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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Thousands of People Forced to Sleep on Streets of New York City

Aired August 15, 2003 - 07:56   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: While we wait for Mayor Bloomberg to speak, let's talk a little bit more about the scene that was just incredible here in Times Square. You heard the Schaeffer family from Phoenix talking about how they spent the night on the streets of Times Square. They are one of thousands of people who did that.
Our Gary Tuchman had a chance to go out and give us a better picture of what that was like.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the most unusual sights we saw overnight here in New York City was all of the people sleeping in the streets, people just stuck in New York, not able to get out, not able to get a hotel reservation. So, some hotels supplied sheets and bedding, like this hotel, the Renaissance in Times Square, and said, we'll give you the sheets, you can sleep outside. It was a nice night. And these people all spent the night sleeping in front of this hotel, and you can see some of them are still asleep.

And this is a scene repeated all over New York City -- people sleeping in the train stations, outside the train stations, inside the bus station, outside the bus station.

I want to talk with one gentleman who spent the night on the Renaissance's sheets outside of the hotel.

Sir, your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mark.

TUCHMAN: Mark, where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chicago.

TUCHMAN: Mark, did you ever imagine that you'd end up sleeping on the sidewalk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never imagined this at all.

TUCHMAN: So, was the night for you? Were you scared?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not scared at all. It was pretty calm out here. It just wasn't very comfortable, a little hot for a while. And, of course, sleeping on the sidewalk is not exactly all that pleasant. TUCHMAN: All in all, what did you think of the experience?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was definitely interesting, but the novelty wore off about 2:00 in the morning when I was pretty tired and ready to go to sleep and get off the street.

TUCHMAN: Ready to go back to Chicago?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely ready to go back to Chicago. I was supposed to fly back today, so I have to try to get our bags out of the hotel.

TUCHMAN: I wish you luck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

TUCHMAN: One thing we do want to point out, a very safe night in the streets of New York City. Police say there was less crime than a typical night when there is not a blackout. They do say they had 9,500 police officers in the streets compared to the normal 1,000 to 2,000.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

And as we've been saying all morning long, it's a city of millions of stories, whether you were here and stuck in Manhattan or New York or across the Northeast, or just trying to get somewhere.

Our Gary Tuchman, who you just saw in that piece, is with us.

You had a bit of a challenge getting in New York City.

TUCHMAN: We were actually in Atlanta yesterday trying to fly to LaGuardia. The flights were all cancelled to LaGuardia. They opened Newark airport. We got in close to midnight and we started driving. The Lincoln Tunnel closed, can't get into Manhattan. The Holland Tunnel they said was one lane, got to the Holland Tunnel, and no lights at all in the tunnel. The tunnels are dark to begin with, but completely dark, it's very eerie.

Then we get into New York City. They said there were 9,500 cops on the streets of New York. They were at every intersection, because there were no lights, patrolling the intersection.

What was interesting about it was it's dangerous to drive in Manhattan. I felt safer yesterday. Everyone was being so cautious and there were so many police. It was a very safe (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, listen, it was quieter before the electricity came back on here at 46th Street, but you can hear it's starting to drum up again today on a Friday morning.

TUCHMAN: That's right.

HEMMER: Gary, thanks. We'll talk to you a bit later.

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