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Chaos In New York, New Jersey As Remnants Of Ida Slam Northeast; U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Block Texas' 6-Week Abortion Ban; Ida Slamming U.S. Northeast With Heavy Rain, Floods, Tornadoes. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 02, 2021 - 02:00:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN break --

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN's breaking news coverage from CNN headquarters here in Atlanta. I'm Rosemary Church.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm John Vause. Two major stories this hour. A state of emergency in effect the New York and New Jersey, as the remnants of Hurricane Ida brings severe flooding, heavy rain, and tornadoes.

CHURCH: We are also following breaking news from the U.S. Supreme Court in a split decision, the court refusing to block the strictest abortion law in the country.

VAUSE: More from Texas in a moment. But first, what's been called an historic weather event. More than 60 million people now under a flash flood watch in the northeast, as the remnants of Hurricane Ida bring record breaking rainfall to New York City and Newark. Tornado warnings were issued for neighborhoods in the Bronx. And across New York State and New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Well, the 240,000 homes are without electricity.

CHURCH: The governor of New York is declaring a state of emergency amid reports of widespread flash flooding. And New York City is now under its first ever flash flood emergency. The rising waters have effectively shut down the city's subway. Here is New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY) (via telephone): I'm very, very worried about what's happening out on the roads. I want to urge everyone get in quickly. Do not stay out on the roads. It's dangerous. We're seeing a kind of rainfall we almost never see this kind of speed with which the rain has come. Everyone's got to get to safety. Do not be out on the roads if you have any choice. And the subways also -- I'm sad to say, the subways are basically out of commission at this point.

Also not safe to go there. Tomorrow do not go into a street, a road, a highway with a lot of water accumulated that can be super dangerous.


VAUSE: State of emergency also in effect for New Jersey after the National Weather Service confirmed at least two large and destructive tornadoes. Almost all rail services in the state now suspended because of the extreme weather.

CHURCH: Rescue crews are scouring the streets for people stuck in cars or areas where they're unable to get through the massive flood waters.

VAUSE: There is at least one confirmed death. It's been reported in Passaic, New Jersey. An elderly man pulled from his car after it was overtaken by floodwaters. Here's how the mayor described the situation.


MAYOR HECTOR LORA, PASSAIC, NEW JERSEY: And we've experienced some intense flooding. There are two vehicles that are presently stuck there. The individuals were rescued from that area. Unfortunately, that was not the case. We had a tragedy in our city. So not every incident resulted in a 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 -- I am through executive order, having people evacuated from the area and brought into City Hall.


CHURCH: Brian Stelter is in New Jersey.

VAUSE: We also have Shimon Prokupecz in New York City. So, Shimon, to you first, the very latest from what you're seeing there. And we understand the rain maybe easing a little at this -- at this hour.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, the rain actually has stopped. I was just -- I'm actually under -- underground right now in the Time Square Subway Station just checking out what's going on. I was just upstairs just before we came on the air (INAUDIBLE) people are out on the streets here in Manhattan just trying to figure out how to get home.

There are thousands of people stranded all across the city at subway stops. I'm literally here underground now people are sleeping, laying on floor, sleeping on benches. They are prepared to spend the night here because it seems at least for now, there won't be any subway service here at least through the morning. At least until the morning because the subway system, the water needs to be pumped out.

There's still a lot of subway stations where there's flooding, a lot of water and it's not very clear if it's safe for some of the trains to even come through the station. So right now, everything underground, above ground in terms of the subway system has stopped. You know, there's just been massive flooding all across -- all across the city. In every part of the city, the roads, the highways, cross streets, hundreds of rescues by emergency personnel, from the fire departments or the police department receiving hundreds of calls from drivers.

People in cars saying that they were trapped and they were responding. Emergency authorities and rescuing people pulling them out of cars, pulling them out of the water because the water changed so quickly. People were going home. People were going driving like as if nothing was about to happen and then suddenly just a constant rain, the heavy rain just coming and coming and streets are flooded, highways, roads, a lot of drainage issues.


PROKUPECZ: So in some of the streets, that's what was causing a lot of the flooding. Sadly, we did get a report that one person has died at a building collapse in Queens. So authorities are investigating that. We're really good -- it's going to be a really tough night for many, many people here in New York City. Many of them spending the night here in the subway. Some people cleaning out from their basement.

A lot of people lost cars. I think when we wake up in the morning, and as daylight comes, we're going to really see the impact of this storm is just crazy. And for New York City, so unprecedented. When you think the subway has stopped, you know, when there's a snowstorm here, they close the subway, there's a major snowstorm coming in, they prepare, they close things down.

Subways are one of the things they closed down. Something like this was just completely unexpected. And now sadly, so many people out here for spending the night in the subway. It's just really -- I know for me, I've been down there now for two, three hours. It's just so hard to see a lot of people saying they're hungry, they don't know what they're going to do. So for now, it looks like it can be a very, very long night and long (INAUDIBLE) for folks on the ground here in the subway system at Times Square.

VAUSE: It has just gone six minutes past 2:00 in the morning there. And shown here is the very latest with so many people just trying to get home, trying to work out how they'll get home and what's going on.

CHURCH: Yes. Images are just extraordinary. All right. Let's go to Brian Stelter as we mentioned, he's in New Jersey. Brian, what have you been seeing and talk to us about the flooding there.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, this is the kind of night, the kind of morning that shows you extreme weather is becoming more and more common, becoming more and more of a crisis situation in towns, cities, counties that are not built for this. Not equipped for this amount of rainfall at this fast a period of time. Of course, we're talking about the remnants of Ida, crashing into Louisiana a couple of few days ago and has been soaking in the United States ever since.

And the same kind of infrastructure problems we saw in Louisiana. We are now seeing in New Jersey and New York earlier today tornadoes. South of where I am located closer to Philadelphia but in New Jersey, we saw tornadoes also -- a tornado also in Annapolis, Maryland. So, multiple twisters kicked up by the remnants of Ida. But the real biggest story, as you said is the flooding. Four inches of rain in many areas.

And then the more localized six, eight, 10 inches of rain in some pockets in some neighborhoods. And that is why we're seeing so many pictures of cars submerged, of people needing rescues. And those rescues are still happening right now in different stretches of the 95 Corridor. Anybody who's been to the northeast knows the 95 Corridor, up and down from Boston to New York to Washington.

That's really where the focus of this rain has been, and where the problem areas have been. We saw Newark Airport earlier tonight waterfalls coming down the escalators of the stairs at Newark International Airport. And just in the past hour, we've seen streets turning into rivers in New Haven, Connecticut. Of course, the home to Yale University where some of the dorms started to flood just as students arrived back on campus after a long coronavirus delay.

Students moving into Yale and then of course their dorms flooding. The concern now I think as we go into the early morning hours flooding in Connecticut, Rhode Island and into Massachusetts. There are warnings now out on Martha's Vineyard in Cape Cod for severe weather moving through there. So these flood warnings we're going to see them in multiple ways because as rivers crest in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, we will see further flooding in the coming hours and days.

But right now, the more urgent emergency is to try to help folks who were stranded overnight when the water just poured so quickly here in Jersey and other states. Just poured down so quickly that the local infrastructure was overwhelmed.

CHURCH: Absolutely. Brian Stelter bringing us up to date there for New Jersey. Do take care out there, Brian.

VAUSE: Brian makes a good point that this system is now moving on. It's now head off to Rhode Island as well as Massachusetts. So let's go to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri for all the very latest. And Pedram, all of this isn't just being caused by Ida. There's a frontal system in the mix as well.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right. The frontal systems kind of reenergizing this -- what is left the Ida here that's really producing the tremendous amount of rainfall. And, you know, the forecast models did put top of the charts rainfall in the area but certainly you can never forecast historic amount of rains and that is exactly what is playing out here. Here's what is left of Ida.

You notice the satellite imagery as this kind of makes its final push across portions of the northeast and on into the Canadian Maritimes. And by the time we get to say 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 a.m., it is all out of here but before we get there, still tremendous amount of rainfall potentially another three to four inches in store there across parts of Connecticut into areas around Rhode Island, on to Massachusetts, Boston included.

And this is a tornado watch through at least 3:00 a.m. as we often see with tropical systems and as they move to a region because of the amount of rotation within these systems.


JAVAHERI: Very often they spawn tornadoes and this particular one has already spent at least five and we know a couple more certainly possible before the night is all said and done. But you noticed heavy rainfall, maybe two to three inches per hour in some of these spots still occurring but really what played out across parts of New York City, parts of Newark in general, these are the most remarkable numbers you'll ever see in any location.

But for New Jersey, that's the single wettest day on record and record in some of these areas go back to the 19th century, as far as seeing how much rain has come down in a single day. In New York in one hour, in Central Park we picked up 3.15 inches of rainfall. That has a probability of occurring it's a 200-year event, meaning a one in 200 chance for it to occur in any given year. That's an exceptionally rare event to take place here.

And of course, in a very densely urban environment for a lot of populations reside that is going to lead to significant flooding. The National Weather Service in New York City issued a flash flood emergency. This is also exceedingly rare to see a flash flood emergency because it's not just that flooding is occurring, it's catastrophic life threatening flooding and also water rescues are taking place for this product to be issued. And that is what's happened for the first time in the city's history, guys.

VAUSE: Well (INAUDIBLE) we appreciate that. A lot more of course on this story. Pedram will be with us throughout the night. We'll have more on the record breaking rain and the flooding hitting the Northeast.

CHURCH: States of emergency are now in effect. Roads and subways are shut down and the threat from Ida is far from over.

Plus, breaking news from the U.S. Supreme Court. As the justices weigh in on the restrictive new abortion law in Texas. We'll have more on that on the other side of the break. Do stay with us.



CHURCH: We are following breaking news out of the north eastern United States with the remnants of Hurricane Ida are bringing torrential rain and flash floods to the area. The governors of New York and New Jersey have declared states of emergencies. And New York City is under a flash flood watch until next hour. And there are flood warnings across the region as well.

VAUSE: New York City has now seen record rainfall for the second time in less than two weeks. Ida dumped three inches of rain in an hour, Wednesday night. Roads and homes have been flooded. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was enduring an historic weather event. CHURCH: Earlier CNN spoke to the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City. And here's what he had to say about the devastating flooding and why it's been caused.


ERIC ADAMS, DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY (via telephone): For the first time in my life, living in the city that I saw, the Brooklyn Bridge flooded on the inbound ramp. We tried to assist some of the motorists but everything from our train stations to parts of Crown Heights, you're seeing a high level of water and flooding of cars, even in (INAUDIBLE) which is really outside the water line areas.

So it's a real concern that we experienced in during the storm. That's why we call it Mother Nature, because this is still our planet. And although we destroyed it by so many things that we have done, it's real that global warming is here. Our role is to be able to respond to those emergencies so that people are not trapped in their homes or trapped in their vehicles or that we get emergency services or where they are needed.


CHURCH: Another breaking story we are following. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block a controversial new abortion law in the State of Texas. That decision was five to four with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the three liberals.

VAUSE: The Texas law is almost a total ban prohibiting abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. up to 90 percent of all abortions in the state are done after the sixth week. And it also allows for anyone in the U.S. to bring a civil lawsuit against those who helped a woman who is seeking an abortion.

CHURCH: Joining me now from Los Angeles, CNN Legal Analyst and Civil Rights Attorney Areva Martin. Good to talk with you, Areva.


CHURCH: So the Supreme Court has now formally denied a request to freeze this controversial Texas abortion law that bans abortions even before most women know they are pregnant. What is your reaction to this?

MARTIN: But a stunning decision. A real violation as, you know, supporting this law is denying women the rights to make choices about their reproductive health, really stunning that the Supreme Court would allow a law which is so blatantly unconstitutional, so blatantly in violation of the principle established by Roe v. Wade almost 50 years ago. And a real blow to women, not just in Texas, but around the country because it's very clear that other states, states that have been looking to deny women the rights to an abortion will look to this law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court by all, you know, by all essential purposes. We'll look to this in-- like in acting similar laws in their own states. CHURCH: And as the strictest abortion law in the country, it even goes so far as allowing private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who helps a woman get an abortion, which could mean a family member, a doctor, even an Uber driver taking a pregnant woman to a clinic. You mentioned that this is not legal, it's not constitutional. So what is the next step for women who want to fight this, who need to fight this?

MARTIN: What we're hearing, Rosemary, from women who are involved in this struggle in the State of Texas are saying this isn't over. They're going to continue to fight this to the Texas State Court System and continue to try to press in the state courts to have this law overturn. But this is a real blow. This is a significant blow to those advocates who have been fighting for reproductive rights, injustice for women.

And you're right this law gives private citizens anyone, including someone maybe that has committed a sexual assault crime against a woman to file a civil lawsuit. To seek $10,000 in damages to have their attorney's fees paid. And this could be someone who has no relationship to the person.


MARTIN: It could be a complete stranger, someone that happened to give the woman a ride to a clinic or someone that loaned money to the woman. It could be a family member. This is a very dangerous, a law that has been passed and now upheld at this time by the Supreme Court.

CHURCH: And Areva, many women's rights groups are very worried about what this could mean for the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade which ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects a pregnant woman's right to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. So, what is the likely future of Roe vs. Wade do you think given this?

MARTIN: Given what we see in terms of this five-four decision again, not very promising, not very hopeful going forward. Even though the court didn't rule on the merits of this case and made it clear in this order that it wasn't reaching the mayor, said it was ruling on the procedural grounds in upholding the law. It tells us a lot. You know, the order by these five justices speaks volumes.

And we know that when Donald Trump appointed the three judges that he appointed to the court, he did so with the notion that he wanted judges that would overturn Roe v. Wade. We've heard Justice Clarence Thomas. We know his opinion. We've heard from Gorsuch, these judges have already made it pretty clear that they believe that Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional and that it was a wrong decision and that it should be overturned.

So, knowing what we already know, having heard from these judges before, I don't expect Roe to have an easy time in the court system. And in fact, we may be looking at 50 years of protection for women's rights being overturned in this next court season because, Rosemary, we should note that it's not just this Texas law. There's a case before the Supreme Court involving a Mississippi abortion law that involves 15 weeks.

A ban on abortions at 15 weeks. So, we have to watch this space very closely but not very promising for those who are, you know, fighting for women's rights.

CHURCH: Yes. CNN Legal Analyst Areva Martin. Many thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

VAUSE: With that we will take a short break. Continuing our coverage here of the state of emergency which have been declared for New York and New Jersey. And in New York City, a travel ban is in effect for the next few hours. Stay with us for the very latest on this weather emergency.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CHURCH: And we return to our breaking news. Sates of emergency are now in effect in New York and New Jersey as the remnants of Hurricane Ida hammer the U.S. northeast with record rainfall, flash flooding and tornadoes.

VAUSE: The first ever flash flood emergency was issued for New York City. It has now been downgraded to a flash flood watch. A ban remains in place for all non-emergency travel in York City for the next few hours. At least two deaths from the storm system are now confirmed in the northeast. One man whose vehicle was overtaken by floodwaters in New Jersey, another person killed in Queens, New York when part of the building collapsed.

CHURCH: And the flooding is so bad in New York, nearly all of the city's subway lines have been shut down.

VAUSE: New York Governor Kathy Hochul told CNN earlier the situation in the subway remains extremely dangerous.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY) (via telephone): We were actually preparing for the hurricane only last, you know two weeks ago. So we were already having the assets in place. So we were not inexperienced in this. But it is always quite shocking when you literally see the streets of New York looking like, you know, the rivers flowing and people just in shock of what's going on. Especially the images of what's happening in the subways.

So these are dangerous situations. We want to make sure people stay away from them. So we can take all the precautions in advance. And we did deploy our assets to be on the ground in anticipation. But Mother Nature will do whatever she wants and she is really angry tonight. We have to be prepared to clean up tomorrow. I'll be on site in the morning making sure that this is going well. But right now we're in a very dire situation. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Well, for the very latest, we have CNN's Shimon Prokupecz in New York.

CHURCH: And Brian Stelter is in New Jersey.

VAUSE: But we'll start with Shimon with the very latest on the subway system. We just heard from the Governor Hochul talking about the situation there. Any idea, Shimon, about how much damage has been caused? How long will be before it reopens, before they can reopen?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. It's not clear how much damage, certainly not where I am. I don't expect to see any kind of extensive damage in -- or Midtown or Time Square area. The damage we're going to see is going to come from places like Brooklyn and the Bronx and Queens, and also Staten Island which saw some severe, severe flooding. So, I suspect those areas homes flooded out and a lot of people losing their cars because they drove through the rain into what they saw perhaps didn't seem as flooded or as deep.

And then as they got through there, they got stuck and in many cases people have to be rescued by emergency personnel. The big thing here right now in New York City is getting the subways back up and running. You know I'm down at subway system down at Times Square. I'm actually now for the first time I'm seeing track workers on the track walking, conducting what looks like inspections there with flashlights and they're walking through the track.


And look at -- when you walk through this -- now, this is my third subway stop that I'm at in the several hours. It's just amazing to see how many people are still here, trying to wait this out to get home.

I mean, the trains are not going to be running anytime soon, at least not until daybreak as they need continue to inspect the track, they need to see if it's safe to running. The trains -- a lot of the stops are still flooded. There's still a lot of water that needs to be pumped out. So, I mean, people are standing around. I've seen people sleeping. Some people just lying on the benches here. But they're going to be here all night. And it's really -- it's just sad to see this because, you know, many people are just trying to get home.

I've seen frontline workers, nurses and delivery people on their bikes after spending the day delivering food, even in the rain out there, you know, delivering food, trying to get home. And so, that's what's going on. You have people that are just stranded. They have nowhere to go. They're trying to figure out how to get home.

I did see people up out on the streets, they were trying to stop cabs, Ubers to see if they can carpool may be to get home in that way. You know, people making friends here trying to figure out where do people live, and perhaps they can share a ride. And I'm seeing some lights here coming through the tunnel. So, people are getting excited thinking it's the subway but it looks like more track workers. Well, there is a subway -- there is a car that's coming through the subway stop here, it's a C train.

So, let's see, maybe people will be able to get on and hopefully starts to head home. But this is certainly something, some glimmer of hope for people here. I don't know. I mean, this is going to be a really long night for so many people here who are stranded.

VAUSE: Just very quickly, Shimon, while we have you. You say the track workers are down they're trying to obviously work out what the situation is. Is there any other sign down there? Are there any kind of emergency personnel, police there or are there any crews there trying to help these people or are they pretty much left on their own?

PROKUPECZ: They're left on their own. Which is to me it's just astounding. Like, you know, there are no MPA workers going to them asking them anything. So, there is a train that just pulled into the -- it's the C train, the 8th Avenue line here in Times Square, and it looks like they're going to take passengers on the train here. So, hopefully, some good news here for folks trying to get home. I don't know.

I see a guy here who's feet are soaking wet, he's barefoot, getting on the train here. But OK. So, this train it leaves some hope for folks here. We'll see what happens here. But no, there's been barely any police. People are left on their own here at this point. It's pretty amazing actually to see. And you know, some people are losing patience. They're arguing with some the clerks that work in the token booths. But for the most part, people are just hanging out. You know, it's been peaceful so far, and hopefully that continues. But there is some glimmer hope here as we see one train pulling in, it's going to head up down, I don't know how far it's going to be able to take people. But some hope here.

VAUSE: Shimon Prokupecz, that is some good news. There is at least one train operating in the subway heading up town. Rosy.

CHURCH: All right. Brian Stelter is standing by in New Jersey.

Brian, we're getting word of major flooding from New York to Philadelphia. What details are you getting on that?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that's a state of emergency is in effect here in New Jersey as well as in New York. This is what it's like when the Gulf of Mexico gets dumped on to the northeast. That's what we are witnessing as the remnants of Ida move north, and so much energy, so much water is being moved with it.

The New York National Service calling this an exceedingly rare event. And just sharing some new data about how much water was inundating the region in the last few hours, saying there have been widespread rainfall, of totals of to three to five inches. And then six to eight inches within one specific band that did include New York City, and that's why, we are seeing so many basements flooded in New York City, so many cars submerged.

And I actually fear that when I wake up in the morning, and when the sunrise, we're going to see more of the damage in and around New York City as a result of this inundation. But we have already seen some of the images from Newark, New Jersey, from Passaic, from other parts of this region that absolutely were actually saturated, you know.

You know, certainly folks here in Jersey expected a day of rain. But when this rain, which, you know, is coming on so fast, so fierce as the climate gets warmer and warmer and warmer, this environment become so saturated, you get so much rainfall so quickly that it overwhelms the infrastructure. And that's true in small towns in Pennsylvania, in New Jersey, and it's equally true, when you get to Hoboken, when you get to New York City, when you get to New Haven, Connecticut.


And now, as Ida moves further north, we are seeing reports of cars submerged in Western Massachusetts and in Barnstable Massachusetts. Now, thankfully, in the past few minutes we may have the tornado warning on Cape Cod has expired. Hopefully, the last of the tornado warnings. We saw some incredible images of tornadoes earlier in the day in Maryland and New Jersey near Philadelphia. These very rare kind of -- it is very rare to see a tornado of that scale on the ground in the Northeast. But it was all kicked up due to the remnants of Ida as the storm move north.

And I think when daybreak comes in a few hours the questions do turn to infrastructure. Can cities like New York and Newark and New Haven and Providence be more -- be built in a way to be more resilient during these storms? Because think about what happened 10 days ago, concert in Central Park, and it was called off halfway through because of torrential rain.

We found out that night that it was the heaviest hour of rain in New York City history. Well, that record from 10 days ago was smashed tonight. And new record for the most rain in a single hour in New York City. So, as we see more and more of these records as the extremes become the new normal, I think folks look around as they dig out from the floodwaters and they try to find their submerged cars and they wonder what is the solution to this puzzle.

CHURCH: Yes. It is certainly a wakeup call and perhaps a suggestion, some are saying, that powerlines need to be put underground like they are in some other cities because that vulnerability is extraordinary. We're seeing that in Louisiana right now.

Brian Stelter, many thanks. Shemon Prokupecz also joining us there earlier. Do stay safe both of you.

Joining me on the line now from Brooklyn, New York is James West.

Thank you so much for talking with us.

JAMES WEST: Rosemary, thank you for having me.

CHURCH: And, James, you just flew home to New York City from abroad, what did you think once you realize that the city was flooding? How did you get home? WEST: Well, I was arriving from London at JFK Airport, and it's usually a bit crazy getting home, usually about half an hour to 40 minutes trip. This time, it turned into over two hours, maybe two and a half hours to get home. Straight into the aftermath, the remnants of Hurricane Ida. And I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it.

I was here for Hurricane Sandy in New York City and your viewers may remember flooded streets, flooded subways. Well, tonight in New York City, the entire subway system is essentially suspended. The roads, everywhere I saw coming out of the airport and beyond flooded. Dozens and dozens and dozens of cars marooned, stranded. People are trying to work out what to do. Get out of their cars. Try to walk somewhere in the pouring rain.

Fortunately, I had a very (INAUDIBLE) New Yorker Uber driver who is committed to getting me home to some very sticky patches. But it was like rivers out there. And I saw many, many people in a lot worse conditions than I was in. Thank goodness.

CHURCH: And, James, as we've been speaking with us, we've been looking at these pictures, the images are just extraordinary in the subway, on the roads, it's just amazing. As you say, you've never seen anything like it, certainly not in New York City. So, once you got home, after two hours, normally a 30-minute trip as you say, took you two hours to get home, what did you find?

WEST: Well, I'm looking out the window and reviewing some of the photos and videos that I took on my trip home. And fortunately, my neck of the woods is totally fine here but winds swept in, obviously, very, very wet. But you know, tomorrow morning when the sun comes up, we'll begin to assess the damage. I've seen on Twitter and social media like you and your viewers, just looking at the extraordinary amount of water coming into this place.

And again, that closest comparison that I have is Hurricane Sandy where we were inundated then. And this to me, just my experience tonight and this is what I experienced then, I thought it was one of the bigger major weather events that I've seen in this city.

CHURCH: Yes. Totally understand that. James West, thank you so much for talking with us. And we're glad you got safely home.

WEST: Yes, I got to dry my hair now, I think.

CHURCH: There you. Thank you so much, James. Bye-bye.


VAUSE: It's a good plan. OK. Still to come. Floods and storms are not the only extreme weather right now in the United States. Wildfires in California has forced thousands from their homes, but there is now help coming directly from Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) AMANPOUR (voiceover): Welcome back, everyone. We return now to our breaking in the U.S. The remnants of Hurricane Ida brining deadly flooding to the Northeast. Both New York and New Jersey are under a state of emergency. More than 240,000 power outages are being reported across the region. Officials continuing to issue warnings to remain indoors.

CHURCH: Parts of New York City were under a flash flood emergency for the first time ever. Most subway service has been shut down. Meanwhile, the city has issued a travel ban until 5:00 am local time. All non-emergency vehicles must be off the streets.


And on the U.S. West Coast, a huge Caldor fire is now 23 percent contained. Firefighters are hoping improved weather conditions in the coming days will help bring the blaze under control. Strong gusty winds which had been driving the fire towards the mountainous resort area of Lake Tahoe are expected to ease in the coming hours.

VAUSE: But conditions remain bone-dry and humility low. More than 200,000 acres have burned, at least 700 homes and structures destroyed. Tens of thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate.


JOEY ANDERSON, CHRISTMAS VALLEY RESIDENT: We raised all eight of our children here. I want to go, but I also want to stay. I know once I leave, I can't get back in. So, that's come back here. So, that's the main thing.


VAUSE: And the White House has now approved a request from California for presidential emergency declaration for direct financial assistance.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is near Lake Tahoe with lake details.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing in the midst of the Caldor fire that is burning Northern California and working its way toward the Nevada border. This is Echo Lake. And right now, firefighters are using it as a source of water to take up and fight the blazes that we can see here up on the mountainside.

One thing that has made this fire very difficult to fight is the fact that so much of the terrain is very rugged. It is very remote. It is out there. Also, not all of this territory has seen fire. Take a listen to the head Cal Fire explain to me how long it's been since some of this area has burned.

CHIEF THOM PORTER, CAL FIRE DIRECTOR: The Caldor fire is burning in areas that have no fire history that we have been over 100 years to areas that have burned within the last 20 years, all of the above. And we're seeing it burn through different vegetation types and age classes that we would've necessarily expect to fire to spread through, and that is absolutely drought, climate change, dry fuel conditions that we just have not seen before.

ELAM: The chief also told me that people did heed those evacuation warnings around Lake Tahoe, which if you haven't been out there, it's a great tourist destination that people come to pretty much year- round. During the summer month, they come to enjoy the lakes. And during the winter, they come here to ski. So, this is really crucial to a lot of people. And he says that, as of now, they have been able to protect Lake Tahoe, but still, this Caldor fire has been devastating, burning more than 200,000 acres and more than 500 residents have been lost.

Near Lake Tahoe, I am Stephanie Elam, CNN.


CHURCH: And we will continue our coverage in just a moment. Stay with us.



CHURCH: An update now on the breaking news in the Northeastern United States. Governors of New York and New Jersey have declared states of emergency because of massive flooding. And this is a flooded intersection in Queens, New York. And you can see a fire truck preventing vehicles from driving into those dangerous floodwaters. The region's been slammed by remnants of Hurricane Ida.

VAUSE: The flooding prompted New York City to shut down the subway. The city has banned all nonemergency travel for the next two hours. More than 240,000 homes and businesses across the region are without power

CHURCH: And the massive rapid flooding took many people by surprise.

VAUSE: But as the rain started to ease, rescue operations began. Here's the commissioner for Emergency Management in New York City.

JOHN SCRIVANI, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: We are seeing a lot of what you are showing on the screen, right? We are seeing a lot of flooding, city-wide. We are seeing, unfortunately, people's basements are being flooded. You know, people are getting stuck in their cars across the city. This came in fast and furious. And, obviously, you know, the city has some difficulty absorbing that much water in a short period of time.

And, you know, as you are showing now on the screen, we have seen a lot of the subway impacted. So, we are lucky that the water is starting to subside, the rain is starting to let up, and we could really start to get of this overnight. We are out rescuing people in the street out of their cars. We've had a few people that we kind of rescue out of basements. You know, unfortunately, this came in so fast that, you know, people -- you know, we try to tell people ahead of time, don't drive into flooded areas. But I believe this just happened so quickly that people really didn't anticipate and got stuck. So, we have police department and the fire department out there with high wheeled vehicles really getting in there and getting those people out as fast as they can.

CHURCH: And Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us once again.

Pedram, course, the flooding is the biggest concern right. What do people in the Northeast need to know at this hour, about what they should and shouldn't do?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, another three to four hours, Rosemary, if you're across portions of Rhode Island, Connecticut, on into Massachusetts, this involves Boston in the news next couple of hours, that heavy rainfall is going ending up in your backyard in the next couple of hours.

And really, the amount of rainfall that has been observed as impressive, as remarkable, as unprecedented as it gets for what has occurred here, and you see the flood emergencies that were replaced. This is a very rare product of National Weather Service issues. Just a couple of times per year. Usually, when it has to do with flooding that requires water rescues and significant threat to life. And they had that at one point, covering 200 -- almost the 200-mile stretch of land from portions of Pennsylvania into New Jersey and New York State.

Look at Newark, that is the most disrupted airports in the world now. Newark's Liberty Airport with over eight inches coming in a matter over couple of hours. Now, has some 300 flights that have already been preemptively canceled going into Thursday morning. Here's what is of Ida as it begins to push offshore over the next couple of hours.


And again, by say 8:00, 9:00 a.m., we will be in the clear with all of this. But the damage is certainly going to be left in place and even severe weather to be had. Tornado watches across parts of this region, Rosemary, until 6:00 in the morning, we've prompted some five tornadoes.

Keep in, mind the States of New Jersey, New York, into Connecticut, these states they averaged two to three tornadoes per year and they are getting this amount here in the overnight 24 hours. So, you know, very dangerous still across the area. Rosy?

CHURCH: Yes. Most definitely. Predram, thank you so much for keeping such a close eye on that.

And you are watching CNN Newsroom I am Rosemary Church.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. And more coverage of the weather emergency in the Northeast after a very short break. You're watching CNN.


CHURCH: And welcome back to CNN's breaking news coverage from CNN headquarters here in Atlanta.