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The Show Must Go On: As Monster Snowstorm Blankets East Coast, Democracy Now! Crew Shares Tales of “Thundersnow”

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A fierce winter storm has dumped over a foot of snow in areas along the East Coast from the Carolinas to Maine. In New York City, 20 inches of snow covered the streets with snowdrifts four feet high. The subway system was badly crippled. To make it in for the 8:00 a.m. broadcast, the Democracy Now! team had a challenging morning commute. Some donned ski gear and trudged through thigh-high snow to walk over bridges to Manhattan, some rose with the sun to find a working subway, and some even hitchhiked. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I first want to talk to you about what’s happening throughout the East Coast. It has been remarkable, the last two days of this blizzard, a state of emergency declared in, among other states, Virginia, as well North Carolina. I think that Atlanta and, what, Raleigh-Durham has seen snow for the first time in its history on Christmas. And here in New York, well, the city is blanketed. People are warned to stay home. But I do have to thank the staff of Democracy Now!, who somehow, by hook or by crook, made it to the studios to make sure that this broadcast took place. Well, here, we start with my colleague Sharif.

AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, senior producer, how did you get here this morning? Most people are not working in Manhattan.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Amy, after I walked out of the building, the snow was knee-high. I had to force the door open. And we trudged through the snow to the Williamsburg Bridge, where I hitchhiked, and I got a ride from — actually, I have his card here, a very nice guy, John Ramirez, who works at Citigroup. He drove us across the bridge. And then, from there, I had to walk and found another cab to take us uptown. There was cars sliding all over the place. There were snowplows trying to begin to clear the city. But it was one of the most difficult days I’ve had getting to work.

AMY GOODMAN: I am glad you made it. So, Flip, how did you get in today?

MIKE DIFILIPPO: I got in on a bicycle.

AMY GOODMAN: Why doesn’t it surprise me that you made it, no matter where you are? So, this is your bicycle?


AMY GOODMAN: And most people would not have ridden a bike to work in one of the biggest snowstorms in our history.

MIKE DIFILIPPO: No, but it was actually pretty easy. I followed the plows, and it was just easy. We just rolled right down 9th Ave. Wasn’t that bad a ride at all.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, thanks for making it.

MIKE DIFILIPPO: And police thought that was a good idea, too. They were all — as they were pushing their cars and those little three-wheel things, they were trying to push one of them out, and I just rode by with a bicycle. And it was kind of humorous. So I was like, “Sorry, officers, I can’t help you push.”

AMY GOODMAN: Green is always a dream. So, it was easier than the blackout?

MIKE DIFILIPPO: Oh, yeah, way easier. Way easier. Way easier. It wasn’t like crazy things, so…

AMY GOODMAN: Well, thanks so much, Flip. OK, so here we come up to the people behind the scenes who make this show happen. OK, now, Hugh Gran, where did you come from, and how did you make it? You’re still wearing scarf and hat.

HUGH GRAN: Yeah. I took the E train, which is running, on West 4th Street and got off at 23rd. So I’m very lucky.

AMY GOODMAN: But you brought your entire snowman’s outfit.

HUGH GRAN: Yep, yep.

AMY GOODMAN: I see you were completely ready.

HUGH GRAN: I was ready to troop it, but I didn’t have to, thank God.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Elizabeth, you hail from the People’s Republic of Brooklyn.

ELIZABETH PRESS: This is true, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: So how did you come in today? What time did you start making your way?


AMY GOODMAN: And where’d you go?

ELIZABETH PRESS: I went to the Nostrand stop of the A/C train and had a little bit of a wait, maybe like 40 or 50 minutes. And then the A train ran on the local track and I got here, just like that.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you for your dedication.

ELIZABETH PRESS: No problem, Amy. Anytime. Almost.

AMY GOODMAN: Here is Nicole Salazar, still in that hat.


AMY GOODMAN: Hi, Nicole. Was it hard getting in to work?

NICOLE SALAZAR: It was a little bit impossible. I thought I was going to have to walk from Brooklyn.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, first of all, you weren’t even supposed to be here today. Steve Martinez is in a state of emergency.

NICOLE SALAZAR: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s called the state of New Jersey.

NICOLE SALAZAR: He lives in New Jersey, and he was going to take the day off. And I was going to — I was going to take the day off. He was going to come in, but last night we decided that that was a little bit impossible. So, rather than him come from there, I just walked and hitchhiked from Brooklyn. First time hitchhiking in all my life living in New York.

AMY GOODMAN: OK, your parents may be watching. Do you think they’ll mind?

NICOLE SALAZAR: That I hitchhiked? I think they’ll get over it. I think they’ll be very happy to see that we’re all here and doing OK.

AMY GOODMAN: OK, Hany Massoud, how did you make it here on this snowy day?

HANY MASSOUD: Well, let’s see. I slept for about an hour, and then Ms. Goodman gave me a call, just in time before I got into my third level of sleep.

AMY GOODMAN: And before you knew what you were doing, you were sleep — or is it sleet — walking?

HANY MASSOUD: Well, I was doing something. But the phone was ringing, and I answered by mistake, I guess. It was a natural instinct. So I — let’s see. What did I do? So I walked across 116th Street, because the 6 train was kind of congested. So I walked to the second — to the 2 train line. I can’t even speak straight, I’m so tired. I just walked to the 2 train and took it in. It wasn’t too bad. It was a little slow, but it wasn’t too bad.

AMY GOODMAN: We should sort of explain that you were here through the night, so you know the show better than anyone right now, at least visually.

HANY MASSOUD: I think it’s almost there. I think everything’s almost there, maybe a few headlines missing here and there. But overall, I think we’ll be OK.

AMY GOODMAN: Thanks for coming in, Hany.

HANY MASSOUD: Of course.

AMY GOODMAN: So were the subways fine once you got on them?

HANY MASSOUD: It was not bad. It was a little slow. But it wasn’t too bad.

AMY GOODMAN: Thanks for making it.

HANY MASSOUD: Of course.

AMY GOODMAN: Kellon Innocent, you came from the Bronx?


AMY GOODMAN: So, what was it like up there?

KELLON INNOCENT: Well, I got out my house at 6:30, and no one was up yet. All the streets were still, and there’s still snow all around.

AMY GOODMAN: We were just talking about snowplows, being plowed in. Any plows where you were?

KELLON INNOCENT: Not where I am, because it’s all — I guess it’s all side streets where I am, so I had to walk up all the snow to get over here.

AMY GOODMAN: And the subway?

KELLON INNOCENT: The subway? Well, I waited like half an hour for the train, and all the trains were local, so it took me forever to get down here.

AMY GOODMAN: But they were there?

KELLON INNOCENT: Yeah, they were there.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s what counts.


AMY GOODMAN: Were the subways packed?

KELLON INNOCENT: Yeah, that’s what it was. Usually, my stop, there’s like seats all around. But they — it was all packed up, early morning.

AMY GOODMAN: So, thank you for making it here.

KELLON INNOCENT: No problem. My pleasure.

AMY GOODMAN: Rah Campenni, you are the last man in here. Now, where did you come from?

RAH CAMPENNI: Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you make it from Crown Heights into Manhattan?

RAH CAMPENNI: Like ski Eskimos, you know, like the dogs and the dog sled.

AMY GOODMAN: Walking to the subway, what was it like?

RAH CAMPENNI: It was post-apocalyptic. There was garbage trucks spun out, buried in snow. There were — people were just sleeping in their cars along the road. So there was like this line of cars in the street of New York Avenue, people just sleeping in them. They couldn’t move anymore.

AMY GOODMAN: Any snowplows?

RAH CAMPENNI: They were stuck, too.

HUGH GRAN: Yeah, they were.

RAH CAMPENNI: So, none of my streets in my neighborhood have been plowed, because the snowplows have gotten stuck. I don’t know what time it got stuck, but it’s as deep in the snow as anything else is.

AMY GOODMAN: And then, once you made it to the subway, fine?

RAH CAMPENNI: It was fine. MTA, man.

AMY GOODMAN: Which train?

RAH CAMPENNI: A train, took the A.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s it. Where there is the A, there is a way.

RAH CAMPENNI: That’s right. So, MTA, I give them props, you know? Gotta give respect to the MTA.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I give you props, Rah. Thanks for coming in.

RAH CAMPENNI: I figured I’d be the only one coming in. I wasn’t going to let you down.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, a few of us thought we’d join you.

Brenda, so, first of all, happy birthday. But what was it like? What was it like coming to work?

BRENDA MURAD: It was — my entire street is snowed in. There are no cars. You had to walk through an entire, like, foot of snow down the block. And once I finally made it to Seventh Avenue, it was clear. But it’s a blizzard outside. It’s unbelievable.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, thanks for that breaking news. It’s a blizzard outside, folks. And then there is Nick Gilla, who came from Crown Heights, as well. Nick, how did you make it?

NICK GILLA I had to trudge through waist-high snow and wait for the train for probably 25 minutes.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, thank you for getting here.

AMY GOODMAN: There you have it, the very trusty crew that rolls out Democracy Now! every day. And special thanks also to Diana Sands and Vesta Goodarz, who made it after that little documentary. Yes, we are in a massive blizzard along the East Coast. We’ll talk about global warming later. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. Be careful. Don’t go to work if you don’t have to. Stay — certainly, try not to drive on these streets. Everywhere we went, as Rah said, the plows were plowed in. People are skidding along the streets. It’s not safe. Not to mention, if you’re talking global warming, don’t contribute to it.

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