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American Morning: Wake Up Call

At Least 20 Deaths Linked to Irene; Lockerbie Bomber Located; Hundreds Visit New MLK Memorial; Yemen's Pres. Saleh Returning

Aired August 29, 2011 - 05:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. It is Monday, August 29th. This is your A.M. WAKE-UP CALL.

I'm Carol Costello, joining you live from New York. Everybody survived. Yes, they did.

But we have to talk about the storm. The storm formerly known as Hurricane Irene is now blowing over Canada. It's little more than a post-tropical cyclone right now, but it has bruised the eastern United States with a long trailed property damage, flooding, and power outages.

Right now, at least 20 deaths have been linked to the storm. More than 4 million customers still don't have electricity. Businesses have a lot of cleaning up to do.

And the story is not over. The governor of Virginia expects more reports of damage and death today. A state police official in flooded out Vermont is afraid of what his crews might discover. The flooding is really bad in Vermont this morning.

Now that the storm has moved out, business owners in New Jersey have serious cleaning up to do. Irene's rain forced a river out of its banks and into downtown Millburn. Business owners have been mopping up the floors and their basements. Basements are full of water.

CNN's Chris Knowles is in Millburn this morning. What's it look like, Chris?

CHRIS KNOWLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. You know, things look a lot better here on the streets of Millburn. But they don't sound quite right.

The alarm you're hearing is not alarm clock this morning, but rather the alarm system at a restaurant across the street where their basement yesterday was completely overtaken by a tributary or branch of the river.

Where we are standing right now in Millburn, it's interesting, the river actually runs underneath these businesses, or at least a branch of it does, and then out to a nearby park and on down. And that river just blew up its banks yesterday as this area was hit by nearly 10 inches of rain in a very short amount of time.

Now, this comes on a record-breaking month of rain here and all across the tri-state area. Most areas in New York City and over into New Jersey received about 20 inches of rain in August. So, this ground was already super saturated. The rain having nowhere to go. And, of course, this area was on that north and western side of the center of circulation of Irene which, is the rain side of things.

There are nearly 4,000 folks here without power, 40,000 of them without any drinking water. Those that do have drinking water, they're not going to be able to drink it.

Now, some of the restaurants were open last night and are expected to be open this morning, serving bottled water at best -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, I guess it could have been worse. So, we'll just center on that thought for this morning since it is Monday. And we did dodge a major bullet. Thank you, Chris, we'll get back to you later.

Now, let's go to Rob Marciano. He's here with me in New York. He actually rode out Irene. You saw it firsthand.

And you know what a lot of people are wonder, frankly -- I mean, Mayor Bloomberg here in New York and also Governor Chris Christie, they put the fear of God into people. People were really afraid. They got out of dodge. And then once the storm made its way up the north coast, it sort of petered out and then people were left wondering why did that happen? Were we given wrong information?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, I think for one thing, the public officials have underestimated storms of late. They wanted to be prepared if not over-prepared. And they all said, you know, let's prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

And the other thing is that people, you know, of society, psychologically, they're afraid of the unknown. And nobody here across the Northeast -- not nobody, but it's been over two decade since any hurricane has made landfall across Long Island or New York or the Northeast. So, that in and of itself is fearful.

That said, the storm itself probably came in about a category below what the official forecast was. But the track was right on. It came special the Carolinas as a category 1. We thought we'd get as a two, possibly a three.

And that's one thing we struggle with as far as hurricane forecasting goes. We know we're really good at the track, especially two and three days out. The track was absolutely spot on. But intensity is always a struggle.

And when you have something scraping up the coastline interacting with land, it can be a tough call. But all along, and some of the video that you saw there and these numbers certainly represent it, we said that Irene was going to be known for inland flooding. With all the moisture with it and with all the rain that the Northeast has seen the past couple of weeks, that was going -- that was going to be really what it's known for. And that's what we're seeing this morning.

Those are some of the rainfall totals observed anywhere from five to over nine inches. These are the radar estimates which indicate basically we can tell where we don't have official recording stations. This tells us that five to 10 inches in many spots and then probably some isolated numbers across the Northeast.

Vermont, obviously, is one of the most hard-hit areas there. We're going to get reports from Gary Tuchman. Some of the towns there just completely wiped out from this, and more flooding on the day today. A lot of rivers will crest today, tomorrow, or Wednesday -- so the threat for that is not over.

And, of course, the struggle for those who are stranded because the airports are closed and reopening this morning. That's going to be certainly a pain to say the least today and tomorrow -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I'm sure it will be a -- really a lot of fun. It's a good chance to meet new friends.

MARCIANO: There you go.

COSTELLO: Rob, thanks so much.

Rob mentioned Vermont. Well, Irene has left Vermont in terrible shape this morning.




COSTELLO: You can see why Vermont is in trouble. The state did not order any early evacuations. So, many people were caught off- guard from all the rain from Irene, up to six inches across the state.

The rivers and creek could not handle all the water. Many small towns are submerged. And a state police official says he's afraid his crews might find some, quote, "bad things today."

One woman was swept away in a river. She is feared dead.

Nearly two dozen people, including two pregnant women and 10 children, are trapped in New York's Catskill Mountains. Ironically, they've gone upstate from Brooklyn to escape Irene. The governor expects them to be rescued today.

Irene's force knocked out bridges and knocked out power and left them no way to get down the mountain. One of those people called in to CNN.


IRENE NOVECK, HURRICANE IRENE VICTIM (via telephone): The sheriff's department just called in about a few minutes before I spoke to you. And they said we're trying to do the best we can to get to you. There's other people in the way, and the bridges are collapsing. They can't get to us because it's so far away from us, since everything got damaged and the river's still pressing a lot of water from the mountains.


COSTELLO: County officials say the volume of water coming off the Catskill mountaintops is more than the flow of Niagara Falls, 87 people were rescued in the town of Prattsville just yesterday.

Covering hurricanes can be risky business for reporters. Watch Irene attack a correspondent from New York's WCBS TV.


REPORTER: Let's get out of here! Let's get out of here! Grab the mic.


COSTELLO: I'd hate to see what she would do in a category 2 storm. Ouch, though, not sure if the microphone survived the dunking in New Jersey.

The reporter -- she's just fine. Don't worry about her. Did you catch the Video Music Awards on MTV? They were full of surprises including Lady Gaga who was not quite herself. Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lady Gaga. She left me!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right already.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice moves, future MCA (ph)!



COSTELLO: Thought you need a little break from all the weather coverage. That was pretty fun, wasn't it?

Imagine this -- you're on an island when a hurricane hits. Roads are smashed, the power's out. You're completely trapped. We've got the story you have to hear in 90 seconds.

It's eight minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: Ten minutes past the hour. Good morning.

As Irene slammed into the East Coast, many of you are sending your pictures and your videos to us. Well, here are some of the powerful images starting with a cute little reporter in training.


JANE HAUBRICH, IREPORTER: Jane Haubrich reporting from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. I want to show you some of the damages that we have sustained right in our back yard. Take a look at this tree. The trunk ripped off that tree because of all the wind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. The fire station got flooded. Look at that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see this is normally a road, but it has turned into a huge lake. It's about a few block long, and about three to four feet deep. Way too deep for your car.


COSTELLO: Good job to those folks.

Imagine getting hit so hard by a hurricane, you're completely trapped. Roads are closed, power lines are down. The only way out from where you are is a helicopter.

Our Brian Todd took the flight from Kingston, North Carolina. Here's what he saw.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, we got exclusive access to Hatteras Island, North Carolina. The only way in is by chopper at this point. And we got there by embedding with the North Carolina National Guard. We took two OH-58 reconnaissance and observation helicopters in.

The place is cut off because a key highway, Highway 12, which connects Hatteras with the northern outer banks barrier islands which connects them to the mainland through bridges, that highway 12 completely over-washed by storm surge from hurricane Irene. It's not just over-washed; it looks like an earthquake hit it. The road is chopped up. It's just -- you know, parts of it caved in. There are downed power lines in the key section. And the ocean is now overrunning it.

So, that section of Highway 12 may not be back up and running for quite some time. And now, some 2,500 people there are stranded because that was their only way out, by road. The boats were not going in and out during the hurricane. They may not be going in and out until Monday -- maybe at the earliest with a ferry service. That's going to be slow going. Goods and services slow arriving by ferry.

Twenty-five hundred people stranded because they ignored the mandatory evacuation orders from Governor Perdue. But they will be getting goods and services via ferry, at least temporarily -- Carol.


COSTELLO: Brian Todd reporting.

Millions of people along the East Coast are dealing with the aftermath of this storm. They're in full disaster recovery mode. So, you might be surprised to hear what one presidential hopeful is saying about FEMA. I'll tell you about it next.

And before you go, I've got to tell you it's 13 past the hour. And today is the National Day of More Herbs, Less Salt. Yes, happy More Herbs, Less Salt Day. Who comes up with these things?

We'll be back.


COSTELLO: Good morning to you.

Word from the White House: do not take Irene lightly even today.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding which could get worse in the coming days as rivers swell past their banks. So I want people to understand that this is not over.


COSTELLO: You saw there at the president's side, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the FEMA Director Craig Fugate.

And one presidential candidate has some less than flattering words about FEMA.

And that brings us to our Political Ticker with Tim Farley, host of "Morning Briefing" on Sirius POTUS. He's live from Washington.

And, Tim, this comes from Ron Paul, the libertarian. He's not a fan of FEMA. In fact, he says we should get rid of it.

TIM FARLEY, SIRIUS XM POTUS: Yes. Ron Paul has got a history of -- and anyone who's familiar with his record understands that he wants a smaller federal government, to your point, Carol, libertarian. And he's made the point over and over and over again that there should be no federal agency that oversees a lot of what is taking place here.

There are some questions, by the way, about FEMA's funding. And Ed O'Keefe has been writing about it in "The Washington Post," given the fact that we've had so many disasters to deal with. Congress is going to have to come back and come up with a funding mechanism for it.

But Ron Paul never a lover of anything on the federal level that he thinks usurps the authority of what takes place on a state level.

COSTELLO: The thing is, the Republican Governor Chris Christie even praised FEMA saying they were right there when New Jersey needed FEMA.

I'm not sure many people are aware of FEMA's exact role. But FEMA goes in -- because let's say your state is undergoing this major disaster, you're busy with other things. FEMA comes in, fills in the blanks, helps you set up organizational structures, figures out whether you need financial assistance from the federal government. Those are the things that FEMA does.

So I'm just wondering, Ron Paul want to do away with those things. He thinks those things are unnecessary?

FARLEY: Well, not to argue policy or anything for Ron Paul, but Ron Paul believes a lot of things in the federal government don't belong there. And whether that argument rings soundly with the voters is one that remains to be seen. Of course, there are a lot more issues that are out there on the campaign trail. And given the somewhat minimal, relatively minimal effect of this storm compared to Katrina which, by the way, was six years ago today, I think that probably the argument over FEMA's place in the federal government will -- sort of go back and recede compared to things like the economy and issues like that in the next presidential race.

COSTELLO: Oh, you're a wise man, Tim Farley. Let's talk about Michele Bachmann. What she said -- I have to admit, it made me laugh.

This is what she said in Florida. This is presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Listen.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Washington, D.C., you'd think by now they'd get the message. An earthquake. A hurricane.


BACHMANN: Are you listening?

The American people have done everything they possibly can. Now it's time for an act of God, and we're getting it!


COSTELLO: I know she was joking, but she's even using acts of God to push forward her presidential campaign.

FARLEY: Well, you know, I guess when you're talking to your supporters and they're laughing and you're joking, it comes across that way. I think, frankly, Carol, this is the kind of message that you se it in print doesn't have nearly the effect it does when you see it delivered with a smile in front of us, a laughing audience. So, whether or not this is used against her I'm not sure. I just thought it was actually a moment of humor that maybe -- certainly her fans like and those who don't like Michele Bachmann will try to figure out a way to use again her.

COSTELLO: I know. I thought it was funny, too.

Tim Farley, thanks, as always. Tim Farley, host of "Morning Briefing" on Sirius POTUS.

CNN crews in Tripoli tracked down the Lockerbie bomber. He's frail, he's in bed and he may be one of the last people alive who knows who ordered the bombing of Pan Am flight 103.

Before we go, I want to bring in today's quote. This is the quote today. Quote, "Mr. Cheney has had a long and distinguished career, and I hope in his book that's what he will focus on, not these cheap shots," end quote. We'll tell you who said that in two minutes.

It's 19 minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: It is 22 minutes past the hour. This is your A.M. WAKE-UP CALL.

Now, back to our quote of the morning. That quote was from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, accusing former Vice President Dick Cheney of taking cheap shots. Here's what he had to say on "Face the Nation."


COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Mr. Cheney has had a long and distinguished career, and I hope in his book that's what he will focus on -- not these cheap shots that he's taking at me and other members of the administration who served to the best of our ability for President Bush.


COSTELLO: Cheney undermined -- Cheney accused Colin Powell, rather, of undermining President Bush's presidency. That's what Mr. Powell is angry about.

Cheney's been promoting his new biography saying it's full of information that will make readers' heads explode. Powell says that's the kind of headline you might get from a supermarket tabloid.

The Lockerbie bomber. The man convicted for masterminding the 1988 bombing that killed 270 people, has been tracked down in Tripoli by CNN's Nic Robertson.

This may be the Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi you remember arriving to a hero's welcome in Libya after being released from a Scottish jail on compassionate grounds. He was supposed to die within days, but that was two years ago.

Here's what senior international correspondent Nic Robertson found in a CNN exclusive.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure if they've heard. Let's try the last-ditch means which is just shout over the wall.

Hello? Hello, hello?

(voice-over): Then, all of a sudden, someone comes. Nothing prepares me for what I see. Megrahi apparently in a coma, his aging mother at his side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just give him oxygen and nobody give us the advice and some food by injection.

If you see, his body is weak.

ROBERTSON: He'd been expected to die almost two years ago. But convicted Pan Am 103 bomber Abdel Baset al Megrahi lives -- only just.


COSTELLO: Amazing stuff from Nic Robertson.

Let's bring our Zain Verjee. She's live in London.

So, the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, he wants this guy to be extradited to the United States. But Libya is saying no. What do you suppose will happen?


The British and the U.S. want Abdel Baset al-Megrahi back -- extradited. But the Libyans are saying no way, they're going to keep him in Libya. The majority of people around the world, this is a man that has been convicted for an awful terrorist act. He has always maintained his innocence.

And one of the things that people are discussing this morning, Carol, is whether the secrets of Lockerbie and what he does know will die with him. How much information will we get about what really happened back in 1988 when 270 people died, most of them Americans.

It's also interesting when you look at this video and you listen to Nic's reporting, Carol, too, because what we're learning, too, is that his house was apparently looted, as well, a lot of drugs and medication that al Megrahi has been using taken away. The phone lines have been cut. There's no doctor around.

All he really does have is what we saw in the picture there, just an oxygen mask and a tank, Carol.

COSTELLO: Fascinating stuff. I can't believe Nic Robertson had the courage to climb over that wall. I'm not sure I would have.

VERJEE: I know. Pretty amazing that they got that shot and found him like that, you know. And like you said, that everybody expected that he would only have a couple of months or three months to live. And it's been two years.

COSTELLO: I know, but it looks bad now.

Zain Verjee, live in London -- thanks so much.

Irene, as you know, caused flight cancelations and power outages, trees were down everywhere. So we know what a lot of you are wondering this morning. How the heck am I going to get around today? We've got the latest for you.

It's 26 minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: Good morning to you. It is Monday, August 29th. This is you're A.M. WAKE-UP CALL.

I'm Carol Costello, joining you live this morning from New York City. It is just about 30 minutes past the hour.

Let's talk about Irene. The storm formerly known as Hurricane Irene is now blowing out over Canada. It's little more than a post tropical cyclone now, but it has bruised the eastern United States with a trail of deaths, damage, flooding, and power outages from North Carolina all the way to Vermont. Right now, we know of at least 20 deaths that are linked to the storm. More than four million customers still don't have electricity.

Flooding has trapped several families in New York's Catskill Mountains, and Vermont is seeing some of its worst flooding in generations. Some business owners in New Jersey will spend today cleaning up and adding up the damage. So, let's go there now with Chris Knowles. He's in Millburn, New Jersey. The streets downtown looked more like rivers yesterday. Are things better now, Chris?

CHRIS KNOWLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are looking better. We've already had these street sweepers out this morning. The bread trucks are delivering bread, but maybe to restaurants that aren't going to be open in a while. You see, this avenue sits on top of a branch of the Rahway River that spilled its banks yesterday, overtaking the streets, silt, debris, all sorts of things left behind, filling basements of the Italian restaurant up the street.

That's the alarm that you hear in the background. The restaurant just behind me just bought thousands of dollars of new appliances for their basement kitchen that had several feet of water in it. There are nearly 4,000 people still without power this morning here in the township, and perhaps, more than 40,000 without water. And it's going to be that for several days, be like that for several days. We're told there is really no date that it's going to be scheduled to be turned back on.

It's a matter of just pumping out the water in many areas inland now of where the storm hit. We're on the rain side of Irene, the first hurricane to hit New Jersey since 1903. These tributaries and branches of the rivers here are set up to handle these urbanized areas of New Jersey just on the other side of the river from New York City. They didn't handle it this time, but this, again, is one of those generational storms -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Chris Knowles reporting live from Millburn, New Jersey. Thanks so much.

I know Irene messed up a lot of your travel plans today. So, what can you expect? Well, major travel delays. Many flights still canceled. Mass transit still down in most places that were hit hard. New York will start running some subways in 30 minutes. New Jersey will have a modified service with most trains still out. Also expect road closures and delays, you know, it just won't be pretty out there. I would call ahead for your airline, too, because most flights aren't resuming until a little later this morning.

250,000 people were supposed to see the dedication of the brand new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in D.C. yesterday 48 years after the march on Washington and King's famous "I have a dream" speech. Irene changed those plans. Still, hundreds and hundreds of people came out anyway. The dedication, the official dedication, I should say will now happen some time in September or October. The memorial's price tag, $120 million.

We've seen how much damage Irene has already done, but what about the cash? We have the price tag on the storm. Pretty intense. It's 33 minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: Going to be a long week for some business owners in New Jersey. Flooding from Irene left widespread damage to places like Bagel Chateau. Hard to crank out Bagels when there's muck on your floor and several feet of water in your basement. CNN's Poppy Harlow talked with the owner.


POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: We know Irene may not have hit land as hard as expected up here in New York and New Jersey, but businesses here in Millburn, New Jersey, boy, are they feeling it. Floodwaters just pouring in here, Bob. This is his business, Bagel Chateau. How hard did you get hit? What are you doing to clean up?

BOB GAMBA, MANAGER, BAGEL CHATEAU: Wow. We got hit real hard. I got ten feet of water in the basement. I need to get that pumped out. Probably at least three, four inches of mud between -- with the water and -- it was just devastating all the way around.

HARLOW: I think the only silver lining in this as we head into the kitchen is the fact that this storm was not as severe as Hurricane Floyd back in 1999 that just whacked this town. Hurricane Floyd brought 16 feet of water into this business. You had to recover from that. What's it like doing it all over again?

GAMBA: It's like a nightmare. You know, I was hoping last night that it was -- you know, that the media was blowing everything out of proportion, but, obviously, they weren't. I tried to get here by a quarter to 5:00 in the morning, and the roads were justice flooded. And, I wound up going home not knowing what the business looked like or anything like that until I could finally get here, you know, in the afternoon.

HARLOW: All right. Well, Bob, obviously, we wish you well getting everything back in order.

GAMBA: Thank you.

HARLOW: In an economy like this, you cannot afford to be out of business very long. Every single business on this main street in Millburn, New Jersey, I have seen some element of flooding, and they've got a lot to take care of here in the aftermath of Irene. Back to you.


COSTELLO: Thank you, Poppy Harlow.

For morning money news, let's head to Christine Romans now. Christine, may I share my flashlight story before we begin?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Please. Let me guess, you got a free one?

COSTELLO: No, I wish. There wasn't a flashlight to be found in all of New York City. I went from store to store. Finally, I found one. It was a cheap, plastic flashlight. Guess what the price was?

ROMANS: Tell me, tell me.


ROMANS: I'm not surprised.

COSTELLO: I said, "$39? I'll sit in the dark."

ROMANS: I know.

COSTELLO: It was crazy.

ROMANS: I saw some bottled water that was really unbelievable. $11 for six little quarts of water. I -- yes. It was crazy. And, you know, that's where -- that's where you get so irritated before a storm, but being prepared -- the people who are prepared are the ones definitely who saved a few bucks. The same is true, Carol, for the people who are prepared on the other end, because we're going to have huge costs of this storm, at least a billion dollars just in wind damage alone.

So, I can tell you the storm will have insured and uninsured losses into the billions and billions. When you put in storm damage and you put in water damage and flooding, you're going to have a multi-billion dollar problem here. Now, it will pale in comparison probably to Hurricane Katrina, that was $45 billion in insurable losses. When that happened, it will not be that bad here.

In part, because the preparation was better. A lot of people are saying that the preparation may have helped keep the costs down, but when you look at the water damage, no real -- no real forecast yet on that. And it's the water damage, and that story's still unfolding. When you saw Millburn, New Jersey, other parts of New Jersey, some places, the water is still rising, you know, they're still getting hurt. So, we'll watch for the water damage to be the real killer here.

COSTELLO: What about gas prices? Will the hurricane affect them?

ROMANS: That's a really good question, because there's a couple of different forecasts out there that you could see a spike if you have a refinery offline. You could have a spike in the near term of gas prices by 15 to 25 cents a gallon, but there's another forecast this morning from the Lundberg Survey. Actually, forecasting that prices will go down. Why? Because demand is down. You've got demands offline.

It's not a supply question, but a demand question. You've got unemployment still high. You've got now demand from the storm has been hit. And so, the -- over the Lundberg Survey actually thinking that prices are going to go down from here on out over the next weeks and months. So, some conflicting information about what happens to gas prices. The longer term trend, many people say, is that gas prices are going to start to trend lower.

COSTELLO: Gosh, I hope that's true.

ROMANS: Me, too.

COSTELLO: We'll see (ph). Many thanks.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: See you in a bit.

Before we go, it's time to "Get Smart." Which sector of the economy has added almost 300,000 jobs over the last year? A. Government, B. health care, or C. manufacturing? It's 39 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: It is 41 minutes past the hour. This is your A.M. WAKE-UP CALL. Back to our "Get Smart" question. Here's the question, which sector of the economy has added almost 300,000 jobs over the last year? The answer is, B, health care. Wouldn't you know it? Certainly, it wasn't manufacturing.

Irene has left land in Vermont in terrible shape this morning. The state did not order any early evacuations so the flooding caught a lot of people off-guard. One woman was swept away in a river, and rescue crews have been busy trying to reach people in trouble. CNNs Gary Tuchman shows us how Irene turned a calm, quaint little brook into a serious threat.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Carol, this is the Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro, Vermont, Southern Vermont. For generations, up until just a couple of days ago, children swam in this very placid brook. But this brook is too small for all the water from tropical storm Irene and look what's happened. It basically exploded. Its width is now three times what it was before. It exploded some land, the power of the water and this building which is an arts studio and a yoga studio is now in danger of collapse because of the power of the water that is flowing down.

We talked to a man whose office is on the top floor, the third window from the right, and you can see right now the alarms are going off. That's what the flashes are. He wanted to go inside the building to recover his belongings. We had to advise him that, at any point, this building could collapse. There's a lot of chaos and confusion in Vermont.

They don't get hurricanes and tropical storms here. And now, they're dealing with this situation. Brooks like this one all over the state, too much water and a lot of problems -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Gary Tuchman reporting live from Vermont. Be careful out there.

You can't blame Hurricane Irene for this. Check out what happened to the world's fastest man at the world championships. Usain Bolt of Jamaica was getting set to run the 100 meter. So, on your mark, get set -- that would be a false start and that would mean are you disqualified. Bolt was early too quick on the draw. And -- oh. He didn't get to finish the race.

This is how the kids from Huntington Beach, California won the Little League World Series. Bases loaded, game tied at one, and he's rattled there. He's drilling the winning hit into center field to beat Japan 2-1. Go, USA. I love that. He looks so happy.

Beyonce had some pretty big news at the MTV Video Music Awards. Listen.


(APPLAUSE) COSTELLO (voice-over): Yes. That's Beyonce's little baby bump. She'll need some maternity outfits to wear on stage soon. I wonder what those will look like. Her husband, Jay-Z, got a congratulatory slap on the back from Kanye West. The baby hasn't -- of course it's not been born, and she already got a standing O.


COSTELLO (on-camera): I just can't believe Beyonce danced and sang and all going through morning sickness. She's one lucky lady.

Before we go, it's 44 minutes past the hour. On this day in history, just so you know, August 29th, 2005, six years ago today, Hurricane Katrina makes landfall near New Orleans. Devastating the lives of tens of thousands of people. At one point, 80 percent of the city of New Orleans was under water.


COSTELLO: Good morning to you. It is Monday, August 29th. This is your A.M. WAKE-UP CALL. I'm Carol Costello joining you live this morning from New York. It's 47 minutes past the hour.

Seven families left Brooklyn for New York's Catskill Mountains to escape Irene, and this morning, they are trapped up there, hoping to be rescued today. Irene's force knocked out bridges and knocked out power as it swept upstate and left them no way to get down the mountain. Two pregnant women and ten children are among those waiting to be rescued. One woman called in to CNN.


VOICE OF IRINA NOVECK, ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO STRANDED: The sheriff's department just called in about a few minutes before I spoke to you. And they said, we're trying to do the best we can to get to you. There's other people on the way, and the bridges are collapsed. They can't get to us because it's so far away from us since everything got damaged. And the river's still pressing a lot of water from mountains.


COSTELLO: County officials say the volume of waters coming off the Catskill mountaintops is more than the flow of Niagara Falls. Eighty-seven people were rescued in the town of Prattsville that happened yesterday. More rescues expected today.

Let's head to Rob Marciano. I guess, actually, when he you look at the big picture, Vermont is really experiencing the most problems now with flooding.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Vermont, but as you said, you know, the Catskills, New Hampshire, pretty much everybody that was just a little bit inland from this thing got a tremendous amount of rainfal and -- when we look back at hurricane history and talk about fatalities, pretty much half of the fatalities don't come from storm surge or the winds. They come from inland flooding, and that's certainly what we've seen with Irene, even though, it came on shore as a tropical storm officially across the northeast.

It had a tremendous amount of water. Here are some of the rainfall totals to highlight just that. Across -- this is just New England. Elizabethtown, New Hampshire, 6.6, Platsburg, New Hampshire, 6.35. Middlebury, Burlington and Montpelier, some of the biggest town and cities in Vermont seeing well over six inches, and a lot of this came in a about a 12 to 18-hour time period. So, that's why we saw that flooding. That's why we saw towns and those coveted covered bridges wiped out.

Just heartbreaking stuff across the green mountain state. And there are some of the -- the winds that we had -- wind, as well. The problem with what's going on today if you're not associated with the flooding, obviously, it's travel. We've got mass transit that's shut down, and the airports are going to be reopening today. New York metros, we will, obviously, see delays as things catch up just with the sheer volume of that.

LaGuardia will open up at 6:00 or 7:00 a.m., I believe. And JFK start early at 7:00 a.m. and has departures going off at noon. So, Jason Carroll, I think is covering more of that, because it goes beyond airports, Carol, it's buses, it's subways, it's trains. It's everybody trying to get back to where they belong on a Monday morning.

COSTELLO: Oh, yes, they are, and it's funny you should mention that because our own Jason Carroll is at Penn Station here in New York City. people are hoping Amtrak's back up and running. The local buses are up and running, the local trains. So, Jason, what do you got for me?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Carol, I think in another hour or so, we're going to have a better idea of exactly what the commute is going to be like today. As you know, because you've been in the city long enough to know that it's really a subway culture in a place like New York City. I mean, this is the country's largest transit system, you know, 2.6 billion people use the transit system every year on an average day. 7.5 million people trying to use the buses and trains.

So, when you have a shutdown of a system, you can imagine it. It affects just about everyone that you know. So, let's just give you a rundown of what we can expect today. The subway service will resume. All 22 lines of the subway service will resume at 6:00 a.m. just about ten minutes from now. The service will be limited, though, Carol. You're going to see fewer trains out there on the tracks.

So, you're going to have to expect some delays and definitely some crowded cars. New Jersey transit trains, that system is still suspended. No word yet in terms of when that will be back up and running. Long Island railroad, you're going to still some service suspended there, especially if you're headed out -- trying to get to and from the Rockaway, that area out there. Still some flooding on the trains out there. You heard some reports about the area's airport. So, some good news there. All major airports will reopen today starting at 6:00 a.m. That includes LaGuardia, Newark, and JFK, that's to arrivals and departures. You have to be checking with your individual carriers in terms of what the flight situation is going to be there. All the major bridges and tunnels are open. You'll remember that Holland tunnel was closed partially for a while due to flooding during Hurricane Irene.

You know, I heard you guys talking about the bus service. Bus service has been restored. That was restored in the city last night. So, at least, for those who can't get on a train in some situations might be able to get a bus. And if they can't get a bus, maybe they'll be able to work and -- and work out some sort of commuting situation with a friend. But, obviously, it's going to be a challenging day for commuters as the city's transit system gets itself up and running again -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I like how you put it. It's going to be a challenging day. Jason Carroll, many thanks.

As far as Amtrak is concerned, I think they're canceling train service south to Virginia from Washington, D.C., but you should call Amtrak this morning and see if your train is taking off on time. A lot of people have to take Amtrak out of the city, and of course, people taking Amtrak to get back into the city from points all over the place. So call ahead.

We're staying on top of Irene's aftermath, but we're also following events out of Libya. CNNs Nic Robertson found one of the most notorious Libyans in recent history. He found him in Tripoli. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103. 270 people died. Scotland released him two years ago on compassionate grounds claiming he was about to die.

When Nic found him, Megrahi appeared comatose. He may be along the last people living who knows who ordered the bombing. And an official with Libya's rebel government says he will not be extradited to the United States.

President Saleh of Yemen is returning to his country. He's been in Saudi Arabia after suffering burns and shrapnel wounds in an assassination attempt back in June. The Yemeni government is almost done with the investigation of that incident. And when it's over, officials say Saleh will come back. And, we'll be right back. It's 53 minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: Fifty-seven minutes past the hour. Here are three things to put on your radar.

Ten a.m. eastern, the gates officially open for the 2011 U.S. Open in New York City. The facility was not badly damaged in the storm, so it's on. Twelve noon eastern, there will be a hearing on whether to publicly release videotapes of California's landmark trial on Proposition 8.

At 8:00 p.m. eastern, that's five o'clock rush hour in California, BART officials are, again, warning commuters that they may close stations in downtown San Francisco because more protesters might show up today. Many people are upset with the fatal police shooting of a passenger earlier this summer and the agency's decision to shut down underground wireless service.

Let's go to Carter Evans for a look at your money this morning.


COSTELLO: He joins us live from the NASDAQ market site. I guess -- let's talk Wall Street for just a minute, because it's up and running today despite there being no train service.

EVANS: Business as usual. That's what they say. We'll see. Personal income and spending, that's one of the focuses today. It's one of the reports we're getting. Analysts are expecting to see it increase. We're also going to get a report on June pending home sales. Analysts are expecting that number to be down. The numbers here, though, are up.

This is how we closed out on Friday, all in the green, all the major indices. Our futures are looking pretty good today, as well. Dow futures up 92 points. NASDAQ up 21 now right now. S&P 500 up about 12 points. So, it's looking pretty good, so far, but we've got a whole week ahead of us, Carol.

COSTELLO: I know. Whenever you say things like that, it scares me. But I'm trying to remain calm. I know there is this talk of a market triple threat. What is that?

EVANS: Yes. Yes. The trifecta, the triple threat. This is what we're facing this week. Let me walk over here and show you, this is the big story on today, the triple threat. First of all, we've got to deal with Hurricane Irene, and you alluded to it earlier. It is going to be very tough for a lot of people to get into work today. The mass transit system here in New York City is still not back up and running 100 percent.

So, we could see some very light volume. But both stock exchanges here, the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange are open for business. Then, the second item we've got concerns about, the European debt crisis. That's still a big concern. And then on Friday, we get the government jobs report. So, we'll find out what the unemployment rate is for August. That is threat number three.

COSTELLO: Oh, and that could be bad, the government jobs report, because you know, smaller government --


COSTELLO: Government's been laying off, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

EVANS: Yes. You know, we've been having a hard time showing a good number throughout the whole summer. So, I don't think expect much better this time either.

COSTELLO: OK. I'll still keep my fingers and my toes and everything else cross, in case it helps.


COSTELLO: You, too. Thank you, Carter Evans. "AMERICAN MORNING" starts right now.