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Winter Blizzard Blankets New York City In Snow; Flooding On Parts Of The New Jersey Shore; Thirty Three Million People Under Blizzard Warning; NYC Crews Trying to Keep Ahead of Snow Storm; The Person Who Changed Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Life; Interview with Gov. Chris Christie. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 23, 2016 - 08:00   ET




[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: As far as an indication of when we'll be out of here, we don't know, we had an indication 12 hours ago that the interstate would probably be open then and it's just not happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The storm here in North Carolina turning deadly. At least four people have died.

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: You hope for the best. You prepare for the worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The governor is saying that 600 National Guard members are on standby in case they are needed.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This will be a significant storm, but nowhere near the kind of storm that we've dealt with over the last six years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The snow here in New Jersey is going sideways especially near the coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we are told from the Virginia Department of Transportation is that they are preparing up for to 40 inches of snow in this area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got to walk five miles and go over mountain again.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: If you're watching TV seeing the snow falling, you're seeing more of it still this morning. Snow all across the east coast. Cleanup crews ready to roll here.

I want to show some new pictures from Baltimore this morning. Snowplows are out. That city is still under a blizzard warning this hour. Washington is not ready to let down. Keeping it down, people are out early. They've been clearing sidewalks with their snow blowers trying to stay ahead of the 2-1/2 feet that are predicted to blanket that city by the time all is said and done.

And there are some hard working teams who has been out all night in New York's Times Square, clearing aside the four inches of snow already on the ground there.

We want to wish everybody a good morning and good luck as we continue to try to get through this storm. I want to welcome all of you who are watching here in the U.S. and around the world as well.

Martin Savidge is just north of Times Square. He's at Columbus Circle outside our CNN bureau there in New York. Martin, I know the last time we spoke, I know you said the wind had really picked up.

It's not just the snow, it's the wind, the cold, the ice. Help us understand what is like for you there right now. MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: It's the flooding, Christie. That's the other thing that people are very concerned about the winds, high tides driving that water inland and that's proving to be a real problem in the coastal areas.

So it's a combination of things that are making this blizzard truly living up to its reputation. You know, New York City when it was originally forecasted, there was talk that maybe this city would only be on the fringe and might get a little bit.

But as the subsequent forecast have come out, it's grown worse and worse and now we're living that forecast. We're going to talk right now to the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, who joins me on the telephone.

Governor, how -- sorry, Governor, there you are. How are things? How is your state holding up so far?

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Well, Martin, they upped the forecast on us to about 16 to 24 inches, and so far, so good. The eye of the storm is supposed to hit New York at about 11:00 and we're afraid the continuation start to deteriorate from there.

I declared a state of emergency in New York this morning. The state of emergency gives the governor more control to contract, close roads, et cetera.

We have everything open right now. The roads are open. The subway's open. The buses are operating. But we really caution people that unless it's an emergency, they shouldn't be on the roads.

And because we're afraid, as the conditions continue to deteriorate, the roads could become unpassable, and then the situation impounds itself very quickly.

SAVIDGE: A number of states' governors have declared these kind of emergencies days ago. Why are you only now getting around to it? CUOMO: Well, when you declare a state of emergency, you tend to impede commerce. People don't go into work. Businesses don't open. So there's a cost to basically closing New York City, or closing the metropolitan area.

And you really don't want to do it unless you have to do it. You have to do it when it becomes a public safety issue. This morning, I believe it's become a public safety issue. The situation is safe right now.

But again with the increased forecast, if the situation continues to deteriorate, it could be a problem, and we wanted to give people to notice this morning.

[08:05:10]SAVIDGE: And what about the situation on the water front, coastal areas. What are you hearing there about the flooding, possible impact?

CUOMO: Well, as you said, Martin, accurately so. The snow is one thing. We can deal with snow. It's the compounding effect and the negative synergy, if you will. You put the snow together with gusts of wind, up to 60 miles an hour.

And then you have places like Long Island, coastal areas and flooding, and flooding is the real problem. Flooding does a lot of damage. It's obviously dangerous and that is something we're very concerned about.

We have all of the equipment in place. We have the National Guard in place. All the Army equipment is in case. That is the worst case scenario from our point of view is the flooding. We won't really know until the tides are up.

We've gone through hurricanes, Superstorm Sandy. We've had a number of storms. So unfortunately, I've had quite a bit of experience in this area, but flooding would be the worst case scenario, and we're keeping our fingers crossed on that.

SAVIDGE: I agree with you there. Flooding is absolutely horrendous to deal with especially in weather like this. You mentioned the National Guard. I know you have them on standby. Have you actually deployed them? Are they out there, and what are they doing?

SAVIDGE: They're being deployed now. The National Guard are extraordinary. First, the equipment they bring is unlike anything we can match with our local and state police. They have Humvees, high- axle vehicles, et cetera.

Our national guard in New York has been deployed in situations like today. Probably six, seven, eight times, just in my short governorship. You know, this concept of extreme weather is very real.

So, they are expert and have been trained in weather situations like this. We've used them in flooding situations, evacuation situations, snow removal, traffic monitoring. So, they are the most competent workforce to deploy on a large-scale basis and they are ready to go. Again, it's New York City, Long Island, Westchester, and the northern suburbs areas where we're focused now.

Again, everything is open now, but as the situation continues to deteriorate, we may make decisions to close roads, suspend some MTA service, et cetera. And people need to know that before they leave their home.

That's why my strong advice is, unless it's truly an emergency, people have no business being on the roads today, Martin. It's not -- we're New Yorkers. We're tough, but I don't care how superb a driver you are.

I don't care how great a four-wheel drive vehicle, unless it's an emergency, you really shouldn't be on the roads today.

SAVIDGE: Governor Cuomo, I echo those sentiments. Thank you very much for joining us this morning. We wish the best to you and your state as they weather through this storm like a number of other storms.

New Jersey is another one that's struggling. Boris Sanchez has been following the circumstance, what we were just discussing with the governor of New York, which is the worry about water. How are things now, Boris?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Martin, to give you an idea of what has unfolded here in the past hour or so. We were standing on that street corner down there.

Within minutes I've never seen anything like it, a rush of water came over from the bay and flooded, which is essentially where our crew we moved out in a few blocks and had to move again.

The water continued to push in. What you're looking at now is the peak of high tide. You can see the water that's pushed into the driveways of these homes.

To my right, you can see the water is not necessarily very high in this part. But it did move in quickly and it's in the driveway of these homes.

And further down where we were standing earlier there's a lower elevation. So, it is very possible that some of this water went into the businesses and homes that are on the shore front there.

One other very important thing to know. It has stopped snowing, but the wind has picked up significantly. It's a lot more windy than it was even a half hour ago. And that poses several different risks.

The main one, power lines, these power lines above me are shifting very quickly. And with water on the ground if some power line would come down and touch the water. That creates a very, very dangerous situation. Fortunately, there are not very many people out here right now. We've seen snowplows passing through.

[08:10:00]Frankly, it has melted much of the snow in the area so the streets are clear, but people have heeded the warning and they are staying inside -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: All right, Boris, real quickly, they kept the power on out there? Some of the barrier islands they shut it down. It's still on?

SANCHEZ: It is. I will tell you that about two hours ago it was flickering on and off. The street lights were flickering on and off just a few blocks from here. Right now, the lights are on.

We do know that in Atlantic County where we are now, more than 900 people are without power. That number, of course, may go up as these high winds keep picking up.

SAVIDGE: All right, Boris, thank you very much. And to you and your crew be careful out there. We want to check in now with Miguel Marquez who is down at the Baltimore area.

So he is going to the south of New York City and they've been taking the beating down that way ever since yesterday. So good morning, Miguel and how are you?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm fine. I'm holding down this piece of a tent because it's broken all. I want to show you the snowdrift that has formed here. This is a good two or three feet.

We've had about 10, maybe 11 inches of snow in this area of Baltimore right now. You pan over to the left, you can see that the private towers have been towing all night long. That's the only way they've been able to keep some of the streets clear.

But as I walk towards you and you get into an area where you are away from a building, the wind is really starting to howl here. That has been going on for most of the night. It will continue through at least 1:00 p.m. today, very, very rough conditions here.

In some areas of town, they've had over 12 inches. They are expecting more and more here. This storm is doing exactly what they felt it would do. There are about 5,000 people without power across Maryland at the moment, which is not too bad. They're trying to stay on top of it.

No major issues to report so far, but the snow is coming down heavily. And it will be several days, if not a week, for some places to be able to dig out of this. One concern later on today is that there will be some heavier snow, perhaps sleet mixed with snow in the storm.

If you look at the weather maps, it's just churning. It's not moving anywhere. That sleet will weigh down the snow, weigh down power lines, weigh down trees, and that's where they're concerned about with serious problems across, not only here in Baltimore but across Maryland -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: All right, Miguel, thanks very much for that. As he just mentioned, Christi, you know, the storm is drawing a lot of strength out of the Atlantic Ocean. That's one heck of a supply of moisture. We're seeing that play out right now. Let's get back to you in the studio.

PAUL: All right, Martin, thank you so much.

Our coverage is continuing as this deadly blizzard that is affecting millions on the eastern seaboard. Eight people have already died.

And in Kentucky, a 35-mile stretch of I-17, some people have been stranded there, and it is 35 miles, it is, of cars, some for up to 20 hours now.

And we're also hearing now that there is also a backup in Pennsylvania. Some people there have been stranded for 10 to 12 hours. We're going to talk to somebody who has been stranded in that.

Look at the Carolinas. They've been hit extremely hard with ice. Officials there are telling people there, please, do not let your guard down right now.



PAUL: All right, take a look at some of the live pictures we are getting this hour out of Washington. We know that they are expected to get I think 1 to 2 inches of snow per hour.

They've got 200 plows, 50 front end loaders, 25 Humvees deployed there. The National Guard deployed as well trying to keep things going in Washington, D.C. So far, so good it seems there.

But we can't say the same thing for Pennsylvania now. Claire Jackson is on a bus with about 50 other people right now. Stuck on the Pennsylvania turnpike and she is -- she's joining us.

Claire, thank you for taking a little bit of time with what you're dealing with to tell us how it's been. How long have you been stuck on the turnpike there in Pennsylvania?

CLAIRE JACKSON, STUCK ON PA TURNPIKE (via telephone): We have been going on 12 hours now being stuck on this bus.

PAUL: And I think we are seeing some of the pictures that you have sent us of this -- of this, as I understand it, it's about five miles long. What can you tell us about how people are dealing right now with this on that bus?

JACKSON: Right now, everybody's mostly cheerful. Some people are kind of stressed out. I know I'm just kind of a little stir crazy right now. Everybody is kind of joking around. We want to go out and have a snowball fight. But our bus driver won't let us right now. We want to enjoy it to make something that's not so fun to something that's fun and memorable.

PAUL: I was going to say, it's certainly a memory. You cannot get away from that.

JACKSON: I will not forget this.

PAUL: Do you have enough food? Do you have enough water? Do you know if there's enough gas on that bus to keep you all warm?

JACKSON: Well, food wise, we all brought a ton of snacks since it's a 24-hour drive. We're good on food and water, and Gatorade so that's great. Apparently, the bus driver said we're running on diesel. So he said we're good for like say week and not have any problems so we are good.

PAUL: Have seen any patrol, any troopers, any patrolmen coming by to check on you?

JACKSON: No, we've been told that the National Guard has been sent out. But so far, it's just been snow. Nothing. Semis are driving on the other side of the road, past us, stopped for directions. So far, it's just nothing.

PAUL: It's been nothing, 12 hours. What is your final destination, Claire, how far are you from it?

JACKSON: We are heading back home to Kansas City, Missouri.

PAUL: So you have quite a way to go. All right --

JACKSON: Yes. We certainly do.

PAUL: We're glad that everybody there is healthy. That you're making the best of it as you can. I apologize, 12 hours is a long time. Please keep us posted. Let us know when you might start moving again. Thank you, wishing you all Godspeed and the very best to get through this.

JACKSON: Yes, thank you. Thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you. Take good care.

Listen, we have Samantha Philips with us. She's the director of the Philadelphia Emergency Management Department and she's joining us live on the phone here.

Thank you so much. We appreciate you being here as well. What can you tell us about this situation particularly on the Pennsylvania turnpike?

SAMANTHA PHILIPS, PHILADELPHIA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT (via telephone): Actually, I'm here to talk about local Philadelphia. I know that there have been interstate restrictions placed as of this morning, 8:00 this morning. Everything (inaudible) is under some restriction.

Here in Philadelphia, we got close to 15 inches of snow overnight. We have a lull happening right now, but more snow is coming later today with the winds picking up.

[08:20:09]So, you know, our focus is really trying to get plows on the roadways throughout the extent of today, the cleanup will certainly occur well into tomorrow. And just really monitoring the potential for power outages with the wind.

PAUL: Mrs. Philips, has there been a lot of interruption in power? Is it still snowing there right now? I'm wondering if there's a sheet of ice underneath that snow as there is in some other areas.

PHILIPS: Yes, so, as of now, the snow has lessened a bit so there's a second wave of snow coming through in the next couple hours. We're going to have heavy snow this afternoon with very poor visibility and high winds.

We're under a blizzard watch until 6:00 a.m. Sunday. We have just minor power outages at this point in the northern sections of the city of Philadelphia.

But certainly as the winds pick up this afternoon, it's something we'll be monitoring closely agency as the weight on those power lines increases.

PAUL: All right. Thank you for letting us know what's happening there. And again, thinking about all of you there as you try to get through, this first wave. And now this second wave that we know, is indeed coming. Thank you, Samantha Philips there.

We want to take you to some other areas where the storm is having an impact, of course, in Kentucky. We just talked to, you know, Claire, who is stuck on the turnpike there in Pennsylvania. She's been there for 12 hours.

But there are drivers stuck on I-75 who looks like to the best of my estimation here, based on what I've been told, about 20-1/2 hours.

There are families with children that are essentially trapped in their vehicles without food, without water. And this backup is about 35 miles long. So we're talking about thousands of people right now.

In Virginia, a state trooper was injured when his patrol car was rear ended while trying help a stranded driver. Authorities there say they've responded to nearly 1,000 accidents and another 800 disabled vehicles.

The storm is really hitting Tennessee, too. Nashville facing the biggest snowstorm in 13 years. Take a look at some of the video we're getting in. At least 8 inches of snow expected to fall total there. Authorities warning residents to stay off the roads.

Same kind of warning coming to the folks in Georgia. It's one of ten states under a state of emergency right now. Drivers have reported snow and ice on the roads.

And the concern now is the ice that's weighing down trees and power lines, because that, of course, can cause dangerous driving conditions and power outages as well. Those are the latest pictures we're getting in from some of the states who were dealing with it.

We know at this hour, there are 160,000 people who do not have power in the mid-Atlantic region. Snowplows have been working all night in Charlotte, and although roads are still dangerous, and they are still icy, the downtown area appears to be clear of snow.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is live for us from Charlotte. Polo, help us understand what the conditions are like there. What are you feeling?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, you mentioned the snowplows, also some of the folks with the snow shovels working right now. Earlier, you mentioned the stages of the storm.

You have the early stage. The middle that is currently out in the northeast. This is what the end will look like. What's left behind is this mushy mess that folks will have to clear off the sidewalks and also this intersection to make sure they don't run into trouble.

But also because temperatures continue to be below freezing here. All the ice that's left behind. I picked up a small piece off the sidewalk here. If you're looking up north, is this not a big deal to be walking around this.

But for folks in this region of the country, it's something that they're not used to. Again, they have to be extra careful as they head out. As we've already seen tragically several fatal traffic accidents here.

And the other point that you mentioned a little while ago, power outages, 150,000 of them here in the mid-Atlantic region. Many of them here in Charlotte region and it's basically accumulated a lot of ice on power lines.

As a result, we saw some of those power outages starting here yesterday. Now what they want from the public is patience. We know at least several thousand utility workers have traveled here to try to keep people up and running with heaters again.

PAUL: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you for the update.

Listen, I was just talking to you about what's happening in Kentucky with the 35-miles stretch cars that are trapped on I-75. We talked to a mom who has been trapped there for about 20-1/2 hours now.

She's not two kids in the car. Her dad who is diabetic. She actually sent us these pictures. We understand there's an update on what's happening there.

[08:25:06]We're talking to her right now. April Gilliam Montesinos is with us. April, what can you tell us is happening? APRIL GILLIAM-MONTESINOS, STRANDED IN I-75 (via telephone): We're actually moving right now. We're going 35 miles an hour. The roads are pretty bad and pretty icy.

PAUL: You're feeling the ice underneath the snow?

MONTESINOS: Yes, we can only go about 35 miles per hour, but we didn't really see anything where it was keeping us held up. We did see one car off to the side that looked like it had caught on fire.

But we knew about that earlier in the day yesterday. For here now, it kind of looks like they just got out this morning and started plowing all of this.

PAUL: So, you're moving. You're moving steadily with the flow of the traffic. I've just been wondering since you've been in the car for 20-1/2 hours now. Are you going to exit the freeway and stop or are you just going to try to keep going and make it to Toledo?

MONTESINOS: Well, unfortunately, we have to use the bathroom. We haven't had any food or water because unfortunately, they said that -- the Red Cross didn't make it to us. I don't know. The Red Cross didn't make it to a whole lot of people behind us. I noticed on Twitter, my dad being diabetic and everything, he's got to get something to eat. We've got to stop off.

PAUL: April, we appreciate you keeping us posted. We're sorry for what you've been through, but we're very grateful that you're rocking and rolling again. I know it's dicey. I know there is a sheet of ice underneath you.

Do stay safe and best of luck to you getting yourself and your family back home. We hope that happens very soon.

MONTESINOS: Thank you. Today is my dad's birthday so we need to make it back home.

PAUL: Happy birthday to dad. Certainly. Thank you, April. Take good care.

MONTESINOS: All right, bye-bye.

PAUL: We're back in just a moment.


SAVIDGE: I'm Martin Savidge in New York City. As you look at a story that is continuing to develop by the hour. And that is this massive blizzard of a snowstorm that is impacting the eastern part of the United States.

Some 85 million people are feeling the brunt of this storm that has only increased with intensity since early hours of this morning. Washington, D.C. --


[08:29:47] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Martin Savidge in New York City where we welcome not just our domestic viewers but our viewers from around the world. As you look at a story that is continuing to develop by the hour.

And that is this massive blizzard of a snowstorm that is impacting the Eastern part of the United States. 85 million people are feeling the brunt of this storm that has only increased with intensity since early hours of this morning.

Washington, D.C. started feeling it yesterday. Now, New York City feeling it as well where the conditions here are blizzard conditions; near whiteout as far as any visibility. The howling winds and now very strong concerns about coastal flooding -- it is a storm that people are going to remember for some time to come.


SAVIDGE: Check out the sheer size of this monster storm with a view from outer space as it bears down on 85 million Americans in 22 states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to know what it's like out there, what are you guys dealing with?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's horrible out there. If you're out there, go home and stay there.

SAVIDGE: The storm is already responsible for numerous deaths including two people killed in North Carolina traffic accidents. And overnight, a desperate situation along Interstate 75 in Kentucky, drivers stranded after a series of crashes closed all lanes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just a complete standstill. People have their cars turned off to save their gas. There's not even much going on the northbound. Just a lot of snow blowing and it's very windy.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, the nation's capital and Baltimore taking a direct hit, effectively shutting down those cities.

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), WASHINGTON: We see this as a major storm. It has life and death implications. And all of the residents of the District of Columbia should treat it that way.

SAVIDGE: And the weather is expected to get even nastier. Two inches of snow may fall per hour in some spots; the projected extreme high end, 40 inches total accumulation. And expect hurricane-force wind gusts to hit the Eastern Seaboard with the possibility of flooding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flooding is a challenge for us. It was a big challenge during Sandy. We were hit very hard in James, where some of the storm surge came up almost a mile into our district.

SAVIDGE: Already the impact numbers are staggering. Around 1,000 car crashes in Virginia, 7,600 flight cancellations through Sunday, and almost 150,000 power outages all contributing to make this one of the worst storms on record.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could definitely do without it. I'd like to have that 60 degree weather back that we had in December.


SAVIDGE: And the weather here has continued to deteriorate. The governor of New York just a short time ago declared a state of emergency. That's something he hadn't done up until this point. But the forecast initially for New York had not been that bad. Clearly that forecast has changed.

And I know when I talk to Miss Garcia -- she's the commissioner of the Sanitation Department here in New York City -- Kathryn Garcia, excuse. I just checked in. I know that your department really is in charge of keeping the streets clear. I've seen a great many of the plows out there but it is falling so fast, I'm not sure they can keep up. What do you hear?

KATHRYN GARCIA, NYC SANITATION COMMISSIONER (via telephone): Right now we're facing an extraordinarily difficult storm. We've seen one inch per hour snowfall already. We anticipate we could end up seeing bands that are three inches per hour. But we have 2,500 pieces of equipment between sanitation equipment, hired equipment and our other city partners.

So far, we've been able to keep most of the roadways passable. But I want to stress that we still are seeing traffic out there. And people really need to get out of the way. These are conditions that are dangerous for professional drivers to be in. And really, you cannot be on the road.

SAVIDGE: And what are your priorities? What are the ones at the main thoroughfares you want to keep open?

GARCIA: We have parts of the city either are designated as critical or primary routes. Those are our focus first. However, we are in all of our secondary and tertiary routes -- we need to make sure that we're making passes. Because it's coming down so fast, we can't let it get to 20 inches before streets see us.

But I want to also stress, even if we've been there, it is falling so fast that you're going to face very, very difficult conditions.

SAVIDGE: And side streets, neighborhood streets do they sort of have to take a backseat in priority?

GARCIA: They are not as high a priority. But we are making sure that we are getting to them in the beginnings of this storm. As I said before we do not want to be in a situation where we haven't gotten to them and they're 20 inches. We can't be in that situation. So, we are making sure that we're coming off the criticals and going into those secondaries, periodically through this storm. But this is an extremely difficult storm to fight. And we need to make sure we're out there so that emergency vehicles can get through.

[08:35:05] SAVIDGE: Commissioner Garcia, thank you very much. We wish you and your crews good luck. And stay safe, as they work to keep the streets clear. We've seen a lot your people out there. We know they're trying do the job that they need to. It's a little overpowering at this point.

Chris Frates, down in Washington, D.C. and he's in the bull's-eye of this blizzard. And Chris, you know, we're seeing it intensify here. I'm just wondering what are you feeling down there.

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're still feeling. I mean it's been hitting us all morning, Martin. We're getting some new snow totals. There's a least a foot on the ground in the Washington areas. Some places have a foot and a half already. This snow is coming down about two inches an hour.

So still a very, very active storm. And we're getting different kinds of snow. We're getting bands that come through, very heavy, wet, big flakes. And some of it is powder flakes it's almost like it will good for a little ski trip in the mountains if we weren't in the middle of Washington, D.C.

Visibility still not very good -- usually over my left shoulder is a beautiful shot of the United States Capitol. You can't see it. It's still kind of whiteout conditions here.

We are getting off the hook a little bit with these winds though. They're only reporting wind gusts of about 15 miles per hour. They were forecast up to 40. So we're still waiting to see if that wind kicks in.

We're still hearing from city officials that that could happen. And if it does happen, they're worried that that will start to bring down the power lines. So far, we've also gotten away pretty easy with any kind of power outages. Most of the area still has power. Virginia's Dominion Power reporting that only about 5,500 people are without power of 2.5 million and there are spotted outages in D.C. and Maryland. So far, everybody has their lights. And they're able to stay toasty.

And the roads here aren't looking so good though -- Martin. Most people should probably stay inside. The main thoroughfares -- they're probably passable with a four-wheel drive. They're trying to keep them open for emergency responders. And they've got 200 plow trucks working, 150 dump trucks and 50 loaders -- all of that to get 39,000 tons of salt out on the road.

They did get out early. They started pre-treating those roads. That's been really helpful as they continue here. Officials warning that this is a life and death storm. So, they're asking people, just hang out. Stay inside. And we're only halfway through this storm, Martin. So we have a whole another day to go.

SAVIDGE: And you have to leave it with that, didn't you? Because it is really, really something to look forward to here in New York City -- all of that yet to come.

You know, that's been part of the problem here -- Christie --

FRATES: It's coming your way.


SAVIDGE: -- is that we have seen the way that the storm has continued. I wouldn't say surprised but it definitely changed especially if you're in the New York City area, the governor of New York just saying that he's now had to declare a state of emergency -- something apparently he hadn't considered. It shows you how the storm is just intensifying, Christi.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Martin -- thank you so much.

And listen, it's also been intensifying in New Jersey. We've had some really intense pictures coming out of New Jersey particularly the Margate city area. We're going to talk about that with Governor Chris Christie who spoke with us just a short time ago. We'll tell what you he said about that.

And also get the very latest on what's happening in the D.C. area, again too.

But, I don't know if you've noticed this week, we've been sharing these stories about the people who have changed the lives of some of the anchors here at CNN. And a lot of people would say Sanjay Gupta is pretty much an inspiration for an awful lot of people. But he so graciously shared who inspired him.

Here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


KARIN MURASZKO, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, PROFESSOR, NEUROSURGERY: My job is going to be to take off all of this bone in here and even some of the bone back here.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: OK. So it isn't hard to see why this woman is high impact. I mean right now she's operating on the brain of this two-year-old boy. She's training a team of surgeons. And nearly 25 years after we first met, Dr. Karin Muraszko is still teaching me about the wonders of the brain.

MURASZKO: So our job is to kind of recapitulate which should have happened in nature.

GUPTA: And, yes, she's doing all of this from a wheelchair. I remember the first time I met her. We were walking down the hall and just talking. And she wore a brace on her leg. I didn't know how fast to walk. I didn't know if I should walk more slowly, but I didn't want to be disrespectful. So I was kind of lingering along. And I'll never forget at some point she looked at me and she said, "Why are you walking so slow? Let's go."

That set the tone for us right from the beginning.


GUPTA: You see, Karin isn't just the person who changed my life --


GUPTA: Yes, Ma'am.

She's changed thousands, most of them her patients.

MURASZKO: Everything's gone very well so far.


MURASZKO: OK. All right -- guys. Take care.

GUPTA: There is no doctor I have ever met that can truly understand the experience of her patients like Karin.

MURASZKO: This kid has two (inaudible) frame now.

GUPTA: Born with spina bifida, a malformation of her spinal cord, expectations were not high for Karin as a little girl, to put it gently.

[08:40:08] MURASZKO: My grandmother and my mother used to have these philosophical conversations about what would be good for me. And my grandmother would say to my mother, "Don't push her so much. You know, a handicapped girl, the most she's ever going to do is sell pencils on a corner or be able to maybe help out in the library." And my mom would say, "No, no, no. That's not true. You never know what kids can do."

GUPTA: But even her own mother couldn't have predicted how quickly Karin would excel on the conventional playground of men.

There's this great picture of you. I think at Columbia.

MURASZKO: It's Columbia, I graduated from medical school.

GUPTA: You're easy to pick out in that picture.


GUPTA: It's all men.

MURASZKO: All men in gray and blue suits. And what you can't tell in the photograph because it's black and white is that I'm in a red and white suit at the apex of the triangle, sitting in the front row.

GUPTA: How did they treat you?

MURASZKO: You know, I think that they treated me, at times, fairly. And some people were just great mentors. Some of my mentors were, I think, damn proud of the fact that they could take someone who didn't look like the mold of a neurosurgeon and make them into a neurosurgeon.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: I present you, Karin Muraszko, the 2015 Distinguished Service Award winner.

GUPTA: Karin didn't just break the mold. She shattered it. Today, Karin has been given one of the highest awards from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons not just for her work in the United States, but around the world.

MURASZKO: Thanks very much. Appreciate it.

OK. Excellent.

GUPTA: Like here in Guatemala, where she is volunteering her time to the neediest of patients.

MURASZKO: To be able to take a scalpel to another human being and leave them with a scar, you have to have an awful lot of faith in the fact that you are going to be able to do something good for them.

Things went really well.

But if you truly believe that and never constantly ask yourself, am I doing the right thing, you're in trouble.

GUPTA: Tell me about when you guys first met. It was a blind date?


GUPTA: First blind date that either one of you had been on?

MURASZKO: He never had a blind date before then.

GUPTA: Karin is also a wife to husband, Scott, and a mother to Paxton and Alexandria. Two amazing children they adopted from Russia.

As I sat with them, the question I kept asking myself, how does a person with such genuine humility, who shattered all those molds, who redefined the rules also become the first woman chair of Neurosurgery in the entire country?

MURASZKO: Oh, lord. I never aspired to be that. I'll be very honest. I was the last person standing. This is absolutely truth.

GUPTA: Come on.

MURASZKO: No, it's true. It's true. I -- OK.

GUPTA: Karin, the modesty is in the -- I mean --

MURASZKO: It's the truth. It's the honest truth.

JAMES WOODSCROFT, FORMER DEAN UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDICAL SCHOOL: It's not the truth. So she wasn't the last man standing. She was the first woman standing.

GUPTA: I like that. That's great.

Before I got to medical school I didn't really understand the value of mentorship, I think. And I think a lot of people who -- if you were to ask them how important is a mentor and they told you not that important, it probably means they never had a great mentor.

Karin always told me the things I needed to hear not just what I wanted to hear.

MURASZKO: My job is to be a little bit like your mom or your dad and remind you a little about also what you are which is a doctor who took an oath, who cares still deeply about his patients, who recognizes that not an insignificant part of who he is, is that physician, that surgeon.

GUPTA: What I heard Karin say throughout my residency was that I don't care who you are. The person who is working in the hospital, the patient, the colleague, whoever it may be, everyone matters equally and infinitely. And I don't think there's a more powerful message in terms of shaping who I am and shaping a lot of people that she's trained.

I love you.

This all was a great reminder about how necessary it is to take the time to tell people how much they changed your life.

MURASZKO: It took you 25 years to get here. Do you realize that? One of your hardest won interviews.

GUPTA: It probably is. You don't like to be interviewed.


GUPTA: Is this weird for you?

MURASZKO: Yes. Extremely weird.


PAUL: Tune in this Sunday for "THE PERSON WHO CHANGED MY LIFE". That is tomorrow night, 8:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.


SAVIDGE: I'm Martin Savidge in New York City, where like many cities on the Eastern Seaboard they are really getting the brunt of the storm. It seems that right now is kind of the critical hours. We have Washington's conditions that continue to deteriorate. The winds continue to increase -- it's pretty much a whiteout and a photobomb at the same time -- but a whiteout situation that you're looking at in New York City. And this is really the treacherous part not only for driving but even for people trying to walk around on foot.

It's not just New York City, of course. It's many, many areas of the East Coast. Brian Todd has been checking out things down in the Maryland section which is outside of Washington, D.C. And Brian, how are things?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Ok. Coming to me now.

SAVIDGE: Coming to you right now, as a matter of fact. Go ahead, Brian.

TODD: Oh, sorry. I apologize, Martin. I'm sorry, we're in the middle of a fluid situation here trying to get on an exit to 495. I apologize for. Let me go off the dash camera, first, you can see a stranded van here, he can't really move at all. This is a very typical scene, exits coming really anywhere on to the capital beltway right now. A lot of them are blocked off.

I can get out and go to our dash camera from outside the vehicle and maybe direct you to another stranded vehicle up ahead here. I'll pop out for a second.

What we're told, Martin is this morning there have been more than 120 some accidents just in the state of Virginia. This morning, there were more than a thousand accidents in Virginia, all day yesterday.

Maryland is dealing with jackknife tractor trailers all over the place, near the capital beltway. Any secondary roads are almost impassible at this hour. You can see why, we've got whiteout conditions here. The wind has picked up. This guy cannot get out.

Sometimes, emergency vehicles are coming to their aid and getting them out of the way so that they can actually clear these exits. I'm not sure that's going to be able to happen here because there's a lot of snow on this part of the exit over here and there's another stranded vehicle. I don't know if you can see it just ahead. But that is a very typical scene here.

A lot of accidents along the capitol beltway; we have an emergency patrol vehicle moving ahead of us here. I think he's going to try to assist that guy over there.

[08:50:04] So what we're trying to do here is kind of give you a sense of how the arteries are. And the arteries -- even the major arteries are almost impassable. The secondary arteries, forget it.

I was just on the phone with a state highway official. And this gentleman said to me any decision basically to get in a vehicle right now is a dangerous one even when you're among the first responders. Even if you've got a heavy vehicle that handles well in snow, just don't get out right now. It is really dangerous. We can see evidence of it almost everywhere we go -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: Brian Todd -- thanks very much. Be careful, to you and your crew.

The man running beside me, Doug Aldagus (ph). He's running to stay warm because actually he's dressed to run, not dressed to stand. What are you doing out here and why?

DOUG ALDAGUS, RUNNER: I'm doing a training program with Jackrabbit. We've got about ten folks that want to come out and have a good time today.

SAVIDGE: So you're actually going to go run in this kind of weather?

ALDAGUS: Yes, it's a lot of fun.

SAVIDGE: Do you worry about footing? I mean let's face it, it's not exactly stable.

ALDAGUS: You're right. We do worry a little about the elements. But we kind of adjust the workout for the day. So we'll take things slower. We'll avoid the hills and just use caution but you know, with the idea of just having a good time.

SAVIDGE: Let me ask you something, just you and me. Why didn't you wake up this morning, look out the window and say no way?

ALDAGUS: Because how often does this happen. This is like a magical moment -- the snow. Look at it, it's gorgeous. The city's calm, it's clean, it's quiet. When are you going to get this opportunity to have this kind of experience? You needed to get into it. Everybody does.

SAVIDGE: Doug Aldagus -- thank you for the (inaudible). Please be careful out there. Good luck to you and your fellow runners.

ALDAGUS: All right. All right.

SAVIDGE: A little slice -- a positive slice of life in otherwise what is a very difficult day.

We'll be back with more coverage, right after this.


PAUL: Edging toward the 9:00 hour here. And in New Jersey, not only are they dealing with this powerful blizzard, but within the last hour, we're seeing some flooding hitting parts of the Jersey Shore.

I want to show you what we have coming in here. Margate, New Jersey, just south of Atlantic City -- water flowing with chunks of ice. This is coming towards homes and businesses.

Moments ago, we did talk with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie about this ongoing situation and his abrupt trip home from the campaign trail.


[08:55:03] GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're ready. We have the National Guard on call for evacuations if necessary although we don't believe there will be evacuations necessary today along the coast.

And we have shelters in every county in New Jersey if people lose their power and need to stay warm and they can't shelter with friends or family which is obviously the first choice that they can shelter with us. We have shelters in every county in the state. We're ready to have local police help them if they need assistance in getting to the shelters; if they can't get to the shelters that's what they should do.

What I said in the beginning was that I had no plans to go home because it was too early to make a judgment. I said I'd continue to monitor the situation if necessary. And if I thought the circumstances warranted me going home, I would.

By 11:00 yesterday morning it was clear to me that this was going to be a significant snow even in the state. The storm, you know, often -- and I don't mean to pick on weathermen, but oftentimes, they don't get it exactly right and the storm veers off to where it was supposed to hit us.

By 11:00 yesterday morning I was convinced it was going to hit New Jersey. It was going to be a significant snow but then it was no choice at all. My first responsibility is to the people of my state as governor.


PAUL: All right. And we'll let you hear more of our conversation with the governor at 10:00 as well.

But I want to take you to some other areas that this storm is really having an impact in. Kentucky, first of all, thousands of drivers have been stuck on Interstate 75 -- some for more than 20 hours. We're talking about families with small children.

They didn't have food. They didn't have water. But authorities say the backup about 35 miles long -- these cars, for 35 miles. We do understand they are moving now, though.

And in Virginia, a state trooper was injured when his patrol car was rear ended while trying to help a stranded driver. Authorities say they have responded to nearly 1,000 accidents and another 800 disabled vehicles.

And this storm is hitting Tennessee, too -- Nashville facing the biggest snowstorm in 13 years with at least eight inches expected to fall there as you can see by the pictures that we're getting in.

Listen, we're going to take a break here. We're going to see you back at 10:00 Eastern for more winter storm coverage. Let you know what's happening around the world. But "SMERCONISH" is coming up for you after a short break.

Stay close.