

And it is the case, as it always is, in every single war zone, Kristie. It is the children that continue to bear the brunt of the violence.

STOUT: And, Arwa, thank you for your reporting and putting a human face on this brutal, brutal conflict.

Arwa Damon there, joining us live from Beirut.

And if you want to help Abdulrahman, you can go to the Global Medical Relief Fund. You can find their website at gmrfchildren.org.

Now in Saudi Arabia, state television there is reporting that 22 people have been killed in a fiery accident in Riyadh. Now a fuel tanker slammed into a bridge at a busy intersection and exploded in a ball of flames. And officials say more than 100 people were injured. Surrounding buildings were badly damaged.

You're watching NEWS STREAM.

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STOUT (voice-over): And coming up, a new report criticizes Nigeria's fight against terror, why it says the government is failing to protect its people. Stay with us here on CNN.

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STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.

Now a new report by the rights group Amnesty International says Nigeria's government should do more to protect its people from the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Now Boko Harum has waged a terrorist campaign in Nigeria for years, creating widespread fear and referring to itself as the Nigerian Taliban. It is blamed for killing hundreds in frequent attacks on churches.

Amnesty's report condemns the violence by Boko Haram, but it also singles out the government and says its heavy-handed tactics could be making things worse.

Vladimir Duthiers reports from Lagos.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A new report released Thursday by Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian government to ensure the protection of its people living under the threat of attack from the Islamist group, Boko Haram.

The group, whose name means "Western education is sacrilege," is blamed for killing more than 500 people and bombing and suicide attacks this year alone. But the report, titled, "Nigeria: Trapped in a Cycle of Violence," also faults the Nigerian government's failure to protect the population and says the country's security forces have, quote, "perpetrated serious human rights violations in their response."

And it goes on to say that the cycle of attacks and counterattacks has been marked by unlawful violence on both sides with devastating consequences for the human rights of its people.

Amnesty International says that it's calling on Boko Haram to stop the violence, and it also lays out recommendations for the Nigerian government to ensure that it's people are protected from acts of terror by Boko Haram or any non-state actors, and that the rights of its citizens are not violated just in the name of national security -- Vladimir Duthiers, CNN, Lagos, Nigeria.

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STOUT: Coming up on NEWS STREAM, both the U.S. presidential candidates are back on the campaign trail as the battle for key swing states continues with just five days to go until the election.

And Sandy's online impact: next we look at crunch time technology in the world of social media during the crisis.

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STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.

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STOUT (voice-over): It's all about the recovery now. The superstorm Sandy killed at least 56 people in the U.S. Around 4.8 million customers along the East Coast are still without power and damage estimates are in the billions of dollars.

The New York subway lines will be running today and the trains and the buses will be free of charge.

Powerful waves in southeastern India caused by tropical cyclone Nilam; an oil tanker ran aground amid the surging waters and the heavy winds and officials say that the storm has killed at least eight people in India.

The United Nations is asking Myanmar's neighbors to help Rohingya refugees fleeing a recent spike in violence. But the search for safety may have ended tragically for at least 130 people. Bangladeshi police say that they are missing after their boat bound from Malaysia sank.

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STOUT: Both U.S. presidential candidates will be back on the campaign trail today. And Republican Mitt Romney has Virginia on Thursday. And remember, he canceled his events there on Sunday ahead of then Hurricane Sandy. And President Barack Obama will hit three battleground states.

He will start in Wisconsin, then he will travel on to Las Vegas, Nevada, and he's due to speak at an outdoor (ph) sports complex. And then Mr. Obama, he ends the day with a rally in Boulder, Colorado. And on Wednesday, President Obama appeared with the Republican governor of New Jersey.

And the two men toured the storm damaged caused by Sandy. Now CNN's political editor, Paul Steinhauser, he joins us now live from our Washington bureau.

And Paul, we have seen the video of President Obama and Governor Chris Christie side by side, but the question is this: can their working relationship affect the election?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: You know, there's been a lot of talk about Chris Christie saying very nice things about President Obama and of the federal response to the superstorm. But you know, I think in Chris Christie's mind, these are two very different things. Politics is important.

We know Chris Christie is one of the top surrogates for Mitt Romney's Republican presidential campaign. But at the same time, there's something more important than politics, and that's the lives and safety of your citizens.

And that's why Chris Christie's has been teaming up with the president, the federal government and state and local authorities, all working together to try to help the people in New Jersey, New York, and the other states involved.

But now it seems we're getting a little bit beyond the storm as the recovery continues, of course, for many, many people, but you're going to have both candidates on the campaign trail, as you mentioned. We saw a little bit of a different Mitt Romney on the campaign trail Wednesday in Florida. He had three events.

And unlike in before the storm, you didn't see him being that critical of President Obama, so there's was a little bit of a different kind of feel to Mitt Romney, though, I must say, some of the surrogates that were joining him at those rallies were critical of the president, but not from Mitt Romney.

I think we will see maybe a little nicer, gentler campaign trail, maybe for another day or two, Kristie; I don't know if it's going to last all the way until Election Day five days from now.

Take a look at this, the latest CNN Poll of Polls. You average all the numbers together of all the national polls. There have been 10 of them since that final presidential debate. And, well, look at that. You've got a pretty darn close contest, the president at 48 percent among likely voters; Mitt Romney at 47 percent, very, very close, Kristie.

STOUT: That's right. The race is still neck and neck after Sandy. Both campaigns have resumed but as you mentioned, the rhetoric has been toned down a little bit. Now we also know the ever-critical jobs report that is due out tomorrow, what impact could that have on the race?

STEINHAUSER: Yes, 24 hours from right about now, the Labor Department here in the United States will release those numbers. This will be the final one. This will be the October national unemployment level for the country.

And, yes, Kristie, we all know that the economy, the top issue on the minds of Americans, what's the top economic concern, jobs. The September report, when it came out about a month ago, was actually very favorable for the president. There was criticism by some Republicans and conservatives that maybe the numbers were fudged a little bit.

That is not the case, obviously, but that just shows how important these numbers are in an election that is, of course, first and foremost about the economy and jobs. These numbers will be much anticipated and much looked at and much talked about throughout the weekend and into next week's election, Kristie.

STOUT: So many factors to weigh, especially that report on Friday, Paul Steinhauser there, thank you.

Now Sandy, the word Sandy was mentioned 4.8 million times on various social media sites. This is according to HootSuite. But how much was useful and how much was outright false? Let's turn to our regular contributor, Nick Thompson, who jogged to our studio in New York, as many subway lines are still down. He's here to talk about the use of technology in a time of crisis.

Nick, it's so good to see you.

NICHOLAS THOMPSON, NEWYORKER.COM: Good morning, Kristie.

STOUT: Thanks for returning.

And we know that during the storm, which you experienced first-hand, but during the storm, politicians like the mayor of Newark, they took to social media like Twitter in a big way to inform the people. But just how effective was this way of governing during a crisis?

THOMPSON: It actually was pretty effective. I mean, politicians and Twitter are usually a bad match, they say silly things, they undermine themselves. Or it's just sort of spam written by a 23-year-old aide. But during the crisis, it brings out the best in government officials, or at least this crisis did. And it brought out the best on social media.

There were a lot of very helpful updates coming from these accounts. The trick of using Twitter during a crisis like this is figuring out what's real and what's false and many of these accounts gave some of the best information, the clearest information and the most important information.

We saw it from Bloomberg's account, which is written by his press office, I assume, and Cory Booker in Newark, who was doing it himself as he drove around the city, tweeting out of the back of his car.

STOUT: Good information from the verified accounts on Twitter.

Now you experienced Sandy first-hand, being based there in New York City. And as a technology user, how did you experience and ride out the storm?

THOMPSON: Well, it's actually pretty -- it's pretty interesting. So technologically, I had power in my apartment. There was -- it was fine. There were parts of Brooklyn, you know, the part of Brooklyn that I live in was relatively unaffected, lots of downed trees, but we didn't lose electricity.

But as somebody who follows social media, it's very interesting, because the storm is going on and you want to -- you have all these things crashing and these things going on around you; you want to be involved, you want to be engaged, you want to know what's happening. You can't really go out and see something, because you'll be, you know, swept away by the wind.

So you go onto Twitter. You go onto Facebook. Twitter is the most exciting, because everybody's tweeting about it and everybody's saying something. And it's this way to feel like you have some control over what's happening, that you're involved in what's happening. And there are moments where, OK, it's actually better than you think it is.

Oh, wait; it's worse than you think it is. And you're pulled in all these different directions. It's a very interesting experience to ride out a storm on social media now.

STOUT: Let's talk about the power outages. And I want to show you this picture. It was recently sent out overnight by CNN's "SITUATION ROOM" team. And it shows the CNN satellite truck. And it effectively turned into a cell phone charging station, this in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Nick, is this scene being repeated across the region, even today, days after the storm?

THOMPSON: Yes, you know, I ran home last night and there were all these places in Lower Manhattan. There's no power south of -- I think it's 26th Street. So it's totally pitch black. It feels like, you know, Will Smith is going to come in this post-apocalyptic film.

There are very few people. There are no lights. There are no street lights. There are no traffic lights for a huge swath of southern Manhattan. And there are these little various points for whatever reason there's power, and you see, you know, all these people have plugged in their cell phones, trying to get power so they can text their loved ones. It's a very strange feeling.

You go -- as you go through my office -- "The New Yorker's" in Midtown on 42nd Street. You run south; everything seems basically normal. Suddenly you get to 26th; everything turns off. Then you run; you run across the bridge. There are no lights. Then you get into Brooklyn and suddenly things are more back to normal, besides the massive traffic congestion.

STOUT: Yes, it's like that photo of the Brooklyn Bridge that Mari Ramos showed us earlier here on NEWS STREAM.

Now, Nick, despite the power outages, Sandy, it was a social media phenomenon. So, in the end, what do you think were the best and worst moments on social media?

THOMPSON: Well, the worst moment is easy. There's a guy named, you know, went by the handle, Comfortably Smug. It turns out he's the campaign manager for an aspiring Republican congressman and he created a -- well, he didn't create a fake account, but he had an anonymous account.

And he tweeted out things about, you know, just false accounts of Governor Cuomo being trapped in Manhattan and just sort of terrible things that got repeated and sort of spread this fear and this misinformation. There's a fire at the Coney Island Hospital. Well, how are you supposed to respond to that?

What if you have somebody at the Coney Island Hospital, a loved one? Do you head there? It could actually have caused a lot of horrible things. And they were retweeted hundreds and hundreds of times and sort of went into the slipstream of information. So that was the worst thing.

There also were doctored photos. But those were mostly just funny.

The best thing was the sense of community, the sense that we're in it together, the sense that you can communicate with all of these people who are responding rapid fire. There's a way that you can get a sort of a sense of how the city's doing from your emails, from text messages.

But there's a really good way you can get it if you're checking in on all of these different social networks, and you're seeing your friends, the people you know, or maybe even people you don't know but who are sort of important to your understanding of the city, and they're all checking in at the same time, saying what's happened. You get a real sense of what's going on and that can help you during a crisis like this.

STOUT: Yes, from false information to a sense of community, all being built online during this crisis.

Nick Thompson of thenewyorker.com, thank you so much for that.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Kristie.

STOUT: Now as Nick mentioned just there, you know, it's not just tweets from Internet trolls that was taking place from the height of the storm on Instagram, some 10 pictures per second were being posted with the hashtag Sandy. It's an impressive number. But what about the quality of the images being posted?

Now sites like Is Twitter Wrong? Take a closer look at the origin of popular posts. For example, this Instagram sent to show Sandy descending on New York, but the blog says it is really a thunderstorm from 2011.

And this happens a lot, old pictures get picked up again, like this one of sentinels standing in a storm at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. An Army Facebook account posted it as Sandy. But as you can see, the photographer says it was taken in September.

Now the Army account later apologized for the error.

Now another division, the Old Guard, posted these actual pictures of the tomb on Monday.

Now time for a check of the world weather forecast. And of course, the very latest on Sandy and its aftermath. And for that, let's go to Mari Ramos once again.

Mari?

RAMOS: Hey, Kristie, you didn't show the picture of the sharks in the subway.

STOUT: That's right.

RAMOS: That was one.

STOUT: No sharks in Jersey.

RAMOS: No, no, not in the subway, anyway.

So, yes, there were a lot of pictures. We were getting so many questions about what those pictures were. I have people from all over the world asking about images like that, if that was true. But fortunately, no, there were no sharks in the subway.

You know what? You were talking about technology; this guy's doing his best to work. This is at the airport. This is at Kennedy. So airports are open, but it's still very difficult, of course, to get a flight. Should get a little better today and a little better tomorrow. LaGuardia's supposed to open as well.

Temperature wise, these are wind, actually. The winds are still picking up across some of these areas here along the coast. But we're expecting it to start to improve and then improving a little bit also the Great Lakes as we head through the next couple of days and definitely the weekend. Whatever's left of Sandy, this upper air, upper level low that we see here is lifting farther to the north.

And as that happens, the weather starts to improve. It's going to get a little bit on the warmer side and the wind will ease up as well. We heard Jim Clancy at the beginning of the show, talking about it has improved. It does feel milder, not as wet anymore as it was before.

And that really does help not only the victims of the storm, the people that are suffering from the storm still that are stranded or homeless or don't have power or water, but it also helps the first responders. So, you know, it's easier to restore power; it's easier to restore the water lines. It just gets a little bit better if the weather cooperates.

And I think it should be, at least through this final portion of the work week and as we head into next week. So we'll keep updating you on that.

Very quickly, I do want to update you on this tropical cyclone that you mentioned in the headlines, Kristie. This is what it looks like in Nilam at landfall. Chennai reported winds of 75 kph, at least eight people reported killed across India alone. Sri Lanka was getting pounded by the storm for days and days, actually over the weekend and since Thursday and Friday of last week.

And even though now the storm has moved inland over India, the flow, the return flow from the storm is still bringing you some very heavy rain over Sri Lanka. Notice the heavy rain that are across areas here to the north. So we're still dealing with a lot with this tropical cyclone as well.

We are going to take a break right here on NEWS STREAM. Don't go away. The news continues here on CNN.

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STOUT: Welcome back. Now Alex Zanardi will tell you that he has hit some big bumps on the road of life. Back in 2001, the Formula 1 driver lost both of his legs in a horrific crash, but he has refused to let that slow him down. Now he's a Paralympic gold medalist in the sport of hand cycling. Zanardi shares his remarkable journey in this week's "Human to Hero."

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ALEX ZANARDI, PARALYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: When you're passionate over something, you cannot talk about sacrifice.

You can be furious, but comes the day where your wish is only to really investigate how high you can take the level of your specific activity.

The road of my life has been quite bumpy at times, and I definitely hit a bump in 2001, September 15. I was leading the race. I lost control of the car in the acceleration lane. Other cars were going by more than 350 kph. And the first car went by and the second one hit me, basically cutting my car in two parts. Both arteries were completely ripped in part. The amputation was immediate.

When I found myself in an hospital bed, I didn't know exactly what I had gone through, but I felt so bad, in such big pain. And I had the clear perception that I had cheated death like this much. My question was, "How the hell am I going to do all the things that I have to do with no legs?"

I had discovered hand cycling in 2007, so initially it was just a way for myself to keep fit. And then I started to do some races and the desire of raising the level of my game started to grow up inside me.

We're speeding up, 15, 17, 19, 20. What I see in my dashboard is even more complicated than more I normally see into the dashboard of a race car, because I'm the engine and, therefore, I need to be aware of what's going on and I have all these informations (sic) right there.

My position, which is basically this one, allows me not just to use my arms in pushing and pulling my cranks, but also my entire body. I have averaged up to 44.5 kph. At 40 kph, you are illegal with a motorcycle in Italy. Therefore, I'm almost illegal.

(LAUGHTER)

ZANARDI: I've always been very, very passionate for the technical aspect of my job. It was never ending process in me, trying to learn, trying to understand exactly what I needed. Finally, I was happy with the position.

That's the point where I got my friends in Formula 1 and involved into my game and I went to see them. I said, guys, all I want to do is to make it lighter, stiffer and more aerodynamical (sic). And I ended up with this black beast.

It's completely made in carbon fiber. It's the best fiber of all available.

Being part of the Paralympic Games of 2012 was fantastic, just for this simple reason, because finally, I saw people realizing which kind of message can really come out from sport in general, and from our disciplines as well.

Going home with two gold medals, of course, makes it even sweeter.

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STOUT: A bona fide Euro there.

Now up next, we've got a "WORLD SPORT" update. That's straight ahead, as the New York Lakers look to record their first win of the season. Alex Thomas will tell you how they did, next.

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STOUT: Welcome back. Now despite the controversial absence of golf's top two players, this week's World Golf championship in China still has the starters to the leaderboard after day one. Let's join Alex Thomas for more on that and the other sports headlines. Alex?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Kristie, although there's no Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods, seven of the world's top 10 golfers are competing at the WGC-HSBC Champions Tournament at Mission Hills in China. Now for all those players, they're also in the top 10 after the first round.

Louis Oosthuizen, winner of Britain's Open championship in 2010 isn't one of those, but he raced out of the box birdying the 9th on his way to a -7 round of 65. The South African the joint leader alongside this man, Australia's Adam Scott.

That's his tee shot at the 8th, which looks OK when it lands, but just gets better and better and better as the ball rolls closer to the hole, ending up near enough for an easy birdie. There are four players breathing down the leaders' necks, just one stroke off the lead, including Phil Mickelson, who's won this event twice before.

This evil putt at the 9th was spot on. So was Masters' champion Bubba Watson, with this approach to the 6th hole. That set up one of seven birdies, and Bubba also had an eagle in his round of 66.

The highest ranked player in the field is World number three Luke Donald. A birdie crowded the 9th, helping him reach -4, three off the lead alongside defending champion Martin Kaymer and America's Jason Dufner.

The opening games of the new NBA season continued on Wednesday, with Jeremy Lin's eagerly anticipated debut for the Houston Rockets. After bursting onto the scene with the New York Knicks last season, Linsanity moved west on a five-year, $80 million deal. The fans getting into the Halloween spirit in Detroit, as the Pistons welcomed the Rockets last night.

The Rockets also signed up James Harden, let's not forget, and it was his part that set up Lin for two of 12 points on the night. (Inaudible) spectacular debut, unlike Harden himself, whose points tally looked rocketed skyward, this layup in the second quarter putting Houston 7 clear of Detroit. And here in the 3rd, Lin again sets up his fellow newcomer.

Harden slams the ball home. Eight assists for Jeremy Lin and a whopping 37 points in total for James Harden, although the scores stayed close until late in the game, when Harden tosses to Carlos Delfino for the three-pointer and an eventual winning total of 105-96.

Meanwhile, Steve Nash and the new star-studded Lakers final went 0-2 for the new season, calling up Tuesday's defeat by the Mavs with a loss to the Portland Blazers and to rub salt into the wound, Nash was injured in this incident in the 2nd quarter, tangling with Damian Lillard and forced to quit the game.

Portland increased their lead to 8 points at this stage as the 3rd quarter went. Nicolas Batum drives and throws it down over Howard. It's another frustrating night for the Lakers, even their star man Kobe Bryant wasn't happy, complaining at getting the ball stripped from him here in the 4th. (Inaudible) the officials didn't agree; 30 points for Kobe, but it wasn't enough to beat the Blazers.

Here's Batum again, draining a 3 this time with (inaudible) four minutes left, (inaudible) 26 points as the Blazers win 116-106.

(Inaudible) remained three points clear at the top of Serie A after extending their unbeaten run in Italy's championship to a remarkable 49 games. They beat Bologna 2-1 on Wednesday. Elsewhere in Europe, it was Cup night with wins for PSG in France and Real Madrid in Spain.

And there was another goalfest in England's Capital One Cup, 24 hours after Arsenal and Reading's 12-goal bonanza, Chelsea and Manchester United scored nine, Chelsea winning a penalty in the dying seconds to take this game into extra time.

Ramirez (inaudible) scoring from the (inaudible), three more goals in that extra time period before the full-time whistle. And in the end, it was Chelsea edging up 5-4.

That's all the sport for now. I'll be back with "WORLD SPORT" in just over four hours' time.

Kristie, back to you in Hong Kong, there.

STOUT: Alex Thomas there, thank you.

And finally over and out there.

Now airline safety videos aren't usually notable for their creativity, but the new one from Air New Zealand is an exception.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome aboard (inaudible) Middle Earth flight. Before we set out on our journey, I would like to impart the story of safety.

STOUT (voice-over): The safety video features elves, orcs and other residents of Middle Earth. It was inspired by the upcoming film version of "The Hobbit," which, like the "Lord of the Rings" series that came before, were all filmed in New Zealand.

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STOUT: And that is NEWS STREAM. But the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.

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