Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Hurricane Irene Heads for East Coast; Battle for Libya Continues; Journalists Held Captive in Libya; Hurricane Could Spell Big Trouble for NYC

Aired August 25, 2011 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast.

Breaking news right now on Hurricane Irene. North Carolina will be next to encounter it. The warnings went up this afternoon. Then after that, more than 50 million people, the entire Northeast Seaboard, right in the storm's projected path.

Chad Myers joins us with the latest.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The pressure is going down, Anderson. And that's bad. The lower the pressure, the higher the wind speed.

Now, there are hurricane hunter aircraft in there right now, it did not find any increased wind speed yet. So, sometimes the pressure goes down and then the winds build. But there's the eye right there from the Miami radar site. So it's not all that far away.

We've had outer bands coming onshore in Florida for most of the day. There's another outer band offshore right now, if you're standing on the beach you may be able to see the lightning in the distance. I hope you're not on the beach at this point, though, because the waves are getting much larger. You get the 115-mile-per-hour winds out there. The waves are being generated and there's going to be a lot of rip currents going out into the ocean in the next couple of days, all the way into Cape Hatteras, even into ocean city, Maryland.

So, let's break it down for you right now. So, 120-mile-per-hour storm tomorrow afternoon south of the Cape, by tomorrow, about Saturday, 2: 00, you get to the category 2, 110-mile-per-hour storm somewhere in North Carolina. Now, there's still a chance, a slight chance, Anderson, that it's offshore. But that's probably less than 30 percent. The better chance is that it's very close to Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, into North Carolina.

And then the bad part is that isn't even really land. There's an ocean, there's an island, barrier islands, but there's the sounds in there, the Pamlico Sound. That's just all water. So this storm doesn't slow down at all. It doesn't lose intensity because it's over land. It glides right along the Delmarva. It goes right on up the jersey shore and right into, very, very close to the Hudson River. The New York harbor, with water and waves lapping into the harbor especially water and waves and surge on long island and even probably all the way over from providence into Rhode Island itself. This will be a storm that we have never seen. Hurricane Bob in 1991, but it was farther to the east. In our lifetime we have not seen a storm just drive right up the Hudson River and take that water with it, and maybe even floods parts of Manhattan.

COOPER: Any sense of how this compares to, I mean on long island in New York, there was the hurricane in '38 that killed, I think a couple hundred people out around west Hampton, all around that stretch of southern long island. Do we now have this to compare? I guess it's too early to tell.

MYERS: It's a little too early. Maybe the winds aren't going to be as big as that storm. Look at the map behind me here, where there's purple all the way from New England to North Carolina. That's eight inches of rain or more everywhere. The inland flooding could be tremendous with this. Because although the storm is moving, and it's moving rapidly, the rain will be so intense at times, that the flooding will just occur. Hurricane models right over North Carolina. Hurricane models right over the northeast. There's very little chance that this misses the U.S. at this point, Anderson.

COOPER: And chances that it, I mean, that it misses the whole New York region. Because obviously that's a heavily populated area, a lot of folks are concerned about that. I mean, how likely is it that how many tracks show it hitting New York?

MYERS: I would say eight out of 20. That's a pretty big number. And the rest of them are either east of or west of the city. The best case for New York City would be if the storm would be somewhere out there, obviously missing everything. But if the storm would be just to the east of New York, the winds in the harbor would blow offshore, and not surge Manhattan. Not push all that water into Manhattan and long island and into Williamsburg. And for the - that way into the meadowlands, how swampy that is. The water would go straight up.

The other best secret would be to go over here through the Poconos. But that would cause more flooding in the Poconos, and it would be dying here because it's over land, that's a possibility. If it goes over the Delaware water gap and up into the Poconos, it would cause a lot of flooding and a lot of downed trees there, even in the Adirondacks. But the city would be saved at that point in time.

COOPER: Chad, appreciate it. Thanks very much. We'll check back with you throughout this hour. And obviously into the night to give you another idea of how big Irene is. This is what it looks like from the International Space Station. One crew member saying it looks very scary to him, even from up there. Mandatory evacuations under way along parts of North Carolina's outer banks, people all the way up the coast asked to leave or get ready.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: The barrier island right now, with my wife and my four kids. We won't be there tonight. MAYOR MIKE BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: I want to remind you that this kind of forecast is very imprecise, and we're talking about something that is a long time away in meteorological terms. So, what we have to do is assume the worst, prepare for that, and hope for the best. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Obviously, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordering the evacuation of senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals in low-lying areas. He held off on issuing any general orders to everyone in those areas but asked people in those places to consider leaving voluntarily tomorrow to try to cut down on traffic.

Now, they're getting ready in Washington, as well. Troops here filling sand bags at a military base, along the Potomac River just across from the national airport. Moments ago, we got the word that the dedication of the New Martin Luther King Memorial scheduled for Sunday in Washington that has been postponed. The Navy is sending 27 warships based in Norfolk, Virginia, out into an open ocean where they will be safer.

Three subs also put to sea, other surface vessels moving inland for safety. And just moments ago, we got the announcement of this. Take a look at this.

This is the capital Nassau looks pretty rough Nassau on the Bahamas outlying areas really got hammered. Saint Salvador Cape and the long island reports taking direct hit. No deaths so far there. But serious damage and major flooding as well.

Joining us now is Max Mayfield, former director of the national hurricane center. Max, you say one of your greatest nightmares is having a hurricane go up the northeast coast. Why?

MAX MAYFIELD, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, just because the population. And, you know, I think people up through the Carolinas, they have had enough experience with hurricanes, they know how to respond. But get too far north of there and a lot of people just understandably don't have the experience with hurricanes. So that's a big, big concern.

And as Chad mentioned, this is a large hurricane. And you really don't want to focus on that little skinny line because being a hurricane is not a point it's a very large circulation in this case. And even if the core weakens a little bit as it moves over Eastern North Carolina and over the colder water up north that large circulation is not going to disappear. So they're going to be dealing with all the hazards, storm surge, there's large waves on top of that surge, the wind and rainfall.

This particular hurricane is going to have a large rain field well out in advance of it. So, that's not a good thing to have a lot of rain, and have the winds come in that will knock over trees and power lines. If you remember hurricane Isabel, there were six million people who lost power in Isabel. Most of that occurred in areas outside of hurricane-force wind. COOPER: Hurricane Bob, I think in '91, was the last major hurricane to hit the northeast. So the comparisons with Irene I guess make sense. How similar are they?

MAYFIELD: Well, this is a lot larger than Bob. I remember forecasting bob when I was at the hurricane center. That just clipped the eastern tip of long island. But it was a much, much smaller hurricane. This is going to be different. And I would say that, you don't even have to have a hurricane up there in the long island area, New York City area, and Cape Cod area. This is such a large system, with the waves and the storm surge it's going to do a lot of damage.

So people really need to heed the advice of the local officials. The weather service offices are talking to those local emergency managers, and people need to heed their advice when they're told to do something.

COOPER: Yes. I was talking to someone on the subway today. A lot of New Yorkers I just don't think are ready, or even begun to kind to realize what this could mean, or how bad it could get. I don't want to cause fear unnecessarily. When it comes to the path of the storm, though, I suppose worst case scenario would be a direct hit on New York.

MAYFIELD: Well, that would be true. In 1893, there was a category one hurricane that I think in Coney Island ship pushed inland about a half mile. Central park had tremendous damage. they have had hurricanes but a long, long time ago. So, and this one is going to be different. Not like the Long Island express of 1938. That hurricane was moving very rapidly, and maintained the core of that hurricane. This is probably not going to do that. This is moving slower. So the maximum winds may weaken, in that inner core, but the large circulation is going to remain intact, and it will do a lot of damage. And I would expect a lot of power outages. Let's hope we don't have loss of life.

COOPER: Yes. Let's hope not. Hurricane of '38, it was just deadly, killed a couple of hundred people out on Long Island.

Max Mayfield, appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much.

More on Irene all night as new updates will come in.

Let us know what you think. We are on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will try to be tweeting some tonight.

Up next, the very latest on the hunt for Moammar Gadhafi. Never- before-seen video, this is some of here from the battle to take Gadhafi's compound. Nic Robertson got the latest also on the manhunt going on now. We will talk to John Burns, "The New York Times" with us in just a few moments.

Also tonight, in exclusive interview with one of the journalists held captive by Gadhafi's henchmen. We are going to talk with the CNN producer who has been credited for persuading the captors to let everyone go. She's an Arab speaker. She talked to them for days and days, and finally they relented. She'll tell us how she did it. First let's check in with Isha Sesay -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, as what Mayfield said, it's a serious possibility, not just a nightmare scenario anymore, tunnels flooded, airports under water, damage, even death, the frightening reality of a hurricane hitting New York City. We'll talk to "Edge of Disaster" author Stephen Flynn about what could happen, and what people can do to prepare when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right behind you can see the thick plume of dark smoke. That is as a result of the ongoing incoming artillery. This location has been pounded by shelves, by grand rackets, there had heavy machine gunfire. Assaults still coming from multiple directions, that a plane on fire at the tarmac.

But then over here, we have two golf carts that the rebels say they also got off of Gadhafi's farm. they have been coming through, trying them out. Many of them say they remember Gadhafi coming out of a golf cart similar to this one carrying an umbrella, giving one of his infamous speeches.

What they have been saying is that being on the farm, seeing the life of luxury that their leader led at the expense of the people for more than four decades is making them all that more determined to hunt down his loyalists but also more importantly to hunt him down as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That hunt is intensifying. We'll, of course, to bring you hurricane updates as they come in. But the other breaking news tonight is Libya, in the search for Gadhafi. That all important search according to the opposition that is still going on. Opposition forces now by house to house in Tripoli, kicking down doors looking for the fugitive dictator.

At one point today, there were reports that fighters had him cornered. That of course, turned out not to be the case. He did surface though, in another audiotape, his voice broadcast in tripoli today. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOAMMAR GADHAFI, PRESIDENT OF LIBYA (through translator): Do not leave tripoli for the rats. Do not leave them. Fight them. Destroy them. You are the overwhelming majority. You have marched in millions. March with the same millions. But fight this time. Fill the streets and the fields.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Heavy fighting in there is still opposition, fighters mopping up pockets of resistance throughout Tripoli. Listen.

Loyalists shelling continue at the airport destroying a wide-body airliner overnight. Opposition fighters said they still have to hold back returning fire because the shelling is coming from heavily populated neighborhoods. Shortly before air time, we got access to truly remarkable video, from the Arabian News channel, a view of the battle for Gadhafi's compound. Only one camera was there to record it, some of the most intense combat video that we've seen out of this conflict. Here is how it looked and sounded to opposition fighters at the dictator's door.

The intensity of the fighting, taking over the Gadhafi compound. It is being said that there are still pockets of fighting in Tripoli and else where in Libya, shelling in towns west of the capital."The New York Times" reporting clashes in Zuwarah resistance also in the east in Gadhafi's hometown Site and another loyalists strong hold to the south, Sabha. The focus is on one city, Tripoli, and one man with a price on his head, Gadhafi.

Nic Robertson is in Tripoli with more on the manhunt, he joins us now. Nic, you spent most of the day with opposition fighters searching for Gadhafi. What did they find? And how organized a search is it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems to be a somewhat chaotic search. It seems to be rumor driven. And sometimes one rumor feeds into another rumor. The first rumor that we heard was being taken very seriously by rebel commanders. They sent additional troops. We talked to the commander. They thought Gadhafi was in an apartment building close to his old palace compound. We went there. We couldn't find evidence of the buildup, of the fire fight.

Then we were told that it was actually centered in another neighborhood, a neighborhood that's got a lot of Gadhafi loyalists. We went there. And we found fighters who said it wasn't Gadhafi, and his family in an apartment complex. It was another family who was supporting him.

And then they went into that building and there was nobody there. So it's just rumor on rumor that the rebels are chasing at the moment. And they're chasing ghosts. They're coming up with nothing right now, Anderson.

COOPER: So they don't really have solid information about his whereabouts at this point, but to the members of the opposition that you've talked to, how important is it that they capture Gadhafi? Why do they think it's so important?

ROBERTSON: They think it's, number one, it's psychologically important, because that will just be very clear to everyone, even those that still support him, and there are some tribes here whose loyalty to Gadhafi hasn't been tested in the south of the country, in the west of the country. People are holding out still loyal to him.

So, they think that that will show these tribes that the end has come. And they have got to work with a new national transitional council. So that's one reason why it's important. Emotionally it will be very important. It will be absolutely symbolic for them that they have a real victory. As long as there are people fighting them on the streets, the battle's not over. And they dearly want to get this over and done with. They just moved the national transitional council leaders here to tripoli, to try to begin to manage and rebuild the country. But they're still fighting the battles on the streets, Anderson.

COOPER: Nic, stay with us. I want to also bring in John burns of "The New York Times," John who has done a lot of reporting over the years in Libya. Recently, he was kicked out of Libya for some of his reporting there by the Gadhafi regime.

John, Colonel Gadhafi just released this tape that we just played. We talked about him last night as being delusional. He seems if in fact that was his voice, he seemed delusional in this tape. I mean, he's saying do not leave tripoli for the rats. He talks about a wave of people coming to rise up. It doesn't sound like he's really in touch with the reality of what's going on, or he's just making stuff up.

JOHN BURNS, LONDON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Of course, that's been true of Gadhafi's statements for really quite a long time. A lot of them have just been gobbledygook. And yet this goes along and I don't know if psychiatrists that could have a field day with this with the kind of deadly cunning. There's an edge of deadly rationality to this. It doesn't bode well.

And we saw those television images today, not only of the Subterranean Complex, but the Bab Al Aziziya compound in central Baghdad, he still in out there. Journalists are down there, television crews were down there today. But just as interesting to me was, another report of a house in a Baghdad suburb on a street, probably known as Shadow Street, where completely normal looking house from the outside. Inside was palatial with a deep 40-foot bunker. And you could see how many times that could be replicated. There might be probably, probably are many places like that in areas of Tripoli which are favorable to Saddam, I beg your pardon, for Gadhafi, in his hometown, Sirte, and Sabha in the south. This could be protracted.

COOPER: Nic, in terms of the mood amongst opposition forces, how is the morale? And again, I'm sort of really interested in the organization of this. Is there a central commander who is controlling the opposition's movements? Or is it just small groups of fighters who have banded together as we saw early on in this, kind of doing whatever they can?

ROBERTSON: You're asking me, Anderson?

COOPER: I'm sorry, no, Nic. Go ahead, Nic.

ROBERTSON: There is a sort of central command. Whichever area you go through, you will find a command headquarters, and you'll find somebody who's smart, who's knowledgeable who's respected by the rebel fighters around him. But he will direct them to do things, the commander we saw today directed additional troops, additional rebel fighters out to try and encircle this apartment building.

But that's where the control, effective control of the forces ends, when he sends them out. They don't have real, sort of good means of communications. We saw them try to talk to each other by mobile phone. The system wasn't working properly. They couldn't always get through. So that's an issue.

And out on the street level, the fighters are very jubilant. They're very youthful. They are very exuberant. They really feel that they achieved something. You sense their euphoria. But it doesn't make them an effective, coordinated force. You literally get people, groups of fighters rushing around in pickup trucks with large machine guns on the back, and from where I stand, it looks very chaotic, and seeing the limited communications, I sense that it really is somewhat chaotic, Anderson.

COOPER: John, something I found so surreal and bizarre and oddly fascinating out of this today was this photo book that they found dedicated to Condoleezza rice in Gadhafi's compound. I mean, page after page of Condoleezza rice photos. It is -- You can't make this up.

BURNS: You can't. And you know so much of this is relevant to what we saw in Baghdad in April of 2003. A regime that presented itself as populist and socialist, that was not only utterly brutal, but utterly corrupt, living in extraordinary luxury. I'm not sure I would use the word pornography that was used once or twice today to refer to stacks of "playboy" magazines. But certainly, living luxurious lives and with odd things like that. What to make of that, it would be interesting to see what Condoleezza rice.

COOPER: I know. That's my first thought, to. Like wow! Who's going to get a statement from her and like, how are you going to ask her for a statement about that. It's so bizarre.

BURNS: Actually, what did come to my mind looking at that was that I think we have to acknowledge that there's a good deal of complicity among the western powers in all of these. We were, a long time of course Gadhafi was the number one bad boy. Certainly was for long period before Saddam went into Kuwait and became office. But then we wanted to get his nuclear weapons, we befriended him.

Tony Blair went there. Condi rice went there, embraced him. The British even returned Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who was the only man convicted in the pan am 103 shoot down. So, it wouldn't be surprising if some of those people who have now liberated Libya, as they see it on the ground, with NATO air support, unfortunately they are, I know, very grateful, may well begin to ask questions later on about our complicity with the Gadhafi regime. Which of course had a great deal to do with -- in fact, having to do with weapons of mass destruction, but that he had oil.

COOPER: John Burns, always good to have you on, Nic Robertson, as well. Nic, be careful.

Up next, you are going to meet the CNN producer who helped negotiate the release of 36 journalists, including her self from the Tripoli hotel, for days they were held there by armed Gadhafi loyalists, very emotional ordeal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's not talking on camera. She's not doing it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the CNN camera. Hi. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We'll talk to her in just a moment. We will have also more on hurricane Irene, threatening to be the biggest storm to hit the northeast in decades.

We will check in again with Chad Myers in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want them to know that Gadhafi through the past 40 years, he made the Libyans look like we were terrorists. We were like bombing, you know like him, but he made us look like we're not educated, like we're like this third world country. He made us look bad. We want him to know we're well educated. We are like you, and just like all the Americans, you know for the whole world. You know we're just people who live our life. We are a peaceful people. We just want to live our lives, be free. Just live like anyone else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's two sisters in Tripoli, 18 years old and 23 years old. They lived their entire lives under Gadhafi's rule. They now feel free for the first time to show their faces, speak out. They even have a message to Gadhafi.

Journalists who are in Libya to tell those kinds of stories, the stories about the Libyan people, now become the stories themselves. But sometimes they don't have a choice. Like the 36 journalists who were trapped by gun willed in Gadhafi's loyalists inside that Tripoli hotel. They were held hostage for five days, at times forced to lie face-down on the floor for 36 hours at a stretch.

Tonight, they are free, Thanks in no small part to a CNN producer who helped negotiate their release. We're going to hear from her in just a moment and you're going to hear from those two young women in Tripoli, as well, tonight.

But first some of the sights and sounds from inside the Rixos Hotel where CNN's Matthew Chance and dozens of other journalists were held captive. Using a Flipcam, Matthew documented what was happening in that hotel during those five days. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. So we're at the fire exit of the hotel. And to start this off, I'm going to show you what's going on outside the gates of the hotel. I don't know if you're going to be able to see much, because it's dark. And you can hear the heavy gun shots being fired.

John, what's the situation out there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just returning fire. Small arms. CHANCE: OK. So look and see if we can see anything outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down. Get down.

CHANCE: OK, we're in the darkness. That's a view.

(EXPLETIVE DELETED) That's outside our hotel room. You can see it is not a place you want to be standing up. It's pitch black.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Some of Matthew Chance. CNN's producer, Jomana Karadsheh (ph), was also trapped in the hotel. Here's a look at her and Matthew talking about their chances for getting out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE: Are you worried that, you know, we're in a very, you know, precarious situation here right now?

JOMANA KARADSHEH (PH), CNN PRODUCER: Well, not to use a cliche these days, it's a very fluid situation. I'm still -- I don't personally believe that this is over yet.

CHANCE: What's your feeling? We're going to get out of this or we're not going to get out of it?

KARADSHEH (ph): I hope we get out of it.

CHANCE: Fifty-five. Either we will or we won't, right?

KARADSHEH (PH): Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, in the end, it was Jomana who negotiated the release. All 36 journalists were freed yesterday. What it came down to was a conversation, a human interaction between the pro-Gadhafi gunmen and a 29-year-old news producer in which they somehow found common ground. Earlier I spoke with Jomana about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Jomana, in a situation like, this how do you go about trying to develop a rapport with gunmen, try to figure out a way to get all of you released? How did you do it?

KARADSHEH (ph): Well, Anderson, I've spent time in Libya, this time and a previous rotation. So I got to know the people there. And there are actually many, many really nice people that I've met over the time I've spent there. And this man was a friendly one. He would always come and check on us.

So it was spending time with him, having tea, talking to him. It was myself and a few of the other Arabic-speaking journalists with us. And we just built this kind of weird relationship with the guy who was stopping us from leaving. But we did build that relationship.

COOPER: What do you think it was that finally convinced the gunmen to let you go?

KARADSHEH (PH): I think, Anderson, it was -- there was one turning point where, you know, we really wanted to get out of there. We felt that the hotel was turning into a frontline. You know, we had tank shells whizzing over the hotel. We had sniper bullets coming into -- through like the windows. So we really did not feel safe. We all felt that pressure on that last day, on Wednesday, that we had to get out of there, no matter what.

So I just sat with him. I just sat on the floor, and I looked at him and I said, "Look, we need to get out of here. I miss my family. I need to see my family." And I knew he was going through that, because he hadn't seen his family for days, and he was telling me and other journalists about his five children, the youngest of whom is three years old.

And of course, the fighting was going on across the city, and he had no news of them because there were no phone lines and no power. So I think that was the turning point. Because he got all teary when I was telling him that I miss my family. And he said, "OK, let's try and get you out of here."

COOPER: Were they receiving instructions in real time? Or had they just been told at the start of all this, "Just stay here, keep these people here"?

KARADSHEH (PH): I would say it was very unclear, Anderson. We were always trying to figure out what had happened. But it seemed like, you know, as the battle intensified, we were basically forgotten.

So the initial command was probably just keep them in there. Do not let them out. And we tried reaching officials, because we were told that the office of Saif Gadhafi was basically in charge of the media now, while we were there. And we tried in every day to reach officials, people we had worked with and dealt with. No one was even picking up our calls, Anderson, even when we could get through.

COOPER: It's remarkable in one of these situations how quickly you begin to feel the effects of being held against your will. What was it like?

KARADSHEH (PH): It was really, really, really tough, Anderson. I think the good thing that helped us all was that, in this group of more than 30 people in that hotel, that it was a really good group of people.

But there were -- of course there were those moments where you were imagining every possible scenario of what could happen to us, what were they going to do to us. Are they going to leave us in there? Are they going to use us as human shields, possibly?

COOPER: What was the toughest moment for you? KARADSHEH (PH): There were a few tough moments. Like in the early days -- I think it was on the second day on Sunday -- we had lost power in the hotel. And it was two wings in the hotel. And we tried to move from one wing to the other.

And as I was walking past, I got basically caught in a conversation with one of the gunmen. And he was waving an AK-47 as he was talking to me. And I must tell you that was one of the scariest moments for me, because I could see in the corner of my eye people in the lobby were slowly moving away. So it was just me, him and a few other gunmen. And as I was trying to calm him down.

And he did say that "You are the journalists who are trying to turn Libya into Iraq and, you know, create a blood bath here." So that was really hard. I don't really know how I got out of that one, but we did.

COOPER: You went back to the hotel, I think, this morning to get your stuff. It has now been taken over by opposition fighters who escorted you in. What do you think happened to all those gunmen who were holding you? Did they just disappear?

KARADSHEH (PH): Well, they did start disappearing, Anderson, on Wednesday, our last day there. And we were all woken up at 6 a.m. by our other colleagues, saying, "There's some movement. Get up." And that's when we realized that the gunmen started disappearing. We saw them moving out of the hotel.

But we really had no sense of how many, Anderson, there were, because we could count at a time maybe a dozen. On some days we could count up to 16 gunmen. But obviously, that day it was only the older man that I told you about was the one we could see and a younger guy who was also there.

COOPER: Jomana, you've been through an incredible thing. And not just been through it but helped make it -- helped end it. Just extraordinary work.

Producers are called upon to do many things in this business, but you obviously went above and beyond. So thank you. And thanks for talking to us.

KARADSHEH (PH): Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A remarkable young woman.

Coming up, more on Hurricane Irene. We've learned in just the past few minutes that the Martin Luther king Jr. Memorial dedication in Washington has been postponed because of the approaching storm. We'll have more on that decision ahead

Also some really scary possibilities for New York City if the city took a direct hit from Irene. Water coming through tunnels, JFK Airport underwater. We'll take a -- talk to a hurricane expert about what could happen in New York this weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right. Let's get an update now on the path of Hurricane Irene. Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us in Atlanta.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We had some -- some options here for what I want to show you, is how much water could actually come into the Manhattan area with a Category 2 hurricane. And I don't know that we're going to get it up to Category 2, but if it's an 85- to a 95- mile-per-hour storm, there's some inundation that will happen as the water pulls itself into New York Harbor.

COOPER: Hey, Chad, let me just jump in here, Chad. If it hits land as a Cat 3 south of New York, you're saying it might lessen to a Cat -- below a Cat 2 by the time it actually hit New York City?

MYERS: Correct. Because it would run all the way over New Jersey.

Now, there's -- I've been looking. We're talking 50 miles one way or the other. And that's 35, 40 hours away. If this is over New Jersey the entire time, the storm will lose some power. If it's just offshore, Anderson, it still could be that Cat 2, 2 1/2. I don't think 3 because the water's colder up here. But it would not lose as much energy as it would if it would just run over New Jersey the entire time.

And the Piney Woods. I'm talking between Atlantic City and Trenton and Princeton and just kind of run on up the turnpike. And that would lose a lot of energy. It would steal a lot of energy because the eye is not over water. So that's the potential there.

There you go. This is what it looks like. This is the map. This is the map of inundation. There you go. All the way over to South Street Seaport. There are the ships. There are the tall ships, South Street Seaport. All the way in here.

And if you come around here on the other side, as well, you can actually see that part of the World Trade Tower complex, and I know you've been there. What did they do to the World Trade Tower complex? They dug it out. And that dig out is right there. There are the cranes right there. Water would fill in there. And this is only from about an 85- or 100-mile-per-hour storm.

Now, the other side toward Hoboken and the Meadowlands, very flat. You look across from New York City over there, you know there's no topography until you get up towards the Palisades a little bit farther to the west from there. But the potential energy coming in with a storm pushing all of that water up the East River and up the Hudson could be tremendous.

COOPER: So I can't -- my eyes aren't that good. So how -- how deep does it go across the island of Manhattan down there? I mean, are you talking about -- is that -- does that water go from one side to the other? MYERS: It does not. It pushes into the battery. It gets -- you know, this is the Wall Street district. This would be Lower Manhattan. Right here, this is Battery Park. So it would completely flood the piers that the Staten Island ferry would come in. All that would al be completely underwater.

Now, some of those piers, some of those piers float and all that. This is what we consider to be a Category 2. So the water would still be here. Now I'm not talking more than maybe just a couple, three feet deep in some spots.

But Anderson, if you have one foot of water running down the stairwell into the subway, it's going to be very hard for those subways to pump that water out. And there are big pumps in the subway. I understand that.

But if the water is -- it's not rain water at this point in time. It's rushing water down those stair wells. That could be a true problem for transportation for Manhattan for quite some time.

A turn to the right eliminates this possibility. A turn to the left completely eliminates the possibility, because it runs over the Poconos and into the Adirondacks, and you don't get this type of push of water.

But I'm going to do one more thing.

COOPER: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While I'm there, can you go ahead and put what a Category 4 hurricane would do? It's the red one.

And this is kind of what you're asking. Would it completely inundate this the southern part of the island? Yes. A Category 4 would completely wash over the southern part of the island up here into the South Street Seaport, completely all wet. There's nothing -- and so this is the threat.

This is not the storm. This is not the Category 4, end-of-the world storm. This is not "The Day after Tomorrow" or whatever that movie was. But the potential inundation is tremendous for a bigger storm than what we have right here.

COOPER: Chad, I want you to just stay there because I want to bring you into this conversation. But I want to bring in my next guest also, Steven Flynn, who writes a lot about infrastructure and knows a great deal about -- sorry. Someone is talking in my ear.

Steven Flynn who's author of a book by the name of "The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation". He's also the president of the Center for National Policy.

Steven, I appreciate you joining us. From your perspective, what are you most concerned about as you see this storm approach?

FLYNN: Well, what is clearly Snow we just saw laid out, if this is a direct hit on New York City, or even if it goes a little bit to the east and hits western Long Island sound and you push a lot of water up on areas where a few years ago when they had a really severe storm back in the 30s, most people weren't living in some of these places.

But now we have a lot of population, densely, and we have a more ancient infrastructure. You know, some of the stories that we've been talking about around, you know, just the systems are breaking down.

MYERS: Put the red one back, in please.

FLYNN: The systems are breaking down. And so the stress means we're going to have disruption.

And what clearly needs to happen here is we all need to be better prepared. And there's just so much professionals can do. There's tremendous, world-class professional emergency managers in the New York City and Connecticut and Long Island area. But this is an all hands evolution, if you get a major storm like this.

COOPER: Well, we're talking -- we're talking power outages. You know, subways stop running because, obviously, they're underground if there's water down in them. I mean, it's potentially a major disruption for the city, Steven.

FLYNN: It's huge. And Long Island if you remember, is -- you know, it's an island with 7.5 million people on it. And it only gets out by people going through Queens and the Bronx. It's a low-lying area in the western part. There's going to be a lot of flooding. A lot of trees are going to knock down power lines. The transit system is going to be disrupted. It's a lot of people.

If Long Island were a state it would be the 13 largest state. You've got 5,400 hundred people per square mil. So this is a little bit different than when we're used to handling on the Gulf Coast where population is a little more spread out. And so -- and also people are out of practice. Hurricanes of this scale are something that the region hasn't faced in recent times.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, I've been talking to just -- I mean, I was on the subway today, as I said earlier, just talking to New Yorkers. I mean, you go down to Florida. You go down to Louisiana, people kind of more or less know, you know, how to prepare, what to do. Here people are kind of like not even sure to take it seriously or not. And it's hard to say because you don't want to put undue fear with people.

Chad, how much is it likely -- I mean, we're now -- you know, Mayor Bloomberg earlier said that meteorologically, we are, you know, quite a distance from this event. How much is it likely to change between now and then?

MYERS: Well, the potential change is still pretty great at this point in time. Our left and right potential of this storm, Anderson.

So we know in 12 hours that it's only going to be about 25 miles that way or 25 miles that way. That's the bottom of the cone. It's very small. The error in 12 hours is very, very minute.

But then after 24 hours, the models aren't so good. They're maybe 50 miles one way or the other. And then 24, 36, 48. And we're still 3 1/2 days away from this storm getting all the way up into New England.

And if it could be to the right, if this hits the eastern end of Long Island, honestly, there's no threat really for New York City. Not like I was just showing you with some of those maps. The threat would be Long Island.

The threat would be for Montauk and Boston and even into Rhode Island. The threat would be for Montauk. The threat would be for Boston and even into Rhode Island. And can you imagine if you get all that water into like Narangaset and Newport and then you funnel it into Providence> We're talking about the same type of funneling effect in Providence that you would have in New York City from a landfall just about 60 or 80 miles farther to the east.

COOPER: And Steven, you think this might be a matter of a day or two of inconvenience. I mean, if it is a direct hit in New York, folks in the city could feel the impact for some time to come.

FLYNN: Yes. It could be for many days. I mean, the good news is we do have time to prepare. You know, the basics are people should have a kit. They should basically have the things they need. They could camp out in their home or apartment for three days. That's a good plan.

The second is to have a plan, to know where they would go should they have to evacuate and that kit should be in a go bag. Then they need to stay informed. Because just these variables, a little bit to the left, a little bit to the right could make a big difference.

But we have information now. Minimum thing for New Yorkers, they should go on the Office of Emergency Management's Web site and find out if they live in a place that's a flood zone. That's if they're in this Category 1 area. That would be a useful piece of information to have. So let's use the time, is what I encourage folks, to get smart, to learn a little bit about what you could be up against and develop that plan.

COOPER: Yes. No point in panicking, getting freaked out or anything, but it is good to prepare and know about the potential that's out there.

Steven Flynn, appreciate it. Chad Myers as always, great job.

Just ahead, is there an Apple without Steve Jobs? The mood on Wall Street a day after the legendary CEO steps down. We'll take a look at that.

Plus, Casey Anthony beginning a new chapter of her life. It's called probation. Some key details are being kept from the public. We'll explain ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: I'm Isha Sesay. We're about to get another update from the National Hurricane Center. Chad Myers will have that for us shortly. First a "360 News & Business Bulletin."

And the big storm cancellation in Washington. Dedication ceremonies at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial set for Sunday now postponed. Not far from there, the Washington Monument is closed indefinitely due to damage from Tuesday's earthquake. The quake left a four-foot crack in the monument, and pieces of mortar fell in the observation area. The National Parks Service says repairs could take awhile.

Apple stock today regaining most of what it lost after co-founder Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO. Analysts say investors are confident about the company he built.

And a surprise investment from Warren Buffett is expected to be a major lifeline for Bank of America. Buffett announced the $5 billion investment this morning. He says Bank of America is a strong, well- led company worth investing in.

Up next, Anderson's back along with Chad Myers for a late update on Hurricane Irene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right. Let's get an update now on the path of Hurricane Irene. Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us from Atlanta.

MYERS: The very latest, Anderson, the 11 p.m. advisory, a few changes here.

Movement north at 13. That means the turn to the north is completed. That right-hand turn we talked about all week. Winds are still 115 miles per hour, but the storm right now has a perfect eye. That right there means the storm is getting stronger, and it will continue to get stronger overnight.

So here we are off the coast of Florida. Very big waves off the coast of Florida. And you just -- you can't be out there in the surf or let the kids or even the pets, for that matter, in the surf. They don't know what they're doing with that.

The winds still and the tracks still right over North Carolina. Cape Hatteras maybe a little bit to the west at 105 miles per hour, maybe even 110 on Saturday afternoon. Saturday evening right over and then getting back into warm water just to the north of Virginia Beach. There's the story there.

And then we move you back up as this skims right along Ocean City, Maryland. Right along all of the area from about Wildwood into Coney Island and then right into New York harbor. Really that track has not changed at all.

The wind speed 80 miles per hour even getting into the Hudson River. This is the real threat. As the storm is right here, the winds will be in this direction. And those winds will begin to fill up the area there right around Lady Liberty. That New York harbor area will act like a funnel. That water will be pushed up into Manhattan, will be pushed up over into the East River and the Hudson River, and the water will rise. That's the biggest threat, the storm surge possibility for New York City proper -- Anderson.

COOPER: And that's it for 360. Thanks for watching. CNN international coverage is next with Isha Sesay. I'll see you tomorrow.