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American Morning

You've Got Snow; Interview with Governor Chris Christie; Bond Is Back!; Haiti: One Year Later; Memories of Christina; Superhero Injured

Aired January 12, 2011 - 08:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, top of the hour now here on this AMERICAN MORNING. Good morning to you all on this Wednesday, January the 12th. I'm T.J. Holmes.

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho. Kiran has the morning off.

There is lots to talk about this morning. Top of mind, of course, is the weather. So, let's get right to it.

The Northeast belted by snow again. Two storms colliding and then exploding with snow. It has been a week of extreme weather. Get this -- 49 out of the 50 states in the United States of America have snow on the ground right now.

HOLMES: Also, the parents of accused Tucson, Arizona gunman, they are now breaking their silence, speaking out for the first time, and they're apologizing. We'll have all the new details on the story, including the promising update about Congresswoman Giffords' condition.

CHO: Well, some say he is the GOP's best hope in 2012 -- that man there -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The fearless fiscal conservative, as he's called, taking on unions, making harsh cuts in the face of a financial crisis. We will talk live with the man some call the new darling of the GOP.

HOLMES: Also, take a look at the video. Do you see this? Not much and then there's a flash. What exactly is that?

It was caught on video surveillance cameras and it was also witnessed by dozens of people across several states. Police saw it, too. They checked it out. But nobody knows exactly what it was. We'll show you more of this video and some of the speculation as well.

CHO: But, up first, the Northeast getting slammed again by a powerful winter storm. Right now, there is a blizzard warning in Boston. New York's mayor is warning everyone to brace for a difficult day. That's for sure. Two big storms collided last night becoming one monster system.

HOLMES: And we have this extreme weather covered for you this morning and we're going to be telling you how it's going to affect you, your air travel and people on the roads, as well.

Our Rob Marciano is tracking the storm for us from Atlanta. Ice and snow from an earlier storm this week still has that city paralyzed.

Also, our Jason Carroll, he's here in New York. We'll find out how the city faring this time around.

Also, our Martin Savidge, he is in a southern city where there's so much ice and know they're simply throwing up the hands, just trying to wait for it to melt. There's the idea.

Also, our Carter Evans live for us at New York's LaGuardia Airport.

CHO: And we' begin with Carter at LaGuardia Airport.

Flights are being canceled, that's for sure. Passengers stranded. What is the situation like right now where you are, Carter?

CARTER EVANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alina, whether you're looking at the video monitors or this app on my iPad right here, it's just a sea of red. Lots of flights cancelled. Officially, 650 flights at LaGuardia are canceled today, 300 at JFK, and 425 fights canceled at Newark.

You know, you look behind, it looks empty. I mean, I have never seen LaGuardia this empty before. I think people got the message. A lot of airlines canceled these flights early. They canceled them last night.

So, there was time for word to get out. But as always, there are a few people who try to give it a shot and today, those people are out of luck.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They canceled the flight. I tried to get another flight. They told me probably to come here in LaGuardia. I will get something.

I came here. They have some flight with another company at 6:45. But they canceled all those flights.

EVANS: You got to get comfortable, huh? This is -- this is your little -- this is your hotel room today, huh?


EVANS: The price is right, though?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes. The price is OK.


EVANS: It's just not so comfortable. That's the thing.

You know, a lot of people are checking with their airlines and what I'm hearing, T.J. and Alina, is that the airlines are saying probably this afternoon to get you out. A lot of them are issuing flight waivers. That means you can cancel or change your flight today or tomorrow without any fees. You want to go check with your airline for that.

Also, another travel note, this one on Amtrak. Service between New York and Boston suspended right now because of a downed tree that fell on the power lines. So, temporarily suspended there for Amtrak. Back to you, two.

CHO: Whether it's by rail or by air, or on the roads, you're going to face a delay today. I think that's for sure. Carter Evans at LaGuardia Airport -- Carter, thank you.

HOLMES: And something else you are going face today, at least if you live in the United States, you've got snow. Well, except for you all down there in Florida, actually.

Yes, 49 of 50 states have snow on the ground right now. And the Lower 48, nearly 70 percent of the ground is covered. Can you believe that? That's more than double the amount from December. It's a snow maker so rare not even -- no one really knows the last time this happened. Records aren't kept for this kind of event.

CHO: Meteorologist Rob Marciano live for us -- excuse me -- in Atlanta this morning. Pardon me.

HOLMES: Quite all right.

CHO: With the forecast.

I know you called this a fast-moving storm. I mean, the snow's stopped here in New York City. So, where is it right now? When's it going out to sea, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's going to take -- it will slow down somewhat as it goes across New England, but the good thing is that it's moving faster than the last one that came through, but dumping snow at extraordinary rates.

Take a look some of the numbers already coming in as far as snow totals and then some of these cities the snow is still coming down, notably in Connecticut. Manchester, Connecticut had over 16 inches of snow; New Britain seeing over 17 inches: Suffield, 15 inches. Still snowing in those towns.

Central Park, it stopped, 8.8. Newark, 8.6. Philly seeing five inches.

All right. Here's the storm. You see the back edge of it moving through the tri-state area. Connecticut, all of Massachusetts, most of New Hampshire and Vermont and part of New York still in the heavy, heavy snow here. You see it cranking up, moisture intensifying, as are the winds.

Blizzard conditions right now in Boston. They have had -- they have over 60,000 people already without power because of the snow and the wind there.

And here's the forecast snowfall expected: 12 to 20 inches, possibly more in some spots before it's all said and done.

And then on the backside of this is the cold air. That's what we're getting a taste of down south. So, what was a brief warm-up across parts of the South has now refreezing the Pacific Northwest also getting a taste of another storm.

But here in Atlanta, we are seeing something we haven't seen in several days coming up over the eastern horizon. It is -- it is a strange orange globe in the sky, it's the sun. But the problem is the temperatures are in the 20s and probably remain below freezing. So, the sun will help, you know, hit the blackness of the road and maybe melt some of the roads, but generally speaking what melted briefly yesterday has refrozen.

They have gone through extraordinary efforts to bring in subcontractors to clear the roadways. They went from having about 10 plows a few days to over 50 pieces of equipment to get in here and try to treat some of these roadways because the "let it melt" mentality hasn't worked certainly with this storm, guys, as it has -- the South, again, in a deep freeze.

Back out to you.

CHO: All right. Rob Marciano live for us in Atlanta with that travel forecast, weather forecast, thank you so much.

HOLMES: Also this morning, we got new developments and some promising news on the condition of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She is still in critical but stable condition. But doctors say she is now breathing on her own for the first time. Also, the chances of her surviving the gunshot wound to the head are now, and I quote here, "101 percent."

We're seeing also photos from inside her hospital room for the first time and this picture speaks wonders. The picture just shows not of her necessarily, just her hand -- her hand being held by her husband Mark Kelly who is keeping by her bedside right now.

CHO: Also this morning, for very the first time, we are hearing from the parents of the accused gunman, Jared Loughner. Randy and Amy Loughner apologized to the relatives of those killed saying, quote, "We wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday. We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We are so very sorry for their loss."

HOLMES: Also, this morning, the president still preparing to deliver an address that everyone will be paying attention to today. He's going to be flying to Tucson to lead a memorial service for the victims at the University of Arizona. The White House says he's working on his speech right now and he is looking to find exact, right tone in these remarks.

CHO: Sarah Palin is now breaking her silence on the Tucson shooting. She is responding to critics who say she may have contributed to the political climate that led to the shooting.

She posted a video response on her Web site this morning, saying in part, "There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for this despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in the calm days when political figures literally settled the differences with dueling pistols."

HOLMES: Well, also coming up, we got somebody in the house maybe you should know. Take a look at this man. Do you know this man? A lot of people say you should. They call him a political genius.

Calling you a genius, Governor.

And they think that maybe his genius could be coming to a state near you. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey in the house with us. We'll talk to him right after the break.


CHO: New video just in to CNN. Vice President Joe Biden in Pakistan this morning, working toward peace and stability in that region. He has met with Pakistan's president and prime minister in Islamabad. The vice president wants them to step up in the fight against al Qaeda and Taliban militants who hide out in northwest Pakistan and launch attacks on American troops across the border into Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Oman today where she took part in a town hall meeting talking about the power of youth and women in the Middle East.

Yesterday, in Yemen, Mrs. Clinton was boarding a plane when she apparently tripped over a step and ended up on the floor. A man quickly tried to help her to her feet. And someone on the plane shut off the lights right away, thankfully. The secretary of state was not injured -- T.J.

HOLMES: Well, at 12 minutes past the hour now.

They have actually called him a darling of the Republican Party.

How's that sound to you, Governor? Are you a darling?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Yes. Not used frequently, T.J.

HOLMES: I'm sitting here, of course, talking about Governor Chris Christie. He's made some headlines for the right and wrong reasons and you probably used to that. A lot of people are still talking about you being out of town during that big blizzard.


HOLMES: People always talking about you in 2012.

So, what I'm going to do here, first, thank you for being here.

CHRISTIE: Happy to be here.

HOLMES: They're usually saving this question for last. I'm just going to ask it first, get it out of the way, clear the air between you and me.


HOLMES: You've already said there's no way you're going to run for president in 2012. How about this? Would you like to be president one day?

CHRISTIE: You know, T.J., I can't even imagine it. I mean, I gave the State of the State Address in New Jersey yesterday. I've been watching the speeches for 30 years and I stood up on that podium and said, I can't believe I'm governor of New Jersey. So, I'm still having a sense of wonder about that. The idea of president doesn't really cross my mind.

HOLMES: Now, the reason it keeps -- your name keeps coming up and people put you in polling even at this early date is because of what you've been able to do in your state. First of all, a Republican elected in a blue state. Second of all, you've been able to balance the budget. Third of all, you've been able to get some of your agenda through and doing it by pissing people off, quite frankly, taking on a lot of folks including unions.

That gives some Republicans and state leaders some encouragement in their states, but also scares some people in other states, as well.

Can that work other places or you got a unique situation there?

CHRISTIE: No. I think it can work in other places. I think you just have to tell people the truth. You know, treat them like adults. I mean, it's not like anybody in New Jersey or the other these other states don't know that we're in really hard times and I think what they want is for their leaders to just give it to them straight.

They know there's no magic wand we can wave to fix this. There's going to be some ugly stuff to dig out of the problems we've created for ourselves over the last decade. So, let's get to work.

HOLMES: And some ugly stuff we're talking about is you're going at it with the teacher's union there. And you have even called -- it's been reported -- the head of the teachers union a, quote, "greedy thug"? Did you call her that?

CHRISTIE: No. I said the union itself were a bunch of greedy thugs.

HOLMES: Oh, so not just one. A collection of greedy thugs.

CHRISTIE: A collection, yes, yes.

HOLMES: And that's better?

CHRISTIE: I don't know if it's better but it's more accurate.

HOLMES: But that language, though -- that language, though, and some people can relate to that. And what you're saying. But when you hear a state leader going after a teacher's union, it's hard for some people to separate teachers from teacher's union. It sounds like you're going directly after the people who educate our children.

CHRISTIE: No, definitely not. There are thousands of incredible teachers in New Jersey who are doing a great job every day. They're not being well-represented by this union, because all the union cares about is higher wages, cheaper benefits for them, for their members, bigger pensions and protecting bad teachers through this awful tenure system that we have. And that's doesn't help educate children.

So, I'm all for the good teachers. In fact, I say, we should pay the good teachers more. We should carry them on our shoulders to school every day.

But that's not what the union people are doing. The union people are there to protect themselves with their, you know, $300,000, $400,000 executive directors and army of lobbyists to come in. It's crazy.

HOLMES: They're supposed to protect their people. It's teacher union. It's supposed to look out for teachers.

CHRISTIE: Protect the good ones, not the bad ones.

HOLMES: Now, a lot of changes you want to make, but your state has some pretty impressive numbers, I believe, the highest high school graduation rate in the country. You're all around 80 percent or something like that. Teachers make pretty good wages. Aren't you afraid if you mess with that system too much, you might actually mess up what's been working for you?

CHRISTIE: No. I'm not because you're looking at just pockets of what happens on our state. You go to the city of Newark, we spend over $24,000 per pupil for year and one out of every two kids graduates from high school in Newark. In Camden, it's even worse.

I can't be content with the fact that in our suburbs, kids are doing on the main fairly well, but in our cities and to some more challenged areas, kids are living with no hope. I can't live with that. That's not what it means to have an American dream. And I want these kids to be able to reach their aspirations.

HOLMES: OK. I'm going to have to wrap up here with you, and I'll go on this note with some people might find amusing, but it's actually a serious challenge for you. "Jersey Shore" and the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" --


HOLMES: Do you feel in some way you're in competition with those shows for frankly the integrity and the image of your state?

CHRISTIE: Yes. I absolutely do.

HOLMES: Who's winning?

CHRISTIE: We're winning.

HOLMES: You think you're winning --

CHRISTIE: Oh, yes. After the first year, yes. I think we are. I mean, I think we're starting to turn it.

HOLMES: But do you think people know more about your state in a positive way than they know about Snooki?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, Snooki's all different situation. But, you know, I'll just tell you this. What we're doing now and you read the newspapers across the country, when you hear governors like John Kasich now in Ohio yesterday saying New Jersey is a model for what they want to try to do, it's going to take some little time to overcome the "Jersey Shore," "Real Wives of the New Jersey," "Sopranos" image.

But the fact is that there are great people in New Jersey who are working incredibly hard and who do a great job for their families and for our country. And I understand the entertainment. I understand MTV, and they're making a lot of money off the "Jersey Shore" and that's good for them. They're in business to make money. I'm in business to let people know what the real New Jersey is.

And the real New Jersey is a group of hard working people who raise their families and do their jobs every day and deserve credit for being leaders. And that's what we're going to be known as when I'm done.

HOLMES: And still, no apology from you. You haven't apologized for being gone during that Christmas weekend blizzard. You were gone with your family. You explain it.


HOLMES: Still no apology for it?


HOLMES: Not at all. All right.


HOLMES: Simple as that. Governor Christie, we appreciate you.

CHRISTIE: Thanks for the time, man.

HOLMES: Good luck this year. We're going to be watching you closely.

CHRISTIE: Good. Good.

HOLMES: All right.


HOLMES: Alina.

CHO: There you have it. All right. T.J., governor, thank you.

So, what was that whizzing across the sky last night? Some say it looked like a ball of fire and then it burned green. We've got the video. We'll show you and a likely answer.

Plus, nobody wants to be stranded in an airport, but if you had to be, which one is the best one to be stuck in? A new study about who's number one. We'll show you where it is and what makes this airport so special. That's next.


HOLMES: Twenty minutes past the hour. If you're looking for new vehicle, Maserati now has another one if you can't afford. Coming in 2012, a Maserati brand SUV.

CHO: Wow.

HOLMES: The CEO of Chrysler and Fiat made the announcement at the Detroit auto show but check under the hood. This SUV it ain't playing around because it's powered by a Ferrari-designed engine. I don't have the number here about how much it will cost, but --

CHO: Where is it?

HOLMES: Yes, about that. It'll be unveiled. They just talked about it. We haven't seen it yet.

CHO: Right, sure. There's not a spec or something. Concept car. Wow. I'm sure it's a good one.

HOLMES: Oh, yes.

CHO: Well, Bond, James Bond, that is, is coming back to the big screen for his 23rd feature film. That's Daniel Craig, the latest bond. He will re-prize the role that he's played twice before in "Casino Royale" and "Quntum of Solace". Sam Mendez of "American Beauty" fame will direct. Production begins later this year with a November 2012 release date.

HOLMES: Like that bond. He's got an edge to him. CHO: Yes.

HOLMES: Like him a lot.

Also, what was this in the sky? May have been a meteor, some were saying.


HOLMES (voice-over): This was in the south. What you're seeing here is surveillance video at the home of Scott and Paula King in Richland, Mississippi. Their home has some security cameras out there. They were rolling at about 8:45. Those cameras picked up that flash.

The sheriff's office received dozens of calls from people who saw this, all of them described something brilliant flashing across the sky with a long trail. This morning in Oklahoma, Sebastian County Sheriff's office insist it was a meteor. They believe it landed near a local mountain range.


CHO: T.J., you're going to love this next story.

HOLMES (on-camera): All right.

CHO: Straight from the movie "A Christmas Story."

HOLMES: Love it.

CHO: You know, a kid's tongue stuck to a pole.


CHO: On purpose. It happened in Oklahoma yesterday. The eight- year-old boy put his tongue to the pole after his brother dared him. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911, what is your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm at the middle school on Oak and 10th Street, and there's a little kid here with his tongue stuck to the stop sign pole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was up on his tippy toes. And his tongue was, I mean, not just a little bit of his tongue stuck to the pole, he had a large portion of his tongue frozen to the pole. It took us about a minute of just slowly pouring the water over his tongue, and we kind of gently massaged his tongue, and then, it finally, it came off.


CHO: Poor little guy. Aw. The eight-year-old lost a little skin, apparently. But otherwise, he's OK. Thankfully.

HOLMES: That -- excuse me. It was a dare in the movie, wasn't it? Isn't that (ph) how it went? My goodness.

All right. A lot of folks out there probably watching us right now in airports. You're not going anywhere. We got snow on the ground in 49 states. A lot of people are stranded. That's no good, but, if you are stuck, the place you want to get stuck, Jacksonville International Airport. The London observer just ranked it the best airport in America to be stranded in.

That's because walls covered with fine art. Even in the bathrooms, they have fine art making it a lot easier to maybe pass the time or pass whatever while you're --

CHO: Fancy, fancy.

HOLMES: At the airport.

CHO: You know, the Twitter verse as they call it blowing up this morning.


CHO: Over our very own T.J. Holmes and winter boots or lack of winter boots. If you're with us yesterday, you know that our Atlanta transplant did not have winter boots. You know, and he tweeted this just a couple of hours ago. Atlanta gets an average of four inches of snow a year. Why in the world do I need winter boots?

And tips to stay warm and dry have been pouring in like this one. Take plastic shopping bags and wrap around each foot. If snow is really deep, try a garbage bag. Hopefully, won't need 30 gal.

HOLMES: OK. Was that for real? Was that a real --

CHO: Listen, if you're in a pinch. Also, at the other end of the spectrum, a pair of Ralph Lauren boots. Fashion meets convenience. Guess what? You actually heeded our advice.


CHO: You went into -- I knew you went into one fancy department store.


CHO: Which shall remain nameless.

HOLMES: And I ran out screaming.

CHO: Crying like a baby.

HOLMES: I did. But no, no. We get around average -- you all know this, an average of four inches of snow a year in Atlanta.

CHO: Right.

HOLMES: That's where I live. I don't have a need for those right there. I have --

CHO: Well, you got some fashionable boots. We'll check them out.

HOLMES: Those were the only ones they can find under $700 here in New York.

CHO: The question is, I mean, you wore them in, obviously. Did they work?

HOLMES: I didn't really need them. We thought we were going to have a major event, and it wasn't even that big of a problem this morning. But hey, I have them now for later. Thank you all for the advice. But, again, I'm learning so much being here in New York with you guys.

CHO: You are, you are. They're good to have.


CHO: You'll use them.

HOLMES: I will.

All right. The city of Atlanta was not prepared. We're not prepared in Atlanta. The big snowstorm this week, in fact, they even made a conscious decision not to be ready. Why in the world? Some say it's illogical, but we'll make perfect sense of it. Coming up.


CHO: Twenty-eight minutes after the hour. One year ago today, an earthquake changed Haiti forever. 230,000 people were killed. More than a million Haitians lost their homes, forced to seek shelter in tent cities.

Today, about a million still remain homeless, living in camps like this one outside the presidential palace. But there are some encouraging signs of rebuilding. In fact, one street was nothing but broken concrete and twisted steel a year ago. Now, as you can see there, cars and people do move along a rubble-free road.

Our very own Soledad O'Brien has written a book that chronicles her experience covering the flight at Haiti's orphans after the earthquake. She joins us now from New Orleans this morning with an update on those orphans. I remember watching you, Soledad, when this was happening, and I couldn't help but thinking you're a mother of four and how much this touched you personally. But I know that there was one particular journey that moved you. Tell us about that.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. In the "Next Big Story" which is the name of my book, we tell the harrowing tale, and you might remember it when we were reporting on it the first time of trying to make our way to the embassy with 135 orphans. They were trying to get them to the U.S. embassy to get documents and get them out of that country in sort of the mad rush if you remember at the time of getting the children out, especially the orphans.

I was on that bus, which was packed with kids. Ninety-degree temperatures. The children were very desperately ill, many of them. Four kids on my lap and four in very single seat, and at one point, we were hit by an aftershock, so the bus completely veered off the road. This is a look at how we reported that story back then.


O'BRIEN (voice-over): Just 330 Haitian children were adopted by Americans in 2009, but they hoped to persuade the U.S. to increase adoptions because of the earthquake.

(on camera): It's hot. The fan is hotter. Babies are there and comfortable but it's hot and we have children throwing up.

(voice-over): They are turned back.

(on camera): What did they say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a phone call from guys at the embassy. They said not to bring the kids right now. There is some paperwork that needs to be done.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): All of the sick and hungry children returned to their orphanage.


O'BRIEN: Alina, one of the babies on the bus was a little girl named Valencia. She was very, very ill. I actually was very fearful she was going to die. She had heat exhaustion, throwing up, near dehydration.

So I want to show you some photos of Valencia now. She is living in Denver. Her adoptive parents are Kim and Patrick Trott. Eventually just under 1,100 children air lifted out of Haiti. And on today we tell the story of how most of the kids were successfully delivered into the arms of the parents waiting in the United States.

But there was a small number where it went terribly, terribly wrong. Some of those children, a small number have spent the last year in the year since the earthquake living in an immigration detention center which is essentially like a jail. Some of them, a dozen, had adoptive parents who, in fact, decided they didn't want them and turned them back. Of those 12 that number of cases is now down to five.

Most, though, are on the path to becoming Americans. Not so lucky, of course, is the nearly 400,000 Haitian orphans who live in Haiti today. The number has grown substantially many people think because of the cholera epidemic, the aftermath of the earthquake and the lack of progress really structurally across the country. The cholera outbreak as you know killed more than 3,000 people.

The orphanages we covered a year ago covering the story in Haiti and gotten the children out to the United States, Alina, those orphanages refilled with more children in Haiti and they're once again trying to get the kids out. It's one of the stories I tell in my book, "The Next Big Story."

CHO: Yes, you do. It's a fascinating read. Thank you so much for that unique perspective. I look forward the seeing you in person again. Soledad O'brien, the book is called "The Next Gig Story," and you can get it in bookstores now.

HOLMES: We'll give you a look at other stories keeping a close eye on. Evacuations with raging floodwaters threatening to overwhelm Australia's third largest city. Brisbane now swamped by water from a dam in danger of collapsing. Nearly 20,000 homes are in the path of the flood surge.

CHO: Well, as we have been reporting, the northeast slammed again by a power winter storm. You know this if you're waking up in the northeast right now. In fact, there's a blizzard warning in Boston. Amtrak suspended train service between New York City and Boston.

HOLMES: Flight cancelations all over the place. Most domestic flights at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports canceled through the early afternoon. Major airlines say it could be a few days before everything gets back to normal.

CHO: Well, right here in our backyard, nearly nine inches of snow has fallen on parts of New York City. Our Jason Carroll joins us live from Central Park this morning. So Jason, I know the snow stopped falling. That's great news for you. How are the streets doing?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're right. It is very good news for us and for New Yorkers, too. Streets are looking good and in the past few hours. Take a look. I was standing out here in the middle of the snow at about 6:00 a.m. this morning. Now look at it. Plows have come through, cleared it so pedestrians come through and this portion of central park.

Look at the roads out there. You know the area right here. Iconic sight here at Columbus Circle. The streets are all cleared out. This is in part of the mayor's new 15-point snow action plan, the result of the botched response during the Christmas blizzard. This time around, the mayor promised that New Yorkers would get better service from the city. This is the result. You've got more plows out on the roads. More salt spreaders on the road. GPS equipment on the roads, that's helping things, as well. You have monitors looking at things.

So this go around the mayor promised better service. This time the city got it. Alina?

CHO: Jason Carroll, try to stay warm. Thank you. HOLMES: We turn to Atlanta now and our Marty Savidge is standing by there where in Atlanta there's a different strategy for trying to clear the streets. You hear New York talking about plows and whatnot, and Atlanta not plowing a thing. Just let it melt.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, T.J. you are right. When Atlanta saw the major storm heading its way, the mayor doubled the number of snowplows and dump trucks for the city. They went from ten to 20. There's 1,600 miles of roads here in Atlanta, and it didn't make that big of difference.

They're up to 58 trucks on the road right now. Here at the Georgia world Congress center there was a convention. That convention went forward because everybody was in town. Down the street there's another big convention set to open. Nobody's there, and the losses could be huge.


SAVIDGE: Officials knew Atlanta wasn't prepared for the storm. In fact, over the years the city made a conscious decision not to be ready.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Historically, what's been the attitude of the city when it comes to snow or ice?

MAYOR KASIM REED, (D) ATLANTA: Well, I mean, when I was a boy growing up here it was a day off, a day or two off. But now that I'm mayor, that's fundamentally different.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Atlanta has relied on two basic facts -- southern snowstorms are rare, and the best way to get rid of the snow is to let it melt. That logic fails about once a decade. This time the city remained shut down for days as roads became impassable. In fact the roads are still so bad I couldn't get to the experts I wanted to interview, so I called them.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Do we have any idea of what the snow event for the city of Atlanta may cost?


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Cunningham says because a convention might have been snowed out doesn't mean the city lost money. Most passengers stuck in the art would have passed through but spent money on hotels and ate at area restaurants. What about all those businesses who couldn't work because their employees couldn't get in?

CUNNINGHAM: There's certainly some lost income associated with hourly workers not being able to get in and get paid. A lot of that aggregate output is made up over the course of the year.

SAVIDGE: But why lose it at all? Why not just buy the equipment to handle the snow? I got that answer in the next call to the Georgia Department of Transportation. JILL GOLDBERG, DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY, GDOT: A snowplow is $250,000. You would need so many of them it would be $100 million or more to shell out in order to truly cover all of the interstates.

SAVIDGE: And that's not likely to happen in this economy.


SAVIDGE: And that's pretty much what it boils down to, money here. The mayor says it is not worth the huge investment to get the equipment for an event that doesn't happen that often.

And in fact when I talked to the economist, he says the business community would pretty much support the mayor in that attitude. He did say, though, if there's one part of the city where they might want a few more plows and shovels, it would probably be out to the western side of the city where they should concentrate, that place called the airport. It happens to be the busiest in the world. T.J.?


HOLMES: Oh, yes, that place. Good stuff. Who knew a snowplow cost that much? Martin Savidge for us, an interesting look this morning, thanks so much.

CHO: Marty has a way with words.

HOLMES: He does. "That place called the airport."

Also still ahead today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joining this very touchy debate over the Arizona shooter's motives, calling him extreme, even comparing him to a terrorist. She's sitting down with CNN one on one.

CHO: Plus an interview you don't want to miss. Coming up, talking live to the husband of Susan Hileman, one of those injured in the Tucson shootings on Saturday. She was also holding hands with her nine-year-old neighbor Christina Green when she was shot and killed. We will have her personal story from her husband next.


HOLMES: It's 42 minutes past the hour now. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a visit to Oman right now and sat down with CNN, took time to remember the victims of the Tucson shootings, also joined in on the sensitive debate about the gunman's motives. Take a listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: When you cross the line from expressing opinions that are of conflicting differences in our political environment into taking action that's violent action, that's a hallmark of extremism, whether it comes from the right, the left, Al Qaeda, from anarchists, whoever it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: Secretary Clinton first made the comments at a town hall meeting in Abu Dhabi on Monday, calling for people around the world to come together to reject radical ideologies.

CHO: One of the most tragic stories to come out of the shootings is the death of nine-year-old Christina Green. She was born on September 11th, 2001. She died embracing the patriotism her parents say her birthday inspired in her.

Joining us is Bill Hileman. His wife is the one who brought Christina to the event. They were very close, they're neighbors. In fact, Susie was holding Christina's hand when she was shot. She is still in the hospital recovering this morning. Mr. Hileman, thank you for joining us this morning. I guess first things first -- your wife was shot at least three times. How is she doing?

BILL HILEMAN, WIFE WAS VICTIM OF SHOOTING: She's doing much better, thank you. She had her second surgery yesterday. The gunshot wounds were dealt with on Saturday by the trauma specialist. Yesterday they went in and fixed her fractured hip, which was thought it was from the bullet, but it was from the fall she experienced when she was shot. She's doing much better.

CHO: That's Encouraging news, such encouraging news.

HILEMAN: Thank you.

CHO: Your wife actually took nine-year-old Christina Green to Congresswoman Giffords event in Tucson on Saturday. She was holding her hand when she was shot. She turned to you and what did she say?

HILEMAN: I expected questions about where am I and what happened, but right away it was is Christina OK? How's Christina? And there was nothing to do but to tell her honestly what had happened, that the girl had passed. And we have to deal as much as Susie has a lot of physical issues to deal with, this is going to be the toughest aspect of recovery.

I think she knows in clearer moments as a rational matter that blame really probably isn't hers, that it was an act of madness by a single individual. But I think any of us particularly those as parents can understand and weaker, darker moments you will go to a place that is going to haunt for a long time.

CHO: I can only imagine. I mean, my heart goes out to her, really, and to you, as well, because I can only imagine what you're going through right now.

Having said that, I mean, how aware do you think your wife is at this point of what happened on Saturday? Has she talked to you much about it? I understand she's been having some flashbacks, as well.

HILEMAN: She's been heavily medicated on a regimen of pain medicines. Normally, Suzi's a very, very verbal loquacious person. We're only getting snippets of things, some of them while she's conscious and some of them when she's in her -- kind of a dream state and coming out of it.

She has pretty vivid recollections which seem to be getting more so as the days go by. And -- and specific pictures and sounds and elements of what occurred that day are coming back and are -- we're -- we're able to start piecing together.

CHO: Well, I understand you've also spoken to the parents of Christina Green, John and Roxanna. I know -- much of that must be private but can you tell us a little bit about that conversation and what that meeting was like?

HILEMAN: Absolutely the most difficult aspect of this from day one is upon -- upon learning that Christina had not made it, it's just devastating. We -- we were pretty sure early on Suzi was going to survive and so we can kind of get into healing mode with her. But I think the toughest aspect of that healing is going to be the emotional side of it.

The Greens themselves have realized that and Roxanna herself, the -- the day after her daughter passed sent a beautiful, gracious e-mail to my wife assuring her the love that they hold her in, how much Christina had loved the relationship that they had shared and just how supportive they were going to be in an ongoing basis.

It was -- it was an incredible outreach by her. John and I played telephone tag for a couple of days and we were able to speak yesterday. And he could not, again, have been more helpful and more supportive of Suzi and trying to make sure that she didn't inappropriately blame herself for something that was -- was an act of madness by a third party.

CHO: Well, what a wonderful gift to be given and what a great source of comfort.

Bill Hileman, I know you remember Christina Green fondly. You call her a big personality, a good little athlete, great friend and a good sister, just a joy to be around. Of course, we hope that that is how she is remembered.

Bill Hileman, we thank you for joining us this morning.

HILEMAN: Thank you, Alina.

CHO: He's brave man for -- for talking to us this morning. It's such a tough time for him. And I'm sure.

HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: With all he is going through and so many are and now with funerals going to start tomorrow, we're going to see so many of them back to back to back.

But the nation as always will go on, will recover and will come together, as well.

Well, we're 47 minutes past the hour. We're going to take a quick break here on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Well, I'm told that's Albany, New York.

CHO: Wow.

HOLMES: And I'll just have to take their word for it. A lot of snow in Albany and you can't make out a whole lot there but you can make out a few buildings and you can make out the snow. It's supposed to be about 20 degrees right about now.

The snow is supposed to get even heavier. It'll get heavier for a lot of places, actually, throughout the day.

CHO: Good thing is they're used to it there in Albany --



CHO: -- New York. Rob Marciano live for us in Atlanta where they're not so used to -- this type of weather. Hey, Rob good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, good morning, guys.

Yes, not used to it at all and this is day three where the city is just trying to crawl around. Folks are, you know, walking to work if they can. A lot of folks still not going to work, school's closed again today. Government offices a lot of them are either closed or delay to get open and they -- the -- the mayor has ramped up efforts to try to clear the streets after being buried in snow and ice now for three days.

All right, let's talk about the -- the burying that's happening across the north east. Check out some of these snow totals. This is an incredible storm; two combining together off the New England coastline and already upwards of 19 inches in -- parts of Connecticut. We'll see obviously over 20 in some of these spots because it's still snowing.

Here's the radar where the -- the moisture is going. This has some deep tropical moisture with it from -- or southern moisture I should say and now it's really winding up. The winds are going to be a factor, blizzard conditions happening right now in Boston. Power is out to over 60,000 people. That number is going to rise. And they will be in this storm for a good chunk of the afternoon and evening.

And here in Atlanta, the snow -- the sun is actually coming up. We'll try to get to work on some of the roads with that but temperatures probably staying below freezing again today. Alina and T.J. back up to you.

CHO: All right. Thank you, Rob.

HOLMES: Well, we got the flight chaos out there, as well. Bonnie Schneider at our Extreme Weather Center with an update on flights right now and the update we can assume not a whole lot going on a whole of lot of places right now.


So many cancelations over the past few days in the south but now on Long Island in New York, Islip is now closed. I imagine this going to be temporary. They're probably going to reopen later today but it's due to the heavy snow coming in the area into Suffolk County and off Long Island and also certainly some very strong winds with the system.

Planning ahead, more delays are anticipated for Boston in particular. That's where the snow will be much heavier than New York and the wind will be intense, as well. Philadelphia, wind and blowing snow that may slow you down. Through the D.C. area, the snow hasn't been that bad but will look for more delays here in Atlanta and of course in Charlotte through Chicago and San Francisco. Back to you.

CHO: All right, Bonnie Schneider, not good news for a lot of travelers. Thank you so much for that report.

It is 53 minutes after the hour. We're back after this.


CHO: Oh where the real work happens.

HOLMES: Oh, yes back in -- oh yes those guys.

CHO: You know we told you about this guy last week but in case you weren't around, meet Phoenix Jones. He is Seattle's real-life superhero.

HOLMES: And you know in the beginning, people thought it was a little odd, a little quirky. But hey, he's trying to do a good thing. The guy dresses up as a superhero and he goes out and he tries to protect the citizens of the town.

Well, he needs a little protection himself now. As the man was trying to come to the rescue, he saw a fight about to break out and you know who ended up getting beat up? The superhero. Listen to him now kind of explain how this went down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I train for these situations. I don't just come out willy-nilly and just run on the streets.


HOLMES: Yes. How's that training working out for you there, partner? He was actually injured. He had a broken nose. The guys actually pulled a gun on him. But again police say this is exactly what they do not want to happen. They say, yes, he may have good intentions but ends up -- he might end up being the extra victim sometimes in a crime he is trying to stop.

CHO: I mean part of the problem might be the mask. Maybe he just -- you know he's -- he can't see very well.

HOLMES: Maybe that's it. Stop making excuses for him, Alina.

CHO: I'm just trying to be nice.


CHO: Fifty-six minutes after the hour. We're back after this.


HOLMES: Oh what timing. What timing for us. It's supposed to be a shot of Boston but the photographer had other things in mind. We didn't really have control over that shot but we'll show you Albany one more time. There they are. They started getting socked with snow right now about 20 degrees. It's supposed to only to get up to 25 and they will get more snow there just like a lot of places.

And I'm told now that the photographer's cooperating. No, he just set the shot back for us. Boston, again, expected to -- what was the number they're expecting to get?

CHO: More than a foot of snow.

HOLMES: More than a foot in Boston. Waves are picking up; stormy time, big storm just about to hit the northeast part of this country.

CHO: Schools will be closed today. Lots of shovels will be out, as well.


CHO: And a good day to stay in. You're snowed in.

Thank you so much for joining us on this edition of AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Alina Cho.

HOLMES: And I'm T.J. Holmes. We want to hand it over to the lovely Fredricka Whitfield, who is in Atlanta in the "CNN NEWSROOM". Hello there, Fred.