Rock Center | November 01, 2012
>>> last in the news for running into a house fire to rescue his neighbors. tonight, he was in the news because he invited his neighbors to stay at his house with him. he happens to be the mayor of newark , new jersey, the big city just across the way from new york. and they are having big problems. and tonight, tom brokaw reports on cory booker , a hands-on guy with his hands full.
>> this is mayor cory booker . we have a power situation, obviously.
>> reporter: even before hurricane sandy invaded his town, cory booker had one of the toughest jobs in politics.
>> you guys don't have any young babies or kids in there, do you?
>> reporter: trying to rebuild newark , constantly buffeted by the winds of poverty and crime. now, 94% of newark is without power.
>> we need some lights on in here!
>> right now, i'm sending a tweet out to the resident that was concerned about her sick child.
>> reporter: booker, once a rhodes scholar , is a high-tech mayor. and his constituents know how to catch up. here's a tweet about a power outage sent by, get this, champagne mommy at playboy bunny .
>> what kind of twitter handle do you have here? look at this cute little baby. i have cold milk. we have diapers. i hope those are going to fit.
>> reporter: i caught up with him. and he talked about this new world of governing. can you imagine your predecessors going through this without one of these?
>> look, i can't even remember three, four years ago before i had that power. just for me, the power of twitter alone, i have tens of thousands of my residents who are letting me know about what's going on, telling me about their neighbors that need somebody to get to them right away.
>> reporter: i know that just being mayor in good times is tough. does this just exhaust you? do you say at some point, i can't do this?
>> i'm running on adrenaline, caffeine and a love of the community.
>> reporter: by using twitter to connect with his community, mayor booker says he's helping to keep the faith .
>> we've had amazing zero crimes of opportunity, no looting, no problems like that. i'm going round the clock.
>> reporter: booker achieved superhero status when earlier this year he came home to find his neighbor's house on fire . he charged through the flames to rescue her. you're the hands-on mayor. you rushed into a burning building to save a woman, you're all over the city. now you're the diaper deliveryman.
>> people in crises don't realize how important the small things are. this doesn't necessarily have to be refrigerated right now.
>> reporter: was that family surprised to see --
>> surprising a lot of folks when you get a chance to show up.
>> reporter: with an armful of diapers.
>> when they tweet you and you call them and say, what's the problem? i'll handle it. people are surprised but appreciative. it ignites that spirit within others as well.
>> reporter: booker knows that technology only goes so far. to be a successful politician in any way, a tweet will never replace a hug.
>> you need a hug? thank you so much.
>> that's how it's done in newark . let's take a drive down the shore, about 65 miles south of there, ron allen is in toms river tonight. and, ron, you and i were together last night in point pleasant beach. now you're in toms river , which i would say is kind of the classic middle class , central jersey shore suburb, 80% of us have an aunt hazel. mine lived on jackson avenue in toms river . we used to visit her, go over to the beach. what have you seen in your travels and what are you learning in getting this masters degree on the jersey shore ?
>> reporter: well, first, let me say, i know this place as well, too. i've covered disasters all over the world, but jersey is my home as well. i'm from the northern part of the state, jersey city , montclair. down here, the story is really the destruction that you see that is just really mind-boggling. communities so hard hit that days later, thousands of people haven't been able to even see what happened because they can't come back. authorities are still keeping them out. there's a lot of anger, frustration, a lot of tension because people want to come back in and see what's happened to their homes. they also want to protect their homes. we've been hearing more stories about looting and people concerned about that. we've also heard stories about what people are calling pirates, trying to rob homes in the darkness. there has been progress. there's been power restored to about 1 million homes. but that still means about 40 percent of the state is in the dark. driving around at night is very hazardous. bottom line , people are taking this day by day and not being too concerned about this overwhelming disaster that's here, trying to take it day by day and slowly trying to figure out ways to recover.
>> ron, you're so right about that moving target that, line between order and chaos in a society. ron allen , great work in the field this week covering this awful story. thanks for being with us.