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NYC Expected to Lift Travel Ban; Flooding Fears in New Jersey; Air Travel Paralyzed. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired January 24, 2016 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:02] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting. All right. So, again, a note allegedly, a bomb threat, a note on this plane that was sinister enough, as Peter said, to divert that plane. We'll keep you posted on that. Peter, thank you very much.

And we are continuing to cover the winter storm impact here with a team of reporters across the northeast. The travel ban in New York is just moments away from being lift.

The next hour of coverage starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news!

PAUL: Breaking right now: cars and buses may be back on the road in New York City. Road crews working overtime. How safe is it, though, really to get back out there right now?

And it's the same question in New Jersey. There are flooding fears right now. High tide just an hour away. Coastal city bracing for another wall of water.

And a sea of red. Thousands of flights across the country are cancelled. Millions of you know, I know, are wondering, am I going to get back in the air? We'll tell you what we've learned.

And despite all of that news, we want to wish you a very good morning on this sunday. Thank you for keeping me company. I'm Christi Paul.

Martin Savidge is live for us in New York City, in for Victor Blackwell.

City crews are clearing road and sidewalks there, but the decline is right now. Do you see anybody taking advantage of that at the moment yet?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Not yet. You know, part of this is, of course, the travel ban being lifted just seconds ago and so it means traffic can start moving again.

And also, remember, there were the tunnels and bridges that have been shut down, so it means that Manhattan, you know, had been sealed off almost essentially. There are a lot of people who live here and drive here so we should see them pretty shortly but the streets are cleared. It doesn't mean things are going to go back to normal. There's a lot of digging to be done. The sidewalks, in many cases, are very difficult to pass.

But the sun is coming up. The snow has gone away and that's going to change people's attitude. This is going to be a beautiful and a good day for people to get out and enjoy what is the aftermath of a very, very difficult storm.

Chad Myers is out and about. And he is the one that can tell us about what lies ahead weather-wise and I'm hoping, Chad, that it's nothing but blue skies for a while?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm seeing the blue skies as I look up Eighth Avenue. Things look good today, although the people that have to dig out of that mess there and all of the messes up and down the avenues and the streets have their work cut out for them.

Marty in front of me is a car. Now that is work. There is no reason to go to the gym when you have to get that car out of that snow bank right there.

And just ahead, one more block is one of the city's finest cruiser vans and it's not going to get out of here for a while. There you see a police car taking its lights. Over here to the right is one of the shuttle transports, completely socked in.

And that's what we are seeing up and down the streets and the avenues. The cars are snowed in. Obviously, you get 26 1/2 inches of snow, you get 30 inches of snow there at JFK and things are going to look pretty.

And, look, we even have the light on for you this morning. I did have to call the mayor to have the lights turned but it looks like Christmas because Christmas didn't look like Christmas in this town. In fact, there was still grass growing on some of the side streets during the Christmas holiday. Now it certainly plays the part, Marty.

SAVIDGE: That mild winter went away in a hurry and came back with a vengeance. Amazing to look at those --

MYERS: Can you believe how beautiful this is? Good stuff.

SAVIDGE: It is stunning to look at.

Although if that was my car, I would be going, wow, I don't know where I'm going to go for a while. Other vehicles I've seen where they are literally buried up to their windows. That is not just a bad dig. That's going to take a long time. This is part of what clogs the streets here. You can see why each they are lifting the travel ban, that they're asking people, look, if you don't have to go out, don't go out, because you could see that the streets are just not what they are normally are and they are much more narrower and with the foot traffic and vehicle traffic, still problematic.

Those scenes, as you drive, pretty remarkable. Just to notice that, you know, the plow crews did their job but plowed people in and they will not be happy about that when they see that.

All right. Chad Myers, thanks very much.

We will continue see the scenes as you drive around. The travel ban lifted for New York City. So, effectively more and more people should be seen out on the roads.

Jean Casarez is also monitoring the other transportation issues and there are a lot of them, whether it's the rail or, more importantly, people want to nope about the airports. The airports remind open, but effectively they were shut down because flight operations by many of the airlines stopped.

Jean, where do we stand now?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. As far as the airports, last count, almost 3,500 flights were cancelled for today.

[07:05:08] And if flights get going, they probably say midday at the earliest. And here we are in a very big tourist area, Times Square, I want to let you know -- oh, we are seeing a car. Travel ban has been lifted. And this is the first car I've seen since that ban was lifted.

If you look behind me also you're going to see people that are starting to shovel the sidewalks, because what people have been doing is that they have been walking in the streets because the plows have been preparing the roads so that when this ban is lifted, the cars can travel, but the sidewalks really remain impacted with snow.

I think you can see we can be over here and you see people walking. This is a sidewalk they are walking on. But as you can see, it's not plowed, it's not snowed. So, they are having to be really careful. Be careful!


CASAREZ: All right. They are saying they are working as hard as they can. You can see they have to just do one area at a time but here is what we are understanding.

There's a lot of snow. Enough snow that, unofficially, the National Weather Service is saying 26.8 inches of snow fell over the last 24 hours, putting it number two in the record books, breaking a record from 1869. That is unofficial at this point but it's probably pretty close. Looking at the amount of snowfall that is taking place in Central Park right about now, Marty.

And, subways, trains, railroads, they are assessing it all and the above the ground railroads to see if they are usable at this point. But tunnels should be opening up because the tunnels and bridges have been closed around New York City -- Marty.

SAVIDGE: The other thing, in fact, we just had that potential danger here, falling ice. A lot of buildings have ice on them. Of course, when you're dealing with the high-rise structures like you got many up here in New York City, that's a problem. They are saying watch out for falling ice. And this stuff is big and heavy.

CASAREZ: That's one thing. Look above you and beneath you, Marty, because it's slick out here. It's different from what it was yesterday. It was powdery snow yesterday. Today, it's slick. You see something that looks wet, well, be careful because the ice is going to be underneath it and people on foot and also for people that are going to driving in cars.

SAVIDGE: Chad Myers is still with us. At least I can see his pictures on the right-hand side of the screen.

Chad, I'm wondering, what are the roads like? I mean, is the traction easy? You can get around, obviously you are.

MYERS: Martin, I just stopped here so I could show you exactly what Jean was referencing. If you're going to the Jersey boys today, you may want to call ahead.

But let me pull ahead. We are going to take you to what the shine looks like on the roadway. We had the snow last night, we had traction.

The shine, especially on the left side of our screen, that's what the scraper got all the way down to and that shine is the slick part. That is the icy part under where -- the first two inches of snow got packed down into a layer of ice.

Then it was nice. It was perfect. We had 14 or so inches of snow on top for traction.

Sure, it was to plow through. You had to use your bumper a little bit to get through. Now they have scraped all the way back to the shine again and that is where people are falling on.

Something else to look out for if you're driving around is pets off leashes. I think people still think this is a pedestrian walkway like it was yesterday, where the pets literally were off leash. Now they are off leash and running in front of cars.

So, please, I've said this a couple times yesterday about the cold. Protect your pets. Now is the day to please leash your pets. It's not a pedestrian walkway anymore. The cars are back out here.

And a lot of the cars are doing 30. And I would recommend somewhere around 7 for miles per hour. It is still very, very slow. You're going to get into a couple of slide. You can't goose the car at all or the car will come around.

You see those slick spots? You don't want those shiny spots. Those are the spots you do not want to drive on. The snow has been scraped right smack down to the ice -- Martin.

MYERS: Right. Down in the glare ice. And part of the problem is, you know, again with tall buildings is the sun may not get to those areas for quite sometime, if at all, which means that is going to remain like a black ice situation so you have to be very careful. Then, the other thing when you got a city this large and you get that

much snow, you either wait for it to melt or you're going to have to haul some of this stuff away, because you cannot -- there's only so much room to push it aside and one of the things I've noticed as you've been driving.

Now, this street looks wide open and in very good shape. But I know in a number of other streets, as I was walking in, very, very difficult to get around and the weirdest thing, I have never seen New York as quiet as I saw it this morning on the way in. Not a sound.

[07:10:01] Not a siren, nothing, because of this travel ban. It created a very eerie situation. So, people are starting to come back, I see there, Chad.

MYERS: Yes, we are moving here, we're moving down toward Time Square now, so you can see the lights are.

And, Martin, after about 4:00 last night, when the sky started to get dim, it wasn't sunset yet, you couldn't tell if it was daylight or night. The lights of New York City were as bright as the sky was, because so much snow was coming down, the visibility to the sky was about two blocks, tops. You couldn't even see some of the street lights two or three blocks away.

Here you see more activity. People are still shoveling. It is amazing how many people still have some kind of mechanical equipment to get rid of the snow. But last night at midnight coming home, there must have been thousands of men and women out there just strictly with snow shovels digging this town out and something you don't experience if you're in Des Moines, Iowa, is that here, the snow will clog the sewer drains.

You're no going to get any type of drainage for about another week. As soon as you step off the curb, you step into a glop of slop! You don't know how deep it is and sometimes it could be 10 or 15 inches deep, goes over your boots and, all of a sudden, as a kid, we used to call that a hot foot. I'm not sure, because it wasn't hot. It was a cold jolt to your shoe as you step into the stuff that won't drain because the drains on the side where they should be are so full of snow that anything that melts just sits there as a cold puddle.

SAVIDGE: It should be pointed out that it is the law in the city of New York. You do have to shovel your sidewalk in front of your home and your stoop in front of where you live. So, if people are wondering, they are industrious, part of it, is also, it's the law and you can run into trouble if you don't get it cleared in a certain amount of time.

All right. Chad Myers, thanks a lot. Really amazing to know as this travel ban is lifted that getting around is still a challenge, whether on foot or whether you're using wheels.

Thanks very much.

And, Christi, we'll send it back to you. PAUL: All righty. Hey, thank you, Martin.

And we should make note that we are going to hear from New York mayor -- or actually Governor Cuomo about 9:45 this morning with an update what needs to be done in New York and where they go from there.

We are also watching New Jersey. Coastal flooding there may be getting worse. Water is waist-high in some places. And we are going to take you live to the jersey shore next because we are just about 45 minutes from high tide rolling in. And a lot of people are wondering what it's going to bring with it today.


[07:15:32] SAVIDGE: The storm has pushed on, but there are still lingering after-effects and they include the possibility of more coastal flooding. Today, we are about 45 minutes away from the morning high tide. Of course, that is the period of concern.

Let's check in again with Boris Sanchez as he monitors things there on the New Jersey coast.

BORIS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Martin, as you said, we are about 45 minutes away from high tide. And already, as you can see behind me, the bay, deja vu, creeping into this neighborhood near the coastline here. There's really nowhere for the water to go and it will continue to rising as we get closer to high tide.

And the wind has been on and off this morning. Not nearly as strong as yesterday and no precipitation today but the water has got nowhere to go so it's going to keep going into this neighborhood. It's not expected to be as extensive as it was yesterday when we saw up to a foot, if not more, in some spots of water.

But, again, the real shift here is going to be, as we get closer to noon, the winds are expected to shift. A lot of these flood watches are set to expire and then we'll get a real look at the extent of the damage of this flooding. Fortunately, so far, at least on this street, it has not been too bad.

We spoke to a man who works at a bar here. He told us about three inches inside his bar and he was able to mop it out. So, again, the damage not extensive but you can see behind me it's still not over and we may see flooding as we get to high tide -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: Why is it happening again? This storm is a thousand miles off the coast. Why are we worried about this or what is triggering it again?

SANCHEZ: This is just an area that is prone to flooding. Part of it has to do with the fact that we are in a bay, at an inlet. As the storm surge pushed all of these waves toward the coast and it came in here, like I said there is nowhere for the water to go. So, it continues to rise and rise and rise.

Unfortunately, for a lot of these neighbors, they have gotten used to this kind of flooding. It's not nearly as bad as it's been before with a storm like Superstorm Sandy, but it is kind after nuisance, one that they hope will be resolved by this afternoon.

SAVIDGE: All right. Boris, thanks very much. We will continue to monitor the circumstance there. It doesn't help that there is a full moon as well so that also increases the strength of the high tide.

So, we are going to Chris Glancey now. He is with the -- thank you. President of the Sea Island Chamber of Commerce, getting feed in my ears at the same time I'm talking.

Chris, of course, we have heard. We are concerned for you. And I'm wondering, first of all, where do you rate this as far as -- it's no Sandy, of course, but it's still a problem for many people.

CHRIS GLANCEY, SEA ISLE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (via telephone): Yes. Hi, Martin. How are you?

SAVIDGE: Good. Thank you.

GLANCEY: Yesterday morning's high tide was devastating high flood for everybody along the island. I mean, it was very close to a Sandy-like event as far as the flooding was concerned. Hopefully, this morning, it looks like this morning's high tide won't be anywhere as bad as yesterday's. Once this high tide clears out in a couple of hours, we'll be able to ascertain the damage and start the cleanup process for all of the businesses and the homes down here on the island.

SAVIDGE: And from your assessment, at least from what you've seen so far, how significant and how bad is the damage?

GLANCEY: It was pretty significant as far as flooding. I know on the main street in the front of our town, we had two or three feet of water flowing down the main street, which is -- most of the business district so a lot of businesses had water into their businesses. And it's something -- you know, we live at the beach and we're kind of used to having water in our businesses. So we are going to clean them up and we will be open again and we will be ready to go for the summertime and ready to go -- we have a big polar bear plunge in three weeks.

So, we will be here and clean it up and been through this before as a community. In Sandy, where we all came together and got together and repaired everything. We will come together again and make sure we repair everything and make sure everybody gets back on their feet.

SAVIDGE: Of course, the fact of life when you live near the water's edge. There were warnings. I get that. But it seems it might have been a little more than a lot of people thought was going to happen.

[07:20:06] GLANCEY: Yesterday morning's high tide, I think, took people by surprise because of the speed at which the floodwaters came in.

SAVIDGE: Yes, it was fast. GLANCEY: At 7:00 a.m. yesterday morning, no water in the street and

7:45 it was three feet deep. It just came flowing in almost like a river down the main street. And I think that really caught people by surprise was the speed in which it comes in. I remember the same thing happened during Sandy. I was standing there at 7:00 a.m. and everything was dry and a half hour later, I was knee-deep in water and thinking I was on a sinking ship.

But it's -- I think that took people by surprise was the speed at which it came in. I don't think anyone was expecting that yesterday morning.

SAVIDGE: Yes, I'm looking at the imagery. Still really impressive to see how this water just pushed its way on shore and, you're right, it happened so very quickly. It's frightening.

GLANCEY: That picture is the front of my house. That is my business that you're looking at right now.

SAVIDGE: Well, I hope your home come through as well, as does everyone else and their homes and businesses. We'll continue to monitor the situation. Chris Glancey, thank you very much for talking with us this morning.

Christi, I'll send it back you.

PAUL: All righty. Hey, Martin, thank you so much.

And, listen, we need to get an update on the airports. I know a lot of you are sitting in an airport right now or you're sitting in a home that is not yours and you just want to get back to your house. We are going to take you live to Philly and show you what is happening at the airports there and get you some of the new information that we are getting about airports across the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic States to get you home.


PAUL: Snow is pretty to look at but it's not pretty to travel through. Airports in the Northeast trying to get back to normal.

Chris Frates is live for us in Washington. I know the deicing is underway there at Washington airports this hour. Did I hear you say Dulles and Reagan are planning to be closed all day?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is exactly right, Christi. I just want to point out how beautiful it is here. You got the capitol behind me. Dawn is starting to break here as snowzilla.

And while it's beautiful, like say, it's going to be tough sledding today getting around the area.

[07:25:02] Both DCA and Dulles International Airport are likely closed all day. They need to get the snow off the runways and they are saying that they probably need all day to do that.

We had some record breakers around here. BWI saw 29 inches. That is a new record for BWI. They do have flights coming out of BWI.

But here is the problem: 8,500 flights had been cancelled on Saturday and Sunday. So, you had this huge backlog of flights.

Now, that is the airlines. The roads are still very dicey out here. D.C., in particular, trying to get it cleaned up. They are 200 plow trucks there, 150 dump trucks, 50 loaders moving 39,000 tons of salt to get things cleaned up here.

And then you also had, we say, what about public transportation? That's a no-go as well, Christi. The metro shut down again all day today.

So, you won't be able to get a train. The cars are pretty tough. There is not an airport to go to at this point any way.

So, what we saw snow total wise was about 17 1/2 inches at National. That was a little less than the 24 inches that was forecasted here. At our live spot in downtown Washington, I'll show you our make-shift. Thirteen inches here on our make-shift yardstick that came courtesy of our crack meteorologist Jennifer Gray.

So, lots of fun to be had out there. So, bring your sleds out, bring your cross-country skis. Lots of fun to be had. But if you're travelling today and you need to get to an airport, you are probably still hunkered down.

Lots of folks I talked to yesterday and today stuck in hotels across the city. And BWI looks like the our gateway out and that is they get their flights going again. So, they'll be another backlog as well. It could be another day or so before things really start to get back on track here, Christi.

PAUL: My goodness. Yes, we were hearing some of the earliest rebooking is happening on Tuesday, Chris.

So, thank you very much for letting us see what is happening there. We want to get you to Philly airport now.

A reporter for CNN, an affiliate for KYW is there, Justin Finch.

Justin, I was looking at the website for Philly's airport. They do have a travel advisory, saying they expect to resume operation gradually today. What are you -- are you seeing any gradual movement there?

JUSTIN FINCH, REPORTER, KYW-TV: Christi, good morning. I think "gradual" is the ideal word here. Here is what is happening outside of the airport.

Very few cars outside, very few people, mostly workers. A few people who are somewhat stranded showing up this morning.

We talk into terminal, terminal D here, and show you what we were seeing. Normally inside, you would see lots of people going to kiosk, trying to check in. That is not the case this morning. As you mentioned, the airport is gradually trying to get itself righted in terms of getting flights out of Philadelphia around the country, around the world essentially here.

As you can see, no one is here. Can also tell you there was a ground stop yesterday, Saturday, some 20 inches of snow fell here in the Philadelphia area airport and that hundreds of crews were out deicing and clearing roadways and runways in hopes of getting Sunday sort of a soft start to getting Monday off to a good start for flights leaving.

Looking at the flight ports here, virtually every flight we see on the board here is cancelled. This is a particular bad news. One family we met sitting under boards, (INAUDIBLE) New Jersey. They are bound for Orlando, or at least they thought. That is until they got here and realized their flight will likely be delayed, if not cancelled.

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Supposed to go to Orlando to get a cruise ship to the Bahamas. But guess what? Looks like the cruise ship may go without us.


FINCH: What unfortunate news for this mother. Her daughter's birthday is coming up. This was supposed to be a gift for her to have fun in the sun in the Bahamas. She is very much delayed and possibly looking at not going on her trip at all.

They tell us your best bet, if you're flying out, is to check directly with your carrier and do not fool with the websites or trust what you see online. Call your carrier and organize it with them and then come to the airport. As you can see here that is what many people have done.

Christi, back over to you.

PAUL: All righty, Justin.

So, 20 inches of snow there in Philly and 3,500 total cancelled flights as far as we can tell so far in the Northeast. You found one person or one family there. Is that the only family that you could find today? Because it does look like a ghost town where you are.

FINCH: I know. It's -- we call the tumble -- rather, the terminals here like tumbleweed territories. Not many people at all. The others you see here actually working here.