Interviews

Commuting nightmare in NYC as Sandy disrupts mass transit

Former New York Governor George Pataki weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 1, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Anyway, tempers flaring along the East Coast over traffic jams, long lines like this, people lining up for blocks in Brooklyn.

And this is just to hitch a ride into work. And for those lucky enough to get that ride, we are hearing horror stories about commutes. You can see the city, right? It's just across the river, four hours one way.

So what can officials do to help keep the calm in times like this?

Well, George Pataki has been there before, the three-term former Republican governor of the fine state of New York. You might have remembered he was there for that little thing called 9/11.

But, bottom line, governor, while this is nothing approaching that...

GEORGE PATAKI (R), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: No.

CAVUTO: ... we are aware that it's going to cause serious dislocations for weeks, maybe months to come.

PATAKI: Well, hopefully not months, but it is going to take some time.

But if you look at what has happened, we are only two days after the storm, if that. And some of the subways are running. Some of the commuter lines are running. Power is being restored to large areas. There are still a great many people hurting.

And we have to proactively reach out to them. But I think we can have some optimism here, for all the suffering we've been through, that the steps are being taken and we will come back.

Neil, just one thought. You showed the picture of the people waiting to go to work, and I think that's just a tribute to New Yorkers and to Americans. Instead of sitting home sulking, they're putting up with the lines and the horrible commute to go to work. And that the way it should be. I think it just shows the resolve of the people and it makes you proud.

CAVUTO: Well, you could flip that around, too, not to be jaded, that they are scared they better not, not go to work, right? We live in an environment where job security is such that you will do anything to deal with that.

I guess what I was trying to say before, governor, is this idea that the business impact could be severe.

PATAKI: Yes, absolutely.

CAVUTO: A lot of businesses can't open restaurants, can't open theaters, limited capacity. So for a city that thrives on that that's going to have a big economic impact.

PATAKI: No question.

It will have a huge economic impact. But there are programs out there, small business programs, disaster assistance programs. I know that we will be declared a disaster area. And that provides for federal funding, not just to replace infrastructure or parts of homes that have been damaged where it's appropriate, but also to help businesses get back on their feet.

And I think it's a terrible economic hit. But the important thing now is try to still make sure that people are safe and they're out of harm's way. And I just saw your correspondent in Hoboken. And what he is saying is very important. If you are OK, go check on a neighbor, if you can do it safely. See if they're OK, because people helping people, don't figure it's just going to be the government that will take of your neighbor. It's what we do and it's what we do very, very well.

CAVUTO: You know there's been a dust-up in the Republican Party over Chris Christie having the president over to New Jersey. He argued, look, you take help anywhere you can find it. These are urgent times.

Bloomberg passed on a walk-through with the president because he said it would've just created more commotion and fuss than it was worth. Not Chris Christie. Bad blood?

PATAKI: Oh, I don't think so.

I think he's the governor of the state in an enormous crisis. And in the midst of that crisis, you embrace everyone. And politics doesn't...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But you have been there as a governor when you have to get FEMA resources.

PATAKI: Absolutely.

CAVUTO: Does it -- can a president withhold it to you?

PATAKI: No, a president wouldn't withhold it. That just doesn't happen.

I worked very well with President Clinton and James Lee Witt, who was his FEMA director. And you do want the support from the federal government. But the driving force are the local governments and the state government. And it's the state government that requests the disaster declaration that asks FEMA to come in. And I just can't conceive of FEMA not coming in, in the face of a disaster regardless of politics.

CAVUTO: So, it's never a case of a president holding a grudge and saying, all right...

PATAKI: No, not when it comes to a disaster. That will never happen. We're better than that.

CAVUTO: Yes.

Real quick thoughts on the race, five days away. What do you think?

PATAKI: Well, I'm optimistic.

I think people are realizing that we need a new direction in this country. You just talked about the economic climate and how hard it is to get a job or keep a job. And I think that's the overwhelming issue in the American people's minds. How are we going to turn this economy around?

It hasn't happened in four years. I think Governor Romney gives us the best possibility to create that economic growth in jobs that we all need.

CAVUTO: Governor, thank you very, very much.

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