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tv   Face the Nation  CBS  August 28, 2011 8:30am-9:00am PDT

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>> pelley: we're back now with cbs news special coverage of hurricane and now tropical storm irene. irene made landfall this morning in new york as a tropical storm. it is now moving across new england. highest sustained winds are about 60 miles an hour. irene first made landfall in north carolina yesterday as a category 1 hurricane, moving up
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the east coast tcaused flooding and blew down power lines, leaving millions without electricity. irene is blamed for at least 10 deaths this five states, among them, two children. more than four million homes and businesses have lost power, and more than 11,000 flights have been grounded. that translates to travel problems for millions of people nationwide. we have a teamef correspondents deployed throughout the hurricane zone, all along the east coast. we go first to elaine quijano in new jersey's long beach island. >> reporter: hello, scott. well, here in long beach, people are just beginning to venture out, and officials are just beginning to assess the situation. and while the worst certainly appears to be over here, at its height, this storm system a harrowing ordeal. >> go, go, go! >> reporter: as water from irene pushed over long island, steve tried desperately to push it back. you have how many people working
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just this one building? >> we have three people here right now. we have another three people at other properties. we have probably 15 people all together working tonight. >> reporter: the only thing separating the property he manages from a wall of irene-driven water is a sand dune that's holding for now. could you feel like you might be fighting a losing battle here? >> well, this is the reason why we're setting up these pumps now. we're trying to stay ahead of everything. so i have another building i need to go to similar to this building, where we'll set up another pump and try tow stay basically ahead of it. >> reporter: but in low-lying communities like long beach, staying ahead of the water has been a losing battle. floodwaters spilled over the beach here and poured down street after street while irene's strong winds littered neighborhoods with debris. with a mandatory evacuation order in place, the normally bustling summer getaway town was a ghost town with many homes and businesses board up. about the only place open was a
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local gas station where pump attendant homohammed sawar said business was slow. have you in any customers at all this morning? >> no, no. >> reporter: and now, the cleanup begins. officials say there are at least 120,000 people without power here in nassau county alone. scott. >> pelley: elaine, i wonder how things look going forward today. are people going to be allowed back down to the beach? it looks like a lot of folks are on the board walk already. >> reporter: it does. in fact, those works for decided to stay instead of obey the mandatory evacuation order have certainly been out and about already this morning. the atmosphere here is very casual, i have to say. a lot of the people who are out now don't seem to be particularly traumatized in any way, shape, or form. most of them seem to be quite amused. but other folks that we certainly came across this morning are breathing a sigh of relief very much so. the fear here was really the
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storm surge that had been predicted to be a possible risk of four to six feet. it did not materialize, as far as we can tell, at least flotin our area here. so as a result, you're seeing a lot of people simply out enjoying the view right now. >> pelley: elaine quijano in long beach, new york. thank you very much, elaine. new york city prepared for the worst, shutting down the mass transit system, the largest in in the country, and ordering evacuation of low-lying areas around manhattan and other places in the city. but worst didn't come. in fact, the stock exchanges say they plan to open for business as usual tomorrow. jim axelrod is north of wall street in times square. >> reporter: scott, you know, right behind me, we have a rugby team from australia wrapping up an exhibition giving you a sense of what the mood is like in times square, contrasted to a couple of hours ago when this place was absolutely deserted, didn't see anything but the
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occasional police vehicle going by. so in new york right now, the feeling is, yes, there was a bullet dodged, but we don't want to mislead anybody. it didn't take much to find some trouble in and around the new york metropolitan area. for instance, let's show you some pictures we have from elmsford, new york, in westchester county, and you get a sense while people are certainly enjoying the aftermath now, there was some serious business earlier today, a rescue being performed of some information out there in westchester county in elms ford. the big concern at this point is not-- has nothing to do with the winds and the rapes. it has to do with the potential for flooding, especially in the low-lying areas of manhattan. battery park, the south street seaport, place where's mayor bloomberg ordered the evacuation of 370,000 people, not only of whom followed the orders, of course. but those are the area where's people are going to want to take a look and see what's going to happen with the potential for flooding. we're getting news, as you
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reported, that the financial markets will be open for business tomorrow. but the big concern this the wall street area is, you know, salt water and electricity are not a good mix. and while there is an extensive network of underground pumps and a seawall protecting lower manhattan, until the threat of the storm surge subsides, obviously, the big concern is going to be what happens if the water is such that it cannot be cob tained by the network of pumps and you end up with extensive flooding. international jim, earlier today i was down in probably the lowest part of manhattan, all the way down the tip of the island, around the fulton street fish market, and the water there was only about as high as the bumper of a car. flood tides are going out now so the water is probably only going to get lower. the mayor closed the subway system, stopped all the buses and the commuter trains at noon yesterday. when do we expect all of that to get started again? >> reporter: mayor bloomberg has said when he closed it that maybe the earliest you might see
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the transit system, the country's largest transit sreopenning would be on monday because it's not just a question of flipping a switch and starting to see the subways rubbing again. under the best of circumstances, it certainly won't be until later today, possibly tomorrow. again, we don't have real good reporting yet on the except to which there might be some flooding in the subway tunnels. we know earlier, for instance, one tube of the holland tunnel was closed and it's been reopened, which is a positive signing an optimistic sign, meaning perhaps the flooding is as bad as it was going to be in a tube like the holland tunnel but we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. >> pelley: holland tunnel a marge artery into the island of manhattan. we want to check in now with our cbs news hurricane consultant david pershard in miami. david what, do we expect from the rest of this tropical storm.
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>> reporter: we'll start by look at radar, and again, as we can see from jim axelrod in manhattan things have goalpost a lot better there and it's basically cry from new york south. it looks like new england, that's is where the heaviest rain is going to be for the rest of the day, and i am estimating there could be six inches-plus in parts of new hampshire, vermont, upstate new york, and going into maine as we go through afternoon and tonight, and rain amounts are going to drop off drastically as you head through the 95 corridor, through new york, philly, and it's about done around dover and also d.c. now, the wind is still an issue. we still could see throughout the afternoon some gusts close to hurricane force. most yourself will see tropical storm-force-winds indicated in yellow there, meaning winds between 40 and 60 miles per hour. i think the story going forward the rest of the afternoon and tonight is the biggest problem is going to be power outages and flooding due to heavy rain. >> pelley: everyone was
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concerned about the storm surge coming in from the sea, but we were talking to governor christie a short while ago, and he was saying his worry now is that rivers are going to flood. low-lying areaes of new jersey are going to flood because this rain is going to continue for some time. >> yeah, it's a big concern, and of course there's a lot of rain that has fallen upstream ask that will all be coming down, not only today but the next couple days. so with the rising rivers, those flooding concerns are very valid. and that's going to extend not only into the northeast but right through the del mara into the mid-atlantic where they have had heavy rains in virginia and north carolina. it didn't stop raining there until last night. >> pelley: the fascinating thing about this storm, the reason we have been paying attention to it the last several days, is how far north this hurricane came. very unusual for this kind of storm. i wonder if you can help us understand why that was and whether we can continue to expect that sort of thing as hurricane season unfolds. >> reporter: scott, nature has way of repeating itself, and it's been repeating itself the
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last month or so with this pattern setting up in the atlantic, with this block high that was in place to the east of new england. that was preventing the storm from basically going to the east. it had nowhere to go but to the north as it gained latitude. that's typical not the case with hurricanes. the further north they get, usually we see a glancing blow to new york and new england and they scoot out to sea. it's very possible that a pattern like that could remain in place for the final couple of months of the hurricane season, and the big rains that we saw in the northeast all throughout august, they weren't even from a hurricane, those are also due to the same pattern keeping it wet ask cool in the east for the foreseeable future. >> pelley: david bernard our hurricane expert in miami. thank you very much, david. over one million people were ordered to get out of irene's way. and among them were the residents of long beach, new york, on the south shore of long island. despite the danger, some chose to ride out the storm at home. byron pitts is among those who rode out the storm purpose tell
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us what's happening in the long beach this morning, byron. >> reporter: scott, we just got an update, thousands of homes and businesses have lost the electricity on long island. that appears to be the worst of it. on long beach there was a mandatory evacuation order but many people decided to stay behind. they waited until the 11th hour, but by early this morning, the lasitter family in long beach. seen enough. >> we're expecting this place to be pretty washed out when we get back. >> reporter: long beach got its first taste of irene at 6:00 this morning. this time yesterday, 100 yards of pristine beach separated the board walk from the ocean. not now. with the ground long saturated by a month of record rainful, trees fell easily, pov lines and street signs bearing the signs of high winds. in these conditions, ordinary objects can cause damage and create danger. still many people took risks. there were the familiar scenes and the familiar reasons.
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>> it's a sight to see if you have the guts to come down and see it. i don't recommend it, though. >> reporter: despite a mandatory evacuation, the long beach city manager estimates a third to a half of the citizenses stayed home. who saul here? i have a -- >> reporter: michelle hosted a hurricane party overnight at her second-floor ocean-view apartment. >> we have our refrigerator loaded with none perishable foods. >> reporter: you could feed the whole town. >> yes, i could. >> reporter: one neighbor brought his cog. julie brought her eight-year-old son, brendan. >> i felt safer here than if i drove some place aimlessly. >> reporter: this is your first hurricane, right? >> yes. >> reporter: what do you think? are you nervous? are you impressed? >> i don't know. i think i'm nervous. >> reporter: there are a few spots in nassau county where the
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floodwaters are about four feet deep but that appears to be the worst of it. scott, interesting enough, there's a major surfing tournament scheduled on long beach september 1. there are a number of professional surfers in town. i talked to a few a while ago and they said they can't wait to get back in the water today. >> pelley: byron, it looks like surf is up there behind you. in the videotape you were showing us, it looked like the water was rather high in a lot of parts of long beach. i wonder whether that's beginning to subside now. is it drank at all? >> reporter: oh, it is. and it's craning well, scott. there are places where the water was four feet deep, and some of those places it's gone down considerably. even here, for instance, where we are on the board walk bthree hours ago, you couldn't see the beach because it was just ocean water interest here straight up to the boardwalk. now as you can see, that's pushed back. there are people out on the beach now. i've seen people walking their dogs, taking pictures. i saw one guy get in the water, but the police encouraged him to get out. >> pelley: things improving
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dramatically in long beach, new york. irene's next target after new york is new england and wyatt andrews is in mystic, connecticut. well, we're having a little trouble with wyatt's microphone in mystic, i see. it looks like the sea behind him is relatively calm, and there's not a great deal of wind, but when we get wyatt's microphone back up. we will come back and check in on how the storm is doing on-- in mystic, connecticut. cbs news coverage of hurricane, now tropical storm irene will continue. i i
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>> pelley: the remnants of hurricane irene, now a tropical storm, have been pushing north into new england and we have wyatt andrews in mystic, connecticut. wyatt. >> reporter: scott, i'm in
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mystic, connecticut, which is about 120 miles east of new york city, and we're in some of the heaviest winds that we've faced so far. most of the low-lying areas of southern connecticut that we toured this morning were one to two feet underwater. you might not be able to tell, but the boats floating in this harbor, many of them, anyway, are riding two to three feet above the level of their docks and piers. and this is not because of irene's rains. this is irene's storm surge. the leading edge of irene struck here early this morning with gale-force and tropical-storm winds. those are not unusual for new england, but the timing of irene's impact was unusual. this is the storm surge that struck southern new england. it was 6-9 feet from southwestern connecticut to the eastern tip of massachusetts. and it came ashore right at high tide. fear of that nine-foot surge led the u.s. navy on friday to send all four nuclear-powered
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submarines from their home port of groton, connecticut, out to the safety of deep water. all low-lying areas of connecticut, rhode island, and massachusetts are under mandatory evacuation orders, but we notice many people riding it out, and most of the people we spoke to said they were used to gales and to the floods and are taking irene in stride. so far there, has been one fatality in connecticut, none in the rest of new england, but two dangers remain. while damages to boats and property on the front side of the storm will be significant, it's the backside of the storm that's,000 more worrisome. that backside could bring six to 10 inches of rain to places like western connecticut, western massachusetts, and vermont, and the governors here in new england are warning there could be heavy flooding yet to come. noting that historically, that backside flooding has been more deadly to new englanders than any front-side to any storm. scott. >> pelley: wyatt, i have to ask, you said the docks are
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underwater. then where are you standing? >> reporter: scott, the crew was smart enough to put me on a floating dock. historically, that's interesting, because 20 years ago, when hurricane bob beat hundreds of new england commercial fishing boats many of the harbors switched to floating docks. >> pelley: they work. thank you very much, wyatt andrews, in mystic, connecticut. the storm has disrupted travel throughout mump of the east coast and that has had a ripple effect across the country. armen keteyian is following that part of the story. >> reporter: normally this is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year with vacation and college students headed back to school. now, irene has thrown all of that travel and more into a grinding halt. all along the eastern seaboard and beyond, every major form of transportation had called it quits, shut down, going nowhere fast. >> chaotic. the lines were crazy. the staff were very, very tired. everyone was impatient. >> reporter: in a travel weekend to remember-- or better
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yet, forget-- four major airports, three in new york, plus philadelphia, completely closed. boston and washington were barely operating. in pittsburgh, linda cunningham and husband, dave, were headed to europe. >> we're supposed to land in brussels tomorrow morning at 7:35, so we may be still in philadelphia tomorrow morning instead of in brussels. >> reporter: in all, airlines scrapped more than five figures worth of flights this weekend, 6600 on sunday alone, affecting millions of passengers from maine to san francisco. some travelers took irene in stride. >> when you get as old as me i'm not on a schedule. >> so it doesn't matter? >> i'm really open to change. >> reporter: others not so much. >> there's nobody work here. >> much of amtrak's system was off the rails, service suspended in the northeast, mid-atlantic, through at least today.
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that includes trains between washington and new york, boston and portland, maine, and the entire state of north carolina. service as far as chicago, montreal, affected. it was hard to say what city got it worst, but the big apple seemed the biggest loser. all area airports down, the nation's largest mass transit system, home to some seven million riders a day, completely closed for the first time in history. not a bus or even a cab in sight. >> now i might try a private limo. maybe house and carriage might be my only way out. >> reporter: travel is expected to resume in some of the part of the country today but as one airline official told me, scott, it's a guessing game right now when things are going to get back to normal. >> pelley: thank you, armen. continuing with our blanket coverage up and down the coast, we have whit johnson in maryland checking on what irene did there. whitt. >> reporter: well, scott, we're here in annapolis, and of
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course everybody here remembers hurricane isabelle in 2003, the seven-foot storm surge and the flooding in the do you want area that came with it. this time, forecasters say the winds caused sort of a reverse tidal effect, so we did not get the flooding here, and instead, we had widespread power outages. in this area alone, 44% of the people who live here, were without power at one point. let's take a look at some of the total numbers from hurricane irene. in maryland, about 822,000 people remember without power. virginia, some 900,000. north carolina, 525,000. of course, these numbers are ticking up and down by the minute for a total of more than four million people without power as a result of hurricane irene. and, scott, the reason-- the main reason here is toppled trees. the dangerous combination of the torrential rain and the high wind gusts, as high as 80 miles per hour in some places, the rain saturating the soil, and
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the wind has come and toppled those trees. it's really been a dangerous combination. ing that the, we've seen most of the deaths have been because of fall own trees. so power companies, despite the conditions, they've been out there braving the elements, and they are working to restore power. balt gas and electric reports they've already restored power to more than 100,000 people but they're reminding people be patient. all of the elements that we are struggling to get through, they are as well. and it could be days before all of the lights come back on. scott. >> pelley: whitt, thank you very much. power, of course, being one of the more difficult parts of all of this, and one of the longer lasting effects of hurricane and now tropical storm irene. bob schieffer is our chief washington correspondent and anchor of "face the nation." bob has been following the federal government's response to the storm. bob, what have you found out? >> reporter: well, the secretary of homeland security janet napolitano, had a news conference just concluded, just a while ago, and she pretty much
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put a fork in this thing. she said that it is safe to say-- these are her words-- that the worst of the storm, at least up to and including new york ask new jersey, has passed. the scholar will proceed up through new england this evening and out of the united states by late tonight and early tomorrow morning. she says that precautions that were taken by government officials at every level really kept down the casualties here. and i think-- i think credit where credit is due. i think that's exactly right. we got lucko this one, scott, in that we had a whole lot of advance warning. but i think the important thing here is that government officials did take those warnings seriously. nobody wanted to see a repeat of what happened during hurricane katrina. there were meetings. there was coordination from the white house right on down to mayors' offices in various parse of the affected areas, and in the end, it all paid off. i think they're probably going
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to be some people who will complain that they shouldn't have been evacuated when their governments ordered them out of certain areas. but the fact of the matter is casualties were very, very low this time around, and i think these preparations and this planning had a lot to do with it. >> pelley: very different effect this time, bob, than in hurricane katrina. >> reporter: well, i think that's exactly right, scotts. and i think katrina is a big reason for all of this. you know, everybody remembers, "brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," and all of the things that the government was saying back in the wake of katrina. but the fact is the government was very, very slow off the mark after that disaster, and people at every level this time around, scott, were determined that that wasn't going to happen again. we always have the so-called lessons learned after these kinds of things, and i think in this case you can say the government learned something from katrina, and it worked out
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pretty good. >> pelley: bob schieffer, chief washington correspondent, thank you very much. we all remember those scenes from hurricane katrina, where so many people were trapped in the superdome during that time, many without food and water, trapped there for days because the evacuation was not underway early enough to avoid the breaching of the levees. as we continue to track irene, we want to take a look back now at some of the images from the storm's journey up the east coast, from carolinas to new england, and work of our reporters who have been covering it for you. >> get out of here! get out of here! grab a mic. >> we got our first real taste of irene at about 6:00 this morning and she's only intensified since then. >> so we've actually got our first real damage report of the morning. we're in bellmar, and look in front, you can see we've got parts of the boardwalk that have come up, that have now made their way on to the street.
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we're actually going to be very careful. >> reporter: this is the storm surge. it was six to nine treat connecticut to the eastern tip of massachusetts. >> we just had a wind gust here of 71 miles per hour, according to southampton town police. >> this is your home, huh? >> yes. >> were you in it, first of all, when the trees came down? >> yeah, that tree came down around 3:00 and the other tree came dun around 5:00. >> the wind is becoming much stronger here. when sustained winds reach more than 50 miles per hour, all emergency operations in ocean city will cease. >> we've got several types of flooding here in rockaway. this is fresh water. this is fresh rainwater that has bubbled up through the sewers. >> up north more, this is probably the worst i've seen since floyd. >> the big concern on manhattan island this morning is storm surge. >> whoa! >> if the rest of the east coast comes out of this as well as
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these barrier islands did, they should consider themselves lucky. >> pelley: irene, a very unusual storm coming this far north. as the remnants of irene cross new england, more than four million homes and businesses are without power throughout the stormriation. the death toll is now at least 14. cbs news will be track the storm and its impact in the hours ahead. we will have updates throughout the kay and a full report, of course, on tonight's "cbs evening news with russ mitchell. for the very latest on online, go for now, for all of us at cbs news, i'm scott pelley. good day. captioning sponsored by cbs ,,,,,,,,
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