CNN's Beck says a hurricane would 'clean the streets' of New York

Michael Roston
Published: Friday January 5, 2007
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A CNN Headline News host joked on his Thursday night broadcast about the cleansing effects a hurricane might have on New York City, RAW STORY has learned.

In a segment of his show on coastal overcrowding, Glenn Beck, the sometimes controversial host of a television show on CNN's Headline News Network, spoke with Christopher Landsea, a Research Meteorologist at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) about the risks of too much construction and settlement on the coastal regions of the United States. Landsea mentioned that even New York City was "extremely vulnerable" if a major hurricane were to make landfall.

Beck responded with an attempt at humor on the impact of a potential hurricane. "Actually, that would clean the streets out. It might not be bad," Beck said. Beck then transitioned into a commercial without any additional remarks.

An analysis completed for Time Magazine in 1998 found that the storm surges likely to result from a major hurricane hitting New York City might result in "heavy loss of life."

The SLOSH analysis of New York City revealed that the sharp bend in the Atlantic coastline where New York and New Jersey meet, the New York Bight, would amplify the effects of a storm surge to the point where even a modest hurricane could generate deadly flooding in lower Manhattan. "That right angle, believe it or not, can cause 30 ft. of storm surge above normal tide conditions," says Donald Lewis, a hurricane-evacuation expert based in Miami who worked on the New York City study. "The same storm in other parts of the country might cause only a 14- or 15-ft. surge." Suddenly the project took on a new urgency. The researchers concluded that the surge from a Category 4 storm would put John F. Kennedy International Airport under 20 ft. of water. Seawater would pour through the Holland and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels and into the city's subways throughout lower Manhattan. The flooding would be especially disastrous if people seeking to escape torrential rains and falling debris were to take shelter in subway stations. The report didn't estimate casualties, but observed that storms "that would present low to moderate hazards in other regions of the country could result in heavy loss of life."

Interestingly, although Beck made the offhanded remark about New York, his show is produced out of the city, according to the CNN website.

A transcript of Beck's show is accessible at the CNN website, and an excerpt of the exchange is provided below.

Note: RAW STORY was first tipped off to Beck's remarks by Christopher Achorn who hosts the blog My Two Sense.

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BECK: OK. Yesterday and when I heard the final -- the final words of the hurricane chief, and he said, you know, this is coming, I thought exactly of the words that I read about, starting I think in the 1950s, the warnings in New Orleans, "Its coming, its coming, reinforce the walls" and nobody did anything about it.

And now here we are rebuilding the wall to the exact same level as it was before. I mean, it's going to happen again in New Orleans, isn't it?

LANDSEA: Well, New Orleans is very vulnerable. So is Houston. So is Tampa. So it Miami, even New York. And so its not a matter if youll have a strong hurricane strike those areas; it`s a matter of when.

BECK: What is the city that youre most concerned about? Whats the one that you say, this is it? This is ground zero?

LANDSEA: It could be Tampa. Extremely vulnerable, low lying, a big bay. A hurricane will funnel the water in and flood the entire city.

BECK: Right.

LANDSEA: New York is extremely vulnerable, too, if a hurricane strikes just west of them and funnels all that water just north along Long Island into the city itself. They could have 20 to 25 feet of storm surge.

BECK: Actually, that would clean the streets out. It might not be bad.

Chris, thanks a lot.

Coming up, Mexico may be given illegals GPS units to help them cross the border safely. Stick around for "The Real Story". You won`t believe it.

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