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Storm Slows Valentine's Deliveries; The Heat Of The Winter Games; Six Deaths Related To GM Recall

Aired February 14, 2014 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This morning the snow is still falling on the east coast. The deadly, monster storm that crippled the country for days, leaving this trail of destruction. Roads so dangerous and undrivable, airports just scenes of chaos and more than half a million people without power right now and it could stay that way for days.

We are live with the damage. And the worst news? This storm and another one, not done. There's more in store for today.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thanks for that. I feel happy on a Friday morning.


BERMAN (on-camera): Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: Eat your doughnut before you shovel out the driveway. I'm Christine Romans. It's 32 minutes past the hour. You know, this morning, it's not over yet. You've got what, 100 million people along the east coast who've been feeling Mother Nature's fury. The snow, the ice, the rain, it's moving north, and the problems remain, with more snow, more trouble still to come.

BERMAN: It is still a mess this morning at the airports. Another 1,300 flights canceled today on top of the nearly 7,000 that were grounded yesterday. Crews are racing to clear the runways so they can get the planes moving again as travelers scramble to find new flights. Some are actually heading to the airport, because they say they can't reach anyone on the phone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what to do. We were supposed to go to Miami.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I kept calling the last two days trying to rebook because I thought this was likely to happen, and they said that there was nothing available to be booked. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took time off from work. I'm going out to San Francisco, Valentine's Day, and it's pretty much over with, you know? I'm being optimistic. Lucky for me, I have travel insurance. So if it doesn't work out, I get my money back, but it's still a big inconvenience, it's a hassle. I wasn't even informed of the cancellation until I was, like, pretty much outside the airport.


ROMANS: The flight statistics since the beginning of the year, 42 million people affected by flight delays, 42 million. And you look at what's going on in New Jersey. What happens when you pile snow on top of snow on top of snow? Well, you can see the roof just can't take it, and they collapse! This is what happened in Jersey City, New Jersey. A maintenance garage building giving way. Three workers are hurt there.

Authorities actually used dogs to search for victims. Near Atlantic City, the storm brought more rain than snow, meaning, streets are full of water. And the flooding could get worse as temperatures rise and that snow that's piled up elsewhere starts to melt.

BERMAN: This storm has been deadly. At least 16 people have been killed, including a pregnant woman in Brooklyn.

ROMANS: So sad.

BERMAN: She died when she was hit by a snowplow. Her child was delivered in an emergency room by C-section in critical condition now.

ROMANS: In Boston, it was snowing overnight and the roads were so bad. Some were forced to rely on the kindness of strangers to get their cars moving. This should be a brief break today for some cleanup before the storm hits.

BERMAN: That's Boston strong right there! Pushing a car.

ROMANS: Look it!

BERMAN: No, no, he does it. He does it. Keep going, keep, keep, keep going, oh, here we go. Yes, you have to wait. You have to let the shot resolve itself right there. All right. There the car goes, finally. We know that car gets going.

State workers in Connecticut getting to come in late this morning to give crews more time to clear the roads. Some cities are actually starting to truck away the snow, because they've run out of places to put it when they plow.

ROMANS: Maryland was among the worst hit from the snow, buried under more than two feet in some places. These are pictures from Towson near Baltimore. Well, Baltimore, as you say, if you live there. Authorities there worry that the trees simply cannot handle all this and may start to snap. There's even more snow -- I'm sorry, there's even more snow in the forecast for this weekend.

BERMAN: Stay tuned for more of that bad news.

In North Carolina, the weight of the snow has been very, very hard on the buildings like this store in East Charlotte. Part of the roof, I say roof, you say roof, collapsed. There were employees inside at the time. Luckily, no one inside there was hurt.

ROMANS: Power out this morning to nearly half a million customers from Arkansas to Maine. Most are in Georgia and the Carolinas. Those areas not used to heavy ice. The crews there scrambling to reconnect downed lines. It may be well into next week, next week, folks, before the electricity's back on for everyone there.

BERMAN: All right. We mentioned that there might be more snow on the way. Let's find out exactly what is going to happen. Indra Petersons is live in White Plains just a little bit north of New York City for the forecast this morning. Indra, what does it look like?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: First task at hand, right? Let's stop this system. Yes, we know there's a second one, but right now, I'm still getting light snow here on the back side of the original system. Let's talk about some of these snow totals, because they are impressive, guys. And New York City, overnight, actually added to the total we just gave you this morning. So, we have a new official total, definitely higher.

Almost a foot of snow out there towards Central Park, just right outside your window, guys. And then look at D.C.! Look at these amounts! Boston didn't see a lot, but either way, we were all really impacted by this system. These are the big cities. Let's talk about some of the bigger totals, though, because the farther inland you were, you saw some of those heavier snow bands, and some of those snowfall rates are four, even five inches per hour, especially in those early-morning hours.

Look at this, almost over two feet of snow in places like Maryland and even out towards Virginia. Unbelievable. Let's talk about what is left right now. Easy to see, yes. In New York, we are still seeing a little bit of snow, but some places like Massachusetts right now, also still seeing some of the rains.

Remember, closer to the coastline still seeing some of that warm air, but of course, as this low starts to push off towards the northeast, we're going to see more of those snow showers kind of filter in, should exit out of there and maybe another several inches, of course, out towards Vermont, Connecticut, also towards Maine today. Some higher amounts out towards Maine.

That's system one, clearing out for the most of us by about 10:00 a.m. or so today, left for them throughout the evening. Now, let's talk about the winds, because that is the problem. We have all this snow on the ground, about three, four-foot berms out here, and every time one of this a gusts kicks through, it feels like it's snowing, regardless. Visibility goes down.

Wind is going to be a problem for us today. And then here comes the next system. We get a break. It's Valentine's, so if you're maybe in D.C., New York City, at least for dinner time, you should be fine, but another system in the Midwest is expected to make its way through. Several inches of snow for them. Then by the evening, Ohio Valley, unfortunately, during dinner time, could see some snow showers for Valentine's. And then after midnight tonight, right in those big metropolitan cities, again, starting to see more snow.

Look at those totals. Another several inches on the ground, adding to what we already have. Good news, by Sunday morning, guys, it should be out of here. But not good news for a lot of people without power to think of another system making its way --

ROMANS: I don't think my gutters are going to be able to survive this. I'm serious. They're full of snow and ice and they're hanging precariously and every house on my block is just like it. At least we have power.

PETERSONS: But the kids have a big snowball fight, right?


ROMANS: Make a big igloo.

All right. This morning, it appears the U.S. is backing off on its demand the Afghan government sign off on a new long-term security agreement before President Karzai leaves office.


BERMAN (voice-over): Now, officials say the Obama administration may be willing to wait for whoever succeeds Karzai to hammer out a deal. U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan end in December, but the White House wants to leave 10,000 troops in place for counterterrorism missions.

BERMAN (voice-over): Secretary of state, John Kerry, in Beijing today with North Korea on his mind. This is a day after meetings with South Korea's president and foreign minister. The secretary is asking China to help ease nuclear tensions in the region and calling on Chinese leaders to turn up the pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.


ROMANS (on-camera): All right. News this morning that the Eurozone, the recovery's picking up speed. Stocks in Europe higher, the first annual growth for the European economy since 2011. But Japan's stock market took another dive today, losing 1.5 percent. Other Asian markets closed just slightly higher. U.S. stocks set to open slightly higher after yesterday's 60-point gain for the Dow and six straight days of gains for NASDAQ.

The vast majority of us are planning to save this year's tax return rather than spend it. Did you know this? We're going to save it. Sixty-one percent say they'll save or invest refunds, 21 percent say they will pay off debt, a good idea. Another 18 percent will spend money on necessities. According to a survey by TD Ameritrade, here's an interesting wrinkle, millennials, those most likely to save their refund checks. Millennials. Interesting, right? Maybe because they're living in their parents' basement with imported beer and they don't have --

BERMAN: They needed money for the Xbox.

ROMANS: I'm just teasing, millennials. I'm just teasing.

BERMAN: All right. About 20 minutes until the hour right now. We do have some breaking news. Valentine's Day is in jeopardy. No joke here. Here's the deal. It could be tough to get your hands on roses or flowers. Why? Because of the weather. It's now heading north through New England. That hit the exact worst time in the worst possible places.

So, flowers going north from Florida were delayed because travel was so difficult. Packages packed with Valentine's gifts were also slowed. And now, the florists are scrambling.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is actually the Super Bowl for florists. So, with the weather, it just adds another element that we have to deal with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Virginia, we had a delivery where the snow had covered all the area and we couldn't identify the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just asking to kind of cooperate with us. We don't have any control over the weather.


BERMAN: Super Bowl for florists. That's Valentine's Day. Along with apologies, you might be getting for not getting the flowers or a warning, you may not see your flowers until tomorrow or early next week, but many florists are promising they will do everything they can to get them to your loved one today. You know, may I suggest, Valentine's doughnuts?


BERMAN: Sweet in their own way and fragrant as well.

ROMANS: Or maybe you could just do all the shoveling for your honey.

BERMAN: My wife had to clear it for me yesterday.


BERMAN: She did.

ROMANS: Berman, you are in trouble!


ROMANS: No flowers and your wife does all the shoveling, and you're just going to give her a doughnut.

BERMAN: There was like a foot and a half of snow. I didn't touch it. I didn't touch --

ROMANS: Oh, I'm so sorry.

BERMAN: Romance.


ROMANS: All right. The winter Olympics are really heating up --

BERMAN: -- like my marriage.


ROMANS: Like the snow and the ice in your marriage, melting, 65- degree temperatures expected today, having a big effect on the games. We are live after the break.


BERMAN: All right. This morning, not just the competition that's heating up in Sochi, the temperatures are, too. It could hit 65 degrees today, leading to the obvious question, aren't these supposed to be the winter Olympics? All right. Nick Paton Walsh is live in Sochi. Tank top weather there, Nick, which is lucky for you. Are these temperatures causing any problems for the games?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I'm gracing you with sleeves today, but yes, it's causing serious issues in the snow. We are talking about athletes complaining about the slushiness of the slopes they're on. Some like it, some aren't used to it. It's been remarkable, though, to drive into the mountains and see literally a place that used to be icy completely baron with snow. Remarkable.

The ski slope itself, the ski jump sat there, a singular line of white and surrounded by brown trees, completely on its own there. Now, they're pledging that by Monday, we should start seeing the weather get cold, and perhaps, even snow come in again, but it's been remarkable to see organizers struggle with this issue. One of the key questions many had about Sochi, the only place, really, in Russia, where you aren't guaranteed snow at this time of year.

A couple of inches stick of it on the ground. And organizers admitting, too, they've had to start dipping into last year's reserves of snow that they've put aside, because many actually feared this could possibly happen -- John.

BERMAN: And nick, we have a lot here they could use if they need any extra. Nick Paton Walsh in Sochi. They're pulling the games off, but it doesn't look like it's supposed to. It looks, you know, you want to see the flakes falling and the ice and the hats and everything else. I think it takes away from the ambiance. ROMANS: And it's so interesting to see the pictures of, you know, like people who are watching the games in shirt sleeves or, you know, not even wearing a coat. Crazy.

Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joins us now. Hi, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Does this make you feel better there, JB?


CUOMO: You see --


CUOMO: You feel like you're more in the Olympic spirit now?

BERMAN: They're very small hands, though. They'll be --

CUOMO: I do. And you know what that means, small gloves. So, this morning, obviously, we're going to be talking about the storm, but we're also going to get to the heart of the matter for you. We're going to tell you what the storm is done, what may still come. We're going to take on this question you keep hearing popping up, when do you close schools?

When do you not close them? The analysis is not as simple as you may think. There are a lot of families in need, a lot of different aspects to go into the decision. We'll debate it right here.

Then, the so-called loud music trial. We have the defendant's attorney on with us today. He will make the case for why he believes that this deliberation process that's going on longer than many expected is a sign of a potential acquittal and why that is the right decision. We will put him to the test and you get to decide for yourself.

Then, also, the big cable deal between Comcast and Time Warner. We have Senator Al Franken here. He's going to talk about whether or not he thinks it's good for you. Is your cable bill going to go up? Is that supposed to be the upside of a merger for us? I thought it was supposed to make things easier for us.

Christine Romans would know better about that, of course. But we're going to take it all on "NEW DAY" this morning. Christine, JB, that's what I got for you. Happy weekend, happy Valentine's Day.


BERMAN: Thanks, Chris. Appreciate it.


ROMANS: All right, thanks. Now to another story we've been following this morning, a couple blown up at their home. A bomb blast creating a murder mystery. The new arrest and what's happening today in this case. That's next.


BERMAN: Breaking news overnight from Virginia where a federal judge has thrown out that state's ban on same-sex marriages. The judge writing that the state cannot justify denying gay couples the right to marry any more than it could justify banning interracial marriage five decades ago. The decision was stayed pending appeal.

The state attorney general is no longer defending the law, so it's unclear who might be able to appeal the ruling. Someone will certainly step in. And this state's situation and so many others will ultimately end up in the Supreme Court.

ROMANS: In Tennessee this morning, a couple's son-in-law is in jail facing murder charges after a bomb went off at their home, killing both of them. Richard Parker (ph) was married to Jon and Marion Setzer's (ph) daughter and lived in a house behind theirs. Police aren't discussing the motive, but they now say the bomb was placed at the home, not delivered through the mail or a shipping service as originally thought.


JEFF PLUTON, SPECIAL AGENT, ATF: We're still have a lot of the bomb debris at our laboratory, and we are still investigating any possibilities that anybody else may be involved, although, we're confident we have the person who was involved in this. We still want to close out some loose ends and try to determine if there's any chance anybody else was involved.


ROMANS: Parker now being held on a 1 million dollars bond. Court records show he had a previous conviction in an arson case, although, he served no jail time.

BERMAN: I spoke to the family's pastor overnight, and he said that family right now is just simply in shock, dealing with so much tragedy of losing, you know, the elderly couple and having the son-in-law now being the suspect. And they just had no idea this would ever happen. They see no sign of any motive.

All right. Just a few minutes before the hour right now. Coming up for us, General Motors recalling more than 700,000 cars because of a problem that could just shut them off in mid-drive. Everything you need to know about this in "Money Time" next.


ROMANS: Happy Friday morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time." There's not much love in the markets this Valentine's Day. Stock futures right now little changed. The Dow gained 60 yesterday. The NASDAQ is on a six-day winning streak.

Six people have died in accidents tied to faulty ignition switches in some General Motors cars. GM now recalling more than 700,000 cars in North America to fix this problem. The bad switches can cause the engine to shut off unexpectedly and airbags not to deploy. The cars in question are Chevrolet Cobalt and the Pontiac G-5 cars made between 2005 and 2007.

All right. Billionaire, Tom Perkins, speaking again about unfair maligning of the top one percent in this country. He's the businessman whose letter to the editor to the "Wall Street Journal" last month compared the modern movement against America's top one percent to Nazi Germany's treatment of the Jews. Now, Perkins, the co-founder of the venture capitalist firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, he says the rich should get more votes and that only taxpayers should have the right to vote.


TOM PERKINS, VENTURE CAPITALIST: The Tom Perkins system is you don't get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes. But what I really think is it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How's that?



ROMANS: Those comments during a talk last night on income inequality at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club. And you know, coming against the backdrop, I think, some people in the one percent have been saying we are unfairly being blamed for income inequality in this country.

BERMAN: He's got an interesting sense of humor.

ROMANS: Interesting.

BERMAN: "NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's crazy. I wish the winter would stop. We keep getting hit over and over.

CUOMO: Breaking overnight, the storm that just won't quit. Heavy snow drops overnight across the northeast. Some getting more than two feet. Chaos at the airports ahead of the holiday weekend as hundreds of thousands struggle in the dark down south, and there may be more to come.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Also breaking overnight, overturned. A federal judge strikes down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage opening up the next front in the state by state battle. We're live with the latest.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Inside the jury room. We're heading into day three of deliberations in the so-called loud music trial. The jury asking the judge even more questions, are we heading for a hung jury in what many viewed as a slam-dunk case?

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.