tv CNN Newsroom CNN August 28, 2011 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
president barack obama. >> good afternoon, everybody. i'm joined today by my secretary of homeland security, janet napolitano and administrator of m fema, craig fugate to provide a brief update on our ongoing response efforts to hurricane irene. first, let me say that this is a storm that has claimed lives. our thoughts and prayers are with those who've lost loved ones. and those whose lives have been affected by the storm. you need to know that america will be with you in your hour of need. while the storm has weakened as it moves north, it remains a dangerous storm that continues to produce heavy rains. one of our chief concerns before irene made landfall was the possibility of significant flooding and widespread power outages. and we've been getting reports of just that from our state and local partners. many americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in the coming days as rivers swell past their banks.
so i want people to understand that this is not over. response and recovery efforts will be an ongoing operation. and i urge americans in affected areas to continue to listen for the guidance and direction of their state and local officials. before the storm made landfall, the department of homeland security and fema worked very closely with our state and local partners as well as volunteer organizations to preposition supplies and teams of first responders along the hurricane's projected track. and the american red cross opened shelters in communities across the region. i want to thank those americans for their work over the past several days, which has saved lives and property up and down the east coast. we continue to have search and rescue personnel on alert as well as water, food and other needed resources. and moving forward, fema's working with state and local responders to assess damage and assist in the recovery.
i do want to underscore that the impacts of this storm will be felt for some time. and the recovery effort will last for weeks or longer. power may be out for days in some areas, and we will support our state and local partners in every way that we can as they work to restore power in those areas. so i'm going to make sure that dhs and fema and other federal agencies are doing everything in their power to help folks on the ground. i continue to meet regularly with secretary napolitano and administrator fugate and the other members of my team to assess our response and ensure that we have what we need in place. as i've told governors and mayors from across the affected area, if they need something, i want to know about it. we're going to make sure that we respond as quickly and effectively as possible. and we're going to keep it up as long as hurricane season continues. finally, while we're not out of the woods yet, i want to thank everybody at the federal, state and local levels who've worked
so hard to respond to this storm. this has been an exemplary effort of how good government at every level should be responsive to people's needs, work to keep them safe and protect and promote the nation's prosperity. i want to thank scientists who provide the information necessary for governors and mayors to make sound decisions, disaster response experts who made sure we were as prepared as possible, to national guard members and first responders who risked their lives to ensure their fellow citizens' safety. all ordinary americans who love their country and volunteer to do their part. above all, the past few days have been a shining example of how americans open our homes and our hearts to those in need. and pull together in tough times to help our fellow citizens prepare for and respond to as well as recover from extraordinary challenges. whether natural disasters or economic difficulties.
that's what makes the united states of america a strong and resilient nation. our strong and resilient people. and i want to thank all who have been involved very much. now i'd like to ask secretary napolitano and administrator fugate to say a few words. janet? >> thank you. thank you, mr. president. and i'd like to echo the president's comments about the ongoing threat from hurricane irene. we will be dealing with the impacts of this storm over the coming days, and i urge all americans to take prudent steps to stay safe. now, dealing with a storm like this requires a three-phase approach. preparation, response and recovery. some states and communities are still currently responding, while others are beginning to assess their damages and plan for recovery. as response assets are freed up in states already impacted by the storm, we will begin moving
them to help with ongoing response. and we will be working with all other states throughout the recovery period. i'd also like to thank the entire team that is working so hard to respond to irene. and that team includes the american people. thanks to all of you who prepared, especially those who followed local evacuation order. your actions helped protect not only your families and minimize loss of life, but also freed up local first responders to help those who needed help the most. now, the department of homeland security will continue working to coordinate the federal response through fema, making sure that the entire federal family is working as one to support the affected states. so with that, i would like to personally thank craig fugate, the director of fema, and the entire fema team who have been leading this effort. so craig? >> thank you, mr. president and
secretary. when you look at these disasters, a lot of times you try to find a place of damage that tells everybody the story about what's happened. but in this hurricane, that's hard to do because i'm pretty sure most of you forgot puerto rico and the virgin islands were first impacted, and we had people who lost their homes and are currently dealing with recovery in puerto rico. now we repeat that process in north carolina, virginia, and up the coast as flooding is still ongoing. when a disaster comes off the news and nobody's paying attention, we still don't go home. we're still working hard across this country from tornadoes and floods that have already struck this country as well as the new damages. that's part of the mission we have at fema to work with our state and local partners, to work with the private sector, volunteer and faith-based community but most of all as the secretary and president said, the american people who we work for. we're there for the survivors. we'll be there through the length of these disasters. we're not going home just because it won't be on the news. we'll be there to support local
communities and states as they begin the recovery. thank you. >> okay. thank you very much, everybody. craig and janet will continue to keep everybody posted throughout the week as we have already said. there are a lot of communities that are still being affected. we are particularly concerned about flooding because the continuing rains can end up having an impact well beyond the immediate center of the storm. and so we're going to continue to monitor that carefully. assessments already being done in north carolina and virginia. there are still search and rescue teams that are operating throughout the region. and we will continue to keep the american people posted throughout our efforts not only with respect to response but also with respect to recovery. so thanks very much, everybody. >> president obama, standing alongside fema administrate craig fugate and janet napolitano, homeland security secretary. i think the president made the point twice, the fact that this is very much so ongoing.
he mentioned the word flooding multiple times. as we've heard the echoes from chad myers as well that this thing is not over. i think the quote the president said, the impacts of the storm will be felt for some time, potentially weeks, weeks ahead. >> of course, we'll continue with that momentum. this cooperation between the federal and state localities primarily because hurricane season doesn't end until november 30th. underscoring that this really is not the end. no one's out of the woods just yet. but it's important to maintain that kind of commitment. let's go to our white house correspondent, dan lothian with us now. president taking no questions. but with a clear-cut message talking about how this cooperation helped considerably, but no one needs to rest on their laurels just yet. >> reporter: that's right. i think it was two-fold, the message from the president. first of all thanking all of those workers, volunteers who geared up and prepositioned various supplies ahead of the storm. both on the federal level. also state and local level. so thank you from the president. in addition to that, as you pointed out, the president
calling on americans who night mooigt be still in those impacted areas to be vigilant. because there's still a lot of concerns, even though the heavy part of the storm may have passed by. there's still concerns about downed power lines, also inland flooding as well. so the president calling on those in those areas to be vigilant. but what you're seeing here, no doubt, is this administration wanting to show a very strong force, to show that they've been on top of this situation not only just over the last few days, but also the last few weeks. because they fully understand what can happen if you're slow in responding. we saw criticism against this white house last summer during the oil spill. remember the last administration and hurricane katrina. they're keenly aware of that. they want to be right up front, aggressively attacking this storm and certainly continuing that effort post-storm as well. fredricka? >> it's clear this white house trying very hard to distance itself in any way, shape or form in how federal response was to
katrina. dan lothian, thanks so much. chad myers here in the weather center as well. you, too, were listening intently to what the president had to say. >> i don't think people really until they get in the water understand the power of what this rain is going to do to the northeast and into new england. if you're in north carolina, i understand you felt that power. here's the map behind me of all the flash flooding that's going on. here's the map behind me of all the flooding that's going on. all the rivers that are flooding. every county except for cape cod, every county from maine all the way down to new jersey, has some type of flood warning fwoing on right now. let me take you to just the latest. we're getting so many flood warnings coming in. here's just the latest that came in from -- at 4:48, the campton pond dam has been breached. in grafton, county.
this is new hampshire. so many dams in trouble or at least water going over the top. the water is filling the dams. the dams are in risk of breaching, falling apart in some spots. you have to understand whether you're down river to some of those dams. there has been so much water put into the system because of this hurricane. and people said, well, what happened to it? how come it fell apart? well, it actually fell apart because it hit north carolina for so very long. this was a very big storm over puerto rico, caused significant flooding there. flooding in the dominican republic. took out a couple islands completely in the bahamas. there were 15-foot storm surges on eight-foot tall islands across parts of the bahamas. then what saved new york or at least what saved the harbor was how long this storm sat over north carolina. it hit right there near atlantic beach just to the east there. ran over the sound. then eventually out not that far. without this hitting north
carolina, that storm would have landed in new york city as a cat 2 or maybe even a minimal cat 3 and the significance of the damage would have been threefold or maybe more compared to what we saw now. the problem with this storm will not be the wind, it will be remembered as a flood maker. and the flooding is still going on. flooding pictures are slow to come in. we will get them as soon as we can. trust me, the people of upstate new york, vermont, new hampshire, maine, massachusetts and connecticut are dealing with a big problem tonight. >> we've seen boats, rescue workers out in new york areas. i'm sure into tomorrow and the next couple of days we'll be seeing some of the aftermath. chad, thank you so much. >> you're welcome. poppy harlow is actually in milbourne, new jersey. >> reporter: you're looking at main street. this is where all the local businesses are. take a look at this restaurant, this mexican restaurant.
the water came under here. completely lifted up the floor. it has destroyed this restaurant. i just talked to the owner. he said in the back in the kitchen it's literally full, overflowing the kitchen with water. they've got to deal with that. one of the men in charge from emergency management, he's going to show us why this happened. explain to us, we're going to walk back this way. we're heading towards the river, guys. this is the big problem as always, businesses right by the river, right? >> the businesses are by the river. the west branch of the rowaway river. last night the river overrose its banks coming through these stores creating another alternate river. >> reporter: what's interesting, fredricka, most people you've heard from said this is the worst they've seen maybe ever or in years here in this area. here this actually isn't as bad as hurricane flid, right? >> this is pretty bad. not as bad as hurricane floyd in 1999. >> how much damage was done then? >> a lot worse than this. considerably worse and
considerably higher. >> reporter: this is what happened. let's show you here the river. this is a river that runs through town here in millburn. looks pretty normal now. this overflowed. it came over the edge of this wall. here's what it did. it did -- look at this sushi restaurant. it flowed right in here. it broke the glass, obviously. can we get a tight shot in there? it has just destroyed these restaurants, fredricka. it did this in just a matter of hours overnight, fred. >> not only did it overflow, but it has fierce power behind it, too. are we talking six feet or so? >> reporter: yeah. what are we talking about in terms of feet here? i mean, six feet or so? >> absolutely. over the river bed, absolutely, about six foot. >> reporter: what is the danger now? i know i was just about an hour away in new jersey. they were worried about 8:00 p.m. tonight when they were going to get high tide again. are you worried about that? >> i'm not worried about that because we're inland.
there's open manhole covers that provide a danger to the public. >> reporter: we went and drove by houses pumping out garages. one of the issues they have is they had oil and gas tanks in the basements of some of these houses. when they flooded the basements, some of that oil and gas started to spill. that's a big concern, right? >> absolutely. we had hazardous material teams in reviewing that today. >> reporter: fredricka, any questions you've got for him here? >> that is incredible. we just heard the president say recovery may take many weeks. clearly after seeing the damage there just at that restaurant and that little area, you know, that underscores that message. this is a long road ahead. >> reporter: yeah. this is a long road ahead for you guys, right? every single one of the main street businesses i've seen is impacted in some way. >> absolutely. a long road for recovery. we'll work with our business community to ensure their prosperity in the future. >> reporter: we'll be live from here all night assessing the situation. david mattingly, what are you seeing? >> reporter: what we're seeing is still a lot of cleaning up to
do after this hurricane went through the outer banks. some amazing pictures to show you from the air. highway 12 going into hatteras island broken into pieces by the waves that crashed through the dunes. and then out over the highway, cracking the highway up, apparently covering it with sand. it's going to be a long time, probably, before they're able to figure out exactly what they're going to have to do to repair that road. in the meantime, 2,500 people are on that island. they rode out the storm at their homes. and now they have no way to get off the island. so authorities here are in the process of putting together an emergency ferry that should be operating tonight, possibly tomorrow, to be able to ferry people in and out of that island as needed. that's only an emergency operation. there's going to be a long time before things are able to get back to normal there. elsewhere around the outer banks, we're looking at people cleaning up after some flash flooding, some tidal flooding in
the sound. this was from a reverse storm surge. this water didn't come from waves off the ocean. this was water pushed by wind by the hurricane up the sound on the west side of these barrier islands, flooding communities around there. officials are saying this was epic flooding, historic flooding. this water reaches roads and houses in places where it never did before. so now you have a lot of people trying to clean up after this very brief but devastating flooding event. you had several feet of water in a lot of homes around in the area that came in in about a few hours' time. a few hours later that water had retreated. now there's going to be a long time before people are able to clean up all that mess. right now authorities here are asking residents and people who evacuated to please don't come back just yet, because we want to make sure all the roads are cleared and everything is safe for everyone to start coming back in here en masse. at the moment, the people who
stayed here no they've got a lot of work to do. they're still waiting for the rest to come back to see what damage has been done to their homes. it's going to be a long time before this hurricane is forgotten. >> it's going to be a long time before they can actually get in there and assess. because obviously traversing, getting there is one of the big problems. we're talking about a storm that really sat over that north carolina coast for about 12 hours. so it will be some time before a lot of people can see whether it was their house that washed away with that new inlet that was created. >> yeah. 2,500 people stuck. >> reporter: that flooding was actually -- yeah. >> go ahead, david. >> reporter: i'm sorry. fredricka, that flooding was actually a very late event in that long, long period of storm that we had here. that was when the storm was pulling out, the winds shifted. that's when it pushed all that water up into the sound. you were talking about how this was a 24-hour event. we were actually getting rainfall here solid, steadily,
for over 30 hours. almost that much time for tropical storm force winds. this was very much an endurance contest for everyone who stayed behind and every single structure that was built on these islands. >> david mattingly, thanks so much from hatteras island. appreciate that. >> 24-hour event. the images are now beginning to come in. we saw the image of highway 12 as he mentioned going to hatteras island. 2,500 people just stuck. hopefully they'll be able to get some supplies, emergency ferry out to them. we have more images from the skies, aerial images in the north carolina flyover. we'll share that with you when our special coverage, tropical storm irene, comes back.
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u.s. coast guard rear admiral william lee flew other north carolina just today to try to get a better glimpse of the destruction caused by now tropical storm irene. >> in some respects that's really the only way you can survey the damage there. he's joining us now by phone from fort smith, virginia. tell us what you saw. >> good afternoon. as the president just said, we're not out of the woods yet. irene is still a very dangerous system as it works its way up north. this morning i was able to fly over the outer banks of north carolina and assess the damage that she wreaked on that particular part of the state, the state of north carolina yesterday as she tore her way through there. what we saw was some pretty destructive evidence of tidal flooding. it looks like the roads were
overwashed and there was several new channels cut all the way across hatteras island. most of the damage existed between cape hatteras north to oregon inlet. right now hatteras island is effectively cut off from the mainland by road and we're trying, the state of north carolina is working with us in concert to get the ferry system back up and running so that we can get goods and services transported back and forth. >> can you talk to us about the potential danger of doing that with the water still fairly unpredictable there? even transporting goods or transporting people by ferry has to be pretty risky. >> well, not necessarily. i mean, as the storm passed out of our area, the waters calmed down substantially. it's safe to operate. right now we've got to find
channels, do our channel surveys, put navigation out there and certify them safe to transport people again. we're in the process of doing that right now. >> admiral lee, we were looking and we're still looking at this aerial footage of these different barrier islands along north carolina. one picture we saw a burnt out house. i think chad was explaining earlier that was also a result of some downed power lines. are you seeing any other fires popping up on these islands as a result of the power issues as well? >> well, not during my flight. we did see that one home that was burnt. i can't speak as to what caused the fire. but it was -- appeared to be from the aerial perspective a total loss. >> yeah. >> there was a lot of carnage on hatteras island. i feel for those people. >> what is your message? we know as david mattingly was just telling us, there are those 2,500 people on hatteras island hoping that ferry is able to get over. what is your message for people who, you know, decided to stick it out, ride out the storm, and are stuck? >> well, the message is the same
one that all the federal agencies have been trying to spread to the people upstream. that is, don't put yourself at risk. if you're in the path of a storm, get out of the way. go check in a hotel somewhere. because there's no reason to put your own life, especially the life of your family members, at stake just because you want to sit in a house as the storm blows over it. some of those homes that you see were completely under. they're probably total losses even though they didn't fall to the ground as you can see from the underwash. the sand dunes that protected them last week are now totally gone. >> some of these people are putting themselves at risk, thus then putting rescue personnel at risk as well trying to get them. admiral lee, thank you so much for coming on and sharing some of your aerial pictures over the outer banks of north carolina. we appreciate it. we're also learning now here that brian todd has just gotten off a helicopter ride with the
north carolina national guard. >> so more aerial views of the destruction from what was once hurricane irene. after this. hey can i play with the toys ? sure, but let me get a little information first. for broccoli, say one. for toys, say two. toys ! the system can't process your response at this time. what ? please call back between 8 and 5 central standard time. he's in control. goodbye. even kids know it's wrong to give someone the run around. at ally bank you never have to deal with an endless automated system. you can talk to a real person 24/7. it's just the right thing to do. [ male announcer ] they'll see you...before you see them. cops are cracking down on drinking and riding. drive sober, or get pulled over.
all right. the barrier islands of north carolina got hit very hard from what was once hurricane irene. our brian todd has had a bird's eye view of some of the damage, some of the destruction. he's joining us now after getting off a couple of helicopters with the north carolina national guard in order to do so. >> hopefully brian can hear us.
i see he's on his phone. brian todd, it's brooke in atlanta. can you hear me? >> fredricka and brooke, we are in north carolina. we're in mantio, north carolina. we just got back from hatteras island. hatteras island, about 2,500 people are completely cut off from civilization right now. they chose to stay and ignore the mandatory evacuation warnings. as a result, they're stranded right now. at least temporarily. because highway 12 which connects them to the northern most outer banks islands and then these roads that go to the mainland, that is completely washed out. on cape hatteras, 2,500 people there stranded. the only way we could get there is because we were imbedded with a national forward unit. these helicopters. the only way we could get to hatteras island was to accompany them. we were imbedded with them, flew
over and saw some of the damage from the flooding which is pretty significant there. people there are prepared to ride out however long they need to ride out in order to get supplies. right now they're cut off. you can see the damage. a lot of pretty severe damage along the coastlines of these barrier islands. >> all right. we're losing that signal. we're going to try and re-establish a better vantage point for brian todd to do that reporting there. again, about 2,500 people cut off because they chose to stay there on hatteras island. the big problem now, a good part of that highway 12, you saw the pictures earlier, was washed away because of the storm surge. we even know there are some new channels that have been created as a result of the surge that came with that storm. now the problem is going to be trying to get them off or trying to get supplies to them. that's going to be the real potential danger as well.
putting a lot of first responders in harm's way as well. >> hopefully we can maybe try again with brian todd. i know it's if-y with the winds, et cetera. also getting videos from you all the way from north carolina through maine. ireports just in with josh levs here on the other side of the break. [ woman ] we take it a day at a time. that's how it is with alzheimer's disease. she needs help from me. and her medication. the exelon patch -- it releases medication continuously for twenty-four hours. she uses one exelon patch daily for the treatment of mild to moderate alzheimer's symptoms. [ female announcer ] it cannot change the course of the disease. hospitalization and rarely death have been reported in patients who wore more than one patch at a time. the most common side effects of exelon patch are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. the likelihood and severity of these side effects may increase as the dose increases. patients may experience loss of appetite or weight. patients who weigh less than 110 pounds may experience more side effects. people at risk for stomach ulcers
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we've been bringing you some pretty extraordinary images of what happened as hurricane irene, now tropical storm irene, was making its way up the eastern seaboard. now we've got new images coming in from ireporters showing you the aftermath as well. >> josh levs, a new image behind you. connecticut. some sort of seawall gone. >> shattered. let's th is out of connecticut.
there was a seawall. see these giant chunks of rock that are gone. this was where the seawall was. now you've just got -- look at that. shattered. some of the most powerful pictures i've seen all day. i've jumped over here to nags head, north carolina. this is a residential area. you can see how the yards have been completely flooded out. look closely, you can see how these trees are just being impacted by the wind. as i said, it's coming in from all over. look at this next one here out of denville, new jersey, where this really large tree just completely knocked over on to its side. something similar here. if we jump down to this one, which is hurricane damage in arlington, virginia, showing a tree that has apparently been pulled up there. we've also been getting video. this video i'm going to show you now is out of vermont. take a look at this. this is showing gushing of what is a river in woodstock, vermont. i remember this area from a summer i spent up in middlebury. you don't see this much.
what's happening here apparently, we're told by our ireporter that at one point the waters managed to pull off some propane tanks and carry them down the river and that they came gushing as well along with other debris throughout the day. i can tell you, i've been following this on youtube and other places as well. a lot of video now of different angles in this area. just gushing. really, really powerfully. i mentioned earlier north carolina, nags head. i want to come back to this here. we're talking about nags head, north carolina. we've gotten more photos as well. i want to show you some of the ones of this residential area. when you get closer, you can see what ends up being the most powerful parts of the destruction. which are these little pieces of what were people's lives, people's stores in some cases, people's livelihoods. all showing up in these latest ireports as well as some homes that are taking some severe damage in the area. some of this is what's starting to come to us now. look at that.
images of destruction from irene's wrath. we're also following you on facebook and twitter. every possible way. i'm following everything you send me. there i am. josh levs cnn. cnn.com/josh. i want you all to visit it for yourself. it's on the main page of cnn.com. this is it right here. it's called open story. this is a great way of telling a story. if you want to know the impact it had, go to open story on cnn.com. click anywhere on any one of these is. these are ireports coming into us all along the eastern seaboard showing the impact irene has had in any given area. you can also flip around the top and trace it chronologically going back to yesterday and all the way up to today. this one in downtown millburn, new jersey. a photo we showed you on the air earlier today. powerful images. fred and brooke, you don't get used to seeing this.
i know both of you have been at scenes of destruction after storms. you don't get used to seeing what people lose. >> this is just the beginning. a lot of these areas people can't venture quite yet. as soon as they are able to get in, particularly around the barrier islands, we're going to see a whole lot more destruction. >> this is just the beginning. >> the president said weeks. i think in some cases probably months. josh levs, thank you very much. we're not going to go too far from this story, tropical storm irene. but there is major, major news today out of libya about the man known as the lockerbie bomber. we have an exclusive report, next. for new people. hey ! chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ? chocolate ! chocolate it is ! yeah, but i'm new, too. umm... he's new... er... than you. even kids know it's wrong to treat new friends better than old friends. at ally bank, we treat all our customers fairly, with no teaser rates and no minimum deposit to open. it's just the right thing to do.
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you know about this dramatic twomt out of libya. cnn's senior national correspondent nic robertson has been able to track down abdul baa set el ma gra hi. let's go live to nic in -- nic robertson in tripoli. take a look. >> we found abdul basset in an up market part of town. at least six security cameras and flood lights outside. this is his house. this is where he's been living for the last couple of years. we're going to knock on the door, see if we can get any answer. hello! for 15 minutes or so, nothing. i'm not sure if they've heard me. let's try the last ditch means which is just shouting over the wall. hello! hello, hello! then all of a sudden, someone comes. nothing prepares me for what i
see. megrahi apparently in a coma. his ageing mother at his side. >> if you see his body, he's weak. >> reporter: he'd been expected to die almost two years ago. but convicted pan am 103 bomber lives. this wasn't the way he looked when he was released from a scottish jail two years ago. he came home to a hero's welcome. freed on compassionate grounds because doctors said he'd be dead in three months. almost immediately, he began renovating this palatial house. money, no object. it doesn't take long walking around this building before you begin to realize and looking at the marble here on these expensive fittings to realize that it appears megrahi was
being paid offhand smly for all those years he spent in jail. in the two decades since the bomb exploded on board pan am 103 over lockerbie, killing 270 passengers, crew and townspeople, it seemed the secrets of the attack would die with the bombers. megrahi always maintained he was innocent. just a month ago in a rare public sighting, moammar gadhafi had him literally wheeled out for a pro-government rally. i'm seeing him now for the first time in two years. he appears to be just a shell of the man he was. far sicker than he appeared before. has he been able to see a doctor? >> no. there's no doctor. there's nobody to ask. we don't have any phone line to call anybody. >> reporter: what's his situation right now? >> he's -- coma.
>> reporter: he's unconscious? >> yes. we just sit next to him. >> reporter: all that's keeping him alive, they say, oxygen. and a fluids drip. i asked about demands he return to jail in scotland. >> my dad, if he's sent to scotland, he will die. >> reporter: do you know how long he has left? >> nobody can know how long he will stay alive. nobody know. >> reporter: it seems i've arrived too late. he's apparently in no state to talk. whatever secrets he has may soon be gone. and what i found out from the family as well was that with all this trauma going on inside their house, megrahi apparently it seems at death's door, they say as the rebels came into the city, they looted the house, taking away all his medicine. brooke? >> nic robertson, unbelievable
images there of an apparently dying el megrahi. connect the dots. how did you go from climbing the wall outside this home to then being invited inside? how did that happen? >> reporter: i was shocked. i tried to be polite. i knocked on the door. we waited for 15 minutes. i talked into the intercom for a long time with nobody apparently answering. i guess they were listening. neighbors told us they were there. i guess we were persistent and polite and we waited and eventually they came out. it's a huge villa. it's got another beautiful villa attached to it. clearly this family is not short of money. but i have to say, when i went in, i was truly shocked. i was expecting to see a sick man, not someone this close to death. i guess the family just feel their situation is desperate. he hasn't seen a doctor. they're desperate to get medical attention. they're prepared to talk to journalists. i know other people have been
turned away. why did they let me in? i don't know. >> i know there have been members of congress sort of -- i hear gunfire near you. are you safe? >> reporter: i think we're pretty safe here, brooke. >> okay. let me jump back in. members of congress -- a lot of people have been doubtful after he was released on compassionate grounds sort of years ago, doubtful over how seriously ill he was. there have now been calling for members of congress to potentially extradite him and face what many people think he should be facing. do we know, were you able to ask the family about how that or how -- how long he even has to live? >> reporter: well, certainly there's a huge amount of pressure. he was released because they thought he was going to die after three months. that was the assessment of three british doctors. the british government has come under huge pressure because it's been said, not proven, but it's been said the british government was put under pressure by libyan
officials to break up business contracts, britain would lose a lot of money if they didn't cave in and hand back megrahi. gadhafi wanted megrahi because he needed to get him back to the tribe, an important tribe he had here he needed to keep loyalty with. now even british officials are saying, look, perhaps there is good reason. now he's lived another two years. he should go and finish his jail sentence in scotland. i asked his son about that. his son said, look, we want him to finish his last days at home. he's going to die. here or in scotland, but he's going to die. let him finish his last few days here. interestingly the national transitional council here, government of the rebels has said, okay, if we find him and we haven't found him yet, they're saying, we did, they're saying they haven't. rebels have looted his house, we're told. but the rebels are saying if they find him, they are not going to send him back to extradite him. you know one of the key reasons might be megrahi is from a big tribe. gadhafi needed him back in libya to keep the support of that tribe. right now the rebels, the national transitional council
also need the support of that large tribal group to get them fully flejed in power here. brooke. >> what a piece. nic robertson, thank you so much. live report out of tripoli. appreciate it. we're continuing to keep a close eye on libya as well as what is now tropical storm irene. and then this. later on tonight, he had the most powerful job in the country. but his toughest job was actually saving his own life. dr. sanjay gupta and former president bill clinton explore the signs, the tests and the lifestyle changes that could result in the very last heart attack. special cnn presents tonight, 9:00 eastern time.
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they're a social currency with endless possibilities. all right. back to our continuing coverage of tropical storm irene, now rolling across northern new england, and mike o'neill is emergency management director in vermont. he is joining us by phone from batterbu waterbury. you are experiencing a lot of water right now, aren't you? >> yes, two-thirds of the state is getting very heavy rape fall, estimated to be 1 1/2 inches to
2 inches an hour in the champlain valley. >> what are your greatest concerns? >> our concern now are for our citizens. we had numerous requests for water rescues and there's a number of active rescues ongoing. however the national guard troops and swift water teams are having to drive into other states just to get to parts in our state washed out. >> so these water rescues, not only dangerous for people wanting to be rescued but for first responders as well. >> absolutely. one of the rescuers that was undertaken this afternoon was, in fact, to rescue some first responders. it's been an active day. we also have an unconfirmed report of a person being swept away and missing. we're actively tracking that as well. >> big water was a big concern, was it not? or do you feel a lot of folks
were caught by surprise? >> well, we were expecting a lot of water, a lot of wind. the fortunate side to it is we didn't get the wind, but we certainly got as much if not more water than we were expecting. >> what kind of assistance will you be calling upon from federal authorities or even neighboring states? >> we've got, for our immediate needs for swift water rescue, we requested teams from massachusetts as well as new hampshire, those teams are en route. fema has been here with us since the springtime because we had a record season of flood iing ove the lake and central vermont area has been waterlogged. a lot of the infrastructure was already leaking from those earlier storms. the hits keep on coming. >> apparently some other states hit by irene have experienced dam failures what about your state? >> we're tracking those rite now. as i said, the storms are just
moving into our state. our activity over the last 25 minutes has been surrounding dams, working closely with agency and natural resources folks and understanding what the situation is with some of the dams. >> mike o'neil, emergency management director from vermont, all the best in your efforts. >> thank you. dam failures, flooding, power issues, some 4 million people still without power here. let's go to susan candiotti who has been watching things in long beach, new york. susan, last time we talked they were pumping the water out of the streets is that still working? >> that's still what is happening. the sun is peeking through, but we are still getting powerful tropical storm gusts, wind gusts likely at least 40 miles per hour. given the experience i've had. i'm showing you the muck that's all around and that fills the
hotel here. this is the water they're still pumping out. thanks for stopping the traffic here for a second. want to tell you that the locals here were surprised when governor andrew cuomo stopped by here to survey damage on long island. this is one of the places he came. he went up on the boardwalk here. he took a look around, he looked at a life guard station that had been upended. he shook a lot of hands. then we were able to talk to him one-on-one and ask him some questions about how he thinks new york fared. now, he said that he does not think that new york overprepared for this monster storm. and he said that he does think that new yorkers and others here in the state will pay very strict attention for the next storm that comes around, that they will listen to officials and not think they are simply crying wolf. here's what the governor told me.
>> don't underestimate the damage that has been done here. this will go on for days, literally. so i think it was prudent what we did, it would have been worse if we hadn't. >> reporter: now, back to you live here. the governor said throughout the state about a million people have had called the flooding in some parts of the state horrendous, not here, but in the catskill area. there's a lot of lecleanup to b done in this area, the flooding is localized and minor. >> susan candiotti, thank you very much. you can tell by the live shot that the wind was picking up. pictures are saying it all. we have a lot of dramatic pictures we want to share with you. i-reporters are sending in their best all along the east coast and also sending in some video.
>> we're on the creekside of pauley's island. there's an incredibly high tide, a very fast-moving current. probably 15 minutes have passed since i was last on this roadway. and it is already covered. the roadways are not safe anymor anymore. >> we see now all the water coming back into the bay. >> there was the roof of something.
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