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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Mayor Bloomberg News Conference Later This Morning

Aired August 15, 2003 - 06:23   ET

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Before we went live to Cleveland, we were talking to Michael Okwu, who is live at New York's City Hall. He's on the phone with us again.
Continue -- Michael. Sorry about that.

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, no problem at all.

I think I was telling you, Carol, that the mayor is expected -- Mike Bloomberg is expected to talk to the media at about 8:00 this morning, just a little under two hours. And we expect that he'll probably give us an update as to how power is being restored around the city.

Again, parts of New York City are apparently getting their power restored -- the South Bronx, South Brooklyn, parts of Manhattan. And again, Carol, I can personally tell you, I have not seen evidence of that, although that is what officials are reporting at this point.

The first rays of sunlight are the only signs at this point of the first light since yesterday,

Lots of surreal scenes of the past 14 hours here, Carol, police at major intersections. Imagine the streets of New York in complete and total darkness with only the occasional police officer or police cruiser car at an intersection. And in some areas, flares are on the ground. That's exactly what I experienced this morning in trying to get to work, as a matter of fact. And candles lit along some of the sidewalks, and certainly in homes.

The officials report that 9-1-1 is working very well. One would imagine that the reason why I certainly saw a lot of fire trucks and heard fire trucks is maybe because of all of those candles burning last night. We imagine that there were probably small, little fires all around the city.

COSTELLO: Yes.

OKWU: The officials are also reporting, Carol, that airports were receiving and dispatching flights, but I talked to at least two friends in the last 14 hours or so who said that they were expecting loved ones to come in from out of town, and they had not heard from them. So, big question marks regarding that as well.

COSTELLO: Well, that would be scary. You know, you just have to wonder -- because I know New York is in a budget crisis, as are many cities across the United States, and you have to wonder how much revenue New York City has lost because of this.

OKWU: That's an excellent point. In fact, as you can imagine, stores had to shut last night very early. There was a moment in time when peddlers were really literally coming out into the streets from their stores and trying to sell water and candles and batteries and all of the things that you need to sort of hunker down and sort of fight this out.

But also, Carol, you know, New Yorkers also came forward and were incredibly cooperative with each other. In fact, the only way I was even able to get down to City Hall this morning was a cab driver, who was sort of weaving in and out of the streets very slowly, picking up any stragglers that he could find and not charging them any money.

COSTELLO: Oh, come on! You're kidding!

OKWU: Can you believe that in New York City?

COSTELLO: No!

OKWU: Some people do have hearts. It's very interesting. It was a lot like -- you know, and I don't mean this lightly, of course -- a lot like 9/11 in those respects. Surreal darkness, and at the same time you could really get a sense of a community coming together. It's weird.

You know, New Yorkers are a very tough, resilient bunch. They fight a lot with each other. And then suddenly when there is a tragedy or a setback or a major inconvenience, like this one, they seem to band together.

COSTELLO: Oh, they certainly do. It was an amazing scene. We're looking at pictures from yesterday right now, with people walking over the bridge there. You know, between the traffic, and no one is getting run over, no horns are honking, nobody is screaming, everything is very calm, it was just an amazing sight.

Going back to the tourist angle for just a second, I had friends who went to New York City. They're staying at a hotel on the 15th floor. They had to walk all the way up to their hotel room. They had Broadway show tickets for last night, but I assume that the shows had to close.

OKWU: Oh, my goodness. Seeing a Broadway show last night? I mean, you know, there's an old saying...

COSTELLO: They had tickets to "Hairspray."

OKWU: Well, that's a good one, but it looks like they're definitely going to have to redeem those or something.

There's an old saying that a friend of mine used to use, which is, you know, "There is no difference between fat chance and slim chance." I mean, there is no way anyone was going to see any kind of Broadway play or any production last night. And, in fact, it's interesting. There were just hoards of people along the sidewalks last night, a lot of them looking like out-of- towners. Of course, when you live in New York City, you think you can spot the out-of-towners. And I certainly spotted quite a few last night. And I am sure that they just didn't want to brave the, you know, 30 or 40, or perhaps in some cases 50, flights back up to the darkness of their hotel rooms with no air conditioning.

COSTELLO: Yes, and going up dark stairwells as well.

OKWU: Right. I mean, I can tell you that I descended 21 flights last night leaving the New York bureau, and then walked all the way from 34th Street to the Upper West Side, a good 40 blocks, and then had to walk up another 20 flights to my apartment last night in total darkness. So, that's what New Yorkers were experiencing all across the city last night.

COSTELLO: Wow! Well, we may have discovered the secret to curing the obesity problem in this country.

Michael Okwu, many thanks for joining us live on the phone from New York City Hall.

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