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Don Lemon Tonight

NYC Travel Ban In Effect Until 5 AM, All Non-Emergency Vehicles Must Be Off NYC Streets And Highways; NYC Mayor Declares State Of Emergency Due To Ida; Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-NY), Is Interviewed About Ida Slamming Northeast. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 02, 2021 - 01:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much. We appreciate you joining us.

It is now the top of the hour here on the East Coast 1:00 a.m., it is 1:00 a.m. This is Don Lemon tonight. This is our special coverage of our breaking news, chaos across the northeast as remnants of Hurricane Ida inundate the region, states of emergency, thousands of people without power, New York City subway virtually shut down, the city banning all travel until 5:00 a.m., all nonemergency vehicles ordered to stay off the roads.

And we've got more on our breaking news tonight on the Supreme Court formally denying a request from the Texas abortion providers to freeze a state law that bars abortions after six weeks Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal justices in the dissent. The courts move means that the law which is one of the strictest in the nation, and bans abortions before many people even know that they are pregnant will remain on the books. So we have like a big couple of hours here ahead for us all live here on CNN with our breaking news.

I want to get straight to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri to tell us about what's going on. Pedram, listen, this water came in fast and furious as we heard the Commissioner of the Emergency Management Department here in New York City, as we heard the Governor talk about, the Mayor of New Jersey declaring a state of emergency, the Governor as well and the Mayor of New York City declaring states of emergency. This area is being inundated with water.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Don, you know, in this area could actually end up seeing incredibly could end up seeing more rainfall than what we saw across southern Louisiana in some spots. And again speaks to how incredible of a run of moisture here. We saw it come down across portions of the northeast and look at this number, almost 200 mile stretch of land there with flash flood emergencies from portions of New Jersey, portions of Pennsylvania on into New York in place there on Wednesday going into Thursday morning.

And flash flood emergencies only a handful are issued per year. And often you'll see them with, let's say, overtopping of a dam or levee, where you have water rushing and essentially you're seeing people be rescued from waters and you have catastrophic flooding taking place. The weather service issues about 14,000 flood warnings, those are somewhat common. These don't happen every single day. And this expansive of an area in the most populated regions of the U.S. is why it makes the story really that much more serious across the Northeast here. So we're going to watch this as we see additional rounds of rainfall come down.

We do have tornado watches that have been expanded to 6:00 a.m. for portions of Connecticut now, report of a tornado warning those in place there across Nantucket. And we're seeing several tornadoes already spawned this morning as a result of what is left of Ida, rotation in the atmosphere, Don, is still prompting some tornadoes to be spawned here. So we're going to watch this with 70 million Americans underneath these flood alerts spanning the northeastern U.S.

LEMON: So Pedram, this is this is what I got. And correct me if I'm wrong here. Let me find my glasses, here they are. So let's see, how much water fell in New York City over the New York City area on Wednesday night, and this is an estimate if you assume that 6 to 8 inches of rain fell equally all over the five boroughs that would be a whopping 3.5 billion gallons of water falling in the city between 7:00 and midnight. That's a lot of water.

JAVAHERI: I think it's 35 billion. I believe it was 35 billion.


JAVAHERI: When we calculated the numbers. It's incredible. Yes, yes. And to think that, that amount of water and I always talk about the flooding concern. The level of danger involved the flooding, just a couple of inches of water will knock you off your feet, a foot of water move your vehicle, flooding is among the deadliest of weather events. And yes, upwards of 30 plus billion gallons coming down on New York City. You can take the land area of New York City, Don, which is about 302 square miles and then you calculate that average that we saw right around seven inches, and that's where you get 35 billion gallons of water. So we're talking tens of thousands of Olympic sized pools essentially being dumped right over the city in a span of three to four hours.

LEMON: Yes. And that water really has nowhere to go. It's got to drain but a lot of it has nowhere to go as we saw from the woman sadly in Queens, the water, she said, it took literally, she said, five minutes to bubble up in her basement to get knee high. Pedram, thank you very much. I want you to stand by. We'll get back to you shortly.

I want to bring in now CNN's Brian Stelter in New Jersey. Brian Stelter is in New Jersey, and we're lucky to have him there reporting for us on first coming to us reporting for something that was completely different than this. And then he's joining us on our breaking news because there's a state of emergency in New Jersey, for Northern New Jersey, southern parts of New York State. I shouldn't say state emergency -- I should say flood warning, yes.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don, and as you can tell the rain is for the first time we've talked all night, all morning, the rain actually is slowing down here. The area I'm concerned now about is Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, we've got reports from Yale, from the student paper at New Haven in New Haven at Yale of the campus completely in the dark power outages in New Haven and floodwaters getting into the dorms at Yale, just to give you one example of the problems in Connecticut across 95. In Connecticut now floodwaters, sometimes submerging cars on I-95.


I think Providence is an area of concern in the next couple of hours as this rain from Ida, this incredible amount of water moves north from Pennsylvania and New Jersey in New York into Connecticut, and Rhode Island, Massachusetts, the story now shifts northward. And at the same time, you have so many rescues now underway in New York and New Jersey. That's what we are hearing throughout the local emergency management officials and through the local National Weather Service Offices. There are emergency rescues ongoing, people trapped in cars, people trapped in homes, and other folks just wondering what to do about flooded basements.

Of course, this was expected to some degree, we knew there was going to be heavy rain in the northeast on this day. But I think the volume, the velocity, as you were talking about the amount of rainwater coming down in the span of an hour or two overwhelms the infrastructure. I was thinking Don about one of the debates of this summer, one of the debates that summer in Washington has been about infrastructure, how much they spend, and how to spend it.

What we are seeing in this country, whether it's in Tennessee, or Louisiana, or New York City, is the real world consequences of outdated infrastructure. And why this country asked to actually work on upgrading. It's still happening in infrastructure. So we're going to see these floodwaters continue. We're going to see these rivers crest overnight, and then tomorrow. And then we have to keep an eye now on Connecticut and Rhode Island as these floodwaters rush North toward Massachusetts and toward Maine.

LEMON: Right. Listen, you're important -- your point is well taken about the importance of infrastructure and making sure that we upgraded and fix it. But I think the point is also important is that everything is just a prediction. You can say, we're expecting this, you know, this mile an hour wind speed, and this much flooding and this many inches. And those are just predictions. They're just numbers until it actually hits you. And then the weather is on top of you and it's doing the weather is going to do what the weather is going to do.

Yes, we expected bad weather, everyone thought, you know, there's going to be some rainfall, maybe some flash flooding here and there. And then Brian, look at what happened as it progressed over the evening, moving all the way up from Western Pennsylvania now, moving up, as you said, to the northeast corridor up into Delaware, and excuse me up, seeing, I'm getting some cues from my producer, sorry, up into further states further north.

I want to bring in, standby Brian, John Avlon joins us now. John, I just got a cue that you're here from our producers. I'm not exactly sure where you are. Tell us where you are and what you're experiencing.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: New York and I'm outside the city right now. But as you know, Don, I worked for the mayor in New York for many years. And so I'm looking at this from a New York City Emergency Management infrastructure perspective. And folks who got to understand that hur -- you know, Superstorm Sandy was a canary in the coal mine. We have seen in recent years and months, routine storms flooding the subways, which are already overtaxed, you see the videos of water rushing down.

And this is not only in low lying areas. And as Brian just pointed out, you know, this is not only the dense, most densely populated region of the country, but the flash flooding we've seen in Tennessee, North Carolina, overwhelming New York City streets and subways. And it just does make that urgent case for the fact that our infrastructure is not prepared for this new normal. It is being overwhelmed by the climate crisis. And there needs to be massive investment to mitigate this.

The damage from this is going to be incalculable as our meteorologist said 35 billion, you know, tons of water, gallons of water flowing into New York City in a few hours. But this is an extreme example of what's been happening on a smaller level and it is just makes an urgent case for investing an infrastructure now. We cannot wait as a country.

LEMON: John, you know, looked out of the window as I was preparing to leave for work and I couldn't believe what I was seeing as telling Tim is you know my fiance, she's like, do you see this rain, is coming down in sheets? I don't think you understand what's going on outside. And I don't think any of us understood I didn't until I got out. And, you know, where we work at Hudson Yards. When I got here, I mean at high ground and very well maintained, the drainage it's all new. I mean, the water was flowing here like I had never seen before throughout the city. What's happening in the city tonight, I think is unprecedented for a storm that did not hit this place directly coming from the Atlantic. You know what I'm saying?


AVLON: That's the key point, you know, you know where you're from originally in Louisiana, you know, the storms and the infrastructure have been overwhelmed but these are areas that are more routinely hit by hurricanes and major water events, Charleston, South Carolina, where my folks live. But up in New York for a storm to have been on, you know, making landfall up the East Coast, to overwhelm New York City in this way, is just unprecedented not only the degree of weather, which is how, you know, folks who say, well, this is just extreme summer weather. No, it's not.

You go back and look at the history of New York City, this kind of flooding is not remotely normal, even though it is becoming the new normal. This is an extreme example of that. The New York City subways are overwhelmed, the roads are overwhelmed, the streets, you know, even the night of the concert a few weeks ago, when we did have a closer to a direct hit. Before that, before it made landfall, I was driving through Little Neck, Queens and Jericho and Long Island and the streets were flooded there in low lying areas. Some parts of Brooklyn and Queens were flooded in low lying areas. But this is overwhelming, the New York City infrastructure.

This is going to take days and weeks to fix. The MTA is overwhelmed and it's just a screaming need for federal investment on a really massive scale to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. That's what we're seeing here. This is not an isolated incident unfortunately.

LEMON: John Avlon, thank you very much for calling in and putting this into perspective for us. I want to get to CNN Shimon Prokupecz now. Shimon as I understand you're live for us now in the subway in Times Square. Oh, those, look at behind you. Those folks are stranded, sitting there waiting. Go ahead, go ahead, take it away Shimon.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's really, it's a kind of remarkable to see, right? It kind of almost looks like rush hour in some ways. We're now just after 1:00 a.m. Let me just flip the camera here, Don. But when you look around, just everyone kind of stranded, right? Many people here are trying to figure out if they're going to be able to get home tonight. You see people sitting here, all along the stairs, people on the phone, you have people sitting here, Don. And then just people standing, you know, a lot of people are starting to sit.

There's no indication that subway is going to be restored at any point soon. There is a announcement that's being made overhead and you can see here, a screen here which is telling people because of excessive water on the tracks, there's no subway. And then up and down here at the subway stop, Don, this is what you're seeing. I mean it's just people lingering trying to figure out clearly how they're going to get home.

And what's really scary is to think that some of these people may have to spend the night here. There's no subway --

LEMON: Shimon, they are going to have to spend the night. I want you to keep going. Standby because let me read this, OK, because it directly affects what you're talking about. Then I'm going to get back to you. This is from the acting MTA chair and CEO, Mike Morales -- this is to CNN's Mike Morales. And here's what it says. It says that New York City subway evacuations are ongoing. First Responders continue to safely evacuate people from the New York City subway system after a historic and challenging night for the region, our customers and transit workers acting MTA chair and CEO Janno Lieber said in the statement.

Janno cited that torrential rains that caused a massive amounts of water to enter the subways, flood roads, flooded roads and cause service disruptions. It is unclear how many trains will need to be evacuated. New Yorkers should not attempt to travel and this is what I'm talking about, Shimon, until further notice. We will be deploying a maximum pump capacity and surging workers into the system when it is safe. So that this epic storm abates service can be restored as soon as possible.

So they're saying they're not going to deploy people until they feel that it is safe and then, then they will start getting the service back up as soon as possible. So I don't know believe that they have even deemed that it is safe for their workers to go into the subway systems right now. So, all these people Shimon that you are showing, sitting on steps, standing around waiting for trains, they're not going anywhere anytime soon. So what they're saying is that there will be very limited subway service at the time -- at this time and limited bus service as well.

The Metro North Railroad completely suspended all train service on all lines for safety reasons. And Long Island Railroad Service shutdown at the trains reached their final destination, that's according to the MTA. They're going to be waiting a while. Shimon, go on.

PROKUPECZ: Not they are. And I don't think they realize that, right? I've asked people everywhere. That's how, you know, I was in Columbus Circle before. But I wanted to come to Time Square, because it's such a hub here, right? You can transfer to almost every train in New York City here. And I wanted to get a sense of what it was like. I couldn't believe how many people were still down here.


The other thing is, Don, that the city has instituted a travel ban. So you can't even -- you're not supposed to drive into the city now. So if people were hoping to get home, maybe family members would pick them up, or maybe an Uber or something else. That can't even happen now. So what is the transit authority? What is the MTA going to do to get these people out from under here and either get them onto buses or some other forms of transportation because I mean, as you said, it's looking like many of these people are going to be spending a night here and just sitting on stairs, laying on benches, laying on the platforms.

On the other side, there is a train, but it's just sitting there, and people are able to go in there.

LEMON: Shimon, listen, and listen, I know people are probably not in the mood to talk. So I'm going to keep talking if you want to ask some of these people if they want to.


LEMON: And then yell at me if you finally get someone to talk.


LEMON: What you're watching now is that Shimon Prokupecz, Shimon is inside of the 42nd Street or the Time Square subway station there and there are people who are just waiting, they're just waiting. And this is 1:00 in the morning, everyone, 1:16 in the morning. And you have all these people who are maybe going anywhere, you know, to anywhere in the metropolitan area. You can take feeder systems into New Jersey, you can go, the people are obviously coming from Connecticut, people come in from Long Island, people coming from Pennsylvania, and on and on and on.

And I imagine that folks are really frustrated now. And it may be hard for them to talk and they're upset. So Shimon, do you have -- Shimon is trying to get someone to speak to. Do you have someone, Shimon?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, I do. Where do you live?


PROKUPECZ: So you're trying to get home right now? How long -- how long --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm coming from the U.S. Open.

PROKUPECZ: You're coming from the U.S. Open?


PROKUPECZ: Don, I don't know if you can hear her. She said she was --

LEMON: We can hear her.

PROKUPECZ: -- U.S. Open. OK, so and you are on the seventh train.


PROKUPECZ: And then you came here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And I've been waiting here for more than an hour.

PROKUPECZ: More than an hour. So they're saying --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm starving, my feet are wet.

PROKUPECZ: You're starving, your feet are wet. What are you going to do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no -- I think there's a (INAUDIBLE).

PROKUPECZ: There's a what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a ban on --

PROKUPECZ: On vehicles, yes, there is.

LEMON: Where is she trying to get to Shimon?

PROKUPECZ: She's trying -- you're trying to get home. You're living Queensbridge, right?


PROKUPECZ: She lives in Queensbridge --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Queensbridge in the Bronx. PROKUPECZ: In the Bronx.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the one train.

PROKUPECZ: On the one train. She lives on the one train in the Bronx, and she's trying to get home. They may not run the trains tonight. What are you going to do if that happens?


LEMON: She says she's going to get a hotel if there's anything available.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was visiting at the U.S. Open and I was really excited about this and then ended up (INAUDIBLE).

PROKUPECZ: A disaster. Yes, she's trying to get home to the U.S. Open. I saw some other folks here, Don, who are at the U.S. Open. The thing what's happening is the seven train was running. So people were able to leave the U.S. Open in Queens. But then they come here, they're stuck.


PROKUPECZ: And that's what's been happening. And that's what -- I don't know if people really know what they're going to do. And I think the MTA needs to figure out kind of quickly what they're going to do. Most of these people are wet. Thankfully, it's really hot down here. It's chilly outside. It's hot down here. So for a lot of these people, at least say that, but at some point they're going to like she said she's hungry.


PROKUPECZ: And she's just trying to get home. She's --

LEMON: You bring up a very good point Shimon because imagine if this was a, you know, July and August when it was, you know, temperatures reaching 100 degrees and that the New York City subway is unbearable.

PROKUPECZ: And it's hot down here.

LEMON: Yes. So Shimon, I want you to stick around if you get more people to talk to. We will come back to you. But look --


LEMON: Shimon doing great reporting down in the New York City subway system. He's at 42nd Street Times Square, which is he points out so. So definitely is that it is a big hub, lots of trains here connect. You can get pretty much anywhere in the city from this connection. And there you go at 1:19, almost 1:20 in the morning, Eastern Time. You have all of these folks who are in the New York City subway, basically stranded.

[01:19:47] We're going to continue our breaking news, states of emergencies in New York State and New Jersey as well. Also a flash flood emergency in a number of areas and this is happening all over the Northeast. Back in a moment.


LEMON: All right, we're calling the breaking news. The Northeast being inundated with mostly floodwaters, and we were talking about -- before we left you, Shimon Prokupecz was in the New York City subway speaking to a young lady who was on her way back from the U.S. Open. And she said that she had to leave there and then she got on the subway and now she's stuck. I want to show you this video, these images coming in from, this is flushing queens. This is where the U.S. Open is being held. Look at this water coming off of that structure there as people are trying to make their way out of this facility. It is really unbelievable. And then inside, look at the wind. Unbelievable. That is what we're dealing with right now because of Ida.


I want to bring it now New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi. She's on the phone. She represents parts of northern Manhattan in the Bronx. I don't know if you were able to see that video, but that is unbelievable state, Senator. Thank you for joining us, first of all, where are you? And what are you experiencing?

SEN. ALESSANDRA BIAGGI (D-NY): So thanks for having me, Don. And honestly, that video is startling. And frankly, I've never seen anything like that, or any of the other images or videos that are all over social media tonight that are being sent to me. We were coming home from Albany at tonight on 87 driving south because we were in Albany passing the extension of the eviction moratorium. And about 30 minutes into our drive, the rain became almost unbearable, and we could not see through the window.

And so we pulled off the road, we tried to find a hotel to stay in. It took about 45 minutes to do that. So right now I'm in Hudson, New York. I've actually never been here before, so quite interesting. But I've been up for the past several hours receiving so many different videos, complaints, calls for help from constituents that I represent in the Bronx and Westchester actually. So from places like Pelham, and Mount Vernon, to Castle Hill, and Hunts Point and Riverdale, City Island, which many people know is a place that of course is surrounded by water is now almost frankly, underwater in their streets. Cars are underwater.

So it's really just been managing that and trying to make calm, you know, people down, but it has not really stopped then we got on the road several hours ago.

LEMON: Are you hearing anything from the folks in where you live or any of your constituents? Because, listen, they're in a really dire situation. I know there's a travel ban now that was issued just a while ago where they're telling people don't get on the roads, don't travel, don't leave your homes. And I understand that you are trapped. But are you hearing anything about how people are doing in the area?

BIAGGI: Yes, I mean, I'm getting a lot of different reports from constituents, again, from things like cars are floating in their streets, or that they were stranded in their car and had to leave their car on the road. The Bronx River, which is notorious for flooding after just a small amount of rain is practically underwater to the point where people, you know, they're -- you can't even see half of the windows.

And so there are things like that. But then there are really just other concerns about where do we go, who do we call for different issues. And so what I've been telling constituents and other people who've reached out is if you have a downed tree, call 311. If you need to report power outages, go to (ph) or again, call 311 if you can access (ph). But most importantly, stay off of the roads. Do not leave your homes without walking the streets. Do not drive, you know, do not go into that floodwater and even though I think it's really compelling for people to be taking these pictures as the governor just said a few hours ago, and it's helpful for us to understand what's going on. It's very dangerous for anybody who is actually doing that.

LEMON: State Senator Biaggi, thank you so much. And we want you to be safe. So take care of yourself because you got a lot of constituents that you need to look out for. We really appreciate you joining us here on CNN. Thanks so much.

BIAGGI: Thanks so much for having me.

LEMON: Thank you very much. Danny (ph), get that video ready for me at the U.S. Open. But before we run it, I just want to say that there is a travel ban in effect beginning now until 5:00 a.m. here in the New York City area. Also we're told that there has been a partial building collapse in Queens, New York, one person died due to a partial building collapse of a side wall of a building in Queens, New York after reports of a water leak and flooding. That's according to the fire department. And that's why they're asking people to stay put and not move.

And then there's another one, the fire department responds to reports of a water leak flooding at 183rd Street in Queens, removed one individual who was transported to Queens General Hospital. Second patient was pronounced dead on the scene. So the storm here claiming at least one life, I'll get clarification if it's one or two. So but the fire department would not comment directly on what caused that partial collapse. It is assumed that is the wind, the weather, and all the rain, the flooding that is inundated the Northeast right now.


So this is what we're covering. Before we go to break I just want to show you this is what's happening in New York. This is in Flushing at the U.S. Open the facility there. Look at that water just pouring off. And as I leave you for the break, I just want to show you the power of the wind in New York. And there we go. You bring it full screen and we'll go to break and we'll continue on the other side. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: So we're going to get back to our special coverage of the flooding in the northeast in New York and New Jersey, inundated by remnants of Hurricane Ida.

We've got more breaking news to tell you about tonight. The Supreme Court refusing to block Texas' six-week abortion ban.

CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue joins me now on the phone.

Listen, the ban is at abortions at six weeks, I should say. This is a permanent law for now because the Supreme Court decided not to step in and they're not going to block this law.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER (via telephone): Right, absolutely. We got this order at midnight. The Supreme Court is formally denying this request from Texas abortion providers to block the law that bars abortion after six weeks.


DE VOGUE: And here's what's important. The vote on this order is 5-4 and Chief Justice John Roberts, joined the liberals.

Keep in mind this law is one of the strictest of the nation. It bars abortion, really before many people know they are pregnant. And now it's going to remain on the books.

And what was interesting about this law is it allows private citizens to bring these civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking abortion in violation of the ban.

Justice Sotomayor, she really wrote a blistering dissent tonight. She called the majority's order stunning and she wrote, "the act is a breathtaking act of defiance of the constitution, of this court's precedents, and of the rights of women seeking abortion throughout Texas."

And you know, what's interesting here is under normal circumstances when a justice files a dissent they usually write "I respectfully dissent". But tonight Sotomayor the liberal and Justice Breyer, when he wrote his own dissent, they didn't say that. They left out the "respectfully" and they just said "I dissent".

That reveals really the deep frustration of the liberals on this court. And we are really seeing how it is moving to the right on some of these big hot button issues.

LEMON: CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane De Vogue reporting on the breaking news as regarding that Texas law which bans abortions at six weeks.

Thank you very much on that. We have lots of breaking news tonight, lots of areas to cover.

New images coming in from the northeast where it is just being inundated with floodwaters.

Back in a moment.



LEMON: We head back now to our live storm coverage, the mayor of Passaic, New Jersey declaring a state of emergency tonight.

And Mayor Hector Lora joins me now. Mayor, thank you so much. Appreciate you joining.

MAYOR HECTOR LORA, PASSAIC, NEW JERSEY: Thank you. thank you very much.

LEMON: How are you doing? Where are you.

LORA: So we're presently in our east side, our downtown area in the city of Passaic where you can see behind me that we have experienced some intense flooding. There are two vehicles that are presently stuck there. The individuals who are rescued from that area.

Unfortunately that was not the case, we had a tragedy in our city so not every incident resulted in the complete rescue. We had a loss of life.

I am presently going to our 10th Street where our river banks have crested and gone over the banks, into the street. And I am giving the executive order having people evacuated from the area and brought into city hall.

I'm traveling with our Passaic Police Department. It has been a very difficult evening. This storm took a turn for the worst a little after 7:00 p.m.

But the efforts of our police, our fire, emergency responders resulted in people writ large (ph) being saved and rescued. Residents that were listening to the directives of staying indoors and following the latest updates on the news, of course resulted in individuals staying inside of their homes. But unfortunately again, I reiterate we did have a loss of life in our city.

LEMON: Ok. So tell us walk us through that then because I got a note saying that we are now retrieving bodies. And so I guess you were helping people but then how did that loss of life happen?

LORA: So what occurred was, we had set up barricades in areas where we had expectations that we would see flooding because we have had storms in the past. And unfortunately vehicles, they go through the barricades, sometimes they assume that they can make it through. A vehicle was caught in one of those areas by Passaic and Lackawanna. Our firefighters responded and were able to rescue two individuals out of the vehicle. Unfortunately an elderly gentleman of 70 years of age was unable to be rescued, the car was overtaken by water.

Firefighters were being dragged under the vehicle and it became almost impossible for firefighters to reach the vehicle as the waters rose above six and seven feet in that one area.

We just recently able to retrieve the body and pronounce the death and inform the family. And we are now hearing more reports. We have unconfirmed reports of other individuals that may have been swept through this storm into the brook and into the river. We have divers on the scene right now.

And as I have mentioned before, our river has crested. It is just gone over the banks on our 10th Street. And we are evacuating -- we're presently evacuating individuals from downtown right now.

LEMON: So listen, this was predicted, that there would be bad weather. But Mayor, I don't think that anyone predicted that the water would come down so quickly and that there would be such flash flooding in the area.

Obviously, catching your citizens off guard and I'm sure you as well. What are you guys -- what are you guys doing? Do you have enough resources right now to help people?

LORA: Well, Don, that's a great question. We recently received a phone call from Governor Phil Murphy, extending any assistance or resources that we need.

We began planning as early as Monday. We had all of our police, fire and emergency responders, EPW (ph). We took the pragmatic approach that we do for every single storm, where we clean the storm drainages, the inlets.

Obviously this is extremely important when it comes to flooding on the road. We ensure to inform the public of the general police numbers, advising to bring their pets in. But you're right, there is no way that we could have predicted how bad the storm would get.

The intense rainfall, the concentration of water which result in trees coming down, many people have the impression that the winds are what causes trees to go down.


LORA: But truly the saturation of the ground, it dislodges the roots and trees come down.

We were getting reports all over the city where fire (ph) were responding.

But of course, as I've said this before and I will say this again. Cars can be repaired, property can be replaced but the loss of life cannot.

And today as a city, as a community we are dealing with the loss of life in our city, and potentially more. We know that this storm has devastated our state all over.

So again, I want to commend the efforts of firefighters, police, emergency responders who unite together. They are beyond heroes and their efforts have saved countless lives.

The aftermath of this storm continues to be a concern as the river now is really what we are focused on. And the rising levels of water -- we're going to need to evacuate.

We're looking at conditions that we haven't seen since 2010 in Irene. And we need to make sure that we get these people out this evening.

So I made the call to evacuate individuals now. We'll be working all night to get them out of the area.

LEMON: Yes. Mayor, thank you. Listen, we're going to let you go but I want to keep the pictures up for you for our viewers because you could see. Look at -- look how high that water is. Some of the cars it's almost up to the windows there.

I mean it is unbelievable. And this is on the streets of Passaic, New Jersey where unfortunately the mayor there Hector Lora is now saying there is at least one death and there could possibly be more as he believe that some folks were possibly swept away in the river.

He's saying that they went out on a rescue. They rescued some people from the car. There was a 70-year-old gentleman unfortunately, that rescuers couldn't get too because it became so dangerous for them as the water was rushing in the vehicle.

Look at that, almost to the top of the car in the background there.

Mayor, thank you. Be safe. And we appreciate you coming on to keep us updated. And we hope that there isn't more loss of a life in your area. Thank you so much, sir.

LORA: Thank you, thank you, by God's grace we can be (INAUDIBLE) and rescues. Thank you.

LEMON: All right. Ok. Yes.

We will be right back, everyone.



LEMON: We're back now with our breaking news coverage. The storm event that's happening in the northeast.

I want to bring in now Anthony Suppa, resident of (INAUDIBLE) New Jersey, who has been stuck in his car for five hours. Anthony, is that so?

ANTHONY SUPPA, STUCK IN HIS CAR FOR FIVE HOURS: That's right Don. Stuck since about 8:00 after dinner from a family event. And got stuck in Nutley on the other side of the Route 3 (ph). The water came down so hard and so fast that literally it was two -- three feet in the street rushing water, pretty terrifying.

And I found my way over to Clifton on the other side of Route 3 but there's no way to get home where I live in Morris County. So I'm kind of hanging out in the lot until some of these roads open up.

LEMON: So take us through it. How fast did the water come up? As you were driving?


LEMON: What happened?

SUPPA: Yes, as I left the restaurant, there was about a foot of water in the streets of Nutley, got in my car, turned around to try to get through Route 3. As I got closer to Route 3, I so cars ahead of me, and the water was up to their bottom of their trunk, the middle of the car.

And I pulled a quick U-turn but I did that in about two to three feet of water. Never did that before and-- yes, you can lose control pretty quickly.

I've never seen rain come down that hard, ever.

LEMON: Yes. So you've been stuck for five hours. What are you going to do, Anthony?

SUPPA: I'm going to wait here until -- I told my wife I'll probably see you when the sun comes up. So I'm going to sit here and wait it out until Route 3 opens or the road behind Route 3, all when the road opens.

(INAUDIBLE) and I can't go east or west. I'm kind of stuck. And you know, I got to get up early to work. I work for the power company so we probably -- we're going to have storm duty tomorrow. So either way it's going to be an early morning.

LEMON: Well, I mean you should know. I mean if you work for power company, you have to deal with these emergency issues.

You said you've never seen rain like this come down so quickly.

SUPPA: 63 years in New Jersey, I never saw rain like this in New Jersey, ever.

LEMON: Did you see other folks who are stuck out there. I know you said you saw some cars with water was up to their trunks, but did you see people who were just stuck in the water?

SUPPA: They all kind of managed to get out. We kind of high-tailed it up to a high point in Nutley and I sat on one of the highest points for about an hour in front of somebody's house.

But I saw all those people get out. But there are people stuck because I saw police cars go down and n the next thing they were flat beds when the water receded. I think they were towing some of those cars out.

LEMON: Were -- people trying to, I mean listen, we were here in New York City. Our correspondent here saw people who were stuck in the subways because they're not moving.

The roads obviously are in big trouble. There is a state of emergency in New Jersey. And also flash flood emergency as well. So, are people trying to get into hotels? Are you -- have you tried -- have you gone that route?

SUPPA: I haven't done that yet. But listening to the radio, there's a lot of people like me sitting in the car for hours, on the turnpike, on the parkway, on route to 87. This just overwhelmed the highways.

LEMON: So if you work -- if you work for power company, what I want to know is that did you guys expect this or is that not part of your bailiwick (ph)?

SUPPA: I don't know if expected -- usually we're more concerned with the wind and things like that they were going to that -- take out the power. We do have substantial I think outages today in New Jersey with all three companies.

But I think it was yesterday yes, we were prepared -- we were all on storm duty prep as of this morning. So the power companies are always a day ahead and a step ahead.

Well, John (SIC) -- we wish you nothing but safety and best of luck getting home. We appreciate you joining us. Be well.

SUPPA: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you so much. Thank you very much.

SUPPA: All right.


LEMON: So there you have it, stuck in his car for five hours. And that's kind of the story of what's going on here.

If people who are still out stuck in the subways in New York City they don't know how they are going to get home. The folks who work for the MTA say they're going to eventually get people out there.

States of emergency in New York State and also in New Jersey as well. There's a state of emergency here in New York City.

And all over the northeast people are dealing with the results of the remnants of Ida. And they're dealing with lots of flood water, lots of wind damage. There have been some deaths. We won't get a full grip of it until the sunrise when people are -- when emergency workers are able to assess the damage of all of this.

What a couple of hours it has been for the folks here. And we wish everyone safety and we wish everyone luck.

I'm going to turn it over now to my colleagues, Rosemary Church and John Vause. They are going to pick it up on the other side of this break.

I'm Don Lemon. Thank you for joining us. This has been my breaking news coverage.

And CNN and my colleagues will see you on the other side of this very quick break.