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NYC Mayor Outlines Storm Preps; Boston Braces for Massive Winter Storm; State of Emergency; Closings for the Big Storm; Massachusetts Prepares; Small Drone at White House

Aired January 26, 2015 - 13:00   ET


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: And they're going to have to do that work constantly, under intense pressure. And that's, again, why I say to all my fellow New Yorkers, we can help by getting out of the way of the sanitation vehicles, by getting out of the way of the emergency vehicles so they can do their job.

The latest forecast we have from the National Weather Service still has us around two feet of snow. But again, we have learned, in past storms, that can change at any time. Storms can speed up, slow down. They can get smaller. They can get bigger. We are preparing for at least what that forecast is suggesting, if not worse. We certainly know we're going to have very high winds. We know we're going to have low visibility. We know we're going to have lots of conditions that make travel unsafe.

We will give you constant updates as we get information. But everything we know so far makes clear you can't underestimate this storm. This is not a typical storm. It's going to pack a real punch and we have to expect heavy accumulation in a very short period of time. This is another crucial point. Some storms come in in a measured manner. This is going to come in in a sudden spurt of activity.

We saw some flurries this morning and that has largely dissipated. But what you're going to see in a few hours is something that hits very hard and very fast and people cannot be caught off guard.

Best thing to do, stay indoors. Stay off the roads. Stay off the sidewalks. And this is something I want people to start acting on as quickly as possible.

In the next hours, we want people who can get home to get home early. To get out of work early as early as you can. Get home. But as the evening progresses and the snow intensifies, it will not be an optional matter. As part of our emergency declaration, I'm ordering that at 11:00 tonight our streets will only be available to emergency vehicles. So, all nonemergency vehicles need to be off the streets of New York City by 11:00 p.m. tonight. And we will continue that emergency declaration until the situation is safe. So, from 11:00 p.m. on tonight, no nonemergency vehicles on the streets and that will be the policy until we state otherwise. We need to let sanitation, police, fire do their jobs. And this is the way we'll guarantee that.

On the way home this evening, again, the earlier you can leave, the better. If you can you take mass transit, that is a priority to do so. If you are driving, expect tough conditions with each passing hour this evening. Go slow. Take a lot of precautions. Even walking, be careful this evening as this storm will intensify very quickly.

If you have any evidence -- if you happen to take, for example, for- hire vehicles, if you have any evidence of people taking advantage of this emergency to unfairly and illegally raise the prices of their rides, it is important to call 311 and report it. Price gouging in the context of emergency is illegal. If you experience it, please call 311 and the Taxi and Limousine Commission will investigate right away.

Amplifying what I said yesterday, I want all New Yorkers, at the end of this afternoon, at 6:00 p.m., to stay out of our parks. We will close our parks at 6:00 p.m. There will be the potential danger falling tree branches that can be very dangerous, especially if snow accumulates so rapidly. So, from 6:00 p.m. on, all parks closed.

As for our schools, we're officially announcing that school will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday. So, please emphasize to your audience that schools will be closed tomorrow. In addition, the regions' exams that were scheduled for tomorrow will be --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This is Bill De Blasio who just is speaking. But I want to go to Washington right now. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. We're following blizzard conditions from New Jersey all the way up through New York, all the way up to New England. This is the mayor of Boston who is speaking right now. Let's listen in, Marty Walsh.

MAYOR MARTIN WALSH, BOSTON: -- as of midnight tonight. I urge everyone to stay off the roads before that as well.

In the city of Boston, only emergency operational personnel will be required to report to work tomorrow. Second, the public -- Boston public schools will be closed tomorrow, on Tuesday, and on Wednesday. After school activities are canceled today. We're expecting snow removal at bus yards, on streets and at schools will take some time as we -- as this storm goes through and ends.

We're prioritizing our child safety and we want families to be able to plan for two days without school and not have to worry about that. Boston center for youth and families and community centers will be open this evening as usual. Tomorrow, 14 facilities will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for anyone who needs a place to go. Trash collection will not take place on Tuesday and will be delayed one day, as of now. For neighbors with twice weekly collections, the Tuesday collection will be canceled.

In addition, all community meetings planned for the next two days with the city of Boston or involvement with the city of Boston have been canceled. Snow removal will obviously be a major task. The snow will continue to fall at a high rate on into tomorrow. I'm very confident our public works commission, Michael Dennehy and his team. And you'll hear from commissioner Dennehy in a little bit. With help from contractors and other city departments, they have access to as many as 800 pieces of equipment. And with smart technology, they'll be able to coordinate and target their efforts more efficiently than ever before.

I'm urging people to take these forecasts very seriously and take every precaution. Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly and disabled. Clear your sidewalks the best you can but be safe. I have ordered ISD, inspection of services, to write up violations for city owned properly -- city-owned properties that are not properly cleaned as well. If we're going to be citing homeowners and businesses, we're also going to hold ourselves to even higher standard.

Technology plays a vital role in these efforts. Our Department of Innovation and Technology will be providing support in every department involved in this effort. And for those questions in -- for those with questions and concerns, help is available through several channels. The mayor's hotline, 617-635-4500, will be running extra staff around the clock for the next two days and possibly into a third day, if need be. So, anyone with any questions around snow removal, anything to do with the snow, please call the mayor's hotline, 617- 635-4500.

Our social media and mobile technology strategy will be in full infect throughout the storm including our Citizens Connect app. Anyone with a safety issue should dial 911. If there's any medical emergencies, please dial 911.

BLITZER: All right. So, that's the Boston mayor, Marty Walsh. We heard from Bill De Blasio, the New York City Mayor, as well. They're getting ready for a historic blizzard they say. They insist the blizzard warning is in effect and they are getting ready to deal with it. It's in effect, by the way, from central New Jersey all the way up to the Canadian border. And it includes two of the biggest cities in the United States. We're talking about New York City and Boston. That means whiteout conditions are already possible in some places.

From space, look at this. The winter storm looks like a giant smear from South Carolina all the way up to Maine. Over the next 24 hours, we can expect to see two to three feet of snow on the ground from New York City up to Boston and beyond. High winds will cause huge drifts making snow removal very difficult and thousands of utility customers should be prepared to lose power. This, potentially, is an emergency situation. Salt, shovels, food and water, they're selling out in area stores as people stock up for what could be a crippling mess that lasts for days. Connecticut will impose a travel ban beginning at 9:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight to keep drivers off the roads in preparation for the worst. New York's governor is already taking extraordinary precautions ahead of the storm.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Few measures that we're going to put into effect, number one, I'm declaring a state of emergency effective immediately from Sullivan, Ulster County south, Brooklyn (ph), Worchester, New York City and Long Island. Declaration of a stage of emergency allows me to waive certain laws and certain regulations so it actually allows the government to move faster.


BLITZER: CNN is covering this potentially devastating storm from every angle. Just ahead, we'll speak to emergency management officials from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. We'll use CNN's roving cameras to give all of us a better look at road conditions here in the United States. This is an ugly situation and it's about to get a whole lot worse.

And there's other news we're following here as well, including a small drone, yes, a drone, that has crash landed on the White House grounds, just outside the residence on the south lawn of the White House. You see secret service officers. They're canvassing the area. They're looking for evidence. We're going to tell what you the secret service has discovered about the investigation so far.


BLITZER: We're following this historic blizzard that's now approaching New York, Boston, a whole of areas in the northeastern part of the United States and 50 or 60 million Americans could be affected.

We're watching it closely. Our Meteorologist Chad Meyers is outside of the Time Warner Center, right in the heart of New York City, right next to Central Park. Chad, with emergencies -- state of emergencies now declared in at least four states, one of the top priorities for us is to get people off the roads, at some point, before the storm really hits because once it hits, it's going to be, potentially, a disaster out there. What's going on?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You just don't want -- Wolf, you don't want people stuck on interstates, stuck on a road with nowhere to go, with people crashing in front of them. It can happen in an instant. Ten minutes before, it was perfect and then, all of a sudden, you are at a standstill. It is time to get home and it's time to stay there anywhere from New York City almost down to Philadelphia and especially out towards Boston, into Concord, into places like Bangor, Maine which could pick up a foot or two of more snow than what you're already seeing right now. It's beginning to stick in New York City and we're expecting a good 10 to 14 inches here. The bigger problem won't be the foot of snow, it will be the fact that it's going to be blowing and drifting with winds of 55 miles per hour. Those winds may gust to 75 miles per hour in Boston. And that's the problem because, Boston, you have a chance of picking up between 24 and 30 inches. Especially the higher elevations, around the Berkshires, that's where the 30 inch snow totals will be. And even though it may be less in let's say Bergen County, New Jersey, or back toward Morristown, New Jersey, maybe only six inches there because it is a quick change. It's a quick change, Wolf, from 20 to 10 to 5 to nothing right across the forecast area that we're standing in right now.

Get inside. Take care of the pets and take care of the elderly. As the governor was just saying, the pets can't take care of themselves. The wind chill with this storm will be a problem as well. You know, we talk about winds but the temperature will be 20. If the wind is blowing 60, that's a wind chill of 20 degrees below zero and all living thing feel that. Of course, plants will dry out quickly. Hopefully no plants are outside. But the pets and the kids and you may be outside as well, so please take care of yourself.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, if you're talking about 60 or 70 mile an hour winds in addition to, let's say, two or three feet of snow, those are near hurricane proportion winds, right?

MYERS: Yes. And hurricane proportion waves as well. Significant beach erosion from Maine down to Massachusetts, along the Cape and all the way down even to Long Island Sound and New Jersey, and place that got hit so hard by Sandy's just erosion will now be eroded again with waves I believe now probably approaching 30 feet crashing on shore as the winds pick up to that 60 or 70 mile per hour range.

BLITZER: What a potential disaster unfolding. All right, thanks very much, Chad. We're going to get back you to in Massachusetts.

They certainly are preparing for the worst right now. People there stocking up on essentials for the next several days. And as we just heard from Chad, the state could get more than two feet of snow in some places, maybe as much as three feet of snow, combined with very high winds, 60 miles an hour and maybe 70 miles an hour. Here's what the Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker, said at that news conference we had just a few minutes ago. Listen to this.


GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R), MASSACHUSETTS: We have declared a state of emergency effective immediately. We will implement a statewide travel ban infective tonight at midnight.


BLITZER: Joining us now on the phone is Peter Judge. He's a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Peter, thanks very much. I know you guys are getting crazy up there right now. We heard the warning from the governor, from the mayor of Boston. How bad realistically do you expect things to get?

PETER JUDGE, MASS. EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (via telephone): We're talking right now, Wolf, about maybe an all-time top five storm when all is said and done between the wind, the coastal flooding and the two to three feet of snow across the state.

BLITZER: Are you guys ready for this?

JUDGE: We think we are. I mean it's not new for us. And maybe worse than usual. But we had a whole bunch of people in here yesterday. We have our planning in place. You know, we know how to handle snow up here. The problem is, with the coastal flooding and the 70 mile an hour winds are really going to impact people. Hopefully they'll be cooperating, staying off the roads and letting folks being able to do their jobs.

BLITZER: Because the flooding and those winds, forget about the snow for a moment, people are going to lose power very quickly and it's going to be 20 degrees. It's going to be freezing out there. What are they going to do?

JUDGE: Well, right now we're expecting literally hundreds of thousands of people to be without power. We're working with the communities as far as setting up shelters. I know as far as getting generators out there as well. But as I said, this is not new to a lot of people but we want to keep people safe and hopefully they'll listen to their local emergency management directors when they're asked to evacuate because the high tide is actually going to be about 4:00 a.m. this morning. So people should move out ahead of the high tides.

BLITZER: And what about the elderly? People who can't move? If they lose power, what's going to happen?

JUDGE: Well, in many communities, we've got outreach going in which we know who those people are who are going to need some extra assistance, whether it's travel, whether it's just warnings or whether it's, you know, a warm place to stay. So we have this process in place and we have our outreach going right now and hopefully we won't have any catastrophes out of this.

BLITZER: All right, Peter Judge, good luck to you and good luck to everyone up there in Massachusetts, all of the areas of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. Peter Judge is the emergency management agency spokesman for Massachusetts.

Coming up, another security breech at the White House. This time, get this, a two foot wide drone, yes, a drone, crashing into the grounds right in the middle of the night. We're going to tell you how the U.S. Secret Service responded. Stay with us for this, plus the latest on the blizzard that's crashing in on the northeastern part of United States.


BLITZER: Take a look at this. We've got some live pictures coming in from Pittsburgh right now, Pennsylvania. One of several states with an emergency declared already. People are watching what's going on. This is a blizzard of historic proportions hitting the northeastern part of the United States. The National Weather Service here in Washington, isn't prone to exaggeration, is using terms like "life threatening" right now. We're going to get back to the latest.

But there's another important story we're watching right now as well. At the White House, the U.S. Secret Service is now investigating a major security breech. Early this morning, in the middle of the night, a small drone crashed on the south grounds, not far from the residence of the White House. The two foot wide quad copter came in at a low altitude. The Secret Service is now speaking to what they call a person of interest in the case.

Let's bring in Tom Fuentes. He's our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director.

You know, it's pretty worrisome if you're in the Secret Service, you're in law enforcement, a drone comes in and you don't know if this is some 14-year-old kid who got a drone or if this is some al Qaeda sympathizer wanting to send a message, you're using drones to kill us in Yemen, we can use drones, too. They're investigating all of this right now.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that's true, Wolf, and there's already been drone threats and drone plots on sending them into the capital with explosives attached to them. And these drones, you know, they go from a foot or two in size to wing spans of 10 feet and can carry 50 pounds of explosives. So, you know, the idea that you could just fly one into the White House or into the capital is worrisome, especially because, how do you stop it? And I think --

BLITZER: There is no real air defense systems around the White House that can find a small drone and blow it out of the sky in advance of it coming in, is there?

FUENTES: No, not that I know that would be effective in this case. And the other thing you have to consider is that whatever weaponry you would fire at this drone, those bullets and rockets would be landing somewhere in Washington, either, you know, across the street and hitting people that may be out there or landing in homes or businesses. So, you know, for the Secret Service to start -- go out on the lawn and start shooting at these things like it's pheasant season, I don't think that's going to be an accurate solution.

BLITZER: You know, the only thing I could think of is that - that - what the Israelis have, that U.S. made Iron Dome that they use if a rocket comes in, let's say, they can intercept that rocket if it's going to a populated area or something. I don't know if those Iron Dome systems would work against a drone though.

FUENTES: Well, it would probably work just fine except you'd have all that explosive material and debris falling on people.

BLITZER: The shrapnel and all of that, yes.

FUENTES: That would all be falling on people in Washington, D.C. -


FUENTES: Which would probably be a tourist hazard I'm sure. So --

BLITZER: So how do you investigate? Let's say you're the Secret Service. You have to investigate. You've got this drone, what remains of it. It landed somewhere in the south lawn of the White House. I'm sure there are serial numbers you're looking at. What do you do to find out who is responsible for this?

FUENTES: Well, we're back to all of the other investigations, social media. Who's bragging about this? Somebody is, obviously, going to be very proud of themselves if they were able to pull this off. And they'll get on social media and the hope is that somebody will alert the authorities to, you know, go and investigate this individual and look into it and then see if the individual -- if there's a record of that person -

BLITZER: And if they say they're talking to a person of interest right now, what does that mean?

FUENTES: Well, that means that's probably what's happened, that they've gotten a lead to go after somebody, to question them about it and maybe find records if that person purchased a drone and, oh, by the way, where's your drone? What did you purchase? And if they have an online record of that, let's say, they can match it up to the one that they've recovered on the lawn.

BLITZER: And let's be precise, the president and the first lady, they're in India. So they were not in the residence of the White House at 3:00 a.m. But their two daughters -

FUENTES: Their children were, yes.

BLITZER: And Mrs. Obama's mother, the grandmother, was taking care of the two daughters, they were in the White House at that time. A whole lot of other people as well. All right, we're going to stay on top of this story and figure out who is responsible for flying a drone over the White House and crash landing it apparently on the south lawn of the White House, not far from the residence.

Coming up, we're going to get back to the other top story we're following. States of emergency now in effect from Philadelphia to Boston, just ahead of a massive blizzard that is moving their way. We're going to have the latest on what many are warning could be a crippling winter storm. Stay with us.