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At Least 23 Killed as Flash Floods Hit U.S. East Coast; Taliban Expected to Announce New Government Soon; U.N. Says Extreme Weather Happening Every Day on Average; FAA Grounds Virgin Galactic as It Probes July Flight. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired September 02, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN HOST: Now, the Dow is trying to hold on for its first gain of the week. U.S. stocks are heading for records overall as you can see
that those are the markets, and these are the main stories for you.
More than 20 people are dead on the U.S. East Coast after historic flash flooding hits overnight.
Turkey and the Netherlands join the efforts to try and reopen Kabul`s airport.
And shares in Virgin Galactic are dropping after claims there were problems with Richard Branson`s spaceflight.
Live from London, it is Thursday, the second of September. I`m Isa Soares and I, too, mean business.
Good evening, everyone. The death toll is rising on the U.S. East Coast as historic flash flooding leaves cities underwater and politicians really
demanding action. Rescues aren`t going right across several states. Areas of them got a month`s worth of rain in a single hour as the remnants of
Hurricane Ida passed over the region.
Right now, at least 23 people have been killed across the states from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In New York, subways and
basements are filled with water as you can see there. Several people were found dead in homes that were flooded before rescuers could actually reach
And transport links have been knocked out. This train was stranded a few miles southeast of New York City. And then there`s the volume of rain that
seemed to take the authorities really by surprise.
U.S. President Joe Biden said the recent weather disasters show the need to act on climate change. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The past few days of Hurricane Ida and the wildfires in the West and the unprecedented flash
floods in New York and New Jersey is yet another reminder that these extreme storms and the climate crisis are here.
We need to do -- we must be better prepared. We need to act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Evan McMorris-Santoro is in a New York City neighborhood, devastated by floods. Evan, give me a sense of what you`re seeing on the
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, when you talk about historic, deadly flooding, this is the place you need to talk about it.
This is a neighborhood in Queens, one of the hardest hit streets in this entire city. Last night, around 9:30 Eastern Time, waters came rushing into
this neighborhood. Right now, it looks dry, but there was water, a feet of water that filled the people`s basements, it filled up people`s driveways,
it filled people`s garages, wrecking their houses, wrecking their possessions.
And in the case of the house behind me, taking two lives as the water came rushing through and literally collapsed a wall in a basement apartment,
killing two people who are inside there.
Now, as you can see, the next day where we are right now, the focus is on the cleanup. These giant dumpsters are what people are using to try to get
their stuff out of their house. They can start cleaning things up.
But inside these houses, these waters left a lot of damage that they have to worry about in the future, trying to figure out whether they can keep
their houses going, if they can move back into their houses, and what kind of repairs that they need to do.
You mentioned that President Biden, talking about climate change, it is not just him. The Governor of New York also said climate change is a big
problem here and one of the reasons that this storm is happening and storms like this are happening.
Both Biden and the Governor of New York promising to do something about that, but also noting that as long as something isn`t done, these kinds of
historic storms that left people dead and have ruined lives all over this street may just keep happening -- Isa.
SOARES: Yes, and Evan, I was listening to the Governor of New York. Actually, I made some notes and it said, "We need to foresee these in
advance." So she talked about vulnerability, you know, streets, investment infrastructure.
I mean, I suspect, Evan, correct me, if I`m wrong, the majority of people had no warning, didn`t get a message on their phone, weren`t told us this
was going to happen.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, there was a lot of warnings that went out. But the issue is, according to officials, just how big the storm was. It was much
larger than they predicted that it would be. It dropped a whole bunch of rain that is just in unprecedented amounts that that led to a lot this of
But you`re right, the Governor says there may be things that they didn`t get right, things that they may be missed. She said she is going to look
into it. She is going to try to do an after-action report and figure those kind of things out.
But for New Yorkers, that kind of action needs to come pretty quickly because people were trapped in trains, in basements all over the city as
this water came in, and if there`s more than they could have known, more they could have done, they want to know and they want to know quick.
SOARES: Yes, absolutely. It must be incredibly scary for so many of them. Evan McMorris-Santoro, thanks very much. Evan, appreciate it.
Now, the Governor of New York said it was impossible, as you heard Evan say, to really predict how much rain would fall overnight. Some weather
events like these are getting harder to forecast.
SOARES: It usually takes several days for a tropical storm to grow into a really powerful hurricane. In Ida`s case, it took just hours and that
causes big problems.
For example, the baseline scenario for evacuation plans in New Orleans works off a 72-hour timeline. As the storm moved north, of course, the New
York Governor told CNN, they too had been taken by surprise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY) (via phone): This has been absolutely stunning in its scale. People were just caught off guard and shocked the residents to
thought they would basically be able to get out of their basements or take the trains and all of a sudden just -- you know, this absolutely
unprecedented storm events changed everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: So, Jennifer Gray is with us now, CNN Weather Center, how is it that this happened? How did Ida catch the northeast so off guard? Is it
because of Ida or is this -- do we expect this to be the new normal, Jennifer?
JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, a little bit of both. I mean, this was very well forecasted. We knew that there was going to be a lot of rain
across the northeast.
The Weather Prediction Center in the U.S. issued a high level of flooding risk for this area. I think the problem was it fell in such a short amount
of time that the water just rose so fast and that was the part that was so stunning.
So, we are going to see more of this in the years ahead as the climate continues to warm. The atmosphere is able to hold more moisture, more
water, and so that`s going to lead to more flooding events such as this, especially when you`re talking about tropical systems.
This was just the remnants of Ida, no longer had tropical characteristics, but it had a lot of rainfall left inside, and this is the radar from
yesterday evening when all the rain fell.
Ida`s path stretched 1,500 miles. We had more than 500 flood reports and a lot of that across the northeast set records. We had more than 20 daily
rainfall records for yesterday. Newark, New Jersey had its wettest day on record. New York City, Central Park had its top five wettest days.
But here`s the problem, 80 millimeters of rain fell in one hour. So, we`re talking about rainfall rates in just a short amount of time and that`s what
led to the pictures that you saw.
Here was the flash flood emergency, it stretched 190 miles and the problem now is, even though the rain has stopped, the water is still there because
water rose in the in the streets, the rivers, the creeks, all of that has to drain back in and then drain out.
And so while many of the rivers have crested, or they`re at their crest right now, they`ll gradually start to go down, but it could take a day,
two, maybe three for all the water to recede and so that`s why we`re still seeing pictures of roads just filled with water and those rescues still
taking place because it will take a couple of days to get that water out.
And as we know, with climate change, this is going to be more common. The atmosphere is holding more moisture leading to wetter storms and it is also
leading to stronger and slower storms as well, and when you have slower storms, that`s naturally going to bring more rainfall as well.
SOARES: Thanks very much. Jennifer Gray there.
Well, a new U.N. report says climate related disasters are happening as Jennifer was saying, much more frequently.
Turkey so deadly floods, you`ll remember last month as did several countries in Western Europe in July. China also had the deadly floods
including the famous pictures of course of subways underwater, and the U.N. says that early warning systems help make weather catastrophes less deadly
over the last century.
Their economic toll, however has grown seven fold since the 1970s.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer says more spending on infrastructure is the answer. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Global warming is upon us. When you get two record rainfalls in a week, it is not just coincidence. When you get all
the changes that we have seen in weather that is not a coincidence.
Global warming is upon us and it`s going to get worse and worse and worse unless we do something about it.
Woe is us if we don`t recognize these changes are due to climate change. Woe is us if we don`t do something about it quickly, both in building
resilient infrastructure and going to clean power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, Christine Todd Whitman is the former Governor of New Jersey. She served as head of the Environmental Protection Agency under George W.
Christine, thank you so much for taking time to speak to us on the show. I really wanted to get your thoughts and your assessment really of what
you`re seeing and the images we`re seeing today -- flooded streets, businesses and homes destroyed. 23 lives lost.
As you look at these images that we`re seeing, and it may take some time to get a clearer picture, of course, as the water recedes, how long do you
think it will take the cleanup operation? The rescue operation?
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: Oh, it is going to take -- it is going to take quite a while. I mean the rescue operation
should be completed fairly quickly now, but the restoration -- now, I have friends down in Lambertville, New Jersey, where they`re on the Delaware
River, but it wasn`t the Delaware River, it was a flash flood that moved their two cars. They walked outside, they were gone. It flooded their
basement to the ceiling and went in a foot into their first floor.
Now the problem is, they had some pumps, things were going, but this was a flash flood. They`re going to have to take drain -- wait for everything to
drain and then get after the mold, which is going to be a big problem for everyone who had this flooding. Mold is an issue.
Obviously, the damage to whatever was flooded is an enormous issue. I presume both those cars are no good anymore when you get that kind of
flooding. I mean, those are huge expenses for people. Not to mention, of course, the loss of life.
And when you look at what`s happened in our cities, because you have impervious road cover, that makes it harder for the water to drain, the
storm sewers are not capable of taking it all and getting it down when you have that fast a rainfall.
And you know, I heard your weather forecaster saying, well, it came so fast. I want to tell you, I was sitting here in the farm and it went on for
quite a while. I`ve never seen or heard rain like that.
SOARES: And in many ways, we knew Ida`s presence was around. We just -- I`m guessing as Jennifer, our weather forecaster was saying, we just didn`t
know the intensity and really the path it was going to take.
But I`m guessing you heard as well the Governor of New York, she basically, you know, we need to foresee these in advance. We need investment. We need
Putting aside the climate change aspect and the policy, which we`ll get to in just a minute. What more can be done from an infrastructure point of
view and from an investment point of view?
WHITMAN: Well, we need to take a look at all those places that were flooded to see what we need to do for rebuilding houses. We can`t just keep
rebuilding our cities and our towns exactly the same way they were once they`ve been flooded.
We have to understand what the damage was and say, do we need to require them to raise up? Do we need them to move back from where they are located?
We need to look at our storm sewer and sanitary sewer situation because that`s another really unattractive part of what happens when those things
overflow, you get a lot of nasty stuff in the water. So, that`s a big problem.
We need to look at what happens. I mean, I can remember before Super Storm Sandy, my husband who have been raised in New York City, he wasn`t here for
it, but he said, subways never flood.
Well. If you look at those pictures, first of all, they did during Sandy. But if you look at those pictures from last night, it was extraordinary and
you had people stuck in the subways. There were people stuck on Route 78 until this morning, overnight.
We have to look at drainage. We have to look at how we rebuild and what we rebuild and we need to take it seriously now.
SOARES: And really, in many ways foreseeing this in advance. I know Ida`s path was not on this route, but actually, perhaps that`s what we need to be
looking at, looking at a bigger picture. Should it come this way, do we have, like you said, Christine, the system in place should it hit us?
WHITMAN: Well, we obviously need to do a better job with the fact that these climate -- the way climate change is affecting things, things are
happening so quickly.
Unfortunately, during the previous administration to this one, the funds for NOAA, the National Oceanographic Air Administration within the
Department of Interior, NOAA lost money, and so they don`t have as many of their satellites over their forward stations as they had before. We need to
put more money in that so that NOAA is better able to give a read to people.
But I mean, it`s just extraordinary to think this wasn`t even a tropical storm by the time it got up here, and yet, look at the damage it did.
SOARES: And correct me if I`m wrong, Christine, I was reading that, you know, you were governor during Hurricane Floyd. I think that was 1999.
Something like six people killed. But what we`re hearing, what we`re hearing now from climate experts is that this is happening more frequently.
I mean, one governor was basically saying, he has faced so many climate crisis just in the time he`s been governor.
WHITMAN: Oh, yes. I mean, the last two weeks, we`ve had two hurricanes that have affected this area right now. In the last two weeks, two weekends in a
row, I mean, to end of weeks in a row, the hundred-year floods are now every other year. We have to understand that, and I do believe people do
and I think they`re taking it seriously now and they are starting to lead and the polls say that they believe that humans have a role to play here
and that we can help to try to mitigate this.
SOARES: I suspect, Christine, that perhaps this puts more pressure on the infrastructure bill to be pushed through.
WHITMAN: Right. And the President certainly brought that up in his press conference today and that makes sense. I think it will, I hope it does.
Because again, you can`t keep pushing this off. It`s not partisan. These storms do not care whether you`re a Republican or a Democrat, whether
you`re black, white, brown, it doesn`t matter. It`ll take anybody and everybody in its path. And we need to be cognizant of that and put aside
this partisan politics that`s going on, politicking that`s going on in Washington right now and pass a bill and get things started, start to get
that money out, so that cities and the towns and the states can start to rebuild in the right way.
SOARES: Christine Todd Whitman, the former Governor of New Jersey. Thanks very much, Christine. Appreciate it.
WHITMAN: My pleasure.
SOARES: Now, Afghanistan`s economy is now on the verge of collapse. Its currency is losing value and prices are soaring. We`re bringing that story
SOARES: The Taliban are getting ready to unveil their new government, and whether or not the international community recognizes it will be crucial
for the economy there and as well for getting aid, and that at this very moment is a race to reopen Kabul`s airport.
The Dutch Foreign Minister said the Taliban are in talks with Qatar and Turkey to get the airport up and running again, and that the Netherlands
may be able to help his counterpart in Doha, said he is doing for some good news in the next few days.
Well, earlier I spoke with a member of the former government`s team that`s now negotiating with the Taliban. Here`s what he told me about their
strategy. Take listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHALID NOOR, MEMBER, AFGHANISTAN PEACE NEGOTIATING TEAM: It is the Taliban who are approaching to us. As of right now, they have been approaching all
of us, not just myself and our political party, but other leaders as well. And our message is same, that we want an inclusive government. We do not
want to have symbolic negotiation and symbolic power sharing.
They -- in appearance, they seem to be very nice, but when it comes to serious negotiations, they try to find a way out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: CNN`s Sam Kiley joins me now from Doha. I don`t know if you heard part of that interview, but it doesn`t sound that negotiations are going
very well with the Taliban, Sam. Give us an idea of how soon we`ll get that government and how inclusive of course that will be.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, nobody knows how inclusive it will be. We heard there from one of the parties involved in
the negotiations. He is outside of the country. There are two very key people inside the country, Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, both -- one,
a former President, and the other, former Chief Executive and Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, veteran negotiators of this kind of thing and very
key people, because they stayed behind when Ashraf Ghani ran away.
KILEY: So they have some standing among Afghans in the community. It would be good for the Taliban to get them on board. But one has to remember the
Taliban are negotiating, at least at the moment, from a position of strength. They have won. There is no leverage that anybody can hold over
them really, internally other than the need to externally demonstrate that human rights, the rights of women in particular, and inclusivity are being
These are issues and commitments that the Taliban spokesman has been committing that his whole Shura too, over the last couple of weeks. But
there are internal frictions, very strong internal frictions. We`re hearing from diplomats involved in talks with the Taliban, advising them, mediating
with them, trying to massage them towards a moderate view that they`re not all on board with the idea of a Taliban 2.0. They do still adhere very
strongly, some of them to a very strict, almost medieval interpretation of Sharia.
So, given those internal tensions and then the tensions to try to bring other elements of possibly previous governments into a governing body for
Afghanistan, it isn`t necessarily a great surprise that the Taliban may not be able to get to the stage this week where they can announce a government,
but they have been making preparations for the announcement of a government.
So they are very keen to get on with it and start getting these international relations, get the airport open, and start getting aid and
trade flowing -- Isa.
SOARES: Yes, and they need to really get going with this, because I spoke to a Minister yesterday, a former Minister of Afghanistan, who said, you
know, we`re looking at really one to two weeks of food they have in the country. So, that is a real crisis.
On top of that, you still have an exodus of people, Sam, really trying to get out. Talk us through some of the scenes we`ve seen at the border with
KILEY: Well, at Spin Buldak, the crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan, there was a stampede today, one person reportedly killed in that. But
nonetheless, whether that`s confirmed or not, a direct result of this stampede, there are pictures emerging of a terrible crush there and that`s
because principally, the Pakistanis are filtering refugees effectively out of the flow.
It`s very hard for Afghans at the moment to get into Pakistan without very specific needs, or very specific pre-issued Pakistani papers. So, they are
desperate in Pakistan to avoid a massive flow of refugees into their country.
They`ve already hosted in the past some four million Afghan refugees, and they`re also keeping a weather eye on the success of the Taliban. They`re
quite close to the Taliban in Afghanistan, but they`ve got a lot of problems with their domestic Taliban, and there are deep concerns in
Pakistan that the domestic Taliban don`t see the success of their neighbors in Kabul as a sign that they should re-energize their insurgency there.
That is not happening at the moment. But this is a very fractious and complex border, and at the moment, the Pakistanis are taking a pretty
hardline on allowing any kind of Afghans across into their territory -- Isa.
SOARES: Sam Kiley there for us in Doha, Qatar. Thanks very much, Sam.
Well, as I`ve just mentioned there with Sam, I spoke with Afghanistan`s former Finance Minister on the program, if you`re watching last night, and
he told me the country is on the verge of an economic disaster, especially if it cannot access its frozen international reserves. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANWAR UL-HAQ AHADY, FORMER AFGHAN FINANCE MINISTER: I think probably in terms of supplies, there should be enough for another two or three weeks.
Normally, traders have enough supplies for a month to a month and a half. But I think if additional supplies were not to come, then we will have
problem and that really depends on payment.
The system of payment has been disrupted. The Central Bank is involved in payment of international trade. Some of that payment is done directly
through correspondent banking, a lot of it is done through the Central Bank, and the Central Bank assets have been frozen.
So unless that problem is resolved, then I think we will have a very serious problem very soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And the reality is that foreign aid may hold the key to the future or Afghanistan`s economy.
Anna Stewart takes a closer look for us.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice over): Banks are open again in Afghanistan, but it takes hours, even a whole day to reach the front of the
line. And then withdrawals are limited to 20,000 Afghanis, around $200.00, which has to last a week.
A journalist in Kabul working with CNN has seen prices for basic necessities skyrocket.
STEWART (voice over): In just two weeks, petrol prices are 140 percent higher, cooking oil is up 63 percent, and basic food items like rice,
flour, and sugar are all significantly more expensive. It`s adding pressure on people after weeks of upheaval.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I`ve been unemployed and sitting at home for 17 or 18 days. This isn`t easy because we have rent, electricity
bills, and other expenses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I do not feel well, everyone fled. There are no work opportunities in Afghanistan at all.
STEWART (voice over): Afghanistan was already one of the poorest countries in the world, facing rampant corruption and dependence on foreign aid.
Around 75 percent of the previous government`s budget came from overseas grants according to the World Bank.
Now the U.S. has blocked the Taliban from accessing Afghanistan`s foreign reserves and the I.M.F., the E.U. and the World Bank have suspended
ABDUL FITRAT, FORMER GOVERNOR, CENTRAL BANK OF AFGHANISTAN: Now, the Taliban has only access to roughly $100 million in cash inside the country.
STEWART (on camera): Only $100 million? But Afghanistan`s reserves are a little under $10 billion, but isn`t all of that overseas?
FITRAT: Correct. And majority of them are in the U.S. and less than half in Europe.
STEWART: Should the international community unblock the reserves? Should they give financial aid to the Taliban to help the people?
FITRAT: No. If they have access to Afghanistan`s reserves, they will not spend that for the benefit of the population. They will transfer some of
those money to their international terrorist colleagues in the country, to the terrorist groups. We saw that -- examples of that in the past.
STEWART (voice over): Eight organizations are already warning of a healthcare system facing collapse and food shortages.
Without recognition from the international community, it seems the Taliban could struggle to govern a country they fought so long to control.
Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
SOARES: Well, New York`s mayor says the city just got a wake-up call. Bill de Blasio says recent storm showed that New York has to adjust quickly to a
We will bring you that story after a very short break.
SOARES: Hello. I`m Isa Soares. There`s more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment, when we`ll be in two New Jersey towns, one hit by flash flooding,
the other torn apart by tornadoes.
And Virgin Galactic is grounded as the FAA launches an investigation into Richard Branson`s space flight.
Before that, the headlines for you this hour.
SOARES: President Joe Biden says the U.S. federal government will seek ways to ensure women have access to safe and legal abortions after a
controversial Supreme Court ruling. The justices refused to block a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women
even realize they are pregnant.
Italy`s prime minister said the government may make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for everyone once the E.U. gives the shots its full approval. It
is already required for medical workers. But any attempt to get all eligible Italians to take the shots may face strong opposition from vaccine
Poland`s parliament is considering declaring a state of emergency for parts of the country that ordered Belarus to deal with the (INAUDIBLE) migrants.
The president has already signed off on it. Poland and others countries have accused Belarus` authoritarian leader of unlawfully directing migrants
to the border as payback for E.U. sanctions.
And the Swedish music group ABBA are back in action. They`re releasing their first new album in four decades. "Voyage" comes out November 5th. The
group also announced a concert in London, planned for spring of next year.
SOARES: Now the New York City mayor said the city had almost no warning that it was about to get the most rain ever recorded there in a single
hour. While remnants of Hurricane Ida shut down almost every city subway last night, the mayor Bill de Blasio called it a wake-up call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: What we`ve got to recognize is the suddenness, the brutality of storms now. It is different. A record set
two weeks ago; another record set now, rainfall like we haven`t seen ever before, this is the biggest wake-up call we could possibly get.
We`re going to have to do a lot of things differently and quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: At the U.S. Open tennis tournament, rain poured through the retractable roof of Louis Armstrong Stadium. You can see it. The 7 train of
Queens was one of the few lines not shut down by the storm. Play resumed Thursday, an hour later than usual.
While neighboring New Jersey also under a state of emergency, Newark International Airport has reopened. But United Airlines has canceled or
delayed almost all flights from its New York metro hub.
And apart from the airport flooding, we`re told many United employees had trouble getting to work this morning, as you can imagine. The
Transportation Security Administration said commuting challenges have not impacted security checkpoints.
Paula Newton is outside a home that got destroyed by a tornado in Mullica Hill, New Jersey. She joins me now.
Give us a sense of the scene where you are.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It is absolutely dire. And those are in the words of the people who live here. These are people`s
dream homes that were destroyed in a matter of minutes.
They say -- most of the residents here say they had about three minutes to get from wherever they were in the home and, thankfully, they had basements
here. They ran to those basements.
By time they emerged -- and a lot of them had their windows blown out -- by time they emerged, their dream homes were turned to rubble.
You can see this home has been almost completely destroyed. The garage with a vehicle inside, completely crumpled. This is the Thomas family, two small
kids, a pregnant mother. They were making dinner and then had to flee to the basement, really in the nick of time.
What everybody here in this neighborhood is so thankful for, is it has just been minor injuries. No severe injuries no, deaths. Yet we`ve been talking
about this wake-up call.
NEWTON: This is two hours from New York City. OK? In that two-hour span, I was in New Jersey yesterday, where the rain was coming down. It was as if
someone turned on a massive faucet from the sky. It was absolutely devastating, as we have already seen.
And yet here, this was a massive tornado, so many just hitting different spots in this town. Again, a two-hour drive away from New York City in
southern New Jersey. And the ferocity of the storm, something they`re just not used to here, it is really making people think twice already today
about whether or not they should rebuild.
As so many people have been saying, people who didn`t think they would be on the front line of climate change finally, really, right now, in a matter
of moments, find themselves on that front line. And they`re wondering what to do next.
SOARES: I can`t even imagine what the Thomas family is feeling. They must be so shaken. We heard from the governor of New York, who said, we need to
foresee these in advance. You painted one part of New Jersey, tornadoes; the other one, a deluge of rain.
Do they have any warning?
Any messages, any alerts?
How could you prepare for something like this, Paula?
I think -- I think we`ve lost Paula. We`ll touch base with her and try to reconnect.
As Paula was just showing us, some areas of New Jersey were devastated by high winds and tornadoes; others like the town of Elizabeth were hit with
flash flooding. Polo Sandoval is there for us.
Polo, give us a sense of what you`re seeing on the ground.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We heard from folks in other parts of New Jersey, folks who lost their dream home.
Here they lost their only home. I`ll tell you why.
Off in the distance behind this fire truck, this ladder struck, is a large building. That`s part of an apartment complex. This morning, authorities
went in there. They found the bodies of four people, who they believe died during the floods.
Here`s some perspective. This was a virtual river just about 12 hours ago. There is a river that is actually right behind this apartment complex. It
overflowed its banks. As a result, all of this was underwater, this vehicle, everything you see here was basically submerged.
It wasn`t until authorities could go in and rescue these folks that they found four individuals who, sadly, did not make it. And that perhaps adds
another layer of tragedy. The fact that the firehouse is right across the complex, where these people needed rescuing.
Fast forward to 12 hours later and everything is dry. But then you look inside some of these area businesses and you get a better idea of what
actually was lost.
Joining us is Sammy, I apologize for the name here.
SANDOVAL: I want you to take us inside your business or at least as close as you can take us to show our viewers here and around the world what was
left behind when the water rushed inside.
SAMMY ALYAZJEEN, BUSINESS OWNER: I was here until 9:00 in the night and it was raining a little bit. So I said, let`s leave the store. As soon as I go
back to the house, I tried to check the camera. They said the camera is disconnecting.
So I thought something with the connection or something like that. As soon as I opened the door today, when I opened my store, I found everything on
the ground like that, all my store, it`s flooding.
SANDOVAL: This is as you found it this morning.
ALYAZJEEN: Yes. This is as I find this this morning.
SANDOVAL: You were telling me, you`re 22 years old. You`ve worked in delis your whole life. You finally saved enough to start your own business.
ALYAZJEEN: Yes, this is my first business.
SANDOVAL: So two months after opening your business, how long will it take to get back off the ground?
ALYAZJEEN: Probably like three weeks to get it back, to fix the deli again. I got a lot of damage over here, too. As soon as you see this, the
stand is on the ground, too, and everything. And I lost all my coolers and all my freezers in a single night.
SANDOVAL: What do you want people around the world to know what happened here in New Jersey, really throughout much of the Northeast when the storm
Help us understand your loss.
ALYAZJEEN: Everything, you know, in New Jersey, most of the houses got floods. A lot of people`s lost cars, stuff like that. As soon as you see
this, in this project here, like the community, a lot of people. We got like five people died in the project. And I`ve been here for service the
community. And this is the store for the community, what happened.
SANDOVAL: And we wish you the best of luck and we`re glad you`re safe. And we hope this business gets opened again soon. Thank you for your time.
Isa, that really gives you a better idea. Many people, yes, they lost their belongings. They have the fire department, they lost some of their
equipment. For the families of four people who live in that building behind me, they lost something that they can never get back.
SOARES: And I`m not sure whether Sammy is still within your eyesight. I would love to hear from him really, how costly is it going to be, if you
can ask him that, if he`s still there.
SOARES: How costly is it going to be for him to rebuild, to pick up again?
And given that this is happening more frequently, Polo, what measures will he have to put in place as a business owner?
SANDOVAL: Yes, we talked about that earlier, too.
My colleague, Isa, is asking how much it might take, in terms of how much you have to spend to get back up?
ALYAZJEEN: Probably around $25,000 to $35,000 because I lost the freezer, the grills, the hood. And I have to fix the roof again, too.
SANDOVAL: Would you do this on your own?
ALYAZJEEN: Yes. I`m going to start from scratch.
SANDOVAL: You`re not giving up?
ALYAZJEEN: No. Never give up, you know? I just start. This is my first business. I won`t stop with this store. I`m going to continue. That`s one
thing for my life.
SANDOVAL: 22 years old, you`ve got a lot left to do.
ALYAZJEEN: Yes. I got a lot of things to do.
SANDOVAL: Thank you for your time.
So there you go. We ended on a very positive note. There is certainly a level of resilience in this community and it`s not just here in New Jersey.
We`ve spent our time today throughout various communities in New Jersey. And the resilience you just saw and heard it for yourself, even after the
heartbreak, that people experienced here just last night.
SOARES: We wish Sammy the best of luck. Polo, thank you for that interview. Really appreciate it. Thank you.
Now Virgin Galactic`s space planes have been grounded by the FAA. It appears that Richard Branson`s test flight veered off course and regulators
want to know why. We`ll have more on that after a short break. You are watching QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
SOARES: Now recent extreme weather events show the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meat and dairy production is responsible for 14.5
percent of human induced emissions.
And finding a way to feed China sustainably can make a huge difference. Richard caught up with entrepreneur Matilda Ho, the founder of what she
calls China`s first food tech (INAUDIBLE).
MATILDA HO, BITS X BITES: Our strategy has always been leveraging the technology and innovation to increase more yield with less input and usage
of the agro chemicals.
HO: It seems like impact investing won`t give you any profit. But I always believe in karma. I believe that doing the right thing will always end up
to making us even more money. And I believe that investment could only be meaningful in the combination of a strong purpose (ph) motive with a
sustainable business model.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Where are you putting your firepower now?
HO: So we largely look at precision agriculture, we`re looking at actual company AgRobotics that can help the farmers to make smarter decisions on
growing their crops, to provide a better and more sustainable impact on the environment.
And on the alternative protein is also a huge area for our focus because the way that we produce our animals today is extremely insufficient. The
African swine flu since two years ago, there was no cure.
We import for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and after night snack. So if we are losing nearly 50 percent of pigs, that really creates a
huge crisis and issues. So we have been backing alternative protein solutions in many different forms, from the cell culture meat, fermentation
based protein, plant based meat, plant based dairy and even plant based pet food.
QUEST: China loves meat. I like meat, (INAUDIBLE) about it. But china loves meat.
Can you wean the Chinese into a -- off meat into non-meat substitutes or plant protein substitutes?
HO: So actually we looked at the plant-based food in China. It has a very strong culinary history. I was growing up eating tofu. And tofu was
invented 2,000 years ago. If you look at the Chinese diet, we also value diversity and balance a lot.
Not until two decades ago, then the Chinese emerging middle class population can finally afford eating meat. Don`t believe that the Chinese
per capita meat demand will go down any time soon.
QUEST: So how do you encourage this shift?
What do you do?
HO: First, you need to make those meatless foods really tasty.
If you don`t make a tasty product, then why bother?
We can just eat continue to eat tofu and imitation meat that we`ve been eating for years.
And the second layer is not only it needs to taste good, it also needs to taste like meat.
QUEST: Your favorite meal. I`m taking you to dinner somewhere. You can choose the restaurant. You can choose the food.
What are you going to order?
HO: Probably an Impossible food burger.
QUEST: Next time you`re in New York, dinner is on me. Thank you very much.
HO: Thank you, Richard.
SOARES: I hope she doesn`t forget that promise as well.
We`ll continue showcasing inspirational environmental stories like this as part of the initiative at CNN. Do let us know what you`re doing to answer
the call with the #CallToEarth. Much more after a very short break.
SOARES: Now Virgin Galactic shares, you can see there, now dropping by more than 2.5 percent. That`s because U.S. regulators are blocking the
space tourism company from operating the aircraft that carried Richard Branson to the edge of space.
Do you remember what happened?
The agent said it is investigating the space flight because the plane veered off course during its descent. That means Virgin Galactic can`t have
any more space flights until there is a mishap investigation. Miles O`Brian joins me live.
Explain what this mishap was.
MILES O`BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: The pilots, as they were flying toward space, went outside of an imaginary cone, which was designed to keep
the craft inside an imaginary box of airspace that the FAA had approved this flight to be in.
And it put them outside of where the FAA wanted them for 1.5 minutes or so. There is some speculation that they should have considered potentially off
boarding and not continuing to space and thus remaining in that airspace but they pressed on.
Everybody landed safely. The thing went out -- off without a hitch. But it just proves, when you`re moving that quickly, even the slightest deviation
from the preplanned flight path can put you in trouble, at least with the FAA. In this case, potentially this could have been even more trouble.
SOARES: So why are we finding out only about this now?
O`BRIEN: Well, this is a private company. Things are closely held. But this information ultimately will get in the public domain. because it
involves FAA airspace. That`s why we`re hearing about it now.
The question that a lot of people should ask is, the fundamental design of the Virgin Galactic craft, if you look at what Jeff Bezos has done with
Blue Origin or Elon Musk with SpaceX, these are machines that fly with computers in charge, robots are doing the driving.
As much as I love being a pilot and I`m proud to be a pilot, I know I am usually the weak link in any sort of machine-man interface. So this
particular craft relies on the best pilots in the world, albeit, but still, pilots and humans who can make mistakes. And little mistakes can be very
costly in space.
SOARES: And so what is Virgin Galactic, what are they telling you regarding this FAA investigation?
How worried are they?
O`BRIEN: Well, they`re downplaying it, saying there was really no huge safety issue. But any time you fly outside the prescribed mission plan,
that is something that should get your attention.
Again, the pilots made their decision in real time. And clearly, they brought the craft home safely.
But when you get in situations, where you start ignoring red lights on your instrument panel and pressing through, you find yourself in rather perilous
situations. So this is something to watch. It`s going to be a while before a group of real space tourists fly on Virgin Galactic. I suspect there will
be a lot of soul searching and redesign between now and then.
SOARES: So what does this mean besides potentially being damaging in terms of marketing, for future flights but, in real terms, is this a slap on the
What could we see come out of this investigation?
O`BRIEN: We haven`t seen any FAA action just yet. So it will be interesting to see what they do. The FAA is in new turf, too. They haven`t
spent a lot of time managing airspace above 36,000 feet or so. So this is a new realm for them.
And how they regulate this burgeoning industry is somewhat controversial. What they basically said is, they`re concerned about people on the ground
and the craft hitting innocents. And they presume the people who sign up to fly will have informed consent on the full risks they are accepting.
O`BRIEN: So it is important that those who strap themselves into these craft fully understand what the risks are. And then from the FAA
perspective, they`re taking a hands-off approach on that so much, from the FAA perspective, they don`t want these craft going into harm`s way and
potentially hurting people on the ground.
SOARES: Yes. We`re looking at the shares. If we can bring that up, they`re down almost 3 percent, 2.8 percent.
From a marketing perspective, how damaging if at all could this be for Virgin Galactic?
O`BRIEN: Well, it is a precarious time for this industry right now, you know, Isa. The conventional wisdom going into all this is that one accident
could derail the whole thing. And I don`t know that that is too much of a stretch.
But I do think that this industry has to prove at least a certain amount of reliability. It won`t be as safe as getting on an airliner, which we`ve
gotten down to 0.0005 percent fatality rate per 100,000 hours.
If you look at the fatality rate for a space flight, it is like 1.4 percent. If you took 1.4 percent of all the flights in the world on any
given day, you`d have 1,400 crashes a day. So they have got to do better than that if this is going to become a real industry for lots of people to
There are always people who will take the risk to go to the top of Mt. Everest, though. So maybe there are enough people out there to sustain it.
The real question is can they leverage this into something they`ve been promising, which is space access for many more people, much larger numbers?
It has got to be pretty safe, relatively.
SOARES: Miles, always great to get your insight. Thanks very much, Miles O`Brien there.
O`BRIEN: You`re welcome.
SOARES: And there are just moments left to trade on Wall Street. We`ll have the final numbers as well as the closing bell after this.
SOARES: There are just moments left to trade on Wall Street. And the Dow is up today, although it is not the session highs that you can see. It`s up
0.3 percent. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 set to close at new records.
Looking at the Dow components, there`s more green than red on the board. That`s good news. And Chevron in the lead, Visa and American Express are
And that`s QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I`m Isa Soares in London. The closing bell is ringing on Wall Street and "THE LEAD" with John Berman starts right now.