tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 26, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
tonight new york city is under a hurricane warning and they are carrying out mandatory evacuations for the first time in the city's history. by one estimate, 46 million people are going to experience winds of more than 50 miles an hour, from this storm before it's all over. tonight here our coverage is going to go from south to north, just like the path of the storm. we want to begin with the very latest and with the expert on these storms, veteran meteorologist brian norcross of the weather channel. brian, when you and i spoke last night, i asked you if there was anything out there to give us hope, any crosscurrents and you said there was nothing to prevent this from being a hurricane of our lifetimes on the east coast. has anything changed since then? >> it's right on track, brian, it looks like it's going to go right up the evening, the little tiny glimmer in that the center of the storm weakened, but you said it just right, it is carrying so much water and it's pushing so much water that
that's the huge threat. you can see it. it's a monster storm, that's even bigger than hurricane ike was three years ago that hit texas and also hit louisiana and it's heading, the worst of it, heading right for cape hatteras, and th the famous spaghetti models. look how unified the computer projections are, we rarely see them this uniformly together as it goes all the way north to canada, so that leaves us with a track that heads into north carolina tomorrow and the worst of it looks like it will be in the late morning, somewhere near upper category 1 hurricane. then it heads north and we're talking about norfolk and delmarva and the jersey shore and long island and on up into new england where hurricane warnings are all the way up. and here's new york city, here's jersey, here's long island and it's that circulation like this that's going to push water into that corner that is so dangerous in the new york city
metropolitan area and that's why the evacuations are ordered there and of course it's pushing water all the way up along the coastline and that's why we have evacuations from top to bottom. now the other threat is the inland threat, caused by this very large hurricane and dumping rain on saturated ground with winds up in the 40, 50-mile-per-hour range for perhaps eight, maybe 12 hours and many, many trees will not be able to with stand that, trees will come down, power will be out for an extended period of time, so for a lot of people, that may end up being the legacy of this hurricane. brian? >> all right, brian norcross starting us off tonight with the very best information available, though i wish you had better news for us here on the coastline. brian, thanks, we'll be talking to you later of course. up and down the east coast, officials in 11 states have now declared emergencies, officially and whether they have ordered
people to get out or begged people to get out, they must leave, get out of harm's way before this storm arrives. we want to now begin our coverage down south, mark potter is in nags head, north carolina, along the outer banks, where as you can see, hurricane irene's outer bands have already taken effect. hey, mark, good evening. >> reporter: and good evening to you, brian. we are now feeling the first heavy rains from this hurricane and the wind and the waves are also starting to kick up here. that storm was out there on the horizon all day today and moving north, and that had everyone here moving fast to try to get ready. with little time left before it's too late, outer banks residents are making their final preparations. >> who know what is the storm will be like, whether it's going to be big or not, but it's not worth the chance, so -- >> reporter: chris hall and a friend spent the day packing up his house before leaving town. >> i am getting out. this is a 100-year-old house and it's kind of tired. so this isn't the place to weather a storm like this out. >> reporter: but even with a
mandatory evacuation order, many locals say they won't leave. 81-year-old moon tillot has been an outer banks fisherman all his life and he says he's not about to run from this storm. >> i have been through other storms, i'll go through this one. >> reporter: his grandson ryan says riding out hurricanes is a way of life. >> we have done it before and we'll probably end up doing it a lot more. we have got a bull's-eye on us here. >> reporter: but emergency managers warn wind and water from this storm could be very destructive. >> the roads are going to be overwashed with sand and water and debris. the houses probably will come off of their pilings or the foundations will be undermined. >> reporter: forecasters say the worst-case scenario is for the eye of the hurricane to pass just west of the outer banks. first the leading winds will push water on to the eastern shore, then as the storm moves north, will it move water from the pamlico sound over to the
abermoral sound. when the water passes, the tailing northwest winds will push all of that water back on to the western shore of the outer banks, a potentially double hit. officials are urging people to get out now before the storm traps them and they can't leave. those officials also say that after this storm passes the outer banks will likely be closed off to returning traffic because of damaged or flooded roads. and that's why some residents still on the island today say they are not leaving, brian. >> well, mark, hard to believe some folks down there, all on up the coast are being told to remain in place, three, five, seven days, if need be if they get cut off. mark potter starting us off on the outer banks. let's move north along the seaboard, another big vacation destination, ocean city, maryland where the storm is washing out a lot of plans, but of course much more serious than that. nbc's tom costello is there.
>> reporter: it's an empty place here, brian. ocean city sits on the northern barrier island, they are expecting irene will come over the top of us from south to north, from virginia to delaware, it's packed with tourists this year. this time however, this year with a mandatory evacuation order now in effect, hundreds of thousands have clogged the highways to move inland, they have left behind virtual ghost towns of empty streets and boardwalks and hotels. we even found the coast guard station also boarding up, preparing to ride out the storm. the last time ocean city ordered this kind of evacuation was in 1985 for hurricane gloria. but emergency managers fear this time it could be different. >> we're going to get a lot of rain, we're going to get a lot of wind and we're going to get a lot of surge and it's going to come all at one time for an extended period of time.
>> i'm not usually afraid of storms, but i'm afraid this time. >> reporter: in washington, d.c., they're also stockpiling sandbags and preparing for localized flooding, especially along the potomac river and in alexandria, virginia, right across the potomac from washington, d.c., old town always floods so they're watching that and stockpiling sandbags. but right now we have a vacant beach and the calm before the storm. >> the ocean behind you getting a little sporty there. tom costello, ocean city, maryland. now we want to move past us here to the north and the city that has seen it all, except for this. new york city is under a hurricane warning tonight, extremely rare. so are the fact that mandatory evacuations are underway. lester holt is inside the evacuation zone, in lower manhattan. lester, we have had minor flooding over the years where they have taken some folks out of nursing homes, perhaps a
hospital or two, but this kind of thing has never happened in new york city. >> reporter: you know, brian, it's interesting you said seen at all. there are 8 million of us living in new york city, we do feel at times we have seen it all. heck we had an earthquake this week. but when the mayor announced mandatory evacuations in a lot of this city, it got a lot of folks' attention. tonight urgent reality is gripping the big apple. the naked city has never felt so exposed. residents in low lying neighborhoods are now being urged to get out. >> i feel nervous, like i don't really know what's going on, i don't know what's going to happen. that's always a scary feeling. zblsh the. >> reporter: the city has produced a map showing the relative flood risk, now zone a is under an evacuation order. today seniors at this brooklyn hospital are among the first to be relocated. >> i can't stress enough, please, nature is a force more powerful than any of us and it's really better to be safe than
sorry. >> reporter: this is battery park at the lower tip of manhatt manhattan, sitting virtually at sea level, it's a half mile from the financial district. it would be the first area to be overwhelmed by a storm surge. experts say the entire area could be bombarded with water, threatening holland tunnel. >> new york city is perhaps the most vulnerable megacity in the world. if a major hurricane comes through new york city, the tunnels are very vulnerable. >> reporter: wind is the other big threat of course and today construction crews are making plans to secure the scores of towering cranes that dot the skyline. here at the world trade center rebuilding site, larry davis has 11 rigs in use. >> if they're not secured, they could collapse, yeah, in the high, high winds. they're designed for 100, 100-mile-per-hour winds. >> reporter: the subways are the life blood of new york city, carrying over 5 million
passengers a day, that's nearly twice the population of flooding. but the tracks are susceptible to flooding. like 2007 when rain falling at two inches an hour from a tornado related storm did this. irene is expected to drop rain at more than twice that rate. tonight with train service shutting down soon, those new yorkers not under evacuation orders are gaming out when and how they'll get out if and when the time comes. >> you have to start your preparations to leave right now. keep in mind, after noon tomorrow, you're not going to have the advantage of mass transit to help you do that. >> now imagine being a city official and the to-do list when you're facing a hurricane in new york city. among the things you have to think about, tourists, there are tens of thousands of people, we're in peak tourism season. i found i had to deliver the news to them and they're trying to figure out what to do. the airline also start paring down flights soon and at some point the airlines will stop flying when that hurricane comes through here. >> i talked to some first responders last night who were
worried about water actually breaching the pit, ground zero, the site of the new museum because it's not far from the river, of course there, and second flooding the planes, and the runways, at both jfk and laguardia, which are of course, bothed a ja ed a jaed adjacent water. >> reporter: they both sit on water, the run ways are about this level over the water. so yes, the airports could be shut down for quite some time. i was at the ground zero site a few days ago, and we all remember from the disaster time, it's a bathtub there. there is a wall there to protect tritt the river. so right now they're bracing for anything. that's just a stone's throw from where i am right now. >> some of it we can't even think about, to think about the flooding of the lower tunnels is scary to think about.
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when we can eat what we want and sleep soundly through the night. prevacid®24hr prevents the acid that causes frequent heartburn, all day, all night. we're back here tonight. this is nationally famous point pleasant beach, new jersey. thousands of people comeer we're back here on the jersey shore. i just wanted to set the scene a bit from point beach, as we call it, we here in the local area, point pleasant beach. this can get, even more veteran mariners, very sporty, especially during a tidal change. so many plans have been ruined and so many businesses will be hurting. actually president obama is among the thousands of americans cutting summer vacation short because of hurricane irene. he and his family are leaving martha's vineyard later on tonight, that's ahead of schedule, but he's got planes and trains and automobiles at his disposal and can forego a ferry reservation.
he warned everybody to take evacuation orders seriously and he noted the government is ready to help. >> the federal government has spent the better part of last week working closely with officials in communities that could be affected by this storm to see to it that we are prepared. >> president obama earlier today. the president's emergency response team is headed up by fema administrator craig fugate who's been kind enough to join us from washington, d.c. i know you're in the business of tough calls and having ridden out katrina inside the superdome and in those days after that, i watched a lot of officials and politicians make some perfectly awful calls. do you feel at this point in the storm you've got it about right heading up the i-95 corridor? >> well, i do know this, this storm is going to have impact, no matter how well we prepare or
how good the forecast. a lot of people are going to lose power, a lot of people are going to get damage from this storm, a lot of flooding, that's why we're asking people to heed the evacuation orders. >> and what, sir, is the risk that we're going to have, i heard today from three to six feet of standing water, above street level on a good portion of the east coast, from the tide water, newport news, all the way up to the new york metropolitan area, long island, new england. and the possibility of people actually being cut off, on their own camping for three to five days? >> well, that's again the evacuation zone is to get out. but we're going to get a lot of rain out of this, and we expect flash flooding and a lot of places get isolated so everybody from coast guard on down to local officials are getting ready to go out and do rescues of people that get cut off. but it's going to be a big storm. i think we need to be serious
about this and let people know, we are going to have impacts and we're going have power outages, almost simultaneously from north carolina north experiencing and being impacted by this hurricane. >> i heard you say last night, one of the lessons learned since katrina, you're working with the private sector, like big box retailers to use their networks, their trucks, their systems, to get things that you need to the midwest to the east? >> exactly. if they can get their stores open, then we want to focus where there's heavier damages where they can't get stores. we used to didn't talk and work together. now we're part of a team and we're trying to ship our supplies to where they can't get to or where they don't have stores so i think that coordination is going to be important in this storm given how many areas are going to be impacted. >> i know we're going to be talking to you, at least asking for you to be generous with your times in the days to come,
ed a minute strait for craig fugate of fema is going to be one of the busiest men in the country tonight. we're back in a moment with news about how this storm is creating a travel mess for a whole lot of people. think twice. it may be a sign that your digestive system could be working better. listen to this with occasional irregularity, things your body doesn't use could be lingering in your system, causing discomfort. but activia has been shown in clinical studies to help with slow intestinal transit when consumed 3 times per day. 7 out of 10 doctors recommend activia. and the great taste is recommended by me! host: could switching to geico reon car insurance? or more host: do people use smartphones to do dumb things? man 1: send, that is the weekend. app grapgic: yeah dawg! man 2: allow me to crack...the bubbly! man 1: don't mind if i doozy. man 3: is a gentleman with a brostache invited over to this party?
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to be a mess and that's going to have a ripple effect across the country. you can see some folks here at laguardia trying to get out in advance tonight of irene's arrival. we have mass transit shut down this weekend in new york and new jersey. and philadelphia. airlines are expected to cancel 5,000 flights and counting between now and monday as the airlines are trying to get their aircraft out of harm's way and if you're holding a ticket on amtrak, you might want to call ahead because certain trains from boston all the way down to miami have either been cancelled or those routes have been shortened, so clearly, brian, this weekend, travel on the east coast is going to feel the effects of irene. >> this is what they mean by hunkering down, ron mott for us here tonight. related story tonight from the upper plains, also involving transportation. an amtrak train derailed in rural nebraska today after hitting a crane that was blocking the track. the crane was at work tearing
down an old farm silo adjacent to it. there's the locomotive, the train was en route to chicago from san francisco. a dozen of the 178 passengers were taken to the hospital but none of the injuries life threatening. heck of a shock for the passengers on board the california zephyr and it's the second time that amtrak train has derailed in the past two months. a truck-train accident killed five passengers and the truck driver near reno, nevada back in june. on wall street today, a much anticipated speech by the chairman fed ben bernanke. he didn't offer any new plans to chairman fed ben bernanke. the market liked what they heard, the dow s&p 500 were up 1%, the others were up 2.5%. when we come back, we'll have more on hurricane irene and how 60 million americans give or take, in the path of this storm
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it, we here in the local area, point pleasant beach. this can get, even more veteran mariners, very sporty, especially during a tidal change. right now as they do every afternoon, the kids are playing out there in the tidal pools, but, again, as this storm surge comes up the east coast, the atlantic gets angrier. no one is officially allowed to be out on this beach right now, but there's just families with kids at this hour. up the beach a bit. there's an aquarium, quite an attraction for people visiting here. and people will be staying with the animals, but they have to care for all the animals here in the aquarium. this is the point where we normally say good night, we're actually going to keep going for another half hour. and if your nbc station where
you live doesn't air our next hour, you can see it on our website, nighty.msnbc.com. and our partners on the weather channel are providing coverage all night long. so for right now at 6:00, santa cruz celebrating as it cleans up the damage left behind from the japanese tsunami. good evening, everyone, i'm jessica. raj mathai has the night off. new tonight at 6:00, you may remember the stunning pictures of the damage inflicted at the dock of the santa cruz harbor, the result of the tsunami last month that followed the