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CNN BREAKING NEWS

A Look At New York At Night

Aired August 14, 2003 - 20:41   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Now I believe we do have the audio problem straightened out with Paula Zahn, who is standing by in New York. And Paula, are you there right now?
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: I am there, and I can't really make out whose voice that is very clearly. Leon, is that you?

HARRIS: That is me, Paula.

ZAHN: OK, I think you've got us up. Leon, thanks so much.

I just -- for those of you that heard the top part of my last report clip, I just want to give you a sense of where we are right now. We're on the border of the Chelsea and Greenwich Village area of New York City. That's south of the midtown section of the city.

And just as we have stood here over the last 20 minutes, we have seen pockets of lights come on. You are looking to the south of Jersey City right now, where we believe there are a couple dozen buildings where power possibly might have been restored. It's difficult for us to tell, because some of these larger buildings are run on generators.

But we saw them come on in a wave of power that suggests to us that power has been restored there.

And then directly behind me, as we look downtown to the financial district, we have also seen about six buildings appear to come online. Once again, it's hard to confirm whether it's generators that brought that power back on or not.

It is a very serious situation here. The governor of New York has declared a state of emergency here. Anybody involved in the New York Police Department, in the New York Fire Department, has now been asked by the mayor of the city to come in and assist.

Although some remarkable things have been witnessed here today as the power went out in the city, there have been, we have told, have been told, dozens of acts of kindness, where general citizens have walked into the street and assisted people crossing the streets where the stoplights have been out. We even heard about a ice cream truck delivering free ice cream, particularly in the area around Penn Station, where thousands of people are still stranded.

Now, we also have heard that the state of New Jersey, as the governor has just confirmed, brought in some 500 buses to the area, to the Port Authority, where a lot of the bus traffic leaves from. And apparently some of those folks are now on the way home.

At one point today, some 500 trains, according to the governor, were stranded, people had to be evacuated from them. We have heard stories of people stuck in subway cars underground for a period of up to an hour and a half, and had to break open doors to crawl out.

So it has been a pretty dicey situation.

Now, Leon, right now, we have just been told that it is very difficult to get in from the major bridges coming into the city. How I got in, in fact, with my helicopter, I tried to get in from a superb north of New York City about 45 minutes away. The chopper ride ended up being 10 minutes.

And what we saw, something quite rare for a suburban folks who live here. First of all, traffic was moving on the major arteries surrounding New York City, probably because people had to find different ways to get home.

One of the other odd sights as we came in down the Hudson River, we looked at the apartment buildings hugging the coastline there, and I have never seen so many people enjoying the swimming pools that are part of their apartment complexes.

Just wanted to give you another sense of just what the temperatures were here today, 93 degrees, but the humidity was just absolutely horrendous. So people are uncomfortable. And about the only cheers you hear this evening are from the buildings blocks away, where we think power has come on.

So that, Leon, gives you a very general sense of what we're putting up with.

I just want to show you how we're getting our information up here on the rooftop. Because we have no incoming lines to monitor any of the television coverage, we have resorted to our battery-operated radios. And this is how most New Yorkers have gotten their information today.

It is hard to believe, looking at the skyline behind me, that what the mayor has said just in his news conference will come true, that things will be back to normal sometime in New York City.

In the meantime, there are New Yorkers cynically saying tonight, this is one of those rare nights where you will actually see the stars in the sky over Manhattan.

So Leon, that brings you up to date. And the next hit, we'll hope to bring you more information from this part of Manhattan.

HARRIS: Very good, Paula. Glad to see that you were able to make it up there.

Paula Zahn there live in New York.

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