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updated 8/29/2011 12:43:29 PM ET 2011-08-29T16:43:29

Guest Host: Chris Jansing
Guests: Jeff Ranieri, Kathryn Sullivan, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Ed Rappaport, Jim
Cantore, Christine Quinn

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Come on, Irene, let`s play HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Good evening. I`m Chris Jansing with this special edition
of HARDBALL. Leading off tonight, here comes Hurricane Irene. Of course,
the people who live in the southeastern U.S. or along the Gulf Coast, there
is nothing unusual about bracing for hurricane in late August, but what is
happening today is historic. It`s extraordinary, and frankly, for a lot of
folks, it`s unfamiliar and scary.

Hurricane Irene is bearing down on the entire east coast, all the way
from North Carolina why it Maine with an incredible 65 million people in
its path. Rain and high winds have already begun to hit the Carolinas
where that storm is expected to make land fall sometime early tomorrow
morning.

Now, Commuter Transit Systems in New York, New Jersey, and
Philadelphia are being shut down with the enormous New York City subway
system coming to halt beginning at noon tomorrow. A hurricane warning has
been issued for New York City, which is expected to get hit Sunday morning.

Today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered nearly 270,000 people to
evacuate from low-lying areas. That`s roughly the equivalent of evacuating
the entire city of Buffalo, New York. And President Obama cut short his
vacation, urging people in the path of the storm to be prepared.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cannot stress this
highly enough. If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you
have to take precautions now. Don`t wait. Don`t delay. We all hope for
the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: All right. Let`s get right to it. Joining us now, NBC
meteorologist, Jeff Ranieri. And Jeff, it`s been a couple of hours since
you and I talk. How is the storm looking now?

JEFF RANIERI, MSNBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the storm has weakened
a little bit in terms of its overall strength, but it is still a wide-
reaching storm stretching several hundred miles in its over all, you know,
path here. So, let`s go ahead and take a look. Computer models have not
waivered. If this is your first time checking in in a while, you can see
that the entire Atlantic seaboard right now, the consensus is, that
everyone will be affected right from the Carolinas into the New England
area.

Now, right now, still at Category 2. Winds at 100 miles per hour.
Pressure at 951 millibar. So, it`s still a very strong storm at the center
where those hurricane force winds do stretch out 90 miles. That`s why we
have all these evacuations, because this is a large storm when you look at
the center wind field with those hurricane force winds. Tropical storm
force wind band still stretching out over 250 miles, but you can see on
this bottom edge down here, we are seeing it look a little bit ragged at
this point.

If you take a little a bit of storm sheer that`s helping to break this
storm apart, but, right now, the areas feeling it the most right across
Carolinas from Myrtle Beach up to Wilmington with tropical storm forced
winds sustained, gusting at 50-mile-perhour wind range, also getting some
heavy rainfall right now across Wilmington. So, it`s just starting to
begin here for the Carolinas, but we know it`s going to be a long next 72
hours here with this storm.

If you are also just tuning in and you watched this morning, let`s
say, now, Long Island, also all of New Jersey and right at into the cape
colluding the Massachusetts area, and the cape, now under a hurricane
warning. So, you need to be very closely monitoring this if you do live
along the coastline, because you may ask, be asked to leave, with possibly
mandatory evacuations.

Now, Chris, the other interesting thing I wanted to note here. We
notice a little bit of weakening. It looks like it may go on shore
tomorrow for the Carolinas as a Category 1 storm at this point. A strong
Category 1 for tomorrow morning and then moving up into New York City,
staying as Category 1, we do think, at this point, as we head into Sunday
morning.

So, this storm system looks, by all accounts, like it`s still going to
hold up for the New England area with those evacuations currently in place.

JANSING: I heard one forecaster say that this storm is something like
the size of Europe. Is that an exaggeration?

RANIERI: Well, you know, I would need to take them and compare them
on the maps. But we do know that, you know, it probably spans 700 miles in
its overall width. So, if I do some projections back there, maybe I`ll let
you know if I can put it on top and it end up working out, but --

JANSING: Seven hundred miles wide? Is that what you said?

RANIERI: In some cases, it could be, if you took maybe from one of
the outer bands to the other outer band. You know, that is a wide reaching
storm. I mean, it`s entirely possible. Look at this, some of the outer
fringes of this actually right now heading up into parts of the mid-
Atlantic. I mean, that`s my guestimate right now. I think it`s pretty
close.

JANSING: Wow! That`s unbelievable. Jeff Ranieri, thank you so much.

Because of what you`re seeing, mandatory evacuation orders have been
put in place for the shore regions of New Jersey, the coastal areas of
Delaware, areas of Virginia Beach, North Carolina`s outer banks, New York`s
Spider Island (ph), as well as, we told you those, low-lying areas of New
York City.

Hurricane hunter planes have been flying over the Atlantic Ocean today
as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is tracking
Hurricane Irene in its path north. Dr. Kathryn Sullivan is known as deputy
administrator, and she is with us by phone from the plane. Welcome back.
You were with us in our five o`clock hour. Tell us a little bit about what
your experience has been like over the last couple of hours and what you`re
seeing.

VOICE OF KATHRYN SULLIVAN, NATL. OCEANIC & ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION:
We`ve gone through the storm all the way from south to north one time, and
are just about to make another cut through it, northwest to southeast. Our
first pass through the eye, we did observe the eye wall. It is less
organized than it has been under earlier flights. Viewers who know some
meteorology can make (ph) even see some evidence of that if they look
carefully at the satellite images.

As I think you all have been reporting, reserved wind speeds and the
forecast from the hurricane center suggests the storm is a bit less intense
than she was 24 hours ago, but still, this is a tremendously large storm.
We`re in a 200 mile-an-hour airplane, and it takes us an hour and a half to
go all the way across it. There are intense winds, damaging winds through
that whole range. So, it`s a very large storm.

It`s to move up a lot of water. It`s going to bring a lot of wind,
and it`s going to last a long time for areas in its path. There`s still an
awful lot of energy in this storm that can post, you know, great hazard and
disruption to our coastal communities.

JANSING: I find it amazing that we`re getting just even a clear
signal from you and able to talk to you so understandably while you`re
riding through the middle of a hurricane, frankly. But tell us about the
equipment on board. Tell us the reason for flying into this storm.

SULLIVAN: I`m glad to do that. This is one of NOAA`s finest
missions, I think. These satellites give us a lot of information about
hurricanes and about the general atmosphere (INAUDIBLE) it gives us track
forecast accuracy that we need. We really have to have measurements
foremost (ph) than the storm itself. That`s what we`re doing on this
flight. We`re making these transitions through the storm. We have several
different radar systems aboard.

They`re helping us scan the vertical structure through the course of
our mission today. We`ll drop about 40 instruments called droplin
(INAUDIBLE). Either probes that drop from our 11,000 foot altitude down
through the storm, making a profile for us all the way down of the
temperature, the moisture in the air, the wind speed. Factors that really
are the evidence that they tell us what the energy and the storm is.

We have other instruments that we will draw up smaller numbers,
perhaps, a half of dozen, that plunge right down through the storm and hit
the water. And then, they deploy temperature measurements on a string down
through several hundred meters of water depth. So, together, what we`re
getting there are the really critical question is how much thermal energy
is in the ocean underneath this storm right now?

There is no way to get that except to measure in the ocean itself and
how much energy really is still contained in this storm? What is the
structure? How is it behaving? All of that evidence is critical both to
the forecast, the National Hurricane Center, the NOAA`s hurricane center is
developing every three hours, and also, importantly to our continuing
efforts to get better and better as it (ph) gives us accurate forecasts.

We`re state of the art pretty dog-gone good on forecasting the track
where the path of the storm is going to be, but in forecasting the
intensity and when the intensity will change is one of the big hard
problems that we haven`t really knocked to the ground yet. So, that`s
another important reason for this kind of flight is to accumulate and
advance the scientific knowledge that will let us get that forecasted of
intensity even better in years to come.

JANSING: Yes. Amazing stuff. And allows people to really get
prepared. Kathryn Sullivan, thank you and take care up there.

There are now ten states with declared states of emergency. They are
North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York,
Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. All of those
states in the path of this storm. And, again, you saw how big it is.

Joining me now, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina, Walter
Dalton, who is in Charlotte Forest tonight. And, tell us how things are
looking there tonight. How prepared are you and are the people who should
have gotten out, gone?

LT. GOV. WALTER DALTON, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, not everyone is gone,
Chris. Our evacuation process is winding down. The storm is arriving.
We`re feeling the winds. The rain has hit. We`re closing down the
bridges. There are some that remain. Those that remained, I hope, they
have listened to our admonition to have a hurricane survival kit, three
days of water, food and other supplies, flash light with new batteries,
charger cell phones.

But we applaud those who helped with the evacuation process and those
people who helped coordinate that and cooperate with it. We got hundreds
of thousands of people out. We think it was very successful. The good
news is the storm is weakening, but even with that, we already have over
5,000 people out of power in North Carolina, and we`re only experiencing
the tropical storm winds, and that is in areas that are not near where the
eye of the storm will hit.

So, even though it may be weakening, it is still a very, very serious
storm and we do expect power outages. We expect a lot of flooding. So, we
ask the people that did remain, please hunker down, and you know, be ready
for a rough night.

JANSING: And when you talk about those power outages and the flooding
and you look again at the size of that storm, it`s just -- it`s
extraordinary even to look at there. How wide and area are you concerned
about tonight that might be impacted in those ways, flooding, power
outages?

DALTON: Well, I think the most -- well, the power outages and the
flooding most of what you`re looking at would be east of I-95, but that
involves 39 counties. So, I think you would probably see some power
outages, some flooding there. I think as far west as even Raleigh, you may
see some power outages, because you`re going to see some high winds, and
you generally will find that that happens.

But, the brunt of the storm will hit around (INAUDIBLE). That area, I
think, is really at risk for the flooding. Highway 12 up there has a
history of washing out during any big storm. I think we might expect that
this time. We hope the storm will continue to weaken, but we do certainly
expect some adverse consequences from it.

JANSING: And obviously, a beautiful state but a lot of more rural
areas. Are there people who may be waiting three days, five days, a week
or more to get help if they need it?

DALTON: That is possible. It`s happened with other storms. I will
say that the utilities companies coordinate with one another. The
cooperatives, the Electric Cities, Duke Power, Progress Energy, Dominion,
have all come together. They`re sending crews to this area so where there
is an outage, they will address it as promptly as they can, and that is a
very dangerous job. So, certainly, we think about them, and we thank them
for all of their efforts.

JANSING: Thank you, Walter Dalton, and good luck to everybody there
in North Carolina.

DALTON: Thank you, Chris.

JANSING: And coming up next, we`re going to go the National Hurricane
Center for the latest tracking on Irene.

And then, a little later on, millions of people about to experience
their first hurricane. What you need to know when it comes to Irene`s
visit? You`re watching a special edition of HARDBALL only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The National Hurricane Center
covers many storms throughout the year, but Irene is one with the potential
to effect 65 million Americans. Ed Rappaport is with the National
Hurricane Center. Ed, you and I have talked a lot over the years. You`ve
seen that more than your share of hurricanes. In terms of just the sheer
size, the number of states, the number of people that are being affected,
is there a historical precedent for this?

ED RAPPAPORT, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: This is one of the bigger
storms, especially for the northeast, given that we haven`t had a hurricane
of any significance there in the last 20 years. So, yes, a relatively
large storm, maybe not as strong as we`ve seen in other places, but
Category 1, Category 2 for North Carolina, potentially, Category 1
hurricane all the way up the east coast to Southern New England by Sunday.

JANSING: And so, people started to hear about these couple of days
gone, they heard Category 3, and now, they`re hearing Category 1, and they
think, not such a big deal. Why are they wrong? Why is it a big deal?

RAPPAPORT: Well, we were never forecasting Category 3 for the
northeast. It was expected to weaken. It`s weakening a little faster than
we have thought as it approaches North Carolina, but it`s still a big
concern there. That`s our first issue is getting it through North Carolina
where we`re expecting a storm surge of four to eight feet on the outer
banks as well as those winds which could be close to 100 miles per hour.

One of the big issues as we`ve set is how big the storm is, and we
could see hurricane force winds for as long as ten hours over Eastern North
Carolina and the tropical storm force winds for 24 hours. That`s a very
long period of battering. Expect there to be at least some minor damage,
minor structural damage. A lot of trees are going to go down in the
northeast. A big mess. We just want people to be safe and ready to clean
up that mess afterwards.

JANSING: Yes. Let`s talk a little bit about the potential damage to
trees, because you`ve got a couple of things going on. One, in some areas,
record or near record rainfall, and obviously, unlike, you know, say, the
Gulf Coast or Florida, where the palm trees are essentially designed by
nature to let those heavy hurricane-like winds go through them.

That`s not the case in the U.S., in the northeast, is it? So, those
trees, first of all, have this weakened root system or saturated root
system, and then, they`ve also got these heavy winds coming through when
they`re full of leaves.

RAPPAPORT: That`s right. Of course, one of the major concerns for
the trees coming down is people`s safety. With the large trees, large
branches coming down, there is some concern, and we want people to be out
of harm`s way there. The other issue is that we`re probably going to lose
power, perhaps, for extended period because of these trees coming down.
Historically, there have been large falls of tree in the northeast with
similar hurricanes.

JANSING: Ed, let me read you a quote. Maybe you`ve already heard it
today. Our old friend, the former director, Max Mayfield, who said one of
my greatest nightmares was having a major hurricane go up the whole
northeast coast. What`s your biggest concern about this whole thing as we
watch it over the next 24, 36 hours?

RAPPAPORT: I have similar concern. What we`re a little bit lucky
about is that it won`t be a major hurricane, but it is going to go up the
whole northeast coast. And so what that means is we`re going to have
people experience a hurricane that they probably haven`t had in the last
generation in some areas there. So, there`ll be some damage, as we said,
structural damage, mostly North Carolina, possible minor structural damage
north toward (ph) from there.

Two other concerns. We mentioned the storm surge could be four to
eight feet in spots all the way up the coast and then from the west to the
center, there`s a large potential for flooding from rainfall. We`re
talking about six to 10 inches of rain, locally, 15 inches of rain, in the
northeast where grounds are saturated. That`s going to be a particular
problem. So, again, the winds are all around the center, within two to 300
miles of the center, the rainfall to the west and the storm surge to the
east.

JANSING: Ed Rappaport, it`s always good to talk you. Unfortunately,
it`s always when something bad is happening, but thanks so much.

RAPPAPORT: Thank you.

JANSING: Coming up next, let`s about New York City. You know, we
think we`re so tough here, but look the at front page of one of the
newspapers, target New York. And I can tell you, there`s been a run on
batteries and flash lights and water. You go to local stores in Manhattan,
for sure, you can`t find anything, because we`ve been hearing this.

We`re preparing for a storm as big the city has ever seen. Sounds
almost like a disaster movie. What is the worst case scenario? You`re
watching a special edition of HARDBALL only on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: It`s hard to believe when you look
outside and see the sun, but it is in some senses the calm before the
storm. You only have to look at the weather maps to understand just how
big this storm is and how unique it is. And it`s heading, basically,
directly for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: Welcome back to HARDBALL. As Hurricane Irene barrels up the
coast, New York prepares. Take a look at this animation of what Lower
Manhattan would look like if it flooded. Evacuations have already begun in
low-lying areas of New York. Look at that. Mayor Bloomberg ordering
evacuations of some 270,000 people. Nursing homes, hospitals have already
begun moving residents and patients to higher ground. Let`s go to The
Weather Channel, Jim Cantore, who is live in Battery Park in Lower
Manhattan near the World Trade Center. And Jim, that is a place that is
flood prone, right?

JIM CANTORE, THE WEATHER CHANNEL, NEW YORK CITY: Absolutely. If you
go back to 1960 which is (INAUDIBLE), not many remember that with a storm,
Hurricane Donna, that went to our east, actually. It came in at the time
of high tide. So, the water and waves that it produced got up to 11 feet.
So, that`s the big concern with this one and that`s why the evacuation
order, the first time in New York history, was ordered.

What makes this so interesting, though, is it has to start today and
start in earnest, because by tomorrow at noon, when everybody shuts down
mass transit, which is another historic maneuver here in New York,
certainly, that doesn`t happen that off then, you got to go back it 9/11
the last time that happened and I think 2005 for a strike, but either way,
some people that would use mass transit to get out of here would not be
able to do that.

So, you have, you know, literally thousands of people potentially
trapped that didn`t get out when they had a chance to. So, everything
that`s been asked to do here has to go in a sequence or we`re going to put
people in harm`s way. And should that storm surge come in at the time of
high tide, 8:00 a.m. or 8:00 p.m. tomorrow here, that`s going to bring that
water up 10 to possibly 11 feet, and obviously, flood this entire area
behind me.

Look at this. Just a gorgeous day. There were tons of people out
here taking the ferry out over to see the Statue of Liberty. Ferries,
obviously, are still running. Once winds get to 40 or 60 miles an hour,
that`s going to cease. And obviously, any trips to Staten Island and even
the -- obviously, the Statue of Liberty are going to be on hold,
potentially, even Monday and Tuesday. This is a dangerous multi-hazard
storm. And whether we get the surge or not, there`s still a potential for
tree damage and lots of flooding. Back to you, Chris.

JANSING: All right. Jim Cantore, thank you so much.

And joining me now is New York City council speaker, Christine Quinn.
Thanks very much for being with us.

CHRISTINE QUINN, NY CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: Of course.

JANSING: I listened to the extensive news conference by the mayor
this afternoon. I mean, he could not be more clear about the danger, but
look, you know your city. Are you worried that the notoriously tough New
Yorkers aren`t taking this seriously?

QUINN: No, I think New Yorkers are taking this very seriously. I
mean, hurricanes of this size and magnitude are not something that happen
every summer in New York. Having people really understand particularly
with the need to stop subways and busses, that they need to follow the
mayor`s direction, and to do it quickly so everyone who needs to move to
higher ground can mover to higher ground.

JANSING: I got to tell you, though, the logistics of this boggle the
mind. Of course, it`s not just Manhattan, but five boroughs, eight million
people, densely populated, heavily dependent on a threatened public
transportation system. What`s your biggest concern right now?

QUINN: Well, the biggest concern is that quarter of million or so
folks who are in the evacuation zone will wait until the last minute,
because what you want it avoid is having really long lines to get on busses
or subways as we need to shut those down, because it takes about eight
hours to shut the subway down. We don`t want that to become backed up and
really laborious process. We want people to begin to move quickly today,
tonight, tomorrow morning, so that there isn`t a big rush come noon
tomorrow.

JANSING: Yes. I was also thinking about, what was it, 2003, when
there was a big black out and a lot of people didn`t have power for not a
day or two, but three, five days, even longer than that. What`s the
projection for power outages?

QUINN: Well, the power outage, you know, I think is really location
by location. Parts of the city like Staten Island where more of the power
comes from overhead. That`s going to be a bigger problem there because of
the wind and possible tree damage. Other parts of the city where they`re
not as reliant on overhead transmission are in a better position.

But, certainly, folks who have experience, power outages, from
weather, because they have overhead power, they know this is going to be
tough. We need them to be prepared, to have batteries, to have flash
lights, to have enough food, to fill their bath tubs up, their sinks up
with water so they can be ready, and we`re in constant contact with
(INAUDIBLE) and the utility and they`ll be out there as quickly as they
possibly can as soon as the storm settles down.

JANSING: Well, I can tell you, I`ve seen a run on flash lights in
Manhattan, anyway. But there is something that could have an impact coast
to coast and actually internationally, and that`s what happens at New
York`s airports, which, of course, will ripple across the airline sector.
What`s happening there?

QUINN: The airports, of course, are going to have to shut down
because of this. Part of the reason we wanted to get the information out
as early as we could today, we`re going into last of week of August, Labor
Day weekend. We wanted people to get information quickly and early so they
could plan or re-plan such as it is their travel if they needed to do so.

JANSING: And look, it`s also still a big tourist time. It`s hard to
walk through Time Square in New York City. What are you saying to people
who, you know, for the end of summer, have a trip planned to New York?

QUINN: Well, if you`re here now, you`ll have a good story to tell.
You can tell all your friends back home that you came to New York and you
made it through Irene, but if you`re a tourist and there are things you
want to see, try to go and see them tonight, try to go see them tomorrow
morning.

We don`t want people walking around Saturday night and Sunday in the
thick of a storm. You just don`t need folks -- we don`t need folks out on
the street. There may be debris flying about, things of that nature. So,
tourists get it in tonight, get it in tomorrow morning and then stay in
your room.

JANSING: How much you want to bed somebody`s printing up the shirts
already, I Survived Hurricane Irene?

QUINN: I have no doubt about that. It`s an ingenious city. I`m sure
they`re probably selling them already on the corner.

JANSING: Yes, on the streets of Chinatown, three for ten bucks.

QUINN: Absolutely, absolutely.

JANSING: Christine Quinn, thanks and good luck.

QUINN: Thank you.

JANSING: Up next, we`ll go to Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, in the
path of the storm. Carrie Sanders is standing by there. This is a special
edition of Hardball, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger.
Here`s what`s happening. While the east coast braces for hurricane Irene,
fire crews in five western states are battling raging wildfires that have
already scorched almost 175,000 acres. On Wall Street, the stocks rallied
to snap a four-week losing streak after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke delivered an upbeat assessment of America`s long-term economic
prospects.

In Detroit, prosecutors revealed that the so-called underwear bomber
admitted to having been trained, equipped, and sent on a mission to blow up
an American airliner by Al Qaeda. President Obama described it as barbaric
as a suspected drug-related attack on a casino in Northern Mexico that left
at least 52 people dead.

In Libya, rebel forces say scattered groups of fighters have agreed
to recognize the primary rebel faction as the legitimate interim government
once Gadhafi is deposed. Meanwhile, rebels prepared to assault one of the
last remaining loyalist strongholds, that is Gadhafi`s hometown of Sirt.
Now back to our special hurricane Irene edition of Hardball.

JANSING: Welcome back to Hardball, Milissa mentioning the casino in
Mexico reminds me that the Atlantic City casinos are closing. That doesn`t
happen very often so you know that this is trouble. Joining me now, NBC`s
Kerry Sanders in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, where it has gotten
markedly worse since we spoke this afternoon. Kerry, how are you doing?

KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well Chris, it`s getting ugly here
and, of course, we know that the real full force of the hurricane is
expected to be here around 10 a.m. tomorrow morning. What we`re looking
at right now though is the surf really kicking up along with the rain and
some breeze, more than I`d call it wind. But, as that surf has kicked up
over my shoulder you can see the pier there and I really wonder whether
it`s going to be standing sometime by late afternoon tomorrow because of
just the -- the sheer force of those waves out there. Chris?

JANSING: And do you have a sense of how heavy the winds are right
now Kerry?

SANDERS: Yes, it`s a breeze, it`s really not much. We`ve had some
gusts at times here, you know, where it maybe kicked up to about 20 miles
an hour or so but those were just gusts and, you know, this area mostly has
followed the evacuation orders and people are gone. When the winds hit 45
miles an hour the bridge to the mainland is going to be shut off or it`s
going to be shut off at 8 o`clock tonight anyway.

So, either way, the bridge to the mainland will be shut off and
that`s why they were telling residents to get out. They don`t want to deal
with problems tomorrow of people who, in the morning, decide oh my God I
maybe should have left, let me get out of here. Because, you know, the
emergency management, the police, the firemen, they don`t want to get a 911
call and not be able to respond in the middle of a hurricane.

JANSING: Very few people have covered as many storms as you have,
Kerry, and you and I have talked while I was in the comfort of a studio and
you were out in the elements many, many times over the years. But, give us
a sense of this storm as compared to other storms you`ve covered and what
you`re expecting.

SANDERS: Well, I think really what is happening here is that this
storm is going to impact people who have no clue, they`ve never been
through this and they`re not exactly sure what to do and so they tune into
the radio, they tune into television, they`re watching here on cable and
they hear Governor after Governor after Governor say that there`s a state
of emergency and it kind of freaks people out. It kind of scares them.
You know, a healthy dose of like having your eyes wide open is useful but
practical information, I think, is what`s needed most right now.

So, for instance, don`t go out and get some tape and start taping up
your windows, that`s completely useless. It`s a wives tale.

JANSING: They told you here, didn`t they Kerry, that I was going to
do that?

SANDERS: Don`t plan on riding this hurricane out in your basement.
The number one cause of death in a hurricane is not from the wind or flying
debris, it`s drowning, and you don`t want to be in your basement because
there is going to be some flooding associated with this. The storm surge.
And -- and for folks who`ve never really paid too much attention this is
what the storm surge is. As the storm is moving in, as the hurricane Irene
is moving in, it builds up the water, it`s like a wall and it just pushes
it up and as it comes here, it will hit up into the dunes here and,
depending on how big that wall is, it could be 10-12 feet, maybe more, it
can then slosh over the natural protection which is here by mother nature
and then that water rushes in.

So, folks who are a little bit further north and have basements
should not think about riding the hurricane in their basements. Also, in
the New Jersey area where you`ve had just a tremendous amount, and also in
the Philadelphia area, tremendous amount of rain, perhaps the wettest part
of the United States, when the rain comes in it`s going to rush because
it`s not going to be -- it`s not going to be absorbed by the soil and so
there could be that sense of a flash flood and you don`t want to find that
water coming down the street into your -- into your basement.

Perhaps the best thing to do if you`re going to ride this out in your
house is to find a room, an interior room in your house like, well maybe
the bathroom, but you want to find something that has what they call a load
bearing wall, that`s the one that`s carrying a lot of weight of your house
and there should be no windows. So, you`re in there, it`s uncomfortable,
you have to ride out the hurricane but you`re in a place that is safe.
Chris?

JANSING: Yes, good advice. Kerry Sanders who has survived so many
hurricanes. Thank you Kerry and take good care out there. Now let`s take
a listen to the President of the American Red Cross this morning talking
about how long it might take for teams to respond if there is this
incredible disaster.

(VIDEO CLIP)

GAIL MCGOVERN, AMERICAN RED CROSS CEO AND PRESIDENT: We`re
anticipating that, as I said, it`s going to be a huge geographical area
with lots of people impacted and from a time perspective, this could take
weeks, maybe even months to be able to respond to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANSING: Here to talk about relief efforts for hurricane Irene is
Laura Howe, Vice President of Public Relations for the Red Cross and, you
know, I have to say when I heard that, weeks, maybe even months, this
morning that certainly made me sit up and take notice. Give us a little
sense of exactly why she said that.

LAURA HOWE, VICE PRESIDENT OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, AMERICAN RED CROSS:
Well, I think the reason she said that is because we are dealing with an
enormous geographical area and we`re dealing with an enormous population
base here. So, we`re going to have people in need for a very, very long
time and we`re going to be in the response mode here for weeks and months,
just like you heard Gail McGovern say. It is going to be a long haul and I
think people need to be ready for that. They need to be ready for the
short-term impacts of this that they`re already starting to feel, like you
-- like you just heard Kerry talking about.

But, you also need to be ready for the fact that there`s going to be
a long kind of recovery effort for this storm as well.

JANSING: Well, let`s talk about the short-term and what the Red
Cross is doing, shelters, proving food. Give us a sense of where you are
right now.

HOWE: Yes, right now, our biggest priority is sheltering and feeding
so we have shelters that are opening all up and down the eastern seaboard
tonight. We certainly have them in the Carolinas. We have them in
Virginia, all the way up through Maryland, Delaware. We have them in New
Jersey, New York. We`re going to be supporting the ones that are going to
be opening in the city of New York as well.

So, we have a huge concentration of shelters. We know there`s a lot
of people evacuating. That`s the main priority, is to have a place where
people can go that`s a safe haven for them as they evacuate and leave.

JANSING: Have you gotten any reports? Are people showing up for the
shelters, especially in North Carolina?

HOWE: Yes, they actually are. We had -- we had a fairly significant
shelter population overnight. We know they`re starting to show up in the
shelters now and so I think by tomorrow morning you`re going to see a
pretty significant population in those shelters overnight. The other thing
that we`re doing, while we`re doing the sheltering, at the same time we`re
recruiting thousands of volunteers to move to the east coast. So, we have
a big movement of people that`s happening to the east coast as well as
response vehicles. We`re actually moving about two-thirds of our -- of our
fleet of feeding vehicles to the east coast so we can be ready to get out
there in the neighborhoods after the storm passes with hot meals and
cleanup supplies and things of that nature once it`s safe to do that.

JANSING: So this is the start of a very long process for all you
good folks at the Red Cross. Laura Howe, thank you.

HOWE: Thank you.

JANSING: And up next, some east coast stores have had their shelves
literally emptied. Do people have everything they`ll need. This is a
special edition of Hardball, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: We are back and as Irene is getting ready to make landfall,
a lot of east coast stores have had their shelves literally emptied by
customers who are preparing to hunker down for the storm. But, do people
really have everything they`ll need. Joining me now to talk about
emergency preparedness for Irene is Discovery Channel host and preparedness
expert, Aton Edwards. And, yesterday, so I go into the Home Depot in
Manhattan. People are literally, like, shoving each other to get the four
flashlights that are left.

ATON EDWARDS, DISCOVERY CHANNEL HOST: Yes, I know, I saw that myself
and it was really amazing to watch people scramble like that.

JANSING: And -- and you told me to get the crank one and, of course,
literally, the -- the guy said do you have any more of the, like, crank
ones? He laughed at me.

EDWARDS: They were gone, right?

JANSING: Yes.

EDWARDS: But this is what people do. I mean, generally, they wait
until the last minute and then they kind of like panic buy. You know,
we`ve got to grow out of that as a nation because we`ve got to take
preparedness seriously because these are the kinds of things that pop up
that prove that these disasters happen when you`re least expecting it and
you`ve got to be ready to face them when they do and panic buying and
things like that we`ve got to stop it. But, this is something that had to
be done so I suppose the people were just reacting spontaneously to this
enormous catastrophe that we see that`s pending that we`ve got to do
something so let me go and buy up everything in the store.

JANSING: Well, at least they`re doing something, at least they`re
paying attention.

EDWARDS: That`s right.

JANSING: So, flashlights, water, what else?

EDWARDS: Oh, flashlights. Water. They should have some first aid.
They should have -- also, what you want to do is have a seven day supply of
medication if you have problems with you know, certain things that you may
need if you have diabetes or asthma, things like that. You want to have
your flashlights, you want to have your radio, hand-cranked preferably
again because if you don`t have a hand crank radio then you`re going to
have to rely on batteries and I`ve got issues with batteries because I
remember the 2003 blackout when they were like gouging people for like
cheap batteries on the street, like ten dollars for a battery. So, we`ve
got to do that with the hand crank stuff. I like that. The hand crank
stuff is the hot stuff now.

JANSING: Yes, you`ve got to sort of learn what can I not live
without if I don`t have power for three or five days. Well, I don`t have a
landline and what if my charger only plugs in?

EDWARDS: Yes, if your charger goes down.

JANSING: Yes, and you know what, if you live in a city, and this is
going to hit a lot of cities, a lot of people don`t have cars so you can`t
even put it in your car charger.

EDWARDS: . yes, that`s right, so they have hand crank units for the
cell phones as well and I think people should investigate the different
types that they have. They also even have hand crank units that are
lanterns that you can plug your cell phone into and charge it so that`s
something else that you want to consider. But, also, the hand crank
radios, the multi-band hand crank radios are something that you need
because sometimes, quite honestly, your cell phones don`t work and if you
start to rely on your cell phones for your principle source of information
and communications then you might be disappointed when you can`t get
through on a line.

JANSING: All right, this is what to do, as we have really not much
time left to prepare. Tell us after the fact what not to do.

EDWARDS: What not to do. Well, what you don`t want to do is make
hasty decisions, especially right after the -- the disaster. If -- what
you want to do is to make sure you reunify with your family if you are
separated, if you`re broken up, you`ve got to have plans that are premade
so what I think the people need to do right now is to take some time and to
figure out what they plan to do after the disaster happens to make sure
that if they have to leave their homes that they have someplace to go.

Do they have someone to communicate with that can help them. Do they
have a list of resources that they may need, they might contact the
Salvation Army. You never know, their housing -- their home may be
destroyed, they might not be able to get ahold of clothes. Important
documents, all that stuff packed up in their go bag. All these decisions
have to be made right before the storm, not after the storm. So, people
have a little bit more than what? About 30 hours to go, I think they
should choose what they do wisely and make every minute count.

JANSING: All right, Aton Edwards. Always great to talk to you my
friend, thank you.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

JANSING: And joining me now is a man who experienced one of the most
devastating hurricanes ever to hit anywhere, former New Orleans Mayor, Ray
Nagin, who is author of Katrina`s Secrets, Storms After The Storm . It`s
good to see you. So, I think there are a lot of lessons in this book which
we should tell people you -- you published yourself. If these people are
sitting back and we`re talking about 10 states under a state of emergency,
nine states which pretty much never get a hurricane or very rarely get a
hurricane, what do people need to know?

RAY NAGIN, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: Well, they need to follow
directions, number one. Listen to your mayors, your governors, emergency
preparedness people, and listen for directions because what`s going to
happen next is you`re going to get to the phase where the storm is going to
pass and then it`s going to be a damage assessment. And once that is done,
it`s not going to be immediately safe to go outside. You may run out of
food so you`re going to make sure -- hopefully you`ve had enough food and
water to last you for a minute. And then once things are kind of cleared
out, then people are going to have to make a decision about do I stay home
or do I move to a different location. So, there`s going to be other
challenges that have come up as this crisis unfolds.

JANSING: And as you`re watching it, this and maybe some other, you
know, recent crises, but this in particular and we`ve seen, as we
mentioned, the President speaking, every Governor has been speaking, some
of them multiple times a day, big city mayors holding news conferences and
-- and obviously will do the post after it happens. But, are you seeing
lessons that were learned from Katrina that seem to be moving this in the
right direction?

NAGIN: Absolutely, I see much more cooperation. We had some
partisan fighting that was going on, Republican President, Democratic
Governor, and we had some of those things. I don`t sense that right now.
Everyone seems to be cooperating. FEMA seems to be pre-positioning lots of
assets. The Army and the Navy are involved so things seem to be better
coordinated but this is the easier part of the challenge.

Once the storm passes, tensions go up, more demands on the leaders
come, and then you`re going to see whether we can really work together,
whether they can really work together to work through crises that are going
to come up almost minute by minute. One of the things that we were lucky
to avoid is sewer backing up, one of the things that I don`t know if the
other cities or states have done this is to relieve their sewer lines
because once the electricity goes out, you`re not going to be able to pump
sewer like you did before. So, there`s going to be multiple problems that
are going to show up and you`re just going to have be ready to deal with
them.

JANSING: You`re the first person I`ve heard say that and, frankly,
it`s not what I was hoping to hear. You know, let me -- let me ask you
finally Mr. Mayor, look, for Katrina this was indeed a test of leadership.
It was one of the defining moments of George W. Bush`s Presidency. Given
the size and the scope of this, could this be also a test of leadership for
this President that could be a defining moment for him?

NAGIN: I think it`s going to be a test of leadership for not only
the President but the Governors, the Mayors, the City Council members.
With this type of footprint where you`re impacting 50 million plus people
in this large a footprint, one of the things that also will happen is
you`re going to have competition for resources. Where do the debris
cleaning people go? Where do the electrical people go who are going to
restore power lines? Where do they go first? Do they go to New York? Do
they go to North Carolina? And that`s going to take some incredible
coordination and somebody`s going to have to say no to maybe a very
powerful person to make sure that resources are deployed equitably.

JANSING: Spoken from a man who has lived it, thank you Ray Nagin.

NAGIN: Thank you so much.

JANSING: And when we come back we`ll go to Maryland. NBC`s Tom
Costello is standing by, checking out the surf there. You`re watching a
special edition of Hardball only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANSING: We`re just getting a new report from the Associated Press
and I`m just going to read it to you. It says that Irene is turning
north/northeast with winds sustained at about 100 miles per hour,
conditions deteriorating. Of course, we are getting near Irene making
landfall. Joining me to talk about the situation in Maryland, of course,
which has a huge coastline, NBC`s Tom Costello, who is in Ocean City and
how have things changed since we talked a few hours ago Tom?

TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Not a whole lot, Chris. I mean,
behind me you can maybe barely make out the surf right now because we`ve
got the sun going down but the surf has definitely picked up, gotten a bit
choppy over the last few hours. But, really, this has been the day before
the -- the storm arrives. The calm before the storm if you will and it has
been a day of evacuations.

I mean, this is normally one of the most popular places to be the
last week or so of August, 200,000 people here in Ocean City alone, not to
mention further up into Delaware and what have you. I mean, this is a
very popular place if you live in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, to try to
hit the shore and it`s a ghost town. It`s completely evacuated. The
police last night at midnight said that`s it, everybody out. And, for the
most part, they did.

A funny story though, there had been surfers hiding in the buildings
and behind the dunes and when the police go by the surfers run out, do as
many quick trips as they can, catch a couple of waves, the cops come back,
chase them off, and then the surfers go hide and then they come back out
again. So, this game of cat and mouse has been kind of funny. They can do
that today. Tomorrow it`s going to be entirely a different game and very
rough and very dangerous.

I -- I asked the emergency manager here in Ocean City when was the
last time you had an evacuation on this scale and he said 1985 for
hurricane Gloria but hurricane Gloria was a glancing blow. This thing is
going to come right over the top of us. So, let`s assume it`s only a
hurricane I. You`re still looking at, you know, 85-100 mile per hour winds
in an area -- this is a barrier island so you have literally nothing
between the surf and the downtown.

They are expecting considerable flooding. They are expecting that
this could affect their waste water situation. They are expecting they are
going to have to bring down waste water, maybe bring down the electric grid
to protect that and, so, they are looking at, in their view, something they
haven`t witnessed in maybe 30 years and maybe longer than that here in
Ocean City, Maryland on the Delmarva Peninsula. Again, a barrier island.
A beautiful place in the summer but just not the place to be today. Back
to you.

JANSING: All right. Tom Costello, thank you very much and, again,
we`ve got ten states under a state of emergency. Most of them full of
people who have never experienced a hurricane before. That`s it for this
special edition of Hardball. Thanks so much for joining us. More updates
on hurricane Irene throughout the night and all through the weekend on
MSNBC. The Last Word with Chris Hayes in for Lawrence O `Donnell starts
right now.

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

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